Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Picture of the Desolated States - and the Work of Restoration. 1865-1868
Author: Trowbridge, J. T. (John Townsend)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Picture of the Desolated States - and the Work of Restoration. 1865-1868" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



[Illustration]

[Illustration]



                                   A
                                PICTURE
                                 OF THE
                               DESOLATED
                                STATES;
                            and the work of
                              RESTORATION.
                               1865–1868

                          BY J. T. TROWBRIDGE.

          AUTHOR OF “NEIGHBOR JACKWOOD,” “CUDJO’S CAVE,” ETC.

                            HARTFORD, CONN.

                       PUBLISHED BY L. STEBBINS.

                                 1868.

[Illustration]



        Entered, according to act of Congress, in the year 1868,

                            BY L. STEBBINS,

      in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Connecticut.

[Illustration]

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



                                PREFACE.


In the summer of 1865, and in the following winter, I made two visits to
the South, spending four months in eight of the principal States which
had lately been in rebellion. I saw the most noted battle-fields of the
war. I made acquaintance with officers and soldiers of both sides. I
followed in the track of the destroying armies. I travelled by railroad,
by steamboat, by stage-coach, and by private conveyance; meeting and
conversing with all sorts of people, from high State officials to
“low-down” whites and negroes; endeavoring, at all times and in all
places, to receive correct impressions of the country, of its
inhabitants, of the great contest of arms just closed, and of the still
greater contest of principles not yet terminated.

This book is the result. It is a record of actual observations and
conversations, free from fictitious coloring. Such stories as were told
me of the war and its depredations would have been spoiled by
embellishment; pictures of existing conditions, to be valuable, must be
faithful; and what is now most desirable, is not hypothesis or
declamation, but the light of plain facts upon the momentous question of
the hour, which must be settled, not according to any political or
sectional bias, but upon broad grounds of Truth and Eternal Right.

I have accordingly made my narrative as ample and as literally faithful
as the limits of these pages, and of my own opportunities, would allow.
Whenever practicable, I have stepped aside and let the people I met
speak for themselves. Notes taken on the spot, and under all sorts of
circumstances,—on horseback, in jolting wagons, by the firelight of a
farm-house, or negro camp, sometimes in the dark, or in the rain,—have
enabled me to do this in many cases with absolute fidelity.
Conversations which could not be reported in this way, were written out
as soon as possible after they took place, and while yet fresh in my
memory. Idiomatic peculiarities, which are often so expressive of
character, I have reproduced without exaggeration. To intelligent and
candid men it was my habit to state frankly my intention to publish an
account of my journey, and then, with their permission, to jot down such
views and facts as they saw fit to impart. Sometimes I was requested not
to report certain statements of an important nature, made in the glow of
conversation; these, not without regret, I have suppressed; and I trust
that in no instance have I violated a confidence that was reposed in me.

I may add that the conversations recorded are generally of a
representative character, being selected from among hundreds of such;
and that if I have given seemingly undue prominence to any subject, it
has been because I found it an absorbing and universal topic of
discussion.

 MAY, 1866.



                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.


                          CHAPTER I.—THE START.

 Harrisburg.—First Indications of War.—Reminiscences of Lee’s
   Invasion.—On to Gettysburg.—The Town and its Inhabitants.—The
   Hero of Gettysburg.                                           Page 15

                  CHAPTER II.—THE FIELD OF GETTYSBURG.

 Cemetery Hill.—Pivot of the Battle and of the War.—Culp’s
   Hill.—Rock Creek.—Cemetery at Sunset.—John Burns.—The Peach
   Orchard.—Devil’s Den and Little Round Top.—Round Top.—Meade’s
   Head-Quarters.—Woman’s Heroism and Humanity.—A Soldier and
   his Benefactor.—Harvest of Bullets.                                18

              CHAPTER III.—A REMINISCENCE OF CHAMBERSBURG.

 Quiet Country.—Ruins of Chambersburg.—Burning of the
   Town.—Flight of the Inhabitants.—Escape of the Raiders.—Death
   of Three Rebels.—Homeless Inhabitants.—State Appropriation
   for their Relief.—No Loss without Gain.                            34

                       CHAPTER IV.—SOUTH MOUNTAIN.

 Hagerstown.—Valley of the Antietam.—Boonsboro’.—The Rebels in
   Maryland.—View of the Mountain.—The Ascent.—Scene of General
   Reno’s Death.—Rebels buried in a Well.—A Mountaineer’s
   Story.—View of Catoctin Valley.—Strong Rebel
   Position.—Patriot Graves.—Antietam Valley at Sunset.               40

                    CHAPTER V.—THE FIELD OF ANTIETAM.

 Rebel Line of Retreat.—Keedysville.—Brick Church
   Hospital.—Porter and his Reserves.—Banks of the
   Antietam.—Scenes at the Straw-Stacks.—Unfortunate
   Farmers.—Hospital Cemetery.—The Corn Field.—The Old
   Ploughman.—A Lesson for Vanity.—A Soldier’s Name.—The Dunker
   Church.—Sharpsburg.—Shelter from the Rain.—Southern
   Pronunciation.—Burnside’s Bridge.—Ancient and Modern
   Heroes.—Antietam National Cemetery.—The Battle.                    44

              CHAPTER VI.—DOWN THE RIVER TO HARPER’S FERRY.

 Search for a Vehicle.—“Mr. Bennerhalls.”—Mr. Benner without the
   “halls.”—Leaving Sharpsburg.—Mountain Scenery.—Capt.
   Speaker’s Narrative.—Surrender of Harper’s Ferry.—Escape of
   Twenty-two Hundred Cavalry.—Capture of Rebel Wagon
   Train.—Morning in Greencastle.—Arrival at the Ferry.               57

                   CHAPTER VII.—AROUND HARPER’S FERRY.

 River and Mountain Scenery.—Maryland Heights.—John Brown’s
   Engine-House.—Reminiscence of John Brown.—Political
   Inconsistency.—Negro from Shenandoah Valley.—Folly of
   Secession.                                                         64

                  CHAPTER VIII.—A TRIP TO CHARLESTOWN.

 Railroad Passengers.—A Desolated Country.—Farmers and Land.—A
   Dilapidated Town.—Meeting an Acquaintance.—Boarding-House
   Fare.—People and the Government Policy.—Charlestown Jail and
   Court-House.—John Brown’s Trial.—“His Soul Marching On.”—A
   One-armed Confederate.—John Brown’s Gallows.—Scene from the
   Scaffold.—The Church and its Uses.                                 69

                 CHAPTER IX.—A SCENE AT THE WHITE HOUSE.

 Washington.—A Crowd of Pardon-Seekers.—President’s Reception.        75

                          CHAPTER X.—BULL RUN.

 From Alexandria to Manassas.—Manassas Junction.—“Overpowered,”
   but not Whipped.—Ambulance Wagon.—The Driver and the
   Roads.—Scene of the First Bull Run.—Soldiers’
   Monument.—Luncheon in the Woods.—Scene of the Second Bull
   Run.—The Monument.—Groverton.—The two Battles and their
   Lessons.—The Stone House.—Miscegenated Cider.—Virginia
   Negroes.                                                           81

                   CHAPTER XI.—VISIT TO MOUNT VERNON.

 Down the Potomac.—Landing at Mt. Vernon.—A Throng of
   Pilgrims.—Tomb of Washington.—Character of
   Washington.—Mansion and Out-houses.—Girl at the
   Wash-tub.—Washington’s Well.—Shade-Trees.—Within the
   Mansion.—Relics.—The Portico.—Washington’s Love of
   Home.—Thunder-storm.                                               91

                       CHAPTER XII.—“STATE PRIDE.”

 Acquia Creek.—Railroad and Stage-Coaches.—View of
   Fredericksburg.—Crossing the Rappahannock.—Ruins of the
   Town—“A Son of Virginia.”—“State Pride” and
   “Self-Conceit.”—Virginia and South Carolina.—Back in the
   Union.—Down at the Hotel.—Another Name for State Pride.           100

               CHAPTER XIII.—THE FIELD OF FREDERICKSBURG.

 The Situation.—The Stone Wall of History.—A Rebel
   Eye-witness.—Stripping the Dead.—Strange
   Breastworks.—Fidelity of a Dog.—Gen. Lee’s
   “Humanity.”—Private Cemetery.—The Marye House.—Negro who
   didn’t see the Fight.—Southern Consistency.—Dissolution of
   the Rebel Army.—The Buried Dead.—House of Washington’s
   Mother.—Mary Washington’s Monument.—The Lacy House.—Scene
   from the Windows.—Storming of Fredericksburg.                     106

                    CHAPTER XIV.—TO CHANCELLORSVILLE.

 ’Lijah and his Buggy.—A Three-Dollar Horse.—Trade in Soldiers’
   Clothing.—Small Farmers.—Right Ignorant but Right
   Sharp.—Sedgwick’s Retreat.—Farms and Crops.—Views of
   Emancipation.—Poor Whites and Niggers.—The Man that killed
   Harrow.—Along the Plank-Road.—Tales of the Old
   Times.—Chancellorsville Farm.—What was under the Weeds.—Bones
   for the Bone-Factory.—Chancellorsville Burying-Ground.—Death
   of Stonewall Jackson.                                             114

                       CHAPTER XV.—THE WILDERNESS.

 Days of Anxiety.—Inflexible Spirit of the People.—Locust
   Grove.—The Wilderness Church.—Relics of the Battle.—Skeletons
   above Ground.—Wilderness Cemetery.—A Summer Shower.—The
   Wounded in the Fire.—The Rainbow.                                 123

                 CHAPTER XVI.—SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE.

 Elijah “Cut.”—Richard “H.” Hicks.—Poor Whites and the War.—Dead
   Men’s Clothes.—A “Heavy Coon Dog.”—Traces of the Battle.—View
   of the Court-House.—Grant’s Breastworks.—County Clerk.—Whites
   and Blacks in the County.—Ignorance of the Lower Classes.—The
   Negro “Fated.”                                                    129

                CHAPTER XVII.—THE FIELD OF SPOTTSYLVANIA.

 The Tavern-Keeper’s Relics.—A Union Officer’s Opinions.—The
   Landlord’s Cornfield.—Rebel and Yankee Troops.—Scene of the
   Decisive Conflict.—Graves of Spottsylvania.—Women
   “Chincapinnin.”—Leaves from a Soldier’s Testament.                137

                    CHAPTER XVIII.—“ON TO RICHMOND.”

 A Bubble Vanished.—Desolate Scenery.—Virginia and
   Massachusetts.—Ashton.—Suburbs.—Northern Men in
   Richmond.—Appearance of the City.                                 143

                    CHAPTER XIX.—THE BURNT DISTRICT.

 Ruins of Richmond.—Why the Rebels burnt the City.—Panic of the
   Inhabitants.—Origin of the Fire.—Conflicting Opinions.—Fire
   of December, 1811.—Rebuilding.—Negroes at Work.—Colored
   Laborer.—Hasty Reconstruction.                                    147

           CHAPTER XX.—LIBBY, CASTLE THUNDER, AND BELLE ISLE.

 Libby Prison.—Castle Thunder.—James River.—Manchester
   Bridge.—Negroes with Bundles.—Old Negro’s Story.—Belle
   Island.—Talk with a Boatman.—Hatred of the Confederacy.—Skiff
   to Brown’s Island.—Father and Daughter.                           153

                   CHAPTER XXI.—FEEDING THE DESTITUTE.

 Destitute Ration Tickets.—White and Black Mendicants.—Spirit of
   Rapacity.—Certificates.—Spurious Cases.—American Union
   Commission.                                                       161

                CHAPTER XXII.—THE UNION MEN OF RICHMOND.

 One of the Twenty-one.—His Account of Confederate Times.—Rebel
   Fast Days.—Insurrection of Women.—Mr. L——’s Story.—Colonel
   Dahlgren’s Body.—Night Work for Union Men.—Story of Mr.
   W——.—In Salisbury Prison.—Union Women.—Minor Prisons.—“One
   Honest Yankee.”—Books for the Prisoners.—White and his Mule
   Cart.—Scene in a Prison Yard.—The Premises by Moonlight.—Not
   a “Love Affair.”—Escape of Two Prisoners.—A Halter
   Case.—Running the Lines to Butler.—Partiality to
   Traitors.—Union League.                                           166

                   CHAPTER XXIII.—MARKETS AND FARMING.

 Mixed Population of Richmond.—Market Carts.—Scene at the
   Stalls.—Vegetable Gardens.—Experience of a Jersey
   Farmer.—Farms for Sale.                                           178

                  CHAPTER XXIV.—IN AND AROUND RICHMOND.

 St. John’s Church and Patrick Henry.—St. Paul’s and Jeff.
   Davis.—State and Confederate Capitol.—Negro
   Auction-Rooms.—Hollywood and Oakwood Cemeteries.—General
   Lee’s Head-Quarters Wagon.—Rebel Conscript Camp.—A Champion
   of Slavery.—A Rebel.—Secesh Song.                                 182

                    CHAPTER XXV.—PEOPLE AND POLITICS.

 A Conservative Union Man.—A Confederate Soldier’s
   Opinions.—Female Secessionists.—Confederate Soldiers and the
   Ladies.—“Bomb-proof” Situations.—Governor
   Pierpoint.—Advantages to Northern Business Men.—State Debt
   and Finances.—Virginia Enterprise.—Coal Mines on the
   James.—Speech of a Played-Out Politician.—A Rival
   Candidate.—Political Views.—New Men.                              187

           CHAPTER XXVI.—FORTIFICATIONS.—DUTCH GAP.—FAIR OAKS.

 Ride with Major K——.—Forts and Earthworks.—Winter Quarters of
   the Army of the James.—Affair at Laurel Hill.—At New-Market
   Heights.—Gallop across the Country.—Butler’s Canal.—Origin of
   the Name “Dutch Gap.”—Cox’s House.—Out on the Nine-Mile
   Road.—Fair Oaks Station.—Seven Pines.—Charge of Sickles’s
   Brigade.—Savage’s Station.—Two Sundays.                           198

                 CHAPTER XXVII.—IN AND ABOUT PETERSBURG.

 From Richmond to the “Cockade City.”—Evening with Judge
   ——.—Story of Two Brothers.—Shelling of Petersburg.—Black
   Population.—Ride with Colonel E——.—The “Crater.”—Forts Hell
   and Damnation.—Forts Morton and Stedman.—“Petersburg
   Express.”—A Beautiful but Silent City.—Signal Tower.              205

            CHAPTER XXVIII.—JAMES RIVER AND FORTRESS MONROE.

 City Point.—Landmarks of Famous Events.—Hotel under the
   Fortress.—Jeff. Davis’s Private Residence.—Circuit of the
   Ramparts.—Pardoned Rebel.                                         215

                      CHAPTER XXIX.—ABOUT HAMPTON.

 Burning of Hampton.—Freedmen’s Settlements.—Visits to the
   Freedmen.                                                         219

                CHAPTER XXX.—A GENERAL VIEW OF VIRGINIA.

 Fertility.—Natural Advantages.—Old Fields.—Hills and
   Valleys.—Products.—Value of
   Land.—Manufactures.—Oysters.—Common Schools.—Freedmen’s
   Schools.—Negro Population.—Old Prejudice.—Wages.—Negroes in
   Tobacco Factories.—Freedmen’s
   Bureau.—Secession.—Railroads.—Finances.—Prospects.                224

               CHAPTER XXXI.—THE “SWITZERLAND OF AMERICA.”

 East Tennessee.—Home of President Johnson.—Knoxville.—An Old
   Nigger-Dealer.—Table-Talk.—East Tennesseeans and
   Niggers.—Neighborhood Feuds.—Persecution and
   Retaliation.—Story of a Loyal Refugee.                            237

                 CHAPTER XXXII.—EAST TENNESSEE FARMERS.

 Description of the People.—“Domestic.”—School-Fund and
   Schools.—Sects.—Farming.—Horses and Mules.—Grazing.—Want of a
   Market.—Products.—Mines.                                          243

                CHAPTER XXXIII.—IN AND ABOUT CHATTANOOGA.

 View from Cameron Hill.—Mixed Population.—Post
   School.—Freedmen’s Schools.—Freedmen.—Contraband
   Village.—Parade of a Colored Regiment.                            248

                    CHAPTER XXXIV.—LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.

 A Bag of Grist.—Ascent of the Mountain.—The General’s
   Orderly.—View from Point Lookout.—“Battle in the
   Clouds.”—“Old Man of the Mountain.”                               255

                  CHAPTER XXXV.—THE SOLDIERS’ CEMETERY.

 National Cemetery of Chattanooga.—The Cave.—Interring the Dead.     260

              CHAPTER XXXVI.—MISSION RIDGE AND CHICKAMAUGA.

 Storming the Ridge.—Rossville Gap.—A Dreary Scene.—The
   “Deadenings.”—Dyer Farm.—Camp of Colored Soldiers.—African
   Superstition.—Disinterring the Dead.—The Blunder of
   Chickamauga.—General Thomas’s Fight.                              263

           CHAPTER XXXVII.—FROM CHATTANOOGA TO MURFREESBORO’.

 Traces of Military Operations.—“Union Men.”—Passing the
   Cumberland Mountains.—The Country.—Story of Two
   Brothers.—“Little Johnny Reb.”—Railroad Travel.—General
   Hazen’s Head-Quarters.—Rebel Persecutions.                        270

                      CHAPTER XXXVIII.—STONE RIVER.

 Fortress Rosecrans.—Rebel and Union Lines.—McCook
   Surprised.—Round Forest.—Cemetery of Hazen’s Brigade.—New
   National Cemetery.                                                275

                 CHAPTER XXXIX.—THE HEART OF TENNESSEE.

 Nashville.—Cotton and Cotton Seed.—Battle of
   Nashville.—Legislature and Politics.—Governor
   Brownlow.—Major-General Thomas.—On Freedmen.—Freedmen’s
   Bureau.—Black and White Industry.—Freedmen’s Schools.             279

                   CHAPTER XL.—BY RAILROAD TO CORINTH.

 Condition of Railroad.—Battle-Ground of Franklin.—Crossing the
   River at Decatur.—A Young South Carolinian.—Whipping a
   Negro.—A Night in the Cars.—Morning in Corinth.—“Mighty
   Particular.”—The Corinthian Style.—Game.—Mr. M——’s Family and
   Servants.—Fate of a “Respectable Citizen.”                        290

                 CHAPTER XLI.—ON HORSEBACK FROM CORINTH.

 Winter Morning in the Woods.—Stop at a Log-House.—An Old Lady’s
   Misfortunes.—Old Lee’s Story.—A Roadside Encounter.               297

                           CHAPTER XLII.—ZEEK.

 Talk by the Way.—Mistletoe.—Farm-Houses.—Route of the
   Armies.—Beauregard’s Bivouac.—Across Owl Creek.—Zeek’s Home.      303

                      CHAPTER XLIII.—ZEEK’S FAMILY.

 A Tennessee Farm-House.—The Farmer.—The Kitchen.—Too well
   Ventilated by Half.—The Farmyard.—Mule-Pen and Out-Buildings.     306

            CHAPTER XLIV.—A NIGHT IN A TENNESSEE FARM-HOUSE.

 Concerning Doors.—Talk by the Firelight.—Depredations of the
   Two Armies.—Hunting Conscripts.—Origin of the Name “Owl
   Creek.”—Reminiscences of the Battle.—Smart Son-in-law.—Zeek
   Retires.—The Bridal Chamber.                                      312

                    CHAPTER XLV.—THE FIELD OF SHILOH.

 Departure.—Bridal Home.—Before and After the
   Battle.—Hildebrand’s Picket Line.—Graves in the Woods.—Shiloh
   Church.—Skeletons Rooted up by Swine.—Romance of the Widow
   Ray House.—Romance of a Bale of Hay.—Members of One
   Family.—Sheep Pasture.—The “Long Avenue.”—Trenches of the
   Dead.—Pittsburg Landing.—General Prentiss’s Disaster.             321

            CHAPTER XLVI.—WAITING FOR THE TRAIN AT MIDNIGHT.

 Mrs. M—— on Slavery.—Hunting for the Railroad.—Negro
   Encampment.                                                       328

                 CHAPTER XLVII.—FROM CORINTH TO MEMPHIS.

 West Tennessee.—Two Sides to the Picture.—Commerce of Memphis.      332

      CHAPTER XLVIII.—FREEDMEN’S SCHOOLS AND THE FREEDMEN’S BUREAU.

 Freedmen in Memphis.—Colored Benevolent
   Societies.—Schools.—Officers of the Bureau.—Old Wrongs
   Righted.—Summary Justice.—Milly Wilson’s Story.—Cases from
   Mississippi.—Business of the Bureau.—Suppressed Wills.            336

                   CHAPTER XLIX.—DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI.

 A Mississippi Steamboat.—Passengers.—Supper.—Evening
   Amusements.—Steamboat Race.—River and
   Shores.—Landings.—Captain and Colored Gentleman.—An Awful
   Thought.—Helena.—A Colored Soldier’s Return.—Condition of the
   Levees.—Freshets.—Best Protected Plantations.—Negro
   Insurrections.                                                    347

                   CHAPTER L.—IN AND ABOUT VICKSBURG.

 Sight of the Town.—Yankee Canal.—Hills of Vicksburg.—Caves.—An
   Under-Ground Residence.—Bombardment.—Famine.—Ride to the
   Fortifications.—Grant and Pemberton Monument.—Sherman’s
   Unsuccessful Assault.—Chickasaw Bayou.—Indian
   Mounds.—Fortifications below Vicksburg.—“Will the Freedmen
   Work?”.                                                           356

                 CHAPTER LI.—FREE LABOR IN MISSISSIPPI.

 Laborers defrauded of their Hire.—“Honesty” of a
   Planter.—Northern and Southern Master.—Freedmen and
   Planters.—Furnishing Supplies.—Slave Labor on Mr. P——’s
   Plantation.—Overseers and Negroes.—Change at Christmas.           362

                   CHAPTER LII.—A RECONSTRUCTED STATE.

 Ignorance of the Free-Labor System.—Serf Code.—Freedmen in
   Civil Courts.—Convention and Legislature.—State
   Militia.—White and Black Offenders.—Persecution of Union
   Men.—A Pardoned Rebel.—Freedmen’s Schools.                        369

                 CHAPTER LIII.—A FEW WORDS ABOUT COTTON.

 Best Cotton Lands.—Anxiety of the Planter.—Fascination of the
   Culture.—Northern Planters.—Estimate of Cost and
   Profits.—Prospect of Crop.                                        379

             CHAPTER LIV.—DAVIS’S BEND.—GRAND GULF.—NATCHEZ.

 Home of Jeff. Davis.—Colony of Paupers.—Other Farms on the
   Peninsula.—Success of the Freedmen.—Colored Courts.—Village
   of Grand Gulf.—The “Gulf.”—Situation of Natchez.—Cargoes of
   Cotton.—Talk with an Overseer.                                    383

                   CHAPTER LV.—THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.

 Used-up Deck Hands.—Toilsome Work and Brutal Treatment.—French
   Custom.—Steamboat Acquaintances.—Pay for Slaves.—Jim B—— and
   his Niggers.—“A Mountain Spout of a Woman.”—Talk with an
   Arkansas Planter.—Louisiana Planters.—Deck Passengers.—Black
   Woman’s Story.—French Inhabitants.—Creoles and
   Slaves.—Villages and Plantations.—Levees.—The River flowing
   on a Ridge.—Unavailable Swamps.—River Water.—River runs Up
   Hill.                                                             388

                     CHAPTER LVI.—THE CRESCENT CITY.

 Midwinter at New Orleans.—French Quarter.—Anomalous Third
   Class.—Style of Building.—Levee.—Where the Cotton
   goes.—Shipment of Cotton during the War and since.—Freight of
   a Liverpool Steamer.—St. Charles Rotunda.—One of the
   Crowd.—His Scheme for making a Fortune.—His Opinion of the
   Planters.—Northern Men in Louisiana.—Planters and
   Niggers.—Hard Overseers.—General Phil. Sheridan.—Military
   Division of the Gulf.—Troops in Texas.—The Mexican
   Question.—The South to be Northernized.—Sheridan’s Personal
   Appearance.—Governor Wells.—Deeds and Professions.—Mayor
   Kennedy.—On the Future of New Orleans and the South.—Street
   Railroads.—Property owned by People of Color.—A Black and
   White Strike.                                                     397

             CHAPTER LVII.—POLITICS, FREE LABOR, AND SUGAR.

 Radical Union Men.—On the President’s Policy.—On General
   Banks.—Gentleman who had no Vote.—Newspapers.—General T. W.
   Sherman.—Rebel Militia.—Colored “Cavalry” Drilling.—Capital
   and Labor.—Louisiana Serf Code.—Planters and the
   Bureau.—Dependence of the Negroes.—Defrauded by
   Whites.—Independent Homes for the Freedmen.—Colored
   Schools.—Northern Men.—A Sugar Plantation.—Abandoned
   Parishes.—Sugar and Cotton.—Cane Planting.—Field of Cane in
   June.—A Sugar-Mill.—Sugar Crop.—White Laborer.                    406

                CHAPTER LVIII.—THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY.

 Lake Ponchartrain.—Capture of the “Water Witch.”—Morning in the
   Gulf.—Entering Mobile Bay.—Scene of Farragut’s Fight.—A Poet
   in the Battle.                                                    415

                          CHAPTER LIX.—MOBILE.

 The Merchant Fleet.—Harbors on the Gulf.—Spanish
   Fort.—Obstructions in the Channel.—Up Spanish River.—The
   City.—The Great Explosion.—Business.                              420

                      CHAPTER LX.—ALABAMA PLANTERS.

 River Steamers.—Character of Alabamians.—One of the Despairing
   Class.—Mr. J——’s Experience.—Mr. G——’s Opinions.—Mr. H—— of
   Lowndes County.—Planters’ Justice.—One of the Hopeful
   Class.—Agricultural Associations.                                 423

                       CHAPTER LXI.—WILSON’S RAID.

 Shores of the Alabama.—Plantation Ploughs.—Author’s Ignorance
   Enlightened.—Selma.—Ruins of the Town.—Chain-Gang.—Battle of
   Selma.—A Freedman’s Story.—Loyalty and Fidelity.—Negro Boy
   Arthur.—Raiders in Lowndes County.—Planter’s Wife and the
   Wine.—Track of Wilson’s Cavalry.                                  433

                     CHAPTER LXII.—NOTES ON ALABAMA.

 Montgomery.—The Capitol.—Where the Confederate Egg was
   Hatched.—Men of the Back Country.—Small Farmers in the
   Legislature.—Original Secessionists and Union Men.—Young Man
   of Chambers County.—A Prisoner at Harrisburg.—Life among the
   Yankees.—Return Home.—Disloyalty of the People.—Newspapers
   and Churches.—Northern and Southern Alabama.—Union Men of
   Randolph County.—Great Destitution.—Service of the Freedmen’s
   Bureau.—Negro in Civil Courts.—Freedmen’s Schools.—Cotton
   Stealing.—Prospect of Cotton Crop.—How to Hire the
   Freedmen.—All Sorts of Contracts.—Northern Men in
   Alabama.—Topography.—Tree Moss.—Best Cotton
   Lands.—Disadvantages.—Artesian Wells.—Region of Small
   Farms.—Climate.—Common Schools.—First Cotton Crop.—Indian
   War.—Railroads.                                                   441

                  CHAPTER LXIII.—IN AND ABOUT ATLANTA.

 Closing Battles of the War.—The Yankees at West Point.—Foggy
   Night at Atlanta.—City by Daylight.—Colored Soldier’s
   Widow.—Property Destroyed.—Religion a
   Nuisance.—Rebuilding.—Rents.—White and Black
   Refugees.—Accounts by Citizens.—Negro’s Horse.—Jesse Wade,
   the Poor White; on Sherman’s Strategy; on Schools; on
   Reconstruction.—Nigger _versus_ White Man.—Out-door
   Convention of Freed People.—Georgia Railroads and Banks.          452

                  CHAPTER LXIV.—DOWN IN MIDDLE GEORGIA.

 Last View of Atlanta.—Negro Emigration.—Indigent
   Negroes.—Niggers’ best Friends.—Railroad to Macon.—The
   Country.—City of Refuge.—Colored Population.—Murders and
   Shootings.—Need of Cavalry.—Georgia and the War.—Freedmen’s
   Bureau and the People.—Negro of Middle Georgia.—Infraction of
   Contracts.—Control of Bureau Funds.—Macon Freedmen’s
   Schools.—Union Men in Georgia.—An Old Settler’s Story.—“No
   Party” Cry.—Confederates and Yankees.                             460

                       CHAPTER LXV.—ANDERSONVILLE.

 Yankee Prison at Macon.—“Death’s Acre.”—Trial of Captain
   Wirz.—His Personal Appearance.—Scene of his Crimes.—Name of
   the Town.—Present Appearance.—The Stockade.—Double Walls.—The
   Dead Line.—Prisoners’ Caves.—Huts and Barrack
   Sheds.—Out-Buildings.—Cemetery.—Death
   Record.—Inscriptions.—Rebel Owner’s Claim.—Testimony of
   Georgians.                                                        468

                CHAPTER LXVI.—SHERMAN IN MIDDLE GEORGIA.

 Tradition regarding General Sherman’s Gloves.—Confederate
   General’s Testimony.—Criticisms and Anecdotes.—“The Great
   Robber” in Jones County.—Confederate Stockings.—Yankee
   Soldiers and Rebel Dogs.—Sherman’s Field
   Orders.—Pillagers.—Shooting Horses and Stock.—Army and its
   Stragglers.—Negro and the Trunk.—Persuasion of a Rope.—The
   “Great Robber” in Putnam County.—Not a Raid.—Movement of the
   Army.—Panic of the People.—Flight from Milledgeville.—Masters
   and Slaves.                                                       475

                   CHAPTER LXVII.—PLANTATION GLIMPSES.

 Worn-out Plantations.—Houses on Props.—A Northern Man’s
   Experience.—Men and Women Ploughing.—Home Manufactures.—A
   Planter’s House.—Old Master and Young Master.—A Georgia Woman
   and the Yankees.                                                  482

           CHAPTER LXVIII.—POLITICS AND FREE LABOR IN GEORGIA.

 Milledgeville.—State Legislature.—Repudiation.—Complaints of
   Confederate Despotism.—Value of Slave Property; to be Paid
   for by the Government.—Common-School System.—Freedmen’s
   Schools.—Negro with the Small-Pox.—Georgia Planter and
   Niggers.—Kinder than the Yankees.—Poor Whites in New York and
   Massachusetts.—Abuse of the Yankees; of Freedmen’s
   Bureau.—Mr. C—— of Oglethorpe County; why he damned the
   Yankees.—Tax on Color.—Southern Methods.—State Commissioner
   of the Bureau.—Planters’ Profits.—Meanness of the
   Georgians.—Sending Negroes out of the State.—Ignorance of the
   Freed People.—Tendency to Idleness.—Bribes Offered.—Cruelties
   to Freedmen.—Public Sentiment on the Subject.—Cotton Crop.        488

                CHAPTER LXIX.—SHERMAN IN EASTERN GEORGIA.

 Sherman and the Railroads.—Condition of the Tracks.—General
   Grant on Sherman’s “Hair Pins.”—Machinery for Destroying
   Track.—Condition of the Bent Iron.—Railroad Buildings.—One
   Glove off.—The “Bummers” in Burke County.—People Stripped of
   Everything.—Sherman and the Old Woman.—Buried Gold and
   Silver.—Shrewdness of Planter’s Wife.—A “Sorry”
   Watch.—Experience of a Northern Man.—Running off Goods and
   Stock.—Hiding Place in the Bushes.—Coming of the
   Soldiers.—Stopped by Yankee Cavalry.—Why the Women
   screamed.—Pursuit of a Horse.—Luck of a Poor Planter.—Reduced
   to Corn-Meal Bran.—By Stage to Scarborough.—By Rail to
   Savannah.—Comments of the Passengers.—By the Ogeechee
   River.—Importation of Hay.                                        501

                   CHAPTER LXX.—A GLANCE AT SAVANNAH.

 Sherman at Savannah.—Conference with Secretary Stanton.—Issuing
   of General Orders No. 15.—Aspect of the
   City.—Situation.—Inhabitants.—Trade.—Colored
   Schools.—Bonaventure Cemetery.                                    508

                  CHAPTER LXXI.—CHARLESTON AND THE WAR.

 Charleston and Savannah Railroad.—Steamboats.—Morning in
   Charleston Harbor.—Objects in the Mist.—Historic
   Water.—Charleston and the Old Flag.—Early Walk in the
   City.—Turkey Buzzards.—People and Houses.—Great Fire of
   1861.—Its Origin.—Picturesque Ruins.—Damage done by
   Shells.—Spite against Firemen.—Panic and Flight of the
   Inhabitants.—A Northern Man’s Experience.—Nineteen Months’
   Bombardment.—Not a Joyful Anniversary.—Evacuation by the
   Rebels.—Fire and Explosion.—The City isolated.                    511

                 CHAPTER LXXII.—A VISIT TO FORT SUMTER.

 Harbor Obstructions.—Destructive Water Worm.—Palmetto
   Wharves.—Fort Sumter from without.—A Mass of Ruins.—Effect of
   Bombardment.—Section of the Old Wall.—Landing at the
   Fort.—Inside View.—The Old Flag again.—Situation of the
   Fort.—Old Iron under the Walls.—Cost of United States
   Forts.—Garrison.—Beauregard’s Bombardment.—Major Anderson’s
   Fame.—Fame not so cheap since.—Military Duty and Common
   Sense.—Policy of the Government.—The Fort from Morris Island.     517

                CHAPTER LXXIII.—A PRISON AND A PRISONER.

 General S——’s Visits to Charleston.—Taken Prisoner.—Jumping
   from the Cars.—Circular Perambulation.—The Man with the Bag
   of Corn.—Pine-leaves and Tobacco.—Chased by
   Blood-hounds.—What he lived on.—Visit to a lone Widow.—Night
   in a Canebrake.—A Man on Horseback.—Proffer of a Canteen.—A
   Friend in Need.—Night in a Gin-House.—Parting in the
   Morning.—Entangled among Streams.—Taken for a
   Spy.—Recognized.—How he got his Clothes again.—Sent to
   Macon.—Tunnelling the Ground under the
   Stockade.—Betrayed.—Sent to Charleston.—The Work-house.—Jail
   and Hospitals.—Entrance to the Work-house, Rooms, and
   Cells.—Prisoners’ Bunks.—Visited by a Shell.—Watching the
   Shells by Night.—A Taste of the pure Air.—Negro
   Whippings.—Tower of Observation.—Mountain of
   Offal.—“Kindness” to Prisoners.—Plans of Escape.—Exploring
   the Cistern.—Tunnelling the Walls.—Betrayed again.—Grand
   Scheme to Capture and Fire the City.—Exchanged.                   521

                     CHAPTER LXXIV.—THE SEA-ISLANDS.

 Negro of Cotton States and Border States.—Causes of
   Difference.—Slaves and Slavery in South Carolina.—Labor
   Disorganized.—Negro Instincts.—Emigration to the
   Coast.—Settlements under Sherman’s Order.—No more
   Allotments.—General Howard’s Visit.—President’s
   Theory.—Conflict of Authority.—Of Claims.—Nothing
   Settled.—Freedmen’s Crops.—Gun and
   Fishing-Rod.—Discouragement.—Difficult Question.                  532

                 CHAPTER LXXV.—A VISIT TO JAMES ISLAND.

 Stroll along the Wharves.—Negroes under
   Coal-Sheds.—Misery.—Boats to James Island.—Planters and their
   Freedmen.—Taciturn Boatman.—Previous Visits.—Captured by
   Negroes.—Third Visit.—Our Reception.—Number of
   Freedmen.—House of Three Orphans.—Conversation with their
   Guardian.—An Unreasonable Complaint.—A Northern Man’s
   Fortunes.—Negro from St. John.—“Faithful Old Family
   Servant.”—Colored Guard.—Women “Listing.”—Our Guard takes
   Notes.—Negroes Farming.—Attachment to their Homes.—Children
   going to School.—Shade-Trees used for Fences.—Extent of the
   Island.—Freedmen their own Driver.                                537

                CHAPTER LXXVI.—SHERMAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

 Destruction by the Army.—A South Side View.—In Orangeburg
   District.—A Lady’s Account.—Discipline of the Army.—Fidelity
   of an Old Cook.—Warned by a Dream.—Behavior of the
   Negroes.—Firing Houses.—Foragers.—Yankee Officers.—Soldiers’
   Fun and Mischief.—Behavior.—Destructiveness.—Three Nights in
   the Chimney Corner.—White Lie by a Black Boy.—White Officers
   and Black Girls.—Robbed of everything.—The Negroes
   afterwards.—Few White Men left in the Country.—Cut off from
   Charleston.                                                       546

                CHAPTER LXXVII.—THE BURNING OF COLUMBIA.

 The Fall of Pride.—Infatuation of the People.—Scenes of
   Panic.—Citizen Plunderers.—General Sherman’s Promise.—Origin
   of the Fires.—Accounts by Responsible Citizens.—Rocket
   Signals.—Fire-Balls thrown into Houses.—Stories of Federal
   Guards.—Skill at finding Treasures.—“Divining Rods.”—The Fire
   in the Distance.—Dismay and Terror.—Thirty Millions of
   Property Destroyed.—Sacking of the Churches; of Masonic and
   Odd-Fellow Lodges.—Drunkenness.—Discipline.—Robberies.—Many
   Guards faithful.—Curious Incidents.—Funeral of a
   Lapdog.—Popular Jokes in the Army.—Mrs. Minegault’s
   Bracelet.—Destitution.—Doing as we would have been done
   by.—War and Institutions of Learning.—Horrors left
   behind.—Ruins.                                                    553

                CHAPTER LXXVIII.—NOTES ON SOUTH CAROLINA.

 Free Labor in the Eastern District.—West of the
   Wateree.—Planters and the Crop they depended on.—Cotton and
   Corn.—Crops during the Confederacy.—Rice
   Culture.—Railroads.—Finances.—United States Taxes.—Prevalence
   of Crime.—Dishonest Treasury Agents; their Modes of
   Operating.—Animosity against the Government.—Progressive
   Class.—Governor Orr on Negro Suffrage.—Story of a Negro
   Carpenter.—Freedmen’s Schools.                                    565

                 CHAPTER LXXIX.—THE RIDE TO WINNSBORO’.

 By Stage from Columbia.—Destruction of the Railroad Track.—The
   Yankees Dissected.—A Skeleton at the Banquet.—Stage-Coach
   Conversation.—Negro Suffrage and Free Labor.—Spirit of the
   People.—Outrages on Negroes.—A Candid Confession.—Sherman’s
   “Bummers” at Winnsboro’.                                          571

             CHAPTER LXXX.—A GLIMPSE OF THE OLD NORTH STATE.

 Change of Scene.—North Carolina Legislature.—Business at
   Raleigh.—Impoverishment of the State.—Effects of
   Repudiation.—Stay Laws.—Rice Culture.—North Carolina
   Farmers.—Freedmen and Freedmen’s Schools.—Governor Worth on
   Sherman’s “Bummers”.                                              578

                       CHAPTER LXXXI.—CONCLUSIONS.

 Return Home.—Summing Up.—Condition of the South.—Demand for
   Capital and Labor.—Recovery of Agriculture and Business.—A
   Hint to Emigrants.—Loyalty of the People.—Union Men at the
   Close of Hostilities.—A Change for the Worse.—Talk for the
   Talk’s sake.—Enough of War.—Danger of Unarmed Rebellion.—Aims
   of Southern Leaders.—Security needed.—How to punish
   Treason.—Plans of Reconstruction.—Southern Plan.—Southern
   Representatives and the Test Oath.—The Rule of
   Justice.—Principles of the Declaration of
   Independence.—Impartial Suffrage.—History of Progressive
   Ideas.—Time for the Sowing of the New Seed.—Are the Blacks
   prepared for the Franchise?—The Basis of
   Representation.—Prospects.                                        583

                CHAPTER LXXXII.—THE WORK OF RESTORATION.

 A Year later.—Hopes disappointed.—Position of the Whites of the
   South.—Treatment of Southern Unionists, Black and
   White.—Sections where the Hostility was most
   intense.—Honorable and Noble Exceptions to this State of
   Feeling.—The most Noisy Supporters of the Lost Cause.—The
   Effect of President Johnson’s Course in stimulating this
   Hostility.—Review of his Course so far as it relates to
   Reconstruction.—Interviews with Southern Men.—Organization of
   Provisional Governments.—Specimens of the Men appointed by
   him as Governors.—Defiance of Congress in Advance.—Assurances
   to South Carolina.—Democratic Conventions indorsing the
   President’s Policy.—The Message of December, 1865.—Opposition
   to Congress.—His “White-washing Message.”—Veto of the First
   Freedmen’s Bureau Bill.—The 22d of February Speech.—Veto of
   the Civil Rights Bill.—Its Passage over the Veto.—Provisions
   of the Bill.—The Fourteenth Amendment to the
   Constitution.—What it was.—Veto of the Second Freedmen’s
   Bureau Bill.—Passage over the Veto.—Its Provisions.—Admission
   of Tennessee.—Mr. Johnson signs the Resolution, but
   protests.—The Memphis Riot.—The New Orleans Massacre.—Mr.
   Johnson responsible for them.—General Sheridan’s Account of
   it.—The Philadelphia Convention.—Its Tears.—It proves a
   Failure.—Mr. Johnson weeps.—Mr. Johnson’s Speeches.—Reply to
   the Philadelphia Committee.—“Congress hanging on the Verge of
   the Government.”—“Swinging round the Circle.”—Disgraceful
   Conduct of Mr. Johnson.—Billingsgate in his
   Speeches.—Wearisome Platitudes.—The Effect they had on the
   Elections of 1866.                                                591

                    CHAPTER LXXXIII.—RECONSTRUCTION.

 Condition of the Republican and Democratic Parties in Congress
   in December, 1866.—The District of Columbia Elective
   Franchise Bill passed: Its Provisions.—Mr. Johnson vetoes it,
   but it is passed over the Veto.—Territorial Franchise Bill
   passed.—Admission of Nebraska as a State, with the Elective
   Franchise Proviso.—Difficulties in Maturing satisfactorily
   the Reconstruction Act.—The Provisions of the House Bill.—It
   is materially changed in the Senate.—Further Modification in
   the House Provisions of the Bill as finally passed.—Necessity
   for the Tenure of Office Act: Its Provisions.—Effect of the
   Passage of the District of Columbia Franchise Bill on
   Tennessee.—Decision of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.—The
   First Supplementary Reconstruction Act of the Fortieth
   Congress.—It is vetoed, and re-passed: Its
   Provisions.—Arrangement for the Call of a Summer Session.—Mr.
   Stanbery’s Exposition of the Reconstruction Acts.—The Summer
   Session of 1867.—The Second Supplementary Reconstruction Act:
   Its Provisions.—Appropriations for Carrying out the
   Reconstruction Acts.—The President’s Communication.—The
   Resolution of the House in Reply.—Sharp Talk.—The Completion
   of Congressional Legislation on the Subject in
   1867.—Condition of the Desolated States in 1867.                  605

                CHAPTER LXXXIV.—THE WORK OF RESTORATION.

 Votes on the Fourteenth Constitutional Amendment.—The New
   States and Reconstructed States likely to vote for it.—Action
   of the Commanders of the Military Districts.—The Fifth
   District.—Measures adopted by General Sheridan.—His Reasons
   for them.—Further Action of General Sheridan.—Governor Wells
   removed, and Governor Flanders appointed.—Incidents in
   Charleston: The Railroad Cars; The Flag at the Charleston
   Fire Parade.—General Sickles’ Order No. 10: Its
   Provisions.—Attorney-General Stanbery’s Objections to
   it.—Other Orders of General Sickles.—He asks to be relieved
   of his Command.—Troubles in General Pope’s
   District.—Insubordination of Governor Jenkins: General Pope
   asks that he be removed; General Grant’s Indorsement.—Riot in
   Mobile.—In Richmond.—Registration, and Powers of Military
   Commanders.—The Interference of the Attorney-General.—His
   Written Opinions.—General Grant decides that they are not
   Mandatory.—General Sheridan’s Opinion of them.—Removal of
   Throckmorton.—Sheridan’s Complaint of Rousseau.—The Removal
   of Secretary Stanton determined upon, and of General Sheridan
   also.—The President’s Letter to Stanton.—Stanton’s
   Reply.—General Grant’s Private Letter to the
   President.—Stanton suspended, and Grant appointed Secretary
   of War ad interim.—The Order for Sheridan’s Removal.—General
   Grant’s Protest.—The President’s Reply.—Thomas appointed to
   the Fifth District, but declines on account of his
   Health.—Hancock appointed.—General Griffin’s Death.—General
   Sickles’ Removal.—Generals Canby and Mower’s Orders.—The
   President’s two Proclamations.—Who are to be amnestied.—The
   President’s Pardons.—General Hancock’s Special Order.—The
   President’s delight with it.—He proposes that Congress shall
   make a Public Recognition of the General’s
   Patriotism.—Congress “don’t see it.”—Measures of General
   Hancock.—General Grant revokes his Orders.—Hancock asks to be
   relieved, and is appointed by the President to the Command of
   the New Department of Washington.—The New
   Constitutions.—Alabama: The Measures of the Rebels to prevent
   the adoption of the Constitution.—The Constitutions of the
   other States adopted.—Vote on Convention and Constitution.        624

                    CHAPTER LXXXV.—SOCIAL CONDITION.

 Suffering at the South among the Freedmen and Loyal
   Whites.—Causes.—The Discharge of the Freedmen by their
   Employers for Voting.—Good Conduct of the
   Freedmen.—Description of the Scenes at the Polls in
   Montgomery, Ala.—Negro Suffrage, North and South.—Reasons why
   it was indispensable that the Freedmen should have the
   Ballot.—Testimony to the Good Conduct of the Negroes at the
   South.—Southern White Loyalty.—The Competency of the Negro
   for the exercise of Suffrage equal to that of the Poor
   Whites.—Eloquence of a Negro in Arkansas, a recent Slave.—The
   Destitution at the South.—Wrongs Inflicted on the
   Freedmen.—Laziness of the Rebel Whites.—The Advance in
   Education at the South.—Benevolent Associations.—Freedmen’s
   Bureau.—Mr. Peabody’s Munificent Gift.—Higher Education.—The
   Educational Provisions in the New Constitutions.—The Results
   which must flow from this in the Future.                          651

                      CHAPTER LXXXVI.—IMPEACHMENT.

 Foreshadowings of Impeachment.—Action on the subject in the
   XXXIXth Congress.—Mr. Ashley’s Motion.—Its defeat.—The
   resolutions of Messrs. Loan and Kelso.—Mr. Ashley’s
   resolution.—Report of the Impeachment Committee.—Postponement
   to XLth Congress.—The Committee renewed.—Their
   report.—Impeachment killed for the time.—Conduct of the
   President.—Reinstatement of Secretary Stanton.—The
   President’s quarrel with General Grant.—The reason why.—His
   attempts to prevent any communication with Secretary
   Stanton.—His attempt to remove Stanton and appoint General
   Thomas Secretary _ad interim_.—Stanton refuses obedience and
   appeals to congress.—The excitement.—Impeachment resolutions
   moved immediately.—Report of committee on reconstruction.—The
   vote on Impeachment—The announcement to the Senate.—Its
   reception.—Preparation of the Articles of Impeachment.—The
   managers elected.—The articles.—The Senate organized as a
   High Court of Impeachment.—The progress of the trial.—The
   speeches.—The Secret Session of the Court.—The delay of the
   vote.—The first vote on the eleventh article.—Defeat of
   Impeachment by a single vote.—The vote.—Probable effect on
   the President.—The vote on the second and third articles.—Mr.
   Stanton’s resignation.—The National Convention at
   Chicago.—Nomination of Grant and Colfax.—The ballots for Vice
   President.—The Platform.—Certainty of success.—The glorious
   future.                                                           669



                               THE SOUTH.



                               CHAPTER I.
                               THE START.


In the month of August, 1865, I set out to visit some of the scenes of
the great conflict through which the country had lately passed.

On the twelfth I reached Harrisburg,—a plain, prosaic town of brick and
wood, with nothing especially attractive about it except its
broad-sheeted, shining river, flowing down from the Blue Ridge, around
wooded islands, and between pleasant shores.

It is in this region that the traveller from the North first meets with
indications of recent actual war. The Susquehanna, on the eastern shore
of which the city stands, forms the northern limit of Rebel military
operations. The “high-water mark of the Rebellion” is here: along these
banks its uttermost ripples died. The bluffs opposite the town are still
crested with the hastily constructed breastworks, on which the citizens
worked night and day in the pleasant month of June, 1863, throwing up,
as it were, a dike against the tide of invasion. These defences were of
no practical value. They were unfinished when the Rebels appeared in
force in the vicinity: Harrisburg might easily have been taken, and a
way opened into the heart of the North. But a Power greater than man’s
ruled the event. The Power that lifted these azure hills, and spread out
the green valleys, and hollowed a passage for the stream, appointed to
treason also a limit and a term. “Thus far and no farther.”

The surrounding country is full of lively reminiscences of those
terrible times. Panic-stricken populations flying at the approach of the
enemy; whole families fugitive from homes none thought of defending;
flocks and herds, horses, wagon-loads of promiscuously heaped household
stuffs and farm produce,—men, women, children, riding, walking, running,
driving or leading their bewildered four-footed chattels,—all rushing
forward with clamor and alarm under clouds of dust, crowding every road
to the river, and thundering across the long bridges, regardless of the
“five-dollars-fine” notice, (though it is to be hoped that the
toll-takers did their duty;)—such were the scenes which occurred to
render the Rebel invasion memorable. The thrifty Dutch farmers of the
lower counties did not gain much credit either for courage or patriotism
at that time. It was a panic, however, to which almost any community
would have been liable. Stuart’s famous raid of the previous year was
well remembered. If a small cavalry force had swept from their track
through a circuit of about sixty miles over two thousand horses, what
was to be expected from Lee’s whole army? Resistance to the formidable
advance of one hundred thousand disciplined troops was of course out of
the question. The slowness, however, with which the people responded to
the State’s almost frantic calls for volunteers was in singular contrast
with the alacrity each man showed to run off his horses and get his
goods out of Rebel reach.

From Harrisburg I went, by the way of York and Hanover, to Gettysburg.
Having hastily secured a room at a hotel in the Square, (the citizens
call it the “Di’mond,”) I inquired the way to the battle-ground.

“You are on it now,” said the landlord, with proud satisfaction,—for it
is not every man that lives, much less keeps a tavern, on the field of a
world-famous fight. “I tell you the truth,” said he; and, in proof of
his words, (as if the fact were too wonderful to be believed without
proof,) he showed me a Rebel shell imbedded in the brick wall of a house
close by. (N. B. The battle-field was put into the bill.)

Gettysburg is the capital of Adams County: a town of about three
thousand souls,—or fifteen hundred, according to John Burns, who assured
me that half the population were Copperheads, and that they had no
souls. It is pleasantly situated on the swells of a fine undulating
country, drained by the head-waters of the Monocacy. It has no especial
natural advantages; owing its existence, probably, to the mere fact that
several important roads found it convenient to meet at this point, to
which accident also is due its historical renown. The circumstance which
made it a burg made it likewise a battle-field.

About the town itself there is nothing very interesting. It consists
chiefly of two-story houses of wood and brick, in dull rows, with
thresholds but little elevated above the street. Rarely a front yard or
blooming garden-plot relieves the dreary monotony. Occasionally there is
a three-story house, comfortable, no doubt, and sufficiently expensive,
about which the one thing remarkable is the total absence of taste in
its construction. In this respect Gettysburg is but a fair sample of a
large class of American towns, the builders of which seem never once to
have been conscious that there exists such a thing as beauty.

John Burns, known as the “hero of Gettysburg,” was almost the first
person whose acquaintance I made. He was sitting under the thick shade
of an English elm in front of the tavern. The landlord introduced him as
“the old man who took his gun and went into the first day’s fight.” He
rose to his feet and received me with sturdy politeness; his evident
delight in the celebrity he enjoys twinkling through the veil of a
naturally modest demeanor.

“John will go with you and show you the different parts of the
battle-ground,” said the landlord. “Will you, John?”

“Oh, yes, I’ll go,” said John, quite readily; and we set out.



                              CHAPTER II.
                        THE FIELD OF GETTYSBURG.


A mile south of the town is Cemetery Hill, the head and front of an
important ridge, running two miles farther south to Round Top,—the ridge
held by General Meade’s army during the great battles. The Rebels
attacked on three sides,—on the west, on the north, and on the east;
breaking their forces in vain upon this tremendous wedge, of which
Cemetery Hill may be considered the point. A portion of Ewell’s Corps
had passed through the town several days before, and neglected to secure
that very commanding position. Was it mere accident, or something more,
which thus gave the key to the country into our hands, and led the
invaders, alarmed by Meade’s vigorous pursuit, to fall back and fight
the decisive battle here?

With the old “hero” at my side pointing out the various points of
interest, I ascended Cemetery Hill. The view from the top is beautiful
and striking. On the north and east is spread a finely variegated farm
country; on the west, with woods and valleys and sunny slopes between,
rise the summits of the Blue Ridge.

It was a soft and peaceful summer day. There was scarce a sound to break
the stillness, save the shrill note of the locust, and the perpetual
click-click of the stone-cutters at work upon the granite headstones of
the soldiers’ cemetery. There was nothing to indicate to a stranger that
so tranquil a spot had ever been a scene of strife. We were walking in
the time-hallowed place of the dead, by whose side the martyr-soldiers
who fought so bravely and so well on those terrible first days of July,
slept as sweetly and securely as they.

“It don’t look here as it did after the battle,” said John Burns. “Sad
work was made with the tombstones. The ground was all covered with dead
horses, and broken wagons, and pieces of shells, and battered muskets,
and everything of that kind, not to speak of the heaps of dead.” But now
the tombstones have been replaced, the neat iron fences have been mostly
repaired, and scarcely a vestige of the fight remains. Only the
burial-places of the slain are there. _Thirty-five hundred and sixty
slaughtered Union soldiers lie on the field of Gettysburg._ This number
does not include those whose bodies have been claimed by friends and
removed.

The new cemetery, devoted to the patriot slain, and dedicated with
fitting ceremonies on the 19th of November, 1863, adjoins the old one.
In the centre is the spot reserved for the monument, the corner-stone of
which was laid on the 4th of July, 1865. The cemetery is semicircular,
in the form of an amphitheatre, except that the slope is reversed, the
monument occupying the highest place. The granite headstones resemble
rows of semicircular seats. Side by side, with two feet of ground
allotted to each, and with their heads towards the monument, rest the
three thousand five hundred and sixty. The name of each, when it could
be ascertained, together with the number of the company and regiment in
which he served, is lettered on the granite at his head. But the
barbarous practice of stripping such of our dead as fell into their
hands, in which the Rebels indulged here as elsewhere, rendered it
impossible to identify large numbers. The headstones of these are
lettered “Unknown.” At the time when I visited the cemetery, the
sections containing most of the unknown had not yet received their
headstones, and their resting-places were indicated by a forest of
stakes. I have seen few sadder sights.

The spectacle of so large a field crowded with the graves of the slain
brings home to the heart an overpowering sense of the horror and
wickedness of war. Yet, as I have said, not all our dead are here. None
of the Rebel dead are here. Not one of those who fell on other fields,
or died in hospitals and prisons in those States where the war was
chiefly waged,—not one out of those innumerable martyred hosts lies on
this pleasant hill. The bodies of once living and brave men, slowly
mouldering to dust in this sanctified soil, form but a small, a single
sheaf from that great recent harvest reaped by Death with the sickle of
war.

Once living and brave! How full of life, how full of unflinching courage
and fiery zeal they marched up hither to fight the great fight, and to
give their lives! And each man had his history; each soldier resting
here had his interests, his loves, his darling hopes, the same as you or
I. All were laid down with his life. It was no trifle to him: it was as
great a thing to him as it would be to you, thus to be cut off from all
things dear in this world, and to drop at once into a vague eternity.
Grown accustomed to the waste of life through years of war, we learn to
think too lightly of such sacrifices. “So many killed,”—with that brief
sentence we glide over the unimaginably fearful fact, and pass on to
other details. We indulge in pious commonplaces,—“They have gone to a
better world; they have their reward,” and the like. No doubt this is
true; if not, then life is a mockery, and hope a lie. But the future,
with all our faith, is vague and uncertain. It lies before us like one
of those unidentified heroes, hidden from sight, deep-buried,
mysterious, its headstone lettered “Unknown.” Will it ever rise? Through
trouble, toils, and privations,—not insensible to danger, but braving
it,—these men—and not these only, but the uncounted thousands
represented by these—confronted, for their country’s sake, that awful
uncertainty. Did they believe in your better world? Whether they did or
not, this world was a reality, and dear to them.

I looked into one of the trenches, in which workmen were laying
foundations for the headstones, and saw the ends of the coffins
protruding. It was silent and dark down there. Side by side the soldiers
slept, as side by side they fought. I chose out one coffin from among
the rest, and thought of him whose dust it contained,—your brother and
mine, although we never knew him. I thought of him as a child, tenderly
reared up—for this. I thought of his home, his heart-life:—

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

                       “Had he a father?
                         Had he a mother?
                       Had he a sister?
                         Had he a brother?
                       Or was there a nearer one
                       Still, and a dearer one
                         Yet, than all other?”

I could not know; in this world, none will ever know. He sleeps with the
undistinguishable multitude, and his headstone is lettered “Unknown.”

Eighteen loyal States are represented by the tenants of these graves.
New York has the greatest number,—upwards of eight hundred; Pennsylvania
comes next in order, having upwards of five hundred. Tall men from
Maine, young braves from Wisconsin, heroes from every State between, met
here to defend their country and their homes. Sons of Massachusetts
fought for Massachusetts on Pennsylvania soil. If they had not fought,
or if our armies had been annihilated here, the whole North would have
been at the mercy of Lee’s victorious legions. As Cemetery Hill was the
pivot on which turned the fortunes of the battle, so Gettysburg itself
was the pivot on which turned the destiny of the nation. Here the power
of aggressive treason culminated; and from that memorable Fourth of
July, when the Rebel invaders, beaten in the three days’ previous fight,
stole away down the valleys and behind the mountains on their
ignominious retreat,—from that day, signalized also by the fall of
Vicksburg in the West, it waned and waned, until it was swept from the
earth.

Cemetery Hill should be first visited by the tourist of the
battle-ground. Here a view of the entire field, and a clear
understanding of the military operations of the three days, are best
obtained. Looking north, away on your left lies Seminary Ridge, the
scene of the first day’s fight, in which the gallant Reynolds fell, and
from which our troops were driven back in confusion through the town by
overwhelming numbers in the afternoon. Farther south spread the
beautiful woods and vales that swarmed with Rebels on the second and
third day, and from which they made such desperate charges upon our
lines. On the right as you stand is Culp’s Hill, the scene of Ewell’s
furious but futile attempts to flank us there. You are in the focus of a
half-circle, from all points of which was poured in upon this now silent
hill such an artillery fire as has seldom been concentrated upon one
point of an open field in any of the great battles upon this planet.
From this spot extend your observations as you please.

Guided by the sturdy old man, I proceeded first to Culp’s Hill,
following a line of breastworks into the woods. Here are seen some of
the soldiers’ devices, hastily adopted for defence. A rude embankment of
stakes and logs and stones, covered with earth, forms the principal
work; aside from which you meet with little private breastworks, as it
were, consisting of rocks heaped up by the trunk of a tree, or beside a
larger rock, or across a cleft in the rocks, where some sharpshooter
stood and exercised his skill at his ease.

The woods are of oak chiefly, but with a liberal sprinkling of chestnut,
black-walnut, hickory, and other common forest-trees. Very beautiful
they were that day, with their great, silent trunks, all so friendly,
their clear vistas and sun-spotted spaces. Beneath reposed huge, sleepy
ledges and boulders, their broad backs covered with lichens and old
moss. A more fitting spot for a picnic, one would say, than for a
battle.

Yet here remain more astonishing evidences of fierce fighting than
anywhere else about Gettysburg. The trees in certain localities are all
scarred, disfigured, and literally dying or dead from their wounds. The
marks of balls in some of the trunks are countless. Here are limbs, and
yonder are whole tree-tops, cut off by shells. Many of these trees have
been hacked for lead, and chips containing bullets have been carried
away for relics.

Past the foot of the hill runs Rock Creek, a muddy, sluggish stream,
“great for eels,” said John Burns. Big boulders and blocks of stone lie
scattered along its bed. Its low shores are covered with thin grass,
shaded by the forest-trees. Plenty of Rebel knapsacks and haversacks lie
rotting upon the ground; and there are Rebel graves near by in the
woods. By these I was inclined to pause longer than John Burns thought
it worth the while. I felt a pity for these unhappy men, which he could
not understand. To him they were dead Rebels, and nothing more; and he
spoke with great disgust of an effort which had been made by certain
“Copperheads” of the town to have all the buried Rebels now scattered
about in the woods and fields gathered together in a cemetery near that
dedicated to our own dead.

“Yet consider, my friend,” I said, “though they were altogether in the
wrong, and their cause was infernal, these, too, were brave men; and,
under different circumstances, with no better hearts than they had, they
might have been lying in honored graves up yonder, instead of being
buried in heaps, like dead cattle, down here.”

Is there not a better future for these men also? The time will come when
we shall at least cease to hate them.

The cicada was singing, insects were humming in the air, crows were
cawing in the tree-tops, the sunshine slept on the boughs or nestled in
the beds of brown leaves on the ground,—all so pleasant and so pensive,
I could have passed the day there. But John reminded me that night was
approaching, and we returned to Gettysburg.

That evening I walked alone to Cemetery Hill, to see the sun set behind
the Blue Ridge. A quiet prevailed there still more profound than during
the day. The stone-cutters had finished their day’s work and gone home.
The katydids were singing, and the shrill, sad chirp of the crickets
welcomed the cool shades. The sun went down, and the stars came out and
shone upon the graves,—the same stars which were no doubt shining even
then upon many a vacant home and mourning heart left lonely by the
husbands, the fathers, the dear brothers and sons, who fell at
Gettysburg.

The next morning, according to agreement, I went to call on the old
hero. I found him living in the upper part of a little whitewashed
two-story house, on the corner of two streets west of the town. A flight
of wooden steps outside took me to his door. He was there to welcome me.
John Burns is a stoutish, slightly bent, hale old man, with a light-blue
eye, a long, aggressive nose, a firm-set mouth expressive of
determination of character, and a choleric temperament. His hair,
originally dark-brown, is considerably bleached with age; and his beard,
once sandy, covers his face (shaved once or twice a week) with a fine
crop of silver stubble. A short, massy kind of man; about five feet four
or five inches in height, I should judge. He was never measured but once
in his life. That was when he enlisted in the War of 1812. He was then
nineteen years old, and stood five feet in his shoes. “But I’ve growed a
heap since,” said John.

At my request he told his story.

On the morning of the first day’s fight he sent his wife away, telling
her that he would take care of the house. The firing was near by, over
Seminary Ridge. Soon a wounded soldier came into the town and stopped at
an old house on the opposite corner. Burns saw the poor fellow lay down
his musket, and the inspiration to go into the battle seems then first
to have seized him. He went over and demanded the gun.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked the soldier.

“I’m going to shoot some of the damned Rebels!” replied John.

He is not a swearing man, and the strong adjective is to be taken in a
strictly literal, not a profane, sense.

Having obtained the gun, he pushed out on the Chambersburg Pike, and was
soon in the thick of the skirmish.

“I wore a high-crowned hat and a long-tailed blue; and I was seventy
year old.”

The sight of so old a man, in such costume, rushing fearlessly forward
to get a shot in the very front of the battle, of course attracted
attention. He fought with the Seventh Wisconsin Regiment; the Colonel of
which ordered him back, and questioned him, and finally, seeing the old
man’s patriotic determination, gave him a good rifle in place of the
musket he had brought with him.

“Are you a good shot?”

“Tolerable good,” said John, who is an old fox-hunter.

“Do you see that Rebel riding yonder?”

“I do.”

“Can you fetch him?”

“I can try.”

The old man took deliberate aim and fired. He does not say he killed the
Rebel, but simply that his shot was cheered by the Wisconsin boys, and
that afterwards the horse the Rebel rode was seen galloping with an
empty saddle.

“That’s all I know about it.”

He fought until our forces were driven back in the afternoon. He had
already received two slight wounds, and a third one through the arm, to
which he paid little attention; “only the blood running down my hand
bothered me a heap.” Then, as he was slowly falling back with the rest,
he received a final shot through the leg. “Down I went, and the whole
Rebel army run over me.” Helpless, nearly bleeding to death from his
wounds, he lay upon the field all night. “About sun-up, next morning, I
crawled to a neighbor’s house, and found it full of wounded Rebels.” The
neighbor afterwards took him to his own house, which had also been
turned into a Rebel hospital. A Rebel surgeon dressed his wounds; and he
says he received decent treatment at the hands of the enemy, until a
Copperhead woman living opposite “told on him.”

“That’s the old man who said he was going out to shoot some of the
damned Rebels!”

Some officers came and questioned him, endeavoring to convict him of
bushwhacking. But the old man gave them little satisfaction. This was on
Friday, the third day of the battle; and he was alone with his wife in
the upper part of the house. The Rebels left; and soon after two shots
were fired. One bullet entered the window, passed over Burns’s head, and
penetrated the wall behind the lounge on which he was lying. The other
shot fell lower, passing through a door. Burns is certain that the
design was to assassinate him. That the shots were fired by the Rebels
there can be no doubt; and as they were fired from their own side,
towards the town, of which they held possession at the time, John’s
theory seems the true one. The hole in the window, and the bullet-marks
in the door and wall, remain.

Burns went with me over the ground where the first day’s fight took
place. He showed me the scene of his hot day’s work,—pointed out two
trees behind which he and one of the Wisconsin boys stood and “picked
off every Rebel that showed his head,” and the spot where he fell and
lay all night under the stars and dew.

This act of daring on the part of so aged a citizen, and his subsequent
sufferings from wounds, naturally called out a great deal of sympathy,
and caused him to be looked upon as a hero. But a hero, like a prophet,
has not all honor in his own country. There is a wide-spread, violent
prejudice against Burns among that class of the townspeople termed
“Copperheads.” The young men especially, who did not take their guns and
go into the fight as this old man did, but who ran, when running was
possible, in the opposite direction, dislike Burns; some averring that
he did not have a gun in his hand that day, but that he was wounded by
accident, happening to get between the two lines.

Of his going into the fight and _fighting_, there is no doubt whatever.
Of his bravery, amounting even to rashness, there can be no reasonable
question. He is a patriot of the most zealous sort; a hot, impulsive
man, who meant what he said when he started with the gun to go and shoot
some of the Rebels qualified with the strong adjective. A thoroughly
honest man, too, I think; although some of his remarks are to be taken
with considerable allowance. His temper causes him to form immoderate
opinions and to make strong statements. “_He always goes beyant_,” said
my landlord.

Burns is a sagacious observer of men and things, and makes occasionally
such shrewd remarks as this:

“Whenever you see the marks of shells and bullets on a house all covered
up, and painted and plastered over, that’s the house of a Rebel
sympathizer. But when you see them all preserved and kept in sight, as
something to be proud of, that’s the house of a true Union man!”

Well, whatever is said or thought of the old hero, he is _what he is_,
and has satisfaction in that, and not in other people’s opinions; for so
it must finally be with all. _Character_ is the one thing valuable.
_Reputation_, which is a mere shadow of the man, what his character is
_reputed_ to be, is, in the long run, of infinitely less importance.

I am happy to add that the old man has been awarded a pension.

The next day I mounted a hard-trotting horse and rode to Round Top. On
the way I stopped at the historical peach-orchard, known as Sherfy’s,
where Sickles’s Corps was repulsed, after a terrific conflict, on
Thursday, the second day of the battle. The peaches were green on the
trees then; but they were ripe now, and the branches were breaking down
with them. One of Mr. Sherfy’s girls—the youngest she told me—was in the
orchard. She had in her basket rareripes to sell. They were large and
juicy and sweet,—all the redder, no doubt, for the blood of the brave
that had drenched the sod. So calm and impassive is Nature, silently
turning all things to use. The carcass of a mule, or the godlike shape
of a warrior cut down in the hour of glory,—she knows no difference
between them, but straightway proceeds to convert both alike into new
forms of life and beauty.

Between fields made memorable by hard fighting I rode, eastward, and,
entering a pleasant wood, ascended Little Round Top. The eastern slope
of this rugged knob is covered with timber. The western side is steep,
and wild with rocks and bushes. Near by is the Devil’s Den, a dark
cavity in the rocks, interesting henceforth on account of the fight that
took place here for the possession of these heights. A photographic
view, taken the Sunday morning after the battle, shows eight dead Rebels
tumbled headlong, with their guns, among the rocks below the Den.

A little farther on is Round Top itself, a craggy tusk of the rock-jawed
earth pushed up there towards the azure. It is covered all over with
broken ledges, boulders, and fields of stones. Among these the
forest-trees have taken root,—thrifty Nature making the most of things
even here. The serene leafy tops of ancient oaks tower aloft in the
bluish-golden air. It is a natural fortress, which our boys strengthened
still further by throwing up the loose stones into handy breastworks.

Returning, I rode the whole length of the ridge held by our troops,
realizing more and more the importance of that extraordinary position.
It is like a shoe, of which Round Top represents the heel, and Cemetery
Hill the toe. Here all our forces were concentrated on Thursday and
Friday, within a space of two miles. Movements from one part to another
of this compact field could be made with celerity. Lee’s forces, on the
other hand, extended over a circle of seven miles or more around, in a
country where all their movements could be watched by us and
anticipated.

At a point well forward on the foot of this shoe, Meade had his
head-quarters. I tied my horse at the gate, and entered the little
square box of a house which enjoys that historical celebrity. It is
scarcely more than a hut, having but two little rooms on the
ground-floor, and I know not what narrow, low-roofed chambers above. Two
small girls, with brown German faces, were paring wormy apples under the
porch; and a round-shouldered, bareheaded, and barefooted woman, also
with a German face and a strong German accent, was drawing water at the
well. I asked her for drink, which she kindly gave me, and invited me
into the house.

The little box was whitewashed outside and in, except the floor and
ceilings and inside doors, which were neatly scoured. The woman sat down
to some mending, and entered freely into conversation. She was a widow,
and the mother of six children. The two girls cutting wormy apples at
the door were the youngest, and the only ones left to her. A son in the
army was expected home in a few days. She did not know how old her
children were; she did not know how old she was herself, “she was so
forgetful.”

She ran away at the time of the fight, but was sorry afterwards she did
not stay at home. “She lost a heap.” The house was robbed of almost
everything; “coverlids and sheets, and some of our own clo’es, all
carried away. They got about two ton of hay from me. I owed a little on
my land yit, and thought I’d put in two lots of wheat that year, and it
was all trampled down, and I didn’t git nothing from it. I had seven
pieces of meat yit, and them was all took. All I had when I got back was
jist a little bit of flour yit. The fences was all tore down, so that
there wa’n’t one standing, and the rails was burnt up. One shell come
into the house and knocked a bedstead all to pieces for me. One come in
under the roof and knocked out a rafter for me. The porch was all
knocked down. There was seventeen dead horses on my land. They burnt
five of ’em around my best peach-tree, and killed it; so I ha’n’t no
peaches this year. They broke down all my young apple-trees for me. The
dead horses sp’iled my spring, so I had to have my well dug.”

I inquired if she had ever got anything for the damage.

“Not much. I jist sold the bones of the dead horses. I couldn’t do it
till this year, for the meat hadn’t rotted off yit. I got fifty cents a
hundred. There was seven hundred and fifty pounds. You can reckon up
what they come to. That’s all I got.”

Not much, indeed!

This poor woman’s entire interest in the great battle was, I found,
centred in her own losses. What the country lost or gained, she did not
know nor care, never having once thought of that side of the question.

The town is full of similar reminiscences; and it is a subject which
everybody except the “Copperheads” likes to talk with you about. There
were heroic women here, too. On the evening of Wednesday, as our forces
were retreating, an exhausted Union soldier came to Mr. Culp’s house,
near Culp’s Hill, and said, as he sank down,—

“If I can’t have a drink of water, I must die.”

Mrs. Culp, who had taken refuge in the cellar,—for the house was now
between the two fires,—said,—

“I will go to the spring and get you some water.”

It was then nearly dark. As she was returning with the water, a bullet
whizzed past her. It was fired by a sharpshooter on our own side, who
had mistaken her for one of the advancing Rebels. Greatly frightened,
she hurried home, bringing the water safely. One poor soldier was made
eternally grateful by this courageous, womanly deed. A few days later
the sharpshooter came to the house and learned that it was a ministering
angel in the guise of a woman he had shot at. Great, also, must have
been his gratitude for the veil of darkness which caused him to miss his
aim.

Shortly after the battle, sad tales were told of the cruel inhospitality
shown to the wounded Union troops by the people of Gettysburg. Many of
these stories were doubtless true; but they were true only of the more
brutal of the Rebel sympathizers. The Union men threw open their hearts
and their houses to the wounded. One afternoon I met a soldier on
Cemetery Hill, who was in the battle; and who, being at Harrisburg for a
few days, had taken advantage of an excursion train to come over and
revisit the scene of that terrible experience. Getting into
conversation, we walked down the hill together. As we were approaching a
double house with high wooden steps, he pointed out the farther one, and
said,—

“Saturday morning, after the fight, I got a piece of bread at that
house. A man stood on the steps and gave each of our fellows a piece. We
were hungry as bears, and it was a godsend. I should like to see that
man and thank him.”

Just then the man himself appeared at the door. We went over, and I
introduced the soldier, who, with tears in his eyes, expressed his
gratitude for that act of Christian charity.

“Yes,” said the man, when reminded of the circumstance, “we did what we
could. We baked bread here night and day to give to every hungry soldier
who wanted it. We sent away our own children, to make room for the
wounded soldiers, and for days our house was a hospital.”

Instances of this kind are not few. Let them be remembered to the honor
of Gettysburg.

Of the magnitude of a battle fought so desperately during three days, by
armies numbering not far from two hundred thousand men, no adequate
conception can be formed. One or two facts may help to give a faint idea
of it. Mr. Culp’s meadow, below Cemetery Hill,—a lot of near twenty
acres,—was so thickly strown with Rebel dead, that Mr. Culp declared he
“could have walked across it without putting foot upon the ground.”
Upwards of three hundred Confederates were buried in that fair field in
one hole. On Mr. Gwynn’s farm, below Round Top, near five hundred sons
of the South lie promiscuously heaped in one huge sepulchre. Of the
quantities of iron, of the wagon-loads of arms, knapsacks, haversacks,
and clothing, which strewed the country, no estimate can be made.
Government set a guard over these, and for weeks officials were busy in
gathering together all the more valuable spoils. The harvest of bullets
was left for the citizens to glean. Many of the poorer people did a
thriving business picking up these missiles of death, and selling them
to dealers; two of whom alone sent to Baltimore fifty tons of lead
collected in this way from the battle-field.



                              CHAPTER III.
                    A REMINISCENCE OF CHAMBERSBURG.


Friday afternoon, August 18th, I left Gettysburg for Chambersburg, by
stage, over a rough turnpike, which had been broken to pieces by Lee’s
artillery and army wagons two years before, and had not since been
repaired.

We traversed a sleepy-looking wheat and corn country,

                 “Wherein it seemèd always afternoon,”

so little stir was there, so few signs of life and enterprise were
visible. Crossing the Blue Ridge, we passed through a more busy land
later in the day, and entered the pleasant suburbs of Chambersburg at
sunset.

The few scattered residences east of the railroad were soon passed,
however, and we came upon scenes which quickly reminded us that we had
entered a doomed and desolated place. On every side were the skeletons
of houses burned by the Rebels but a little more than a year before. We
looked across their roofless and broken walls, and through the sightless
windows, at the red sunset sky. They stared at us with their empty
eye-sockets, and yawned at us with their fanged and jagged jaws. Dead
shade-trees stood solemn in the dusk beside the dead, deserted streets.
In places, the work of rebuilding had been vigorously commenced; and the
streets were to be traversed only by narrow paths between piles of old
brick saved from the ruins, stacks of new brick, beds of mortar, and
heaps of sand.

Our driver took us to a new hotel erected on the ruins of an old one.
The landlord, eager to talk upon the exciting subject, told me his story
while supper was preparing.

“I had jeest bought the hotel that stood where this does, and paid eight
thousand dollars for it. I had laid out two thousand dollars fitting it
up. All the rooms had been new papered and furnished, and there was
three hundred dollars’ worth of carpets in the house not put down yet,
when the Rebels they jeest come in and burnt it all up.”

This was spoken with a look and tone which showed what a real and
terrible thing the disaster was to this man, far different from the
trifle it appears on paper. I found everybody full of talk on this great
and absorbing topic. On the night of July 29th, 1864, the Rebel cavalry
appeared before the town. Some artillery boys went out with a
field-piece to frighten them, and fired a few shots. That kept the
raiders at bay till morning; for they had come, not to fight, but to
destroy; and it was ticklish advancing in the dark, with the suggestive
field-piece flashing at them. The next morning, however, quite early,
before the alarmed inhabitants had thought of breakfast, they
entered,—the field-piece keeping judiciously out of sight. They had come
with General Early’s orders to burn the town, in retaliation for General
Hunter’s spoliation of the Shenandoah Valley. That they would commit so
great a crime was hardly to be credited; for what Hunter had done
towards destroying that granary of the Confederacy had been done as a
military necessity, and there was no such excuse for burning
Chambersburg. It seemed a folly as well as a crime; for, with our armies
occupying the South, and continually acquiring new districts and cities,
it was in their power, had they been equally barbarous, to take up and
carry on this game of retaliation until the whole South should have
become as Sodom.

Chambersburg had suffered from repeated Rebel raids, but it had escaped
serious damage, and the people were inclined to jeer at those
neighboring towns which had been terrified into paying heavy ransoms to
the marauders. But now its time had come. The Confederate leaders
demanded of the authorities one hundred thousand dollars in gold, or
five hundred thousand dollars in United States currency; promising that
if the money was not forthcoming in fifteen minutes, the torch would be
applied. I know not whether it was possible to raise so great a sum in
so short a time. At all events, it was not raised.

Then suddenly from all parts of the town went up a cry of horror and
dismay. The infernal work had begun. The town was fired in a hundred
places at once. A house was entered, a can of kerosene emptied on a bed,
and in an instant up went a burst of flame. Extensive plundering was
done. Citizens were told that if they would give their money their
houses would be spared. The money was in many instances promptly given,
when their houses were as promptly fired.

Such a wail of women and children, fleeing for life from their flaming
houses, has been seldom heard. Down the hardened cheeks of old men who
could scarce remember that they had ever wept, the tears ran in streams.
In the terrible confusion nothing was saved. In many houses money, which
had been carefully put away, was abandoned and burned. The heat of the
flames was fearful. Citizens who described those scenes to me considered
it miraculous that in the midst of so great terror and excitement, with
the town in flames on all sides at once, not a life was lost.

The part of the town east of the railroad is said to have been saved by
the presence of mind and greatness of spirit of a heroic lady. As her
house was about to be fired, she appealed to a cavalry captain, and,
showing him the throngs of weeping and wailing women and children
seeking refuge in the cut through which the railroad passes, said to
him, with solemn emphasis,—

“In the day of judgment, sir, you will see that sight again; then, sir,
you will have this to answer for!”

The captain was touched. “It is contrary to orders,” said he, “but this
thing shall be stopped.” And he stationed a guard along the track to
prevent further destruction of the city in that direction.

The homeless citizens crowded to a hill and watched from its summit the
completion of the diabolical work. The whirlwind of fire and smoke that
went roaring up into the calm, blue heavens, soon over-canopied by one
vast cloud, was indescribably appalling. Fortunately the day was still,
otherwise not a house would have been left standing. As it was, three
hundred and forty houses were burned, comprising about two thirds of the
entire town.

The raiders were evidently afraid of being caught at the work. The
smoke, which could be seen thirty or forty miles away, would doubtless
prove a pillar of cloud to guide our cavalry to the spot. Having hastily
accomplished their task, therefore, with equal haste they decamped.

Three of their number, however, paid the penalty of the crime on the
spot. Two, plundering a cellar, were shot by a redoubtable apothecary,—a
choleric but conscientious man, who was much troubled in his mind
afterwards for what he had done; for it is an awful thing to take human
life even under circumstances the most justifiable. “He was down-hearted
all the next day about it,” said one. In the meanwhile the dead
marauders were roasted and broiled, and reduced to indistinguishable
ashes, in the pyre they had themselves prepared.

A major of the party, who had become intoxicated plundering the
liquor-shops, lingered behind his companions. He was surrounded by the
incensed populace and ordered to surrender. Refusing, and drawing his
sword with maudlin threats, he was shot down. He was then buried to his
breast outside of the town, and left with just his shoulders protruding
from the ground, with his horrible lolling head drooping over them.
Having been exhibited in this state to the multitude, many of whom, no
doubt, found some comfort in the sight, he was granted a more thorough
sepulture. A few weeks before my visit to the place, a gentle-faced
female from the South came to claim his body; for he, too, was a human
being, and no mere monster, as many supposed, and there were those that
did love him.

The distress and suffering of the burnt-out inhabitants of Chambersburg
can never be told. “For six weeks they were jeest kept alive by the
provisions sent by other towns, which we dealt out here to every one
that asked,” said my landlord. “And I declare to fortune,” he added,
“there was scoundrels from the outside that hadn’t lost a thing, that
would come in here and share with our starving people.” These
scoundrels, he said, were Germans, and he was very severe upon them,
although he himself had a German name, and a German accent which three
generations of his race in this country had not entirely eradicated.

Besides the charity of the towns, the State granted one hundred thousand
dollars for the relief of the sufferers. This was but as a drop to them.
Those who had property remaining got nothing. The appropriation was
intended for those who had lost everything,—and there were hundreds of
such; some of whom had been stopped in the streets and robbed even of
their shoes, after their houses had been fired.

“This was jeest how it worked. Some got more than they had before the
fire. A boarding-house girl that had lost say eight dollars, would come
and say she had lost fifty, and she’d get fifty. But men like me, that
happened to have a little property outside, never got a cent.”

It will always remain a matter of astonishment that the great and
prosperous State of Pennsylvania did not make a more generous
appropriation. The tax necessary for the purpose would scarcely have
been felt by any one, while it would have been but a just
indemnification to those who had suffered in a cause which the whole
loyal North was bound to uphold. Families enjoying a small competency
had been at once reduced to poverty; men doing a modest and comfortable
business were unable to resume it. Those who could obtain credit before
could now obtain none. Insurance was void. Householders were unable to
rebuild, and at the time of my visit many were still living in shanties.
Nearly all the rebuilding that was in progress was done on borrowed
capital.

But there is no loss without gain. Chambersburg will in the end be
greatly benefited by the fire, inasmuch as the old two-story buildings,
of which the town was originally composed, are being replaced by
three-story houses, much finer and more commodious. So let it be with
our country; fearful as our loss has been, we shall build better anew.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                            SOUTH MOUNTAIN.


The next day I took the cars for Hagerstown; passed Sunday in that slow
and ancient burg; and early on Monday morning set out by stage for
Boonsboro’.

Our course lay down the valley of the Antietam. We crossed the stream at
Funk’s Town, a little over two miles from Hagerstown. “Stop at two miles
and you won’t be here,” said the driver. The morning was fine; the air
fresh and inspiring; and the fact that the country through which we
passed had been fought over repeatedly during the war, added interest to
the ride. A fertile valley: on each side were fields of tall and
stalwart corn. Lusty milkweeds stood by the fences; the driver called
them “wild cotton.” And here the Jamestown-weed, with its pointed
leaves, and flower resembling the bell of a morning-glory, became
abundant. “That’s _jimson_,” said the driver; and he proceeded to extol
its medicinal qualities. “Makes a good sa’v’. Rub that over a hoss, and
I bet ye no fly lights on him!”

At Boonsboro’ some time was consumed in finding a conveyance and a guide
to take me over the battle-fields. At length I encountered Lewy Smith,
light and jaunty Lewy Smith, with his light and jaunty covered
carryall,—whom I would recommend to travellers. I engaged him for the
afternoon of that day and for the day following; and immediately after
dinner he was at the tavern-door, snapping his whip.

The traveller’s most pleasant experience of Boonsboro’ is leaving it.
The town contains about nine hundred inhabitants; and the wonder is how
so many human souls can rest content to live in such a mouldy, lonesome
place. But once outside of it, you find Nature as busy in making the
world beautiful, as man inside has been in making it as ugly as
possible. A country village carries with it the idea of something
pleasant, shady, green; therefore do not think of Boonsboro’ as a
country village. Leave it behind you as soon as convenient, and turn
your face to the mountain.

That is the famed South Mountain, where the prologue to the Antietam
fight was enacted. “I never heard it called _South Mountain_ till after
the battle,” said Lewy Smith. “It was always the _Blue Ridge_ with us.”
He had never heard of Turner’s Gap, or Frog Gap, either. “We always
called it just the gap in the mountain.” The road to the gap runs
southeast from Boonsboro’, then turns easterly up the hills. It
stretched long and pleasant before us. “The night before the battle,”
said Lewy Smith, “this road was lined with Rebels, I tell ye! Both sides
were covered with them about as thick as they could lie. It was a great
sight to see so many soldiers; and it didn’t seem to us there were men
enough in the Union army to fight them. We thought the Rebels had got
possession of Maryland, sure. They just went into our stores and took
what they pleased, and paid in Confederate money; they had come to stay,
they said, and their money would be better than ours in a little while.
Some who got plenty of it did well; for when the Rebels slaughtered a
drove of cattle, they would sell the hides and take their own currency
for pay.”

The mountain rose before us, leopard-colored, spotted with sun and
cloud. A few mean log houses were scattered along the road, near the
summit of which we came to the Mountain House, a place of summer resort.
Here again man had done his best to defeat the aim of Nature; the house
and everything about it looked dreary and forbidding, while all around
lay the beautiful mountain in its wild forest-shades.

Lewy left his horse at the stable, and we entered the woods, pursuing a
mountain-road which runs south along the crest. A tramp of twenty
minutes brought us to the scene of General Reno’s brilliant achievement
and heroic death. A rude stone set up in the field, near a spreading
chestnut, marks the spot where he fell. A few rods north of this,
running east and west, is the mountain-road, with a stone wall on each
side of it, where the Rebels fought furiously, until driven out from
their defences by our boys coming up through the woods. The few wayside
trees are riddled with bullets. A little higher up the crest is a log
house, and a well in which fifty-seven dead Rebels are buried. “The
owner of the house was offered a dollar a head for burying them. The
easiest way he could do was to pitch them into the well. But he don’t
like to own up to having done it now.”

It was a sunny, breezy field. “Up yer’s a heap of air sturrin’,” said a
mountaineer, whom we met coming up the road. We sat down and talked with
him by the stone wall; and he told us of his tribulations and mishaps on
the day of the battle, attempting to fly south over the mountain with
his family; overloading his wagon, and breaking down just as the shells
began to explode around him; doing everything “wrong-eend fust, he was
so skeered.”

We pushed along through the woods to the eastern brow of the crest, in
order to obtain a general view of the field. Emerging from among the
trees, a superb scene opened before us,—Catoctin Valley, like a poem in
blue and gold, with its patches of hazy woods, sunlit misty fields, and
the Catoctin Mountains rolling up ethereal beyond.

The bridge across Catoctin Creek, half a mile west of Middletown, where
the fighting began on that memorable Sunday, September 14th, 1862, could
be seen half hidden and far away below. There our troops came up with
the rear-guard of the invading army. Driven back from the Creek, the
Rebels massed their forces and formed their line of battle, two miles in
extent, on this mountain-side, in positions of formidable strength.
Standing on the brow of the commanding crest, you would say that ten
thousand men, rightly posted, might here check the advance of ten times
their number, hold the gap on the left there, and prevent the steep
mountain-sides from being scaled.

In a barren pasture above the slope climbed by Reno’s men in face of the
Rebel fire, we came upon a little row of graves under some locust-trees.
I took note of a few names lettered on the humble head-boards. “John
Dunn;” “T. G. Dixon, Co. C, 23d Regt. O. V. I.;” several more were of
the 23d Ohio,—the impetuous regiment that had that day its famous
hand-to-hand conflict with the 23d South Carolina, in which each man
fought as though the honor of the nation depended upon his individual
arm. Here lay the victorious fallen. A few had been removed from their
rude graves. The head-boards of others had been knocked down by cows. We
set them up again, and left the field to the pensive sound of the
cow-bells and the teasing song of the locust.

Walking back to the road through the gap, and surveying the crests
flanking and commanding it, which were held by the Rebels, but carried
with irresistible impetuosity by the men of Burnside’s and Hooker’s
corps, one is still more astonished by the successful issue of that
terrible day’s work. All along these heights rebel and loyal dead lie
buried in graves scarcely distinguishable from each other. Long after
the battle, explorers of the woods were accustomed to find, in hollows
and behind logs, the remains of some poor fellow, generally a Rebel,
who, wounded in the fight, or on the retreat, had dragged himself to
such shelter as he could find, and died there, alone, uncared for, in
the gloomy and silent wilderness.

Crampton’s Gap, six miles farther south, stormed and carried that same
Sabbath day by the men of Franklin’s corps, I did not visit. The sun was
setting as we turned our faces westward; and all the way down the
mountain we had the Antietam valley before us, darkening and darkening
under a sky full of the softest twilight tints and tranquillity.



                               CHAPTER V.
                         THE FIELD OF ANTIETAM.


At seven o’clock the next morning, light and jaunty Lewy Smith was
snapping his whip again at the tavern-door; and I was soon riding out of
the village by his side.

Our course lay along the line of the Rebel retreat and of the advance of
the right wing of our army. A pleasant road, under the edge of woods
still wet with recent rain, brought us to Keedysville, a little cluster
of brick and log houses, all of which, Lewy told me, were turned into
hospitals after the great battle. At the farther end of the town is a
brick church. “That was a hospital too. Many an arm, a leg, a hand, was
left there by our boys. There’s a pit behind the church, five feet long,
five feet deep, and two feet wide, just full of legs and arms.”

We rode on until we obtained a view of the pleasant hill-sides where
Porter lay with his reserves, while the other army-corps did the
fighting, on the day of Antietam; then turned to the right down a little
stream, and past a dam, the waters of which glided still and shadowy
under fringed banks; and soon came in sight of the fields where the
great fight began. There they lay, over the farther bank of the
Antietam, some green, some ploughed, the latter turning up yellow as
ripe grain in the morning light.

“We used to could drive all over this country where we pleased. The
fences were laid down, and it was all trampled and cut up with the
wagons, and soldiers, and artillery.” But the fences had been replaced,
and now Lewy was obliged to keep the open road.

At a turn we came to a farm-house, near which were a number of
dilapidated barns and other outbuildings, and some old straw stacks. “It
was a sight to behold, passing yer after the battle!” said Lewy Smith,
shaking his head sadly at the reminiscence. “All in and around these yer
buildings, all around the hay-stacks, and under the fences, it was just
nothing but groaning, wounded men!”

Crossing the yellow-flowing Antietam, we turned up the right bank, with
its wooded shores on our right, and on our left a large cornfield
containing not less than forty or fifty acres. “There was right smart o’
corn all through yer time of the battle. Good for the armies, but not
for the farmers. Come to a cornfield like this, they just turned their
horses and cattle right into it, and let ’em eat.” You fortunate farmers
of the North and West, so proud and so careful of your well-tilled
fields never yet broken into in this ruinous fashion, have you fully
realized what war is?

Leaving the course of the creek, and crossing the fields where the
fighting on our extreme right began, we reached a still and shady grove,
beside which, fenced in from a field, was a little oblong burying-ground
of something like half an acre. In the centre was a plain wooden
monument constructed of boards painted white; the pedestal bearing this
inscription:—

“_Let no man desecrate this burial-place of our dead_;”

And the side of the shaft, towards the fence, these words:

“_I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he
were dead, yet shall he live._”

This was the hospital cemetery. The graves were close together in little
rows running across the narrow field. They were all overgrown with grass
and weeds. Each was marked by a small rounded head-board, painted white,
and bearing the name of the soldier sleeping below. Here is one out of
the number:—

[Illustration:

                              E. G. POOLE,
                           Co. G. 12th Mass.
                             Died Oct 14th,
                                 1862.]

As I wrote down this name, the hens in the farm-yard near by were
cackling jubilantly. The clouds broke also; a shaft of sunlight fell
upon the glistening foliage of the grove, and slanted down through its
beautiful vistas. I looked up from the sad rows of patriot graves, and
saw the earth around me, all around and above the silent mouldering
bodies of the slain, smiling sweetly through her misty veil. For Nature
will not mourn. Nature, serene, majestic, full of faith, makes haste to
cover the wounds in the Earth’s fair bosom, and to smile upon them. The
graves in our hearts also, which we deemed forever desolate, she clothes
with the tender verdure of reviving hope before we are aware, and gilds
them with the sunshine of a new love and joy. Blessed be our provident
mother for this sweet law, but for which the homes in the land, bereft
by these countless deaths in hospitals and on bloody fields, would lie
draped in endless mourning.

Near the monument, in the midst of the level burying-place, grew a
loftily nodding poke-weed, the monarch of his tribe. It was more like a
tree than a weed. With its roots down among the graves, and its hundred
hands stretched on high, it stood like another monument, holding up to
heaven, for a sign, its berries of dark blood.

Pursuing a road along the ridge in a southwesterly direction, Lewy at
length reined up his horse in another peaceful little grove. Without a
word he pointed to the rotting knapsacks and haversacks on the ground,
and to the scarred trees. I knew the spot; it was the boundary of the
bloody “cornfield.” We had approached from the side on which our boys
advanced to that frightful conflict, driving the Rebels before them, and
being driven back in turn, in horrible seesaw, until superior Northern
pluck and endurance finally prevailed.

In a field beside the grove we saw a man ploughing, with three horses
abreast, and a young lad for escort. We noticed loose head-boards,
overturned by the plough, on the edge of the grove, and lying half
imbedded in the furrows. This man was ploughing over graves!

Adjoining the field was the historic cornfield. I walked to the edge of
it, and waited there for the man to turn his long slow furrow down that
way. I sat upon the fence, near which was a trench filled with
unnumbered Rebel dead.

“A power of ’em in this yer field!” said the ploughman, coming up and
looking over as I questioned him. “A heap of Union soldiers too, layin’
all about yer. I always skip a Union grave when I know it, but sometimes
I don’t see ’em, and I plough ’em up. Eight or ten thousand lays on this
farm, Rebels and Union together.”

Finding him honest and communicative, I wished him to go over the ground
with me.

“I would willingly, stranger, but I must keep the team go’n’.”

I suggested that the boy was big enough to do that.

“Wal, he kin. Plough round onct,”—to the boy,—“or let ’em blow, tain’t
go’n’ to hurt ’em none.”

So he concluded to accompany me. We got over into the “cornfield,” late
a hog-pasture, and presently stopped at a heap of whitening bones.

“What’s this?” I said.

“This yer was a grave. The hogs have rooted it up. I tol’ the ol’ man he
oughtn’t to turn the hogs in yer, but he said he’d no other place to put
’em, and he had to do it.”

I picked up a skull lying loose on the ground like a cobblestone. It was
that of a young man; the teeth were all splendid and sound. How
hideously they grinned at me! and the eye-sockets were filled with dirt.
He was a tall man too, if that long thigh-bone was his.

Torn rags strewed the ground. The old ploughman picked up a fragment.

“This yer was a Union soldier. You may know by the blue cloth. But then
that ain’t always a sign, for the Rebels got into our uniform when they
had a chance, and got killed in it too.”

I turned the skull in my hand, half regretting that I could not carry it
away with me. My first shuddering aversion to the grim relic was soon
past. I felt a strange curiosity to know who had been its hapless owner,
carrying it safely through twenty or more years of life to lose it here.
Perhaps he was even then looking over my shoulder and smiling at it; no
longer a perishable mortal, but a spirit imperishable, having no more
use for such clumsy physical mechanism. The fancy came so suddenly, and
was for an instant so vivid, that I looked up, half expecting that my
eyes would meet the mild benignant eyes of the soldier. And these words
came into my mind: “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual
body.”

Let him who has never thought seriously of life look at it through the
vacant eye-sockets of a human skull. Then let him consider that he
himself carries just such a thing around with him, useful here a little
while, then to be cast aside.

                      “Every face, however full,
                    Padded round with flesh and fat,
                      Is but modelled on a skull.”

Take the lesson to heart, O Vanity! It is but a little time, at the
longest, that the immortal soul thou art will animate this bone; but the
hour comes quickly when to have been a good soldier of the truth on any
field, whether resounding with arms, or silent with the calm strong
struggle of love and patience, and to have given thy life to the cause,
will be sweeter to thee than the fatness of the earth and length of
days. No, heroic soldier! you I do not pity, though your mortal part
lies here neglected and at the mercy of swine.

The cornfield, and another field from which it was separated by a fence
at the time of the battle, are now thrown together, forming a lot of
about fifty acres. The upper part was dotted with little dry brown cocks
of seed-clover. No hogs were on it at the time; they had been turned
out, to save the clover-seed, I presume, for that was of some
consequence.

We found plenty more bones and skulls of Union soldiers rooted up and
exposed, as we ascended the ridge. Beside some lay their head-boards. I
noted the names of a few: “Sergt. Mahaffey, Co. C, 9th Regt. P. R. C.,”
for one.

“The Rebs had all the fence down ’cept a strip by the pike,” said the
ploughman. “That was jist like a sifter. Some of the rails have been cut
up and carried away for the bullet-holes.”

He showed me marks still remaining on the fence. Some of our soldiers
had cut their names upon it; and on one post some pious Roman Catholic
had carved the sacred initials:—

                               “I. H. S.”

“I reckon that was a soldier’s name too,” said my honest ploughman. And
so indeed it was,—_Jesus Hominum Salvator_.

Beyond the pike, between it and the woods, was a narrow belt of newly
ploughed ground.

“You see them green spots over yon’ covered with weeds? Them are graves
that I skipped.” In the edge of the woods beyond lay two unexploded
shells which relic-hunters had not yet picked up.

Whilst I was exploring the fields with my good-natured ploughman, Lewy
Smith brought his horse around by the roads. He was waiting for me on
the pike. “The last time I drove by yer,” he said, “there was a nigger
ploughing in that field, and every time he came to a grave he would just
reach over his plough, jerk up the head-board, and stick it down behind
him again as he ploughed along; and all the time he never stopped
whistling his tune.”

We drove on to the Dunker church, sometimes called “the Schoolhouse,”—a
square, plain, whitewashed, one-story brick building, without steeple,
situated in the edge of the woods. No one, from its appearance, would
take it to be a church; and I find that soldiers who fought here still
speak of it as “the Schoolhouse.”

“The Dunkers are a sect of plain people,” said one of the old Dutch
settlers. “They don’t believe in any wanities. They don’t believe in war
and fighting.”

But their church had got pretty seriously into the fight on that
occasion. “It was well smashed to pieces; all made like a riddle; you
could just look in and out where you pleased,” said Lewy Smith. It had
been patched up with brick and whitewash, however, and the plain people,
who “did not believe in wanities,” once more held their quiet meetings
there. I thought much of them as we rode on. A serious, unshaven thrifty
class of citizens, they know well how to get a living, and they bear an
excellent reputation for honest industry throughout the country. Their
chief fault seems to be that they persist in killing one of man’s
divinest faculties,—as if the sweet and refining sense of beauty would
have been given us but for a beneficent purpose. At the same time they
do believe sincerely in solid worldly goods,—as if they too were not,
after all, quite as much one of the “wanities”! Think of it, my solemn
long-bearded friend; you buy land, lay out your dollar in perishable
dust, or you expend it in the cultivation of those gifts and graces
which, if heaven is what I take it to be, you will find use for when you
get there. Now which do you suppose will prove the better investment?
All of religion does not consist in psalm-singing and sedate behavior.
But I do wrong to criticise so worthy and unoffending a sect of
Christians, who are no doubt nearer the kingdom than the most we call
such; and I merely set out to say this: while we are in the world, all
its interests, all its great struggles, concern us. We cannot sit
indifferent. Non-intervention is unknown to the awakened soul. Help the
good cause we must, and resist the evil; if we cannot fight, we can
pray; and to think of keeping out of the conflict that is raging around
us is the vainest thing of all, as yonder well-riddled plain people’s
church amply testifies.

As it was beginning to rain, Lewy Smith carried me on to Sharpsburg, and
there left me. A more lonesome place even than Boonsboro’; the battle
alone renders it in the least interesting; a tossed and broken sort of
place, that looks as if the solid ground-swell of the earth had moved on
and jostled it since the foundations were laid. As you go up and down
the hilly streets, the pavements, composed of fragments of limestone
slabs, thrust up such abrupt fangs and angles at you, that it is
necessary to tread with exceeding caution. As Sharpsburg was in the
thick of the fight, the battle-scars it still carries add to its
dilapidated appearance. On the side of the town fronting the Federal
line of battle, every house bears its marks; and indeed I do not know
that any altogether escaped. Many were well peppered with bullets, shot
and shell. The thousand inhabitants of the place had mostly fled to the
river, where they would have been in a sad plight if McClellan had
followed up the Rebels on their defeat, and done his duty by them.
Imagine a bent bow, with the string drawn. The bow is the river, and the
string is the Confederate line after the battle. At the angle of the
string is Sharpsburg; and between the string and the bow were the
fugitives. Fortunately for them, as for the enemy, McClellan did _not_
do his duty.

After dinner I started to walk to the bridge, known henceforth and for
all time as “Burnside’s Bridge,” just as the road his corps cut for
itself through the forests over the mountain, on his way hither from the
Sunday fight, is known to everybody as “Burnside’s Road.”

A shower coming up by the way, I sought shelter under the porch of a
stone house, situated on a rising bank near the edge of the town. I had
scarcely mounted the steps when a woman appeared, and with cordial
hospitality urged me to enter the sitting-room. Although the porch was
the pleasanter place,—overlooking the hills and mountains on the east,
and affording a comfortable wooden bench, where I had thought to sit and
enjoy the rain,—I accepted her invitation, having found by experience
that every dweller on a battle-field has something interesting to tell.

She and her neighbors fled from their homes on Tuesday before the
battle, and did not return until Friday. She, like nearly every person I
talked with who had acted a similar part, was sorry she did not remain
in the cellar of the house.

“When we came back, all I could do was jist to set right down and cry.”
The house had been plundered, their provisions, and the household
comforts they had been slowly getting together for years, had been swept
away by the all-devouring armies. “Them that stayed at home did not lose
anything; but if the soldiers found a house deserted, that they robbed.”

I inquired which plundered the most, our men or the Rebels.

“That I can’t say, stranger. The Rebels took; but the Yankees took right
smart. We left the house full, and when we got home we hadn’t a thing to
eat. Some wounded men had been fetched in, and they had got all the
bedding that was left, and all our clothing had been torn up for
bandages. It was a right hard time, stranger!”—spoken earnestly and with
tears. “I haven’t got well over it yet. It killed my old father; he
overworked getting the fences up again, and it wore on him so he died
within a year. We are jist getting things a little to rights again now,
but the place a’n’t what it was, and never will be again, in my day.”

She showed me, in an adjoining room, a looking-glass hanging within an
inch or two of a large patched space in the wall.

“That glass was hanging on that nail, jist as it hangs now, when a shell
come in yer and smashed a bedstead to pieces for me on that side of the
room, and the glass wasn’t so much as moved.”

Suspecting that I might be keeping her from her work, I urged her to
return to it, and found she had indeed quitted some important household
task, because “it didn’t seem right to leave a stranger sitting alone.”
I arose at once, on making that discovery, telling her I would rest
under the porch until the rain was over. She appeared for a moment quite
distressed, fearing lest the subtle law of politeness should somehow
suffer from her neglect. This woman’s sense of hospitality was very
strong, her whole manner carrying with it an earnest desire to make me
comfortable and keep me entertained while in her house. Although
troubled about her kitchen affairs, she seemed far more anxious about
her duty to me,—as if the accident of my being stopped by the rain at
her gate had placed her under sacred obligations. At last she thought of
a happy solution of the difficulty.

“I’ll get some pears and treat ye!” I begged her not to take that
trouble for me; but she insisted, repeating with pleased eagerness,
“Yes, I’ll get some pears and treat ye!”

She brought a dish of fruit, and afterwards sent two little girls, her
nieces, to keep me company while I ate. They were pretty, intelligent,
well-dressed misses of ten and twelve; the eldest of whom opened the
conversation by saying,—

“Right smart o’ fruit cher.” A phrase which I suspect every stranger
might not have understood, notwithstanding her prettily persuasive
smile. South of the Maryland and Pennsylvania line, and indeed in the
southern counties of Pennsylvania, one ceases to hear of a _plenty_ or a
_good deal_; it is always a “_heap_,” or “_right smart_.” The word
_here_, along the borders, is pronounced in various ways: _here_,
rarely; _yer_, commonly; _hyer_, which is simply _yer_ with an aspirate
before it; _jer_, when the preceding word ends with the sound of _d_,
and _cher_ after a final _t_. “Rough road jer,” is the southern for
“Rough road here”; “out cher,” means, similarly, “out here”; the final
_d_ and _t_ blending with the _y_ of _yer_, and forming _j_ and _ch_,
just as we hear “would jew” for “would you,” and “can’t chew” for “can’t
you,” everywhere.

The little girls played their hospitable part very charmingly, and I was
sorry to leave them; but the rain ceasing, I felt obliged to walk on.
They took me to their aunt, whom I wished to thank for her kindness.
Finding that I had not filled my pockets with the pears, as she had
invited me to do, she brought some grapes and gave me. I bore the purple
bunches in my hand, and ate them as I walked away from the house. They
were sweet as the remembered grace of hospitality.

The bridge was a mile farther on. The road strikes the creek, and runs
several rods along the right bank before crossing it. If the tourist is
surprised at the strength of the positions on South Mountain, from which
the Rebels were dislodged, he will be no less amazed at the
contemplation of Burnside’s achievement here. Above the road as it
approaches the bridge, and above the creek below the bridge, rises a
high steep bank, like a bluff. To approach from the opposite side,
exposed to a concentrated infantry and artillery fire flashing all along
this crest,—to carry the bridge, and drive back the enemy from their
vantage-ground,—one would say was a feat for the heroes of the age of
fable. But the truth is, though men are slow to receive it, there never
was any age, called “of fable,” or another, better than this,—none that
ever produced a more heroic race of men. We have worshipped the past
long enough; it is time now to look a little into the merits of the
present. Troy, and Greece, and Rome were admirable in their day, and the
men of Israel did some doughty deeds; but the men of New England, of the
great Middle States, and of the vast North-West, what have they done?
The Homeric heroes and demigods are in no way superior, except in brag,
to the hilarious lads of Illinois, or the more serious boys of
Massachusetts. Of materials such as these the poet would have made a
more resounding Iliad.

That Burnside’s command could ever have crossed this bridge, from the
high banks on the other side to the steep banks on this, in the face of
superior numbers pouring their deadly volleys upon them, that is what
astonishes you; and what grieves you is this: that reinforcements were
not sent to enable him to hold what he gained. If Porter, who had the
reserves, had been a man of right courage and patriotism, or anything
but a pet of the commanding general, he would have gone into the fight
when needed,—for reserves were not invented merely to be kept nice and
choice,—and the results of that day would have been very different.

I spent some hours about the bridge, the Antietam Creek singing all the
while its liquid accompaniment to my thoughts. It sang the same song
that day, but its peaceful music was drowned by the roar and clash of
the conflict. I sat down on a rock and watched a flock of buzzards
perched on the limbs of a dead tree, looking melancholy,—resembling, to
my mind, greedy camp-followers and army speculators, who remembered with
pensive regret the spoils of the good old war-days.

The bridge is narrow, affording space for only one vehicle at a time. It
is built of stone, and rests on two solid butments and two rounded
piers. There are woods on both sides of the stream. On the left bank
they stand a little back from it; on the right, they cover the side of
the bluff below the bridge. The trees all along here were well scarred
with shot. Half a mile below the bridge the creek makes a bold turn to
the right, and doubles back upon itself, forming a loop, then sweeps
away to the south, between a wooded hill on the west and a magnificent
growth of willows massing their delicate green and drooping foliage
along the low opposite shore.

Returning to the village, I visited the spot chosen as a national
cemetery for the slain. The ground had been purchased, but work upon it
had not yet commenced. As Pennsylvania gave the soil for the Gettysburg
Cemetery, so Maryland gives the soil for this; while each State will
defray its portion of future expenses. In the Antietam cemetery it is
understood that the Rebel dead are to be included. Many object to this;
but I do not. Skeletons, rooted up by hogs, and blanching in the open
fields, are a sight not becoming a country that calls itself Christian.
Be they the bones of Patriots or Rebels, let them be carefully gathered
up and decently interred without delay.

The Antietam National Burying-Ground also adjoins an old town cemetery.
It is situated on the right hand, at the summit of the road, as you go
up out of Sharpsburg towards Boonsboro’. Here let them rest together,
they of the good cause, and they of the evil; I shall be content. For
neither was the one cause altogether good, nor was the other altogether
bad: the holier being clouded by much ignorance and selfishness, and the
darker one brightened here and there with glorious flashes of
self-devotion. It was not, rightly speaking, these brothers that were at
war. The conflict was waged between two great principles,—one looking
towards liberty and human advancement, the other madly drawing the world
back to barbarism and the dark ages. America was the chessboard on which
the stupendous game was played, and those we name Patriots and Rebels
were but as the pawns.

Great was the day of Antietam. Three thousand of the enemy were buried
on the field. We had two thousand killed, upwards of nine thousand four
hundred wounded, and more than a thousand missing. Between the sweet
dawn and the bloody dusk of that dread day there fell TWENTY-FIVE
THOUSAND MEN! Can the imagination conceive of such slaughter?

And, after all, the striking fact about Antietam is this,—that it was a
great opportunity lost. The premature surrender of Harper’s Ferry, which
set free the force besieging it, and enabled the enemy to outnumber us
on the field,—for Stonewall Jackson was as anxious to get into the fight
as Fitz John Porter was to keep out of it,—and the subsequent inertia of
the General commanding the United States forces; these two causes
combined to save the Confederate army from annihilation. No such
opportunity for crushing the Rebellion at a blow had been offered, nor
was any such again offered,—not even at Gettysburg, for the enemy there
had no coiling river in their rear to entangle them, and we had no fresh
troops to launch upon them,—nor at any period afterwards, until Grant
consummated that long-desired object; God’s good time having not yet
come.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                   DOWN THE RIVER TO HARPER’S FERRY.


Sharpsburg is not a promising place to spend the night in, and I
determined to leave it that evening. In search of a private conveyance,
I entered a confectioner’s shop, and asked a young lady behind the
counter if she knew any person who would take me to Harper’s Ferry.

“Yes; Mr. Bennerhalls,” she replied; “I reckon ye can get him.”

She gave me particular directions for finding his house, and I went up
one of the broken pavements “fanged with murderous stones,” in search of
him. To my surprise I was told that Mr. Bennerhalls did not live on that
street; further, that no person of that name was known in Sharpsburg. I
returned to the confectioner’s shop.

“You said _Mr. Bennerhalls_?”

“Yes, sir; Mr. Bennerhalls, and Mr. Cramerhalls, and Mr. Joneshalls; I
should think you might get one of them.”

I fancy the young lady must have seen a smile on my countenance just
then. Bennerhalls, Cramerhalls, Joneshalls,—what outlandish cognomens
were these? Did half the family names in Sharpsburg rejoice in the
termination _halls_?

“I _know_ Mr. Joneshalls,” said the young lady, as I stood solving the
doubt, probably with an amused expression which she mistook for
sarcastic incredulity.

“Joneshalls” I had never heard of. But I had heard of Jones. Thanks to
that somewhat familiar name, I had found a clue to the mystery. “Jones
_hauls_,” thought I, that is to say, Jones hauls people over the road in
his wagon.

And the first-mentioned individual was not _Bennerhalls_ at all, but one
Benner who _hauled_.

I thanked the young lady for her courtesy,—and I am sure she must have
thought me a very pleasant man,—and went to find Mr. Benner without the
_halls_.

No difficulty this time. He was sitting on a doorstep, where he had
perhaps heard me before inquiring up and down for Mr. Bennerhalls, and
scratched his head over the odd patronymic.

“Yes, I have hosses, and I haul sometimes, but I can’t put one on ’em
over that road to Harper’s Ferry, stranger, nohow!”

I got no more satisfaction out of Cramer, and still less out of Jones,
who informed me that not only he would not go, but he didn’t believe
there was a man in Sharpsburg that would.

I returned to the tavern, and appealed to the landlord, a pleasant and
very obliging man, although not so well versed as some in the art of
keeping a hotel. To my surprise, after what Jones had told me, he said,
“if I could find no one else to haul me, he would.”

At five P. M. we left Sharpsburg in an open buggy under a sky that
threatened rain. Black clouds and thunder-gusts were all around us. The
mountains were wonderful to behold the nearer slopes lying in shadow,
sombre almost to blackness, while beyond, rendered all the more glorious
by that contrast, rose the loveliest sun-smitten summits, basking in the
peace of paradise. Beyond these still were black-capped peaks, about
which played uncertain waves of light, belts and bars of softest
indescribable colors, perpetually shifting, brightening, and vanishing
in mist. It was like a momentary glimpse of heaven through the stormy
portals of the world. Then down came the deluging rack and enveloped
all.

Through occasional spatters of rain, angrily spitting squalls, we
whipped on. It was a fleet horse my friend drove. He was pleased to hear
me praise him.

“That’s a North-Carolina horse. I brought him home with me.”

“You have been in the army then?”

And out came the interesting fact that I was riding with Captain Speaker
of the First Maryland Cavalry, a man who had seen service, and had
things to tell.

Everybody remembers, in connection with the shameful surrender of
Harper’s Ferry just before the battle of Antietam, the brilliant episode
of twenty-two hundred Federal cavalry cutting their way out, and
capturing a part of one of Longstreet’s trains on their escape. Captain
Speaker was the leader of that expedition.

“I was second lieutenant of the First Maryland Cavalry at the time. I
knew Colonel Davis very well; and when I heard Harper’s Ferry was to be
surrendered, I remarked to him that I would not be surrendered with it
alive. He asked what I would do. ‘Cut my way out,’ said I. When he asked
what I meant, I told him I believed I could not only get out myself, but
that I could pilot out with safety any number of cavalry that would take
the same risk and go with me. I had lived in the country all my life,
and knew every part of it. Colonel Davis saw that I was in earnest, and
knew what I was talking about. The idea just suited him, and he applied
to Colonel Miles for permission to put it into execution. Colonel Miles
was not a man to think much of such projects, and he was inclined to
laugh at it. ‘Who is this Lieutenant Speaker,’ said he, ‘who is so
courageous?’ Colonel Davis said he knew me, and had confidence in my
plan. ‘It’s all talk,’ said Miles; ‘put him to the test, and he’ll back
down.’

“Just try him,” said Davis.

“So Miles wrote on a piece of paper,—

“Lieutenant Speaker, will you take charge of a cavalry force and lead it
through the enemy’s lines?”

“I just wrote under it, on the same piece of paper, ‘Yes, with
pleasure;’ signed my name, and sent it back to him.”

At ten o’clock the same night they started. It was Sunday, the 14th of
September, the day of the battle of South Mountain. The party consisted
of twenty-two hundred cavalry and a number of mounted civilians who took
advantage of the expedition to escape from the town before it was
surrendered. Lieutenant Speaker and Colonel Davis rode side by side at
the head of the column. They crossed on the pontoon bridge, which formed
the military connection between Harper’s Ferry and Maryland Heights, and
turned up the road which runs between the canal and the Heights, riding
at full charge along the left bank of the Potomac. It was a wild road;
the night was dark; only the camp-fires on the mountain were visible;
and there was no sound but the swift clatter of thousands of galloping
hoofs, and the solitary rush of the Potomac waters.

Near a church, four miles from the Ferry, Speaker and Davis, who were
riding ahead of the party, were challenged by the Rebel pickets.

“Who goes there?”

“Friends to the guard.”

“What command?”

“Second Virginia Cavalry,” said Colonel Davis,—which was true, the
Second Virginia _Union_ Cavalry being of the party, while the Second
Virginia _Rebel_ Cavalry was also in the vicinity. “Who are you?”

“Louisiana Tigers.”

“All right. We are out scouting.”

“All right,” said the pickets.

The leaders rode back, formed their party at a short distance, gave the
word, and charged. They went through the Rebel line like an
express-train. A few shots were fired at them by the astonished pickets,
but they got through almost without loss. Three horses were killed and
three men dismounted, but the latter escaped up the mountain side, and
afterwards made their way safely into the Union lines.

They galloped on to Sharpsburg, keeping the same road all the way by
which Captain Speaker was now conveying me to the Ferry. The enemy held
Sharpsburg. Fortunately in every street and by-road Speaker was at home;
He called up a well-known Union citizen, from whom he obtained important
information. “The Rebels are in strong force on the Hagerstown Road.
They have heavy batteries, too, posted on the Williamsport Pike.” There
was then but one thing to do. “Down with the fences and take to the
fields,” said the pilot of the party.

This they accordingly did;—tramp, tramp, in the darkness, by cross-roads
and through fields and woods.

“We struck the pike between Hagerstown and Williamsport about two
o’clock. We came to a halt pretty quick, though, for there was a Rebel
wagon-train several miles in length, passing along the pike. There were
no fences; and the woods were clear and beautiful for our purpose. Our
line was formed along by the pike, extending some three-quarters of a
mile. Then we charged. The first the guards and drivers knew, there were
sabres at their heads; and all they had to do was to turn their wagons
right about and go with us. We captured over seventy wagons, all the
rear of the train. They had to travel a little faster in the other
direction than they had been going, so that some of the wagons broke
down by the way; but the rest we got safely off.”

It was just daylight when they arrived at Greencastle and turned the
wagons over to the Federal quartermaster there. “Then you should have
seen each fellow tumble himself off his horse! Remember, we had been
fighting at the Ferry, and this was the third night we had had no sleep.
Each man just took a turn of the bridle around his wrist, and dropped
down on the pavement in the street, anywhere, and in three minutes was
fast asleep.

“Colonel Davis and I found a cellar-door, softer than stones, to lie on,
and there we dropped. I was asleep as soon as my head struck the board.
But it couldn’t have been five minutes before I was woke up by somebody
pulling the bridle from my wrist.

“’What do you want?’

“’Want your horse; want you; want to give you some breakfast.’

“I got my eyes open; it was broad day then; and it was a beautiful
sight! Everybody in Greencastle was crowding to see the cavalry fellows
that had cut their way through the Rebel lines. The Colonel and I were
surrounded with ladies bringing us breakfast. I tell you, it was
beautiful!” And the Captain’s eyes glistened at the remembrance.

“We were hungry enough! But I said, ‘Just give my horse here something
to eat first; then I’ll eat.’ ‘Certainly.’ And they were going to take
him away from me, to some stable. ‘Never mind about that,’ said I. ‘Just
bring your oats and empty them down here anywhere; he’s used to eating
off the ground.’ The oats were not slow coming; and Colonel Davis and I
and our horses had breakfast together, with the ladies looking on. I
tell you, it was beautiful!”

It is eleven miles from Sharpsburg to Harper’s Ferry. After striking the
Potomac, we continued on down its left bank, with the canal between us
and the river on one side, and Maryland Heights, rising even more and
more rugged and abrupt, on the other; until, as we approached the bridge
at the Ferry, we looked up through the stormy dusk at mountain crags
rising precipitous several hundred feet above our heads. Crossing the
new iron bridge, near the ruins of the old one destroyed by the Rebels,
Captain Speaker landed me near the end of it on the Virginia side.

“Where is the hotel?” I asked, looking round with some dismay at the
dismal prospect.

“That is it, the only hotel at Harper’s Ferry now,”—showing me a new,
unpainted, four-story wooden building, which looked more like soldiers’
barracks than a hotel. There was not a window-blind or shutter to be
seen. The main entrance from the street was through a bar-room where
merry men were clicking glasses, and sucking dark-colored stuff through
straws. And this was a “first-class hotel kept on the European plan.” I
mention it as one of the results of war,—as an illustration of the
mushroom style of building which springs up in the track of desolation,
to fill temporarily the place of the old that has been swept away and of
the better growth to come.

One thing, however, consoled me. The hotel stood on the banks of the
Potomac, and I thought if I could get a room overlooking the river and
commanding a view of the crags opposite, all would be well; for often
the mere sight of a mountain and a stream proves a solace for saddest
things.

After supper a “room” was shown me, which turned out to be a mere bin to
stow guests in. There was no paper on the walls, no carpet on the rough
board floor, and not so much as a nail to hang a hat on. The bed was
furnished with sheets which came down just below a man’s knees, and a
mattress which had the appearance of being stuffed with shingles.
Finding it impossible, by dint of shouting and pounding, (for there was
no bell,) or even by visiting the office, to bring a servant to my
assistance, I went on a marauding expedition through the unoccupied
rooms, and carried off a chair, a dressing-table, and another bed
entire. This I placed on my mattress, hoping thereby to improve the
feeling of it,—a fruitless experiment, however: it was only adding a few
more shingles. Luckily I had a shawl with me. Never,—let me caution
thee, O fellow-traveller,—never set out on a long journey without a good
stout shawl. Such an appendage answers many purposes: a garment on a raw
and gusty day, a blanket by night, a cushion for the seat, a pillow for
the head,—to these and many like comfortable uses it is speedily applied
by its grateful possessor. Mine helped to soften the asperities of my
bed that night, and the next day served as a window-curtain.

Yet no devices availed to render the Shenandoah House a place favorable
to sleep. On the river-side, close by the door, ran the track of the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. How often during the night the trains
passed I cannot now compute; each approaching and departing with clatter
and clang, and shouts of men and bell-ringing and sudden glares of
light, and the voice of the steam-whistle projecting its shrill shriek
into the ear of horrified night, and setting the giant mountains to
tossing and retossing the echo like a ball.

The next morning I was up at dawn refreshing my eyesight with the
natural beauties of the place. It was hard to believe that those
beauties had been lying latent around me during all the long, wearisome
night. But so it is ever; we see so little of God’s great plan! The dull
life we live, close and dark and narrow as it seems, is surrounded by
invisible realities, waiting only for the rays of a spiritual dawn to
light them up into grandeur and glory.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                         AROUND HARPER’S FERRY.


At Harper’s Ferry the Potomac and Shenandoah unite their waters and flow
through an enormous gap in the Blue Ridge. The angle of land thus formed
is a sort of promontory; around the base of which, just where the rivers
meet, the curious little old town is built. Higher up the promontory lie
Bolivar Heights. On the north, just across the Potomac from the Ferry,
rise Maryland Heights; while on the east, across the Shenandoah, are
Loudon Heights, an equally precipitous and lofty crag. With sublime
rocky fronts these two mountains stand gazing at each other across the
river which has evidently forced its way through them here. Just where
the streams are united the once happily wedded mountains are divorced.
No doubt there was once a stupendous cataract here, pouring its shining
sheet towards the morning sun, from a vast inland sea; for the tourist
still finds, far up the steep face of the mountains, dimples which in
past ages ceaselessly whirling water-eddies made. In some of these
scooped places sand and smooth-worn pebbles still remain. But the
mountain-wall has long since been sundered, and the inland sea drained
off; the river forcing a way not only for itself but for the turnpike,
railroad, and canal, fore-ordained in the beginning to appear in the
ripeness of time and follow the river’s course.

Thus the town, as you perceive, is situated in the midst of scenery
which should make it a favorite place of summer resort. The cliffs are
picturesquely tufted, and tasselled, and draped with foliage, boughs of
trees, and festoons of wild vines, through which here and there upshoot
the perpendicular columns of some bold crag, softened into beauty by the
many-colored lichens that stud its sides. I count an evening walk under
Loudon Heights, with the broad, sprawling river hoarsely babbling over
its rocky bed on one side, and the still precipices soaring to heaven on
the other,—and the narrow stony road cut round their base lying before
me, untrodden at that hour by any human foot save my own,—I count that
lonely walk amid the cool, dewy scents stealing out of the undergrowth,
and the colors of the evening sky gilding the cliffs, as one of the
pleasantest of my life. What is there, as you look up at those soaring
summits and the low clouds sailing silently over them, that fills the
heart so full?

The morning after my arrival I climbed Maryland Heights by the winding
military road which owes its existence to the war. I have seen nothing
since the view from Mount Washington to be compared with the panorama
which unrolled itself around me as I ascended. Pictures of two States
were there, indescribably tinted in the early morning light,—beautiful
Maryland, still more beautiful Virginia, with the green Potomac valley
marking the boundary between. On the Maryland side were the little
valleys of the Monocacy and the Antietam. Opposite lay the valley of the
Shenandoah, dotted with trees, its green fields spotted with the darker
green of groves, a vast tract stretching away into a realm of hazy
light, belted with sun and mist, and bounded by faint outlines of
mountains so soft they seemed built of ether but a little more condensed
than the blue of the sky.

Yet it was war and not beauty which led man to these heights. The timber
which once covered them was cut away when the forts were constructed, in
order to afford free range for the guns; and a thick undergrowth now
takes its place. There are strong works on the summit, the sight of
which kindles anew one’s indignation at the imbecility which surrendered
them, with Harper’s Ferry and a small army, at a time when such an act
was sufficient to prolong the war perhaps for years.

It is a steep mile and more by the road from the Ferry to the top of the
cliffs: a mile which richly repays the travel. Yet one need not go so
far nor climb so high to see the beauties of the place. Whichever way
you turn, river, or rock, or wild woods charm the eye. The Potomac comes
down from its verdant bowers gurgling among its innumerable rocky
islets. On one side is the canal, on the other the race which feeds the
government works, each tumbling its yeasty super-flux over waste-weir
walls into the river. With the noise of those snowy cascades sweetly
blends the note of the boatman’s bugle approaching the locks. The eye
ranges from the river to the crags a thousand feet above, and all along
the mountain side, gracefully adorned with sparse timber, feathery
boughs and trees loaded down with vines, and is never weary of the
picture. At evening, you sit watching the sunset colors fade, until the
softened gray and dusky-brown tints of the cliffs deepen into darkness,
and the moon comes out and silvers them.

But while the region presents such features of beauty and grandeur, the
town is the reverse of agreeable. It is said to have been a pleasant and
picturesque place formerly. The streets were well graded, and the
hill-sides above were graced with terraces and trees. But war has
changed all. Freshets tear down the centre of the streets, and the
dreary hill-sides present only ragged growths of weeds. The town itself
lies half in ruins. The government works were duly destroyed by the
Rebels; of the extensive buildings which comprised the armory,
rolling-mills, foundry, and machine-shops, you see but little more than
the burnt-out, empty shells. Of the bridge across the Shenandoah only
the ruined piers are left; still less remains of the old bridge over the
Potomac. And all about the town are rubbish, and filth, and stench.

Almost alone of the government buildings, John Brown’s “Engine-house”
has escaped destruction. It has come out of the ordeal of war terribly
bruised and battered, it is true, its windows blackened and patched like
the eyes of a pugilist; but there it still stands, with its brown brick
walls and little wooden belfry, like a monument which no Rebel hands
were permitted to demolish. It is now used as a storehouse for arms.

The first time I visited this scene of the first blood shed in the great
civil war, which, although so few dreamed of it, was even then
beginning,—for John Brown’s flaming deed was as a torch flung into the
ready-heaped combustibles of the rebellion,—while I stood viewing the
spot with an interest which must have betrayed itself, a genial old
gentleman, coming out of the government repair-shop close by, accosted
me. We soon fell into conversation, and he told me the story of John
Brown at Harper’s Ferry.

“So they took the old man and hung him; and all the time the men that
did it were plotting treason and murder by the wholesale. They did it in
a hurry, because if they delayed, they wouldn’t have been able to hang
him at all. A strong current of public feeling was turning in his favor.
Such a sacrifice of himself set many to thinking on the subject who
never thought before; many who had to acknowledge in their hearts that
slavery was wrong and that old John Brown was right. I speak what I
know, for I was here at the time. I have lived in Harper’s Ferry fifteen
years. I was born and bred in a slave State, but I never let my love of
the institution blind me to everything else. Slavery has been the curse
of this country, and she is now beginning to bless the day she was
delivered from it.”

“Are there many people here who think as you do?”

“Enough to carry the day at the polls. The most of them are coming round
to right views of negro suffrage, too. That is the only justice for the
blacks, and it is the only safety for us. The idea of allowing the loyal
colored population to be represented by the whites, the most of whom
were traitors,—of letting a Rebel just out of the Confederate army vote,
and telling a colored man just out of the Union army that he has no
vote,—the idea is so perfectly absurd that the Rebels themselves must
acknowledge it.”

I was hardly less interested in the conversation of an intelligent
colored waiter at the hotel. He had formerly been held as a slave in the
vicinity of Staunton. At the close of the war he came to the Ferry to
find employment.

“There wasn’t much chance for me up there. Besides, I came near losing
my life before I got away. You see, the masters, soon as they found out
they couldn’t keep their slaves, began to treat them about as bad as
could be. Then, because I made use of this remark, that I didn’t think
we colored folks ought to be blamed for what wasn’t our fault, for we
didn’t make the war, and neither did we declare ourselves free,—just
because I said that, not in a saucy way, but as I say it to you now, one
man put a pistol to my head, and was going to shoot me. I got away from
him, and left. A great many came away at the same time, for it wasn’t
possible for us to stay there.

“Now tell me candidly,” said I, “how the colored people themselves
behaved.”

“Well, just tolerable. They were like a bird let out of a cage. You know
how a bird that has been long in a cage will act when the door is
opened; he makes a curious fluttering for a little while. It was just so
with the colored people. They didn’t know at first what to do with
themselves. But they got sobered pretty soon, and they are behaving very
decent now.”

Harper’s Ferry affords a striking illustration of the folly of
secession. The government works here gave subsistence to several hundred
souls, and were the life of the place. The attempt to overturn the
government failed; but the government works, together with their own
prosperity, the mad fanatics of Harper’s Ferry succeeded easily enough
in destroying. “The place never will be anything again,” said Mr. B., of
the repair-shop, “unless the government decides to rebuild the
armory,—and it is doubtful if that is ever done.”

Yet, with the grandeur of its scenery, the tremendous water-power
afforded by its two rushing rivers, and the natural advantage it enjoys
as the key to the fertile Shenandoah Valley, Harper’s Ferry, redeemed
from slavery, and opened to Northern enterprise, should become a
beautiful and busy town.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                         A TRIP TO CHARLESTOWN.


One morning I took the train up the Valley to Charlestown, distant from
Harper’s Ferry eight miles.

The railroad was still in the hands of the government. There were
military guards on the platforms, and about an equal mixture of
Loyalists and Rebels within the cars. Furloughed soldiers, returning to
their regiments at Winchester or Staunton, occupied seats with
Confederate officers just out of their uniforms. The strong, dark,
defiant, self-satisfied face typical of the second-rate “chivalry,” and
the good-natured, shrewd, inquisitive physiognomy of the Yankee
speculator going to look at Southern lands, were to be seen side by
side, in curious contrast. There also rode the well-dressed wealthy
planter, who had been to Washington to solicit pardon for his
treasonable acts, and the humble freedman returning to the home from
which he had been driven by violence, when the war closed and left him
free. Mothers and daughters of the first families of Virginia sat serene
and uncomplaining in the atmosphere of mothers and daughters of the
despised race, late their slaves or their neighbors’, but now citizens
like themselves, free to go and come, and as clearly entitled to places
in the government train as the proudest dames of the land.

We passed through a region of country stamped all over by the
devastating heel of war. For miles not a fence or cultivated field was
visible.

“It is just like this all the way up the Shenandoah Valley,” said a
gentleman at my side, a Union man from Winchester. “The wealthiest
people with us are now the poorest. With hundreds of acres they can’t
raise a dollar. Their slaves have left them, and they have no money,
even if they have the disposition, to hire the freed people.”

I suggested that farms, under such circumstances, should be for sale at
low rates.

“They should be; but your Southern aristocrat is a monomaniac on the
subject of owning land. He will part with his acres about as willingly
as he will part with his life. If the Valley had not been the best part
of Virginia, it would long ago have been spoiled by the ruinous system
of agriculture in use here. Instead of tilling thoroughly a small farm,
a man fancies he is doing a wise thing by half tilling a large one.
Slave labor is always slovenly and unprofitable. But everything is being
revolutionized now. Northern men and northern methods are coming into
this Valley as sure as water runs down-hill. It is the greatest corn,
wheat, and grass country in the world. The only objection to it is that
in spots the limestone crops out a good deal. There was scarcely
anything raised this season except grass; you could see hundreds of
acres of that waving breast-high without a fence.”

At the end of a long hour’s ride we arrived at Charlestown, chiefly
interesting to me as the place of John Brown’s martyrdom. We alighted
from the train on the edge of boundless unfenced fields, into whose
melancholy solitudes the desolate streets emptied themselves—rivers to
that ocean of weeds. The town resembled to my eye some unprotected
female sitting sorrowful on the wayside, in tattered and faded apparel,
with unkempt tresses fallen negligently about features which might once
have been attractive.

On the steps of a boarding-house I found an acquaintance whose
countenance gleamed with pleasure “at sight,” as he said, “of a single
loyal face in that nest of secession.” He had been two or three days in
the place, waiting for luggage which had been miscarried.

“They are all Rebels here,—all Rebels!” he exclaimed, as he took his
cane and walked with me. “They are a pitiably poverty-stricken set;
there is no money in the place, and scarcely anything to eat. We have
for breakfast salt-fish, fried potatoes, and treason. Fried potatoes,
treason, and salt-fish for dinner. At supper the fare is slightly
varied, and we have treason, salt-fish, fried potatoes, and a little
more treason. My landlady’s daughter is Southern fire incarnate; and she
illustrates Southern politeness by abusing Northern people and the
government from morning till night, for my especial edification.
Sometimes I venture to answer her, when she flies at me, figuratively
speaking, like a cat. The women are not the only outspoken Rebels,
although they are the worst. The men don’t hesitate to declare their
sentiments, in season and out of season.” My friend concluded with this
figure: “The war-feeling here is like a burning bush with a wet blanket
wrapped around it. Looked at from the outside, the fire seems quenched.
But just peep under the blanket, and there it is, all alive, and eating,
eating in. The wet blanket is the present government policy; and every
act of conciliation shown the Rebels is just letting in so much air to
feed the fire.”

A short walk up into the centre of the town took us to the scene of John
Brown’s trial. It was a consolation to see that the jail had been laid
in ashes, and that the court-house, where that mockery of justice was
performed, was a ruin abandoned to rats and toads. Four massy white
brick pillars, still standing, supported a riddled roof, through which
God’s blue sky and gracious sunshine smiled. The main portion of the
building had been literally torn to pieces. In the floorless hall of
justice rank weeds were growing. Names of Union soldiers were scrawled
along the walls. No torch had been applied to the wood-work, but the
work of destruction had been performed by the hands of hilarious
soldier-boys ripping up floors and pulling down laths and joists to the
tune of “John Brown,”—the swelling melody of the song, and the
accompaniment of crashing partitions, reminding the citizens, who
thought to have destroyed the old hero, that his soul was marching on.

It was also a consolation to know that the court-house and jail would
probably never be rebuilt, the county-seat having been removed from
Charlestown to Shepherdstown—“forever,” say the resolute loyal citizens
of Jefferson County, who refuse to vote it back again.

As we were taking comfort, reflecting how unexpectedly at last justice
had been done in that court-house, the townspeople passed on the
sidewalk, “daughters and sons of beauty,” for they were mostly a
fine-looking, spirited class; one of whom, at a question which I put to
him, stopped quite willingly and talked with us. I have seldom seen a
handsomer young face, a steadier eye, or more decided poise and aplomb;
neither have I ever seen the outward garment of courtesy so plumply
filled out with the spirit of arrogance. His brief replies, spoken with
a pleasant countenance, yet with short, sharp, downward inflections,
were like pistol-shots. Very evidently the death of John Brown, and the
war that came swooping down in the old man’s path to avenge him, and to
accomplish the work wherein he failed, were not pleasing subjects to
this young southern blood. And no wonder. His coat had an empty sleeve.
The arm which should have been there had been lost fighting against his
country. His almost savage answers did not move me; but all the while I
looked with compassion at his fine young face, and that pendent idle
sleeve. He had fought against his country; his country had won; and he
was of those who had lost, not arms and legs only, but all they had been
madly fighting for, and more,—prosperity, prestige, power. His beautiful
South was devastated, and her soil drenched with the best blood of her
young men. Whether regarded as a crime or a virtue, the folly of making
war upon the mighty North was now demonstrated, and the despised Yankees
had proved conquerors of the chivalry of the South. “Well may your
thoughts be bitter,” my heart said, as I thanked him for his
information.

To my surprise he appeared mollified, his answers losing their explosive
quality and sharp downward inflection. He even seemed inclined to
continue the conversation; and as we passed on, we left him on the
sidewalk looking after us wistfully, as if the spirit working within him
had still some word to say different from any he had yet spoken. What
his secret thoughts were, standing there with his dangling sleeve, it
would be interesting to know.

Walking on through the town, we came to other barren and open fields on
the farther side. Here we engaged a bright young colored girl to guide
us to the spot where John Brown’s gallows stood. She led us into the
wilderness of weeds, waist-high to her as she tramped on, parting them
before her with her hands. The country all around us lay utterly
desolate, without enclosures, and without cultivation. We seemed to be
striking out into the rolling prairies of the West, except that these
fields of ripening and fading weeds had not the summer freshness of the
prairie-grass. A few scattering groves skirted them; and here and there
a fenceless road drew its winding, dusty line away over the arid hills.

“This is about where it was,” said the girl, after searching some time
among the tall weeds. “Nobody knows now just where the gallows stood.
There was a tree here, but that has been cut down and carried away,
stump and roots and all, by folks that wanted something to remember John
Brown by. Every soldier took a piece of it, if ’twas only a little
chip.” So widely and deeply had the dying old hero impressed his spirit
upon his countrymen; affording the last great illustration of the power
of Truth to render even the gallows venerable, and to glorify an
ignominious death.

I stood long on the spot the girl pointed out to us, amid the gracefully
drooping golden-rods, and looked at the same sky old John Brown looked
his last upon, and the same groves, and the distant Blue Ridge, the
sight of whose cerulean summits, clad in Sabbath tranquillity and
softest heavenly light, must have conveyed a sweet assurance to his
soul.

Then I turned and looked at the town, out of which flocked the curious
crowds to witness his death. Over the heads of the spectators, over the
heads of the soldiery surrounding him, his eye ranged until arrested by
one strangely prominent object. There it still stands on the outskirts
of the town, between it and the fields,—a church, pointing its silent
finger to heaven, and recalling to the earnest heart those texts of
Scripture from which John Brown drew his inspiration, and for the truth
of which he willingly gave his life.

I had the curiosity to stop at this church on our way back to the town.
The hand of ruin had smitten it. Only the brick walls and zinc-covered
spire remained uninjured. The belfry had been broken open, the windows
demolished. The doors were gone. Within, you saw a hollow thing,
symbolical. Two huge naked beams extended from end to end of the empty
walls, which were scribbled over with soldiers’ names, and with
patriotic mottoes interesting for proud Virginians to read. The floors
had been torn up and consumed in cooking soldiers’ rations; and the foul
and trampled interior showed plainly what use it had served. The church,
which overlooked John Brown’s martyrdom, and under whose roof his
executioners assembled afterwards to worship, not the God of the poor
and the oppressed, but the God of the slaveholder and the aristocrat,
had been converted into a stable.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                      A SCENE AT THE WHITE HOUSE.


Late in the evening of the twenty-ninth of August I reached Washington.

Nearly every reader, I suppose, is familiar with descriptions of the
national capital;—its superb situation on the left bank of the Potomac;
the broad streets, the still more spacious avenues crossing them
diagonally, and the sweeping undulations of the plain on which it is
built, giving to the city its “magnificent distances”; and those grand
public buildings of which any country might be proud,—the Capitol
especially, with its cloudlike whiteness and beauty, which would be as
imposing as it is elegant, were it not that its windows are too many and
too small.

The manner in which the streets are built up, with here and there a fine
residence surrounded by buildings of an inferior character, often with
mere huts adjacent, and many an open space, giving to the metropolis an
accidental and heterogeneous character,—the dust in summer, the mud in
winter, the fetor, the rubbish, the garbage; and the corresponding
character of the population, the most heterogeneous to be found in any
American city, comprising all classes strangely mixed and fluctuating,
the highest beside the lowest, the grandest and broadest human traits
jostled by the meanest and foulest,—one half the people preying upon the
other half, which preys upon the government;—all this has been too often
outlined by others to be dwelt upon by me.

I noticed one novel feature in the city, however. At the hotel where I
stopped, at the Attorney-General’s office which I had occasion to visit,
and again at the White House, where I went to call on the President’s
military secretary, I met, repeatedly, throngs of the same or similar
strange faces.

It happened to be one of the President’s reception days; and the east
room, the staircases, the lower and upper halls of the White House, were
crowded. The upper hall especially, and the ladies’ parlor adjacent to
the President’s room, were densely thronged. Some were walking to and
fro, singly or in pairs; some were conversing in groups; others were
lounging on chairs, tables, window-seats, or whatever offered a support
to limbs weary of long waiting. One was paring his nails; another was
fanning himself with his hat; a third was asleep, with his head resting
much cramped in a corner of the walls; a fourth was sitting in a window,
spitting tobacco-juice at an urn three yards off. When he took pains, he
hit the urn with remarkable precision, showing long and careful
practice. But he did not always take pains, for the extreme heat and
closeness of the apartments were not favorable to exertion; and, indeed,
what was the use of aiming always at the urn, when nearly every man was
chewing tobacco as industriously as he, and generally spitting on the
floors,—which had already become the most convincing argument against
the habit of tobacco-chewing of which it is possible for the nauseated
imagination to conceive.

Faces of old men and young men were there,—some weary and anxious, a few
persistently jocose, and nearly all betraying the unmistakable Southern
type. It was, on the whole, a well-dressed crowd, for one so abominably
filthy.

“Nineteen out of twenty of all these people,” I was told by the
President’s secretary, “are pardon-seeking Rebels. The most of them are
twenty-thousand-dollar men, anxious to save their estates from
confiscation.”

As the President’s doors were expected soon to be opened, and as I
wished to observe his manner of dealing with those men, I remained after
finishing my business with the secretary, and mingled with the crowd.
The fumes of heated bodies, in the ill-ventilated halls, were far from
agreeable; and as the time dragged heavily, and the doors of the
President’s room continued closed, except when some favored individual,
who had sent in his card, perhaps hours before, was admitted, I was more
than once on the point of abandoning my object for a breath of fresh
out-door air.

The conversation of my Southern friends, however, proved sufficiently
interesting to detain me. One gay and jaunty old man was particularly
diverting in his remarks. He laughed at the melancholy ones for their
long faces, pretending that he could tell by each man’s looks which
clause of the exceptions, in the President’s amnesty proclamation, his
case came under.

“You were a civil officer under the Confederate government. Am I right?
Of course I am. Your face shows it. My other friend here comes under No.
3,—he was an officer in the army. That sad old gentleman yonder, with a
standing collar, looks to me like one of those who left their homes
within the jurisdiction of the United States to aid the Rebellion. He’s
a number ten-er. And I reckon we are all thirteen-ers,”—that is to say,
persons of the thirteenth excepted class, the value of whose taxable
property exceeded twenty thousand dollars.

“Well, which clause do you come under?” asked one.

“I am happy to say, I come under three different clauses. Mine’s a
particularly beautiful case. I’ve been here every day for a week waiting
on the President, and I expect to have the pleasure of standing at this
door many a day to come. Take example by me, and never despair.” And the
merry old man frisked away, with his cap slightly on one side, covering
gray hairs. His gay spirits, in that not very hilarious throng,
attracted a good deal of attention: but his was not the mirth of an
inwardly happy mind.

“You are not a Southern man?” said one, singling me out.

“No,” said I; “I am a Yankee.”

“You are not after a pardon, then. Lucky for you!”

“What have you done to be pardoned for?” I asked.

“I am worth over twenty thousand dollars; that’s my difficulty.”

“And you aided the Rebellion?”

“Of course,”—laughing. “Look here!”—his manner changed, and his bright
dark eye looked at me keenly,—“what do you Northerners, you
Massachusetts men particularly, expect to do now with the niggers?”

“We intend to make useful and industrious citizens of them.”

“You can’t!” “You never can do that!” “That’s an absurdity!” exclaimed
three or four voices; and immediately I found myself surrounded by a
group eager to discuss that question.

“The nigger, once he’s free, won’t work!”

“No,” said another; “he’ll steal, but he won’t work.”

“I pity the poor niggers, after what you’ve done for him,” said a third.
“They can’t take care of themselves; they’ll starve before they’ll work,
unless driven to it; and in a little while they’ll be exterminated, just
like the Indians.”

“I don’t think so,” said I. “The negro is very much like the rest of us,
in many respects. He won’t work unless he is obliged to. Neither will
you. So don’t blame him. But when he finds work a necessity, that will
drive him to it more surely than any master.”

“You Northerners know nothing of the negro; you should see him on our
plantations!”

“I intend to do so. In the mean time you should see him in our Northern
cities, where he takes care of himself very well, supports his family,
and proves an average good citizen. You should look into the affairs of
the Freedmen’s Bureau, here in Washington. There are in this city and
its vicinity upwards of thirty thousand colored people. The majority
have been suddenly swept into the department from their homes by the
chances of war. You would consequently expect to find a vast number of
paupers among them. But, on the contrary, nearly all are industrious and
self-supporting; only about three hundred of the number receiving
partial support from the government. Now take my advice: give your
negroes a chance, and see what they will do.”

“We do give them all the chance they can have. And it’s for our interest
to induce them to work. We are dependent on labor; we are going to ruin
as fast as possible for want of it. In the course of eight or ten years,
maybe, they will begin to find out that everything in creation don’t
belong to them now they are free, and that they can’t live by stealing.
But by that time, where will we be? Where will the negro be?”

Of these men, one was from Georgia, one from North Carolina, and others
from Florida and Virginia; yet they all concurred in the opinion, which
no argument could shake, that the freedmen would die, but not work.

Our conversation was interrupted by the opening of the President’s room.
A strong tide instantly set towards it, resulting in a violent jam at
the door. I was carried in by the crowd, but got out of it as soon as
possible, and placed myself in a corner where I could observe the
proceedings of the reception.

President Johnson was standing behind a barrier which extended the whole
length of the room, separating him from the crowd. One by one they were
admitted to him; each man presenting his card as he passed the barrier.
Those who were without cards were refused admission, until they had
provided themselves with those little conveniences at a desk in the
hall.

I should scarcely have recognized the President from any of his
published pictures. He appeared to me a man rather below the medium
height, sufficiently stout, with a massy, well-developed head, strong
features, dark, iron-gray hair, a thick, dark complexion, deep-sunk
eyes, with a peculiarly wrinkled, care-worn look about them, and a weary
expression generally. His voice was mild and subdued, and his manner
kindly. He shook hands with none. To each applicant for pardon he put a
question or two, sometimes only one, and dispatched him, with a word of
promise or advice. No one was permitted to occupy more than a minute or
two of his time, while some were disposed of in as many seconds. On the
whole, it was an interesting but sad scene; and I still carry in my
memory the President’s weary look, and the disappointed faces of the
applicants, who, after long waiting, and perhaps going through with this
same ceremony day after day, received no intimation that the object of
their hopes was near its accomplishment.



                               CHAPTER X.
                               BULL RUN.


Taking the train at Washington, and crossing the long railroad bridge
which spans the Potomac, I entered again a portion of Virginia rendered
celebrated and desolate by war.

Running down to Alexandria, and making a short stop there, we rattled on
towards Manassas. All the names throughout that region are historical,
stamped and re-stamped upon the memory of America by the burning brand
of war. The brakeman bawls in at the door of the car words which start
you with a thrill of recollection. The mind goes back through four fiery
years of conflict to the campaign of ’61, until it grows bewildered, in
doubt whether that contest or this journey is unreal,—for surely one
must be a dream! That first season of disaster and dismay, which
associated the names of Fairfax Court House, Centreville, Bull Run,
Manassas, with something infinitely horrible and fatal, had passed away
like a cloud; the storm of the subsequent year, still more terrible,
except that we had grown accustomed to such, had also passed, dissolving
in thin vapor of history; and one would never have guessed that such
things had been, but for the marks of the wrath of heaven, which had
left the country scathed as with hailstones and coals of fire.

Yes, those skirmishes and dire contests were realities; and now this
quiet journey, this commonplace mode of travel into what was then the
“enemy’s country,” with hot-blooded Virginians (now looking cool enough)
sitting upon the seats next us, and conversing tamely and even
pleasantly with us when we accosted them,—no murderous masked batteries
in front, no guerrillas in the woods waiting to attack the train; in
short, no danger threatening but the vulgar one of railroad disasters,
of late become so common; this too was a reality no less wonderful,
contrasted with the late rampant days of Rebel defiance.

From Alexandria to Manassas Junction it is twenty-seven miles. Through
all that distance we saw no signs of human industry, save here and there
a sickly, half-cultivated cornfield, which looked as if it had been put
in late, and left to pine in solitude. There were a few wood-lots still
left standing; but the country for the most part consisted of fenceless
fields abandoned to weeds, stump-lots, and undergrowths.

“Manassas Junction!” announced the brakeman; and we alighted. A more
forbidding locality can scarcely be imagined. I believe there were a
number of houses and shops there before the war, but they were
destroyed, and two or three rum-shanties had lately sprung up in their
place. A row of black bottles, ranged on a shelf under a rudely
constructed shed, were the first signs I saw of a reviving civilization.
Near by a new tavern was building, of so fragile and thin a shell, it
seemed as if the first high wind must blow it down. I also noticed some
negroes digging a well; for such are the needs of an advancing
civilization: first rum, then a little water to put into it. All around
was a desolate plain, slightly relieved from its dreary monotony by two
or three Rebel forts overgrown with weeds.

A tall young member of the Western press accompanied me. I went to a
stable to secure a conveyance to the battle-field; and, returning, found
him seated on the steps of one of the “Refreshment Saloons,” engaged in
lively conversation with a red-faced and excitable young stranger. The
latter was speaking boastingly of “our army.”

“Which army do you mean? for there were two, you know,” said my friend.

“I mean the Confederate army, the best and bravest army that ever was!”
said he of the red face, emphatically.

“It seems to me,” remarked my friend, “the best and bravest army that
ever was got pretty badly whipped.”

“The Confederate army never was whipped! We were overpowered.”

“I see you Southern gentlemen have a new word. With us, when a man goes
into a fight and comes out second best, the condition he is in is
vulgarly called _whipped_.”

“We were overpowered by numbers!” ejaculated the Rebel. “Your army was
three times as big as ours.”

“That’s nothing, for you know one Southerner was equal to five Yankees.”

“And so he is, and always will be! But you had to get the niggers to
help you.”

“What are a few niggers? They would always run, you know, at sight of
their masters, while of course such a thing was never known as their
masters running from them!”

The unhappy member of the “overpowered” party flushed and fumed a while,
not knowing what answer to make, then burst forth,—

“It was the foreigners! You never would have beaten us if it hadn’t been
for the foreigners that made up your armies!”

“What!” said my friend, “you, an American, acknowledge yourself beaten
by foreigners! I am ashamed of you!”

And the wagon arriving, he jumped into it with a laugh, leaving the
Southerner, not whipped of course, but decidedly “overpowered” in this
little contest of wit. It was quite evident that he was not equal to
five Yankees with his tongue.

“That young fellow you was talking with,” said our driver, “was one of
Mosby’s guerrillas. There are plenty of them around here. They are
terrible at talking, but that is about all.”

The wagon was an ambulance which had cost the government two hundred and
fifty dollars a few months before. The springs proving inferior, it was
condemned, and sold at auction for twenty-four dollars. “I paid a
hundred and twenty-five for it the next day,” said the driver; “and it’s
well worth the money.” It was a strong, heavy, well-built vehicle, well
suited to his business. “I was down here with my regiment when I got my
discharge, and it struck me something might be made by taking visitors
out to the battle-fields. But I haven’t saved a cent at it yet;
passengers are few, and it’s mighty hard business, the roads are so
awful bad.”

Worse roads are not often seen in a civilized country. “It makes me mad
to see people drive over and around these bad places, month after month,
and never think of mending ’em! A little work with a shovel would save
no end of lost time, and wear and tear, and broken wagons; but it’s
never done.”

The original country roads had passed into disuse; and, the fences being
destroyed, only the curious parallel lines of straggling bushes and
trees that grew beside them remained to mark their course. Necessity and
convenience had struck out new roads winding at will over the fenceless
farms. We crossed thinly wooded barrens, skirted old orchards, and
passed now and then a standing chimney that marked the site of some
ruined homestead; up-hill and down-hill, rocking, rattling, jolting, and
more than once nearly upsetting. I remember not more than three or four
inhabited houses on our route. In a wild field near the shelter of some
woods was a village of half-ruined huts, interesting as having served in
wartime as Rebel winter-quarters. At last, eight miles north from the
Junction, we reached the scene of the first battle of Bull Run.

This was the plateau, from which our almost victorious forces had driven
and re-driven the enemy, when Johnston’s reinforcements, arriving by the
railroad which runs obliquely towards the Junction on the west, changed
what was so nearly a triumph for our arms into a frightful disaster. The
ground is well described in Beauregard’s official report. “It is
enclosed on three sides by small watercourses which empty into Bull Run
within a few rods of each other, half a mile to the south of Stone
Bridge. Rising to an elevation of quite one hundred feet above Bull Run
at the bridge, it falls off on three sides to the level of the enclosing
streams in gentle slopes, but which are furrowed by ravines of irregular
direction and length, and studded with clumps and patches of young pines
and oaks.”... “Completely surrounding the two houses before mentioned
are small open fields of irregular outline, and exceeding one hundred
and fifty acres in extent. The houses, occupied at the time, the one by
Widow Henry, the other by the free negro Robinson, are small wooden
buildings densely embowered in trees and environed by a double row of
fences on two sides. Around the eastern and southern brow of the plateau
an almost unbroken fringe of second growth of pines gave excellent
shelter for our marksmen, who availed themselves of it with the most
satisfactory skill. To the west, adjoining the fields, a broad belt of
oaks extends directly across the crest, on both sides of the Sudley
road, in which, during the battle, regiments of both armies met and
contended for the mastery. From the open ground of this plateau the view
embraces a wide expanse of woods and gently undulating open country of
broad grass and grain fields in all directions.”

Such was the appearance of the battle-field on that memorable
twenty-first of July, four years before my visit. In its external
features I found it greatly changed. Many of the trees had been cut
away. Every fence had disappeared. Where had waved the fields of grass
and grain, extended one vast, neglected, barren tract of country. The
widow’s humble abode had been swept away. The widow herself was killed
by a chance shot on the day of the battle. A little picket fence
surrounding her grave was the only enclosure visible to us in all that
region. Close by were the foundations of her house, a small square space
run up to tallest weeds. Some of the poor woman’s hollyhocks still
survived, together with a few scattered and lonesome-looking peach-trees
cut with balls. The hollyhocks were in bloom, and the peaches were ripe:
a touching sight to me, who could see the haunting figure of the poor
widow looking at the favorite blossoms from her door, or returning from
the trees to the house with her apron full of the fruit, which appeared
duly year after year to comfort her, until at last she was no longer
there needing earthly comfort. We were not past that material necessity,
however; and the poor woman’s peaches comforted us this year.

Within a few yards of the spot where her house was, on the summit of the
eminence, stands a pyramidal monument of rough red sandstone, bearing
this inscription:—

                                   IN
                                 MEMORY
                                 OF THE
                                PATRIOTS
                              WHO FELL AT
                                BULL RUN
                            JULY 21st, 1861.

This shaft, another inscription tells us, was erected June 10th, 1865.
There it stands on the “sacred soil,” recalling to the proud sons of
Virginia many things. To them, and to all Americans, it has a grand and
deep significance beyond anything words can convey. There it stands, a
silent preacher, with its breast of stone, and its austere face of
stone, preaching inaudible stern lessons. Bull Run may be called the
Bunker Hill of the last revolution. It was the prologue of disaster to
the far-off final triumph. Well fought at first, we had almost won the
day, when, fresh troops pressing us, came the crushing defeat and
horrible panic which filled the whole loyal North with dismay and the
whole rebel South with exultation. Then how many a patriot heart fell
sick with despair, and doubtingly murmured, “Does God still live? and is
there after all an overruling Power?”

Look at that monument to-day. Where now is the triumph of the dark
cause? Where now is the haughty slave empire whose eternal foundations
were deemed established by that victory? Where is the banner of Freedom
trailed so low, all torn and blood-stained, in the dust? God lives!
There is an overruling Power that never sleeps; patient, foreseeing what
we cannot see, and, in sublime knowledge of the end, tolerating the
wrath of the unrighteous and the arrogance of the unjust. The day of
victory for freedom had not yet come; for triumph then would have been
but half triumph. Temporary success to the bad cause was necessary to
draw it irretrievably into the currents of destruction.

Moreover, struggle and long agony were needful to this nation.
Frivolous, worldly, imitating other nations; nourishing in the very
bosom of the Republic the serpent of a barbarous despotism; in our
heedlessness and hurry giving no ear to the cries of the oppressed; we
needed the baptism of blood and the awful lessons of loss to bring us
back to sanity and soberness. The furnace of civil war was indispensable
to fuse conflicting elements, and to pour the molten materials of the
diverse States into the single mould of one mighty and masterful Nation.
In order that it might take the lead of all the proud banners on the
globe, our flag must first be humbled, and win its way through dust and
battle-smoke to the eminence above all eminences of earthly power, where
it is destined at last to float.

There seems to have been something fatal to our armies in the mere name
of Bull Run. The visitor to the scene of the first disaster is already
on the field of the second. The battles of the subsequent year, fought
on a more stupendous scale, and sweeping over a vast area, included
within their scope the hills on which we were standing.

To reach the scene of the principal contest in 1862, however, an advance
of a mile or two had to be made. We rode on to a piece of woods, in the
shade of which we halted, surrounded by marks of shot and shell in the
timber, and by soldiers’ graves lying lonely among the trees, with many
a whitened bone scattered about or protruding. There, it being mid-day,
we partook of luncheon sauced with Widow Henry’s peaches.

On the west of us was a large stony field sloping up to a wood-crowned
height,—a field strown thick with dead in those sanguinary days of ’62.
The woods in which we were, extended around the north side of it also,
forming a connection with the woods beyond. Making the circuit of this
shady boundary, we reached the crest, which, strengthened greatly by an
unfinished railroad track cut through it, afforded the enemy their most
formidable position during the second Bull Run battle.

At the summit of the open field stands another monument, similar to that
we had first seen, dedicated to the “Memory of the Patriots who fell at
Groverton, August 28th, 29th, and 30th, 1862.” This inscription had been
mutilated by some Rebel hand, and made to read “Confederate Patriots”;
but my tall friend, arming himself with a stone, stepped upon the
pedestal, amid the black rows of shells surrounding it, and resolutely
ground the offensive word out of the tablet.

Groverton, which has given the field its name, is a little cluster of
three or four buildings lying out west of it on the turnpike.

There are two or three points of striking resemblance between the first
and second battles of Bull Run. At one time almost a victory, this also
proved at last a defeat; and again the North was filled with
consternation at seeing the barrier of its armies broken, and the
country laid open to the foe. After the first Bull Run, the Rebels might
have entered Washington almost without opposition. After the second,
they did invade Maryland, getting as far as Antietam. It is also a
circumstance worthy of note, that in each fight the victory might have
been rendered complete, but for the failure of an important command to
perform the part assigned it. General Patterson remained inert at
Winchester, while Johnston, whom it was his business to look after,
hastened to reinforce Beauregard and turn the scale of battle. At the
second Bull Run, General Porter’s neglect to obey the orders of General
Pope wrought incalculable mischief, and contributed similarly to change
the opening successes into final discomfiture.

Lastly the lesson taught by both disasters is the same: that the triumph
of a bad cause is but illusory and transient; while for the cause which
moves duly in the divine currents of human progress there can be no
failure, for, though tossed and buffeted, and seemingly wrecked, its
keel is in the eternal waters, the winds of heaven fill its sails, and
the hand of the Great Pilot is at the helm.

Returning, we stopped at the “stone house” near the first battle-field,
in hopes of getting some personal information from the inhabitants. They
were present during the fight, and the outer walls show enduring marks
of the destructive visits of cannon-shot. The house was formerly a
tavern, and the man who kept it was one of those two-faced farmers,
Secessionists at heart, but always loyal to the winning side. By working
well his political weathercock, he had managed to get his house through
the storm, although in a somewhat dismantled condition. The bar-room was
as barren as the intellect of the owner. The only thing memorable we
obtained there was some most extraordinary cider. This the proprietor
was too proud to sell, or else the pretence that it belonged to the “old
nigger” was nearer the truth than my tall friend was willing to admit.
At all events, the “old nigger” brought it in, and received pay for it
besides, evidently contrary to his expectations, and to the
disappointment of the landlord.

“Uncle, what sort of cider is this? how did you make it?” For neither of
us had ever tasted anything resembling it before, nor did we wish ever
to taste its like again.

Uncle, standing in the door, with one foot on the threshold, ducking and
grinning, one hand holding his old cap, and the other his knee, after
earnest urging, told us the secret.

“Dat cidah, sah, I made out o’ peaches and apples mixed, ’bout half and
half. Dat’s what makes it taste cur’us.”

“Oh, but that’s not all, uncle; you put water in it! You meant to cheat
us, I see, with your miscegenated cider and water!”

Uncle did not exactly understand the nature of this charge, but
evidently thought it something serious.

“No, no, gentlemen, I didn’t do it for roguishness! I put in de peaches
’case dar wasn’t apples enough. I pounded ’em up wid a pestle in a
barrel. Den I put a stake under de house corner wid rocks on to it for a
press. I put de water in to make de juice come easier, it was so dry!”

Having learned his method of manufacturing cider, we inquired his
opinion of the war.

“Didn’t you think, Uncle, the white folks were great fools to kill each
other the way they did?” said my friend.

“’Twouldn’t do for me to say so; dey was old enough, and ageable enough,
to know best; but I couldn’t help tink’n sah!”

Returning to the Junction, I saw a very different type of the Virginia
negro: an old man of seventy, who conversed intelligently, but in a
strangely quiet and subdued tone, which bespoke long suffering and great
patience. He had been a free man seven years, he told me; but he had a
brother who still served the man he belonged to.

“But he, too, is free now,” I said. “Don’t he receive wages?”

The old man shook his head sadly. “There’s nothing said about wages to
any of our people in this part of the country. They don’t dare to ask
for them, and their owners will hold them as they used to as long as
they can. They are very sharp with us now. If a man of my color dared to
say what he thought, it would be all his life was worth!”



                              CHAPTER XI.
                        A VISIT TO MOUNT VERNON.


On a day of exceeding sultriness (it was the fourth of September) I left
the dusty, stifled streets of Washington, and went on board the
excursion steamer Wawaset, bound for Mount Vernon.

Ten o’clock, the hour of starting, had nearly arrived. No breath of air
was stirring. The sun beat down with torrid fervor upon the boat’s
awnings, which seemed scarce a protection against it, and upon the
glassy water, which reflected it with equal intensity from below. Then
suddenly the bell rang, the boat swung out in the river, the strong
paddles rushed, and almost instantly a magical change took place. A
delightful breeze appeared to have sprung up, increasing as the
steamer’s speed increased. I sat upon a stool by the wheelhouse,
drinking in all the deliciousness of that cooling motion through the
air, and watching compassionately the schooners with heavy and languid
sails lying becalmed in the channel,—indolent fellows, drifting with the
tide, and dependent on influences from without to push them,—while our
steamer, with flashing wake, flag gayly flying, and decks swept by
wholesome, animating winds, resembled one of your energetic, original
men, cutting the sluggish current, and overcoming the sultriness and
stagnation of life by a refreshing activity.

On we sped, leaving far behind the Virginia long-boats, with their
pointed sails on great poles swung aslant across the masts,—sails dingy
in color and irregular in shape, looking, a little way off, like huge
sweet potatoes. Our course was southward, leaving far on our right the
Arlington estate embowered in foliage on the Virginia shore; and on our
left the Navy Yard and Arsenal, and the Insane Asylum standing like a
stern castle, half hidden by trees, on the high banks back from the
river. As we departed from the wharves, a view of the city opened behind
us, with its two prominent objects,—the unfinished Washington Monument,
resembling in the distance a tall, square, pallid sail; and the
many-pillared, beautiful Capitol, rising amid masses of foliage, with
that marvellous bubble, its white and airy dome, soaring superbly in the
sun.

Before us, straight in our course, was Alexandria, quaint old city, with
its scanty fringe of straight and slender spars, and its few anchored
ships suspended in a glassy atmosphere, as it seemed, where the river
reflected the sky. We ran in to the wharves, and took on board a number
of passengers; then steamed on again, down the wide Potomac, until,
around a bend, high on a wooded shore, a dim red roof and a portico of
slender white pillars appeared visible through the trees.

It was Mount Vernon, the home of Washington. The shores here, on both
the Maryland and Virginia sides, are picturesquely hilly and green with
groves. The river between flows considerably more than a mile wide: a
handsome sheet, reflecting the woods and the shining summer clouds
sailing in the azure over them, although broad belts of river-grass,
growing between the channel and the banks like strips of inundated
prairie, detract from its beauty.

As we drew near, the helmsman tolled the boat’s bell slowly. “Before the
war,” said he, “no boat ever passed Mount Vernon without tolling its
bell, if it had one. The war kind of broke into that custom, as it did
into most everything else; but it is coming up again now.”

We did not make directly for the landing, but kept due on down the
channel until we had left Mount Vernon half a mile away on our right.
Then suddenly the steamer changed her course, steering into the tract of
river-grass, which waved and tossed heavily as the ripple from the bows
shook it from its drowsy languor. The tide rises here some four feet. It
was low tide then, and the circuit we had made was necessary to avoid
grounding on the bar. We were entering shallow water. We touched and
drew hard for a few minutes over the yielding sand. The dense grass
seemed almost as serious an impediment as the bar itself. Down among its
dark heaving masses we had occasional glimpses of the bottom, and saw
hundreds of fishes darting away, and sometimes leaping sheer from the
surface, in terror of the great, gliding, paddling monster, invading, in
that strange fashion, their peaceful domain.

Drawing a well-defined line half a mile long through that submerged
prairie, we reached the old wooden pier, built out into it from the
Mount Vernon shore. I did not land immediately, but remained on deck,
watching the long line of pilgrims going up from the boat along the
climbing path and disappearing in the woods. There were, perhaps, a
hundred and fifty in the procession, men and women and children, some
carrying baskets, with intent to enjoy a nice little picnic under the
old Washington trees. It was a pleasing sight, rendered interesting by
the historical associations of the place, but slightly dashed with the
ludicrous, it must be owned, by a solemn tipsy wight bringing up the
rear, singing, or rather bawling, the good old tune of Greenville, with
maudlin nasal twang, and beating time with profound gravity and a big
stick.

As the singer, as well as his tune, was tediously slow, I passed him on
the way, ascended the long slope through the grove, and found my
procession halted under the trees on the edge of it. Facing them, with
an old decayed orchard behind it, was a broad, low brick structure, with
an arched entrance and an iron-grated gate. Two marble shafts flanked
the approach to it on the right and left. Passing these, I paused, and
read on a marble slab over the Gothic gateway the words,—

“WITHIN THIS ENCLOSURE REST THE REMAINS OF GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON.”

The throng of pilgrims, awed into silence, were beginning to draw back a
little from the tomb. I approached, and leaning against the iron bars,
looked through into the still, damp chamber. Within, a little to the
right of the centre of the vault, stands a massive and richly sculptured
marble sarcophagus, bearing the name of “Washington.” By its side, of
equal dimensions, but of simpler style, is another, bearing the
inscription, “Martha, the consort of Washington.”

It is a sequestered spot, half enclosed by the trees of the grove on the
south side,—cedars, sycamores, and black-walnuts, heavily hung with
vines, sheltering the entrance from the mid-day sun. Woodpeckers flitted
and screamed from trunk to trunk of the ancient orchard beyond. Eager
chickens were catching grasshoppers under the honey-locusts, along by
the old wooden fence. And, humming harmlessly in and out over the heads
of the pilgrims, I noticed a colony of wasps, whose mud-built nests
stuccoed profusely the yellowish ceiling of the vault.

There rest the ashes of the great chieftain, and of Martha his wife. I
did not like the word “consort.” It is too fine a term for a tombstone.
There is something lofty and romantic about it; but “wife” is simple,
tender, near to the heart, steeped in the divine atmosphere of home,—

                  “A something not too bright and good
                  For human nature’s daily food.”

She was the _wife_ of Washington: a true, deep-hearted woman, the
blessing and comfort, not of the Commander-in-chief, not of the first
President, but of the MAN. And Washington, the MAN, was not the cold,
majestic, sculptured figure which has been placed on the pedestal of
history. There was nothing marble about him but the artistic and
spotless finish of his public career. Majestic he truly was, as simple
greatness must be; and cold he seemed to many;—nor was it fitting that
the sacred chambers of that august personality should be thrown open to
the vulgar feet and gaze of the multitude. It is littleness and vanity
that are loose of tongue and unseasonably familiar.

                “Yet shine forever virgin minds,
                Beloved by stars and purest winds,
                Which, o’er passion throned sedate,
                Have not hazarded their state;
                Disconcert the searching spy,
                Rendering, to the curious eye,
                The durance of a granite ledge
                To those who gaze from the sea’s edge.”

Of these virgin minds was Washington. The world saw him through a veil
of reserve, as habitual to him as the sceptre of self-control. Yet
beneath that veil throbbed a fiery nature, which on a few rare occasions
is known to have flamed forth into terrible wrath. Anecdotes, recording
those instances of volcanic eruption from the core of this serene and
lofty character, are refreshing and precious to us, as showing that the
ice and snow were only on the summit, while beneath burned those
fountains of glowing life which are reservoirs of power to the virtue
and will that know how to control them. A man of pure, strong, constant
affections, his love of tranquil domestic enjoyments was as remarkable
as his self-sacrificing patriotism. I know not Washington’s “consort”;
but to me a very sweet, beautiful, and touching name is that of “Martha,
Washington’s wife.”

Quitting the tomb, I walked along by the old board fence which bounds
the corner of the orchard, and turned up the locust-shaded avenue
leading to the mansion. On one side was a wooden shed, on the other an
old-fashioned brick barn. Passing these, you seem to be entering a
little village. The out-houses are numerous; I noticed the wash-house,
the meat-house, and the kitchen, the butler’s house, and the gardener’s
house,—neat white buildings, ranged around the end of the lawn, among
which the mansion stands the principal figure.

Looking in at the wash-house, I saw a pretty-looking colored girl
industriously scrubbing over a tub. She told me that she was twenty
years old, that her husband worked on the place, and that a bright
little fellow, four years old, running around the door, handsome as
polished bronze, was her son. She formerly belonged to John A.
Washington, who made haste to carry her off to Richmond, with the money
the Ladies’ Mount Vernon Association had paid him, on the breaking out
of the war. She was born on the place, but had never worked for John A.
Washington. “He kept me hired out; for I s’pose he could make more by me
that way.” She laughed pleasantly as she spoke, and rubbed away at the
wet clothes in the tub.

I looked at her, so intelligent and cheerful, a woman and a mother,
though so young; and wondered at the man who could pretend to own such a
creature, hire her out to other masters, and live upon her wages! I have
heard people scoff at John A. Washington for selling the inherited bones
of the great,—for surely the two hundred thousand dollars, paid by the
Ladies’ Association for the Mount Vernon estate, was not the price
merely of that old mansion, these out-houses, since repaired, and two
hundred acres of land,—but I do not scoff at him for that. Why should
not one, who dealt in living human flesh and blood, also traffic a
little in the ashes of the dead?

“After the war was over, the Ladies’ Association sent for me from
Richmond, and I work for them now,” said the girl, merrily scrubbing.

“What wages do you get?”

“I gits seven dollars a month, and that’s a heap better ’n no wages at
all!” laughing again with pleasure. “The sweat I drap into this yer tub
is my own; but befo’e, it belonged to John A. Washington.” As I did not
understand her at first, she added, “You know, the Bible says every one
must live by the sweat of his own eyebrow. But John A. Washington, he
lived by the sweat of my eyebrow. I alluz had a will’n mind to work, and
I have now; but I don’t work as I used to; for then it was work to-day
and work to-morrow, and no stop.”

Beside the kitchen was a well-house, where I stopped and drank a
delicious draught out of an “old oaken bucket,” or rather a new one,
which came up brimming from its cold depths. This well was dug in
General Washington’s time, the cook told me; and as I drank, and looked
down, down into the dark shaft at the faintly glimmering water,—for the
well was deep,—I thought how often the old General had probably come up
thither from the field, taken off his hat in the shade, and solaced his
thirst with a drink from the dripping bucket.

Passing between the kitchen and the butler’s house, you come upon a
small plateau, a level green lawn, nearly surrounded by a circle of
large shade-trees. The shape of this pleasant esplanade is oblong: at
the farther end, away on the left, is the ancient entrance to the
grounds; close by on the right, at the end nearest the river, is the
mansion.

Among the shade-trees, of which there are a great variety, I noticed a
fine sugar-maple, said to be the only individual of the species in all
that region. It was planted by General Washington, “who wished to see
what trees would grow in that climate,” the gardener told me. It has for
neighbors, among many others, a tulip-tree, a Kentucky coffee-tree, and
a magnolia set out by Washington’s own hand. I looked at the last with
peculiar interest, thinking it a type of our country, the perennial
roots of which were about the same time laid carefully in the bosom of
the eternal mother, covered and nursed and watered by the same
illustrious hand,—a little tree then, feeble, and by no means sure to
live; but now I looked up, thrilling with pride at the glory of its
spreading branches, its storm-defying tops, and its mighty trunk which
not even the axe of treason could sever.

I approached the mansion. It was needless to lift the great brass
knocker, for the door was open. The house was full of guests thronging
the rooms and examining the relics; among which were conspicuous these:
hanging in a little brass-framed glass case in the hall, the key of the
Bastile, presented to Washington by Lafayette; in the dining-hall, a
very old-fashioned harpsichord that had entirely lost its voice, but
which is still cherished as a wedding-gift from Washington to his
adopted daughter; in the same room, holsters and a part of the
Commander-in-chief’s camp-equipage, very dilapidated; and, in a square
bedroom up-stairs, the bedstead on which Washington slept, and on which
he died. There is no sight more touching than this bedstead, surrounded
by its holy associations, to be seen at Mount Vernon.

From the house I went out on the side opposite that on which I had
entered, and found myself standing under the portico we had seen when
coming down the river. A noble portico, lofty as the eaves of the house,
and extending the whole length of the mansion,—fifteen feet in width and
ninety-six in length, says the Guide-Book. The square pillars supporting
it are not so slender, either; but it was their height which made them
appear so when we first saw them miles off up the Potomac.

What a portico for a statesman to walk under,—so lofty, so spacious, and
affording such views of the river and its shores, and the sky over all!
Once more I saw the venerable figure of him, the first in war and the
first in peace, pacing to and fro on those pavements of flat stone,
solitary, rapt in thought, glancing ever and anon up the Potomac towards
the site of the now great capital bearing his name, contemplating the
revolution accomplished, and dreaming of his country’s future. There was
one great danger he feared: the separation of the States. But well for
him, O, well for the great-hearted and wise chieftain, that the
appalling blackness of the storm, destined so soon to deluge the land
with blood for rain-drops, was hidden from his eyes, or appeared far in
the dim horizon no bigger than a man’s hand!

Saved from the sordid hands of a degenerate posterity, saved from the
desolation of unsparing civil war, Mount Vernon still remains to us with
its antique mansion and its delightful shades. I took all the more
pleasure in the place, remembering how dear it was to its illustrious
owner. There is no trait in Washington’s character with which I
sympathize so strongly as with his love for his home. True, that home
was surrounded with all the comforts and elegancies which fortune and
taste could command. But had Mount Vernon been as humble as it was
beautiful, Washington would have loved it scarcely less. It was dear to
him, not as a fine estate, but as the home of his heart. A simply great
and truly wise man, free from foolish vanity and ambition, he served his
country with a willing spirit; yet he knew well that happiness does not
subsist upon worldly honors nor dwell in high places, but that her
favorite haunt is by the pure waters of domestic tranquillity.

There came up a sudden thunder-shower while we were at the house. The
dreadful peals rolled and rattled from wing to wing of the black cloud
that overshadowed the river, and the rain fell in torrents. Umbrellas
were scarce, and I am sorry to say the portico leaked badly. But the
storm passed as suddenly as it came; the rifted clouds floated away with
sunlit edges glittering like silver fire, and all the wet leafage of the
trees twinkled and laughed in the fresh golden light. I did not return
to the boat with the crowd by the way we came, but descended the steep
banks through the drenched woods in front of the mansion, to the low
sandy shore of the Potomac, then walked along the water’s edge, under
the dripping boughs, to the steamer, and so took my leave of Mount
Vernon.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                             “STATE PRIDE.”


Leaving Washington by steamer again, early on the morning of the twelfth
of September, a breezy sail of three hours down the Potomac brought us
to Acquia Creek.

The creek was still there, debouching broad and placid into the river,
for, luckily, destroying armies cannot consume the everlasting streams.
The forests, which densely covered all that region before the war, had
been cut away. Not a building of any kind was to be seen; and only the
blackened ruins of half-burnt wharves, extending out into the river,
remained to indicate that here had been an important depot of supplies.

Taking the cars near an extemporized landing, we traversed a country of
shaggy hills, completely clad in thick undergrowths which had sprung up
where the ancient forests stood. At the end of two hours’ slow travel,
through a tract almost exclusively of this character, we arrived at a
hiatus in the railroad. The bridge over the Rappahannock not having been
rebuilt since the war, it was necessary to cross to Fredericksburg by
another conveyance than the cars. A long line of coaches was in waiting
for the train. I climbed the topmost seat of the foremost coach, which
was soon leading the rumbling, dusty procession over the hills toward
the city.

From a barren summit we obtained a view of Fredericksburg, pleasantly
situated on the farther bank of the river, with the high ridge behind it
which Burnside endeavored in vain to take. We crossed the brick-colored
Rappahannock (not a lovely stream to look upon) by a pontoon bridge, and
ascending the opposite shore, rode through the half-ruined city.

Fredericksburg had not yet begun to recover from the effects of
Burnside’s shells. Scarcely a house in the burnt portions had been
rebuilt. Many houses were entirely destroyed, and only the solitary
chimney-stacks remained. Of others, you saw no vestige but broken brick
walls, and foundations overgrown with Jamestown-weeds, sumachs, and
thistles. Farther up from the river the town had been less badly used;
but we passed even there many a dwelling with a broken chimney, and with
great awkward holes in walls and roofs. Some were windowless and
deserted; but others had been patched up and rendered inhabitable again.
High over the city soar the church-spires, which, standing between two
artillery fires on the day of the battle, received the ironical
compliments of both. The zinc sheathing of one of these steeples is well
riddled and ripped, and the tipsy vane leans at an angle of forty-five
degrees from its original perpendicular.

Sitting next me on the stage-top was a vivacious young expressman, who
was in the battle, and who volunteered to give me some account of it. No
doubt his description was beautifully clear, but as he spoke only of
“our army,” without calling it by name, it was long before I could
decide which army was meant. Sometimes it seemed to be one, then it was
more likely the other; so that, before his account of its movements was
ended, my mind was in a delightful state of confusion. A certain
delicacy on my part, which was quite superfluous, had prevented me from
asking him plainly at first on which side he was fighting. At last, by
inference and indirection, I got at the fact;—“our army” was the Rebel
army.

“I am a son of Virginia!” he told me afterwards, his whole manner
expressing a proud satisfaction. “I was opposed to secession at first,
but afterwards I went into it with my whole heart and soul. Do you want
to know what carried me in? State pride, sir! nothing else in the world.
I’d give more for Virginia than for all the rest of the Union put
together; and I was bound to go with my State.”

This was spoken with emphasis, and a certain rapture, as a lover might
speak of his mistress. I think I never before realized so fully what
“State pride” was. In New England and the West, you find very little of
it. However deep it may lie in the hearts of the people, it is not their
habit to rant about it. You never hear a Vermonter or an Indianian
exclaim, “I believe my State is worth all the rest of the Union!” with
excited countenance, lip curved, and eye in fine frenzy rolling. Their
patriotism is too large and inclusive to be stopped by narrow State
boundaries. Besides, in communities where equality prevails there is
little of that peculiar pride which the existence of caste engenders.
Accustomed to look down upon slaves and poor whites, the aristocratic
classes soon learn to believe that they are the people, and that wisdom
will die with them.

In the case of Virginians, I think that the mere name of the State has
also something to do with their pride in her. To hear one of them
enunciate the euphonious syllables when asked to what portion of the
Union he belongs, is wonderfully edifying; it is as good as eating a
peach. “_V-i-r-g-i-n-i-a_,” he tells you, dwelling with rich intonations
on the luscious vowels and consonants,—in his mind doubtless the
choicest in the alphabet; and he seems proudly conscious, as he utters
them, of having spoken a charm which enwraps him in an atmosphere of
romance. Thenceforth he is unapproachable on that verdurous ground, the
envy and despair of all who are so unfortunate as to have been born
elsewhere. Thus a rich word surrounds itself with rich associations. But
suppose a different name: instead of Virginia, Stubland, for example. It
might indeed be the best State of all, yet, believe me, _Stubland_ would
have in all its borders no soil fertile enough to grow the fine plant of
State pride.

“I believe,” said I, “there is but one State as proud as Virginia, and
that is the fiery little State of South Carolina.”

“I have less respect for South Carolina,” said he, “than for any other
State in the Union. South Carolina troops were the worst troops in the
Confederate army. It was South Carolina’s self-conceit and bluster that
caused the war.”

(So, State pride in another State than Virginia was only
“self-conceit.”)

[Illustration: TAKING THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE.]

“Yes,” said I, “South Carolina began the war; but Virginia carried it
on. If Virginia had thrown the weight of her very great power in the
Union against secession, resort to arms would never have been necessary.
She held a position which she has forfeited forever, because she was not
true to it. By seceding she lost wealth, influence, slavery, and the
blood of her bravest sons; and what has she gained? I wonder, sir, how
your State pride can hold out so well.”

“Virginia,” he replied, with another gleam, his eyes doing the fine
frenzy again, “Virginia made the gallantest fight that ever was; and I
am prouder of her to-day than I ever was in my life!”

“But you are glad she is back in the Union again?”

“To tell the truth, I am. I think more of the Union, too, than I ever
did before. It was a square, stand-up fight; we got beaten, and I
suppose it is all for the best. The very hottest Secessionists are now
the first to come back and offer support to the government.” He tapped a
little tin trunk he carried. “I have fifty pardons here, which I am
carrying from Washington to Richmond, for men who, a year ago, you would
have said would drown themselves sooner than take the oath of allegiance
to the United States. It was a rich sight to see these very men crowding
to take the oath. It was a bitter pill to some, and they made wry faces
at it; but the rest were glad enough to get back into the old Union. It
was like going home.”

“What astonishes me,” said I, “after all the Southern people’s violent
talk about the last ditch,—about carrying on an endless guerrilla
warfare after their armies were broken up, and fighting in swamps and
mountains till the last man was exterminated,—what astonishes me is,
that they take so sensible a view of their situation, and accept it so
frankly; and that you, a Rebel, and I, a Yankee, are sitting on this
stage talking over the bloody business so good-naturedly!”

“Well, it is astonishing, when you think of it! Southern men and
Northern men ride together in the trains, and stop at the same hotels,
as if we were all one people,—as indeed we are: one nation now,” he
added, “as we never were before, and never could have been without the
war.”

I got down at the hotel, washed and brushed away the dust of travel, and
went out to the dining-room. There the first thing that met my eye was a
pair of large wooden fans, covered with damask cloth which afforded an
ample flap to each, suspended over the table, and set in motion by means
of a rope dropped from a pulley by the door. At the end of the rope was
a shining negro-boy about ten years old, pulling as if it were the rope
of a fire-bell, and the whole town were in flames. The fans swayed to
and fro, a fine breeze blew all up and down the table, and not a fly was
to be seen. I noticed before long, however, that the little darkey’s
industry was of an intermittent sort; for at times he would cease
pulling altogether, until the landlady passed that way, when he would
seem to hear the cries of fire again, and once more fall to ringing his
silent alarm-bell in the most violent manner.

The landlady was the manager of the house; and I naturally took her to
be a widow until her husband was pointed out to me,—a mere tavern
lounger, of no account any way. It is quite common to find Virginia
hotels kept in this manner. The wife does the work; the husband takes
his ease in his inn. The business goes in her name;—he is the sleeping
partner.

After dinner I went out to view the town. As I stood looking at the
empty walls of the gutted court-house, a sturdy old man approached. He
stopped to answer my questions, and pointing at the havoc made by
shells, exclaimed,—

“You see the result of the vanity of Virginia!”

“Are you a Virginian!”

“I am; but that is no reason why I should be blind to the faults of my
State. It was the vanity of Virginia, and nothing else, that caused all
our trouble.”

(Here was another name for “State pride.”)

“You were not very much in favor of secession, I take it?”

“In favor of it!” he exclaimed, kindling. “Didn’t they have me in jail
here nine weeks because I would not vote for it? If I hadn’t been an old
man, they would have hung me. Ah, I told them how it would be, from the
first; but they wouldn’t believe me. Now they see! Look at this ruined
city! Look at the farms and plantations laid waste! Look at the complete
paralysis of business; the rich reduced to poverty; the men and boys
with one arm, one leg, or one hand; the tens of thousands of graves; the
broken families;—it is all the result of vanity! vanity!”

He showed me the road to the Heights, and we parted on the corner.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                      THE FIELD OF FREDERICKSBURG.


Fredericksburg stands upon a ridge on the right bank of the river.
Behind the town is a plain, with a still more elevated ridge beyond.
From the summit of the last you obtain an excellent view of the
battle-field; the plain below the town where Hooker fought; the heights
on the opposite side of the river manned by our batteries; the fields on
the left; and the plain between the ridge and the town, where the
frightfullest slaughter was.

Along by the foot of the crest, just where it slopes off to the plain,
runs a road with a wall of heavy quarried stones on each side. In this
road the Rebels lay concealed when the first attempt was made to storm
the Heights. The wall on the lower side, towards the town, is the “stone
wall” of history. It was a perfect breastwork, of great strength, and in
the very best position that could have been chosen. The earth from the
fields is more or less banked up against it; and this, together with the
weeds and bushes which grew there, served to conceal it from our men.
The sudden cruel volley of flame and lead which poured over it into
their very faces, scarce a dozen paces distant, as they charged, was the
first intimation they received of any enemy below the crest. No troops
could stand that near and deadly fire. They broke, and leaving the
ground strown with the fallen, retreated to the “ravine,”—a deep ditch
with a little stream flowing through it, in the midst of the plain.

“Just when they turned to run, that was the worst time for them!” said a
young Rebel I met on the Heights. “Then our men had nothing to fear; but
they just rose right up and let ’em have it! Every charge your troops
made afterwards, it was the same. The infantry in the road, and the
artillery on these Heights, just mowed them down in swaths! You never
saw anything look as that plain did after the battle. Saturday morning,
before the fight, it was brown; Sunday it was all blue; Monday it was
white, and Tuesday it was red.”

I asked him to explain this seeming riddle.

“Don’t you see? Before the fight there was just the field. Next it was
covered all over with your fellows in blue clothes. Saturday night the
blue clothes were stripped off, and only their white under-clothes left.
Monday night these were stripped off, and Tuesday they lay all in their
naked skins.”

“Who stripped the dead in that way?”

“It was mostly done by the North Carolinians. They are the triflin’est
set of men!”

“What do you mean by _triflin’est_?”

“They ha’n’t got no sense. They’ll stoop to anything. They’re more like
savages than civilized men. They say ‘_we ’uns_’ and ‘_you ’uns_,’ and
all such outlandish phrases. They’ve got a great long tone to their
voice, like something wild.”

“Were you in the battle?”

“Yes, I was in all of Saturday’s fight. My regiment was stationed on the
hill down on the right there. We could see everything. Your men piled up
their dead for breastworks. It was an awful sight when the shells struck
them, and exploded! The air, for a minute, would be just full of legs
and arms and pieces of trunks. Down by the road there we dug out a
wagon-load of muskets. They had been piled up by your fellows, and dirt
thrown over them, for a breastwork. But the worst sight I saw was three
days afterwards. I didn’t mind the heaps of dead, nor nothing. But just
a starving dog sitting by a corpse, which he wouldn’t let anybody come
near, and which he never left night nor day;—by George, that just made
me cry! We finally had to shoot the dog to get at the man to bury him.”

The young Rebel thought our army might have been easily destroyed after
Saturday’s battle,—at least that portion of it which occupied
Fredericksburg. “We had guns on that point that could have cut your
pontoon bridge in two; and then our artillery could have blown Burnside
all to pieces, or have compelled his surrender.”

“Why didn’t you do it?”

“Because General Lee was too humane. He didn’t want to kill so many
men.”

A foolish reason, but it was the best the young man could offer. The
truth is, however, Burnside’s army was in a position of extreme danger,
after its failure to carry the Heights, and had not Lee been diligently
expecting another attack, instead of a retreat, he might have subjected
it to infinite discomfiture. It was to do us more injury, and not less,
that he delayed to destroy the pontoon bridge and shell the town while
our troops were in it.

The young man gloried in that great victory.

“But,” said I, “what did you gain? It was all the worse for you that you
succeeded then. That victory only prolonged the war, and involved
greater loss. We do not look at those transient triumphs; we look at the
grand result. The Confederacy was finally swept out, and we are
perfectly satisfied.”

“Well, so am I,” he replied, looking me frankly in the face. “I tell
you, if we had succeeded in establishing a separate government, this
would have been the worst country, for a poor man, under the sun.”

“How so?”

“There would have been no chance for white labor. Every rich man would
have owned his nigger mason, his nigger carpenter, his nigger
blacksmith; and the white mechanic, as well as the white farm-laborer,
would have been crushed out.”

“You think, then, the South will be better off without slavery?”

“Certainly, I do. So does every white man that has to work for a living,
if he isn’t a fool.”

“Then why did you fight for it?”

“We wasn’t fighting for slavery; we was fighting for our independence.
That’s the way the most of us understood it; though we soon found out it
was the rich man’s war, and not the pore man’s. We was fighting against
our own interests, that’s shore!”

There is a private cemetery on the crest, surrounded by a brick wall.
Burnside’s artillery had not spared it. I looked over the wall, which
was badly smashed in places, and saw the overthrown monuments and broken
tombstones lying on the ground. The heights all around were covered with
weeds, and scarred by Rebel intrenchments; here and there was an old
apple-tree; and I marked the ruins of two or three small brick houses.

On the brow of the hill, overlooking the town, is the Marye estate, one
of the finest about Fredericksburg before the blast of battle struck it.
The house was large and elegant, occupying a beautiful site, and
surrounded by terraces and shady lawns. Now if you would witness the
results of artillery and infantry firing, visit that house. The pillars
of the porch, built of brick, and covered with a cement of lime and
white sand, were speckled with the marks of bullets. Shells and solid
shot had made sad havoc with the walls and the wood-work inside. The
windows were shivered, the partitions torn to pieces, and the doors
perforated.

I found a gigantic negro at work at a carpenter’s bench in one of the
lower rooms. He seemed glad to receive company, and took me from the
basement to the zinc-covered roof, showing me all the more remarkable
shot-holes.

“De Rebel sharpshooters was in de house; dat’s what made de Yankees
shell it so.”

“Where were the people who lived here?”

“Dey all lef’ but me. I stopped to see de fight. I tell ye, I wouldn’t
stop to see anoder one! I thought I was go’n’ to have fine fun, and tell
all about it. I _heerd_ de fight, but I didn’t _see_ it!”

“Were you frightened?”

“Hoo!” flinging up his hands with a ludicrous expression. “Don’t talk
about skeered! I never was so skeered since I was bo’n! I stood hyer by
dis sher winder; I ’spected to see de whole of it; I know I was green! I
was look’n’ to see de fir’n’ down below dar, when a bullet come by me,
_h’t_! quick as dat. ‘Time fo’ me to be away f’om hyer!’ and I started;
but I’d no sooner turned about, when de bullets begun to strike de house
jes’ like dat!” drumming with his fingers. “I went down-stars, and out
dis sher house, quicker ’n any man o’ my size ever went out a house
befo’e! Come, and I’ll show you whar I was hid.”

It was in the cellar of a little dairy-house, of which nothing was left
but the walls.

“I got in thar wid anoder cullud man. I thought I was as skeered as
anybody could be; but whew! he was twicet as skeered as I was.
B-r-r-r-r! b-r-r-r-r! de fir’n’ kep’ up a reg’lar noise like dat, all
day long. Every time a shell struck anywhar near, I knowed de next would
kill me. ‘Jim,’ says I, ‘now de next shot will be our own!’ Dem’s de
on’y wu’ds I spoke; but he was so skeered he never spoke at all.”

“Were you here at the fight the year after?”

“Dat was when Shedwick [Sedgwick] come. I thought if dar was go’n’ to be
any fight’n’, I’d leave dat time, shore. I hitched up my oxen, think’n’
I’d put out, but waited fo’ de mo’nin’ to see. Dat was Sunday mo’nin’. I
hadn’t slep’ none, so I jest thought I’d put my head on my hand a minute
till it growed light. I hadn’t mo’e ’n drapped asleep; I’d nodded oncet
or twicet: so;” illustrating; “no longer ’n dat; when—c-r-r-r-r,—I
looked up,—all de wu’ld was fir’n’! Shedwick’s men dey run up de road,
got behind de batteries on dis sher hill, captured every one; and I
never knowed how dey done it so quick. Dat was enough fo’ me. If dar’s
go’n’ to be any mo’e fight’n’, I go whar da’ an’t no wa’!”

“A big fellow like you tell about being skeered!” said the young Rebel.

“I knowed de bigger a man was, de bigger de mark fo’ de balls. I weighs
two hundred and fifty-two pounds.”

“Where is your master?” I asked.

“I ha’n’t got no master now; Mr. Marye was my master. He’s over de
mountain. I was sold at auction in Fredericksburg oncet, and he bought
me fo’ twelve hundred dolla’s. Now he pays me wages,—thirty dolla’s a
month. I wo’ked in de mill while de wa’ lasted. Men brought me co’n to
grind. Some brought a gallon; some brought two qua’ts; it was a big load
if anybody brought half a bushel. Dat’s de way folks lived. Now he’s got
anoder man in de mill, and he pays me for tak’n’ keer o’ dis sher place
and fitt’n’ it up a little.”

“Are you a carpenter?”

“Somethin’ of a carpenter; I kin do whatever I turns my hand to.”

The young Rebel afterwards corroborated this statement. Although he did
not like niggers generally, and wished they were all out of the country,
he said Charles (for that was the giant’s name) was an exception; and he
gave him high praise for the fidelity and sagacity he had shown in
saving his master’s property from destruction.

While we were sitting under the portico, a woman came up the hill, and
began to talk and jest in a familiar manner with Charles. I noticed that
my Rebel acquaintance looked exceedingly disgusted.

“That woman,” said he to me, “has got a nigger husband. That’s what
makes her talk that way. White folks won’t associate with her, and she
goes with the darkies. We used to have lynch law for them cases. Such
things wa’n’t allowed. A nigger had better have been dead than be caught
living with a white woman. The house would get torn down over their
heads some night, and nobody would know who did it.”

“Are you sure such things were not allowed? Five out of six of your
colored population have white blood in their veins. How do you account
for it?”

“O, that comes from white fathers!”

“And slave mothers,” said I. “That I suppose was all right; but to a
stranger it doesn’t look very consistent. You would lynch a poor black
man for living in wedlock with a white woman, and receive into the best
society white men who were raising up illegitimate slave children by
their colored mistresses.”

“Yes, that’s just what was done; there’s no use denying it. I’ve seen
children sold at auction in Fredericksburg by their own fathers. But
nobody ever thought it was just right. It always happened when the
masters was in debt, and their property had to be taken.”

The field below the stone wall belonged to this young man’s mother. It
was now a cornfield; a sturdy crop was growing where the dead had lain
in heaps.

“Soon as Richmond fell I came home; and ’Lijah and I went to work and
put in that piece of corn. I didn’t wait for Lee’s surrender. Thousands
did the same. We knew that if Richmond fell, the war would be removed
from Virginia, and we had no notion of going to fight in other States.
The Confederate army melted away just like frost in the sun, so that
only a small part of it remained to be surrendered.”

He invited me to go through the cornfield and see where the dead were
buried. Near the middle of the piece a strip some fifteen yards long and
four wide had been left uncultivated. “There’s a thousand of your men
buried in this hole; that’s the reason we didn’t plant here.” Some
distance below the cornfield was the cellar of an ice-house, in which
five hundred Union soldiers were buried. And yet these were but a
portion of the slain; all the surrounding fields were scarred with
graves.

Returning to Fredericksburg, I visited the plain northwest of the town,
also memorable for much hard fighting on that red day of December. I
found a pack of government wagons there, an encampment of teamsters, and
a few Yankee soldiers, who told me they were tired of doing nothing, and
“three times as fast for going home” as they were before the war closed.

In the midst of this plain, shaded by a pleasant grove, stands a brown
brick mansion said to have been built by George Washington for his
mother’s family. Not far off is a monument erected to Mary, the mother
of Washington, whose mortal remains rest here. It is of marble,
measuring some nine feet square and fifteen in height, unfinished,
capped with a mat of weeds, and bearing no inscription but the names of
visitors who should have blushed to desecrate the tomb of the venerated
dead. The monument has in other ways been sadly misused; in the first
place, by balls which nicked and chipped it during the battle; and
afterwards by relic-hunters, who, in their rage for carrying away some
fragment of it, have left scarce a corner of cornice or pilaster
unbroken.

I had afterwards many walks about Fredericksburg, the most noteworthy of
which was a morning-visit to the Lacy House, where Burnside had his
head-quarters. Crossing the Rappahannock on the pontoon bridge, I
climbed the stone steps leading from terrace to terrace, and reached the
long-neglected grounds and the old-fashioned Virginia mansion. It was
entirely deserted. The doors were wide open, or broken from their
hinges, the windows smashed, the floors covered with rubbish, and the
walls with the names of soldiers and regiments, or pictures cut from the
illustrated newspapers.

The windows command a view of Fredericksburg and the battle-field; and
there I stood, and saw in imagination the fight reënacted,—the
pontoniers at their work in the misty morning, the sharpshooters in
rifle-pits and houses opposite driving them from it with their murderous
fire, the shelling of the town, the troops crossing, the terrible
roaring battle, the spouting flames, the smoke, the charging parties,
and the horrible slaughter;—I saw and heard it all again, and fancied
for a time that I was the commanding general, whose eyes beheld, and
whose wrung heart felt, what he would gladly have given his own life to
prevent or retrieve.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                          TO CHANCELLORSVILLE.


In conversation with my Rebel acquaintance at the Marye House, I had
learned that his friend “’Lijah” sometimes conveyed travellers over the
more distant battle-fields. Him, therefore, I sent to engage with his
horse and buggy for the following day.

Breakfast was scarcely over the next morning, when, as I chanced to look
from my hotel-window, I saw a thin-faced countryman drive up to the door
in an old one-horse wagon with two seats, and a box half filled with
corn-stalks. I was admiring the anatomy of the horse, every prominent
bone of which could be counted through his skin, when I heard the man
inquiring for me. It was “’Lijah,” with his “horse and buggy.”

I was inclined to criticise the establishment, which was not altogether
what I had been led to expect.

“I allow he a’n’t a fust-class hoss,” said Elijah. “Only give three
dollars for him. Feed is skurce and high. But let him rest this winter,
and git some meal in him, and he’ll make a plough crack next spring.”

“What are you going to do with those corn-stalks?”

“Fodder for the hoss. They’re all the fodder he’ll git till night; for
we’re go’n’ into a country whar thar’s noth’n’ mo’e for an animal to eat
than thar is on the palm of my hand.”

I took a seat beside him, and made use of the stalks by placing a couple
of bundles between my back and the sharp board which travellers were
expected to lean against. Elijah cracked his whip, the horse frisked his
tail, and struck into a cow-trot which pleased him.

“You see, he’ll snake us over the ground right peart!”

He proceeded to tantalize me by telling what a mule he had, and what a
little mare he had, at home.

“She certainly goes over the ground! I believe she can run ekal to
anything in this country for about a mile. But she’s got a set of legs
under her jest like a sheep’s legs.”

He could not say enough in praise of the mule.

“Paid eight hundred dollars for him in Confederate money. He earned a
living for the whole family last winter. I used to go reg’lar up to
Chancellorsville and the Wilderness, buy up a box of clothing, and go
down in Essex and trade it off for corn.”

“What sort of clothing?”

“Soldiers’ clothes from the battle-fields. Some was flung away, and
some, I suppose, was stripped off the dead. Any number of families jest
lived on what they got from the Union armies in that way. They’d pick up
what garments they could lay hands on, wash ’em up and sell ’em. I’d
take a blanket, and git half a bushel of meal for it down in Essex. Then
I’d bring the meal back, and git maybe two blankets, or a blanket and a
coat, for it. All with that little mule. He’ll haul a load for ye! He’ll
stick to the ground go’n’ up hill jest like a dry-land tarrapin! But I
take the mare when I’m in a hurry; she makes them feet rattle ag’in the
ground!”

We took the plank-road to Chancellorsville, passing through a waste
country of weeds or undergrowth, like every other part of Virginia which
I had yet seen.

“All this region through yer,” said Elijah, “used to be grow’d up to
corn and as beautiful clover as ever you see. But since the wa’, it’s
all turned out to bushes and briers and hog-weeds. It’s gitt’n’ a start
ag’in now. I’ll show ’em how to do it. If we git in a crap o’ wheat this
fall, which I don’t know if we sha’n’t, we kin start three big teams,
and whirl up twenty acres of land directly. That mule,” etc.

Elijah praised the small farmers.

“People in ordinary sarcumstances along yer are a mighty industrious
people. It’s the rich that keep this country down. The way it generally
is, a few own too much, and the rest own noth’n’. I know hundreds of
thousands of acres of land put to no uset, which, if it was cut up into
little farms, would make the country look thrifty. This is mighty good
land; clay bottom; holds manure jest like a chany bowl does water. But
the rich ones jest scratched over a little on’t with their slave labor,
and let the rest go. They wouldn’t sell; let a young man go to ’em to
buy, and they’d say they didn’t want no poo’ whites around ’em; they
wouldn’t have one, if they could keep shet of ’em. And what was the
result? Young men would go off to the West, if they was enterpris’n’,
and leave them that wa’n’t enterpris’n’ hyer to home. Then as the old
heads died off, the farms would run down. The young women would marry
the lazy young men, and raise up families of lazy children.”

The country all about Fredericksburg was very unhealthy. Elijah, on
making inquiries, could hear of scarcely a family on the road exempt
from sickness.

“It was never so till sence the wa’. Now we have chills and fever, jest
like they do in a new country. It’s owin’ to the land all comin’ up to
weeds; the dew settles in ’em and they rot, and that fills the air with
the ager. I’ve had the ager myself till about a fortnight ago; then soon
as I got shet of that, the colic took me. Eat too much on a big
appetite, I suppose. I like to live well; like to see plenty of
everything on the table, and then I like to see every man eat a heap.”

I commended Elijah’s practical sense; upon which he replied,—

“The old man is right ignorant; can’t read the fust letter; never went
to school a day; but the old man is right sharp!”

He was fond of speaking of himself in this way. He thought education a
good thing, but allowed that all the education in the world could not
give a man sense. He was fifty years old, and had got along thus far in
life very well.

“I reckon thar’s go’n’ to be a better chance for the poo’ man after
this. The Union bein’ held together was the greatest thing that could
have happened for us.”

“And yet you fought against it.”

“I was in the Confederate army two year and a half. I was opposed to
secession; but I got my head a little turned after the State went out,
and I enlisted. Then, when I had time to reconsider it all over, I
diskivered we was wrong. I told the boys so.

“’Boys,’ says I, ‘when my time’s up, I’m go’n’ out of the army, and you
won’t see me in ag’in.’

“’You can’t help that, old man,’ says they; ‘fo’ by that time the
conscript law’ll be changed so’s to go over the heads of older men than
you.’

“’Then,’ says I, ‘the fust chance presents itself, I fling down my
musket and go spang No’th.’

“They had me put under arrest for that, and kep’ me in the guard-house
seven months. I liked that well enough. I was saved a deal of hard
march’n’ and lay’n’ out in the cold, that winter.

“’Why don’t ye come in boys,’ says I, ‘and have a warm?’

“I knowed what I was about! The old man was right ignorant, but the old
man was right sharp!”

We passed the line of Sedgwick’s retreat a few miles from
Fredericksburg.

“Shedrick’s men was in line acrost the road hyer, extendin’ into the
woods on both sides; they had jest butchered their meat, and was ishyin’
rations and beginnin’ to cook their suppers, when Magruder struck ’em on
the left flank.” (Elijah was wrong; it was not Magruder, but McLaws.
These local guides make many such mistakes, and it is necessary to be on
one’s guard against them.) “They jest got right up and skedaddled! The
whole line jest faced to the right, and put for Banks’s Ford. Thar’s the
road they went. They left it piled so full of wagons, Magruder couldn’t
follah, but his artillery jest run around by another road I’ll show ye,
hard as ever they could lay their feet to the ground, wheeled their guns
in position on the bluffs by the time Shedrick got cleverly to crossin’,
and played away. The way they heaped up Shedrick’s men was awful!”

Every mile or two we came to a small farm-house, commonly of logs, near
which there was usually a small crop of corn growing.

“Every man after he got home, after the fall of Richmond, put in to
raise a little somethin’ to eat. Some o’ the corn looks poo’ly, but it
beats no corn at all, all to pieces.”

We came to one field which Elijah pronounced a “monstrous fine crap.”
But he added,—

“I’ve got thirty acres to home not a bit sorrier ’n that. Ye see, that
mule of mine,” etc.

I noticed—what I never saw in the latitude of New England—that the
fodder had been pulled below the ears and tied in little bundles on the
stalks to cure. Ingenious shifts for fences had been resorted to by the
farmers. In some places the planks of the worn-out plank-road had been
staked and lashed together to form a temporary enclosure. But the most
common fence was what Elijah called “bresh wattlin’.” Stakes were first
driven into the ground, then pine or cedar brush bent in between them
and beaten down with a maul.

“Ye kin build a wattlin’ fence that way so tight a rabbit can’t git
through.”

On making inquiries, I found that farms of fine land could be had all
through this region for ten dollars an acre.

Elijah hoped that men from the North would come in and settle.

“But,” said he, “’t would be dangerous for any one to take possession of
a confiscated farm. He wouldn’t live a month.”

The larger land-owners are now more willing to sell.

“Right smart o’ their property was in niggers; they’re pore now, and
have to raise money.

“The emancipation of slavery,” added Elijah, “is wo’kin’ right for the
country mo’e ways ’an one. The’ a’n’t two men in twenty, in middlin’
sarcumstances, but that’s beginnin’ to see it. I’m no friend to the
niggers, though. They ought all to be druv out of the country. They
won’t wo’k as long as they can steal. I have my little crap o’ corn, and
wheat, and po’k. When night comes, I must sleep; then the niggers come
and steal all I’ve got.”

I pressed him to give an instance of the negroes’ stealing his property.
He could not say that they had taken anything from him lately, but they
“used to” rob his cornfields and hen-roosts, and “they would again.” Had
he ever caught them at it? No, he could not say that he ever had. Then
how did he know that the thieves were negroes? He knew it, because
“niggers would steal.”

“Won’t white folks steal too, sometimes?”

“Yes,” said Elijah, “some o’ the poo’ whites are a durned sight wus’n
the niggers!”

“Then why not drive them out of the country too? You see,” said I, “your
charges against the negroes are vague, and amount to nothing.”

“I own,” he replied, “thar’s now and then one that’s ekal to any white
man. Thar’s one a-comin’ thar.”

A load of wood was approaching, drawn by two horses abreast and a mule
for leader. A white-haired old negro was riding the mule.

“He is the greatest man!” said Elijah, after we had passed. “He’s been
the support of his master’s family for twenty year and over. He kin
manage a heap better’n his master kin. The’ a’n’t a farmer in the
country kin beat him. He keeps right on jest the same now he’s free;
though I suppose he gits wages.”

“You acknowledge, then, that some of the negroes are superior men?”

“Yes, thar’s about ten in a hundred, honest and smart as anybody.”

“That,” said I, “is a good many. Do you suppose you could say more of
the white race, if it had just come out of slavery?”

“I don’t believe,” said Elijah, “that ye could say as much!”

We passed the remains of the house “whar Harrow was shot.” It had been
burned to the ground.

“You’ve heerd about Harrow; he was Confederate commissary; he stole mo’e
hosses f’om the people, and po’ed the money down his own throat, than
would have paid fo’ fo’ty men like him, if he was black.”

A mile or two farther on, we came to another house.

“Hyer’s whar the man lives that killed Harrow. He was in the army, and
because he objected to some of Harrow’s doin’s, Harrow had him arrested,
and treated him very much amiss. That ground into his conscience and
feelin’s, and he deserted fo’ no other puppose than to shoot him. He’s a
mighty smart fellah! He’ll strike a man side the head, and soon ’s his
fist leaves it, his foot’s thar. He shot Harrow in that house you see
burnt to the ground, and then went spang to Washington. O, he was
sharp!”

On our return we met the slayer of Harrow riding home from
Fredericksburg on a mule,—a fine-looking young fellow, of blonde
complexion, a pleasant countenance, finely chiselled nose and lips, and
an eye full of sunshine. “Jest the best-hearted, nicest young fellah in
the we’ld, till ye git him mad; then look out!” I think it is often the
most attractive persons, of fine temperaments, who are capable of the
most terrible wrath when roused.

The plank-road was in such a ruined condition that nobody thought of
driving on it, although the dirt road beside it was in places scarcely
better. The back of the seat was cruel, notwithstanding the corn-stalks.
But by means of much persuasion, enforced by a good whip, Elijah kept
the old horse jogging on. Oak-trees, loaded with acorns, grew beside the
road. Black-walnuts, already beginning to lose their leaves, hung their
delicate balls in the clear light over our heads. Poke-weeds, dark with
ripening berries, wild grapes festooning bush and tree, sumachs
thrusting up through the foliage their sanguinary spears,
persimmon-trees, gum-trees, red cedars, with their bluish-green
clusters, chestnut-oaks, and chincapins, adorned the wild wayside.

So we approached Chancellorsville, twelve miles from Fredericksburg.
Elijah was raised in that region, and knew everybody.

“Many a frolic have I had runnin’ the deer through these woods! Soon as
the dogs started one, he’d put fo’ the river, cross, take a turn on
t’other side, and it wouldn’t be an hour ’fo’e he’d be back ag’in. Man I
lived with used to have a mare that was trained to hunt; if she was in
the field and heard the dogs, she’d whirl her tail up on her back, lope
the fences, and go spang to the United States Ford, git thar ’fo’e the
dogs would, and hunt as well without a rider as with one.”

But since then a far different kind of hunting, a richer blood than the
deer’s, and other sounds than the exciting yelp of the dogs, had
rendered that region famous.

“Hyer we come to the Chancellorsville farm. Many a poo’ soldier’s
knapsack was emptied of his clothes, after the battle, along this road!”
said Elijah, remembering last winter’s business with his mule.

The road runs through a large open field bounded by woods. The marks of
hard fighting were visible from afar off. A growth of saplings edging
the woods on the south had been killed by volleys of musketry: they
looked like thickets of bean-poles. The ground everywhere, in the field
and in the woods, was strewed with mementos of the battle,—rotting
knapsacks and haversacks, battered canteens and tin cups, and fragments
of clothing which Elijah’s customers had not deemed it worth the while
to pick up. On each side of the road were breastworks and rifle-pits
extending into the woods. The clearing, once a well-fenced farm of
grain-fields and clover-lots, was now a dreary and deserted common. Of
the Chancellorsville House, formerly a large brick tavern, only the
half-fallen walls and chimney-stacks remained. Here General Hooker had
his head-quarters until the wave of battle on Sunday morning rolled so
hot and so near that he was compelled to withdraw. The house was soon
after fired by a Rebel shell, when full of wounded men, and burned.

“Every place ye see these big bunches of weeds, that’s whar tha’ was
hosses or men buried,” said Elijah. “These holes are whar the bones have
been dug up for the bone-factory at Fredericksburg.”

It was easy for the bone-seekers to determine where to dig. The common
was comparatively barren, except where grew those gigantic clumps of
weeds. I asked Elijah if he thought many human bones went to the
factory.

“Not unless by mistake. But people a’n’t always very partic’lar about
mistakes thar’s money to be made by.”

Seeing a small enclosure midway between the road and the woods on the
south, we walked to it, and found it a burying-ground ridged with
unknown graves. Not a head-board, not an inscription, indicated who were
the tenants of that little lonely field. And Elijah knew nothing of its
history; it had been set apart, and the scattered dead had been gathered
together and buried there, since he passed that way.

We found breastworks thrown up all along by the plank-road west of the
farm,—the old worn planks having been put to good service in their
construction. The tree-trunks pierced by balls, the boughs lopped off by
shells, the strips of timber cut to pieces by artillery and musketry
fire, showed how desperate the struggle on that side had been. The
endeavors of the Confederates to follow up with an overwhelming victory
Jackson’s swift and telling blows on our right, and the equally
determined efforts of our men to retrieve that disaster, rendered this
the scene of a furious encounter.

Elijah thought that if Jackson had not been killed by his own men after
delivering that thunderstroke, Hooker would have been annihilated.
“Stonewall” was undoubtedly the enemy’s best fighting General. His death
was to them equal to the loss of many brigades. With regard to the
manner of his death there can be no longer any doubt. I have conversed
with Confederate officers who were in the battle, all of whom agree as
to the main fact. General Jackson, after shattering our right wing,
posted his pickets at night with directions to fire upon any man or body
of men that might approach. He afterwards rode forward to reconnoitre,
returned inadvertently by the same road, and was shot by his own orders.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                            THE WILDERNESS.


The Battle of Bull Run in 1861, Pope’s campaign, and Burnside’s defeat
at Fredericksburg in 1862, and, lastly, Hooker’s unsuccessful attempt at
Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863, had shown how hard a road to
Richmond this was to travel. Repeatedly, as we tried it and failed, the
hopes of the Confederacy rose exultant; the heart of the North sank as
often, heavy with despair. McClellan’s Peninsular route had resulted
still more fatally. We all remember the anguish and anxiety of those
days. But the heart of the North shook off its despair, listened to no
timid counsels; it was growing fierce and obdurate. We no longer
received the news of defeat with cries of dismay, but with teeth
close-set, a smile upon the quivering lips, and a burning fire within.
Had the Rebels triumphed again? Then so much the worse for them! Had we
been once more repulsed with slaughter from their strong line of
defences? Was the precious blood poured out before them all in vain? At
last it should not be in vain! Though it should cost a new thirty years’
war and a generation of lives, the red work we had begun must be
completed; ultimate failure was impossible, ultimate triumph certain.

This inflexible spirit found its embodiment in the leader of the final
campaigns against the Rebel capital. It was the deep spirit of humanity
itself, ready to make the richest sacrifices, calm, determined,
inexorable, moving steadily towards the great object to be achieved. It
has been said that General Grant did not consider the lives of his men.
Then the people did not consider them. But the truth lies here: precious
as were those lives, something lay beyond far more precious, and they
were the needful price paid for it. We had learned the dread price, we
had duly weighed the worth of the object to be purchased; what then was
the use of hesitating and higgling?

We were approaching the scene of Grant’s first great blow aimed at the
gates of the Rebel capital. On the field of Chancellorsville you already
tread the borders of the field of the Wilderness,—if that can be called
a field which is a mere interminable forest, slashed here and there with
roads.

Passing straight along the plank-road, we came to a large farm-house,
which had been gutted by soldiers, and but recently reoccupied. It was
still in a scarcely habitable condition. However, we managed to obtain,
what we stood greatly in need of, a cup of cold water. I observed that
it tasted strongly of iron.

“The reason of that is, we took twelve camp-kettles out of the well,”
said the man of the house, “and nobody knows how many more there are
down there.”

The place is known as Locust Grove. In the edge of the forest, but a
little farther on, is the Wilderness Church,—a square-framed building,
which showed marks of such usage as every uninhabited house receives at
the hands of a wild soldiery. Red Mars has little respect for the
temples of the Prince of Peace.

“Many a time have I been to meet’n’ in that shell, and sot on hard
benches, and heard long sermons!” said Elijah. “But I reckon it’ll be a
long while befo’e them doo’s are darkened by a congregation ag’in. Thar
a’n’t the population through hyer thar used to be. Oncet we’d have met a
hundred wagons on this road go’n’ to market; but I count we ha’n’t met
mo’e ’n a dozen to-day.”

Not far beyond the church we approached two tall guide-posts erected
where the road forks. The one on the right pointed the way to the
“Wilderness National Cemetery, No. 1, 4 miles,” by the Orange
Court-House turnpike. The other indicated the “Wilderness National
Cemetery, No. 2,” by the plank-road.

“All this has been done sence I was this way,” said Elijah.

We kept the plank-road,—or rather the clay road beside it, which
stretched before us dim in the hollows, and red as brick on the
hill-sides. We passed some old fields, and entered the great
Wilderness,—a high and dry country, thickly overgrown with dwarfish
timber, chiefly scrub oaks, pines, and cedars. Poles lashed to trees for
tent-supports indicated where our regiments had encamped; and soon we
came upon abundant evidences of a great battle. Heavy breastworks thrown
up on Brock’s cross-road, planks from the plank-road piled up and lashed
against trees in the woods, to form a shelter for our pickets,
knapsacks, haversacks, pieces of clothing, fragments of harness, tin
plates, canteens, some pierced with balls, fragments of shells, with
here and there a round-shot, or a shell unexploded, straps, buckles,
cartridge-boxes, socks, old shoes, rotting letters, desolate tracts of
perforated and broken trees,—all these signs, and others sadder still,
remained to tell their silent story of the great fight of the
Wilderness.

A cloud passed over the sun: all the scene became sombre, and hushed
with a strange brooding stillness, broken only by the noise of twigs
crackling under my feet, and distant growls of thunder. A shadow fell
upon my heart also, as from the wing of the Death-Angel, as I wandered
through the woods, meditating upon what I saw. Where were the feet that
wore those empty shoes? Where was he whose proud waist was buckled in
that belt? Some soldier’s heart was made happy by that poor, soiled,
tattered, illegible letter, which rain and mildew have not spared; some
mother’s, sister’s, wife’s, or sweetheart’s hand, doubtless, penned it;
it is the broken end of a thread which unwinds a whole life-history,
could we but follow it rightly. Where is that soldier now? Did he fall
in the fight, and does his home know him no more? Has the poor wife or
stricken mother waited long for the answer to that letter, which never
came, and will never come? And this cap, cut in two by a shot, and stiff
with a strange incrustation,—a small cap, a mere boy’s, it seems,—where
now the fair head and wavy hair that wore it? Oh, mother and sisters at
home, do you still mourn for your drummer-boy? Has the story reached
you,—how he went into the fight to carry off his wounded comrades, and
so lost his life for their sakes?—for so I imagine the tale which will
never be told.

And what more appalling spectacle is this? In the cover of thick woods,
the unburied remains of two soldiers,—two skeletons side by side, two
skulls almost touching each other, like the cheeks of sleepers! I came
upon them unawares as I picked my way among the scrub oaks. I knew that
scores of such sights could be seen here a few weeks before; but the
United States Government had sent to have its unburied dead collected
together in the two national cemeteries of the Wilderness; and I had
hoped the work was faithfully done.

“They was No’th-Carolinians; that’s why they didn’t bury ’em,” said
Elijah, after a careful examination of the buttons fallen from the
rotted clothing.

The ground where they lay had been fought over repeatedly, and the dead
of both sides had fallen there. The buttons may, therefore, have told a
true story: North-Carolinians they may have been; yet I could not
believe that the true reason why they had not been decently interred. It
must have been that these bodies, and others we found afterwards, were
overlooked by the party sent to construct the cemeteries. It was
shameful negligence, to say the least.

The cemetery was near by,—a little clearing in the woods by the
roadside, thirty yards square, surrounded by a picket fence, and
comprising seventy trenches, each containing the remains of I know not
how many dead. Each trench was marked with a head-board inscribed with
the invariable words:

“Unknown United States soldiers, killed May, 1864.”

Elijah, to whom I read the inscription, said, pertinently, that the
words _United States soldiers_ indicated plainly that it had not been
the intention to bury Rebels there. No doubt: but these might at least
have been buried in the woods where they fell.

As a grim sarcasm on this neglect, somebody had flung three human
skulls, picked up in the woods, over the paling into the cemetery, where
they lay blanching among the graves.

Close by the southeast corner of the fence were three or four Rebel
graves with old head-boards. Elijah called my attention to them, and
wished me to read what the head-boards said. The main fact indicated
was, that those buried there were North-Carolinians. Elijah considered
this somehow corroborative of his theory derived from the buttons. The
graves were shallow, and the settling of the earth over the bodies had
left the feet of one of the poor fellows sticking out.

The shadows which darkened the woods, and the ominous thunder-growls,
culminated in a shower. Elijah crawled under his wagon; I sought the
shelter of a tree; the horse champed his fodder, and we ate our
luncheon. How quietly upon the leaves, how softly upon the graves of the
cemetery, fell the perpendicular rain! The clouds parted, and a burst of
sunlight smote the Wilderness; the rain still poured, but every drop was
illumined, and I seemed standing in a shower of silver meteors.

The rain over, and luncheon finished, I looked about for some solace to
my palate after the dry sandwiches moistened only by the drippings from
the tree,—seeking a dessert in the Wilderness. Summer grapes hung their
just ripened clusters from the vine-laden saplings, and the chincapin
bushes were starred with opening burrs. I followed a woodland path
embowered with the glistening boughs, and plucked, and ate, and mused.
The ground was level, and singularly free from the accumulations of
twigs, branches, and old leaves with which forests usually abound. I
noticed, however, many charred sticks and half-burnt roots and logs.
Then the terrible recollection overtook me: these were the woods that
were on fire during the battle. I called Elijah.

“Yes, all this was a flame of fire while the fight was go’n’ on. It was
full of dead and wounded men. Cook and Stevens, farmers over hyer, men I
know, heard the screams of the poor fellahs burnin’ up, and come and
dragged many a one out of the fire, and laid ’em in the road.”

The woods were full of Rebel graves, with here and there a heap of
half-covered bones, where several of the dead had been hurriedly buried
together.

I had seen enough. We returned to the cemetery. Elijah hitched up his
horse, and we drove back along the plank-road, cheered by a rainbow
which spanned the Wilderness and moved its bright arch onward over
Chancellorsville towards Fredericksburg, brightening and fading, and
brightening still again, like the hope which gladdened the nation’s eye
after Grant’s victory.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                       SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE.


Elijah wished to drive me the next day to Spottsylvania Court-House,
and, as an inducement for me to employ him, promised to tackle up his
mare. He also proposed various devices for softening the seats of his
wagon. No ingenuity of plan, however, sufficed to cajole me. There was a
livery-stable in Fredericksburg, and I had conceived a strong prejudice
in its favor.

The next morning, accordingly, there might have been seen wheeling up to
the tavern-door a shining vehicle,—a bran-new buggy with the virgin
gloss upon it,—drawn by a prancing iron-gray in a splendid new harness.
The sarcastic stable-man had witnessed my yesterday’s departure and
return, and had evidently exhausted the resources of his establishment
to furnish forth a dazzling contrast to Elijah’s sorry outfit. The
driver was a youth who wore his cap rakishly over his left eyebrow. I
took a seat by his side on a cushion of the softest, and presently might
have been seen riding out of Fredericksburg in that brilliant
style,—nay, _was_ seen, by one certainly, who was cut to the heart. We
drove by the “stonewall” road under the Heights, and passed a house by
the corner of which a thin-visaged “old man” of fifty was watering a sad
little beast at a well. The beast was “that mare”; and the old man was
Elijah. I shall never forget the look he gave me. I bade him a cheerful
good-morning; but his voice stuck in his throat; he could not say
“good-morning.” Our twinkling wheels almost grazed the hubs of the old
wagon standing in the road as we passed.

That I might have nothing to regret, the stable-keeper had given me a
driver who was in the Spottsylvania battle.

“You cannot have seen much service, at your age,” I said, examining his
boyish features.

“I was four year in de army, anyhow,” he replied, spitting tobacco-juice
with an air of old experience. “I enlisted when I was thirteen. I was
under de quartermaster at fust; but de last two year I was in de
artillery.”

I observed that he used _de_ for _the_ almost invariably, with many
other peculiarities of expression which betrayed early association with
negroes.

“What is your name?”

“Richard H. Hicks.”

“What is your middle name?”

“I ha’n’t got no middle name.”

“What does the _H_ stand for?”

“_H_ stands for Hicks: Richard H. Hicks; dat’s what dey tell me.”

“Can’t you read?”

“No, I can’t read. I never went to school, and never had no chance to
learn.”

Somehow this confession touched me with a sadness I had not felt even at
the sight of the dead men in the woods. He, young, active, naturally
intelligent, was dead to a world without which this world would seem to
us a blank,—the world of literature. To him the page of a book, the
column of a newspaper, was meaningless. Had he been an old man, or
black, or stupid, I should not have been so much surprised. I thought of
Shakspeare, David, the prophets, the poets, the romancers; and as my
mind glanced from name to name on the glittering entablatures, I seemed
to be standing in a glorious temple, with a blind youth at my side.

“Did you ever hear of Sir Walter Scott?”

“No, I never heerd of that Scott. But I know a William Scott.”

“Did you ever hear of Longfellow?”

“No, I never heerd of him?”

“Did you never hear of a great English poet called Lord Byron?”

“No, sir, I never knowed dar was such a man.”

What a gulf betwixt his mind and mine! Sitting side by side there, we
were yet as far apart as the great globe’s poles.

“Do you mean to go through life in such ignorance?”

“I don’t know; I’d learn to read if I had de chance.”

“Find a chance! make a chance! Even the little negro boys are getting
the start of you.”

“I reckon I’ll go to school some dis winter,” said he. “Dar’s go’n’ to
be a better chance fo’ schools now; dat’s what dey say.”

“Why now?” I asked.

“I don’t know; on’y dey say so.”

“You think, then, it was a good thing that the Confederacy got used up
and slavery abolished?”

“It mought be a good thing. All I know is, it’s so, and it can’t be
ho’ped” (helped). “It suits me well enough. I’ve been gitt’n’ thirty
dollars a month dis summer, and that’s twicet mo’e ’n I ever got
befo’e.”

I could not discover that this youth of seventeen had ever given the
great questions involving the welfare of his country a serious thought.
However, the vague belief he had imbibed regarding better times coming
in consequence of emancipation, interested me as a still further
evidence of the convictions entertained by the poorer classes on this
subject.

As we rode over the hills behind Fredericksburg, a young fellow came
galloping after us on a mule.

“Whar ye go’n’, Dick?”

“I’m go’n’ to de battle-field wi’ dis gentleman.”

“He’s from the No’th, then,” said the young fellow.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Because no South’n man ever goes to the battle-fields: we’ve seen
enough of ’em.” He became very sociable as we rode along. “Ye see that
apple-tree? I got a right good pair o’ pants off one o’ your soldier’s
under that tree once.”

“Was he dead?”

“Yes. He was one of Sedgwick’s men; he was killed when Sedgwick took the
Heights. Shot through the head. The pants wa’n’t hurt none.” And putting
spurs to his mule, he galloped ahead.

I noticed that he and Richard, like many of the young men, white and
black, I had seen about Fredericksburg, wore United States army
trousers.

“Dey was all we could git one while,” said Richard. “I reckon half our
boys ’u’d have had to go widout pants if it had n’t been for de Union
army. Dar was right smart o’ trad’n’ done in Yankee clothes, last years
o’ de wa’.”

“Did you rob a dead soldier of those you have on?”

“No; I bought dese in Fredericksburg. I never robbed a dead man.”

“But how did you know they were not taken from a corpse?”

“Mought be; but it couldn’t be ho’ped. A poo’ man can’t be choice.”

Richard expressed great contempt—inspired by envy, I thought—of the
young chap riding the mule.

“United States gov’ment give away a hundred and fifty old wore-out mules
in Fredericksburg, not long ago; so now every lazy fellow ye see can
straddle his mule! He a’n’t nobody, though he thinks he’s a heavy
coon-dog!”

“What do you mean by a _heavy coon-dog_?”

“Why, ye see, when a man owns a big plantation, and a heap o’ darkeys,
and carries a heavy pocket, or if he’s do’n’ a big thing, den we call
him a heavy coon-dog. Jeff Davis was a heavy coon-dog; but he’s a light
coon-dog now!”

Our route lay through a rough, hilly country, never more than very
thinly inhabited, and now scarcely that. About every two miles we passed
a poor log house in the woods, or on the edge of overgrown
fields,—sometimes tenantless, but oftener occupied by a pale,
poverty-smitten family afflicted with the chills. I do not remember more
than two or three framed houses on the road, and they looked scarcely
less disconsolate than their log neighbors.

It is twelve miles from Fredericksburg to Spottsylvania Court-House. At
the end of nine or ten miles we began to meet with signs of military
operations,—skirmish-lines, rifle-pits, and graves by the roadside.

Rising a gentle ascent, we had a view of the Court-House, and of the
surrounding country,—barren, hilly fields, with here and there a
scattered tree, or clump of trees, commonly pines, and boundaries of
heavier timber beyond. There were breastworks running in various
directions,—along by the road, across the road, and diagonally over the
crests. The country was all cut up with them; and I found the Rebel
works strangely mixed up with our own. As our army advanced, it had
possessed itself of the enemy’s rifle-pits, skirmish-line, and still
more important intrenchments, and converted them to its own use.

Grant’s main line of breastworks, very heavy, constructed of rails and
stakes and earth, crosses the road at nearly right angles, and stretches
away out of sight on either side over the hills and into the woods. I
was reminded of what Elijah had told me the day before at Brock’s Road,
in the Wilderness. “Grant’s breastworks run thirty miles through the
country, from near Ely’s Ford on the Rapidan, spang past Spottsylvany
Court-House and the Mattapony River.”

The road to the Court-House runs south. On the left was Beverly’s house,
and a shattered empty house on the right. Richard pointed out the hill
on which his battery was stationed early in the battle. “We had to git
away f’om dar, though. Your batteries drove us.”

We rode on to the Court-House: a goodly-brick building, with heavy
pillars in front, one of which had been broken off by a shell, leaving a
corner of the portico hanging in the air. There were but six other
buildings of any importance in the place,—one jail, one tavern, (no
school-house,) one private dwelling, and three churches; all of brick,
and all more or less battered by artillery.

Entering the Court-House amid heaps of rubbish which littered the yard
about the doors, I had the good fortune to find the county clerk at his
desk. He received me politely, and offered to show me about the
building. It had been well riddled by shot and shell; but masons and
carpenters were at work repairing damages; so that there was a prospect
of the county, in a few months, having a court-house again.

“What is most to be regretted,” the clerk said, “is the destruction of
documents which can’t be restored. All the records and papers of the
court were destroyed by the Union soldiers after they got possession.”
And he showed me a room heaped with the fragments. It looked like a room
in a rag-man’s warehouse.

Returning to his office, he invited me to sit down, and commenced
talking freely of the condition and prospects of the country. The area
of corn-land planted was small; but the soil had been resting two or
three years, the season had been favorable, and the result was an
excellent crop. “We shall probably have a surplus to dispose of for
other necessaries.” The county had not one third the number of horses,
nor one tenth the amount of stock, it had before the war. Many families
were utterly destitute. They had nothing whatever to live upon until the
corn-harvest; and many would have nothing then. The government had been
feeding as many as fifteen hundred persons at one time.

“How many of these were blacks?”

“Perhaps one fifth.”

“How large a proportion of the population of the county are blacks?”

“Not quite one half.”

“The colored population require proportionately less assistance, then,
than the white?” He admitted the fact. “How happens it?” I inquired; for
he had previously told me the old hackneyed tale, that the negroes would
not work, and that in consequence they were destined to perish like the
Indians.

“They’ll steal,” said he; and he made use of this expression, which he
said was proverbial: “An honest nigger is as rare as a lock of har on
the palm of my hand.”

“But,” I objected, “it seems hardly possible for one class of people to
live by stealing in a country you describe as so destitute.”

“A nigger will live on almost nothing,” he replied. “It isn’t to be
denied, however, but that some of them work.”

He criticised severely the government’s system of feeding the destitute.
“Hundreds are obtaining assistance who are not entitled to any. They
have only to go to the overseers of the poor appointed by government,
put up a poor mug, and ask for a certificate in a weak voice; they get
it, and come and draw their rations. Some draw rations both here and at
Fredericksburg, thus obtaining a double support, while they are well
able to work and earn their living, if left to themselves. The system
encourages idleness, and does more harm than good. All these evils could
be remedied, and more than half the expense saved the government, if it
would intrust the entire management of the matter in the hands of
citizens.”

“Is it the whites, or the blacks, who abuse the government’s bounty?”

“The whites.”

“It appears, then, that they have the same faults you ascribe to the
blacks: they are not over-honest, and they will not work unless obliged
to.”

“Yes, there are shiftless whites to be sure. There’s a place eight miles
west from here, known as Texas, inhabited by a class of poor whites
steeped in vice, ignorance, and crime of every description. They have no
comforts, and no energy to work and obtain them. They have no books, no
morality, no religion; they go clothed like savages, half sheltered, and
half fed,—except that government is now supporting them.”

“Do the whites we are feeding come mostly from that region?”

“O, no; they come from all over the county. Some walk as far as twenty
miles to draw their fortnight’s or three weeks’ rations. Some were in
good circumstances before the war; and some are tolerably well off now.
A general impression prevails that this support comes from a tax on the
county; so every man, whether he needs it or not, rushes in for a share.
It is impossible to convince the country people that it is the United
States government that is feeding them. Why, sir, there are men in the
back districts who will not yet believe that the war is over, and
slavery at an end!”

“It appears,” said I, “that ignorance is not confined to the region you
call Texas; and that, considering all things, the whites are even more
degraded than the blacks. Why doesn’t some prophet of evil arise and
predict that the white race, too, will die out because it is vicious and
will not work?”

“The whites are a different race, sir,—a different race,” was the
emphatic, but not very satisfactory reply. “The negro cannot live
without the care and protection of a master.”

“You think, then, the abolition of slavery a great misfortune?”

“A great misfortune to the negroes, certainly; but not to the whites: we
shall be better off without them.”

“It is singular that the negroes have no fear of the fate you predict
for them. They say, on the contrary, ‘We have been supporting our
masters and their families all our lives, and now it is a pity if we
cannot earn a living for ourselves.’”

“Well, I hope they will succeed!”

This is the reply the emancipated slave-owners almost invariably make to
the above argument; sometimes sarcastically, sometimes gravely,
sometimes commiseratingly, but always incredulously. “The negro is
fated;” this is the real or pretended belief; and this they repeat,
often with an ill-concealed spirit of vindictiveness, an
“I-told-you-so!” air of triumph, until one is forced to the conclusion
that their prophecy is their desire.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                      THE FIELD OF SPOTTSYLVANIA.


I walked on to the tavern where Richard H. Hicks was baiting his horse.
The landlord took me to a lumber-room where he kept, carefully locked
up, a very remarkable curiosity. It was the stump of a tree, eleven
inches in diameter, which had been cut off by bullets—not by
cannon-shot, but by leaden bullets—in the Spottsylvania fight. It looked
like a colossal scrub-broom. “I had a stump twice as big as this, cut
off by bullets in the same way, only much smoother; but some Federal
officers took it from me and sent it to the War Department at
Washington.”

He had many battle-scars about his house to show; one of which I
remember: “A shell come in through the wall thar, wrapped itself up in a
bed that stood hyer, and busted in five pieces.”

In one of the rooms I found a Union officer lying on a lounge, sick with
the prevailing fever. He seemed glad to see a Northern face, and urged
me to be seated.

“It is fearfully lonesome here; and just now I have no companion but the
ague.”

Learning that he had been some time in command of the post, I inquired
the reason why the citizens appeared so eager to save the government
expense in feeding their poor.

“It is very simple: they wish to get control of the business in order to
cut off the negroes. They had rather have the assistance the government
affords withdrawn altogether, than that the freedmen should come in for
a share. It is their policy to keep the blacks entirely dependent upon
their former masters, and consequently as much slaves as before.”

“You of course hear many complaints that the blacks will not work?”

“Yes, and they are true in certain cases: they will not work for such
wages as their late owners are willing to give; in other words, they
will not work for less than nothing. But when they have encouragement
they work very well, in their fashion,—which is not the Yankee fashion,
certainly, but the fashion which slavery has bred them up to. They have
not yet learned to appreciate, however, the binding character of a
contract. It is a new thing to them. Besides, the master too often sets
them bad examples by failing to keep his own engagements. He has been in
the habit of breaking his promises to them at his convenience; and now
he finds fault that they do not keep theirs any better. The masters have
not yet learned how to treat their old servants under the new
conditions. They cannot learn that they are no longer slaves. That is
one great source of trouble. On the other hand, where the freedman
receives rational, just, and kind treatment, he behaves well and works
well, almost without exception. I expect a good deal of difficulty soon.
The negroes have in many places made contracts to work for a part of the
crop; now when the corn comes to be divided, their ideas and their
master’s, with regard to what ‘a part’ of the crop is, will be found to
differ considerably. I was not an anti-slavery man at home,” he added;
“and I give you simply the results of my observation since I have been
in the South.”

“What do you think would be the effect if our troops were withdrawn?”

“I hardly know; but I should expect one of two things: either that the
freedmen would be reduced to a worse condition than they were ever in
before, or that they would rise in insurrection.”

The landlord wished me to go and look at his corn. It was certainly a
noble crop. The tops of the monstrous ears towered six or eight feet
from the ground; the tops of the stalks at least twelve or fourteen
feet. He maintained that it would average fifty bushels (of shelled
corn) to the acre. I thought the estimate too high.

“Good corn,” said he, “measures finely; sorry corn porely. And consider,
not a spoonful of manure has been put on this ground fo’ fou’ years.”

“But the ground has been resting; and that is as good as manure.”

“Yes; but it’s mighty good soil that will do as well as this. Now tell
your people, if they want to buy good land cheap, hyer’s their chance.
I’ve got a thousand acres; and I’ll sell off seven hundred acres,
claired or timber land, to suit purchasers. It’s well wo’th twenty
dollars an acre; I’ll sell for ten. It a’n’t fur from market; and thar’s
noth’n’ ye can’t raise on this yer land.”

Of all his thousand acres he had only about fifteen under cultivation.
His cornfield was not as large as it appeared; for, running through the
centre of it, like a titanic furrow, were Lee’s tremendous
intrenchments. These few acres were all the old man had been able to
enclose. There was not another fence on his farm. “I had over ten
thousand panels of fence burnt up for me during the wa’; over eighty
thousand rails.”

“By which army?”

“Both: fust one, and then the other. Our own troops were as bad as the
Yankees.”

Afterwards, as we rode away from the tavern, Richard H. Hicks gave me
the following succinct account of the landlord:

“He used to be a heavy coon-dog. He had fifty head o’ darkeys. He
wouldn’t hire ’em, and dey lef’. Now he has nobody to wo’k de land, he’s
got a light pocket, and so he’s a mind to sell.”

Riding west from the Court-House, and striking across the fields on the
right, we passed McCool’s house, in a pleasant shady place, and reached
the scene where the eight days’ fighting culminated. Of the woods,
thinned and despoiled by the storm of iron and lead, only a ghostly
grove of dead trunks and dreary dry limbs remained. Keeping around the
western edge of these, we came to a strange medley of intrenchments,
which it would have required an engineer to unravel and understand. Here
Grant’s works had been pushed up against Lee’s, swallowing them as one
wave swallows another. Nowhere else have I seen evidences of such close
and desperate fighting. For eight days Grant had been thundering at the
gates of the Confederacy; slowly, with fearful loss, he had been
pressing back the enemy and breaking through the obstructions; until
here at last he concentrated all his strength. Each army fought as if
the gods had decreed that the issue of the war depended upon that
struggle. And so indeed they had: the way to Richmond by this route, so
long attempted in vain, was here opened. The grand result proclaimed
that the eight days’ battles were victories; that the enemy, for the
first time on his own chosen ground, had met with ominous defeat.
Inconceivable was the slaughter. Here two red rivers met and spilled
themselves into the ground. Swift currents from the great West,
tributaries from the Atlantic States and from the Lake States, priceless
rills, precious drops, from almost every community and family in the
Union, swelled the northern stream which burst its living banks and
perished here. Every state, every community, every family mourned.

But behind this curtain of woe was the chiselled awful form, the
terrible front and sublime eyes, of the statue of Fate, the nation’s
unalterable Will. Contemplating that, we were silenced, if not consoled.
Every breast—that of the father going to search for the body of his dead
son, that of the mother reading the brief despatch that pierced her as
the bullet pierced her dear boy, that of the pale wife hastening to the
cot-side of her dying husband, nay, the bleeding breasts of the wounded
and dying, while yet they felt a throb of life—thrilled responsive to
Grant’s simple, significant announcement—

“I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”

It took all summer, indeed, and all winter too; but the result had been
decided at Spottsylvania.

The Rebel armies had invaded the North and been driven ingloriously
back. Many times we had started for Richmond and been repulsed. But at
length we were not repulsed: the overwhelming wave poured over the
embankments.

Such thoughts—or rather deep emotions, of which such thoughts are but
the feeble expression—possess the serious tourist, who stands upon that
field furrowed and ridged with earthworks and with graves,—beside that
grove of shattered and shrivelled trees. A conscious solemnity seems
brooding in the air. If the intrenchments could speak, what a history
could they disclose! But those sphinx-like lips of the earth are rigid
and still. Even the winds seem to hush their whispers about that scene
of desolation. All is silence; and the heart of the visitor is
constrained to silence also.

Upon a hacked and barkless trunk at the angle of the woods, in the midst
of the graves, was nailed aloft a board bearing these lines:

                   “On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
                     Their silent tents are spread,
                   And glory guards with solemn round
                     The bivouac of the dead.”

A thick undergrowth had sprung up in the woods. I noticed, stooping
among the bushes along by the breastworks, an old woman and two young
girls.

“Dey ’re chincapinnin’,” said Richard.

But I observed that they gathered the nuts, not from the bushes, but
from the ground. Curiosity impelled me to follow them. The woman had a
haversack slung at her side; one of the girls carried an open pail. They
passed along the intrenchments, searching intently, and occasionally
picking something out of the dirt. Pressing into the bushes, I accosted
them. They scarcely deigned to look at me, but continued their strange
occupation. I questioned them about the battle; but their answers were
as vague and stupid as if they then heard of it for the first time.
Meanwhile I obtained a glance at the open mouth of the heavily freighted
haversack and the half-filled pail, and saw not chincapins, but several
quarts of old bullets.

Wandering along by the intrenchments, I observed the half-rotted
fragments of a book on the ground. They were leaves from a German pocket
Testament, which doubtless some soldier had carried into the fight. I
picked them up, and glanced my eye over the mildewed pages. By whom were
they last perused? What poor immigrant’s heart, fighting here the
battles of his adopted country, had drawn consolation from those words
of life, which lose not their vitality in any language? What was the
fate of that soldier? Was he now telling the story of his campaigns to
his bearded comrades, wife and children; or was that tongue forever
silent in the dust of the graves that surrounded me? While I pondered,
these words caught my eye:—

“Die du mir gegeben hast, die habe ich bewahret, und ist keiner von
ihnen verloren.”—“Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of
them is lost.”

I looked round upon the graves; I thought of the patriot hosts that had
fallen on these fearful battle-fields,—of the households bereft, of the
husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, who went down to the Wilderness
and were never heard of more; and peace and solace, sweet as the winds
of Paradise, came to me in these words, as I repeated them,—

“None of them is lost, none of them is lost!”



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                           “ON TO RICHMOND.”


At mid-day, on the fifteenth of September, I took the train at
Fredericksburg for Richmond, expecting to make in three hours the
journey which our armies were more than as many years in accomplishing.

“On to Richmond! On to Richmond!” clattered the cars; while my mind
recalled the horrors and anxieties of those years, so strangely in
contrast with the swiftness and safety of our present speed. Where now
were the opposing Rebel hosts? Where the long lines of bristling
musketry, the swarms of cavalry, and the terrible artillery? Where the
great Slave Empire, the defiant Confederacy itself?

               “The earth hath bubbles as the water has,
               And these were of them.”

We passed amid the same desolate scenes which I had everywhere observed
since I set foot upon the soil of Virginia,—old fields and undergrowths,
with signs of human life so feeble and so few, that one began to wonder
where the country population of the Old Dominion was to be found. All
the region between Fredericksburg and Richmond seems not only almost
uninhabited now, but always to have been so,—at least to the eye
familiar with New-England farms and villages. But one must forget the
thriving and energetic North when he enters a country stamped with the
dark seal of slavery. Large and fertile Virginia, with eight times the
area of Massachusetts, scarcely equals in population that barren little
State. The result is, that, where Southern State pride sees prosperous
settlements, the travelling Yankee discovers little more than
uncultivated wastes.

Ashton, sixteen miles from Richmond, was the first really
civilized-looking place we passed. Farther on I looked for the suburbs
of the capital. But Richmond has no suburbs. The pleasant villages and
market-gardens that spread smilingly for miles around our large Northern
towns, are altogether wanting here. Suddenly the melancholy waste of the
country disappears, and you enter the outskirts of the city.

And is this indeed Richmond into which the train glides so smoothly
along its polished rails? Is this the fort-encircled capital whose gates
refused so long to open to our loudly knocking armies?—and have we
entered with so little ado? Is the “Rome of the Confederacy” sitting
proudly on her seven hills, aware that here are detestable Yankees
within her walls? Will she cast us into Libby? or starve us on Belle
Island? or forward us to Wirtz at Andersonville?—for such we know was
the fate of Northern men who _did_ get into Richmond during the past
four years! You think of what _they_ suffered, as you walk unmolested
the pavements of the conquered capital; and something swells within you,
which is not exultation, nor rage, nor grief, but a strange mingling of
all these.

                  “Time the Avenger! unto thee I lift
                  My hands and eyes and heart!”

for what a change has been wrought since those days of horror and crime!
Now no Rebel guard is at hand to march you quickly and silently through
the streets; but friendly faces throng to welcome you, to offer you
seats in carriages, and to invite you to the hospitalities of hotels.
And these people, meeting or passing you, or seated before their doors
in the warm September afternoon, are no longer enemies, but tamed
complacent citizens of the United States like yourself.

I was surprised to find that the storm of war had left Richmond so
beautiful a city; although she appeared to be mourning for her sins at
the time in dust and ashes,—dust which every wind whirled up from the
unwatered streets, and the ashes of the Burnt District.

Here are no such palatial residences as dazzle the eye in New York,
Chicago, and other Northern cities; but in their place you see handsome
rows of houses, mostly of brick, shaded by trees, and with a certain air
of comfort and elegance about them which is very inviting. The streets
are sufficiently spacious, and regularly laid out, many of them being
thrown up into long, sweeping lines of beauty by the hills on which they
are built. The hills indeed are the charm of Richmond, overlooking the
falls of the James, on the left bank of which it stands; giving you
shining glimpses of the winding river up and down,—commanding views of
the verdant valley and of the hilly country around,—and here, at the end
of some pleasant street, falling off abruptly into the wild slopes of
some romantic ravine.

In size, Richmond strikes one as very insignificant, after all the noise
it has made in the world. Although the largest city of Virginia, and
ranking among Southern cities of the second magnitude, either of our
great Northern towns could swallow it, as one pickerel swallows a
lesser, and scarcely feel the morsel in its belly. In 1860 it had a
population of not quite thirty-eight thousand,—less than that of Troy or
New Haven, and but a little larger than that of Lowell.

I had already secured a not very satisfactory room at a crowded hotel,
when, going out for an afternoon ramble, I came by chance to Capitol
Square. Although a small park, containing only about eight acres, I
found in its shady walks and by its twinkling fountains a delightful
retirement after the heat and dust of the streets. It is situated on the
side of a hill sloping down to the burnt district which lies between it
and the river. On the brow of the slope, at an imposing elevation, its
pillared front looking towards the western sun, stands the State
Capitol, which was also the capitol of the Confederacy. Near by is
Crawford’s equestrian statue of Washington, which first astonishes the
beholder by its vast proportions, and does not soon cease to be a wonder
to his eyes.

Coming out of the Park, at the corner nearest the monument, I noticed,
on the street-corner opposite, a hotel, whose range of front rooms
overlooking the square, made me think ruefully of the lodgings I had
engaged elsewhere. To exchange a view of back yards and kitchen-roofs
from an upper story for a sight from those commanding windows, entered
my brain as an exciting possibility. I went in. The clerk had two or
three back rooms to show, but no front room, until he saw that nothing
else would suffice, when he obligingly sent me to the very room I
wished. Throwing open the shutters, I looked out upon the Park, the
Capitol, the colossal Washington soaring above the trees, and the
far-off shining James. I caught glimpses, through the foliage, of the
spray of one of the fountains, and could hear its ceaseless murmur
mingle with the noise of the streets.

I took possession at once, sent for my luggage, slept that night in my
new lodgings, and was awakened at dawn the next morning by a sound as of
a dish of beans dashed into a ringing brass kettle. This was repeated at
irregular intervals, and with increasing frequency, as the day advanced,
breaking in upon the plashy monotone of the fountain, and the rising hum
of the city, with its resounding rattle. Stung with curiosity, I arose
and looked from my open window. Few white citizens were astir, but I saw
a thin, ceaseless stream of negroes, who “would not work,” going
cheerfully to their daily tasks. The most of them took their way towards
the burnt district; some crossed Capitol Square to shorten their route;
and the sounds I had heard were occasioned by the slamming of the iron
gates of the Park.



                              CHAPTER XIX.
                          THE BURNT DISTRICT.


Again that morning I visited the burnt district, of which I had taken
but a cursory view the evening before.

All up and down, as far as the eye could reach, the business portion of
the city bordering on the river lay in ruins. Beds of cinders, cellars
half filled with bricks and rubbish, broken and blackened walls,
impassable streets deluged with _débris_, here a granite front still
standing, and there the iron fragments of crushed machinery,—such was
the scene which extended over thirty entire squares and parts of other
squares.

I was reminded of Chambersburg; but here was ruin on a more tremendous
scale. Instead of small one- and two-story buildings, like those of the
modest Pennsylvania town, tall blocks, great factories, flour-mills,
rolling-mills, foundries, machine-shops, warehouses, banks, railroad,
freight, and engine houses, two railroad bridges, and one other bridge
spanning on high piers the broad river, were destroyed by the desperate
Rebel leaders on the morning of the evacuation.

“They meant to burn us all out of our homes,” said a citizen whom I met
on the butment of the Petersburg railroad bridge. “It was the wickedest
thing that ever was done in this world! You are a stranger; you don’t
know; but the people of Richmond know, if they will only speak their
minds.”

“But,” said I, “what was their object in burning their own city, the
city of their friends?”

“The devil only knows, for he set ’em on to do it! It was spite, I
reckon. If they couldn’t hold the city, they determined nobody else
should. They kept us here four years under the worst tyranny under the
sun; then when they found they couldn’t keep us any longer, they just
meant to burn us up. That’s the principle they went on from the
beginning.”

I had already conversed with other citizens on the subject of the fire,
some of whom maintained that it was never the design of the Confederate
leaders to burn anything but the railroad bridges and public stores. But
this man laughed at the idea.

“That’s what they pretend; but I know better. What was the water stopped
from the reservoirs for? So that we should have none to put out the fire
with!”

“But they say the water was shut off in order to make repairs.”

“It’s all a lie! I tell ye, stranger, it was the intention to burn
Richmond, and it’s a miracle that any part of it was saved. As luck
would have it, there was no wind to spread the fire; then the Federals
came in, let on the water, and went to work with the engines, and put it
out.”

“Why didn’t the citizens do that?”

“I don’t know. Everybody was paralyzed. It was a perfect panic. The
Yankees coming! the city burning! our army on a retreat!—you’ve no
idea of what it was. Nobody seemed to know what to do. God save us
from another such time! It was bad enough Sunday. If the world had
been coming to an end, there couldn’t have been more fright and
confusion. I was watchman on this railroad bridge,—when there was a
bridge here. I was off duty at midnight, and I went home and went to
bed. But along towards morning my daughter woke me. ‘Father,’ says
she, ‘the city’s afire!’ I knew right away what was the matter. The
night was all lit up, and I could hear the roar of something besides
the river. I run out and started for the bridge, but I’d got quite
near enough, when the ammunition in the tobacco-warehouses begun to go
off. Crack!—crack!—crack, crack, crack! One piece of shell whirred
past my head like a pa’tridge. I didn’t want to hear another. I put
home and went to getting my truck together, such as I could tote,
ready to leave if my house went.”

Subsequently I conversed with citizens of every grade upon this exciting
topic, and found opinions regarding it as various as the political views
of their authors. Those aristocrats who went in for the war but kept out
of the fight, and who favored the Davis government because it favored
them, had no word of censure for the incendiaries.

“The burning of the city was purely accidental,” one blandly informed
me.

“No considerable portion of it would have been destroyed if it hadn’t
been for private marauding parties,” said another. “The city was full of
such desperate characters. They set fires for the purpose of plundering.
It was they, and nobody else, who shut off the water from the
reservoirs.”

The laboring class, on the other hand, generally denounced the
Confederate leaders as the sole authors of the calamity. It was true
that desperadoes aided in the work, but it was after the fugitive
government had set them the example.

Here is the opinion of a Confederate officer, Colonel D——, whom I saw
daily at the table of the hotel, and with whom I had many interesting
conversations.

“It is not fair to lay the whole blame on the Confederate government,
although, Heaven knows, it was bad enough to do anything! The plan of
burning the city had been discussed beforehand: Lee and the more humane
of his officers opposed it; Early and others favored it; and
Breckinridge took the responsibility of putting it into execution.”

Amid all these conflicting opinions there was one thing certain—the fact
of the fire; although, had it not been written out there before our eyes
in black characters and lines of desolation, I should have expected to
hear some unblushing apologist of the Davis despotism deny even that.

And, whoever may have been personally responsible for the crime, there
is also a truth concerning it which I hold to be undeniable. Like the
assassination of Lincoln, like the systematic murder of Union prisoners
at Andersonville and elsewhere,—like these and countless other barbarous
acts which have branded the Rebel cause with infamy,—this too was
inspired by the spirit of slavery, and performed in the interest of
slavery. That spirit, destructive of liberty and law, and
self-destructive at last, was the father of the rebellion and of all the
worst crimes of its adherents. As I walked among the ruins, pondering
these thoughts, I must own that my heart swelled with pride when I
remembered how the fire was extinguished. It was by no mere chance that
the panic-stricken inhabitants were found powerless to save their own
city. That task was reserved for the Union army, that a great truth
might be symbolized. The war, on the part of the North, was waged
neither for ambition nor revenge; its design was not destructive, but
conservative. Through all our cloudy mistakes and misdeeds shone the
spirit of Liberty; and the work she gave us to do was to quench the
national flames which anarchy had kindled, and to save a rebellious
people from the consequences of their own folly.

Richmond had already one terrible reminiscence of a fire. On the night
of the 26th of December, 1811, its theatre was burned, with an appalling
catastrophe: upward of seventy spectators, including the Governor of the
State, perishing in the flames. The fire of the 3d of April, 1865, will
be as long remembered.

The work of rebuilding the burnt district had commenced, and was
progressing in places quite vigorously. Here I had the satisfaction of
seeing the negroes, who “would not work,” actually at their tasks. Here,
as everywhere else in Richmond, and indeed in every part of Virginia I
visited, colored laborers were largely in the majority. They drove the
teams, made the mortar, carried the hods, excavated the old cellars or
dug new ones, and, sitting down amid the ruins, broke the mortar from
the old bricks and put them up in neat piles ready for use. There were
also colored masons and carpenters employed on the new buildings. I
could not see but that these people worked just as industriously as the
white laborers. And yet, with this scene before our very eyes, I was
once more informed by a cynical citizen that the negro, now that he was
free, would rob, steal, or starve, before he would work.

I conversed with one of the laborers going home to his dinner. He was a
stalwart young black, twenty-one years old, married, and the father of
two children. He was earning a dollar and a half a day.

“Can you manage to live on that, and support your family?”

“It’s right hard, these times,—everything costs so high. I have to pay
fifteen dollars a month rent, and only two little rooms. But my wife
takes in washing and goes out to work; and so we get along.”

“But,” said I, “were not your people better off in slavery?”.

“Oh no, sir!” he replied, with a bright smile. “We’re a heap better off
now. We haven’t got our rights yet, but I expect we’re go’n’ to have ’em
soon.”

“What rights?”

“I don’t know, sir. But I reckon government will do something for us. My
master has had me ever since I was seven years old, and never give me
nothing. I worked for him twelve years, and I think something is due
me.”

He was waiting to see what the government would do for his people. He
rather expected the lands of their Rebel masters would be given them,
insisting that they ought to have some reward for all their years of
unrequited toil. Of course I endeavored to dissuade him from cherishing
any such hope.

“What you ask for may be nothing but justice; but we must not expect
justice even in this world. We must be thankful for what we can get. You
have your freedom, and you ought to consider yourself lucky.”

His features shone with satisfaction as he replied,—

“That ought to be enough, if we don’t get no mo’e. We’re men now, but
when our masters had us we was only change in their pockets.”

Unlike what I saw in Chambersburg, the new blocks springing up in the
burnt district did not promise to be an improvement on the old ones.
Everywhere were visible the results of want of capital and of the hurry
of rebuilding. The thinness of the walls was alarming; and I was not
surprised to learn that some of them had recently been blown down on a
windy night. Heaven save our country, thought I, from such hasty and
imperfect reconstruction!



                              CHAPTER XX.
                 LIBBY, CASTLE THUNDER, AND BELLE ISLE.


Strolling along a street near the river, below the burnt district, I
looked up from the dirty pavements, and from the little ink-colored
stream creeping along the gutter, (for Richmond abounds in these
villanous rills,) and saw before me a sign nailed to the corner of a
large, gloomy brick building, and bearing in great black letters the
inscription,—

                             LIBBY PRISON.

Passing the sentinel at the door, I entered. The ground-floor was
partitioned off into offices and store-rooms, and presented few objects
of interest. A large cellar room below, paved with cobble-stones, was
used as a cookhouse by our soldiers then occupying the building.
Adjoining this, but separated from it by a wall, was the cellar which is
said to have been mined for the purpose of blowing up Libby with its
inmates, in case the city had at one time been taken.

Ascending a flight of stairs from the ground-floor, I found myself in a
single, large, oblong, whitewashed, barren room. Two rows of stout
wooden posts supported the ceiling. The windows were iron-grated, those
of the front looking out upon the street, and those of the rear
commanding a view of the canal close by, the river just beyond it, and
the opposite shore.

There was an immense garret above, likewise embracing the entire area of
the floor. These were the prison-rooms of the infamous Libby. I found
them occupied by a regiment of colored troops, some sitting in Turkish
fashion on the floor, (for there was not a stool or bench,) some resting
their backs against the posts or whitewashed walls, and others lying at
length on the hard planks, with their heads pillowed on their knapsacks.

But the comfortable colored regiment faded from sight as I ascended and
descended the stairs, and walked from end to end of the dreary chambers.
A far different picture rose before me,—the diseased and haggard men
crowded together there, dragging out their weary days, deeming
themselves oftentimes forgotten by their country and their friends,—men
who mounted those dungeon-stairs, not as I mounted them, but to enter a
den of misery, starvation, and death.

On the opposite side of the same street, a little farther up, was Castle
Thunder,—a very commonplace brick block, considering its formidable
name. It was still used as a prison; but it had passed into the hands of
the United States military authorities. At the iron-barred windows of
the lower story, and behind tin wooden-barred windows above, could be
seen the faces of soldiers and citizens imprisoned for various offences.

Belle Island I had already seen from the heights of Richmond,—a pleasant
hill rising out of the river above the town, near the farther shore. The
river itself is very beautiful there, with its many green islets, its
tumbling rapids sweeping down among rocks and foaming over ledges, and
its side-dams thrown out like arms to draw the waters into their
tranquil embrace. My eye, ranging over this scene, rested on that fair
hill; and I thought that, surely, no pleasanter or more healthful spot
could have been selected for an encampment of prisoners; But it is
unsafe to trust the enchantment of distance; and after seeing Libby and
Castle Thunder, I set out to visit Belle Island.

I crossed over to Manchester by a bridge which had been constructed
since the fire. As both the Richmond and Danville, and the Richmond and
Petersburg railroad bridges were destroyed, an extraordinary amount of
business and travel was thrown upon this bridge. It was shaken with
omnibuses and freight-wagons, and enveloped in clouds of dust. Loads of
cotton and tobacco, the former in bales, the latter in hogsheads, were
coming into the city, and throngs of pedestrians were passing to and
fro. Among these I noticed a number of negroes with little bundles on
their backs. One of them, a very old man, was leaning against the
railing to rest.

“Well, uncle, how are you getting along?”

“Tolerable, mahster; only tolerable.” And he lifted his tattered cap
from his white old head with a grace of politeness which a courtier
might have envied.

“Where are you going?”

“I’s go’n’ to Richmond, mahster.”

“What do you expect to do in Richmond?”

“I don’t know right well. I thought I couldn’t be no wus off than whar I
was; and I hadn’t no place to go.”

“How so, uncle?”

“You see, mahster, thar a’n’t no chance fo’ people o’ my color in the
country I come from.”

“Where is that?”

“Dinwiddie County.”

“You have walked all the way from Dinwiddie County?” “Yes, mahster; I’se
walked over fo’ty mile. But I don’t mind that.”

“You’re very old, uncle.”

“Yes, I’ve a right good age, mahster. It’s hard fo’ a man o’ my years to
be turned out of his home. I don’t know what I shall do; but I reckon
the Lord will take keer of me.”

The tone of patience and cheerfulness in which he spoke was very
touching. I leaned on the bridge beside him, and drew out from him by
degrees his story. His late master refused to give wages to the freedmen
on his lands, and the result was that all the able-bodied men and women
left him. Enraged at this, he had sworn that the rest should go too, and
had accordingly driven off the aged and the sick, this old man among
them.

“He said he’d no use fo’ old wore-out niggers. I knowed I was old and
wore-out, but I growed so in his service. I served him and his father
befo’e nigh on to sixty year; and he never give me a dollar. He’s had my
life, and now I’m old and wore-out I must leave. It’s right hard,
mahster!”

“Not all the planters in your county are like him, I hope?”

“Some of ’em is very good to their people, I believe. But none of ’em is
will’n’ to pay wages a man can live by. Them that pays at all, offers
only five dollars a month, and we must pay fo’ ou’ own clothes and
doctor’s bills, and suppo’t ou’ families.’

“It seems you were better off when in slavery,” I suggested.

“I don’t say that, mahster. I’d sooner be as I is to-day.” And
cheerfully shouldering his bundle, the old African tramped on towards
Richmond. What was to become of him there?

I kept on to Manchester, passed the great humming mills by the
river-side, and turning to the right, up the Danville railroad, reached
Belle Island bridge after a brisk fifteen minutes’ walk. Crossing over,
I entered the yard of a nail-factory, where some men were breaking up
heavy old iron, cannons, mortars, and car-wheels, by means of a
four-hundred pound shot dropped from a derrick forty feet high. Beyond
the factory rose the pleasant hill I had viewed from the city. I climbed
its southern side, and found myself in the midst of a scene not less
fair than I had anticipated. Behind me was a cornfield, covering the
summit; below rushed the river among its green and rocky islands; while
Richmond rose beyond, picturesquely beautiful on its hills, and rosy in
the flush of sunset.

But where had been the prisoners’ camp? I saw no trace of it on that
slope. Alas, that slope was never trodden by their feet, and its air
they never breathed. At the foot of it is a flat, spreading out into the
stream, and almost level with it at high water. Already the night-fog
was beginning to creep over it. This flat, which was described to me as
a marsh in the rainy season, and covered with snow and slush and ice in
winter, was the “Belle Isle” of our prisoners. Yet they were not allowed
the range even of that. A trench and embankment enclosing an oblong
space of less than six acres formed the dead-line which it was fatal to
pass. Within this as many as twelve thousand men were at times crowded,
with no shelter but a few tattered tents.

As I was examining the spot, a throng of begrimed laborers crossed the
flat, carrying oars, and embarking in boats on the low shore looking
towards the city. They were workmen from the nail-factory returning to
their homes. One of them, passing alone after his companions, stopped to
talk with me at the dead-line, and afterwards offered me a place in his
boat. It was a leaky little skiff: I perched myself upon a seat in the
bow; and he, standing in the stern, propelled it across with a pole.

“Where were the dead buried?” I asked.

“The dead Yankees? They buried a good many thar in the sand-bar. But
they might about as well have flung ’em into the river. A freshet washed
out a hundred and twenty bodies at one time.”

“Did you see the prisoners when they were here?”

“I wasn’t on the Island. But from Richmond anybody could see their tents
hyer, and see them walking around. I was away most of the time.”

“In the army?”

“Yes, sir; I was in the army. I enlisted fo’ three months, and they kept
me in fou’ years,” he said, as men speak of deep and unforgiven wrongs.
“The wa’ was the cruelest thing, and the wust thing fo’ the South that
could have been. What do you think they’ll do with Jeff Davis?”

“I don’t know,” I replied; “what do you think?”

“I know what I’d like to do with him: I’d hang him as quick as I would a
mad dog! Him and about fo’ty others: old Buchanan along with ’em.”

“Why, what has Buchanan done?”

“He was in cohoot with ’em, and as bad as the baddest. If we had had an
honest President in his place, thar never’d have been wa’.”

From the day I entered Virginia it was a matter of continual
astonishment to me to hear the common people express views similar to
those, and denounce the Davis despotism. They were all the more bitter
against it because it had deceived them with lies and false promises so
long. Throughout the loyal North, the feeling against the secession
leaders was naturally strong; but it was mild as candle-light compared
with the fierce furnace-heat of hatred which I found kindled in many a
Southern breast.

The passage of the river was delightful, in the fading sunset light. On
a bluff opposite Belle Island was Hollywood, the fashionable cemetery of
Richmond, green-wooded, and beautiful at that hour in its cool and
tranquil tints. As we glided down the river, and I took my last view of
the Island, I thought how often our sick and weary soldiers there must
have cast longing eyes across at that lovely hill, and wished themselves
quietly laid away in its still shades. Nor could I help thinking of the
good people of Richmond, the Christian citizens of Richmond, taking
their pleasant walks and drives to that verdant height, and looking down
on the camp of prisoners dying from exposure and starvation under their
very eyes. How did these good people, these Christian citizens, feel
about it, I wonder?

Avoiding the currents sweeping towards the Falls, my man pushed into the
smooth waters of a dam that fed a race, and landed me close under the
walls of his own house.

“This yer is Brown’s Island,” he told me. “You’ve heerd of the
laboratory, whar they made ammunition fo’ the army?” He showed me the
deserted buildings, and described an explosion which took place there,
blowing up the works, and killing, scalding, and maiming many of the
operatives.

Passing over a bridge to the main land, and crossing the canal which
winds along the river-bank, I was hastening towards the city, when I
met, emerging from the sombre ruins of the burnt district, a man who
resembled more a wild creature than a human being. His hands, arms, and
face were blackened with cinders, his clothes hung upon him in tatters,
and the expression of his countenance was fierce and haggard. He looked
so much like a brigand that I was not a little startled when, with a
sweeping gesture of his long lean arm and claw-like fingers, he clutched
my shoulder.

“Come back with me,” said he, “and I’ll tell ye all about it; I’ll tell
ye all about it, stranger.”

“About what?”

“The explosion,—the explosion of the laboratory thar!”

Dragging me towards Brown’s Island with one hand, and gesticulating
violently with the other, he proceeded to jabber incoherently about that
dire event.

“Wait, wait,” said he, “till I tell you!”—like the Ancient Mariner with
skinny hand holding his unwilling auditor. “My daughter was work’n’ thar
at the time; and she was blowed all to pieces! all to pieces! My God, my
God, it was horrible! Come to my house, and you shall see her; if you
don’t believe me, you shall see her! Blowed all to pieces, all to
pieces, my God!”

His house was close by, and the daughter, who was “blowed all to
pieces,” was to be seen standing miraculously at the door, in a
remarkable state of preservation, considering the circumstances. She
seemed to be looking anxiously at the old man and the stranger he was
bringing home with him. She came to the wicket to meet us; and then I
saw that her hands and face were covered with cruel scars.

“Look!” said he, clutching her with one hand, while he still held me
with the other. “All to pieces, as I told you!”

“Don’t, don’t, pa!” said the girl, coaxingly. “You mustn’t mind him,”
she whispered to me. “He is a little out of his head. Oh, pa! don’t act
so!”

“He has been telling me how you were blown up in the laboratory. You
must have suffered fearfully from those Wounds!”

“Oh, yes; there was five weeks nobody thought I would live. But I didn’t
mind it,” she added with a smile, “for it was in a good cause.”

“A good cause!” almost shrieked the old man; and he burst forth with a
stream of execrations against the Confederate government which made my
blood chill.

But the daughter smilingly repeated, “It was a good cause, and I don’t
regret it. You mustn’t mind what he says.”

I helped her get him inside the wicket, and made my escape, wondering,
as I left them, which was the more insane of the two.

But she was not insane; she was a woman. A man may be reasoned and
beaten out of a false opinion, but a woman never. She will not yield to
logic, not even to the logic of events. Thus it happens that, while the
male secessionists at the South have frankly given up their cause, the
female secessionists still cling to it with provoking tenacity. To
appeal to their intelligence is idle; but they are vulnerable on the
side of the sentiments; and many a one has been authentically converted
from the heresy of state rights by some handsome Federal officer, who
judiciously mingled love with loyalty in his speech, and pleaded for the
union of hands as well as the union of States.

[Illustration: DISTRIBUTING RATIONS.]



                              CHAPTER XXI.
                         FEEDING THE DESTITUTE.


As I was passing Castle Thunder, I observed, besieging the doors of the
United States Commissary, on the opposite side of the street, a
hungry-looking, haggard crowd,—sickly-faced women, jaundiced old men,
and children in rags; with here and there a seedy gentleman who had seen
better days, or a stately female in faded apparel, which, like her
refined manners, betrayed the aristocratic lady whom the war had reduced
to want.

These were the destitute of the city, thronging to receive alms from the
government. The regular rations, issued at a counter to which each was
admitted in his or her turn, consisted of salt-fish and hard-tack; but I
noticed that to some tea and sugar were dealt out. All were provided
with tickets previously issued to them by the Relief Commission. One
tall, sallow woman requested me to read her ticket, and tell her if it
was a “No. 2.”

“They telled me it was, whar I got it, but I like to be shore.”

I assured her that it was truly a “No. 2,” and asked why it was
preferable to another.

“This is the kind they ishy to sick folks; it allows tea and sugar,” she
replied, wrapping it around her skinny finger.

Colored people were not permitted to draw “destitute rations” for
themselves at the same place with the whites. There were a good many
colored servants in the crowd, however, drawing for their mistresses,
who remained at home, too ill or too proud to come in person and present
their tickets.

At the place where “destitute rations” were issued to the blacks,
business appeared very dull. I inquired the reason of it, and learned
this astonishing fact.

The colored population crowded into Richmond at that time equalled the
white population; being estimated by some as high as twenty-five
thousand. Of the whites, over TWO THOUSAND were at that time receiving
support from the government. The number of blacks receiving such support
was less than two hundred.

How is this discrepancy to be accounted for?

Of the freedmen’s willingness to work under right conditions there can
be no question. It is true, they do not show a disposition to continue
to serve their former masters for nothing, or at starvation prices. And
many of them had a notion that lands were to be given them; for lands
had been promised them. At the same time, where they have a show of a
chance for themselves, they generally go to work, and manifest a
commendable pride in supporting themselves and their families. Until he
does that, the negro does not consider that he is fully free. He has no
prejudice against labor, as so many of the whites have. We must give
slavery the credit of having done thus much for him: it has bred him up
to habits of temperance and industry. Notwithstanding the example of the
superior race, which he naturally emulates, he has not yet taken to
drink; and his industry, instead of being checked, has received an
impulse by emancipation. Now that he has inducements to exert himself,
he proceeds to his task with an alacrity which he never showed when
driven to it by the whip.

Another thing must be taken into account. His feeling for those who have
liberated him is that of unbounded gratitude. He is ashamed to ask alms
of the government which has already done so much for him. No case was
known in Richmond of his obtaining destitute rations under false
pretences; but in many instances, as I learned, he had preferred to
suffer want rather than apply for aid.

The reverse of all this may be said of a large class of whites. Many,
despising labor, would not work if they could. Others, reared amid the
influences of wealth, which had now been stripped from them, could not
work if they would. Towards the United States Government they
entertained no such feeling of gratitude as animated the freedmen. On
the contrary, they seemed to think that they were entitled to support
from it during the remainder of their lives.

“You ought to do something for us, for you’ve took away our niggers,”
whined a well-dressed woman one day in my hearing. To the force of the
objection, that the South owed the loss of its slaves to its own folly,
she appeared singularly insensible; and she showed marked resentment
because nothing was done for her, although obliged to confess that she
owned the house she lived in, and another for which two colored families
were paying rent.

I was sitting in one of the tents of the Relief Commission one morning,
when a woman came to complain that a ticket issued to her there had
drawn but fifteen rations, instead of twenty-one, as she had expected.

“I didn’t think it was you all’s fault,” she said, with an apologetic
grimace; “but I knowed I’d been powerfully cheated.”

This was the spirit manifested by very many, both of the rich and the
poor. They felt that they had a sacred right to prey upon the
government, and any curtailment of that privilege they regarded as a
wrong and a fraud. So notorious was their rapacity, that they were
satirically represented as saying to the government,—

“We have done our best to break you up, and now we are doing our best to
eat you up.”

Where such a spirit existed, it was not possible to prevent hundreds
from obtaining government aid who were not entitled to it. It was the
design of the Relief Commission to feed only indigent women and
children. No rations were issued by the Commissary except to those
presenting tickets; and tickets were issued for the benefit only of
those whose destitute condition was attested by certificates signed by a
clergyman or physician.[1] To secure these certificates, however, was
not difficult, even for those who stood in no need of government
charity. Clergymen and physicians were not all honest. Many of them
believed with the people that the government was a fit object for good
secessionists to prey upon. Some were faithful in the performance of
their duty; but if one physician refused to sign a false statement, it
was easy to dismiss him, and call in another less scrupulous.

“I have just exposed two spurious cases of destitution,” said an officer
of the Relief Commission, one day as I entered his tent. “Mrs. A——, on
Fourth Street, has been doing a thriving business all summer, by selling
the rations she has drawn for a fictitious family. Mrs. B—— has been
getting support for herself, and two sick daughters, that turn out to be
two great lazy sons, who take her hard-tack and salt-fish, and exchange
them for whiskey, get drunk every night, and lie abed till noon every
day.”

“What do you do with such cases?”

“Cut them off; that is all we can do. This whole business of feeding the
poor of Richmond,” he added, “is a humbug. Richmond is a wealthy city
still; it is very well able to take care of its own poor, and should be
taxed for the purpose.” I found this to be the opinion of many
intelligent unbiased observers.

Besides the Relief Commission, and the Freedmen’s Commission, both
maintained by the government, I found an agency of the American Union
Commission established in Richmond. This Commission, supported by
private benevolence, was organized for the purpose of aiding the people
of the South, “in the restoration of their civil and social condition,
upon the basis of industry, education, freedom, and Christian morality.”
In Richmond, it was doing a useful work. To the small farmers about the
city it issued ploughs, spades, shovels, and other much needed
implements,—for the war had beaten pitchforks into bayonets, and cast
ploughshares into cannon. Earlier in the season it had distributed many
thousand papers of garden-seeds to applicants from all parts of the
State,—a still greater benefit to the impoverished people, with whom it
was a common saying, that “good seed ran out under the Confederacy.” It
had established a free school for poor whites. I also found Mr. C. the
Commission’s Richmond agent, indefatigable in assisting other
associations in the establishment of schools for the Freedmen.

The Union Commission performed likewise an indispensable part in feeding
the poor. Those clergymen and physicians who were so prompt to grant
certificates to secessionists not entitled to them, were equally prompt
to refuse them to persons known as entertaining Union sentiments. To the
few genuine Union people of Richmond, therefore, the Commission came,
and was welcomed as an angel of mercy. But it did not confine its favors
to them; having divided the city into twelve districts, and appointed
inspectors for each, it extended its aid to such of the needy as the
Relief Commission had been unable to reach.

-----

Footnote 1:

  Form of certificate:—

                                    RICHMOND, VA., ............... 1865.

  I CERTIFY, on honor, that I am well acquainted with Mrs. Jane Smith,
  and that she is the owner of no real estate or personal property, or
  effects of any kind; and that she has no male member of her family who
  is the owner of real estate or personal property or effects of any
  kind, upon which there can be realized sufficient money for the
  maintenance of her family; and that she has no means of support, and
  is a proper object of charity; and that her family consists of four
  females and five children.

  Given under my hand, this 17th day of September, 1865.

                                                  JEFFERSON JONES, M. D.



                             CHAPTER XXII.
                       THE UNION MEN OF RICHMOND.


At the tent of the Union Commission, pitched near a fountain on Capitol
Square, I met a quiet little man in laborer’s clothes, whom the agent
introduced to me as “Mr. H——,” adding, “There were two votes cast
against the ordinance of secession in this city: one of those votes was
cast by Mr. H——. He is one of the twenty-one Union men of Richmond.”

He looked to be near fifty years of age; but he told me he was only
thirty-two. “I’ve been through such things as make a man look old!” He
showed me his gray hair, which he said was raven black, without a silver
streak, before the war.

“I was four times taken to the conscript camp, but never sent off to
fight. I worked in a foundery, and my employer got out exemption papers
for me. The Confederates, when they wanted more men, would declare any
time that all the exemption papers then out were void, and go to picking
us up in the street and sending us off to camp before we knew it. Some
would buy themselves off, and a few would get off as I did,—because they
could do work nobody else could do.”

He was a man of intuitive ideas and originality of character. Although
bred up under the influence of the peculiar institution, poor, and
uneducated, he had early formed clear and strong convictions on the
subject of slavery. “I was an Abolitionist before I ever heard the word
abolitionist.” He believed in true religion, but not in the religion of
traitors.

“I never hesitated to tell ’em what I thought. ‘God has no more to do
with you all,’ says I, ‘than he has with last year’s rain. I’d as lieves
go to a gambling-house, as to go and hear a minister pray that God would
drive back the armies of the North. You are on your knees mocking at
God, and He laughs at you!’ Events proved that what I said was true.
After every Fast, the Rebels lost some important point. There was a
Fast-day just before Fort Donelson; another before New Orleans was
taken; another before Gettysburg and Vicksburg; another before Atlanta
fell; and another before the evacuation of Richmond. That was the way
God answered their prayers.”

He corroborated the worst accounts I had heard concerning the state of
society in Richmond during the war.

“It seemed as though there was nothing but thieving and robbery going
on. The worst robbers were Hood’s men, set to guard the city. They’d
halt a man, and shoot him right down if he wouldn’t stop. They’d ask a
man the time, and snatch his watch. They went to steal some chickens of
a man I knew, and as he tried to prevent them, they killed him. At last
the women got to stealing. We had an insurrection of women here, you
know. I never saw such a sight. They looked like flocks of old buzzards,
picked geese, and cranes; dressed in all sorts of odd rigs; armed with
hatchets, knives, axes,—anything they could lay their hands on. They
collected together on the Square, and Governor Letcher made ’em a speech
from the Monument. They hooted at him. Then Jeff Davis made a speech;
they hooted at him too; they didn’t want speeches, they said; they
wanted bread. Then they begun to plunder the stores. They’d just go in
and carry off what they pleased. I saw three women put a bag of
potatoes, and a barrel of flour, and a firkin of butter in a dray; then
they ordered the darkey to drive off, with two women for a guard.”

Another of the faithful twenty-one was Mr. L——, whom I found at a
restaurant kept by him near the old market. It was he who carried off
Col. Dahlgren’s body, after it had been buried by the Rebels at Oak
Wood.

“I found a negro who knew the spot, and hired him to go with me one dark
night, and dig up the body. We carried it to Mr. Rowlett’s house [Mr.
Rowlett was another of the faithful], and afterwards took it through the
Confederate lines, in broad daylight, hid under a load of peach-trees,
and buried it in a metallic case. It lay there until after the
evacuation, when it was dug up and sent home to Admiral Dahlgren’s
family.”

Mr. L—— devoted much of his time and means during the war to feeding
Union prisoners, and helping Union men through the lines. “I was usually
at work that way all night; so the next day I’d be looking sick and
sleepy; and that way,—with a little money to bribe the doctors,—I kept
out of the Rebel army.” In January, 1865, he was arrested for sending
information through the lines to General Butler, and lay in prison until
the evacuation.

One of the most interesting evenings in my Richmond experience I passed
at the house of Mr. W——, on Twenty-fifth Street. A Northern man by birth
and education, he had remained true to his nativity at a time when so
many from the Free States living at the South had proved renegades and
apostates. Arrested early in the war for “disloyalty,” he had suffered
six months in Salisbury Prison because he would not take the oath of
allegiance to the Confederate Government.

“I could have got my liberty any day by taking that oath. But I never
would, and never did. As good and true men as ever trod the earth died
there because they would not take it. Mr. Buck, of Kentucky, was one.
Almost his last words were, ‘Tell my wife I would be glad to go home,
but I’d rather die here than take an oath that will perjure my soul.’ He
was happy; he died. Dying was not the worst part of it, by any means;
our sufferings every day were worse than death.”

Liberated at last, through the intercession of his wife, Mr. W—— came
home, and devoted himself to feeding and rescuing Union prisoners, and
to serving his country in other perilous ways.

He corroborated what had been told me with regard to the number of Union
men in Richmond.

“You will find men enough now, who claim to have been Union men from the
first. But of those whose loyalty stood the test of persecution in every
shape, there are just twenty-one,—no more, and no less. I’ve watched
them all through, and if there’s a Union man I don’t know, I should like
to see him. Those men of influence, who opposed secession in the
beginning, and afterwards voted for it, but who pretend now to have been
in favor of the Union all the while, were the most mischievous traitors
of all, for they carried the lukewarm with them.”

There were Union women, however, who worked and suffered as heroically
for the cause as the men. “One lady was nine months in prison here for
sending information through the lines to our armies. She was very ill at
one time, and wished to see a minister. They sent her Jeff Davis’s
minister. ‘Miserable wretch!’ said he, ‘I suppose I must pray with you,
but I don’t see how I can!’”

“When my husband was in prison,” said Mrs. W——, “we suffered greatly for
the necessaries of life. We had a little money in the savings-bank; and
he sent us an order for it: ‘Please pay to my little son,’ and so forth.
Payment was refused, because he had not taken the oath of allegiance,
and the money was confiscated.”

Of the labors, perils, sacrifices, and anxieties which the Union men of
Richmond underwent, in giving secret aid to the good cause, no adequate
account has ever been published, nor ever will be published. “I did no
other business at the time. I gave my whole life to it, and all my
means. I nearly went crazy. Besides Libby and Castle Thunder, there were
several smaller prisons in Richmond. There was one next door to us here.
There was another on the opposite side, a little farther up the street.
We had the prisoners under our very eyes, and couldn’t help doing
something for them. We could see their haggard faces and imploring eyes
looking out at us from the windows,—or from behind the windows,—for it
wasn’t safe for them to come too near. One day I saw one approach a
little nearer than usual,—his head was perhaps a foot from the
window,—when the guard deliberately put up his gun and blew out his
brains. He was immediately carried away in a cart; and as a little red
stream trickled along the ground, a boy ran after it, shouting, ‘Thar’s
some Yankee blood; bring a cup and ketch it!’ The papers next day
boasted that in an hour the dead man was under the sod.”

A fund was secretly collected for the benefit of the prisoners. One of
the first contributors towards it was an illiterate poor man named
White. He put in five dollars. Mr. W—— told him that was too much for a
man in his circumstances. “No,” said White, “I’s got two fives, and I
reckon the least I can do is to go halves.” From that small beginning
the fund grew to the handsome sum of thirteen thousand dollars.

White, concealing his Union sentiments from the authorities, got
permission to sell milk and other things to the prisoners, which they
paid for often with money he smuggled in to them. With small bribes he
managed to secure the good-will of the guard. He played his part
admirably, higgling with his customers, and complaining of hard times
and small profits, while he gave them milk and money, and carried
letters for them. One day a prisoner was observed to slip something into
his can. To divert suspicion, White pretended great surprise, and,
appearing to fish out a dime, held it up to the light as if to assure
himself that it was real. “I’s durned if there a’n’t one honest Yankee!”
said he, with a grin of satisfaction.

Mrs. W—— obtained permission to send some books to the prisoners; very
few reached them, however,—the greater part being appropriated by the
Rebels. Donations of clothing and other necessaries met with a similar
fate. In this state of things, White’s ancient mule-cart and honest face
proved invaluable. He carried a pass-book, in which exchanged prisoners
were credited with sums subscribed for the benefit of their late
companions. Many of these subscriptions were purely fictitious,—the
money coming from the Union-men’s fund. On the strength of one fabulous
contribution, set down at fifty dollars, he had given the prisoners over
a hundred dollars’ worth of provisions, when a Rebel surgeon stopped
him.

“Haven’t you paid up that everlasting fifty dollars yet?”

“Doctor,” said White, producing his pass-book, “I’s an honest man, I is;
and if you say I can’t put in no more on this yer score, you jest write
your name hyer.”

The surgeon declining to assume the responsibility, White managed to
take in to the prisoners, on the same imaginary account, milk and eggs
to the amount of fifty dollars more.

“I told you there were only twenty-one Union men in Richmond,” said Mr.
W——. “I meant _white_ Union men. Some of the colored people were as
ready to give their means and risk their lives for the cause as anybody.
One poor negro woman, who did washing for Confederate officers, spent
her earnings to buy flour and bake bread, which she got in to the
prisoners through a hole under the jail-yard fence; knowing all the
while she’d be shot, if caught at it.”

Mr. W—— assisted over twenty Union prisoners to escape. Among other
adventures, he related to me the following:—

“From our windows we could look right over into the prison-yard
adjoining us here. Every day we could see the dead carried out. In the
evening they carried out those who had died since morning, and every
morning they carried out those that had died over night. Once we counted
seventeen dead men lying together in the yard, all stripped of their
clothes, ready for burial; so terrible was the mortality in these
prisons. The dead-house was in a corner of the yard. A negro woman
occupied another house outside of the guard-line, and close to my garden
fence.”

He took me to visit the premises. We entered by a heavy wooden gate from
the street, and stood within the silent enclosure. It was a clear,
beautiful evening, and the moonlight lay white and peaceful upon the
gable of the warehouse that had served as a prison, upon the old
buildings and fences, and upon the ground the weary feet of the sick
prisoners had trodden, and where the outstretched corpses had lain.

“Every day some of the prisoners would be marched down to the medical
department, a few blocks below, to be examined. A colored girl who lived
with us, used to go out with bread hid under her apron, and slip it into
their hands, if she had a chance, as she met them coming back. One
morning she brought home a note, which one of them, Capt. ——, had given
her. It was a letter of thanks ‘to his unknown benefactors.’ Miss H——,
who was visiting us at the time, proposed to answer it. It was much less
dangerous for her to do so, than it would have been for me, for I was a
suspected man; I had already been six months in a Rebel prison. But if
she was discovered writing to a Yankee, her family would be prepared to
express great surprise and indignation at the circumstance, and denounce
it as a ‘love affair.’” (The H——s are one of the Union families of
Richmond; and Miss H—— was a young girl of nerve and spirit.)

“In this way we got into communication with the Captain. It wasn’t long,
of course, before he made proposals to Miss H——; not of the usual sort,
however, but of a kind we expected. He and another of the prisoners, a
surgeon, had resolved to attempt an escape, and they wanted our
assistance. After several notes on the subject had passed,—some through
the hands of the colored girl, some through a crack in the
fence,—everything was arranged for a certain evening.

“Citizens’ clothes were all ready for them; and I obtained a promise
from G——, a good Union man, to conceal them in his house until they
could be got away. To avoid the very thing that happened, he was not to
tell his wife; but she suspected mischief,—for it’s hard for a man to
hide what he feels, when he knows his life is at stake,—and she gave him
no peace until he let her into the secret. She declared that the men
should never be brought into their house.

“’We’ve just got shet of one boarder,’ says she, meaning a prisoner they
had harbored, ‘and I never’ll have another.’

“I couldn’t blame her much; for we were trifling with our lives. But G——
felt terribly about it. He came down to let me know. It was the very
evening the men were to come out, and too late to get word to them. If
their plans succeeded, they would be sure to come out; and what was to
be done with them? They would not be safe with me an hour. My house
would be the first one searched. G—— went off, for he could do nothing.
Then, as it grew dark, we were expecting them every moment. There was
nobody here but Miss H——, my wife, and myself. The colored girl was in
the kitchen. It was dangerous to make any unusual movements, for the
Rebel guard in the street was marching past every three minutes, and
looking in. We sat quietly talking on indifferent subjects, with such
sensations inside as nobody knows anything about who hasn’t been through
such a scene. My clothes were wet through with perspiration. Every time
after the guard had passed, we held our breath, until—tramp, tramp!—he
came round again.

“At last in came the colored girl, rushing from the kitchen, in great
fright, and gasped out in a hoarse whisper,—‘Lord Jesus, master! two
Yankees done come right into our backyard!’

“’We have nothing to do with the Yankees,’ I said; ‘go about your work,
and let ’em alone.’ And still we sat there, and talked, or pretended to
read, while once more—tramp, tramp, tramp—the guard marched by the
windows.”

“But there was a guard inside the prison-yard; how then had the Yankees
managed to get out?”

“I’m coming to that now. I told you the dead were borne out every
morning and evening. That evening there was an extra body. It was the
Yankee Doctor. He had bribed the prisoners, who carried out the dead, to
carry him out. The dead-house was outside of the guard. They laid him
with the corpses, and returned to the prison. Poor fellows! there were
four of them; they were sent to Andersonville for their share in the
transaction, and there every one of them died.

“A little while after, as some prisoners were going in from the yard,
they got into a fight near the door. The guard ran to interfere; and the
Captain, who was waiting for this very chance,—for the scuffle was got
up by his friends expressly for his benefit,—darted into the negro
woman’s house, and ran up-stairs. From a window he jumped down into my
garden. In the mean time the Doctor came to life, crawled out from among
the dead men, pushed a board from the back side of the dead house,
climbed the fence, and joined his friend the Captain, under our kitchen
windows.

“Not a move was made by any of us. We kept on chatting, yawning, or
pretending to read the newspaper; and all the while the guard in the
street was going his rounds and peeping in. Everything—the freedom of
these men, and my life—was hanging by a cobweb. One mistake, a single
false step, would ruin us. But everything had been preärranged. They
found the clothes ready for them, and we were waiting only to give them
time to disguise themselves. So far, it could not be proved that I had
anything to do with the business, but the time was coming for me to take
it into my own hands.

“I showed you the alley running from the street to my backyard, and now
you’ll see why I took you around there. The Captain and the Doctor after
getting on their disguise, were to keep watch by the corner of the house
at the end of the alley, and wait for the signal,—a gentleman going out
of the house with a lady on his arm and a white handkerchief in his
hand. They were to come out of the alley immediately, and follow at a
respectful distance.

“Having given them plenty of time,—not very many minutes, however,
though they seemed hours to us,—Miss H—— put on her bonnet, and I took
my hat; I watched my opportunity, and just as the guard had passed, gave
her my arm, and set out to escort her home. As we went out, I had
occasion to use my handkerchief, which I flirted, and put back into my
pocket. We didn’t look behind us once, but walked on, never knowing
whether our men were following or not, until, after we had passed
several corners, Miss H—— ventured to peep over her shoulder. Sure
enough, there were two men coming along after us.

“We walked past Jeff Davis’s house, and stopped at her father’s door.
There I took leave of her, and walked on alone. I had made up my mind
what to do. G—— having failed us, I must try R——; an odd old man, but
true as steel. It was a long walk to his house, and it was late when I
got there. I hid my men in a barn, and knocked at the door.

“’Anything the matter?’ says Mrs. R——, from the window.

“’I want to speak with Mr. R—— a moment,’ I said. I saw she was
frightened, when she found out who I was; but she made haste to let me
in. Serious as my business was, I couldn’t help laughing when I found
R——. He sleeps on a mattress, his wife sleeps on feathers; and both,
occupy the same bed. They compromise their difference of taste in this
way: they double up the feather-bed for Mrs. R——; that gives her a
double portion, and makes room for R—— on the mattress. She sleeps on a
mountain in the foreground; he, in the valley behind her.

“’W——,’ says he, looking up over the mountain, ‘there’s mischief ahead!
You wouldn’t be coming here at this hour if there wasn’t. Is it a Castle
Thunder case?’

“’No,’ I said, quietly as I could, for he was very much agitated.

“’I’m afraid of Castle Thunder!’ says he. ‘I’m afraid of you! If it
isn’t a Castle Thunder case, I demand to know what it is.’

“’It’s a halter case,’ I said. And then I told him. He got up and pulled
on his clothes. I took out fifty dollars in Rebel money, and offered
him, for the feeding of the men till they could be got away.

“’You can’t get any of that stuff on to me!’ says he. ‘I’m afraid of it.
We shall all lose our lives, this time, I’m sure. Why did you bring ’em
here?’

“But though fully convinced he was to die for it, he finally consented
to take in the fugitives. So I delivered them into his hands; but my
work didn’t end there. They were nine days at his house. Meantime,
through secret sources, by means of bribes, I got passes to take them
through the lines. These cost me a hundred dollars in greenbacks; then,
when everything was ready, all passes were revoked, and they were good
for nothing. Finally Dennis Shane took the job of running them through
the lines for five hundred dollars in Rebel money.

“He got them safely through; and just a month from that time one of
those men came back for me. General Butler sent him: he wanted to talk
with me about affairs in Richmond. I went out with a party of seven; and
when near Williamsburg we were all captured by a band of Confederate
soldiers.

“I determined not to be taken back to Richmond and identified, if I
could help it. I got down at a spring to drink, crawled along under the
bank a little way, as fast as I could, then jumped up, and ran for my
life. I was shot at, and chased; they put dogs on my track; I was four
days and nights without food; but I escaped, while all the rest were
carried back. After that I ran the lines to Butler whenever he wanted to
see me, until it wasn’t safe for me to go back to Richmond, where my
operations had become known.

“After the war was over, and our troops had possession,” added Mr. W——,
“then I came back, and saw what I had never expected to see in this
world. I saw the very men who had robbed, persecuted, and imprisoned me,
rewarded by our government. I came back to find that under the
administration of our own generals, Ord and Patrick, it was in a man’s
favor to be known as a secessionist, and against him to be known as a
Union man. The Union men were insulted and bullied by them, the colored
people were treated worse under their rule than they had ever been by
the Rebels themselves, and the secessionists were coaxed and petted. A
Rebel could obtain from government whatever he asked for; but a Union
man could obtain nothing. When we were feeding and flattering them at a
rate that made every loyal man sick at heart, I sent a request in
writing for a little hay for my horse. I got a refusal in writing: I
couldn’t have any hay. At the same time the government was feeding in
its stables thirty horses for General Lee and his staff.”

A hundred similar instances of partiality shown to the Rebels by the Ord
and Patrick administration were related to me by eye-witnesses; coupled
with accounts of insults and outrages heaped upon loyal men and
Freedmen. Happily Ord and Patrick and their pro-slavery rule had passed
away; but there were still complaints that it was not the true Union men
who had the ear of the government, but those whose unionism had been put
on as a matter of policy and convenience. This was no fault of General
Terry, although he was blamed for it. When I told him what I had heard,
he said warmly,—

“Why don’t these men come to me? They are the very men I wish to see.”

“The truth is, General, they were snubbed so often by your predecessors
that they have not the heart to come.”

“But I have not snubbed them. I have not shown partiality to traitors.
Everybody that knows me knows that I have no love for slavery or
treason, and that every pulse of my heart throbs with sympathy for these
men and the cause in which they have suffered.”

One evening I met by appointment, at the tent of the Union Commission, a
number of the dauntless twenty-one, and accompanied them to a meeting of
the Union League. It was a beautiful night, and as we walked by the
rainy fountain, under the still trees, one remarked,—

“Many an evening, when there was as pretty a moon as this, I have wished
that I might die and be out of my misery. That was when I was in prison
for being loyal to my country.”

At the rooms of the League I was surrounded by these men, nearly every
one of whom had been exiled or imprisoned for that cause. I witnessed
the initiation of new-comers; but in the midst of the impressive
solemnities I could not but reflect, “How faint a symbol is this of the
_real League_ to which the twenty-one were sworn in their hearts! To
belong to this is now safe and easy enough; but to have been a true
member of that, under the reign of terror,—how very different!”



                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                          MARKETS AND FARMING.


The negro population of Richmond gives to its streets a peculiarly
picturesque and animated appearance. Colored faces predominate; but of
these not more than one in five or six shows unmixed African blood; and
you are reminded less of an American city than of some town of Southern
Europe. More than once I could have fancied myself in Naples, but that I
looked in vain for the crowds of importunate beggars, and the
dark-skinned lazzaroni lying all day in the sunshine on the street
corners. I saw no cases of mendicancy among the colored people of
Richmond, and very little idleness. The people found at work everywhere
belonged to the despised race; while the frequenters of bar-rooms, and
loungers on tavern-steps, were white of skin. To get drunk, especially,
appeared to be a prerogative of the chivalry.

The mules and curious vehicles one sees add to the picturesqueness of
the streets. The market-carts are characteristically droll. A little way
off you might fancy them dogcarts. Under their little ribbed canvas
covers are carried little jags of such produce as the proprietor may
have to sell,—a few cabbages, a few pecks of sweet potatoes, a pair of
live chickens, tied together by the legs; a goose or a duck in a box,
its head sticking out; with perhaps a few eggs and eggplants. These
little carts, drawn by a mule or the poorest of ponies, have been driven
perhaps a dozen or fifteen miles, bringing to market loads, a dozen of
which would scarcely equal what a New-York farmer, or a New-England
market-gardener often heaps upon a single wagon.

In the markets, business is transacted on the same petty scale. You see
a great number of dealers, and extraordinary throngs of purchasers,
considering the little that appears to be sold. Not every producer has
so much even as an antiquated mule-cart. Many come to market with what
they can carry on their backs or in their hands. Yonder is an old negro
with a turkey, which he has walked five miles to dispose of here. That
woman with a basket of eggs, whose rags and sallow complexion show her
to be one of the poor whites whom respectable colored people look down
upon, has travelled, it may be, quite as far. Here comes a mulatto boy,
with a string of rock-fish caught in the James. This old man has hard
peaches in his bag; and that other woman contributes a box of wild
grapes.

People of all colors and all classes surround the sheds or press in
throngs through the passages between the stalls. The fine lady, followed
by her servant bearing a basket, has but little money; and although she
endeavors to make it go as far as possible, it must be a small family
that can subsist until Monday upon what she carries away. There is
little money to be seen anywhere; in which respect these scenes are very
different from those witnessed during the last years of Confederate
rule, when it was said that people went to market with baskets to carry
their money, and wallets to bring home what it would buy. The markets
are not kept open during the evening, and as the hour for closing them
arrives, the bargaining and loud talking grow more and more vivacious,
while prices decline. I remember one fellow who jumped upon his table,
and made a speech, designed to attract the patronage of the freedmen.

“Walk up hyer, and buy cheap!” he shouted. “I don’t say niggers; I say
ladies and gentlemen. Niggers is played out; they’re colored people now,
and as good as anybody.”

The markets indicate the agricultural enterprise of a community. Yet,
even after seeing those of Richmond, I was amazed at the petty and
shiftless system of farming I witnessed around the city. I was told that
it was not much better before the war. The thrifty vegetable gardens of
the North, producing two or three crops a year; the long rows of
hot-beds by the fences, starting cucumbers and supplying the market with
greens sometimes before the snow is gone,—such things are scarcely known
in the capital of Virginia. “We have lettuce but a month or two in the
year,” said a lady, who was surprised to learn how Northern gardeners
managed to produce it in and out of season.

In one of my rides I passed the place of a Jersey farmer, about three
miles from the city. It looked like an oasis in the desert. I took pains
to make the proprietor’s acquaintance, and learn his experience.

“I came here and bought in ’59 one hundred and twenty-seven acres for
four thousand dollars. The first thing I did was to build that barn.
Everybody laughed at me. The most of the farms have no barns at all; and
such a large one was a wonder,—it must have been built by a fool or a
crazy man. This year I have that barn full to the rafters.

“I found the land worn out, like nearly all the land in the country. The
way Virginia folks have spoilt their farms looks a good deal more like
fools or crazy men than my barn. First, if there was timber, they burnt
it off and put a good coat of ashes on the soil. Then they raised
tobacco three or four years. Then corn, till the soil got run out and
they couldn’t raise anything. Then they went to putting on guano, which
was like giving rum to an exhausted man; it just stimulated the soil
till all the strength there was left was burnt out. That was the
condition of my farm when I came here.

“The first thing I did, I went to hauling out manure from Richmond. I
was laughed at for that too. The way people do here, they throw away
their manure. They like to have their farm-yards high and dry; so they
place them on the side of a hill, where every rain washes them, and
carries off into the streams the juices that ought to be saved for the
land. They left their straw-stacks any number of years, then drew the
straw out on the farms dry. I made my barn-yard in a hollow, and rotted
the straw in it. Now I go to market every day with a big Jersey
farm-wagon loaded down with stuff.”

He had been getting rich, notwithstanding the war. I asked what labor he
employed.

“Negro labor mostly. It was hard to get any other here. I didn’t own
slaves, but hired them of their masters. Only the poorest hands were
usually hired out in that way; I could seldom get first-class hands; yet
I always found that by kind treatment and encouragement I could make
very good laborers of those I had. I get along still better with them
now they are free.”

“Do you use horses?”

“No; mules altogether. Two mules are equal to three horses. Mules are
not subject to half the diseases horses are. They eat less, and wear
twice as long.”

I found farms of every description for sale, around Richmond. The best
land on the James River Bottom could be bought at prices varying from
forty to one hundred dollars an acre. I remember one very desirable
estate, of eight hundred acres, lying on the river, three miles from the
city, which was offered for sixty dollars. There were good buildings on
it; and the owner was making fences of old telegraph wire, to replace
those destroyed during the war.



                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                        IN AND AROUND RICHMOND.


If temples are a token of godliness, Richmond should be a holy city. It
has great pride in its churches; two of which are noteworthy.

The first is St. John’s Church, on Church Hill,—a large, square-looking
wooden meeting-house, whose ancient walls and rafters once witnessed a
famous scene, and reëchoed words that have become historical. Here was
delivered Patrick Henry’s celebrated speech, since spouted by every
schoolboy,—“Give me liberty or give me death!” Those shining sentences
still hang like a necklace on the breast of American Liberty. The old
meeting-house stands where it stood, overlooking the same earth and the
same beautiful stream. But the men of that age lie buried in the dust of
these old crowded church-yards; and of late one might almost have said
that the wisdom of Virginia lay buried with them.

On the corner of Grace Street, opposite my hotel, I looked out every
morning upon the composite columns and pilasters, and spire clean as a
stiletto, of St. Paul’s Church, with which are connected very different
associations. This is the church, and (if you enter) yonder is the pew,
in which Jeff Davis sat on Sundays, and heard the gospel of Christ
interpreted from the slave-owners’ point of view. Here he sat on that
memorable Sabbath when Lee’s dispatch was handed in to him, saying that
Richmond was lost. The same preacher who preached on that day, still
propounds his doctrines from the desk. The same sexton who handed in the
dispatch glances at you, and, if you are well dressed, offers you a seat
in a good place. The same white congregation that arose then in
confusion and dismay, on seeing the President go out, sit quietly once
more in their seats; and the same colored congregation looks down from
the nigger gallery. The seats are still bare,—the cushions that were
carried to the Rebel hospitals, to serve as mattresses, having not yet
been returned.

Within an arrow’s shot from St. Paul’s, in the State Capitol, on Capitol
Square, were the halls of the late Confederate Congress. I visited them
only once, and found them a scene of dust and confusion,—emblematical.
The desks and seats had been ripped up, and workmen were engaged in
sweeping out the last vestiges of Confederate rule. The furniture, as I
learned, was already at an auction-room on Main Street, selling under
the hammer. I reported the fact to Mr. C——, of the Union Commission, who
was looking for furniture to be used in the freedmen’s schools; and he
made haste to bid for the relics. I hope he got them; for I can fancy no
finer stroke of poetical justice than the conversion of the seats on
which sat the legislators of the great slave empire, and the desks on
which they wrote, into seats and desks for little negro children
learning to read.

It was interesting, by the light of recent events, and in company with
one who knew Richmond of yore, to make the tour of the old negro
auction-rooms. Davis & Co.’s Negro Bazaar was fitting up for a concert
hall. We entered a grocery store,—a broad basement room, with a low,
dark ceiling, supported by two stout wooden pillars. “I’ve seen many a
black Samson sold, standing between those posts; and many a woman too,
as white as you or I.” Now sugar and rice were sold there, but no more
human flesh and blood. The store was kept by a Northern man, who did not
even know what use the room had served in former years.

A short ride from the city are two cemeteries worth visiting. On one
side, Hollywood, where lie buried President Monroe and his doctrine. On
the other side, Oak Wood, a wild, uncultivated hill, half covered with
timber and brush, shading numerous Confederate soldiers’ graves. Here,
set apart from the rest by a rude fence, is the “Yankee Cemetery,”
crowded with the graves of patriot soldiers, who fell in battle, or died
of slow starvation and disease in Richmond prisons; a melancholy field,
which I remember as I saw it one gusty September day, when wild winds
swept it, and shook down over it whirling leaves from the reeling and
roaring trees.

Lieut. M——, of the Freedmen’s Commission, having invited me to visit
Camp Lee, about two miles from the city, came for me one afternoon in a
fine large carryall, comfortably covered, cushioned, and carpeted.

“Perhaps you will not feel honored,” he remarked, as we rattled up Broad
Street, “but you will be interested to know that this is General Robert
E. Lee’s head-quarters’ wagon. You are riding on the seat he rode on
through the campaigns of the last two years. Your feet are on a piece of
carpet which one of the devoted secessionists of Richmond took up from
his hall-floor expressly to line the General’s wagon-bottom,—little
thinking Yankee boot-soles would ever desecrate it! After Lee’s
surrender, this wagon was turned over to the quartermaster’s department,
and the quartermaster turned it over to us.” I was interested, indeed; I
was carried back to those sanguinary campaigns; and I fancied I could
see the face of him sitting there where I sat, and read the thoughts of
his mind, and the emotions of his heart, in those momentous nights and
days. I imagined the plans he revolved in his brain, shut in by those
dark curtains; what he felt after victory, and what after defeat; the
weariness of body and soul; the misgivings, the remorse, when he
remembered his treason and the folly of Virginia,—for he certainly
remembered them in the latter gloomy periods, when he saw the black
cloud of doom settling down upon a bad and failing cause.

Camp Lee, formerly a fair ground, was the conscript camp of the
Confederacy. I had been told many sad stories of young men, and men of
middle age, some of them loyal, seized by the conscript officers and
sent thither, as it were to a reservoir of the people’s blood, whose
stream was necessary to keep the machinery of despotism in motion. I
paced the grounds where, with despairing hearts, they took their first
lessons in the art by which they were to slay and be slain. I stood by
the tree under which deserters were shot. Then I turned to a very
different scene.

The old barrack buildings were now the happy homes of a village of
freedmen. Groups of barefooted and woolly-headed negro children were at
play before the doors, filling the air with their laughter, and showing
all their ivory with grins of delight as I passed among them. The old
men took off their caps to me, the wise old aunties welcomed me with
dignified smiles, and the younger women looked up brightly from their
ironing or cooking as I went by. The young men were all away at their
work. It was, with few exceptions, a self-supporting community, only
about a dozen old or infirm persons, out of three hundred, receiving aid
from the government.

A little removed from the negro village was a cottage formerly occupied
by Confederate officers.

“In that house,” said the Lieutenant, “is living a very remarkable
character. You know him by reputation, ——, formerly one of the ablest
writers on ‘De Bow’s Review,’ and considered the great champion of
slavery in the South.”

“What! the author of ——?” a somewhat celebrated book in its day, and in
the latitude for which it was written; designed to set forth the corrupt
and perishable nature of free societies and progressive ideas, and to
show that slavery was the one divine and enduring institution.

“The very man. He is now a pauper, living on the bounty of the
government. The rent of that cottage is given him, and he draws rations
of the Relief Commission. He will be glad to see you; and he has two
accomplished daughters you will be glad to see.”

Accordingly we called upon him; but, declining to enter the house, we
sat under the stoop, where we could look across the desolate country at
the sunset sky.

Mr. ——, an emaciated, sallow, feeble old man, received us affably, and
talked with us freely on his favorite topics. He had lived to see the
one divine and enduring institution die; but civilization still
survived; and the race that found its welfare and happiness only in
bondage seemed pretty well off, and tolerably happy,—witness the negro
village close by: and the world of progressive ideas still moved on. Yet
this great champion of slavery did not appear to have learned the first
lesson of the times. All his arguments were the old arguments; he knew
nothing but the past, which was gone forever; and the future to him was
chaos.

His two daughters, young and accomplished, came and sat with us in the
twilight, together with a vivacious young lady from Richmond. On our
return to the city, Miss —— accompanied us, with their visitor. The
latter proved to be an audacious and incorrigible little Rebel, and
regaled us with secesh songs. I remember a few lines.

                     “You can never win us back,
                       Never, never,
                     Though we perish in the track
                       Of your endeavor!”

                     “You have no such noble blood
                       For the shedding:
                     In the veins of Cavaliers
                       Was its heading!
                     You have no such noble men
                     In your abolition den,
                     To march through fire and fen,
                       Nothing dreading!”



                              CHAPTER XXV.
                          PEOPLE AND POLITICS.


One day I dined at the house of a Union man of a different stamp from
the twenty-one I have mentioned. He was one of the wealthy citizens of
Richmond,—a man of timid disposition and conservative views, who had
managed admirably to conceal his Union sentiments during the war. He had
been on excellent terms with Jeff Davis and members of his cabinet; and
he was now on excellent terms with the United States authorities. A
prudent citizen, not wanting in kindness of heart; yet he could say of
the Emancipation Act,—

“It will prove a good thing for the slave-owners; for it will be quite
as cheap to hire our labor as to own it, _and we shall now be rid of
supporting the old and decrepit servants, such as were formerly left to
die on our hands_.”

On being asked if he considered that he owed nothing to those aged
servants, he smoothed his chin, and looked thoughtful, but made no
reply.

An anecdote will show of what stuff the Unionism of this class is
composed. His name happened to be the same as that of one of our
generals. During the war, a Confederate officer, visiting his house,
said to him,—“I am told you are a near relative of General ——, of the
Federal army.”

“It’s a slander!” was the indignant reply. “He is no kin of mine, and I
would disown him if he was.”

After the occupation by our troops, Union officers were welcomed at his
house; one of whom said to him,—

“Are you related to our famous General ——?”

“Very likely, very likely,” was the complacent answer; “the ——’s are all
connected.”

Next to the uncompromising Union men, the most sincerely loyal
Virginians I saw in Richmond, or elsewhere, were those who had been
lately fighting against us. Only now and then a Confederate soldier had
much of the spirit of the Rebellion left in him.

“The truth is,” said Colonel D——, “we have had the devil whipped out of
us. It is only those who kept out of the fight that are in favor of
continuing it. I fought you with all my might until we got whipped; then
I gave it up as a bad job; and now there’s not a more loyal man in the
United States than I am.” He had become thoroughly converted from the
heresy of secession. “No nation can live that tolerates such a doctrine;
and, if we had succeeded, the first thing we should have done would have
been to repudiate it.”

I became acquainted with several officers of this class, who inspired me
with confidence and sympathy. Yet when one of them told me he had been
awarded a government place, with four thousand a year, I could not help
saying,—

“What right have you to such a place? How many capable and worthy men,
who have been all the while fighting _for_ the government you have been
fighting _against_, would be thankful for a situation with one half or
one quarter the salary!”

The animus of the secessionists who kept out of the war, and especially
of the women, still manifested itself spitefully on occasions.

“It is amusing,” said Mrs. W——, “to see the pains some of them take to
avoid walking under the flag we keep flying over our door.”

Two female teachers of the freed people had, after much trouble,
obtained board and lodgings in a private family, where the treatment
they received was such as no sensitive person could endure. They were
obliged to leave, and accept quarters in a Confederate government
building not much better than a barn. Many Richmond families were glad
enough to board army officers for their money; but few were prepared to
receive and treat decently “nigger teachers,” at any price.

[Illustration: INDUSTRY OF LADIES IN CLOTHING THE SOLDIERS, AND ZEAL IN
URGING THEIR BEAUX TO GO TO THE WAR.]

“Yet the people of Richmond are not what they were five years ago,” said
General S——, who knew them well, being himself a Virginian. “Their faces
have changed. They have a dazed look, like owls in a sudden light. To
any one who used to see them in the old days of their pride and spirit,
this is very striking. There never was such a downfall, and they have
not yet recovered from the shock. They seem to be groping about, as if
they had lost something, or were waiting for something. Whatever may be
said of them, or whatever they may say of themselves, they feel that
they are a conquered people.”

“They _were_ a conquered people,” said the radical Union men. “There
never was a rebellious class more thoroughly subdued. They expected no
mercy from the government, for they deserved none. They were prepared to
submit to everything, even to negro suffrage; for they supposed nothing
less would be required of them. But the more lenient the government, the
more arrogant they become.”

Of Confederate patriotism I did not hear very favorable accounts. It
burst forth in a beautiful tall flame at the beginning of the war. There
were soldiers’ aid societies, patronized by ladies whose hands were
never before soiled by labor. Stockings were knit, shirts cut and sewed,
and carpets converted into blankets, by these lovely hands. If a fine
fellow appeared among them, more inclined to gallantry in the parlor
than to gallantry in the field, these same lovely hands thrust him out,
and he was told that “only ‘the brave deserve the fair.’” But Southern
heat is flashy and intense; it does not hold out like the slow, deep
fire of the north. The soldiers’ aid societies soon grew to be an old
story, and the lovely ones contented themselves with cheering and waving
their handkerchiefs when the “noble defenders of the south” marched
through the streets.

The “noble defenders of the south” did not, I regret to say, appreciate
the cheers and the handkerchiefs as they did the shirts and the
blankets.

“Many a time,” said Mrs. H——, “I have heard them yell back at the ladies
who cheered them, ‘Go to ——! If you care for us, come out of your fine
clothes and help us!’ After the people stopped giving, the soldiers
began to help themselves. I’ve seen them rush into stores as they
passed, snatch whatever they wanted, and march on again, hooting, with
loaves of bread and pieces of meat stuck on the points of their
bayonets.”

The sons and brothers of influential families were kept out of the war
by an ingenious system of details. Every man was conscripted; but, while
the poor and friendless were hurried away to fight the battles of
slavery, the favored aristocrat would get “detailed” to fill some
“bomb-proof” situation, as it was called.

“These ‘bomb-proofs’ finally got to be a very great nuisance. Men were
‘detailed’ to fill every comfortable berth the government, directly or
indirectly, had anything to do with; and as the government usurped, in
one way or another, nearly all kinds of business, it soon became
difficult for an old or infirm person to get any sort of light
employment. A friend of mine, whom the war had ruined, came down from
the country, thinking he could get something to do here. He saw
able-bodied young men oiling the wheels of the cars. He was old and
lame, but he felt himself well able to do that kind of work. So he
applied for a situation, and found that the young men he saw were
‘detailed’ from the army. Others were ‘detailed’ to carry lanterns for
them when they had occasion to oil the car-wheels at night. It was so
with every situation the poor man could have filled.”

This was the testimony of a candid old gentleman, himself an aristocrat,
at whose house I passed an evening.

I took an early opportunity to make the acquaintance of Governor
Pierpoint, whom I found to be a plain, somewhat burly, exceedingly
good-humored and sociable person. The executive mansion occupies
pleasant grounds, enclosed from a corner of Capitol Square; and as it
was not more than three minutes’ walk from my hotel, I found it often
very agreeable to go over and spend a leisure hour or two in his
library.

Once I remarked to him: “What Virginia needs is an influx of Northern
ideas, Northern energy, Northern capital; what other way of salvation is
open to her?”

“None; and she knows it. It is a mistake to suppose that Northern men
and Northern capital are not welcome here. They are most heartily
welcome; they are invited. Look at this.”

He showed me a beautiful piece of white clay, and a handsome pitcher
made from it.

“Within eighty miles of Richmond, by railroad, there are beds of this
clay from which might be manufactured pottery and porcelain sufficient
to supply the entire South. Yet they have never been worked; and
Virginia has imported all her fine crockery-ware. Now Northern energy
will come in and coin fortunes out of that clay. Under the old labor
system, Virginia never had any enterprise; and now she has no money. The
advantages she offers to active business men were never surpassed.
Richmond is surrounded with iron mines and coal-fields, wood-lands and
farm-lands of excellent quality; and is destined from its very position,
under the new order of things, to run up a population of two or three
hundred thousand, within not many years.”

I inquired about the state finances.

“The Rebel State debt will, of course, never be paid. The old State
debt, amounting to forty millions, will eventually be paid, although the
present is a dark day for it. There is no live stock to eat the grass;
the mills are destroyed; business is at a stand-still; there is no
bank-stock to tax,—nothing to tax, I might almost say, but the bare
land. We shall pay no interest on the debt this year; and it will
probably be three years before the back interest is paid. We have
twenty-two millions invested in railroads, and these will all be put in
a living condition in a short time. Then I count upon the development of
our natural resources. In mineral wealth and agricultural advantages
Virginia is inconceivably rich, as a few years will amply testify.”

As an illustration of native enterprise, he told me that there was but
one village containing fifty inhabitants on the canal between Richmond
and Lynchburg, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles; and land lying
upon it was worth no more to-day than it was before the canal was
constructed. “Neither is there a village of any size on the James River,
between Richmond and Norfolk. How long would it be before brick villages
and manufacturing towns would spring up on such a canal and river in one
of the free States? Wasn’t it about time,” he added, “for the old
machine to break to pieces?”

At the hotel I used to meet a prosperous looking, liberal faced,
wide-awake person, whom I at once set down as a Yankee. On making his
acquaintance, I learned that he was at the head of a company of Northern
men who had recently purchased extensive coal-fields near the James
River, twelve miles above Richmond.

“The mines,” he said, “had been exhausted once, and abandoned, so we
bought them cheap. These Virginians would dig a little pit and take out
coal until water came in and interfered with their work; then they would
go somewhere else and dig another little pit. So they worked over the
surface of the fields, but left the great body of the coal undisturbed.
They baled with a mule. Now we have come in with a few steam-pumps which
will keep the shafts free from water as fast as we sink them; and we are
taking out cargoes of as good anthracite as ever you saw. Here is some
of it now,” pointing to a line of loaded carts coming up from the wharf,
where the coal was landed.

I asked what labor he employed.

“Negro labor. There is none better. I have worked negroes all my life,
and prefer them in my business to any other class of laborers. Treat a
negro like a man, and you make a man of him.”

I also made the acquaintance of a New Yorker, who was working a gold
mine in Orange County, Va., and whose testimony was the same with regard
to native methods and negro labor. In short, wherever I went, I became,
every day, more strongly convinced that the vast, beautiful, rich,
torpid state of Virginia was to owe her regeneration to Northern ideas
and free institutions.

Hearing loud laughter in the court-house one evening, I looked in, and
saw a round, ruddy, white-haired, hale old man making a humorous speech
to a mixed crowd of respectable citizens and rowdies. It was the
Honorable Mr. P——, bidding for their votes. A played-out politician, he
had disappeared from public view a quarter of a century before, but had
now come up again, thinking there was once more a chance for himself in
the paucity of able men, whom the barrier of the test-oath left eligible
to Congress.

“As for that oath,” said he, with a solemn countenance, “I confess it is
a bitter cup; and I have prayed that it might pass from me.”

Here he paused, and took a sip of brandy from a glass on the desk before
him. Evidently that cup wasn’t so bitter, for he smacked his lips, and
looked up with a decidedly refreshed expression.

“Fellow-citizens,” said he, “I am going to tell you a little
story,”—clapping his cane under his arm, and peering under his gray
eyebrows. “It will show you my position with regard to that abominable
oath. In the good old Revolutionary times, there lived somewhere on the
borders a pious Scotchman, whose farm was run over one day by the
red-coats, and the next by the Continentals; so that it required the
most delicate manœuvering on his part to keep so much as a pig or a
sheep (to say nothing of his own valuable neck) safe from the two
armies. Now what did this pious Scotchman do? In my opinion he did very
wisely. When the red-coats caught him, he took the oath of allegiance to
the Crown. The next day, when the Continentals picked him up, he took
the same oath to the Continental Congress. Now, being a deacon of the
Presbyterian Church, in good and regular standing, certain narrow-minded
brethren saw fit to remonstrate with him, asking how he could reconcile
his conscience to such a course.

“’My friends,’ said he, ‘I have thought over the matter, and I have
prayed over it; and I have concluded that it is safer to trust my soul
in the hands of a merciful God, than my property in the hands of those
thieving rascals.’

“Fellow-citizens,” resumed the candidate, after a storm of laughter on
the part of the crowd, and another a sip of the cup not bitter, on his
part, “I have thought over it, and prayed over it, and I have concluded
that I can conscientiously take that abominable test-oath; in other
words, that it is safer to trust my soul in the hands of a merciful God,
than my country in the hands of the Black Republicans.”

He then proceeded to malign the people of the North, and to misrepresent
their motives, in a spirit of buffoonery and shameless mendacity, which
amazed me. The more outrageous the lies he told, the louder the screams
of applause from his delighted audience. I could not have helped
laughing at the ludicrousness of his caricatures, had I not seen that
they passed for true pictures with a majority of his hearers; or had I
not remembered that it was such reckless political lying as this, which
had so lately misled to their ruin the ignorant masses of the South.

Having finished his speech and his brandy, he sat down; and a rival
candidate mounted the platform.

“B——! B——!” shrieked the ungrateful crowd, clapping and stamping as
frantically for the new speaker as for him who had labored so long for
their amusement. Thereupon, the Honorable Mr. P——, pitching his hat over
his eyes, and brandishing his cane, advanced upon his rival.

B——, a much younger and more slender man, quietly stripped up his
coat-sleeves, exposing his linen to the elbows, and showing himself
prepared for emergencies; whereat the yells became deafening. A few
words passed between the rival candidates; after which B—— folded his
arms and permitted P—— to make an explanation. It appeared from this
that P—— had written to B——, inviting him to become a candidate for
Congress. B—— had declined. Then P—— came forward as a candidate; and
then B——, changing his mind, said he would be a candidate too. Hence
their quarrel.

Calmly, with his sleeves still up, or ready to come up, for P—— was
continually advancing upon him with cane lifted and hat set fiercely on
his head,—B—— replied, giving his version of the misunderstanding. He
admitted that P—— had written him such a letter. “But his suggestion
with regard to my becoming a candidate was very feeble, while the
intimation which accompanied it, that he meant to run if I didn’t, was
very strong; reminding me of the boarder at the hotel-table, who coveted
a certain dish of cakes. ‘Here, waiter,’ said he, ‘see if any of the
gentlemen will have these cakes, for if they won’t, I will.’ Of course I
declined the cakes. But they have been passed to me by others in a very
different spirit, and now I mean to have them if I can get them,—with
all deference to the appetite of my venerable friend.”

The crowd hooted, shrieked, roared. “Venerable friend” grasped his glass
savagely, but, finding it empty, dashed it down again, and sprang to his
feet. Desperately puffed, red in the face, once more whirling his cane
aloft and knocking his hat over his brows, I thought, if he did not
first get a stroke of apoplexy, B—— would this time surely get a stroke
of the stick. But B—— grimly stood his ground; and, after glaring at him
a moment as if about to burst, P—— muttered, “Go to the devil, then!”
buttoned his coat, gave his hat another knock, and stalked out of the
house amid a tumult of merriment and derision.

Nearly always, on such occasions, the disputant who loses his temper,
loses his cause. B—— now had everything his own way; and a very good
speech he made. He was one of those original Union men who had at first
opposed secession, but afterwards yielded to the storm that swept over
the State. Sent to the Convention to oppose it there, he had ended by
voting for it, under instructions from his constituency. He had kept
aloof from war and politics during the Rebellion, and could take the
test oath; that was no such bitter cup to him. He spoke very feelingly
of the return of Virginia to her place in the Union; praised the
government for its clemency and moderation, and advocated a forbearing
policy towards the freedmen, whom the previous speaker wished to see
driven out of the State; seasoning his speech for the vulgar with timely
panegyrics on the heroism of the Confederate soldiers.

The election took place a few days later; and I thought it creditable to
the good sense of the district that the younger candidate was chosen.

Of the political views of the people, or of the real sentiments of the
speakers themselves, not much was to be learned at such a meeting. The
heart of the South was boiling with thoughts and emotions which did not
come openly to the surface. On the subject of the national debt, for
example. Public speakers and public prints were ominously silent about
it; and seldom could a discreet citizen be induced to speak of it with
any degree of frankness. I was plainly told, however, by a gentleman of
Richmond, that the question was often privately discussed, and that the
secessionists would never, if they could help it, submit to be taxed to
pay the expenses of their own subjugation.

“But how is it proposed to help it?”

“The first step is to resume their place in the Union. Until that is
accomplished, they will remain silent on this and some other delicate
subjects. They hope gradually to regain their old power in the nation,
when they will unite with the Democratic party of the North, and
repudiate the debt.”

If I could have been seriously alarmed by such a prospect, what I
witnessed at political meetings and elsewhere, would have done much to
dispel my apprehensions. I was strongly impressed by this important
fact. The old trained politicians,—whom a common interest, slavery,
banded together, and whom no consideration of reason or justice could
turn from their purpose,—that formidable phalanx had been broken: nearly
every man of them had taken an active part in the Rebellion, and could
not therefore, without shameful recreancy and voluntary humiliation on
the part of the North, be readmitted to the councils of the nation they
had attempted to destroy. In their place we may for some years hope to
see a very different class of men, whose youth, or modesty, or good
fortune, or good sense, before kept them aloof from political life; men
new to the Congressional arena, and therefore more susceptible to the
regenerating influence of national ideas and institutions.



                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                 FORTIFICATIONS.—DUTCH GAP.—FAIR OAKS.


At nine o’clock one fine morning, Major K——, the young Judge-Advocate of
the Department of Virginia, called for me by appointment, accompanied by
an orderly bringing a tall war-horse General Terry was so kind as to
furnish for my use.

I was soon mounted, and riding out of the city by the Major’s side,—down
the long, hilly street, past the Rocketts, by the left bank of the
river, taking the New-Market Road. First we came to a circle of detached
forts surrounding the city; a few minutes’ ride farther on brought us to
a heavy continuous line of earthworks surrounding the first line. These
were the original fortifications of Richmond. Crossing a desolate
undulating country of weeds and undergrowth, we reached the works below
Laurel Hill, of more recent construction, and of a more formidable
character. The embankments were eighteen feet high from the bottom of
the ditch. This was some six feet deep and twelve broad. There were two
lines of bristling abatis. These, together with the wooden revetments of
the works, had been levied upon by the inhabitants in search of
firewood.

Three quarters of a mile beyond we came to the heavy intrenchments of
the Army of the James. Between the two lines were the picket-lines of
the opposing forces, in places no more than three hundred yards apart.
Here the two armies lay and watched each other through the last weary
Autumn and Winter of the war. The earth was blotched with “gopher
holes,”—hasty excavations in which the veteran videttes proceeded at
once to intrench themselves, on being sent out to a new post. “It was
astonishing,” said the Major, “to see what a breastwork they would throw
up in a few minutes, with no other tools than a bayonet and a tin-plate.
The moment they were at their station, down they went, scratching and
digging.”

[Illustration]

We had previously stopped at Laurel Hill, to look across the broken
country on the south, at Fort Gilmer, which the troops of General
Foster’s division charged with such unfortunate results. The Major, then
serving on Foster’s staff, participated in that affair. “I never can
look upon this field,” said he, “without emotion. I lost some of my
dearest friends in that assault.”

So it is in every battle: _somebody_ loses his dearest friends.

We rode on past the Federal works into the winter-quarters of the
army,—a city of huts, with streets regularly laid out, now deserted and
in ruins. Here and there I noted an old-fashioned New-England well-sweep
still standing. The line of works was semicircular, both ends resting on
the river. Within that ox-bow was the encampment of the Army of the
James.

We next visited New-Market Heights, where Butler’s colored regiments
formed unflinchingly under fire, and made their gallant charge, wiping
out with their own blood the insults that had been heaped upon them by
the white troops. “The army saw that charge, and it never insulted a
colored soldier after that,” said the Major.

We then galloped across the country, intending to strike Dutch Gap
Canal. Not a habitation was in sight. Vast fields spread before us, and
we rode through forests of weeds that overtopped our horses’ heads. We
became entangled in earthworks, and had to retrace our course. More than
once we were compelled to dismount and tear our way through abatis and
_chevaux-de-frise_. The result was, we lost our bearings, and, after
riding several miles quite blindly, struck the James at Deep Bottom.
Then up the river we galloped, traversing pine woods and weedy plains,
avoiding marsh and gully, and leaping ditches, past Aiken’s Landing, to
a yellow elevation of earth across a narrow peninsula, which proved to
be Dutch Gap.

The canal was there,—a short, deep channel connecting the river with the
river again. The James here describes a long loop, seven miles in
extent, doubling back upon itself, so that you may stand on this high
bank, and throw a stone either into the southward-flowing or the
northward-returning stream.

The canal, which cuts off these seven miles, is four hundred and
eighty-six feet in length and fifty in depth from the summit of the
bank. It is one hundred and twenty-two feet broad at the top, forty at
the bottom, and sixty-five at the high-water level. On the lower side
the channel is deep enough for ships. Not so at the upper end,—the head
that was blown out having fallen back and filled up the canal. At high
water, however, small vessels sometimes get through. The tide had just
turned, and we found a considerable body of water pouring through the
Gap.

Different accounts are given of the origin of the name of Dutch Gap. It
is said that a Dutch company was once formed for digging a ship-canal at
that place. But a better story is told of a Dutchman who made a bet with
a Virginian, that he could beat him in a skiff-race between Richmond and
City Point. The Virginian was ahead when they reached the Gap; what then
was his astonishment, on arriving at City Point, to find the Dutchman
there before him. The latter had saved the roundabout seven miles by
dragging his canoe across the peninsula and launching it on the other
side.

Riding up the Richmond road, we stopped at the first human habitation we
had seen since leaving Laurel Hill. We had been several hours in the
saddle, and stood greatly in need of refreshments. The sight of a calf
and a churn gave us a promise of milk, and we tied our horses at the
door. The house had been a goodly mansion in its day, but now everything
about it showed the ruin and dilapidation of war. The windows were
broken, and the garden, out-houses, and fences destroyed. This proved to
be Cox’s house, and belonged to a plantation of twenty-three hundred
acres which included Dutch Gap. Looking at the desolation which
surrounded it, I could hardly believe that this had formerly been one of
the finest farms in Virginia, worked by a hundred negroes, and furnished
with reapers, threshers, a grist-mill, and saw-mill,—all of which had
been swept away as if they had never been.

We found lying on a bed in a dilapidated room a poor man sick with the
prevailing chills. He had some bread and milk brought for us, and gave
us some useful hints about avoiding the torpedoes when we should reach
Fort Harrison. He described to us the depredations committed on the
place by “Old Butler”; and related how he himself was once taken
prisoner by the Yankee marines on the river. “They gave me my choice,—to
be carried before the admiral, or robbed of my horse and all the money I
had about me. I preferred the robbing; so they cleared me out and set me
free.”

I said, “If you had been taken before the admiral, you would have got
your liberty and saved your property.”

His voice became deep and tremulous as he replied: “But I didn’t
consider horse nor money; I considered my wife. I’d sooner anything than
that she should be distressed. She knew I was a prisoner, and all I
thought of was to hurry home to her with the news that I was safe.” Thus
in every human breast, even though wrapped in rags, and guilty of crimes
against country and kindred, abides the eternal spark of tenderness
which atones in the sight of God for all.

Taking leave of the sick man, we paid a brief visit to the casemates of
Fort Harrison, then spurred back to Richmond, which we reached at
sunset, having been nine hours in the saddle and ridden upwards of forty
miles.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Another morning, with two gentlemen of General Terry’s staff, and an
orderly to take care of our horses, I rode out of the city on the Nine
Mile Road, which crosses the Chickahominy at New Bridge; purposing to
visit some of the scenes of McClellan’s Richmond campaign.

Passing the fortifications, and traversing a level, scarcely inhabited
country, shorn of its forests by the sickle of war, we reached, by a
cross-road, the line of the Richmond and York River Railroad. But no
railroad was there; the iron of the track having been taken up to be
used elsewhere.

Near by was Fair Oaks Station, surrounded by old fields, woods, and
tracts of underbrush. Here was formerly a yard, in which stood a group
of oaks, the lower trunks of which had been rendered conspicuous, if not
beautiful, by whitewash: hence, “_fair_ oaks.”

It was a wild, windy, dusty day. A tempest was roaring through the pines
over our heads as we rode on to the scene of General Casey’s disaster. I
asked an inhabitant why the place was called “Seven Pines.” “I don’t
know, unless it’s because there’s about seven hundred.”

He was living in a little wooden house, close by a negro hut. “The
Yankees took me up, and carried me away, and destroyed all I had. My
place don’t look like it did before, and never will, I reckon. They come
again last October; Old Butler’s devils; all colors; heap of black
troops; they didn’t leave me anything.”

He spoke with no more respect of the Confederates. “We had in our own
army some of the durn’dest scapegalluses! The difference ’twixt them and
the Yankees was, the Yankees would steal before our eyes, and laugh at
us; but the Rebels would steal behind our backs.”

On the south, we found the woods on fire, with a furious north wind
fanning the flames. The only human being we saw was a man digging sweet
potatoes. We rode eastward, along the lines of intrenchments thrown up
by our troops after the battle; passed through a low, level tract of
woods, on the borders of the Chickahominy swamps; and, pressing
northward, struck the Williamsburg Road.

Colonel G——, of our party, was in the Fair Oaks’ fight. He came up with
the victorious columns that turned back the tide of defeat.

“I never saw a handsomer sight than Sickles’s brigade advancing up that
road, Sunday morning, the second day of the battle. The enemy fired upon
them from these woods, but never a man flinched. They came up in column,
magnificently, to that house yonder; then formed in line of battle
across these fields, and went in with flags flying and bayonets shining,
and drove the Rebels. After that we might have walked straight into
Richmond, but McClellan had to stop and go to digging.”

We dismounted in a sheltered spot, to examine our maps, then passed
through the woods by a cross-road to Savage’s Station, coming out upon a
large undulating field. Of Savage’s house only the foundations were
left, surrounded by a grove of locust-trees. My companions described to
me the scene of McClellan’s retreat from this place,—the hurry, the
confusion, the flames of government property abandoned and destroyed.
Sutlers forsook their goods. Even the officers’ baggage was devoted to
the torch. A single pile of hard tack, measuring forty cubic feet, was
set on fire, and burned. Then came the battle of Savage’s Station, in
which the corps of Franklin and Sumner, by determined fighting, saved
our army from being overwhelmed by the entire Rebel force. This was
Sunday again, the twenty-ninth of June: so great had been the change
wrought by four short weeks! On that other Sunday the Rebels were
routed, and the campaign, as some aver, might have been gloriously ended
by the capture of Richmond. Now nothing was left for us but ignominious
retreat and failure, which proved all the more humiliating, falling so
suddenly upon the hopes with which real or fancied successes had
inspired the nation.



                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                        IN AND ABOUT PETERSBURG.


On Wednesday, September 27th, I left Richmond for Petersburg. The
railroad bridge having been burned, I crossed the river in a coach, and
took the cars at Manchester. A ride of twenty miles through tracts of
weeds and undergrowth, pine barrens and oaken woods, passing
occasionally a dreary-looking house and field of “sorry” corn, brought
us within sight of the “Cockade City.”[2]

It was evening when I arrived. Having a letter from Governor Pierpoint
to a prominent citizen, I sallied out by moonlight from my hotel, and
picked my way, along the streets sloping up from the river bank, to his
house.

Judge —— received me in his library, and kept me until a late hour
listening to him. His conversation was of the war, and the condition in
which it had left the country. He portrayed the ruin of the once proud
and prosperous State, and the sufferings of the people. “Yet, when all
is told,” said he, “you cannot realize their sufferings, more than if
you had never heard of them.” His remarks touching the freedmen were
refreshing, after the abundance of cant on the subject to which I had
been treated. He thought they were destined to be crowded out of
Virginia, which was adapted to white labor, but that they would occupy
the more southern States, and become a useful class of citizens. Many
were leaving their homes, with the idea that they must do so in order
fully to assert their freedom; but the majority of them were still at
work for their old masters. He was already convinced that the new system
would prove more profitable to employers than the old one. Formerly he
kept eight family servants; now he had but three, who, stimulated by
wages, did the work of all.

One of his former servants, to whom he had granted many privileges, came
to him, after the war closed, and said, “You a’n’t going to turn me
away, I hope, master.”

“No, William,” said the Judge. “As long as I have a home, you have one.
But I have no money to hire you.” William replied that he would like to
stay, and work right along just as he had done hitherto. “And as for
money, master, I reckon we can manage that.”

“How so, William?”

“You see, master, you’ve been so kind to me these past years I’ve done a
good deal outside, and if you have no money now, I reckon I must lend
you some.”

The faithful fellow brought out his little treasure, and offered it to
his old master, who, however, had not the heart to accept it.

The Judge also told a story of a free negro to whom he had often loaned
money without security before the war. Recently this negro had come to
him again, and asked the old question, “Have you plenty of money,
master?”

“Ah, James,” said the Judge, “I used to have plenty, and I always gave
you what you wanted, but you must go to somebody else now, for I haven’t
a dollar,”

“That’s what I was thinking,” said James. “I haven’t come to borrow this
time, but to lend.” And, taking out a fifty-dollar note, with tears in
his eyes he entreated the Judge to take it.

I noticed that the library had a new door, and that the walls around it
were spotted with marks of repairs. “These are the effects of a shell
that paid us a flying visit one morning, during the bombardment.
Fortunately, no one was hurt.”

He accepted the results of the war in such a candid and loyal spirit as
I had rarely seen manifested by the late governing class in Virginia. If
such men could be placed in power, the sooner the State were fully
restored to its place in the Union, the better; but, alas!—

Returning to the hotel, I missed my way, and seeing a light in a little
grocery store, went in to make inquiries. I found two negroes talking
over the bombardment. Finding me a stranger, and interested, they
invited me to stop, and rehearsed the story for my benefit.

The shelling began on the first of July, 1864. It was most rapid on the
third. Roofs and chimneys and walls were knocked to pieces. All the
lower part of the town was deserted. Many of the inhabitants fled to the
country; some remained there in camps, others got over their fright and
returned. “We went up on Market Street, and got into a bomb-proof we
made of cotton bales.” The bombardment was kept up until the first of
October, and afterwards resumed at intervals. “Finally people got so
they didn’t care anything about it. I saw two men killed by picking up
shells and looking at them; they exploded in their hands.”

At the time of the evacuation the negroes “had to keep right dark” to
avoid being carried away by their masters. Some went across the
Appomattox, and had to swim back, the bridges being burned.

They described to me the beauty of the scene when the mortars were
playing in the night, and the heavens were spanned with arches of fire.

“It was a right glad day for us when the Rebels went out and the
Federals came in; and I don’t believe any of the people could say with
conscientiousness they were sorry,—they had all suffered so much. The
Rebels set all the tobacco-warehouses afire, and burned up the foundery
and commissary stores. That was Sunday. Monday morning they went out,
and the Federals came in, track after track, without an hour between
them.”

These two negroes were brothers, and men of decided character and
intelligence, although they had been slaves all their lives. They
learned to read in a spelling-book when children by the firelight of
their hut. “I noticed how white children called their letters; and
afterwards I learned to write without any showing, by copying the
writing-letters in the spelling-book. I learned to read in such a silent
manner, it was a long time before I could make any head reading loud. I
learned arithmetic by myself in the same way.”

If any person of white skin, who has risen to eminence, is known to have
acquired the rudiments of education under such difficulties, much is
made of the circumstance. But in the case of a poor black man, a slave,
I suppose it is different.

The two addressed each other with great respect and affection. Their
feeling of kinship and of family worth was very strong. “There were four
brothers of us,” said the elder; “and I am the only one of them that
ever went to the prison-house. After my old, kind master died, I had a
difficulty with my mistress; she was very exasperating in her language
to me, till I lost my temper, and said I could live in torment, but I
couldn’t live with her, and wished she would sell me. She sent for an
officer; and I said, ‘I am as willing to go to jail as I am to take a
drink of water.’ When the sheriff saw me, he was very much surprised,
and he said, ‘Why, John, why are you here?’ I told him I had parted with
my temper, and said what no man ought to have said to a woman. He said,
‘What a pity! such a name as your master gave you, John!’ He interceded
with my mistress, and the fourth day she had me taken out. I told her I
had acknowledged my fault to my Maker, and I was willing to acknowledge
it to her. She said she was wrong too; and we agreed very well after
that. I was a very valuable servant to her. I could whitewash, mend a
fence, put in glass, use tools, serve up a dinner, and then wait on it
as gracefully as any man that ever walked around a table. Then I would
hitch up the carriage, and drive her out. And I have never seen the day
yet when she has given me five dollars.”

He had always thought deeply on the subject of his condition.

“But I never felt at liberty to speak my mind until they passed an act
to put colored men into the army. That wrought upon my feelings so I
couldn’t but cry;” and the tears were in his eyes again at the
recollection. “They asked me if I would fight for my country. I said, ‘I
have no country.’ They said I should light for my freedom. I said, ‘To
gain my freedom, I must fight to keep my wife and children slaves.’
Then, after the war was over, they told us they had no more use for
niggers. I said I thought it hard, after they’d lived by the sweat of
our faces all our days, that now we must be banished from the country,
because we were free.”

He spoke hopefully of his race. “If we can induce them to be united, and
to feel the responsibility that rests upon them, they will get along
very well. Many have bought themselves, and paid every dollar to their
masters, and then been sold again, and been treated in this way till
they have no longer any confidence in the promises a white man makes
them. They won’t stay with their old masters on any terms. Then there
are some that expect to live without work. There are some colored men,
just as there are white men, that won’t work to save their lives. Others
won’t stay, for this reason: The master takes their old daddy, and old
mammy, and little children, and casts them out on the forks of the road,
and tells them to go to the Court House, where the Yankees are, for he
don’t want ’em; then of course the young men and young women go too.”

Early next morning, I went out to view the town. In size and importance
Petersburg ranks as the second city in the State. In 1860 it had 18,275
inhabitants. It had fifty manufacturing establishments in operation,
employing three thousand operatives, and consuming annually $2,000,000
worth of raw material. Twenty factories manufactured yearly 12,000,000
pounds of tobacco. The falls of the Appomattox afford an extensive
water-power, and the river is navigable to this place.

I found the city changed greatly from its old prosperous condition. Its
business was shattered. Its well-built, pleasant streets, rising upon
the south bank of the Appomattox, were dirty and dilapidated. All the
lower part of the town showed the ruinous effect of the shelling it had
received. Tenantless and uninhabitable houses, with broken walls,
roofless, or with roofs smashed and torn by missiles, bear silent
witness to the havoc of war. In the ends of some buildings I counted
more than twenty shot-holes. Many battered houses had been
repaired,—bright spots of new bricks in the old walls showing where
projectiles had entered.

The city was thronged by a superfluous black population crowding in from
the country. I talked with some, and tried to persuade them to go back
and remain at their old homes. But they assured me that they could not
remain: their very lives had been in danger; and they told me of several
murders perpetrated upon freedmen by the whites, in their neighborhoods,
besides other atrocities. Yet it was evident many had come to town in
the vague hope of finding happy adventures and bettering their
condition.

I remember a gang of men, employed by the government, waiting for
orders, with their teams, on the sunny side of a ruined street. Several,
sitting on the ground, had spelling-books: one was teaching another his
letters; a third was reading aloud to a wondering little audience; an
old man, in spectacles, with gray hair, was slowly and painfully
spelling words of two letters, which he followed closely with his heavy
dark finger along the sunlit page,—altogether a singular and affecting
sight.

Having letters to General Gibbon commanding the military district, I
called on him at his head-quarters in a fine modern Virginia mansion,
and through his courtesy obtained a valuable guide to the
fortifications, in the person of Colonel E——, of his staff.

We drove out on the Jerusalem plank-road, leaving on our right the
reservoir, which Kautz’s cavalry in their dash at the city mistook for a
fort, and retired from with commendable discretion.

Leaving the plank-road, and striking across the open country, we found,
in the midst of weedy fields, the famous “crater,”—scene of one of the
most fearful tragedies of the war. It was a huge irregular oblong pit,
perhaps a hundred feet in length and twenty in depth. From this spot,
spouted like a vast black fountain, from the earth, rose the garrison,
and guns, and breastworks, of one of the strongest Rebel forts, mined by
our troops, and blown into the air on the morning of July 30th, 1864.

There was a deep ravine in front, up in the side of which the mine had
been worked. The mouth was still visible, half hidden by rank weeds. In
spots the surface earth had caved, leaving chasms opening into the mine
along its course. The mouth of the Rebel counter-mine was also
visible,—a deep, dark, narrow cavern, supported by framework, in the
lower side of the crater. Lying around were relics of the battle,—bent
and rusted bayonets, canteens, and fragments of shells. In front were
the remains of wooden _chevaux-de-frise_, which had been literally shot
to pieces. And all around were graves.

In the earthworks near by I saw a negro man and woman digging out
bullets. They told me they got four cents a pound for them in
Petersburg. It was hard work, but they made a living at it.

Riding southward along the Confederate line of works, we came to Fort
Damnation, where the Rebels used to set up a flag-staff for our boys to
fire at with a six-pound Parrott gun, making a wild sport of warfare.
Opposite was Fort Hell, built by our troops, and named in compliment to
its profane neighbor. The intrenched picket-lines between the two were
not more than seventy-five yards apart; each connected with its fort by
a covered way. These works were in an excellent state of preservation.
Fort Hell especially, constructed with bomb-proofs and galleries which
afforded the most ample protection to its garrison, was in as perfect a
condition as when first completed. With a lighted torch I explored its
magazine, a Tartarean cave, with deep dark chambers, and walls covered
with a cold sweat.

All along in front of the Rebel defences extended the Federal
breastworks, and it was interesting to trace the zigzag lines by which
our troops had, slowly and persistently, by scientific steps, pushed
their position ever nearer and nearer to the enemy’s. Running round all,
covered by an embankment, was Grant’s army railroad.

Having driven southward along the Rebel lines to Fort Damnation, and
there crossed over to Fort Hell, we now returned northward, riding along
the Federal lines. A very good corduroy road, built by our army, took us
through deserted villages of huts, where had been its recent
winter-quarters; past abandoned plantations and ruined dwellings; over a
plain which had been covered with forests before the war, but where not
a tree was now standing; and across the line of the Norfolk Railroad, of
which not a sleeper or rail remained. We passed Fort Morton, confronting
the “crater”; and halted on a hill, in a pleasant little grove of broken
and dismantled oaks. Here were the earthworks and bomb-proofs of Fort
Stedman, the possession of which had cost more lives than any other
point along the lines, not excepting the “crater.” Captured originally
from the Rebels, retaken by them, and recaptured by us, it was the
subject of incessant warfare.

At the Friend House, farther on, stationed on an eminence overlooking
Petersburg, was the celebrated “Petersburg Express,”—the great gun which
used to send its iron messengers regularly into the city.

On the Friend Estate I saw, for the first time, evidences of reviving
agriculture in this war-blasted region. A good crop of corn had been
raised, and some five and thirty negro men and women were beginning the
harvest. There was no white man about the place; but they told me they
were working on their own account for a portion of the crop.

Returning to town by the City-Point Road, we set out again, in the
afternoon, to visit the more distant fortifications beyond Forts Hell
and Damnation.

Driving out on the Boydton Plank Road to the Lead Works, we there left
it on our right, and proceeded along a sandy track beside the Weldon
Railroad where wagon-loads of North Carolina cotton, laboring through
the sand, attested that the damage done to this railroad, in December of
the previous year, by Warren’s Corps,—which destroyed with conscientious
thoroughness fifteen miles of the track,—had not yet been repaired.[3]

Passing the Rebel forts, I was struck with the peculiar construction of
the Federal works. As we pushed farther and farther our advanced lines
around the city, they became so extended that, to prevent raids on our
rear, it was necessary to construct rear lines of defence. Our
intrenchments accordingly took the form of a hook, doubled backward, and
terminating in something like a barbed point.

Cities of deserted huts, built in the midst of a vast level plain,
despoiled of its forests, showed where the winter-quarters of our more
advanced corps had been, during this last great campaign.

Passing the winter-quarters of the Sixth Corps, we approached one of the
most beautiful villages that ever were seen. It was sheltered by a grove
of murmuring pines. An arched gateway admitted us to its silent streets.
It was constructed entirely of pine saplings and logs. Even the neat
sidewalks were composed of the same material. The huts—if those little
dwellings, built in a unique and perfect style of architecture, may be
called by that humble name—were furnished with bedrooms and
mantel-pieces within, and plain columns and fluted pilasters without,
all of rough pine. The plain columns were formed of single trunks, the
fluted ones of clusters of saplings,—all with the bark on, of course.
The walls were similarly constructed. The village was deserted, with the
exception of a safeguard, consisting of half a dozen United States
soldiers, stationed there to protect it from vandalism.

The gem of the place was the church. Its walls, pillars, pointed arches,
and spire, one hundred feet high, were composed entirely of pines
selected and arranged with surprising taste and skill. The pulpit was in
keeping with the rest. Above it was the following inscription:—

“Presented to the members of the Poplar Spring Church, by the 50th N. Y.
V. Engineers. Capt. M. H. McGrath, architect.”

The Poplar Spring Church, which formerly stood somewhere in that
vicinity, had been destroyed during the war; and this church had been
left as a fitting legacy to its congregation by the soldiers who built
it. The village had been the winter-quarters of the engineer corps.

Driving westward along the track of the army railroad, and past its
termination, we struck across the open fields to the Federal
signal-tower, lifting skyward its lofty open framework and dizzy
platforms, in the midst of an extensive plain. To ascend a few stages of
this breezy observatory, and see the sun go down behind the distant dim
line of forests, while the evening shadows thickened upon the landscape,
was a fit termination to the day’s experience; and we returned with
rapid wheels to the city.

-----

Footnote 2:

  The title given to it by President Madison, in speaking of the
  gallantry of the Petersburg Volunteers, in the war of 1812.

Footnote 3:

  Four months later I returned northward from the Carolinas by this
  road, and found that the bent rails had been straightened and
  replaced, in an exceedingly scaly condition.



                            CHAPTER XXVIII.
                    JAMES RIVER AND FORTRESS MONROE.


The next day I proceeded to City Point by railroad,—riding in an old
patched-up car marked outside “_U. S. Military R. R._,” and furnished
inside with pine benches for seats and boards nailed up in place of
windows. There was nothing of interest on the road, which passed through
a region of stumps and undergrowth, with scarce an inhabitant, save the
few negro families that had taken up their abode in abandoned army huts.
City Point itself was no less dull. Built on high and rolling ground, at
the confluence of the Appomattox and the James,—a fine site for a
village,—it had nothing to show but an ugly cluster of rough wooden
buildings, such as spring up like fungus in the track of an army, and a
long line of government warehouses by the river.

I took the first steamer for Richmond; returning thence, in a few days,
down the James to Norfolk and Fortress Monroe. This voyage possesses an
interest which can merely be hinted at in a description. You are gliding
between shores rich with historical associations old and new. The mind
goes back to the time when Captain John Smith, with the expedition of
1607, sailed up this stream, which they named in honor of their king.
But you are diverted from those recollections by the landmarks of recent
famous events:—the ruins of ironclads below Richmond; the wrecks of
gun-boats; obstructions in the channel; Fort Darling, on a high bluff;
every commanding eminence crowned by a redoubt; Dutch Gap Canal; Deep
Bottom; Butler’s tower of observation; Malvern Hill, where the last
battle of McClellan’s retreat was fought,—a gentle elevation on the
north bank, marked by a small house and clumps of trees; Harrison’s
Landing,—a long pier extending out into the river; Jamestown, the first
settlement in Virginia,—now an island with a few huts only, and two or
three chimney-stacks of burnt houses,—looking as desolate as when first
destroyed, at the time of Bacon’s rebellion, near two hundred years ago;
Newport News below, a place with a few shanties, and a row of grinning
batteries; Hampton Roads, bristling and animated with shipping,—the
scene of the fight between the “Merrimac” and the “Monitor,” initiating
a new era in naval warfare; Hampton away on the north, with its
conspicuous square white hospital; Norfolk on the south, up the
Elizabeth River; the Rip-Raps, and Sewall’s Point; and, most astonishing
object of all, that huge finger of the military power, placed here to
hold these shores,—Fortress Monroe.

It was a wild, windy day; the anchored ships were tossing on the
white-capped waves; but the Fortress presented a beautiful calm picture,
as we approached it, with its proud flag careering in the breeze, its
white light-house on the beach, and the afternoon sunshine on its broad
walls and grassy ramparts.

Before the war, there was a large hotel between the Fortress and the
wharves, capable of accommodating a thousand persons. This was torn
down, because it obstructed the range of the guns; and a miserable
one-and-a-half story dining-saloon had been erected in its place. Here,
after much persuasion, I managed to secure a lodging under the low,
unfinished roof. The proprietor told me that the government, which owns
the land on which his house stands, exacted no payment for it, under
General Dix’s administration; but that General Butler, on coming into
power, immediately clapped on a smart rent of five hundred dollars a
month, which the landlord could pay, or take his house elsewhere. I
thought the circumstance characteristic.

The next morning, having a letter to General Miles, in command at the
Fortress, I obtained admission within the massy walls. I crossed the
moat on the drawbridge, and entered the gate opening under the heavy
bastions. I found myself in the midst of a village, on a level plain,
shaded by trees. A guard was given me, with orders to show me whatever I
wished to see, with one exception,—the interior of Mr. Jefferson Davis’s
private residence. This retired Rebel chief had been removed from the
casemate in which he was originally confined, and was occupying Carrol
Hall, a plain, three-story, yellow-painted building, built for officers’
quarters. I walked past the doors, and looked up at the modest
window-curtains, wondering what his thoughts were, sitting there,
meditating his fallen fortunes, with the flag of the nation he had
attempted to overthrow floating above his head, and its cannon frowning
on the ramparts around him. Did he enjoy his cigar, and read the morning
newspaper with interest?

The strength and vastness of Fortress Monroe astonishes one. It is the
most expensive fortress in the United States, having cost nearly two and
a half million-dollars. It is a mile around the ramparts. The walls are
fifty feet thick. The stone masonry which forms their outward face rises
twenty feet above high-water mark in the moat; and the grassy parapets
are built ten feet higher. There were only seven hundred men in the
fort,—a small garrison.

I was shown the great magazine which Arnold, one of the Booth
conspirators, proposed to blow up. His plan was to get a clerkship in
the ordnance office, which would afford him facilities for carrying out
his scheme. Had this succeeded, the terrible explosion that would have
ensued would not only have destroyed the Fortress, but not a building on
the Point would have been left standing.

I made the circuit of the ramparts, overlooking Hampton Roads on one
side, and the broad bay on the other. The sun was shining; the waves
were breaking on the shore; the band was playing proud martial airs; the
nation’s flag rolled voluptuously in the wind; steamers and white-sailed
ships were going and coming; the sky above was of deep blue, full of
peace. It was hard to realize that the immense structure on which I
walked, amid such a scene, was merely an engine of war.

While I was at General Miles’s head-quarters an interesting case of
pardoned rebellion was developed. Mr. Y——, a noted secessionist of
Warwick County, was one of those who had early pledged his life, his
fortune, and his sacred honor to the Confederate cause. He had commenced
his patriotic service by seizing at his wharf on the Warwick River a
private vessel which happened to be loading with lumber at the time when
the State seceded, and sending her as a prize up to Richmond; and he had
crowned his career by assisting Wirz in his official work at
Andersonville. During the war the government against which he was
fighting had taken the liberty of cutting a little lumber on this
gentleman’s abandoned lands. He had since become professedly loyal, paid
a visit to the good President at Washington, and returned to his estates
with his pardon in his pocket. The first thing he did was to drive off
the government contractor’s employees with threats of violence. He would
not even allow them to take away the government property he found on his
place, but threatened to shoot every man who approached for that
purpose. An officer came to head-quarters, when I was there, requesting
a guard of soldiers to protect the lives of the laborers during the
removal of this property.



                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                             ABOUT HAMPTON.


As it was my intention to visit some of the freedmen’s settlements in
the vicinity, the General kindly placed a horse at my disposal, and I
took leave of him. A short gallop brought me to the village of Hampton,
distant from the Fortress something over two miles.

“The village of Hampton,” says a copy of the “Richmond Examiner” for
1861, “is beautifully situated on an arm of the sea setting in from the
adjacent roadstead which bears its name. The late census showed that the
aggregate white and black population was nearly two thousand.” Some of
the residences were of brick, erected at a heavy cost, and having large
gardens, out-houses, and other valuable improvements. The oldest
building, and the second oldest church in the State, was the Episcopal
Church, made of imported brick, and surrounded by a cemetery of ancient
graves. “Here repose the remains of many a cavalier and gentleman, whose
names are borne by numerous families all over the Southern States.”

On the night of August 7th, 1861, the Rebels, under General Magruder,
initiated what has been termed the “warfare against women and children
and private property,” which has marked the war of the Rebellion, by
laying this old aristocratic town in ashes. It had been mostly abandoned
by the secessionist inhabitants on its occupation by our troops, and
only a few white families, with between one and two hundred negroes,
remained. Many of the former residents came back with the Rebel troops
and set fire to their own and their neighbors’ houses. Less than a dozen
buildings remained standing; the place being reduced to a wilderness of
naked chimneys, burnt-out shells, and heaps of ashes.

I found it a thrifty village, occupied chiefly by freedmen. The former
aristocratic residences had been replaced by negro huts. These were very
generally built of split boards, called pales, overlapping each other
like clapboards or shingles. There was an air of neatness and comfort
about them which surprised me, no less than the rapidity with which they
were constructed. One man had just completed his house. He told me that
it took him a week to make the pales for it and bring them from the
woods, and four days more to build it.

A sash-factory and blacksmith’s shop, shoemakers’ shops and stores,
enlivened the streets. The business of the place was carried on chiefly
by freedmen, many of whom were becoming wealthy, and paying heavy taxes
to the government.

Every house had its wood-pile, poultry and pigs, and little garden
devoted to corn and vegetables. Many a one had its stable and cow, and
horse and cart. The village was surrounded by freedmen’s farms,
occupying the abandoned plantations of recent Rebels. The crops looked
well, though the soil was said to be poor. Indeed, this was by far the
thriftiest portion of Virginia I had seen.

In company with a gentleman who was in search of laborers, I made an
extensive tour of these farms, anxious to see with my own eyes what the
emancipated blacks were doing for themselves. I found no idleness
anywhere. Happiness and industry were the universal rule. I conversed
with many of the people, and heard their simple stories. They had but
one trouble: the owners of the lands they occupied were coming back with
their pardons and demanding the restoration of their estates. Here they
had settled on abandoned Rebel lands, under the direction of the
government, and with the government’s pledge, given through its
officers, and secured by act of Congress, that they should be protected
in the use and enjoyment of those lands for a term of three years, each
freedman occupying no more than forty acres, and paying an annual rent
to government not exceeding six per cent. of their value. Here, under
the shelter of that promise, they had built their little houses and
established their humble homes. What was to become of them? On one
estate of six hundred acres there was a thriving community of eight
hundred freedmen. The owner had been pardoned unconditionally by the
President, who, in his mercy to one class, seemed to forget what justice
was due to another.

The terms which some of these returning Rebels proposed to the freedmen
they found in possession of their lands, interested me. One man, whose
estate was worth sixteen dollars an acre, offered to rent it to the
families living on it for eight dollars an acre, provided that the
houses, which they had themselves built, should revert to him at the end
of the year.

My friend broke a bolt in his buggy, and we stopped at a blacksmith-shop
to get another. While the smith, a negro, was making a new bolt, and
fitting it neatly to its place, I questioned him. He had a little lot of
half an acre; upon which he had built his own house and shop and shed.
He had a family, which he was supporting without any aid from the
government. He was doing very well until the owner of the soil appeared,
with the President’s pardon, and orders to have his property restored to
him. The land was worth twenty dollars an acre. He told the blacksmith
that he could remain where he was, by paying twenty-four dollars a year
rent for his half acre. “I am going to leave,” said the poor man,
quietly, and without uttering a complaint.

Except on the government farm, where old and infirm persons and orphan
children were placed, I did not find anybody who was receiving aid from
the government. Said one, “I have a family of seven children. Four are
my own, and three are my brother’s. I have twenty acres. I get no help
from government, and do not want any as long as I can have land.” I
stopped at another little farm-house, beside which was a large pile of
wood, and a still larger heap of unhusked corn, two farm wagons, a
market wagon, and a pair of mules. The occupant of this place also had
but twenty acres, and he was “getting rich.”

“Has government helped you any this year?” I asked a young fellow we met
on the road.

“_Government_ helped _me_?” he retorted proudly. “No; I am helping
government.”

We stopped at a little cobbler’s shop, the proprietor of which was
supporting not only his own wife and children, but his aged mother and
widowed sister. “Has government helped you any?” we inquired. “Nary lick
in the world!” he replied, hammering away at his shoe.

Driving across a farm, we saw an old negro without legs hitching along
on his stumps in a cornfield, pulling out grass between the rows, and
making it up into bundles to sell. He hailed us, and wished to know if
we wanted to buy any hay. He seemed delighted when my companion told him
he would take all he had, at his own price. He said he froze his legs
one winter when he was a slave, and had to have them taken off in
consequence. Formerly he had received rations from the government, but
now he was earning his own support, except what little he received from
his friends.

It was very common to hear of families that were helping not only their
own relatives, but others who had no such claim of kindred upon them.
And here I may add that the account which these people gave of
themselves was fully corroborated by officers of the government and
others who knew them.

My friend did not succeed very well in obtaining laborers for his mills.
The height of the freedmen’s ambition was to have little homes of their
own and to work for themselves. And who could blame this simple, strong
instinct, since it was not only pointing them the way of their own
prosperity, but serving also the needs of the country?[4]

Notwithstanding the pending difficulty with the land-owners, those who
had had their lots assigned them were going on to put up new houses,
from which they might be driven at any day,—so great was their faith in
the honor of the government which had already done so much for them.

Revisiting Virginia some months later, I learned that the Freedmen’s
Bureau had interposed to protect these people in their rights, showing
that their faith had not been in vain.

-----

Footnote 4:

  For example: the freedmen on the Jones Place, with one hundred and
  twenty acres under cultivation, where they had commenced work with
  nothing for which they did not have to run in debt, were now the
  owners of both stock and farming implements; and, besides supporting
  their families, they were paying to the United States a large annual
  rent.



                              CHAPTER XXX.
                      A GENERAL VIEW OF VIRGINIA.


Called home from Fortress Monroe by an affair of business requiring my
attention, I resumed my Southern tour later in the fall, passing through
Central and South-western Virginia, and returning from the Carolinas
through Eastern Virginia in the following February. I am warned by a
want of space to omit the details of these transient journeys, and to
compress my remaining notes on the State into as narrow a compass as
possible.[5]

Virginia was long a synonym for beauty and fertility. In the richness of
her resources, she stood unrivalled among the earlier States. In wealth
and population, she led them all. She was foremost also in political
power; and the names she gave to our Revolutionary history still sparkle
as stars of the first magnitude.

This halo about her name has been slow to fade; although, like a proud
and indolent school-girl, once at the head of her class, she has been
making steady progress towards the foot. Five of the original States
have gone above her, and one by one new-comers are fast overtaking her.
Little Massachusetts excels her in wealth, and Ohio in both wealth and
population.

The causes of this gradual falling back are other than physical causes.
Her natural advantages have not been overrated. The Giver of good gifts
has been munificent in his bounties to her. She is rich in rivers,
forests, mines, soils. That broad avenue to the sea, the Chesapeake, and
its affluents, solicit commerce. Her supply of water-power is limitless
and well distributed. She possesses a variety of climate, which is, with
few exceptions, healthful and delightful.

The fertility of the State is perhaps hardly equal to its fine
reputation, which, like that of some old authors, was acquired in the
freshness of her youth, and before her powerful young competitors
appeared to challenge the world’s attention. Such reputations acquire a
sanctity from age, which the spirit of conservatism permits not to be
questioned.

The State has many rich valleys, river bottoms, and alluvial tracts
bordering on lesser streams, which go far towards sustaining this
venerable reputation. But between these valleys occur intervals of quite
ordinary fertility, if not absolute sterility, and these compose the
larger portion of the State. Add the fact that the best lands of Eastern
and Southeastern Virginia have been very generally worn out by improper
cultivation, and what is the conclusion?

A striking feature of the country is its “old fields.” The more recent
of these are usually found covered with briers, weeds, and
broom-sedge,—often with a thick growth of infant pines coming up like
grass. Much of the land devastated by the war lies in this condition. In
two or three years, these young pines shoot up their green plumes five
or six feet high. In ten years there is a young forest. In some of the
oldest of the old fields, now heavily timbered, the ridges of the
ancient tobacco lands are traceable among the trees.

Tobacco has been the devouring enemy of the country. In travelling
through it one is amazed at the thought of the regions which have been
burned and chewed up by the smokers and spitters of the world.

East Virginia is hilly. The southeast portion of the State is
undulating, with occasional plains, and swamps of formidable extent. The
soil of the tide-water districts is generally a light sandy loam. A belt
of mountain ranges, a hundred miles in breadth, runs in a northeast and
southwest direction across the State, enclosing some of its richest and
loveliest portions. The Valley of Virginia,—as that fertile stripe is
called lying west of the Blue Ridge, drained by the Shenandoah and the
head-waters of the James,—is fitly called the granary of the State. It
is a limestone region, admirably adapted for grains and grazing. The
virginity of its soil has not been polluted by tobacco.

In 1860 there were in the State less than eleven and a half million
acres of improved land, out of an area of near forty millions. Over
thirteen million bushels of wheat were produced; one million of rye,
Indian corn, and oats; one hundred and twenty-four million pounds of
tobacco; twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven bales of cotton;
and two and a half million pounds of wool (in round numbers). There were
four thousand nine hundred manufacturing establishments, the value of
whose manufactures was fifty-one million three hundred thousand dollars.
There were thirteen cotton factories, running twenty-eight thousand
seven hundred spindles. The most important article of export before the
war was negroes. There were sold out of the State annually twenty
thousand.[6]

With the exception of the last-named staple, these annual productions
are destined to be multiplied indefinitely by a vigorous system of free
labor and the introduction of Northern capital. The worn-out lands can
be easily restored by the application of marl and gypsum, with which the
State abounds, and of other natural fertilizers. The average value of
land, in 1850, was eight dollars an acre; while that of New Jersey,
which never bragged of its fertility, was forty-four dollars. The former
price will now buy lands in almost any section of Virginia except the
Shenandoah Valley; while there is no question but that they can be
raised to the latter price, and beyond, in a very few years, by
judicious cultivation, united with such internal improvements as are
indispensable to make the wealth of any region available.

Still greater inducements are presented to manufacturers than to
farmers. To large capitalists, looking to establish extensive
cotton-mills, I do not feel myself competent to offer any suggestions.
But of small manufactures I can speak with confidence. Take the
Shenandoah Valley for example. The wool that is raised there is sent
North to be manufactured, and brought back in the shape of clothing,
having incurred the expense of transportation both ways, and paid the
usual tariff to traders through whose hands it has passed. The Valley
abounds in iron ore of the best quality; and it imports its kettles and
stoves. The same may be said of nearly all agricultural implements. The
freight on many of these imports is equal to their original cost. It was
said before the war that scarce a wagon, clock, broom, boot, shoe, coat,
rake or spade, or piece of earthen ware, was used in the South, that was
not manufactured at the North; and the same is substantially true
to-day, notwithstanding the change in this particular which the war was
supposed to have effected. Let any enterprising man, or company of men,
with sufficient experience for the work and capital to invest, go into
Virginia, make use of the natural water-power which is so copious that
no special price is put upon it, and manufacture, of the materials that
abound on the spot, articles that are in demand there, establishing a
judicious system of exchange, and who can doubt the result, now that the
great obstacle in the way of such undertakings, slavery, has been
removed?

In speaking of the products of Virginia, we should not forget its
oysters; of which near fourteen and a half million bushels, valued at
four million eight hundred thousand dollars, were sent from Chesapeake
Bay in one year, previous to the war.

Virginia never had any common-school system. One third of her adult
population can neither read nor write. There was a literary fund,
established to promote the interests of education, which amounted, in
1861, to something over two millions of dollars; but it was swallowed by
the war. At the present time the prospect for white common schools in
the State is discouraging. The only one I heard of in anything like a
flourishing condition was a school for poor whites, established by the
Union Commission in the buildings of the Confederate naval laboratory,
at Richmond. It numbers five hundred pupils, and is taught by
experienced teachers from the North. The prospect is better for the
education of the freedmen. There were in the State last winter ninety
freedmen’s schools, with an aggregate of eleven thousand five hundred
pupils. There were two hundred teachers; twenty-five of whom were
colored men and women at the head of self-supporting schools of their
own race. The remaining schools, taught by experienced individuals from
the North, were supported mainly by the following benevolent
associations: The New-York National Freedmen’s Relief; American
Missionary; Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Relief; Baptist Home Mission;
New-England Freedmen’s Aid; and Philadelphia Friends’ Freedmen’s Relief.

The opposition manifested by a large class of whites to the
establishment of these schools was at first intense and bitter. It had
nearly ceased,—together with the outrages on freedmen, which had been
frequent,—when, on the removal of the troops from certain localities,[7]
it recommenced, and was, at my last visit, fearfully on the increase.
Teachers were threatened and insulted, and school-houses broken into or
burned. The better class of citizens,—many of whom see the necessity of
educating the negro now that he is free,—while they have nothing to do
with these acts of barbarism, are powerless to prevent them. The
negro-haters are so strong an element in every society that they
completely shield the wrong-doers from the reach of civil law.

The great subject of discussion among the people everywhere was the
“niggers.” Only a minority of the more enlightened class, out of their
large hearts and clear heads, spoke of them kindly and dispassionately.
The mass of the people, including alike the well-educated and the
illiterate, generally detested the negroes, and wished every one of them
driven out of the State. The black man was well enough as a slave; but
even those who rejoiced that slavery was no more, desired to get rid of
him along with it. When he was a chattel, like a horse or dog, he was
commonly cherished, and sometimes even loved like a favorite horse or
dog, and there was not a particle of prejudice against him on account of
color; but the master-race could not forgive him for being free; and
that he should assume to be a man, self-owning and self-directing, was
intolerable. I simply state the fact; I do not condemn anybody. That
such a feeling should exist is, I know, the most natural thing in the
world; and I make all allowances for habit and education.

It is this feeling which makes some protection on the part of the
government necessary to the negro in his new condition. The Freedmen’s
Bureau stands as a mediator between him and the race from whose absolute
control he has been too recently emancipated to expect from it absolute
justice. The belief inheres in the minds of the late masters, that they
have still a right to appropriate his labor. Although we may acquit them
of intentional wrong, it is impossible not to see how far their conduct
is from right.

Before the war, it was customary to pay for ordinary able-bodied
plantation slaves, hired of their masters, at rates varying from one
hundred and ten to one hundred and forty dollars a year for each man,
together with food, clothing, and medical attendance. After the war, the
farmers in many counties of Virginia entered into combinations, pledging
themselves to pay the freed slave only sixty dollars a year, exclusive
of clothing and medical attendance, with which he was to furnish himself
out of such meagre wages. They also engaged not to hire any freedman who
had left a former employer without his consent. These were private
leagues instituting measures similar to those which South Carolina and
some other States afterwards enacted as laws, and having in view the
same end, namely,—to hold the negro in the condition of abject
dependence from which he was thought to have been emancipated.

That the freedman’s supposed unwillingness to work, and the employer’s
poverty occasioned by the war, were not the reasons why he was to be
paid less than half the wages he earned when hired out as a slave, I had
abundant evidence. One illustration will suffice. Visiting the tobacco
factories of Richmond, I found them worked entirely by freedmen under
white superintendents. I never saw more rapid labor performed with hands
than the doing up of the tobacco in rolls for the presses; nor harder
labor with the muscles of the whole body than the working of the
presses. The superintendents told me they had difficulty in procuring
operatives. I inquired if the freedmen were well paid; and was informed
that good workmen earned a dollar and a half a day.

“If the negroes will not engage in the business, why not employ white
labor?”

“We tried that years ago, and it wouldn’t answer. White men can’t stand
it; they can’t do the work. This press-work is a dead strain; only the
strongest niggers are up to it.”

Those putting up the tobacco in rolls,—three ounces in each, though they
rarely stopped to place one on the scales,—showed a skill which could
have resulted only from years of practice. I learned, from conversing
with them, that they were dissatisfied with their pay; and the
superintendents admitted that, while the negroes worked as well as ever,
labor was much cheaper than formerly. On further investigation I
ascertained that a combination between the manufacturers kept the wages
down, that each workman had to employ a “stemmer,” who made the tobacco
ready for his hands; and that his earnings were thus reduced to less
than five dollars a week, out of which he had himself and his family to
support.[8]

The Bureau labored to break up these combinations, and to secure for
the freedmen all the rights of freemen. Colonel Brown, the
Assistant-Commissioner for Virginia, divided the State into districts,
and assigned a superintendent to each. The districts were subdivided
into sub-districts, for which assistant superintendents were
appointed. Thus the Bureau’s influence was felt more or less
throughout the State. It assisted the freedmen in obtaining
employment, regulated contracts, and secured to them fair wages. It
had a general superintendence of freedmen’s schools. It used such
powers as it possessed to scatter the negroes, whom the exigencies of
the war had collected together in great numbers at places where but
few could hope for employment. It fed the destitute, the aged, the
orphan, the infirm, and such as were unable to find work,—who, in that
period of transition, must have perished in masses without such aid.
It likewise established courts for the trial of minor cases of
litigation or crime in which persons of color were concerned. Each
court was originally presided over by an officer of the Bureau; but in
order to secure impartial justice to all, there were associated with
him two agents, one chosen by the citizens of the sub-district in
which it was located, and the other by the freedmen.

There is in every community a certain percentage of its members that
look to get a living without honest toil. I am not aware that the negro
has any more love for work than another man. Coming into the enjoyment
of freedom before they knew what freedom meant, no wonder that many
should have regarded life henceforth as a Christmas frolic. The system
which had held them in bondage had kept them ignorant. Having always
been provided for by their masters, they were as improvident as
children. They believed that the government which had been their
Liberator would likewise be their Provider: the lands of their Rebel
masters were to be given them, and their future was to be licensed and
joyous. They had the vices of a degraded and enslaved race. They would
lie and steal and shirk their tasks. Their pleasures were of a sensuous
character; even their religion was sensuous; the sanctity of the
marriage-tie, so long subject to the caprices of the master-race, was
lightly esteemed. Under these circumstances the proportion of those who
have shown a persistent determination to lead lives of vice and
vagrancy, appears to me surprisingly small. Their number still decreases
as their enlightenment increases. The efforts of the Freedmen’s Bureau,
and Northern missionary and educational labors among them, have
contributed greatly towards this desirable result. Still more might be
done if additional discretionary powers were granted the
Assistant-Commissioner. Vagrants, whether white or black, should be
treated as vagrants; and I thought it would have been a wholesome
measure for the Bureau to make contracts for those freedmen who refused
to make contracts for themselves, and were without any visible means of
support.

There are in Virginia half a million negroes. Those appear most thriving
and happy who are at work for themselves. I have described the
freedmen’s farms about Hampton. In other portions of Southeast Virginia,
where the Federal influence has been longest felt, they are equally
industrious and prosperous. Captain Flagg, the superintendent at
Norfolk, whose district comprises seven counties, told me that he was
not issuing rations to a hundred persons, besides orphan children. In
Northampton and Accomack counties every negro owns his boat, and earns
with it three dollars a day at oystering, in the oyster season. There
are perhaps eighteen thousand freedmen in those counties, all engaged in
oystering, fishing, and the cultivation of lands which they own or hire.
In Norfolk, Princess Anne, and other counties adjacent, planters were
very generally renting or selling lands to the freedmen, who were
rapidly becoming a respectable, solid, tax-paying class of people. Many
colored soldiers were coming back and buying small farms with money
earned in the service of the government. Captain Flagg, a man of sense
and discretion, said to me deliberately, and gave me leave to publish
the statement:—

“I believe the negro population of the seven counties of my district
will compare favorably, in respect to industry and thrift, with any
laboring white population of similar resources at the North.” Adding, “I
believe most thoroughly in the ability of these people to get a living
even where a white man would starve.”

The freedmen in other parts of the State were not doing as well, being
obliged generally to enter into contracts with the land-owners. Many of
these, impoverished by the war, could not afford to pay them more than
seven or eight dollars a month for their labor; while some were not able
to pay even that. Their fences destroyed, buildings burned, farming
implements worn out, horses, mules, and other stock consumed by both
armies, investments in Confederate bonds worthless, bank-stock gone,
without money, or anything to exchange for money, they had often only
their bare lands on which to commence life anew; and could not therefore
give much encouragement to the freedman, whatever may have been their
disposition towards him.

The legislative and local affairs of the State had very generally fallen
under the influence, or into the hands, of those who had given aid and
sympathy to the Rebellion. Indeed, Governor Pierpoint told me that there
were not unquestionably loyal men enough in Virginia to form a
government. “In many counties,” said he, “you will not find one.”

Yet Virginia sent to the convention of February 13th, 1861, a majority
of Union delegates. It was only after the fall of Fort Sumter, and
President Lincoln’s call for troops, that a vote could be had taking the
State out of the Union. Eighty-eight delegates voted for the ordinance
of secession, fifty-five against it. It was afterwards—in the tempest of
excitement which swept over the State—adopted by the people by a
majority of ninety-four thousand. It was an act of passion and madness.
Travelling through the State, I found a majority of the people
professing to have been at heart Union men all the while. They could
never forgive South Carolina for the evil course in which she had led
them; and it was very common to hear the wish expressed, “that South
Carolina and Massachusetts were kicked out into the Atlantic together.”
Having, however, against her better reason, seceded, Virginia became the
most devoted and self-sacrificing of all the States in the cause in
which she had embarked.

The railroads of the State[9] were, both financially and physically, in
a bad condition. They had been used excessively during the war, and
stood in need of repairs. The iron taken from the Richmond and York
River Road had not been replaced. The time made by trains was
necessarily slow. The rolling-stock was limited, and generally in a
worse condition than the roads. But few lines were paying anything more
than the expenses of running them.

The old State banks went down with the Confederacy. The circulation of
the new National Banks in the State did not, in January 1866, exceed
$1,300,000.

There was necessarily a great scarcity of money. It was difficult to
raise funds even on the mortgage of real estate. The existence of usury
laws, limiting the rate of interest at six per cent., operated to shut
out Northern capital, which could find investments nearer home at more
remunerative rates. When I was last in Richmond there was pending in the
legislature a bill for the repeal of those laws, which, however, did not
pass.

The immediate prospects of Virginia are dismal enough. But beyond this
morning darkness I see the new sun rising. The great barrier, slavery,
removed, all the lesser barriers to her prosperity must give way. The
current of emigration, of education, of progressive ideas, is surely
setting in; and in a few years we shall see this beautiful torpid body
rise up, renewed with health and strength, a glory to herself and to the
Union.

[Illustration]

-----

Footnote 5:

  West Virginia, which seceded from the State after the State seceded
  from the Union, and which now forms a separate sovereignty under the
  National Government, I can scarcely say that I visited. I saw but the
  edges of it; it is touched upon, therefore, only in the general
  remarks which follow.

Footnote 6:

  In 1850, the number of slave-owners in the State was 55,063. Of these
  11,385 owned one slave each; 15,550, more than one and less than 5;
  13,030, more than 5 and less than 10; 9,456, more than 10 and less
  than 20; 4,880, more than 20 and less than 50; 646, more than 50 and
  less than 100; 107, over 100 and less than 200; 8 over 200 and less
  than 300; and 1, over 300.

Footnote 7:

  In February, 1866, there were but 2500 troops left in the State.

Footnote 8:

  After my visit to the tobacco factories, the following statement,
  drawn up for the colored workmen by one of their number, was placed in
  my hands by a gentleman who vouched for its truthfulness. I print it
  verbatim:—

  Richmond September 18, 1865 Dear Sirs We the Tobacco mechanicks of
  this city and Manchester is worked to great disadvantage In 1858 and
  1859 our masters hired us to the Tobacconist at a prices ranging from
  $150 to 180. The Tobacconist furnished us lodging food & clothing.
  They gave us tasks to performe, all we made over this task they payed
  us for. We worked faithful and they paid us faithful. They Then gave
  us $2 to 2.50 cts, and we made double the amount we now make. The
  Tobacconist held a meeting, and resolved not give more than $1.50 cts
  per hundred, which is about one days work—in a week we may make 600
  lbs apece with a stemer. The weeks work then at $1.50 amounts to
  $9—the stemers wages is from $4 to $4.50 cts which leaves from $5 to
  4–50 cts per week about one half what we made when slaves. Now to Rent
  two small rooms we have to pay from $18 to 20. We see $4 50 cts or $5
  will not more then pay Rent say nothing about food Clothing medicin
  Doctor Bills, Tax and Co. They say we will starve through lazines that
  is not so. But it is true we will starve at our present wages. They
  say we will steal we can say for ourselves we had rather work for our
  living, give us a Chance. We are Compeled to work for them at low
  wages and pay high Rents and make $5 per week and sometimes les. And
  paying $18 or 20 per month Rent. It is impossible to feed ourselves
  and family—starvation is Cirten unles a change is brought about.

  Tobacco Factory Mechanicks of Richmond and Manchester.

Footnote 9:

  In 1860, there were in Virginia $66,000,000 of capital invested in
  1675 miles of railroad, distributed over sixteen lines. This estimate
  includes 287 miles of the Baltimore and Ohio Road. In all the
  important roads except this, the State is a principal shareholder. The
  management of some of them has always been loose and uneconomical.

  Governor Pierpoint wisely recommends a consolidation of certain
  lines:—“On the south side of James River we have the Norfolk and
  Petersburg, South-Side, Virginia and Tennessee, and the Richmond and
  Danville railroads. These roads are under the management of four
  different corps of officers, employed at remunerative salaries. Three
  of these roads form a continuous line of about four hundred miles, and
  all three of them afford business for the fourth. By working these
  roads separately a car is loaded at Norfolk with freight for Danville
  or Abingdon; it is brought to Petersburg to the South-Side Road, and
  there transferred from the Norfolk to a South-Side car; thence it is
  taken to Burkeville, where it is again transferred to a Danville
  car,—if its destination is to that town,—or taken to Lynchburg and
  reshipped on the Virginia and Tennessee Road, if it goes to Abingdon.
  In these transactions the cars are delayed, thereby causing a much
  larger investment in rolling-stock to accommodate the business of
  these roads, in addition to the labor required to load and unload the
  freight, besides exposing the merchandise to loss and delaying its
  transportation. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with the Northwestern
  Virginia and Washington branches, is nearly as long as the four roads
  above named, and the gross earnings of that railroad is about three
  times as great, the charges for passengers and freight being
  thirty-three per cent. less than on the Virginia roads referred to;
  yet the whole business of the Baltimore and Ohio road is done by one
  corps of officers with moderate salaries. There is the same reason for
  consolidating the Orange and Alexandria and Virginia Central Roads.”



                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                     THE “SWITZERLAND OF AMERICA.”


From the grassy hills and vales of Southwest Virginia, I passed over by
railroad into East Tennessee.

At first sight, the “Switzerland of America” is apt, I think, to
disappoint one. It is a country of pleasant hills, bounded and broken
into by mountains which do not remind you of the Alps. The cottages of
the inhabitants lack the picturesque element. A few first-class farmers
have comfortable-looking painted or brick houses; while scattered
everywhere over the country are poverty-stricken, weather-blackened
little framed dwellings and log-huts. Many of these are without windows;
the inmates living by the daylight let in through doors, and the
firelight from open chimneys. Good barns are rare. The common class of
villages are without sidewalks or paved streets. In the rainy season
they are wretched. They look like Northern villages that have set out to
travel and got stuck in the mud. One or two are noteworthy.

Greenville, the county seat of Greene County, is chiefly interesting as
being the home of the President. It stands on broken ground, and is
surrounded by a fine hilly country shaded by oaken groves. The town, as
I saw it one wet morning, was eminently disagreeable. The mud came up to
the very doors of its old, dilapidated, unpainted wooden houses. Its
more pretentious, white-painted and brick dwellings were not quite so
deep in the mire. A hundred chimney smokes draped the brown irregular
roofs. President Johnson’s house is on Main Street; a commonplace,
respectable brick dwelling. The Rebels smashed the windows for him in
wartimes, but they have been replaced, and the house is now occupied by
the county sheriff. Every man knows “Andy Johnson.” He has a good
reputation for honesty, but I was told he was “hard on money matters.” A
prominent citizen who knew him intimately, said to me, “Johnson is a man
of much greater ability than he has ever had credit for. When he was a
tailor, he did his work well,—always a good honest job. He has many good
traits, and a few bad ones. He is surly and vindictive, and a man of
strong prejudices, but thoroughly a patriot.”

There is in Greenville a spring which bursts out of a hill-side in
sufficient volume to carry a mill. The country abounds in springs, some
of a curious character. In Johnson County, in the mountainous northeast
corner of the State, there is a subterranean reservoir of water, out of
which issue in the night-time, during the spring months, numbers of
small black perch, of a blind species, which are caught in traps at the
mouth of the spring.

Knoxville, (named in honor of Revolutionary General Knox,) the most
considerable town of East Tennessee, is situated on abrupt hills, on the
north bank of the Holston River, which is navigable by steamers to this
point. Here is the junction of the East Tennessee and Virginia, and East
Tennessee and Georgia railroads. The city has something more than eight
thousand inhabitants. It was formerly the capital of the State. It is
surrounded by fortified hills.

The place received rough treatment during the war. The Bell House, at
which I stopped, was a miserable shell, carpetless and dilapidated, full
of broken windows. The landlord apologized for not putting it into
repair. “I don’t know how long I shall stop here. Hotel-keeping a’n’t my
business. Nigger-dealing is my business. But that’s played out. I’ve
bought and sold in my day over six hundred niggers,”—spoken with
mournful satisfaction, mingled pride and regret. “Now I don’t know what
I shall turn my hand to. I’m a Georgian; I came up here from Atlanta
time it was burned.”

At the table of the Bell House, a Southern gentleman who sat next me
called out to one of the waiters, a good-looking colored man, perhaps
thirty years of age,—“Here, boy!”

“My name is Dick,” said the “boy,” respectfully.

“You’ll answer to the name I call you, or I’ll blow a hole through you!”
swore the Southern gentleman.

Dick made no reply, but went about his business. The Southern gentleman
proceeded, addressing the company:—

“Last week, in Chattanooga, I said to a nigger I found at the railroad,
‘Here, Buck! show me the baggage-room.’ He said, ‘My name a’n’t Buck.’ I
just put my six-shooter to his head, and, by ——! he didn’t stop to think
what his name was, but showed me what I wanted.”

This gentlemanly way of dealing with the “d——d impudent niggers” was
warmly applauded by all the guests at the table, except one, who did not
see the impudence; showing that they were gentlemen of a similar spirit.

There were a great many freedmen crowded into Knoxville from Georgia and
the Carolinas, whence they had escaped during the war. The police were
arresting and sending them back. East Tennesseeans, though opposed to
slavery and secession, do not like niggers. There is at this day more
prejudice against color among the middle and poorer classes—the “Union”
men, of the South, who owned few or no slaves—than among the planters
who owned them by scores and hundreds. There was a freedmen’s
school-house burned in Knoxville, while I was in that part of the State;
and on reaching Nashville, I learned that the negro testimony bill had
been defeated in the legislature by the members from East Tennessee.

East Tennessee, owning but a handful of slaves, and having little
interest in slavery, opposed secession by overwhelming majorities. She
opposed the holding of a convention, at the election of February, 1861,
by a vote of 30,903 against 5,577; and, at the election in June
following, opposed the ordinance of separation submitted to the people
by the legislature, by 32,923 votes against 14,780. The secession
element proved a bitter and violent minority. Neighborhood feuds ensued,
of a fierce political and personal character. When the Confederate army
came in, the secessionists pointed out their Union neighbors, and caused
them to be robbed and maltreated. They exposed the retreats of hunted
conscripts lying out in forests and caves, and assisted in the pursuit
of loyal refugees. When the National forces possessed the country, the
Union men retaliated. It was then the persecutor’s turn to be stripped
of his property and driven from his home.

I was sorry to find the fires of these old feuds still burning. The
State Government was in the hands of Union men, and Rebels and refugees
from the Union army were disfranchised. Secessionists, who assisted at
the hanging and robbing of Union men, and burned their houses, were
receiving just punishment for their crimes in the civil courts and at
the hands of the sheriff. This was well; and it should have been enough.
But those who had suffered so long and so cruelly at the hands of their
enemies did not think so. Returning Rebels were mobbed; and if one had
stolen back unawares to his home, it was not safe for him to remain
there. I saw in Virginia one of these exiles, who told me how homesickly
he pined for the hills and meadows of East Tennessee, which he thought
the most delightful region in the world. But there was a rope hanging
from a tree for him there, and he dared not go back. “The bottom rails
are on top,” said he: “that is the trouble.” The Union element, and the
worst part of the Union element, was uppermost. There was some truth in
this statement. It was not the respectable farming class, but the
roughs, who kept the old fires blazing. Many secessionists and Union
men, who had been neighbors before the war, were living side by side
again, in as friendly relations as ever.

At Strawberry Plain, on the Holston River, I saw a manifestation of this
partisan spirit. A laboring man, whom I met on the butment of the burned
railroad bridge, was telling me about the Rebel operations at that
place, when a fine fellow came dashing into the village on horseback.

“There’s a dog-goned Rebel now!” said my man, eyeing him with baleful
glances. “He’s a rebel colonel, just come back. He’ll get warned; and
then if he don’t leave, he must look out!”

I think if the “dog-goned Rebel” had seen what I saw, in the deadly
determination of the man, he would have needed no further warning.

I listened to many tales of persecution and suffering endured by loyal
East Tennesseeans during the war. Here is the outline of one, related to
me by a farmer in Greene County.

“After the Rebel Conscript Act passed, I started with my son and a
hundred other refugees to go over the mountains into Kentucky. The
Rebels pursued us, put on the track by some of our secesh neighbors.
Some escaped, my son with them; but I was taken, and brought back with
irons on my wrists. That was the twenty-fifth of July, 1863. I was
carried to Richmond, and kept in Castle Thunder till the twentieth of
October. They then put me on a train to take me to Salisbury prison, in
North Carolina. I was in a box car, and I found that a board at one
corner of it was so loose that I could pull it off with my hands. Just
at night, when we were about eighteen miles from Salisbury, and the
train was running about ten miles an hour, I pulled away the board, and
jumped off. I took to the fields, and tramped till I came to the Yadkin
River, where a nigger took me over in his canoe. I tramped all night,
and lay by the next day in the woods, and tramped again the next night,
and lay by again the next day, and so on for fourteen nights and days;
in which time I travelled three hundred miles. They were moonlight
nights, and I got along very well, only I near-about starved. I lived on
raw corn and pumpkins. I kept the line of the Western Railroad; I
flanked the depots and pickets, but I was several times nigh being
caught. I never entered a house, or passed near one, if I could help it.
It was a hard, long, lonesome tramp. I did not speak to a human being,
except the nigger that took me across the Yadkin, and another I almost
run over on the road as I was coming to Asheville. He said to me, ‘Good
evening.’ I muttered back something, and went on. I hadn’t gone far
before I changed my mind. Something said to me, ‘Ask help of that
nigger.’ I was sick and worn out, and almost perishing for want of food.
Besides, I did not know the country; I saw I was coming to a town, and
there was danger I might be taken. I went back, and said to the nigger,
‘Can you give me something to eat?’ He was sitting on the ground; but he
jumped up, and looked at me by the moonlight, and said, ‘Where do you
want to go?’ I told him. Then he knew I was a Union man running away
from the Rebels. He told me to wait for him there, and came back in a
little while with a heap of bread and beef. Never anything tasted so
good. After I had eaten, he gave me directions how to avoid the guard,
and strike the road beyond Asheville. I came over the mountains, and
reached here the fourteenth night.”

East Tennessee contributed a liberal quota to the national army.
Twenty-five thousand loyal refugees escaped into Kentucky, and fought
their way back again with Burnside’s forces in 1863.



                             CHAPTER XXXII.
                        EAST TENNESSEE FARMERS.


I found the East Tennesseeans a plain, honest, industrious,
old-fashioned people. Only about four out of five can read and write.
Men of the North and West would consider them slow. They are dressed,
almost without exception, in coarse, strong “domestic,” as the
home-manufactured cloth of the country is called. It is woven on
hand-looms, which are to be found in nearly every farm-house. Domestic
is, in fact, an institution, not of Tennessee alone, but of the entire
Southern country. In the absence of manufacturing establishments, the
interest in this primitive private industry has not been suffered to
decline. It stood the South in good stead during the war. After the
importation of goods was cut off, it clothed the people. All classes
wore it. Even at the time of my visit, I found many proprietors of large
estates, the aristocrats of the country, wearing garments which had been
spun, colored, and woven by their own slaves.

Tennessee has no system of free schools. There was a common-school fund,
derived mainly from public lands given for the purpose by the United
States. The State was the trustee of this fund, which the Constitution
declared “permanent, never to be diminished by legislative
appropriation,” nor “devoted to any other use than the support and
encouragement of common schools.” The proceeds of this fund distributed
among the schools in 1859, amounted to $230,430, or seventy-five cents
for each scholar in the State. Treason, which betrayed so many sacred
trusts, betrayed this. According to Governor Brownlow “a more perfidious
act than the appropriation of this fund to treasonable purposes was not
committed during the late perfidious rebellion.”

The people of East Tennessee took more interest, perhaps, in
common-school education, than the inhabitants of other parts of the
State; but that was not much. The school-fund went but a little way
toward the support of schools. There were scattered throughout the
country log school-houses capable of accommodating fifty pupils each.
The tuition varied from two dollars and a half to three dollars a
scholar. The teachers were supported by neighborhood subscriptions. But
education was regarded by the poor as a luxury which they could not
afford; and even the middling class was apt to consider their money and
their children’s labor of more importance than book-learning. The war,
and the waste of the school-fund, had for four years put an end to
schools, and I found the new generation growing up in ignorance.

The school-houses serve as meeting-houses. There are few churches
beside. Outside of the larger towns, scarce a spire points its finger
towards heaven. This is true not only of Tennessee, but of the whole
South. It is one of the peculiarities of the country which strike the
Northern traveller unpleasantly. The village green, with the neat
white-steepled edifice standing upon it, distinguishable from all other
buildings, is no feature of the Southern landscape. You may travel
thousands of miles and not meet with it.

Yet the East Tennesseeans are a church-going people. No especial form of
meeting-house, any more than form of worship, is necessary to the
exercise of that divine faculty by which man communes with his Maker.
The Holy Spirit enters as readily the log-hut, where two or three are
gathered together, as the great temples where multitudes assemble.

The Methodist Church predominates in East Tennessee. The United
Brethren, who admit to their communion no rum-seller, rum-drinker, nor
slaveholder, have a powerful influence. They were much persecuted in the
South before the war, as was natural in a country where the prejudice in
favor of rum and slavery was so strong; but of late, in East Tennessee,
they have grown in strength and popularity.

Farming is behind the age. Mowers and reapers, which might be employed
to fine advantage on the beautiful smooth meadows and grain-fields of
East Tennessee, have scarcely come into use at all. In Greene County I
heard of but three. Manures are wasted. It is customary to rotate crops,
until even rotation must cease, giving place to a usurpation of weeds
and broom-sedge. A favorite method of improving land is to “clover” it;
that is, to plough in crops of clover and grass. Farming utensils are
nearly all brought from the North; and there is a great need for home
manufactures here also. The farmers generally work mules and mares. The
mares are kept chiefly for breeding mules. For which purpose likewise
every neighborhood, if not every farm, has its “jack.”

The further my observations extended, the more strongly I was convinced
that mules were an indispensable substitute for horses in the South.
Animals there do not receive the cherishing care they get at the North;
and the rough, careless treatment which I saw almost universally shown
to beasts of burden, not only by the negroes, but also by the whites,
can be endured by nothing less hardy than the mule. This valuable
creature, besides possessing the advantages I have elsewhere alluded to,
is recommended for his brave appetite, which slights no part of the
product of a hill of corn, but sturdily masters stalk, cob, and shucks.

Animals are driven, both at ploughing and teaming, by one rein, which is
attached to the middle of the bridle-rein on the neck of the “lead”
horse or mule, as the “near” or left-hand beast is called. The driver
gives two little jerks for _gee_, and a steady pull for _haw_. This is
the custom throughout the South.

I found horses cheap in Tennessee. A farmer said to me, “A hundred and a
half will buy our best animal. This is not because horses are plenty,
but because money is scarce. Formerly we used to take large droves of
our stock to Georgia and the Carolinas; but that market is closed now,
there is no money there.” Several weeks afterwards, in one of the middle
counties of South Carolina, I met this very man, who told me he had come
into the State with eleven horses, and sold them all at good prices.
There had been more money hoarded, and more cotton reserved to be
exchanged for money, in parts of the South than was at first supposed.

Tennessee and Kentucky are the two great mule-breeding States. East
Tennessee takes first rank among the grazing sections of the South and
West. Wild grass abounds in the uncultivated districts. Interminable
forests on the mountain sides are carpeted with it. The woods are kept
open and free from undergrowth by fires; and this native grass springs
up and covers the ground. The mountains are full of deer which feed upon
it. Many a beautiful range of thousands of acres is also afforded the
farmers’ stock, which is sent in vast numbers to occupy this wild, free,
unfenced pasturage. Neighbors club together to make up a herd of four or
five hundred head of cattle, enough to render profitable the employment
of a herdsman. Farmers have but little hay to provide for the winter
season. The climate is such that there is no month in the year during
which cattle cannot gain at least a partial subsistence by grazing. This
I account one of the great advantages of the country.

One of the great disadvantages is the want of a market. I saw a farmer
in Jefferson County who had five thousand bushels of corn, for which he
could find no sale near home; and the cost of transportation was too
great to think of taking it out of the State. Said he, “We find it for
our interest to feed our farm-produce into stock, and drive it.”

I was told there was “a heap of thin, poor soil in East Tennessee.” The
ordinary land produces fifteen bushels of wheat, and thirty-five of corn
to the acre. The lands on the river bottoms are incomparably better.
Prices range from eight and ten to eighty and a hundred dollars per
acre, according to the situation and quality. There are farms to be had
in every section; it can scarcely be said that they are for sale, there
being no sale for them. Such is the distress for money among holders of
real estate, that land can be had in some of the most desirable
locations almost at the buyer’s own price. It is claimed that before the
war the wheat of East Tennessee commanded the highest market-prices in
Richmond and New York, as having that fine, enduring quality wheat
derives only from good limestone soils. Fruits abound,—apples, peaches,
pears, plums; and both climate and soil are admirably adapted to the
grape. The country is well watered, and its climate is mild and
salubrious. Manufacturing facilities are abundant. There are forests and
coal-mines, lead, zinc, iron, copper, marble, and unimproved water-power
to any extent.

Farmers told me they were paying the freedmen from eight to fifteen
dollars a month, and boarding them. They said, “We can afford to pay
more than Virginians can, because we farm it better.” They laughed at
the Virginians’ shiftless methods. Yet a few were beginning to learn
that even they were not perfect in the business. One who had visited
Iowa, where he saw men plough out two rows of corn at a time, and mow
and reap with machinery, one hand doing the work of four or five men,
said he had concluded that they in Tennessee didn’t know anything.



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.
                       IN AND ABOUT CHATTANOOGA.


Two hundred and fifty miles from Knoxville, lying within a coil of the
serpentine Tennessee, on its south bank, surrounded by mountains, is the
town of Chattanooga. Here the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad
connects with the Nashville and Chattanooga, and with the Western and
Atlantic, making the place an important centre of railroad
communications. The river is navigable for steamboats during eight
months of the year. Here are shipped the principal exports of East
Tennessee and of Southern Middle Tennessee. Hence the military
importance of the place, and its historical interest.

Although embosomed amid strikingly bold and grand scenery, Chattanooga
is anything but a lovely town. On the east, but a few miles distant, is
Missionary Ridge,[10] a range of forest-covered mountains rising from
the river and sweeping away southward into Georgia. On the southwest is
Lookout Mountain, with rugged, precipitous front overlooking the river
and the town. Between this mountain and Missionary Ridge lies
Chattanooga Valley. Rising steeply from the edge of the town, within the
curve of the river which encloses it on the north and west, is Cameron
Hill, a sort of miniature copy of Lookout. A miniature only by
comparison; for it is a little mountain by itself: a peaked bluff, its
summit flanked by forts, and crowned by a battery of a single huge gun.

[Illustration]

If you visit Chattanooga, climb, as I did, this hill the first fair
morning after your arrival. Away on the south are the mountains of
Georgia; on the north, those of Tennessee. Dividing these peaks and
ranges with its shining cimeter, curves the river, overhung by
precipitous crags. Far beneath you, as you look from the northern brow
of the hill, ply the steamboats, breaking the surface into streaks of
foam, and puffing white wreaths up into the clear, still air. Opposite,
across the river, are clusters of high, wooded hills, with
signal-stations on their peaks.

In the valley at the foot of Cameron, is Chattanooga, with its multitude
of long, low, whitewashed wooden buildings, government storehouses,
barracks, shops, rows of huts, and corrals, such as make haste always to
spring up around an army’s base of supplies. Surrounding the town are
red earthworks, and hills of red earth with devious roads and paths
winding over them.

I found a strangely mixed population in Chattanooga,—traders,
adventurers, soldiers, poor whites, refugees, and negroes. There were
many Union men from the Cotton States, who had escaped into our lines
during the war, and either could not or dared not return. Here is a
sample of them,—a lank, sallow, ragged individual with long black hair
and wild beard, whose acquaintance I made in the streets. He was a
shoemaker from Georgia. His Rebel neighbors had burned his house and
shop, destroyed his tools, and forced him to flee for his life. He
enlisted in our army, and had been fighting his daddy and two brothers.

“My daddy,” said he, “is as good a Rebel as you’ll find. He has grieved
himself nigh-about to death because he didn’t gain his independence.”

I asked him how his father would receive him if he should go back.

“I allow we shouldn’t git along together no hack! The first question I’d
ask him would be if he’d tuck the oath of allegiance. That would devil
him to death. Then I’d ask him if he knowed whar his President Jeff was.
Then he’d jest let in to cussin’ me. But I can’t go back. The men that
robbed me are jest as bad Rebels as ever, and they’d burn my house
again, or give me a bullet from behind some bush.”

There was in Chattanooga a post-school for the children of poor whites
and refugees. It numbered one hundred and fifty pupils of various
ages,—young children, girls of fifteen and sixteen, one married woman,
and boys that were almost men, all wofully ignorant. Scarcely any of
them knew their letters when they entered the school. The big boys
chewed tobacco, and the big girls “dipped.” The mothers, when they came
to talk with the teacher about their children, appeared with their
nasty, snuffy sticks in their mouths: some chewed and spat like men. One
complained that she was too poor to send her children to school; at the
same time she was chewing up and spitting away more than the means
needful for the purpose. Tobacco was a necessity of life; education
wasn’t. The tax upon pupils was very small, the school being mainly
supported by what is called the “post-fund,” accruing from taxes on
sutlers, rents of buildings, and military fines. The post-school is
usually designed for the children of soldiers; but Chattanooga being
garrisoned by colored troops, their children attended the freedmen’s
schools.

The freedmen’s schools were not in session at the time of my visit,
owing to the small-pox then raging among the negro population; but I
heard an excellent account of them. They numbered six hundred pupils.
The teachers were furnished by the Western Freedmen’s Aid Society and
paid by the freedmen themselves. One dollar a month was charged for each
scholar. “The colored people,” said the school-superintendent, “are far
more zealous in the cause of education than the whites. They will starve
themselves, and go without clothes, in order to send their children to
school.”

Notwithstanding there were three thousand negroes in and around
Chattanooga, Captain Lucas, of the Freedmen’s Bureau, informed me that
he was issuing no rations to them. All were finding some work to do, and
supporting themselves. To those who applied for aid he gave
certificates, requesting the Commissary to sell them rations at
Government rates. He was helping them to make contracts, and sending
them away to plantations at the rate of fifty or one hundred a week.
“These people,” said he, “have been terribly slandered and abused. They
are willing to go anywhere, if they are sure of work and kind treatment.
Northern men have no difficulty in hiring them, but they have no
confidence in their old masters.” It was mostly to Northern men, leasing
plantations in the Mississippi Valley, that the freedmen were hiring
themselves. The usual rate of wages was not less than twelve nor more
than sixteen dollars a month, for full hands.

The principal negro settlement was at Contraband, a village of huts on
the north side of the river. Its affairs were administered by a colored
president and council chosen from among the citizens. These were
generally persons of dignity and shrewd sense. They constituted a court
for the trial of minor offences, under the supervision of the Bureau.
Their decisions, Captain Lucas informed me, were nearly always wise and
just. “I have to interfere, sometimes, however, to mitigate the severity
of the sentences.” These men showed no prejudice in favor of their own
color, but meted out a rugged and austere justice to all.

One afternoon I crossed the river to pay a visit to this little village.
The huts, built by the negroes themselves, were of a similar character
to those I had seen at Hampton, but they lacked the big wood-piles and
stacks of corn, and the general air of thrift. Excepting the ravages of
the small-pox, the community was in a good state of health. I found but
one case of sickness,—that of an old negro suffering from a cold on his
lungs, who told me there was nothing in the world he wouldn’t give to
“git shet of dis sher misery.”

I entered several of these houses; in one of which I surprised a young
couple courting by the fire, and withdrew precipitately, quite as much
embarrassed as they were. In another I found a middle-aged woman
patching clothes for her little boy, who was at play before the open
door. Although it was a summer-like December day, there was a good fire
in the fireplace. The hut was built of rails and mud; the chimney of
sticks and sun-dried bricks, surmounted by a barrel. The roof was of
split slabs. There was a slab mantel-piece crowded with bottles and
cans; a shelf in one corner loaded with buckets and pans; and another in
the opposite corner devoted to plates, cups, and mugs. I noticed also in
the room a table, a bed, a bunk, a cupboard, a broom without a handle,
two stools, and a number of pegs on which clothing was hung. All this
within a space not much more than a dozen feet square.

I asked the woman how her people were getting along.

“Some are makin’ it right shacklin’,” she replied, “there’s so many of
us here. A heap is workin’, and a heap is lazin’ around.” Her husband
was employed whenever he could get a job. “Sometimes he talks like he’d
hire out, then like he’d sooner take land,—any way to git into work. All
have to support themselves somehow.”

She knew me for a Northern man. “I’m proud of Northern men! They’ve
caused me to see a heap mo’e pleasure ’n I ever see befo’e.” Her husband
was a good man, but she was not at all enthusiastic about him. “I had
one husband; I loved him! He belonged to a man that owned a power o’
darkeys. He sold him away. It just broke my heart. But I couldn’t live
without some man, no how; so I thought I might as well marry again.” She
regretted the closing of the schools. “My chap went a little, but not
much.”

“Are these your chickens?”

“No, I can’t raise chickens.” It was the fault of her neighbors. “They
just pick ’em up and steal ’em in a minute! Heap of our people will pick
up, but they’re sly. That comes from the way they was raised. I never
stole in my life but from them that owned me. They’d work me all day,
and never give me enough to eat, and I’d take what I could from ’em, and
believe it was right.”

Hearing martial music as I returned across the river, I went up on a
hill east of the town and witnessed the dress-parade of the sixteenth
colored regiment (Tennessee). I never saw a finer military display on a
small scale. The drill was perfect. At the order, a thousand muskets
came to a thousand shoulders with a single movement, or the butts struck
the ground with one sound along the whole line. The contrast of colors
was superb,—the black faces, the white gloves, the blue uniforms, the
bright steel. The music by the colored band was mellow and inspiring;
and as a background to the picture we had a golden sunset behind the
mountains.

-----

Footnote 10:

  Or Mission Ridge; named from an Indian mission formerly located in
  this vicinity.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV.
                           LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.


The next morning General Gillem, in command at Chattanooga, supplied me
with a horse, and gave me his orderly for an attendant, and I set out to
make the ascent of Lookout Mountain.

Riding out southward on one of the valley roads, we had hardly crossed
Chattanooga Creek before we missed our way. Fortunately we overtook a
farmer and his son, who set us right. They were laboring over the base
of the mountain with a wagon drawn by a pair of animals that appeared to
have been mated by some whimsical caprice. A tall, bony horse was
harnessed in with the smallest mule I ever saw. Imagine a lank starved
dog beside a rat, and you have an idea of the ludicrous incongruity of
the match.

The man had in his wagon a single bag of grist, which he had to help
over the rough mountain-roads by lifting at the wheels. He had been
twelve miles to mill: “away beyant Missionary Ridge.” I asked him if
there was no mill nearer home. “Thar’s a mill on Wahatchie Crick, but
it’s mighty hard to pull thar. Wahatchie Hill is a powerful bad hill to
pull up.” He did not seem to think twelve miles to mill anything, and we
left him lifting cheerfully at the wheels, while his son shouted and
licked the team. I trust his wife appreciated that bag of grist.

Riding southward along the eastern side of the mountain, we commenced
the ascent of it by a steep, rough road, winding among forest-trees, and
huge limestone rocks colored with exquisite tints of brown and gray and
green, by the moss and lichens that covered them. A range of precipitous
crags rose before us, and soon hung toppling over us as we continued to
climb. A heavy cloud was on the mountain, combed by the pine-tops a
thousand feet above our heads.

As we proceeded, I conversed with the General’s orderly. He was a
good-looking young fellow with short curly hair and a sallow complexion.
I inquired to what regiment he belonged.

“The Sixth Ohio, colored.” I looked at him with surprise. “You didn’t
take me for a colored man, I reckon,” he said laughingly.

I thought he must be jesting, but he assured me that he was not.

“I was born in bondage,” he said, “near Memphis. My master was my
father, and my mother’s owner. He made a will that she was to be free,
and that I was to learn a trade, and have my freedom when I was
twenty-one. He died when I was seven years old, and the estate was
divided between his mother and two sisters. I don’t know what became of
the will. I was run off into Middle Tennessee and sold for three hundred
dollars. I was sold again when I was fourteen for sixteen hundred
dollars. I was a carpenter; and carpenters was high. When I saw other
men no whiter than me working for themselves and enjoying their freedom,
I got discontented, and made up my mind to put out. The year Buchanan
run for President I run for freedom. I got safe over into Ohio, and
there I worked at my trade till the war broke out. I went out as an
officer’s servant.”

He met with various adventures, and at length became General Grant’s
body-servant. He described the General as “a short, chunked man, like a
Dutchman;” quiet, kind, a great smoker, a heavy drinker, very silent,
and seldom excited. “There was only one time when he appeared troubled
in his mind. That was on the road to Corinth, after the battle of
Shiloh. He used to walk his room all night.”

After the government began to make use of colored troops he went back to
Ohio and enlisted. Since the war closed, he had obtained a furlough,
returned to his native place, and found his mother, who in the mean time
had been held as a slave.

The clouds lifted as we reached the summit of the mountain, fifteen
hundred feet above the river. We passed through Summer Town, a deserted
village, formerly a place of resort for families from Tennessee,
Georgia, and Alabama, during the hot season. A rough road over the rocks
and through the woods took us to Point Lookout, a mile farther north.

A _lookout_ indeed! What cloud shadows were sweeping the mountains and
valleys! We left our horses tied to some trees, and clambered down over
the ledges to the brink of the precipice. Away on the northeast was
Chattanooga, with its clusters of roofs resembling saw-teeth. Below us
was the crooked Tennessee, sweeping up to the base of the mountain, in a
coil enclosing on the opposite side a foot-shaped peninsula, to which
the Indians gave the appropriate name of Moccasin Point.

Immediately beneath us, on a shelf of the mountain, between its
river-washed base and the precipice on which we stood, was the scene of
Hooker’s famous “battle in the clouds.” The Rebels occupied a cleared
space on that tremendous elevation. Behind them rose the crags; before
them gloomed the woods, covering the lower part of the mountain. Along
the cleared space, between the woods and the crags, ran their line of
stone breastworks, which still remained, looking like a common
farm-wall. The enemy had heavy guns on the summit of the mountain, but
they could not be got into position, or sufficiently depressed, to be of
service. Beside, the summit, on the morning of the attack, was immersed
in mist, which concealed everything. The mist did not envelop the scene
of the fight, however, but hung over it; so that the “battle in the
clouds” was in reality a battle under the clouds.

The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad runs around the curve of the
river, under the mountain. As we sat looking down from the Point, a
coal-train appeared, crawling along the track like a black snake.

Returning over the crest to the summit of the road, we paid a visit to
Mr. Foster, known as the “Old Man of the Mountain.” He was living in a
plain country-house on the eastern brow, with the immense panorama of
hills and vales and forests daily before his eyes. He was one of the
valiant, unflinching Union men of the South. In its wild nest on that
crag his liberty-loving soul had lived, untamed as an eagle, through the
perils and persecutions of the war. He was sixty-nine years old; which
fact he expressed in characteristically quaint style: “Tennessee came,
into the Union the sixth day of June, 1796; and on the twenty-second day
of June I came into the world to see about it.”

His father was a Revolutionary soldier. “He was shot to pieces, in a
manner. It took a heap of his blood to nourish Uncle Sam when he was a
little feller. I recollect his saying to me, ‘There’s going to be wars;
and when they come, I want you to remember what the Stars and Stripes
cost your old father.’ I did not forget the lesson when this cursed
secession war begun.”

He was by trade a carpenter. He came up on the mountain to live twenty
years before, on account of his health, which was so poor in the valley
that people said he was going to die, but which had been robust ever
since. Twice during the war he was condemned by the Vigilance Committee
to be hung for his Union sentiments and uncompromising freedom of
speech. Twice the assassins came to his house to take him.

“The first time they came, it was Sunday. My wife had gone over the
mountain to preaching, and I was alone. I loaded up my horse-pistol for
’em,—sixteen buck-shot: I put in a buck load, I tell ye. There was only
two of ’em; and I thought I was good for three or four. They’d hardly
got inside the gate when I went out to ’em, and asked what they wanted.
One said, ‘We’ve come for Old Foster!’ I just took the rascal by the
arm, and gave him a monstrous clamp,—I thought I felt the bone,—and
shoved him head-over-heels out of that gate. I was going to shoot
t’other feller, but they rode off so fast down the mountain I had no
chance.”

The next attempt on his life resulted similarly. After that, the
Committee did not persist in getting him executed. “I was so old, I
suppose they thought I was of no account.” He told of several other
Union men, however, whom they had caused to be hung. “After the Rebels
got brushed out, Sherman and Hooker came to pay me a visit, and
denominated me the ‘Old Man of the Mountain.’”



                             CHAPTER XXXV.
                        THE SOLDIERS’ CEMETERY.


A mile and a quarter southeast from the town is the National Cemetery of
Chattanooga. An area of seventy-five acres has there been set apart by
the military authorities for the burial of the soldiers who died in
hospitals or fell on battle-fields in that region renowned for
sanguinary conflicts. It occupies a hill which seems to have been shaped
by Providence for this purpose: its general form is circular, and it
rises with undulations, showing a beautiful variety of curves and
slopes, to a superb summit, which swells like a green dome over all.

General Thomas, commanding the Division of the Tennessee, was nominally
the director of the cemetery works. But he appears to have left all in
the hands of Mr. Van Horne, chaplain of the post, who, in addition to
his other duties, assumed the responsible task of laying out the grounds
and supervising the interments. His plan has certainly the merit of
originality, and will prove, in the end, I have no doubt, as beautiful
as it is unique. Copying nothing from the designs of other cemeteries,
he has taken Nature for his guide. The outline of each separate section
is determined by its location. Here, for example, is a shield,—the rise
of the ground and the natural lines of depression suggesting that form.
In the centre of each section is a monument; immediately surrounding
which are the graves of officers, in positions according to their
numbers and rank; while around the latter are grouped the graves of
private soldiers, in lines adapted to the general shape of the section.
The paths and avenues follow the hollows and curves which sweep from the
base in every direction towards the summit. This is surrounded by a
single circular avenue; and is to be crowned, according to the
chaplain’s plan, with a grand central monument, an historic temple
overlooking the whole.

The place will abound in groups of trees, verdant lawns and slopes,
magnificent vistas, and concealed views designed to surprise the visitor
at every step. Outcropping ledges and bold, romantic rocks afford a
delightful contrast to the green of the trees and grass, and to the
smoothness of the slopes.

Beside the avenue which girds the base of the hill is a cave with
galleries and chambers sculptured in a variety of forms by the action of
water on the limestone rock. The chaplain, who accompanied me on my
visit to the cemetery, sent for a guide and a light, and we explored
this natural grotto a hundred feet or more, until we came to passages
too narrow to admit us into the unknown chambers beyond. Besides the
entrance from the avenue, there is an opening which affords a glimpse of
the blue sky by day, or of the stars by night, through the roof of the
cave.

The hill rises from the Valley midway between Lookout Mountain and
Missionary Ridge, commanding a view of all that historic region. The
Tennessee is visible, distant a mile or more. The chaplain told me that
when the river was very high, water came in and filled the galleries of
the cave; thus showing that they were of great extent, and mysteriously
connected with the stream.

The work on the cemetery had thus far been performed by details from the
army. The post-fund, which amounted to twenty-seven thousand dollars,
had defrayed all expenses. But this cannot continue. The time is coming
when the people of the States will be called upon to pay the debt they
owe to the heroic dead, in liberal contributions towards the completion
and adornment of this spot, where probably will be gathered together a
more numerous host of the slain than in any other national cemetery.
From Chickamauga and Mission Ridge, from Lookout Mountain and Wahatchie,
from the scenes of many lesser fights, from the hospitals, and possibly
also from the fields of Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, thousands upon
thousands they will come, a silent host, to this goal of future
pilgrimages, this “Mecca of American memories.”

Nine thousand had already been interred there at the time of my visit.
No attempt was made to bury the dead by States. “I am tired of State
Rights,” said General Thomas; “let’s have a _national_ cemetery.” Out of
six thousand interred before the removal of the dead of Chickamauga was
begun, only four hundred were unknown. A military record is kept, in
which are inscribed all ascertainable facts respecting each,—his name,
rank, company, arm of service, native State, age; time, place, and cause
of death; address of nearest friends, and so forth; accompanied by a
full regimental index, and an individual index; so that persons in
search of the graves of friends can learn by a brief examination all
that is known about them, and be guided at once to the section and
number where their remains are deposited. The chaplain told me that many
who had come with a determination to remove the bodies of their dead,
immediately on seeing the cemetery had changed that determination,
convinced that they could have no more fitting resting-place.

The dead of Chickamauga were being interred while I was there; and the
chaplain kindly offered to accompany me to the battle-field, where a
regiment of colored soldiers were at work exhuming the buried, and
gathering together the remains of the unburied dead.



                             CHAPTER XXXVI.
                     MISSION RIDGE AND CHICKAMAUGA.


Accordingly, one cloudy December morning the chaplain, accompanied by
two ladies of his household, took me up at my hotel, and drove us out of
Chattanooga on the Rossville Road.

Leaving the open valley behind us we crossed a bushy plain, and passed
through a clump of oaken woods. Before us, on the east, rose Missionary
Ridge, forest-covered, its steep sides all russet-hued with fallen
leaves, visible through the naked brown trees.

The chaplain who witnessed the scene, described to us the storming of
those heights by the Army of the Cumberland, on the twenty-fifth of
November, a little more than two years before. It was the finishing
stroke to which the affair at Lookout Mountain was the brilliant
prelude. It was the revenge for Chickamauga. There was a Rebel line of
works along the base of the ridge; and the crests were defended by
infantry and heavy artillery. The charge was ordered; and forward across
the plain and up the slope swept a single glittering line of steel six
miles in length. The Rebels were driven from their lower works by the
bayonet. The army rushed forward without firing a shot, and pausing only
to take breath for a moment in the depressions of the hill; then onward
again, storming the heights, from which burst upon them a whistling and
howling storm of iron and lead. General Thomas says the Ridge was
carried simultaneously at six different points. The attack commenced at
three o’clock in the afternoon; at four the crests were taken, and
Bragg’s army in flight. The first captured gun was turned upon the enemy
by Corporal Kramer of the Forty-first Ohio regiment, belonging to
Hazen’s brigade of Wood’s division. He discharged it by firing his
musket over the vent. It took six men to carry the colors of the First
Ohio to the summit, five falling by the way in the attempt. Corporal
Angelbeck, finding a Rebel caisson on fire, cut it loose from the horses
and run it off down the hill before it exploded. These instances of
personal intrepidity (which I give on the authority of Major-General
Hazen, whom I saw afterwards at Murfreesboro’) are but illustrations of
the gallantry shown by our troops along the whole line.

The plain we were crossing was the same which General Hooker’s forces
swept over in their pursuit of the enemy. We passed the Georgia
State-line; and, amid hilly woods filled with a bushy undergrowth,
entered the mountain solitudes; crossing Missionary Ridge by the
Rossville Gap. Rossville, which consisted of a blacksmith-shop and
dwelling in the Gap, had been burned to the ground. Beyond this point
the road forked; the left-hand track leading to Ringold, the right to
Lafayette.

Driving southward along the Lafayette Road we soon reached the site of
Cloud Spring Hospital, in the rear of the battle-field. A desolate,
dreary scene: the day was cold and wet; dead leaves strewed the ground;
the wind whistled in the trees. There were indications that here the
work of disinterment was about to begin. Shovels and picks were ready on
the ground; and beside the long, low trenches of the dead waited piles
of yellow pine coffins spattered with rain.

A little further on we came to traces of the conflict,—boughs broken and
trees cut off by shells. We rode southward along the line of battle,
over an undulating plain, with sparse timber on one side, and on the
other a field of girdled trees, which had been a cotton-field at the
time of the battle. These ghostly groves, called “deadenings,” sometimes
seen in other parts of the country, are an especial feature of the
Southern landscape. When timbered land is to be put under cultivation,
the trees, instead of being cut away, are often merely deadened with the
axe, which encircles them with a line severing the bark, and there left
to stand and decay slowly through a series of years. First the sapless
bark flakes and falls piecemeal, and the wind breaks off the brittle
twigs and small boughs. Next the larger branches come down; and the
naked trunk, covered in the course of time by a dry-rot, and perforated
by worms and the bills of woodpeckers, stands with the stumps of two or
three of its largest topmost limbs upstretched in stern and sullen gloom
to heaven. There is something awful and sublime in the aspect of a whole
forest of such. The tempest roars among them, but not a limb sways.
Spring comes, and all around the woods are green and glad, but not a
leaf or tender bud puts forth upon the spectral trunks. The sun rises,
and the field is ruled by the shadows of these pillars, which sweep
slowly around, shortening as noon approaches, and lengthening again at
the approach of night. Corn and cotton flourish well; the powdery rot
and half-decayed fragments which fall serving as a continual nourishment
to the soil. It takes from ten to twenty years for these corpses
standing over their graves to crumble and disappear beneath them.
Sometimes they rot to the roots; or, when all is ready, a hurricane
hurls his crashing balls, and the whole grove goes down in a night-time,
like ten-pins.

Dismal enough looked the “deadening,” in the cold and drizzling rain
that morning on the battle-field. Scarcely less so seemed the woods
beyond, all shattered and torn by shot and shell, as if a tornado had
swept them. On the northern side of these was Kelly’s house. The Dyer
Farm was beyond; upon which we found two hundred colored soldiers
encamped, in a muddy village of winter huts near the ruins of the burned
farm-house. The Dyer family were said to be excellent Rebels. Dyer
served as a guerilla; and it was his wife who burned her feather-bed in
order that it might not be used by our wounded soldiers. After that
patriotic act she wandered off in the woods and died. Her husband had
since returned, and was now living in a new log-hut within sight of the
camp.

The camp was a strange spectacle. The men were cooking their dinners or
drying their clothes around out-door fires of logs which filled the air
with smoke. Near by were piles of coffins,—some empty, some containing
the remains of soldiers that had just been disinterred. The camp was
surrounded by fields of stumps and piny undergrowth. Here and there were
scattered trees, hitched at some of which were mules munching their
dinners of wet hay.

There were two hundred and seventeen soldiers in camp. At first they had
a horror of the work for which they were detailed. All the superstition
of the African was roused within them at sight of the mouldering dead.
They declared that the skulls moved, and started back with shrieks. An
officer, to encourage them, unconcernedly took out the bones from a
grave and placed them carefully in a coffin. They were induced to
imitate his example. In a few hours they chatted or whistled and sang at
their work; and in a few days it was common to see them perform their
labor and eat their luncheons at the same time,—lay bones into the
coffin with one hand, and hold with the other the hard-tack they were
nibbling.

More than nine tenths of the bodies taken from Chickamauga were unknown.
Some had been buried in trenches; some singly; some laid side by side,
and covered with a little earth, perhaps not more than six inches deep,
leaving feet and skull exposed; and many had not been buried at all.
Throughout the woods were scattered these lonely graves. The method of
finding them was simple. A hundred men were deployed in a line, a yard
apart, each examining half a yard of ground on both sides of him, as
they proceeded. Thus was swept a space five hundred yards in breadth.
Trees were blazed or stakes set along the edge of this space, to guide
the company on its return. In this manner the entire battle-field had
been or was to be searched. When a grave was found, the entire line was
halted until the teams came up and the body was removed. Many graves
were marked with stakes, but some were to be discovered only by the
raised or disturbed appearance of the ground. Those bodies which had
been buried in trenches were but little decomposed; while of those
buried singly in boxes not much was left but the bones and a handful of
dust.

We had diverged from the Lafayette Road in order to ride along the line
of battle east of it,—passing the positions occupied on Sunday, the
second day, by Baird, Johnson, and Palmer’s divisions, respectively.
Next to Palmer was Reynolds; then came Brannan, then Wood, then Davis,
then Sheridan, on the extreme right. The line, which on Saturday ran due
north and south, east of the road,—the left resting at Kelly’s house and
the right at Gordon’s Mills,—was on Sunday curved, the right being drawn
in and lying diagonally across and behind the road. In front (on the
east) was Chickamauga Creek. Missionary Ridge was in the rear; on a spur
of which the right rested. I recapitulate these positions, because
newspaper accounts of the battle, and historical accounts based upon
them, are on two or three points confused and contradictory: and because
an understanding of them is important to what I am about to say.

Quitting the camp, we approached the scene of the great blunder which
lost us the battle of Chickamauga. At half-past nine in the morning the
attack commenced, the Rebels hurling masses of troops with their
accustomed vigor against Rosecrans’s left and centre. Not a division
gave way: the whole line stood firm and unmoved: all was going well;
when Rosecrans sent the following imperative order to General Wood:—

“_Close up as fast as possible on General Reynolds, and support him._”

General Brannan’s division, as you have noticed, was between Wood and
Reynolds. How then could Wood close up on Reynolds without taking out
his division and marching by the left flank in Brannan’s rear? In
military parlance, to _close up_ may mean two quite different things. It
may mean to move by the flank in order to close a gap which occurs
between one body of troops and another body. Or it may mean to make a
similar movement to that by which a rank of soldiers is said to _close
up_ on the rank in front of it. To _close to the right or left_, is one
thing; to _close up on_, another. To General Wood, situated as he was,
the order could have no other meaning than the latter. He could not
_close up_ on General Reynolds and support him without taking a position
in his rear. Yet the order seemed to him very extraordinary. To General
McCook, who was present when it was received, he remarked,—

“This is very singular! What am I to do?” For to take out his division
was to make a gap in the army which might prove fatal to it.

“The order is so positive,” replied McCook, “that you must obey it at
once. Move your division out, and I will move Davis’s in to fill the
gap. Move quick, or you won’t be out of the way before I bring in his
division.”

General Wood saw no alternative but to obey the order. He would have
been justified in disobeying it, only on the supposition that the
commanding general was ignorant of the position of his forces. Had
Rosecrans been absent from the field, such a supposition would have been
reasonable, and such disobedience duty. But Rosecrans was on the field;
and he was supposed to know infinitely more than could be known to any
division commander concerning the exigencies of the battle. Had Wood
kept his place, and Reynolds been overwhelmed and the field lost in
consequence of that act of insubordination, he would have deserved to be
court-martialled and shot. On the contrary, he moved his division out,
and in consequence of his strict _obedience_ to orders the field was
lost. He had scarcely opened the gap between Brannan and Davis, when the
Rebels rushed in and cut the army to pieces.

General Rosecrans, in his official report, sought to shift the
responsibility of this fatal movement from his own shoulders to those of
General Wood. This was manifestly unjust. It appears to me that the true
explanation of it lies in the fact that Rosecrans, although a man of
brilliant parts, had not the steady balance of mind necessary to a great
general. He could organize an army, or plan a campaign in his tent; but
he had no self-possession on the field of battle. In great emergencies
he became confused and forgetful. It was probably this nervousness and
paralysis of memory which caused the disaster at Chickamauga. He had
forgotten the position of his forces. He intended to order General Wood
to close to the left on Brannan; or on Reynolds, forgetting that Brannan
was between them. But the order was to close up on and _support_
Reynolds; whereas Reynolds, like Brannan, was doing very well, and did
not particularly need support.

The routed divisions of the army fled to Chattanooga,—the commanding
general among the foremost; where he hastened to telegraph to the War
Department and the dismayed nation that all was lost; while General
Garfield, his chief of staff, extricating himself from the rabble, rode
back to the part of the field where firing was still heard,—running the
gauntlet of the enemy’s lines,—and joined General Thomas, who, rallying
fragments of corps on a spur of Missionary Ridge, was stemming the tide
of the foe, and saving the army from destruction.

Through woods dotted all over with the graves of soldiers buried where
they fell, we drove to the scene of that final fight.

Bones of dead horses strewed the ground. At the foot of the wooded hill
were trenches full of Longstreet’s slaughtered men. That was to them a
most tragical termination to what had seemed a victory. Inspired by
their recent success, they charged again and again up those fatal
slopes, only to be cut down like ripe grain by the deadly volleys which
poured from a crescent of flame and smoke, where the heroic remnant of
the army had taken up its position, and was not to be dislodged.



                            CHAPTER XXXVII.
                   FROM CHATTANOOGA TO MURFREESBORO’.


The military operations, of which Chattanooga was so long the centre,
have left their mark upon all the surrounding country. Travel which way
you will, you are sure to follow in their track. There are
fortifications at every commanding point. Every railroad bridge is
defended by redoubts and block-houses; and many important bridges have
been burned. The entire route to Atlanta is a scene of conflict and
desolation: earthworks, like the foot-prints of a Titan on the march;
rifle-pits extending for miles along the railroad track; hills all dug
up into forts and entrenchments; the town of Marietta in ruins; farms
swept clean of their fences and buildings; everywhere, along the
blackened war-path, solitary standing chimneys left, “like exclamation
points,” to emphasize the silent story of destruction.

I saw a few “Union men” at Chattanooga. But their loyalty was generally
of a qualified sort. One, who was well known for his daring opposition
to the secession leaders, and for his many narrow escapes from death,
told me how he lived during the war. Once when the Rebels came to kill
him, they took his brother instead. His residence was on a hill, and
three times subsequently he saved his life by taking a canoe and
crossing the river in it when he saw his assassins coming. Yet this man
hated the free negro worse than he hated the Rebels; and he said to me,
“If the government attempts now to force negro-suffrage upon the South,
it will have to wade through a sea of blood to which all that has been
shed was only a drop!” Another, who claimed also to be a Union man,
said, “Before the South will ever consent to help pay the National debt,
there will be another rebellion bigger than the last. You would make her
repudiate her own war-debt, and then pay the expenses of her own
whipping. I tell you, this can’t be done.” The threats of another
rebellion, and of an extraordinarily large sea of blood, were not, I
suppose, to be understood literally. This is the fiery Southron’s
metaphorical manner of expressing himself. Yet these men were perfectly
sincere in their profession of sentiments which one would have expected
to hear only from the lips of Rebels.

On the morning of Thursday, December 14th, I bid a joyful farewell to
Chattanooga, which is by no means a delightful place to sojourn in, and
took the train for Murfreesboro’. The weather was cold, and growing
colder. Winter had come suddenly, and very much in earnest. Huge icicles
hung from the water-tanks by the railroad. The frost, pushing its
crystal shoots up out of the porous ground, looked like thick growths of
fungus stalks. The rain and mist of the previous night were congealed
upon the trees; and the Cumberland Mountains, as we passed them,
appeared covered with forests of silver.

The country was uninteresting. Well-built farm-houses were not common;
but log-huts, many of them without windows, predominated. These were
inhabited by negroes and poor whites. I remember one family living in a
box-car that had been run off the track. Another occupied a grotesque
cabin having for a door the door of a car, set up endwise, marked
conspicuously in letters reading from the zenith to the nadir, “U. S.
MILITARY R. R.” We passed occasionally cotton-fields, resembling at that
season and in that climate fields of low black weeds, with here and
there a bunch of cotton sticking to the dry leafy stalks.

Next me sat a gentleman from Iowa, whose history was a striking
illustration of the difference between a slave State and a free State.
He had just been to visit a brother living in Georgia. They were natives
of North Carolina, from which State they emigrated in early manhood. He
chose the Northwest; his brother chose the South; and they had now met
for the first time since their separation.

“To me,” said he, “it was a very sad meeting. Georgia is a hundred years
behind Iowa. My brother has always been poor, and always will be poor.
If I had to live as he does, I should think I had not the bare
necessaries of life, not to speak of comforts. His children are growing
up in ignorance. When I looked at them, and thought of my own
children,—intelligent, cultivated, with their schools, their books, and
magazines, and piano,—I was so much affected I couldn’t speak, and for a
minute I’d have given anything if I hadn’t seen how he was situated. It
isn’t my merit, nor his fault, that there is so great a difference now,
between us, who were so much alike when boys. If he had gone to Iowa, he
would have done as well as I have. If I had gone to Georgia, I should
have done as poorly as he has.”

He was the only Northern man in the car besides myself,—as was to be
seen not only by the countenances of the other passengers, but also by
the spirit of their conversation. Behind us sat an ignorant brute, with
his shirt bosom streaked with tobacco drizzle, who was saying in a loud,
fierce tone, that “we’d better kill off the balance of the niggers,” for
he had “no use for ’em now they were free.” Others were talking about
Congress and the President. One little boy four years old amused us all.
He enjoyed the range of the car, and had made several acquaintances,
some of whom, to plague him, called him Billy Yank. Great was the little
fellow’s indignation at this insult. “I a’n’t Billy Yank! I’m Johnny
Reb!” he insisted. As the teasing continued, he flew to his mother, who
received him in her arms. “Yes, he _is_ Johnny Reb! _so he is!_” And his
little heart was comforted.

At half-past three we reached Murfreesboro’, having been nine hours
travelling one hundred and nine miles. This I found about the average
rate of speed on Southern roads. The trains run slow, and a great deal
of time is lost at stopping-places. Once, when we were wooding up, I
went out to learn what was keeping us so long, and saw two of the hands
engaged in a scuffle, which the rest were watching with human interest.
On another occasion the men had to bring wood out of the forest, none
having been provided for the engine near the track.

Murfreesboro’ is situated very near the centre of the State. It had in
1860 three thousand inhabitants. It has six churches, and not a decent
hotel. Before the war it enjoyed the blessing of a University, a
military institute, two female colleges, and two high-schools; all of
which had been discontinued. It was also described to me as “a pretty,
shady village, before the war.” But the trees had been cut away, leaving
ugly stump-lots; and the country all around was laid desolate.

Knowing how wretched must be my accommodations at the only tavern then
open to the public, General Hazen hospitably insisted on my removal to
his head-quarters on the evening of my arrival. I found him occupying a
first-class Tennessee mansion on a hill just outside the town. The house
was cruciform, with a spacious hall and staircase in the centre, opening
into lofty wainscoted rooms above and below. The richness of the dark
panels, and the structural elegance of the apartments, were
unexceptionable. But the occupants of these could never have known
comfort in wintry weather. The house was built, like all southern
houses, for a climate reputed mild, but liable to surprises of cruel and
treacherous cold, against which the inhabitants make no provision. The
General and I sat that evening talking over war times, with a huge fire
roaring before us in the chimney, and roasting our faces, while the
freezing blast blew upon our backs from irremediable crevices in the
ill-jointed wainscots and casements. I slept that night in a
particularly airy chamber, with a good fire striving faithfully to
master the enemy, and found in the morning the contents of the
water-pitcher, that stood in the room, fast frozen.

I was amused by the grimaces of the negro servant who came in to
replenish the fire before I was up. He inquired if we had any colder
weather than that in the North, and when I told him how I had seen iron
pump-handles stick to a wet hand on a fine wintry morning, involving
sometimes the sacrifice of epidermis before the teeth of the frost could
be made to let go, he remarked excitedly,—

“I wouldn’t let de iron git holt o’ my hand! I hain’t no skin to spar’,
mornin’ like dis sher!”

As I sat at breakfast with the General, he told me of his official
intercourse with the inhabitants, since he had been in command of the
post. “The most I have to do,” said he, “is to adjust difficulties
between Union men and Rebels. There are many men living in this country
who acted as scouts for our army, and who, when they wanted a horse to
use in the service of the government, took it without much ceremony
where they could find it. For acts of this kind the law-loving Rebels
are now suing them for damages before the civil courts, and persecuting
them in various ways, so that the military power has to interfere to
protect them.”



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.
                              STONE RIVER.


After breakfast in a large dining-room which no fuel could heat, we went
and stood by the hearth, turning ourselves on our heels, as the earth
turns on its axis, warming a hemisphere at a time, until the wintry
condition of our bodies gave place to a feeling of spring, half sunshine
and half chill; then we clapped on our overcoats and mufflers; then two
powerful war-horses of the General’s came prancing to the door, ready
bridled and saddled; and we mounted. A vigorous gallop across the
outskirts of the town and out on the Nashville Pike set the sympathetic
blood also on a gallop, and did for us what fire in a Tennessee mansion
could not do. In ten minutes we were thoroughly warm, with the exception
of one thumb in a glove which I wore, and an ear on the windward side of
the General’s rosy face.

Riding amid stump-fields, where beautiful forests had cast their broad
shades before the war, we entered the area of the vast fortress
constructed by the army of Rosecrans, lying at Murfreesboro’ after the
battle. This is the largest work of the kind in the United States. A
parapet of earth three miles in circumference encloses a number of
detached redoubts on commanding eminences. The encircled space is a mile
in diameter. It contained all Rosecrans’s storehouses, and was large
enough to take in his entire army. It would require at least ten
thousand troops to man its breastworks. The converging lines of the
railroad and turnpike running to Nashville pass through it; and across
the north front sweeps a bend of Stone River. We found the stream partly
frozen, chafing between abrupt rocky shores sheathed in ice.

A mile beyond, the converging lines above mentioned cut each other at a
sharp angle; the railroad, which goes out of Murfreesboro’ on the left,
shifting over to the right of the turnpike. Crossing them at nearly
right angles, a short distance on the Murfreesboro’ side of their point
of intersection, was the Rebel line of battle, on the morning of the
thirty-first of December. Half a mile beyond this point, on the
Nashville side, was the Union line.

The railroad here runs through a cut, with a considerable embankment,—a
circumstance of vital importance to our army, saving it, probably, from
utter rout and destruction, on that first day of disaster. The right
wing, thrown out two miles and more to the west of the railroad, rested
on nothing. It was left hanging in the air, as the French say. An attack
was expected, yet no precautions were taken to provide against an
attack. General Wood, who had posted scouts in trees to observe the
movements of the Rebels, reported to the commanding general that they
were rapidly moving troops over and massing them on their left.
Rosecrans says he sent the information to McCook; McCook says he never
received it. When the attack came, it was a perfect surprise. It was
made with the suddenness and impetuosity for which the enemy was
distinguished, and everything gave way before it. Division after
division was pushed back, until the line, which was projected nearly
perpendicular to the railroad in the morning, lay parallel to it,—that
providential cut affording an opportune cover for the rallying and
re-forming of the troops.

Another feature of the field is eminently noticeable. The bold river
banks, curving in and out, along by the east side of the railroad, made
a strong position for the Union left to rest upon. Here, in a little
grove called by the Rebels the “Round Forest,” between the river and the
railroad, was General Wood’s division, planted like a post. On his
right, like a bolt of iron in that post, was Hazen’s brigade, serving as
a pivot on which the whole army line swung round like a gate. The pivot
itself was immovable. In vain the enemy concentrated his utmost efforts
against it. Terribly smitten and battered, but seemingly insensible as
iron itself, there it stuck.[11]

It was extremely interesting to visit this portion of the field in
company with one who played so important a part in the events enacted
there. We rode through a cotton-field of black leafy stalks, with little
white bunches clinging to them like feathers or snow. It was across that
field, between Round Forest and the railroad, that Hazen’s line was
formed. On the edge of it, by the forest, still lay the bones of a horse
shot under him during the battle.

Near by was a little cemetery, within which the dead of Hazen’s brigade
were buried. A well-built stone wall encloses an oblong space one
hundred feet in length by forty in breadth. Within are thirty-one
limestone tablets marking the graves of the common soldiers. In the
midst of these stands a monument, on which are inscribed the names of
officers whose remains are deposited beneath it. This is also of
limestone, massy, well formed, ten feet square on the ground and eleven
feet in height. It is interesting as being the only monument of
importance and durability erected by soldiers during the war.

On the south side, facing the railroad and turnpike, is the following
legend:—

                            “HAZEN’S BRIGADE
                                   TO
                       THE MEMORY OF ITS SOLDIERS
                              WHO FELL AT
                      STONE RIVER, DEC. 31, 1862.
         ‘_Their faces toward heaven, their feet to the foe._’”

On the east side is the following:—

“THE VETERANS OF SHILOH HAVE LEFT A DEATHLESS HERITAGE OF FAME UPON THE
FIELD OF STONE RIVER.”

On the north side:—

“Erected 1863, upon the ground where they fell, by their comrades of the
Nineteenth Brigade, Buell’s Army of the Ohio, Col. W. B. Hazen 41st
Infantry O. Vols. commanding.”

On the west side:—

“The blood of one third its soldiers twice spilled in Tennessee crimsons
the battle-flag of the brigade and inspires to great deeds.”

From the soldiers’ cemetery at Round Forest we rode on to the new
National Cemetery of Stone River, then in process of construction. It
lies between the railroad and the turnpike, in full view from both. A
massy square-cornered stone wall encloses a space of modest size,
sufficiently elevated, and covered with neatly heaped mounds, side by
side, and row behind row, in such precise order, that one might imagine
the dead who sleep beneath them to have formed their ghostly ranks there
after the battle, and carefully laid themselves down to rest beneath
those small green tents. The tents were not green when I visited the
spot, but I trust they are green to-day, and that the birds are singing
over them.

-----

Footnote 11:

  The right brigade of Palmer’s division had been the last to yield. The
  left brigade, in command of Hazen, was thus exposed to fire in flank
  and rear, and to the attempts of the enemy to charge in front. It
  required terrible fighting to beat back the enemy’s double lines: it
  cost a third of the brave brigade; but every moment the enemy was held
  back was worth a thousand men to the main line. General Rosecrans
  improved the time so well, in hurrying troops to the new position,
  that, when the enemy assailed that line, the fresh divisions of Van
  Cleve, Wood, and Rousseau, and the artillery massed on a commanding
  point, not only repulsed them, but they were charged while retiring by
  one of Crittenden’s brigades.... The enemy had miscalculated the
  temper of Hazen’s brigade; and Bragg was obliged to report, as he did
  in his first despatch, that he “had driven the whole Federal line,
  except his left, which stubbornly resisted.”—_Annals of the Army of
  the Cumberland._



                             CHAPTER XXXIX.
                        THE HEART OF TENNESSEE.


Having spent the remainder of the forenoon in riding over other portions
of the field, we returned to Murfreesboro’; and at half-past three
o’clock I took the train for Nashville.

At Nashville I remained four days,—four eminently disagreeable days of
snow, and rain, and fog, and slush, and mud. Yet I formed a not
unfavorable impression of the city. I could feel the influence of
Northern ideas and enterprise pulsating through it. Its population,
which was less than twenty-four thousand at the last census, nearly
doubled during the war. Its position gives it activity and importance.
It is a nostril through which the State has long breathed the Northern
air of free institutions. It is a port of entry on the Cumberland, which
affords it steamboat communication with the great rivers. It is a node
from which radiate five important railroads connecting it with the South
and North. The turnpikes leading out of it in every direction are the
best system of roads I met with anywhere in the South.

Middle Tennessee is the largest of the three natural divisions of the
State. It is separated from the West division by the Tennessee River,
and from East Tennessee by the Cumberland Mountains. It is a fine
stock-raising country; and the valley of the Cumberland River affords an
extensive tract of excellent cotton and tobacco lands.

Nashville is the great commercial emporium of this division. The largest
annual shipment of cotton from this port was fifty thousand bales; the
average, before the war, was about half as many: during 1865, it was
fully up to this average, consisting mostly of old cotton going to
market. Six thousand hogsheads of tobacco, two million bushels of corn,
and twenty-five thousand hogs,—besides ten thousand casks of bacon and
twenty-five hundred tierces of lard,—were yearly shipped from this port.
The manufacturing interest of the place is insignificant.

The prospects of the country for the present year seemed to me
favorable. The freedmen were making contracts, and going to work.
Returned Rebels were generally settling down to a quiet life, and
turning their attention to business. The people were much disposed to
plant cotton, and every effort was making to put their desolated farms
into a tillable condition.

Yet Middle Tennessee is but an indifferent cotton-growing region. It is
inferior to West Tennessee, and can scarcely be called a cotton country,
when compared with the rich valleys of the more Southern States. Eight
hundred pounds of seed cotton[12] to the acre are considered a good crop
on the best lands. The quality of Middle Tennessee cotton never rates
above “low middling,” but generally below it, (the different qualities
of cotton being classed as follows: inferior, ordinary, good ordinary,
low middling, middling, good middling, middling fair, good fair, and
fine.)

I found considerable business doing with an article which never before
had any money-value. Cotton seed, which used to be cast out from the
gin-houses and left to rot in heaps, the planter reserving but a small
portion for the ensuing crop, was now in great demand, prices varying
from one to three dollars a bushel. In some portions of the Rebel States
it had nearly run out during the war, and those sections which, like
Tennessee, had continued the culture of the plant, were supplying the
deficiency. The seed, I may here mention, resembles, after the fibre is
removed by the gin, a small-sized pea covered with fine white wool. It
is very oily, and is considered the best known fertilizer for cotton
lands.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Nashville is built on the slopes of a hill rising from the south bank of
the Cumberland. Near the summit, one hundred and seventy-five feet above
the river, stands the capitol, said to be the finest State capitol in
the United States. The view it commands of the surrounding country is
superb; and seen from afar off, it seems, with its cupola and Ionic
porticoes, to rest upon the city like a crown. It is constructed of fine
fossiliferous limestone, three stories in height; with a central tower
lifting the cupola two hundred feet from the ground. This tower is the
one bad feature about the building. It is not imposing. The site is a
lofty crest of rock, which was fortified during the war, converting the
capitol into a citadel. The parapets thrown up around the edifice still
remain.

My visit happened on the first anniversary of the battle of Nashville,
which took place on the fifteenth and sixteenth days of December,
1864;—a battle which, occurring after many great and sanguinary
conflicts, did not rise to highest fame; and which has not yet had ample
justice done it. It is to be distinguished as the only immediately
decisive battle of the war,—the only one in which an army was destroyed.
By it the army of Hood was annihilated, and a period put to Rebel power
in the States which Sherman had left behind him on his great march.

The scene of the battle, the sweeping undulations of the plain, the
fields, the clumps of woods, and the range of hills beyond, are
distinctly visible in fair weather from the house-tops of the city, and
especially from the capitol. The fight took place under the eyes of the
citizens. Every “coigne of vantage” was black with spectators. Patriots
and Rebel sympathizers were commingled: the friends and relatives of
both armies crowding together to witness the deadly struggle; a drama of
fearfully intense reality! The wife of a noted general officer who was
in the thickest of the fight, told me something of her experience,
watching from the capitol with a glass the movements of his troops, the
swift gallop of couriers, the charge, the repulse, the successful
assault, the ground dotted with the slain, and the awful battle cloud,
rolling over all, enfolding, as she at one time believed, his dead form
with the rest. But he lived; he was present when she told me the
story;—and shall I ever forget the emotion with which he listened to the
recital? The battle was no such terrible thing to the soldier in the
midst of it, as to the loved one looking on.

The State legislature adjourned for the Christmas holidays on the
morning of my visit to the capitol; but I was in time to meet and
converse with members from various parts of the State. They were
generally a plain, candid, earnest class of men. They were the loyal
salt of the State. Some of them were from districts in which there were
no Union men to elect them; to meet which contingency the names of the
candidates for both houses had been placed on a general ticket. Thus
members from West and Middle Tennessee, where the Rebel element was
paramount, were elected by votes in East Tennessee, which was loyal.

With Mr. Frierson, Speaker of the Senate, I had a long conversation. He
was from Maury County, and a liberal-minded, progressive man, for that
intensely pro-slavery and Rebel district. We talked on the exciting
topic of the hour,—negro suffrage, and the admission of negro testimony
in the courts. “My freedmen,” he said, “are far more intelligent and
better prepared to vote, than the white population around us.” Yet as a
class he did not think the negroes prepared to exercise the right of
suffrage, and he was in favor of granting it only to such as had served
in the Union army. To the negroes’ loyalty and good behavior he gave the
highest praise. “It is said they would have fought for the Confederacy,
if the opportunity had been given them in season. But I know the negro,
and I know that his heart was true to the Union from the first, and
throughout; and I do not believe he would have fought for the Rebellion,
even on the promise of his liberty.” He thought the blacks competent to
give testimony in the courts; but for this step society in Tennessee was
not prepared. Both the right of voting and of testifying must be given
them before long, however.

There were two classes of Union men in Tennessee. One class had
manifested their loyalty by their uncompromising acts and sacrifices.
The other class were merely _legal_ Union men, professing loyalty to the
government and friendliness to the negro. “These are not to be trusted,”
said Mr. Frierson. “Their animosity against the government and the
freedmen, and more particularly against _heart_ Union men, is all the
more dangerous because it is secret.” And it was necessary in his
opinion to retain the Freedmen’s Bureau in the State, and to keep both
Rebels and rebel sympathizers excluded from power, for some years.

I have given so much of this conversation to illustrate the views
entertained by the average, moderate, common-sense Union men of
Tennessee. Far behind them, on the question of human rights, were some
of the negro-haters and Rebel-persecutors of East Tennessee; while there
was a handful of leading men as far in advance of them. A good sample of
these was the honorable John Trimble, of Nashville, also a member of the
legislature, whom I had the satisfaction of meeting on two or three
occasions: a man of liberal and cultivated mind, singularly emancipated
from cant and prejudice. He had just introduced into the General
Assembly a bill extending the elective franchise to the freedmen, with
certain restrictions; for the passage of which there was of course
little chance.

I was just in time to catch Governor Brownlow as he was about going home
for the holidays. I should have been sorry to miss seeing this
remarkable type of native Southern-Western wit. As an outspoken convert
from the pro-slavery doctrines he used to advocate, to the radical ideas
which the agitations of the times had shaken to the surface of society,
he was also interesting to me. I found him a tall, quiet individual, of
a nervous temperament, intellectual forehead, and a gift of
language,—with nothing of the blackguard in his manners, as readers of
his writings might sometimes be led to expect. His conversation was
characteristic. He believed a Rebel had no rights except to be hung in
this world, and damned after death. But this and other similar
expressions did not proceed so much from a vindictive nature, as from
that tendency to a strong, extravagant style of statement, for which
Western and Southern people, and especially the people of Tennessee, are
noted.

Of his compatriots, the Union-loving East Tennesseeans, he said, “It is
hard to tell which they hate most, the Rebels, or the negroes.” He did
not sympathize with them in the ill-feeling they bestowed upon the
latter. He was in favor of the Negro Testimony Bill, which had just been
defeated in the legislature by East Tennessee members; and as for negro
suffrage, he thought it was sure to come in a few years.

“The Rebels,” said he, “are as rebellious now as ever. If Thomas and his
bayonets were withdrawn, in ten days a Rebel mob would drive this
legislature out. Congress,” he added, “will have to legislate for all
the Rebel States, Tennessee with the rest.”

From the Governor’s I went over to the division head-quarters to call on
Major-General Thomas,—a very different type of native Southern men. Born
and bred a Virginian, his patriotism was national, knowing no State
boundaries. In appearance, he is the most lion-like of all the Union
generals I have seen. An imperturbable, strong soul, never betrayed into
weakness or excess by any excitement, his opinions possessed for me
great value.

We spoke of the national soldiers’ cemeteries in his division; and he
informed me that besides those I had visited at Chattanooga and
Murfreesboro’, others proposed by him had been sanctioned by the War
Department. “We shall have one here at Nashville; and I have already
selected the site for it,”—a fortified hill in the suburbs. “There will
be one at Franklin; also one at Memphis; another at Shiloh; and another
large one at Atlanta;” for he did not favor the plan of burying the dead
of the Atlanta campaign at Chattanooga.

The military division, called the “Division of the Tennessee,” which
General Thomas commands, comprises the States of Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

He did not think that in either of those States there was any love for
the Union, except in the hearts of a small minority. Tennessee was
perhaps an exception. It was the only one of the Southern States that
had reorganized on a strictly Union basis. It had disfranchised the
Rebels. The governor, the legislature, and the recently elected members
of Congress, were unquestionably loyal men. The Rebel State debt had
been repudiated, and the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery
adopted. East Tennessee could take care of itself; but in Middle and
West Tennessee, where the Rebel sentiment predominated, personal and
partisan animosities were so strong that Union men must for some time to
come have the protection of the government. There were then in Tennessee
about six thousand troops, stationed chiefly at Chattanooga, Memphis,
and Nashville, with smaller garrisons scattered throughout the State,
sufficient to remind the people that the government still lived.

As for the freedman, General Thomas thought the respectable classes, and
especially the intelligent large planters, were inclined to treat him
with justice; but habit and prejudice were so strong even with them,
that the kind of justice he might expect would be largely mixed with
wrong and outrage, if the Bureau was withdrawn.

The General was in the receipt of information, from entirely distinct
and reliable sources, concerning secret organizations in the Southern
States, the design of which was to embarrass the Federal Government and
destroy its credit, to keep alive the fires of Rebel animosity, and to
revive the cause of the Confederacy whenever there should occur a
favorable opportunity, such as a political division of the North, or a
war with some foreign power. As his testimony on this subject has been
made public, I shall say nothing further of it here, except to express
my sense of the weight to be attached to the conclusions of so calm and
unprejudiced a man.

He had great faith in the negro. “I may be supposed to know something
about him, for I was raised in a slave State; and I have certainly seen
enough of him during and since the war. There is no doubt about his
disposition to work and take care of himself, now he is free.” When I
spoke of the great difference existing between different African races,
he replied, “There is more ability and fidelity in these apish-looking
negroes than you suppose”; and he proceeded to relate the following
story:—

“I had a servant of the kind you speak of during the war. I saw him
first at a hotel in Danville, Kentucky; he waited on me a good deal, and
attracted my attention because he looked so much like a baboon. He took
a liking to me, from some cause, and in order to be near me, engaged in
the service of one of my staff-officers. I saw him occasionally
afterwards, but gave him little attention, and had no suspicion of the
romantic attachment with which I had inspired him. At length I had the
misfortune to lose a very valuable servant, and did not know how I
should replace him: servants were plenty enough, but I wanted one who
could understand what I wished to have done without even being told my
wishes, and who would have it done almost before I was aware of the
necessity. I happened to name these qualities of a perfect valet in the
presence of one of my aides, who said to me, ‘I have just the man you
want; and though I wouldn’t part with him for any other cause, you shall
have him.’ I accepted his offer; and what was my surprise when he
introduced to me the baboon. I at first thought it a jest; but soon
learned that he had conferred upon me a great favor. I never had such a
servant. In a week’s time he understood perfectly all my habits and
requirements, and it was very rare I ever had to give him a verbal
order. We had difficulty in getting our washing and ironing properly
done, in the army; but one day I noticed my linen was looking better
than usual. The fellow had anticipated my want in that respect, and
learned to wash and iron expressly to please me. He soon became one of
the best washers and ironers I ever saw; I don’t think a woman in
America could beat him. As soon as his newly acquired art became known,
it was in demand; and he asked permission to do the linen of some of my
officers, which I granted. He was industrious and provident; he
supported, a family, and, during the three years he was with me, laid by
two thousand dollars.”

Among other prominent men I saw was General Fiske, of the Freedmen’s
Bureau, Assistant-Commissioner for the States of Tennessee and Kentucky.
There were in his district six hundred thousand freedmen. He was issuing
eight hundred rations daily to colored women and children, and three
times as many to white refugees. “During the past four years,” said he,
“between Louisville and Atlanta, we have fed with government charity
rations sixty-four white to one colored person.” The local poor he
refused to feed. “I told the Mayor of Nashville the other day that if he
did not take care of his poor, I would assess the whiskey shops for
their benefit. There are four hundred and eighteen shops of that kind in
this city; and eighteen thousand dollars a day are poured down the
throats of the people.”

The colored people of Nashville had organized a provident association
managed exclusively by themselves, the object of which was the
systematic relief of the poor, irrespective of color.

Speaking of the differences arising between the freedmen and the whites,
General Fiske said, “In thirteen cases out of fifteen, the violation of
contracts originates with the whites.” Since the defeat of the Negro
Testimony Bill in the legislature, he had taken all cases, in which
freedmen were concerned, out of the civil courts, and turned them over
to freedmen’s courts, where alone justice could be done them.

“In my work of elevating the colored race,” said he, “I get more hearty
coöperation from intelligent and influential Rebel slave-holders, than
from the rabid Unionists of East Tennessee.”

Speaking of the laziness with which the negroes were charged, he said,
“They are more industrious than the whites. You see young men standing
on street corners with cigars in their mouths, and hands in their
pockets, swearing the negroes won’t work; while they themselves are
supported by their own mothers, who keep boarding-houses. The idle
colored families complained of are usually the wives and children of
soldiers serving in the Federal army; and they have as good a right to
be idle as the wives and children of any other men who are able and
willing to support their families. In this city, it is the negroes who
do the hard work. They handle goods on the levee and at the railroad;
drive drays and hacks; lay gas-pipes; and work on new buildings. In the
country they are leasing farms; some are buying farms; others are at
work for wages. Able-bodied plantation hands earn fifteen and twenty
dollars a month; women, ten and twelve dollars; the oldest boy and girl
in a family, five and nine dollars. Hundreds of colored families are
earning forty dollars a month, besides their rations, quarters, medical
attendance, and the support of the younger children.”

The schools of General Fiske’s district, under the superintendence of
Professor Ogden, were in a promising condition. There were near fifteen
thousand pupils, and two hundred and sixty-four teachers. Many summer
schools, which for want of school-houses were kept under trees, had been
discontinued at the coming on of winter. Rebels returning home with
their pardons were also turning the freedmen out of buildings used as
school-houses. The consequence was a falling off of nearly one third in
the number of pupils since September.

In Nashville there was a school supported by the United Presbyterian
Mission, numbering eight hundred pupils; and another by the Pennsylvania
Freedmen’s Relief Association, numbering three hundred and fifty. The
American Missionary Association and Western Freedmen’s Aid had united in
purchasing, for sixteen thousand dollars, land on which had been erected
twenty-three government hospital buildings, worth fifty thousand
dollars, which, “by the superior management of General Fiske,” said
Professor Ogden, “have been secured for our schools.” It was proposed to
establish in them a school, having all grades, from the primary up to
the normal. There was a great need of properly qualified colored
teachers to send into by-places; which this school was designed to
supply.

General Fiske had introduced a system of plantation schools, which was
working well. Benevolent societies furnished the teachers, and planters
were required to furnish the school-houses. A plantation of one hundred
and fifty hands and forty or fifty children would have its own
school-house. Smaller plantations would unite and build a school-house
in some central location. These conditions were generally put into the
contracts with the planters, who were beginning to learn that there was
nothing so encouraging and harmonizing to the freedmen as the
establishment of schools for their children.

-----

Footnote 12:

  That is, of cotton and seed: the gin takes out fifty or sixty per
  cent. of the gross weight.



                              CHAPTER XL.
                        BY RAILROAD TO CORINTH.


I left Nashville for Decatur on a morning of dismal rain The cars were
crowded and uncomfortable, with many passengers standing. The railroad
was sadly short of rolling-stock, having (like most Southern roads) only
such as happened to be on it when it was turned over to the directors by
the government. It owned but three first-class cars, only one of which
we had with us. The rest of the passenger train was composed of box-cars
supplied with rude seats.

We passed the forts of the city; passed the battle-ground of Franklin,
with its fine rolling fields, marked by entrenchments; and speeding on
through a well-wooded handsome section of country, entered Northern
Alabama. As my observations of that portion of the State will be of a
general character, I postpone them until I shall come to speak of the
State at large.

It was raining again when I left Decatur, ferried across the Tennessee
in a barge manned by negroes. Of the railroad bridge burned by General
Mitchell, only the high stone piers remained; and freight and passengers
had to be conveyed over the river in that way. I remember a black
ferryman whose stalwart form and honest speech interested me, and whose
testimony with regard to his condition I thought worth noting down.

“I works for my old master. He raised me. He’s a right kind master. I
gits twenty dollars a month, and he finds me. Some of the masters about
hyere is right tight on our people. Then thar’s a heap of us that won’t
work, and that steal from the rest. They’re my own color, but I can’t
help saying what’s true. They just set right down, thinking they’re
free, and waiting for luck to come to ’em.” But he assured me that the
most of his people were at work, and doing well.

From the miserable little ferry-boat we were landed on the other side in
the midst of a drenching rain. To reach the cars there was a steep muddy
bank to climb. The baggage was brought up in wagons and pitched down
into mud several inches deep, where passengers had to stand in the
pouring shower and see to getting their checks.

On the road to Tuscumbia I made the acquaintance of a young South
Carolinian, whose character enlisted my sympathy, and whose candid
conversation offers some points worth heeding.

“I think it was in the decrees of God Almighty that slavery was to be
abolished in this way; and I don’t murmur. We have lost our property,
and we have been subjugated, but we brought it all on ourselves. Nobody
that hasn’t experienced it knows anything about our suffering. We are
discouraged: we have nothing left to begin new with. I never did a day’s
work in my life, and don’t know how to begin. You see me in these coarse
old clothes; well, I never wore coarse clothes in my life before the
war.”

Speaking of the negroes: “We can’t feel towards them as you do; I
suppose we ought to, but ’t isn’t possible for us. They’ve always been
our owned servants, and we’ve been used to having them mind us without a
word of objection, and we can’t bear anything else from them now. If
that’s wrong, we’re to be pitied sooner than blamed, for it’s something
we can’t help. I was always kind to my slaves. I never whipped but two
boys in my life, and one of them I whipped three weeks ago.”

“When he was a free man?”

“Yes; for I tell you that makes no difference in our feeling towards
them. I sent a boy across the country for some goods. He came back with
half the goods he ought to have got for the money. I may as well be
frank,—it was a gallon of whiskey. There were five gentlemen at the
house, and I wanted the whiskey for them. I told Bob he stole it.
Afterwards he came into the room and stood by the door,—a big, strong
fellow, twenty-three years old. I said, ‘Bob, what do you want?’ He
said, ‘I want satisfaction about the whiskey.’ He told me afterwards, he
meant that he wasn’t satisfied I should think he had stolen it, and
wanted to come to a good understanding about it. But I thought he wanted
satisfaction gentlemen’s fashion. I rushed for my gun. I’d have shot him
dead on the spot if my friends hadn’t held me. They said I’d best not
kill him, but that he ought to be whipped. I sent to the stable for a
trace, and gave him a hundred and thirty with it, hard as I could lay
on. I confess I did whip him unmercifully.”

“Did he make no resistance?”

“Oh, he knew better than that; my friends stood by to see me through. I
was wrong, I know, but I was in a passion. That’s the way we treat our
servants, and shall treat them, until we can get used to the new order
of things,—if we ever can.”

“In the mean while, according to your own showing, it would seem that
some restraint is necessary for you, and some protection for the
negroes. On the whole, the Freedmen’s Bureau is a good thing, isn’t it?”

He smiled: “May be it is; yes, if the nigger is to be free, I reckon it
is; but it’s a mighty bitter thing for us.”

Then, speaking of secession: “I had never thought much about politics,
though I believed our State was right when she went out. But when the
bells were ringing, and everybody was rejoicing that she had seceded, a
solemn feeling came over me, like I had never had in my life, and I
couldn’t help feeling there was something wrong. I went through the war;
there were thousands like me. In our hearts we thought more of the Stars
and Stripes than we did of the old rag we were fighting under.”

He was going to Mississippi to look after some property left there
before the war. But what he wished to do was to go North: “only I know I
wouldn’t be tolerated,—I know a man couldn’t succeed in business there,
who was pointed out as a Rebel.”

The same wish, qualified by the same apprehension, was frequently
expressed to me by the better class of young Southern men; and I always
took pains to convince them that they would be welcomed and encouraged
by all enlightened communities in the Northern States.

It was a dismal night in the cars. The weather changed, and it grew
suddenly very cold. Now the stove was red hot; and now the fire was out,
with both car-doors wide open at some stopping-place.

At two in the morning we reached Corinth. A driver put me into his hack,
and drove about town, through the freezing mud, to find me a lodging.
The hotels were full. The boarding-houses were full,—all but one, in
which, with a fellow-traveller, I was fortunate enough at last to find a
room with two beds.

It was a large, lofty room, the door fifteen feet high from the floor,
the walls eighteen feet. It had been an elegant apartment once; but now
the windows were broken, the plastering and stucco-work disfigured, the
laths smashed in places, there were bullet-holes through the walls, and
large apertures in the wainscots. The walls were covered with devices,
showing that Federal soldiers had been at home there; such as a shield,
admirably executed, bearing the motto: “The Union, it must be
preserved”; “Heaven Bless our Native Land”; “God of Battles, speed the
Right”; and so forth.

The beds were tumbled, some travellers having just got out of them to
take the train. A black woman came in to make them. The lady of the
house also came in,—a fashionably bred Southern woman, who had been
reduced, by the fortunes of the Rebellion, from the condition of a
helpless mistress of many servants, to that of a boarding-house keeper.

I asked for a single room, which I was somewhat curtly told I couldn’t
have. I then asked for more bedclothes,—for the weather continued to
grow cold, and the walls of the room offered little protection against
it. She said, “I reckon you’re mighty particular!” I replied that she
was quite correct in her reckoning, and insisted on the additional
clothing. At last I got it, very fortunately; for my room-mate, who did
not make the same demand, nearly froze in the other bed before daylight.

In the morning a black man came in and made a fire. Then, before I was
up, a black girl came in to bring a towel, and to break the ice in the
wash-basin. That the water might not freeze again before I could use it,
(for the fire, as some one has said, “couldn’t get a purchase on the
cold,”) I requested her to place the basin on the hearth; also to shut
the door; for every person who passed in or out left all doors wide,
affording a free passage from my bed to the street.

“You’re cold-natered, an’t ye?” said the girl, to whose experience my
modest requests appeared unprecedented.

Afterwards I went out to breakfast in a room that showed no chimney, and
no place for a stove. The outer door was open much of the time, and when
it was shut the wind came in through a great round hole cut for the
accommodation of cats and dogs. This, be it understood, was a
fashionable Southern residence; and this had always been the
dining-room, in winter the same as in summer, though no fire had ever
been built in it. The evening before, the lady had said to me, “The
Yankees are the cause that we have no better accommodations to offer
you,” and I had cheerfully forgiven her. But the Yankees were not the
cause of our breakfasting in such a bleak apartment.

Everybody at table was pinched and blue. The lady, white and delicate,
sat wrapped in shawls. She was very bitter against the Yankees, until I
smilingly informed her that her remarks were particularly interesting to
me, as I was a Yankee myself.

“From what State are you, Sir?”

“From Massachusetts.”

“Oh!”—with a shudder,—“they’re bad Yankees!”

“Bad enough, Heaven knows,” I pleasantly replied; “though, in truth,
Madam, I have seen almost as bad people in other parts of the world.”

The lady’s husband changed the conversation by offering me a piece of
venison which he had killed the day before. Deer were plenty in that
region. As in Tennessee and Alabama, game of all kinds—deer, foxes, wild
turkeys, wolves,—had increased greatly in Mississippi during the war;
the inhabitants having had something more formidable to hunt, or been
hunted themselves.

Mr. M—— owned two abandoned plantations: this was his town residence. He
left it just before the battle of Shiloh, and it was occupied either by
the Rebels or Yankees till the end of the war. He was originally opposed
to the secession-leaders, but he afterwards went into the war, and lost
everything, while they kept out of it and made money.

The bullet-holes in the house were made by the Rebels firing at the
Federals when they attacked the town.

The family consisted of three persons,—Mr. M——, his wife, and their
little boy. Notwithstanding their poverty, they kept four black servants
to wait upon them. They were paying a man fifteen dollars a month, a
cook-woman the same, another woman six, and a girl six: total, forty-two
dollars. It was mainly to obtain money to pay and feed these people that
they had been compelled to take in lodgers. The possibility of getting
along with fewer servants seemed never to have occurred to them. Before
the war they used to keep seven or eight. It was the old wasteful habit
of slavery: masters were accustomed to have many servants about them,
and each servant must have two or three to help him.

The freedmen, I was told, were behaving very well. But the citizens were
bitterly hostile to the negro garrison which then occupied Corinth. A
respectable white man had recently been killed by a colored soldier, and
the excitement occasioned by the circumstance was intense. It was called
“a cold-blooded murder.” Visiting head-quarters, I took pains to
ascertain the facts in the case. They are in brief as follows:—

The said respectable citizen was drunk. Going down the street, he
staggered against a colored orderly. Cursing him, he said, “Why don’t
you get out of the way when you see a white man coming?” The orderly
replied, “There’s room for you to pass.” The respectable citizen then
drew his revolver, threatening to “shoot his damned black heart out.”
This occasioned an order for his arrest. He drew his revolver, with a
similar threat, upon another soldier sent to take him, and was promptly
shot down by him. Exit respectable citizen.

Corinth is a bruised and battered village surrounded by stumpy fields,
forts, earthworks, and graves. The stumpy fields are the sites of woods
and groves cut away by the great armies. The graves are those of
soldiers slain upon these hills. Beautiful woody boundaries sweep round
all.

There is nothing about the town especially worth visiting; and my object
in stopping there was to make an excursion into the country and visit
the battle-field of Shiloh. I went to a livery-stable to engage a horse.
I was told of frequent robberies that had been committed on that road,
and urged by the stable-keeper to take a man with me; but I wished to
make the acquaintance of the country people, and thought I could do
better without a companion.



                              CHAPTER XLI.
                       ON HORSEBACK FROM CORINTH.


Mounting a sober little iron-gray, I cantered out of Corinth, in a
northeasterly direction, past the angles of an old fort overgrown with
weeds, and entered the solitary wooded country beyond.

A short ride brought me to a broken bridge, hanging its shaky rim over a
stream breast-high to my horse. I paused on its brink, dubious; until I
saw two ladies, coming to town on horseback to do their shopping (the
fashion of the country), rein boldly down the muddy bank, gather their
skirts together, hold up their heels, and take like ducks to the water.
I held up my heels and did likewise. This was the route of the great
armies; which whoso follows will find many a ruined bridge and muddy
stream to ford.

It was a clear, crisp winter’s morning. The air was elastic and
sparkling. The road wound among lofty trunks of oak, poplar, hickory,
and gum, striped and gilded with the slanting early sunshine. Quails
(called partridges in the South) flew up from the wayside; turtle-doves
flitted from the limbs above my head; the woodpeckers screamed and
tapped, greeting my approach with merry fife and drum. Cattle were
grazing on the wild grass of the woods, and a solitary cow-bell rang.

Two and a half miles from town I came to a steam saw-mill, all about
which the forest resounded with the noise of axes, the voices of negroes
shouting to their teams, the flapping of boards thrown down, and the
vehement buzz of the saw. This mill had but recently gone into
operation; being one of hundreds that had already been brought from the
North, and set to work supplying the demand for lumber, and repairing
the damages of war.

Near by was a new house of rough logs with the usual great opening
through it. It was situated in the midst of ruins which told too plain a
story. Tying my horse to a bush, I entered, and found one division of
the house occupied by negro servants, the other by two lonely white
women. One of these was young; the other aged, and bent with grief and
years. She sat by the fire, knitting, wrapped in an ancient shawl, and
having a white handkerchief tied over her head. The walls and roof were
full of chinks, the wind blew through the room, and she crouched
shivering over the hearth.

She offered me a chair, and a negro woman, from the other part of the
house, brought in wood, which she heaped in the great open fireplace.

“Sit up, stranger,” said the old lady. “I haven’t the accommodations for
guests I had once; but you’re welcome to what I have. I owned a
beautiful place here before the war,—a fine house, negro quarters, an
orchard, and garden, and everything comfortable. The Yankees came along
and destroyed it. They didn’t leave me a fence,—not a rail nor a pale.
If I had stayed here, they wouldn’t have injured me, and I should have
saved my house; but I was advised to leave. I have come back here to
spend my days in this cabin. I lost everything, even my clothes; and I’m
too old to begin life again.”

Myself a Yankee, what could I say to console her?

A mile and a half farther on, I came to another log-house, and stopped
to inquire my way of an old man standing by the gate. His countenance
was hard and stern, and he eyed me, as I thought, with a sinister
expression.

“You are a stranger in this country?” I told him I was. “I allow you’re
from the North?”—eying me still more suspiciously.

“Yes,” I replied; “I am from New England.”

“I’m glad to see ye. Alight. It’s a right cool morning: come into the
house and warm.”

I confess to a strong feeling of distrust, as I looked at him. I
resolved, however, to accept his invitation. He showed me into a room,
which appeared to be the kitchen and sleeping-room of a large family.
Two young women and several children were crowded around the fireplace,
while the door of the house was left wide open, after the fashion of
doors in the South country. There was something stewing in a skillet on
the hearth; which I noticed, because the old man, as he sat and talked
with me, spat his tobacco-juice over it (not always with accuracy) at
the back-log. I remarked that the country appeared very quiet.

“Quiet, to what it was,” said the old man, with a wicked twinkle of the
eye. “You’ve probably heard of some of the murders and robberies through
here.”

I said I had heard of some such irregularities.

“I’ve been robbed time and again. I’ve had nine horses and mules stole.”

“By whom?”

“The bushwhackers. They’ve been here to kill me three or four times;
but, as it happened, the killing was on t’ other side.”

“Who were these men?”

“Some on ’em belonged in Massissippi, and some on ’em in Tennessy. They
come to my house of a Tuesday night, last Feb’uary. They rode up to the
house, and surrounded it, a dozen or fifteen of ’em. ‘Old Lee!’ they
shouted, ‘we want ye!’ It had been cloudy ’arly in the evening, but it
had fa’red up, and as I looked out thro’ the chinks in the logs, I could
see ’em moving around.

“’Come out, Old Lee! we’ve business with ye!’

“’You’ve no honest business this hour o’ the night,’ I says.

“’Come out, or we’ll fire your house.’

“’Stand back, then,’ I says, ‘while I open the doo’.’

“I opened it a crack, but instead of going out, I just put out the
muzzle of my gun, and let have at the fust man.

“’Boys! I’m shot!’ he says. I’d sent a slug plumb thro’ his body. Whilst
the others was getting him away, I loaded up again. In a little while
they come back, mad as devils. I didn’t wait for ’em to order me out,
but fired as they come up to the doo’. I hit one of ’em in the thigh.
After that they went off, and I didn’t hear any more of ’em that night.”

“What became of the wounded men?”

“The one I shot thro’ the body got well. The other died.”

“How did you learn?”

“They was all neighbors of mine. They lived only a few miles from here,
over the Tennessy line. That was Tuesday night; and the next Sunday
night the gang come again. I was prepared for ’em. I had cut a trap
through the floo’; and I had my grandson with me, a boy about twelve
year old; and he had a gun. We’d just got comfortably to bed, when some
men rode up to the gate, and hollah’d, “Hello!” several times. I told my
wife to ask ’em what they wanted. They said they was strangers, and had
lost their road and wanted the man of the house to come out. I drapped
thro’ the hole in the floo’, and told my wife to tell ’em I wa’n’t in
the house, and they must go somewhar else.

“’We’ll see if he’s in the house,’ they said. The house is all open
underneath, and I reckoned I’d a good position; but befo’e I got a
chance at ary one, they’d bust in. They went to rummaging, and
threatening my wife, and skeering the children. I could hear ’em
tramping over my head; till bimeby the clock struck; and I heerd one of
’em sw’ar, ‘Ten o’clock, and nary dollar yet!’ After that, I could see
’em outside the house; hunting around for me, as I allowed. I fired on
one. ‘My God!’ I heered him say, ‘he’s killed me!’ I then took my
grandson’s gun, and fired again. Such a rushing and scampering you never
heered. They run off, leaving one of their men lying dead right out here
before the doo’. We found him thar the next morning. He laid thar nigh
on to two days, when some of his friends come and took him and buried
him.”

“Why did those men wish to murder you?”

“They had a spite agin me, because they said I was a Union man.”

“They called him a Yankee,” said one of the young women.

“But you are not a Yankee.”

“I was born in Tennessy, and have lived either in Tennessy or
Massissippi all my days. But I never was a secessioner; I went agin the
war; and I had two son-in-law’s in the Federal army. Both these girls’
husbands was fighting the Rebels, and that’s what made ’em hate me. They
was determined to kill me; and after that last attempt on my life, I
refugeed. I went to the Yankees, and didn’t come back till the war wound
up. There’s scoundrels watching for a chance to bushwhack me now.”

“Old Lee’d go up mighty quick, if they wa’n’t afeared,” remarked one of
the daughters.

“I’m on hand for ’em,” said the old man,—and now I understood that
wicked sparkle of his eye. “Killing is good for ’em. A lead bullet is
better for getting rid of ’em than any amount of silver or gold, and a
heap cheaper!”

Two miles north of Old Lee’s I came to the State boundary. While I was
still in Mississippi, I saw, just over the line, in Tennessee, a wild
figure of a man riding on before me. He was mounted on a raw-boned mule,
and wore a flapping gray blanket which gave him a fantastic appearance.
The old hero’s story had set me thinking of bushwhackers, and I half
fancied this solitary horseman—or rather mule-man—to be one of that
amiable gentry. He had pursued me from Corinth, and passed me
unwittingly while I was sitting in Old Lee’s kitchen. He was riding fast
to overtake me. Or perhaps he was only an innocent country fellow
returning from town. I switched on, and soon came near enough to notice
that the mule’s tail was fancifully clipped and trimmed to resemble a
rope with a tassel at the end of it; also that the rider’s face was
mysteriously muffled in a red handkerchief.

I was almost at his side, when hearing voices in the woods behind me, I
looked around, and saw two more mounted men coming after us at a swift
gallop. The thought flashed through my mind that those were the fellow’s
accomplices. One to one had not seemed to me very formidable; but three
to one would not be so pleasant. I pressed my iron gray immediately
alongside the tassel-tailed mule, and accosted the rider, determined to
learn what manner of man he was before the others arrived. The startled
look he gave me, and the blue nose, with its lucid pendent drop, that
peered out of the sanguinary handkerchief, showed me that he was as
harmless a traveller as myself. He was a lad about eighteen years of
age. He had tied up his ears, to defend them from the cold, and the
bandage over them had prevented him from hearing my approach until I was
close upon him.

“It’s a kule day,” he remarked, with numb lips, as he reined his mule
aside to let me pass at a respectful distance,—for it was evident he
regarded me with quite as much distrust as I had him.

At the same time the two other mounted men came rushing upon us, through
the half-frozen puddles, with splash and clatter and loud boisterous
oaths; and one of them drew from his pocket, and brandished over the
tossing mane of his horse, something so like a pistol that I half
expected a shot.

“How are ye?” said he, halting his horse, and spattering me all over
with muddy water. “Right cold morning! Hello, Zeek!” to the rider of the
tassel-tailed mule. “I didn’t know ye, with yer face tied up that
fashion. Take a drink?” Zeek declined. “Take a drink, stranger?” And he
offered me the pistol, which proved to be a flask of whiskey. I declined
also. Upon which the fellow held the flask unsteadily to his own lips
for some seconds, then passed it to his companion. After drinking
freely, they spurred on again, with splash and laughter and oaths,
leaving Zeek and me riding alone together.



                             CHAPTER XLII.
                                 ZEEK.


“Didn’t I see your horse tied to Old Lee’s gate?” said Zeek. And that
led to a discussion of the old hero’s character.

“Is he a Union man?”

“I kain’t say; but that’s the story they tell on him. One of the men he
killed was one of our neighbors; a man we used to consider right
respectable; but he tuke to thieving during the wa’, and got to be of no
account. That was the way with a many I know. You may stop at a house
now whur they’ll steal your horse, and like as not rob and murder ye.”

Zeek told me he lived on the edge of the battle-field; and I engaged him
to guide me to it. He thought I must be going to search for the body of
some friend who fell there. When I told him I was from the North, and
that my object was simply to visit the battle-field, he looked at me
with amazement.

“I should think you’d be afraid to be riding alone in this country! If
’t was known you was a Yankee, and had money about you, I allow you’d
get a shot from behind some bush.”

“I think the men who would serve me such a trick are very few.”

“Thar was right smart of ’em befo’e the wa’ closed. They’d just go about
robbing,—hang an old gray-haired man right up, till he’d tell whur his
money was. They called themselves Confederates, but they was just
robbers. They’ve got killed off, or have gone off, or run out, till, as
you say, there an’t but few left.”

With these exceptions, Zeek praised highly the middling class of people
who inhabited that region.

“Some countries, a pore man ain’t respected no mo’e ’n a dog. ‘Tan’t so
hyere. Man may be plumb pore, but if he’s honest, he’s thought as much
of as anybody. Mo’e ’n two thirds of ’em can read and write.” Before the
war, they used to have what they called “neighborhood schools.” The
teacher was supported by the pupils, receiving two dollars a month for
each: he taught only in winter, and was fortunate if he could secure
forty pupils.

Flocks of sparrows flew up from the bushes or hopped along the ground.
There were bluebirds also; and I noticed one or two robins. “We never
see robins hyere only in winter,” said Zeek.

Green bunches of mistletoe grew on the leafless brown trees,—a striking
feature of Southern woods in winter. “It’s a curiosity, the way it
grows,” said Zeek. “It just grows on the tops of trees, without no rute,
nor nothing. It’s a rare chance you find it on the hills; it grows
mostly on the bottoms whur thar’s mo’e moisture in the air.” It was a
beautiful sight to me, riding under its verdant tufts, sometimes so low
on the boughs that, by rising in the stirrups, I could pluck sprigs of
it, with their translucent pearly berries, as I passed. But Zeek was
wrong in saying it had no root. It is supposed to be propagated by birds
wiping their bills upon the limbs of trees, after eating the berries. A
stray seed thus deposited germinates, and the penetrating root feeds
upon the juices that flow between the bark and the wood of the tree.

We passed but few farm-houses, and those were mostly built of logs. We
crossed heavy lines of Beauregard’s breastworks; and could have traced
the route of the great armies by the bones of horses, horned cattle, and
mules we saw whitening in the woods and by the roadside. A crest of
hilly fields showed us a magnificent sweep of level wooded country on
the west and south, like a brown wavy sea, with tossed tree-tops for
breakers.

“Mighty pore soil along hyere,” observed Zeek. When I told him that it
was as good as much of the soil of New England, which farmers never
thought of cultivating without using manures, he said, “When our land
gits as pore as that, we just turn it right out, and cle’r again. We
don’t allow we can afford to manure. But No’th Car’linians come in
hyere, and take up the land turned out so, and go to manuring it, and
raise right smart truck on it.”

As I was inclined to ride faster than Zeek, he looked critically at my
horse, and remarked, “I don’t reckon you give less ’n a dollar a day for
that beast.” I said I gave more than that. “I ride my beasts hard
enough,” he replied, “but I reckon if I paid a dollar a day for one, I’d
ride him a heap harder!”

He had been down to the saw-mill, to get pay for a yoke of oxen his
father had sold. “I started by sun-up, and got thar agin nine o’clock.”
It was now afternoon, and he was hungry and cold. He therefore proposed
to me to go home with him and get warm, before visiting the
battle-field.

It was after two o’clock when we came to a hilly field covered with
rotting clothes.

“Beauregard’s troops come plumb up this road, and slept hyere the night
befo’e the battle. They left their blankets and knapsacks, and after
they got brushed out by the Yankees, the second day, they didn’t wait to
pick ’em up again.”

We entered the woods beyond, directing our course towards the western
edge of the battle-field; and, after riding some distance, forded Owl
Creek,—a narrow, but deep and muddy stream. Zeek’s home was in view from
the farther bank; a log-house, with the usual great opening through the
middle; situated on the edge of a pleasant oak-grove strewn with
rustling leaves, and enclosed, with its yard and out-houses, by a
Virginia rail-fence.



                             CHAPTER XLIII.
                             ZEEK’S FAMILY.


“Alight!” said Zeek, dismounting at the gate.

I remonstrated against leaving the animals uncovered in the cold, but he
said it was the way people did in that country; and it was not until an
hour later that he found it convenient to give them shelter and food.

We were met inside the gate by a sister of the young man’s, a girl of
fifteen, in a native Bloomer dress that fell just below the knees. As I
entered the space between the two divisions of the house, I noticed that
doors on both sides were open, one leading to the kitchen, where there
was a great fire, and the other to the sitting-room, where there was
another great fire, in large old-fashioned fireplaces.

Zeek took me into the sitting-room, and introduced me to his mother.
There were two beds in the back corners of the room. The uncovered floor
was of oak; the naked walls were of plain hewn logs; the sleepers and
rough boards of the chamber floor constituted the ceiling. There were
clothes drying on a pole stretched across the room, and hanks of dyed
cotton thread on a bayonet thrust into a chink of the chimney. Cold as
the day was, the door by which we entered was never shut, and sometimes
another door was open, letting the wintry wind sweep through the house.

Zeek’s mother went to see about getting us some dinner; and his father
came in from the woods, where he had been chopping, and sat in the
chimney-corner and talked with me: a lean, bent, good-humored,
hard-working, sensible sort of man. He told me he had five hundred acres
of land, but only thirty-six under cultivation. He and Zeek did the
work; they had never owned negroes.

“Three or four niggers is too much money for a pore man to invest in
that way: they may lie down and die, and then whur’s yer money? Thar was
five niggers owned in Middle Tennessy,” he added, “to one in this part
of the State.”

Speaking of his farm, he said it was mighty good land till it wore out.
He had raised two bales of cotton on three and a half acres, the past
season. It was equally good for other crops. “I make some corn, some
pork, some cotton, and a mule or two, every year: I never resk all on
one thing.”

Looking at the open outside doors and the great roaring fires, I said I
should think wood must be a very important item with Tennessee farmers.

“Yes, I reckon we burn two cords a week, such weather as this, just for
fire, and as much more in the kitchen. We’ve wood enough. As we turn out
old land, we must cle’r new; then we have the advantage of the ashes for
ley and soap.”

“But the labor of chopping so much wood must be considerable.”

“Oh, I can chop enough in a day, or a day and a half, to last a week.
Winters, farmers don’t do much else but feed and get wood.”

I said I thought they would some day regret not having kept up their
cleared fields by proper cultivation, and preserved their forests.

“I allow we shall. I’ve just returned from a trip up into Middle
Tennessy” (accented on the first syllable), “whur I used to live; they
burnt up their timber thar, just as we’re doing hyere, and now they’re
setting down and grieving because they’ve no wood. They save everything
thar, to the trunks and crotches. We just leave them to rot, or log ’em
up in heaps and burn ’em, whur the land’s to be cle’red; and use only
the clean limbs, that chop easy and don’t require much splitting.” He
broke forth in praise of a good warm fire. “Put on a big green back-log
and build agin it,—that’s our fashion.”

Zeek’s mother came to announce our dinner. I crossed the open space,
pausing only to wash my hands and face in a tin basin half filled with
water and pieces of ice, and entered the kitchen. It was a less
pretentious apartment than the sitting-room. There was no window in it;
but wide chinks between the logs, and two open doors, let in a
sufficiency of daylight, and more than a sufficiency of cold wind. There
was a bed in one corner, and a little square pine table set in the
centre of the room. A gourd of salt hung by the chimney, and a homemade
broom leaned beside it. I noticed a scanty supply of crockery and
kitchen utensils on pegs and shelves.

The table was neatly set, with a goodly variety of dishes for a late
dinner in a back-country farm-house. I remember a plate of fried pork;
fricasseed gray squirrel (cold); boiled “back of hog” (warmed up); a
pitcher of milk; cold biscuit, cold corn bread, and “sweet bread” (a
name given to a plain sort of cake).

We could have dined very comfortably but for the open doors. Blowing in
at one and out at the other, and circulating through numberless cracks
between the logs, the gale frisked at will about our legs, and made our
very hands numb and noses cold while we ate. The fire was of no more use
to us than one built out-of-doors. The victuals that had come upon the
table warm were cold before they reached our mouths. The river of
pork-fat which the kind lady poured over my plate, congealed at once
into a brownish-gray deposit, like a spreading sand-bar. I enjoyed an
advantage over Zeek, for I had taken the precaution to put on my
overcoat and to secure a back seat. He sat opposite me, with his back
towards the windward door, where the blast, pouncing in upon him,
pierced and pinched him without mercy. He had not yet recovered from the
chill of his long winter-day’s ride; and his lank, shivering frame, and
blue, narrow, puckered face under its thin thatch of tow (combed
straight down, and cut square and short across his forehead from ear to
ear), presented a picture at once astonishing and ludicrous.

“Have you got warm yet, Zeek?” I cheerfully inquired.

“No!”—shuddering. “I’m plumb chilly! I’m so kule I kain’t eat.”

“I should think you would be more comfortable with that door closed,” I
mildly suggested.

He slowly turned his head half round, and as slowly turned it back
again, with another shiver. The possibility of actually shutting the
door seemed scarcely to penetrate the tow-thatch. I suppose such an act
would have been unprecedented in that country,—one which all
conservative persons would have shaken their heads at as a dangerous
innovation.

Zeek begged to be excused, he was so kule; and taking a piece of
squirrel in one hand, and a biscuit in the other, went and stood by the
fire. I found that he was averse to going out again that day: it was now
late in the afternoon, and our poor animals had not yet been fed, or
even taken in from where they stood curled up with the cold by the gate:
I accordingly proposed to the old folks to spend the night with them,
and to take Zeek with me over the battle-field in the morning. This
being agreed upon, the father invited me to go out and see his stock,
and his two bags of cotton.

In the yard near the house was the smoke-house, or meat-house, a blind
hut built of small logs, answering the purpose of a cellar,—for in that
country cellars are unknown. In it the family provisions were stored.
Under an improvised shelter at one corner was the cotton, neatly packed
in two bales of five hundred pounds each, and looking handsome as a lady
in its brown sacking and new hoops. The hoops were a sort of experiment,
which it was thought would prove successful. Usually the sacking and
ropes about a bale of cotton cost as much by the pound as the cotton
itself; and, to economize that expense, planters were beginning to
substitute hickory hoops for ropes. The owner was very proud of those
two bales, picked by his own hands and his children’s, and prepared for
market at a gin and press in the neighborhood; and he hoped to realize
five hundred dollars for them when thrown upon the market. A planter of
a thousand bales, made by the hands of slaves he was supposed to own,
and ginned and pressed on his own plantation, could not have
contemplated his crop with greater satisfaction, in King Cotton’s
haughtiest days.

Near the meat-house was a huge ash-leach. Then there was a simple
horse-mill for crushing sorghum,—for Mr. ——, like most Southern farmers,
made sufficient syrup for home consumption, besides a little for market.
Under a beech-tree was a beautiful spring of water. A rail-fence
separated the door-yard from the cattle-yard, where were flocks of hens,
geese, ducks, and turkeys, cackling, quacking, and gobbling in such old
familiar fashion that I was made to feel strangely at home in their
company. There were bleating, hungry calves, and good-natured surly
bulls, and patient cows waiting to be milked and fed, and a family of
uncurried colts and young mules, and beautiful spotted goats, with their
kids, and near by a hog-lot frill of lean and squealing swine. Speaking
of the goats, Mr. —— said there was no money in them, but that he kept
them for the curiosity of the thing.

There was no barn on the place. The nearest approach to it was the
stable, or “mule-pen,” constructed of logs with liberal openings between
them, through one of which my lonesome iron-gray put his nose as I came
near, and whinnied his humble petition for fodder. There he was, stabled
with mules, unblanketed, and scarcely better off than when tied to the
gate-post,—for the wind circulated almost as freely through the rude
enclosure as it did in Mrs. ——’s kitchen. Such hospitalities were
scarcely calculated to soothe the feelings of a proud and well-bred
horse; but the iron-gray accepted them philosophically.

“Where is your hay?” I inquired.

“We make no hay in this country. Our stock feeds out on the hills, or
browses in the woods or cane-brakes, all winter. When we have to feed
’em, we throw out a little corn, fodder, and shucks.”

A loft over the mule-pen was filled with stalks and unhusked corn. Zeek
went up into it, and threw down bundles of the former, and filled
baskets of the latter, for his father to feed out to the multitude of
waiting mouths.

I inquired particularly regarding the large quantities of natural
manures which ought to accumulate in such a farm-yard.

“We just throw them out, and let them get trampled and washed away. We
can’t haul out and spread. It’s the hardest work we ever did, and
Tennesseans can’t get used to it.”

The yard was on a side hill, where every rain must wash it, and the
mule-pen was conveniently situated near the brink of a gully, from which
every freshet would sweep what was thrown into it. In vain I
remonstrated against this system of farming: Mr. —— replied that he was
brought up to it, and could not learn another.



                             CHAPTER XLIV.
                   A NIGHT IN A TENNESSEE FARM-HOUSE


We went into the house, and gathered around the sitting-room fire for a
social evening’s talk. As it grew dark, the doors were closed, and we
sat in the beautiful firelight. And now I learned a fact, and formed a
theory, concerning doors.

The fact was this: not a door on the premises had either lock or bolt.
Mule-pen, meat-house, and both divisions of the dwelling-house, were
left every night without other fastening than the rude wooden latches of
the country. This was a very common practice among the small farmers of
that region. “It was a rare chance we ever used to hear of anything
being stolen. My house was never robbed, and I never lost a mule or
piece of meat till after war broke out.”

The closing of the doors at dark, not because the weather had grown
colder, but apparently because there was no longer any daylight to
admit, suggested to my mind the origin of the universal Southern custom
of leaving doors open during the severest winter weather. The poor
whites and negroes live very generally in huts and cabins without
windows. Even the houses of the well-to-do small farmers are scantily
supplied with these modern luxuries. The ancestors of the wealthier
middle class dwelt not many years ago in similar habitations. Such is
the strength of habit, and so strong the conservatism of imitative
mankind, that I suppose a public statute would be necessary to compel
now the shutting of doors of windowed houses against the piercing winds
of the cold season; just as, according to Charles Lamb, the Chinese
people’s method of obtaining roast pig by burning their dwellings over a
tender suckling—that ravishing delicacy having been accidentally
discovered to the world by the conflagration of a house with its
adjoining pig-sty—had to be stopped by an imperial edict.

We sat without lamp or candle in the red gleaming firelight; and the
faces of the little girls, who had been shrinking and shivering with the
cold all day, took on a glow of comfort and pleasure, now that the house
was shut. However, I could still feel gusts of the wintry air blowing
upon me from openings between the logs. I have been in many Southern
farm-houses; and I have heard the custom of open doors commended as
necessary to give plenty of air and to toughen the inmates by wholesome
exposure; but I do not now remember the habitation that was not more
than sufficiently supplied with air, both for ventilating and toughening
purposes, with every door closed.

Mr. —— talked quite sensibly of the origin and results of the war. He
and the majority of the farmers in that region were originally Union
men, and remained so to the last. “Some of the hottest secesh, too, got
to be right good Union before the wa’ was over,—they found the Yankees
treated ’em so much better ’n they expected, and the Rebs so much wuss.”

He accepted emancipation. “The way I look at it, the thing had growed up
till it got ripe, and it fell on us in this age. It was the universal
opinion before the wa’, that the country would be a heap better off
without niggers. But we couldn’t go with the Abolitionists of the No’th,
nor with the secesh fire-eaters. We stood as it were between two fires.
That was what made it so hard.”

But he shared the common prejudice against permitting the negroes to
remain and enjoy the land. “’T won’t do to have ’em settled among us. ’T
would, if everybody was honest. But the whites, I’m ashamed to say it,
will just prey upon them. They’re bound to be the poorest set of
vagabonds that ever walked the earth. O yes, they’ll work. It’s just
this way,—they’ll work if they have encouragement; and no man will
without, unless he’s driven. All around hyere, and up in Middle
Tennessy, whur I’ve been, they’re doing right smart. But it has seemed
to bear on their minds that they wanted to rent land, and have a little
place of their own. They get treated right rough by some unprincipled
men, and by some that ought to know how to give ’em Christian treatment,
now they’re free. But the truth is, a white man can’t take impudence
from ’em. It may be a long ways removed from what you or I would think
impudence, but these passionate men call it that, and pitch in.”

“Blair, an old nigger down to the saw-mill whur I went to-day,” said
Zeek, “got his head split open with an axe by a man two days ago. He
said Old Blair sassed him. He fell plumb crossways of the fire, and they
had to roll him off.”

“That’s the way,” said Mr. ——. “Befo’e the wa’ the owner of the nigger’d
have had the man arrested. He was so much property. It was as if you
should kill or maim my horse. But now the nigger has no protection.”

“That’s very true, if the government does not protect him.”

We talked of the depredations of the two armies. “I never feared one
party more than the other,” said Mrs. ——. “If anything, the Rebels was
worst.”

“Both took hosses and mules,” said Mr. ——. “At fust, I used to try to
get my property back. I’d go to head-quarters and get authority to take
it whur I could find it; but always by that time ’t would be
hocus-pocussed out of the way. It was all an understood thing. Aside
from that, the regular armies, neither of them, didn’t steal from us.
But as soon as they’d passed, then the thieves would come in. They’d
take what we had, and cus us for not having mo’e. Sheep, chickens,
geese, corn, watches, and money,—whatever they could lay hands on
suffered. Men never thought of carrying money about them, them times,
but always give it to the weemun to hide. Thar was scouts belonging to
both armies, but which was mo’e robbers than scouts, that was the
scourge of the country. If a man had anything, they’d be sure to h’ist
it. They’d pretend to come with an order to search for gov’ment arms. It
was only an excuse for robbing. They’d search for gov’ment arms in a
tin-cup. They had what they called a cash rope. That was a rope to slip
about a man’s neck, and swing him up with, till he’d tell whur his money
was. They had a gimblet, which they said was for boring for treasures;
and they always knew just whur to bore to find ’em. That was right
hyere” (in a man’s temples). “They’d bore into him, till he couldn’t
stand the pain, then if he had any money he’d be only too glad to give
it up. These was generally Confederates. We was pestered powerful by
’em. But Harrison’s scouts was as bad as any. They pretended to be
acting on the Union side. They was made up of Southern men, mostly from
Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessy. They was a torn-down bad set of men;
bad as the Rebs. They’d no respect for anybody or anything. One Sunday a
neighbor of mine met them coming up the road. He knew them very well;
and he said to them, it was Sunday, and he hoped thar’d be no
disturbances that day; the people, he said, had all gone to preaching.
That’s right, they said; they believed in means of grace; and they asked
whur the preaching was to be, and who was going to preach. He told them,
and said he was going thar himself. They said they believed a man did
right to go to preaching, though they was deprived of that privilege
themselves. He told ’em he hoped they’d look more after their eternal
interest in futur’, and they said they intended to, and inquired mo’e
particular whur the preaching was to be, and thanked him, and rode on.
They then just went to plund’ring, cl’aring out his house about the fust
one. Then they said they thought they’d take his advice, and look a
little after their eternal interests, and go and hunt up the preaching.
Then they just went over and robbed the meeting. There was seventeen
horses with sidesaddles on ’em; the men generally went on foot, but the
weemun rode. They tuke every horse, and left the weemun to walk home,
and carry their saddles, or leave ’em.”

“Some Rebel bushwhackers,” said Mrs. ——, “went to the house of a woman I
know as well as I know my own sisters, and because she wouldn’t give ’em
her money—she had it in a belt under her dress tied around her
waist—they knocked her eye out; then they took their knives, and cut
right through to her flesh, cutting her money out.”

Both Zeek and his father kept out of the war. The latter was too old,
and the former too young, to be swept in by the conscription act. “Zeek
escaped well!” said the mother, with a gleam of exultation. “But I was
just in dread he’d be taken!” And I gathered that a little innocent
maternal fiction, as to his years, had been employed to shield him.

“Some of the hardest times we saw, hyere in the Union parts of Tennessy,
was when they come hunting conscripts. They got up some dogs now that
would track a man. One of my neighbors turned and shot a hound that was
after him, and got away. The men come up, and they was torn-down mad
when they saw the dog killed. They pressed a man and his wagon to take
the carcase back to town; they lived in Adamsville, eight miles from
hyere. They stopped to my house over night, going back.”

“They just bemoaned the loss of that dog,” said Mrs. ——. “They said
they’d sooner have lost one of their company.”

“They got back to town, and they buried that dog now with great
solemnity. They put a monument over his grave, with an epitaph on it.
But some of the conscripts they’d been hunting, dug him up, and hung him
to a tree, and shot him full of bullets, and made a writing which they
pinned to the tree, with these words on it: ‘_We’ll serve the owners of
the dogs the same way next._’”

“Was Owl Crick swimming to-day, Zeek?” Mrs. —— asked; meaning, was it so
high that our beasts had to swim. And that led to a remark as to the
origin of the name.

“Thar’s right smart of owls on this Crick,” said Mr. ——; “sometimes
we’re pestered powerful by ’em; they steal our chickens so.”

Just then we heard a wild squawking in the direction of the hen-roost.
“Thar’s one catching a chicken now,” quietly observed the farmer. I
certainly expected to see either him or Zeek run out to the poor thing’s
rescue. But they sat unconcernedly in their chairs. It was the chicken’s
business, not theirs. The squawking grew fainter and fainter, and then
ceased.

“The people all through this section I allow will never forget the
battle,” said Mr. ——. “Friday night Johnson’s left wing was at
Brooks’s,—the last house you passed to-day befo’e you fo’ded Owl Crick.
The woods was just full of men. They took Brooks, to make him show ’em
the way. He said he didn’t know the woods, and that was the fact; but
they swo’e he lied, and he must go with ’em, and they’d shoot him if he
led ’em amiss. He was in a powerful bad fix; but, lucky for him they
hadn’t gone fur when they met Dammern, an old hunter, that knew every
branch and thicket in the country. So they swapped off Brooks for
Dammern.

“The Federals was on the other side of us, and I allowed there was going
to be a battle. And it looked to me as if it was going to be right on my
farm.”

“That was the awfulest night I ever had in my life,” said Mrs. ——. “My
husband was for leaving at once. But it didn’t appear like I could bear
the idea of it. Though what to do with ourselves if we staid? We’ve no
cellar, and if we’d had one, and got into it, a shell might have set the
house afire, and buried us under it. So I proposed we should dig a hole
to get into. He allowed that might be the best thing. So the next
morning I got off betimes, and went over and counselled with our
neighbors through the grove, and told ’em I thought it would be a grand
idee to dig a pit for both our families, and so they came over hyere and
went to digging.”

“You never see men work so earnest as we did till about ’leven o’clock,”
said Mr. ——. “Finally we got the pit dug, between the house and the
spring. But when it was done it looked so much like a grave the weemun
dreaded to get into it, and so much like a breastwork we men was afraid
both armies would just play their artilleries onto it. So my wife give
her consent we should take to the swamps. But what to do with the pit?
for if it got shelled, the house would be destroyed; and then thar was
danger the armies would use the hole to bury their dead in, and the
bodies would spoil our spring. And as we couldn’t take the pit with us,
it appeared like thar was but one thing to do. So we put in and worked
right earnest till we’d filled it up again. A rain had come on Friday
night, and bogged down some of Johnson’s artillery between hyere and
Corinth, and that’s my understanding why the fight didn’t come off
Saturday. That give us time to git off. I took my family three miles
back to a cabin in the swamp, and thar they staid till it was all over;
only Zeek and me come back for some loads of goods. We took one load
Saturday, and come for another Monday. That was the second day of the
fight. We found the place covered with Rebel soldiers. The battle was
going on then. The roar of artillery was so loud you couldn’t converse
at one end of the house, whur the echo was. The musketry sounded like a
roaring wind; the artillery was like peals of thunder.

“Thar was one family caught on the battle-field. They had staid, because
the man was laying dangerously sick, and they dreaded to move him. After
the fighting begun, they started to get away. The little boy was shot
through the head, and the horse killed. The weemun then just took up the
sick man and run with him down into the swamp.”

“We had a nephew living on the battle-field,” said Mrs. ——. “The family
was down with the measles at the time. But when they see thar was to be
a fight, they just moved a plank in the ceiling over head, and hid up
all their bacon, and lard, and corn-meal, and everything to eat they
couldn’t take with ’em. Then they tuke up a child apiece and come on for
us; we’d done gone when they got hyere, and they come tearing through
the swampy ground after us, toting their babes. They staid with us in
the cabin till after the battle. But by that time his house was occupied
by soldiers. He’d been right ingenious hiding his provisions, so nobody
could find ’em; but the soldiers went to tearing off ceilings to get
planks to make boxes, and down come the corn-meal and bacon; so they had
a pretty rich supply.”

“After that,” said Mr. ——, “his house got burnt. Nearly all the houses
and fences for miles, on the battle-field, was burnt, so that it was
just one common. Thar was nobody left. You never see such desolation.
Then the armies moved off, leaving a rich pasture. I had my cattle
pastured thar all that summer.”

Mrs. —— proposed that the children should sing for me a little piece
called “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” Her husband favored the suggestion,
saying it was “a right nice composed little song.”

“I’ve plumb forgotten it,” said Zeek. And the little girls, who
blushingly undertook it after much solicitation, could remember only a
few lines here and there, greatly to the parents’ chagrin.

Mrs. —— was at times very thoughtful; and she told me a newly married
elder daughter had that day left home with her husband.

“We’ll go by their house in the morning, and I’ll show it to you,” said
Zeek.

I congratulated the parents on having their child settled so near them;
yet Mrs. —— could scarcely speak of the separation without rising tears.
All were eloquent in their praises of the young husband. He was doing
right well, when the war, the cruel, wasteful war, swept him in, and he
fought for the slave despotism four years, without a dollar of pay. That
left him plumb flat. But he was a right smart worker. He was a splendid
hand to make rails. He could write also. After the surrender, he just
let in to work, and made a crop; and after the crop was laid by, (_i.
e._, when the corn was hoed for the last time,) he pitched into writing.
He employed himself as a teacher of that art. He had already taught nine
schools, of ten successive lessons each, at two dollars a scholar. He
had had as many as sixty pupils of an evening. I sympathized sincerely
with the satisfaction they all felt in having their Maggie married to so
smart a man. Indeed, I was beginning greatly to like this little family,
and to feel a personal interest in all their affairs. It delights me now
to recall that December evening, spent in the red firelight of that
humble farm-house; and if I record their peculiarities of speech and
manners, it is because they were characteristic and pleasing.

At eight o’clock, Zeek, weary with his long ride that day, said, “I
believe I’ll lie down,” and, without further ceremony, took off his
clothes and got into one of the beds in the room. Mrs. —— thought I also
must be tired, and said I could go to bed when I pleased. Thinking it
possible I might be assigned to the same apartment, I concluded to sit
up until the audience became somewhat smaller. The girls presently went
up-stairs, lighted to their beds by the fire, which shone up the
stairway and through the cracks in the chamber floor. I took courage
then to say that I was ready to retire; and, to my gratification, saw a
candle lighted to show me to my chamber,—though I marvelled where that
could be, for I supposed I had seen every room in the house, except the
loft to which the girls had gone, when I had seen the sitting-room and
kitchen.

Mr. —— took me first out-doors, to a stoop on the side of the house
opposite the great opening. Thence a door opened into a little framed
box of a room built up against the log-house, as an addition. There was
scarcely space to turn in it. The walls consisted of the naked, rough
boards. There was not even a latch to the door, which opened into the
universal night, and which the wind kept pushing in. Mr. —— advised me
to place the chair against it, which I did. I set the candle in the
chair, and blew it out after I had got into bed. Then looking up, I saw
with calm joy a star through the roof. It was interesting to know that
this was the bridal chamber.

The bed was deep and comfortable, and I did not suffer from cold,
although I could feel the fingers of the wind toying with my hair. The
night was full of noises, like the reports of pistols. It was the old
house cracking its joints.



                              CHAPTER XLV.
                          THE FIELD OF SHILOH.


Daylight next morning shone in through the chinks of the bridal chamber
(for window it had none), and I awoke refreshed, after sound sleep. The
dawn was enlivened by pleasing old-time sounds,—the farmer chopping wood
at the door, crowing cocks, gossiping geese, and the new-made fire
snapping and crackling in the next room.

The morning was very cold. The earth was covered with white frost, like
snow. We had breakfast at the usual hour. “Farmers commonly get their
breakfases by sun-up,” said mine host. At table (both doors open, and
everybody shivering) Mrs. —— remarked that if it was any colder in my
country she would not like to live there. I said to her,—

“We should call this cold weather, though we have some much colder. But,
allow me to tell you, I have suffered more from the cold since I have
been in Tennessee, than I have for ten years in the North. There, when
we go out of doors in winter, we go clad to meet the inclemencies of the
season; and we know how to make ourselves comfortable in our houses.
Here your houses are open. The wind comes in through the cracks, and you
do not even think of shutting the doors. My people at home would think
they would perish, if they had to breakfast with the wind blowing on
them, as you have it blowing on you here.” In short, I said so much that
I got one of the doors closed, which I considered a great triumph.

Zeek brought our animals to the gate; and I called for my bill. Mr. ——
said it appeared like he ought not to charge me anything; he had been
very glad of my company. As I insisted on discharging my indebtedness,
he named a sum so modest that I smiled. “You haven’t heard of the rage
for high prices, nor learned the art of fleecing the Yankees.” I gave
him twice the sum, but it was with difficulty I could prevail upon him
to accept it, for he said it would trouble his conscience. A simple,
thoroughly good and upright man,—would there were more like him!

I mounted my horse at the gate, and in company with Zeek and his mule,
set out for the battle-field. We struck Owl Creek, but instead of
crossing immediately, followed a cattle-path along its bank. On our
right were woods, their tops just flushing with the new-risen sun; on
our left, cornfields, in some of which the corn had not yet been
gathered, while in others I noticed winter wheat, (ploughed in between
the rows of stalks, still standing,) covering the ground with its green
mat, now hoary with frost. Fording the creek at a safe place, and
pushing in an easterly direction through the woods, we came to an army
road, made by Wallace’s division moving on towards Corinth, after the
battle.

It was a pleasant, still morning, such as always brings to the
susceptible spirit a sense of exhilaration. Leisurely we rode among the
wooded hills, which I could scarcely believe were ever shaken by the
roar of battle. Only the blue jay and the woodpecker made the brown
vistas of the trees echo with their drumming and screaming, where had
been heard the shriek and whiz of missiles and bullets tapping the
trunks.

A little back from the cleared fields we came to a nice-looking new
log-hut. It had no window, and but one door. This was closed; by which
token Zeek knew the folks were away. This was the abode of his sister
and her interesting husband; this the bridal home. Something tender and
grateful swelled up in my heart as I looked at the little windowless
log-cabin, and thought of the divine gift of love, and of happiness,
which dwells in humble places as well as in the highest.

Quitting Wallace’s road at its junction with a neighborhood road, we
struck another cow-path, which led in a northeasterly direction through
the woods. We soon came upon evidences of a vast encampment. Here our
right wing had intrenched itself after the battle. In this place I may
remark that the astonishing fact about this field is, that our army did
not intrench itself _before_ the battle. Three weeks it lay at Shiloh,
menaced by the enemy; Grant himself pronounced an attack probable, and
the sagacious Sherman expected it; yet when it came, it proved a perfect
surprise; it found our lines badly arranged, weak, and undefended by a
single breastwork.

Beyond was a magnificent field, swept of its fences, but stuck all over
with abandoned tent-supports, showing where our finally victorious
legions had lain. “This field was just like a city after the fight,”
said Zeek. I noticed that the trees in the surrounding groves were
killed. “The Yankees skinned ’em for bark to lay on,” Zeek explained.

Crossing Shiloh Branch,—a sluggish little stream, with low, flat shores,
covered with yellow sedge and sentinelled by solemn dead trees,—we
ascended a woody hill, along the crest of which a row of graves showed
where Hildebrand’s picket line was attacked, on that disastrous Sunday
morning. Each soldier had been buried where he fell. The boughs, so
fresh and green that April morning, waving over their heads in the sweet
light of dawn, though dismantled now by the blasts of winter, had still
a tranquil beauty of their own, gilded and sparkling with sunshine and
frost. Fires in the woods had burned the bottoms of the head-boards. I
stopped at one grave within a rude log-rail enclosure. “In memory of L.
G. Miller,” said the tablet; but the remainder of the inscription had
been obliterated by fire. I counted eighteen graves in this little row.

We rode on to Shiloh Church,—formerly a mere log-cabin in the woods, and
by no means the neat white-steepled structure on some village green,
which the name of country church suggests to the imagination. There
Beauregard had his head-quarters after Sunday’s battle. It was
afterwards torn down for its timbers, and now nothing remained of it but
half-burnt logs and rubbish.

Below the hill, a few rods south of the church, Zeek showed me some
Rebel graves. There many a poor fellow’s bones lay scattered about,
rooted up by swine. I saw an old half-rotted shoe, containing a skeleton
foot. But the most hideous sight of all, was a grinning skull pushed out
of a hole in the ground, exposing the neck-bone, with a silk cravat
still tied about it in a fashionable knot.

A short distance southeast of the church we visited the ruins of the
Widow Ray house, burned to the ground in the midst of its blasted
orchard and desolated fields. “A girl that lived hyere fell mightily in
love with a Yankee soldier. Saturday night, he allowed there was going
to be a battle, and come to bid her good-bye. He got killed; and she
went plumb distracted. She’s married now to a mighty clever feller.”

Zeek had another romantic story to tell, as we returned to the church.
“Hyere’s whur the bale of hay was. When the Rebs was brushing out the
Yankees, an old Reb found a Yankee soldier nigh about this spot, that
had been wounded, and was perishing for a drink of water. He just took
him, and got him behind a bale of hay that was hyere, and give him drink
out of his canteen, just like he’d been his own brother. Some of the
time he’d be nussing him behind the hay, and the rest he’d be shooting
the Yankees over it.” Some one asked him why he took such a heap of
pains to save one Yankee life, while he was killing as many mo’e as he
could. “They’re fighting enemies,” he said; “but a wounded man is no
longer an enemy, he’s a feller being.”

Members of one family after all, though at war. Some were so in a
literal sense. I recall the story of two Kentucky regiments that fought
on this field, one for the bad cause and one for the good. Two brothers
met, and the Federal captured the Rebel. The former recommenced firing,
when the latter said, “Don’t shoot there; that’s daddy behind that
tree.”

Cantering over the hills towards the northeast, we came to the scene of
a severe infantry fight in the woods. There was a wild burial-place,
containing some fifty patriot graves, originally surrounded by a fence
of stakes wattled with saplings Both the fence and the head-boards had
been broken down and partly burned. All around us were sheep feeding in
the open woods; and withdrawn to the seclusion of the little
burial-ground was a solitary ewe and a pair of new-born lambs.

“All these hills are just lined with graves,” said Zeek. Not far away
was a fence surrounding the resting-places of “two officers and
seventeen private Rebels,” as an inscription cut in the side of a
black-jack informed us. There was a story connected with these graves. A
Federal soldier found on the dead body of one of the officers, a watch,
his likeness, his wife’s likeness, a letter from his wife, and a letter
written by himself requesting that, in case he should fall, these relics
might be sent to her. The soldier faithfully fulfilled this duty; and at
the close of the war the wife, following the directions he forwarded to
her with them, came and found his grave.

We rode a mile due north through what Zeek termed “the long avenue,” a
broad, level opening through the woods, at the farther end of which, “on
the elevatedest part,” a Yankee battery had been posted, doing terrible
execution, if one might judge by the trunks and boughs of trees lopped
off by shot and shell. The Rebels charged this battery repeatedly, and
it was captured and recaptured.

Leaving the sedgy hills, and pursuing our course towards the Landing, we
were stopped by a trench in the woods. It was one hundred and fifty feet
long, and four deep. For some reason both ends had been left open. Two
feet from the bottom, planks were laid across, the trench being filled
with earth over them. Beneath the planks the dead were buried. Their
bones could be seen at one of the open ends of the trench. A row of
head-boards indicated the graves of Illinois volunteers.

We rode on to the spot which has given the battle its northern name.
Under high bluffs, on what Zeek called a “bench,”—a shelf of land on the
river bank,—approached from the land side by a road running down through
a narrow ravine, stood the two log-huts, a dwelling and a grocery, which
constituted the town of “Pittsburgh.” There was not so much as a wharf
there, but steamers made their landing against the natural bank. There
was absolutely nothing there now, the two huts having been burned. Wild
ducks sat afloat on the broad, smooth breast of the river. It was not
easy looking down from those heights upon the tranquil picture, to call
up that other scene of battle-panic and dismay,—the routed Federal
troops pouring through the woods, disorganized, beaten, seeking the
shelter of the bluffs and the protection of the gun-boats; the great
conflict roaring behind them; the victorious Rebels in wild pursuit;
God’s solemn Sabbath changed to a horrible carnival of mad passions and
bloodshed.

“The Rebels just fanned ’em out,” said Zeek. “The Yankees put up white
flags under the bluff, but the Rebels didn’t come near enough to see
’em; they tuke a skeer,—the Federals fell back so easy, they was afraid
of some trick. Thar was such a vast amount of ’em they couldn’t all get
to the Landing. Some got drowned trying to swim Snake Creek. Numbers and
numbers tried to swim the river. A Federal officer told me he saw his
men swim out a little ways, get cold, then wind up together, and go to
hugging each other, and sink.” Such are the traditions of the fight
which have passed into the memory of the country people; but they should
be taken with considerable allowance.

On the level river bottom opposite the Landing we found an extensive
cornfield, bounded by heavy timber beyond. Under that shore the
gun-boats lay where they shelled the advancing Rebels. It was there,
emerging from the timber into the open field, that our defeated army
saw, that Sunday evening, first the advanced cavalry, then a whole
division of Buell’s army coming to the rescue,—banners flying and
bayonets glittering among the trees. Glad sight! No wonder the runaways
under the bluffs made the welkin ring with their cheers! If Buell did
not arrive in time to save that day, he was in time to save the next,
and turn defeat into victory.

Taking the Hamburg Road up the river, we reached the scene of General
Prentiss’s disaster. The Rebels were in our camps that Sunday morning
almost before the alarm of attack was given. First came the wild cries
of the pickets rushing in, accompanied by the scattering shots of the
enemy, and followed instantly by shells hurtling through the tents, in
which the inmates were just rousing from sleep; then, sweeping like an
avalanche through the woods, the terrible resistless battlefront of the
enemy.

“Into the just-aroused camps thronged the Rebel regiments, firing sharp
volleys as they came, and springing towards our laggards with the
bayonet. Some were shot down as they were running, without weapons,
hatless, coatless, toward the river. Others fell as they were
disentangling themselves from the flaps that formed the doors to their
tents; others as they were buckling on their accoutrements; a few, it
was even said, as they were vainly trying to impress on the
cruelly-exultant enemy their readiness to surrender. Officers were
wounded in their beds, and left for dead, who, through the whole two
days’ struggle, lay there gasping in their agony, and on Monday evening
were found in their gore, inside their tents, and still able to tell the
tale.”[13]

The houses all along the road were burned. In Prentiss’s front was a
farm, all laid waste, the orchard shot to pieces and destroyed by balls.
The woods all around were killed, perforated with countless holes, as by
the bills of woodpeckers.

Striking the Hamburg and Purdy road, we went west to the spot where the
Rebel General Sydney A. Johnston fell, pierced by a mortal wound. Zeek
then piloted me through the woods to the Corinth Road, where, time
pressing, I took leave of him, sorry I could not accept his invitation
to go home with him to dinner. It was five miles to his father’s house;
it was twenty miles to Corinth; and the day was already half spent.

-----

Footnote 13:

  “Agate,” in the _Cincinnati Gazette_, who furnished the best
  contemporaneous account of this battle.



                             CHAPTER XLVI.
                   WAITING FOR THE TRAIN AT MIDNIGHT.


Stopping occasionally to talk with the people along the road, and dining
at a farm-house, I did not reach Corinth until sunset. The first thing I
noticed, in passing the fortifications, was that the huts of the negro
garrison were dismantled; and I found the citizens rejoicing over the
removal of the troops. I returned to Mr. M——’s house, and was welcomed
by Mrs. M——, who seemed almost to have forgotten that I was not only a
Yankee, but a “bad Yankee” from Massachusetts. And here I may remark
that, whatever hostility was shown me by the Southern people on account
of my Northern origin, it usually wore off on a short acquaintance. Mrs.
M—— had a private room for me this time; and she caused a great, glowing
fire to be made in it for my comfort. After supper she invited me into
her sitting-room, where we talked freely about the bad Yankees, the war,
and emancipation.

Both her husband and father claimed to be Union men: but their Unionism
was of a kind too common in the South. They hated the secession leaders
almost as bitterly as they hated the Yankee government.

Mrs. M——: “Slavery was bad economy, I know; but oh, it was
glorious!”—spoken with a kind of romantic enthusiasm. “I’d give a mint
of money right now for servants like I once had,—to have one all my
own!”—clasping her hands in the ardor of that passionate wish.

“Ladies at the North,” she went on, “if they lose their servants, can do
their own work; but we can’t, we can’t!”

She bemoaned the loss of a girl she formerly owned; a bright mulattress,
very pretty and intelligent. “She could read and write as well as I
could. There was no kind of work that girl couldn’t do. And so
faithful!—I trusted everything to her, and was never deceived.”

I asked if she could feel in her heart that it was right to own such a
creature.

“I believed in it as much as I believed in the Bible. We were taught it
from our infancy,—we were taught it with our religion. I still think it
was right; but I think it was because we abused slavery that it was
taken from us. Emancipation is a worse thing for our servants than for
us. They can’t take care of themselves.”

“What has become of that favorite girl of yours?”

“She is in St. Louis. She works at her trade there; she’s a splendid
dressmaker. Oh, if I only had her to make my dresses now, like she used
to! She owns the house and lot where she lives; she has bought it with
the money she has earned. She’s married to a very fine mulatto man.”

“It seems she can take care of herself a good deal better than you can,”
I remarked. “It is she who is independent; it is you whom slavery has
left helpless.”

“Well, some of them have made money, and know how to keep it. But they
are very few.”

“Yet do not those few indicate what the race may become? And, when we
consider the bondage from which they have just broken, and the childish
improvidence which was natural to them in that condition, is it not a
matter of surprise that so many know how to take care of themselves?”
She candidly confessed that it was.

As an illustration of a practice Southern ladies too commonly indulge
in, I may state that, while we were conversing, she sat in the
chimney-corner, chewing a dainty little quid, and spitting into the fire
something that looked marvellously like tobacco juice.

As I was to take the train for Memphis at two o’clock in the morning, I
engaged a hackman to come to the house for me at one. Relying upon his
fidelity, I went to bed, slept soundly, and awoke providentially at a
quarter past the hour agreed upon. I waited half an hour for him, and he
did not appear. Opening the door to listen for coming wheels, I heard
the train whistle. Catching up my luggage, which luckily was not heavy,
I rushed out to search, at dead of night, in a strange town, lampless,
soundless, and fast asleep, for a railroad depot, which I should scarce
have thought of finding even by daylight without inquiring my way. Not a
living creature was abroad; not a light was visible in any house; I
could not see the ground I was treading upon. Fortunately I knew the
general direction in which the railroad lay; I struck it at last; then I
saw a light, which guided me to the depot.

But where was the train? It was already over-due. I could hear it
whistling occasionally down the track, where some accident had happened
to it. The depot consisted of a little framed box just large enough for
a ticket-office. You stood outside and bought your ticket through a
hole. This box contained a stove, a railroad lantern, and two men. The
door, contrary to the custom of the country, was kept scrupulously shut.
In vain were all appeals to the two men within to open it. They were
talking and laughing by their comfortable fire, while the waiting
passengers outside were freezing. Two hours we waited, that cold
winter’s night, for the train which did not come. There was an
express-office lighted up near by, but there was no admittance for
strangers there either.

Seeing a red flame a short distance up the railroad track, and human
forms passing at times before it, I went stumbling out through the
darkness towards it. I found it an encampment of negroes. Twelve men,
women, and children were grouped in gypsy fashion about a smoky fire.
They were in a miserable condition, wretchedly clad, hungry, weary, and
sleepy, but unable to sleep. One woman held in her arms a sick babe,
that kept up its perpetual sad wail through the night. The wind seemed
to be in every direction, blowing the smoke into everybody’s eyes. Yet
these suffering and oppressed creatures did for me what men of my own
color had refused to do,—they made room for me at their fire, and
hospitably invited me to share such poor comforts as they had. The
incident was humiliating and touching. One man gave me an apple, for
which I was but too glad to return him many times its cost.

They told me their story. They had been working all summer for a planter
in Tishemingo County, who had refused to pay them, and they were now
hunting for new homes. Two or three had a little money; the rest had
none. It made my heart sick to look at them, and feel that it was out of
my power to do them any real, permanent service. But they were not
discouraged. Said the spokesman of the party, cheerfully,—an old
gray-haired man in tatters,—“I’ll drap my feet into de road in de
mornin’; I’ll go till I find somefin’!”

Hearing the train again, whistling in earnest this time, I took leave of
them, and reached the depot just as it arrived.



                             CHAPTER XLVII.
                        FROM CORINTH TO MEMPHIS.


At daylight we were running through the level lower counties of West
Tennessee. This is by far the most fertile division of the State. Its
soil is a rich black mould, adapted to the culture of cotton, tobacco,
and grains, which are produced in great abundance.

Occasionally in the dim dawn, and later in the forenoon, we passed
out-door fires about which homeless negroes had passed the night, and
around which they still sat or stood, in wretched plight, but
picturesque and cheerful,—old men and women, young children, and tall
girls in tattered frocks, warming their hands, and watching with vacant
curiosity the train as it shot by.

“That’s freedom! that’s what the Yankees have done for ’em!” was the
frequent exclamation that fell from the lips of Southern ladies and
gentlemen looking out on these miserable groups from the car windows.

“They’ll all be dead before spring.”

“Niggers can’t take care of themselves.”

“The Southern people were always their best friends. How I pity them!
don’t you?”

“Oh, yes, of course I pity them! How much better off they were when they
were slaves!”

With scarcely one exception there was to be detected in these
expressions a grim exultation. The slave-owners, having foretold that
freedom would prove fatal to the bondman, experienced a satisfaction in
seeing their predictions come true. The usual words of sympathy his
condition suggested had all the hardness and hollowness of cant. Those
who really felt commiseration for his sufferings spoke of them in very
different tones of voice.

But there was another side to the picture. At every stopping-place,
throngs of well-dressed blacks crowded upon the train. They were going
to Memphis to “buy Christmas,”—as the purchase of gifts for that gay
season is termed. Happier faces I have never seen. There was not a
drunken or disorderly person among them,—which would have been a
remarkable circumstance had the occasion been St. Patrick’s day, or the
Fourth of July, and had these been Irish or white American laborers.
They were all comfortably clad,—many of them elegantly,—in clothes they
had purchased with money earned out of bondage. They paid with pride the
full fares exacted of free people, instead of the half fares formerly
demanded for slaves. They had still left in their purses ample means to
“buy Christmas” for their friends and relatives left at home. They
occupied cars by themselves which they filled with the noise of cheerful
conversation and laughter. And nobody said of _them_, “That is freedom!
That is what the Yankees have done for them!”

Past cotton-fields and handsome mansions in the pleasant suburbs, we ran
into Memphis,—a city which surprised me by its beautiful situation and
commercial activity.

Memphis stands on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It is
the emporium of West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, and Northern
Mississippi, and is the most important town between New Orleans and St.
Louis. Its growth has been rapid. Laid out in 1820, its population in
1840 was 8,839; in 1850, 16,000; in 1860, 50,000. Its present population
is not known; but it has immensely increased since the last census, and
is still increasing. I was told that, at the time of my visit, the
building of nineteen hundred new houses had been contracted for, and
that only labor was wanted to complete them.

In the year ending September 1st, 1860, 400,000 bales of cotton were
shipped from this port. During seven months of the year 1864,—May to
November inclusive,—the shipments amounted to only 34,316 bales. In
1865, from May, the month when the cotton released by the fall of the
Confederacy began to pour in, to December 22d, the date of my visit, the
shipments were 138,615 bales. These last figures, furnished me by the
government assessors, do not include the government cotton, which passed
untaxed, and a considerable quantity which came to Memphis after being
taxed in interior districts.[14]

The view of the commerce of Memphis from the esplanade overlooking the
landing is one of the most animated imaginable. You stand on the brow of
the bluff, with the city behind you, and the river below,—its broad,
sweeping current severing the States. From the foot of the bluff
projects an extensive shelving bank, with an understratum of sandstone;
forming a natural landing, commonly called a “levee,” although no levee
is here,—the celebrated levee at New Orleans having impressed its name
upon all landings of any importance up the river. You look down upon a
superb array of steamers, lying along the shore; their elegantly
ornamented pilot-houses and lofty tiers of decks supported by slender
pillars fully entitling them to be named floating palaces. From the
tower-like pipes issue black clouds of smoke, with here and there rising
white puffs of steam. The levee is crowded with casks and cotton bales,
covering acres of ground. Up and down the steep way cut through the brow
of the bluff, affording access to the landing from the town, a stream of
drays is passing and repassing. Freights are going aboard, or coming
ashore. Drays are loading and unloading. Bales of cotton and hay, casks,
boxes, sacks of grain, lumber, household furniture, supplies for
plantations, mules, ploughs, wagons, are tumbled, rolled, carried,
tossed, driven, pushed, and dragged, by an army of laborers, from the
levee along the broad wooden stages to the steamers’ decks. The
movement, the seeming confusion, the rattling of drays, the ringing of
boats’ bells, the horrible snort of the steam-whistle, the singing calls
of the deck hands heaving at a rope or lifting some heavy weight, the
multitudinous shouts, and wild, fantastic gesticulations of gangs of
negroes driving on board a drove of frightened mules, the voices of the
teamsters, the arriving and departing packets, drift-wood going down
stream, and skiffs paddling up,—the whole forms an astonishing and
amusing scene. Then over the immense brown sand-bar of the Arkansas
shore, and behind its interminable line of dark forest boundaries, the
sun goes down in a tranquil sea of fire, reflected in the river,—a
wonderfully contrasting picture. Here all is life and animation; there
all is softness and peace.

Evening comes, and adds picturesque effect to the scene. The levee is
lighted by great smoking and flaring flambeaux. A grate swinging in a
socket on the end of a pole is filled with bituminous coal and wood, the
blaze of which is enlivened by flakes of oil-soaked cotton, resembling
fat, laid on from a bucket. The far-illuminating flame shoots up in the
night, while the ignited oil from the grate falls in little streams of
dripping blue fire into the river. Until late at night, and often all
night, amid darkness and fog and rain, the loading of freight goes on by
this lurid illumination. The laborers are chiefly negroes whose ebon,
dusky, sallow and tawny faces, lithe attitudes, and sublime carelessness
of attire, heighten the pictorial effect of the scene. Bale after bale
is tumbled from the drays, and rolled down the levee,—a negro at each
end of it holding and guiding it with cotton-hooks. At the foot of the
landing it is seized by two other negroes, who roll it along the plank
to its place on the deck of the upward-bound boat. Here are fifty men
rolling barrels aboard, each at the other’s heels; and yonder is a long
straggling file of blacks crossing the stage from the levee to the
steamer, each carrying a box on his shoulder.

-----

Footnote 14:

  Since March 15th, 1864, the government tax on cotton had been two
  cents a pound. The average weight of a bale, which was latterly 460 or
  465 pounds, is now 500 pounds. The tax on a bale was accordingly about
  ten dollars. There were in Memphis at that time 30,000 bales.



                            CHAPTER XLVIII.
             FREEDMEN’S SCHOOLS AND THE FREEDMEN’S BUREAU.


By a census taken in June, 1865, there were shown to be 16,509 freedmen
in Memphis. Of this number 220 were indigent persons, maintained, not by
the city or the Bureau, but by the freed people themselves. During the
past three years, colored benevolent societies in Memphis had
contributed five thousand dollars towards the support of their own poor.

There were three thousand pupils in the freedmen’s schools. The teachers
for these were furnished, here as elsewhere, chiefly by benevolent
societies in the North. Such of the citizens as did not oppose the
education of the blacks, were generally silent about it. Nobody said of
it, “That is freedom! That is what the Yankees are doing for them!”

Visiting these schools in nearly all the Southern States, I did not hear
of the white people taking any interest in them. With the exception of
here and there a man or woman inspired by Northern principles, I never
saw or heard of a Southern citizen, male or female, entering one of
those humble school-rooms. How often, thinking of this indifference, and
watching the earnest, Christian labors of that little band of refined
and sensitive men and women and girls, who had left cheerful homes in
the North and voluntarily exposed themselves to privation and
opprobrium, devoting their noblest energies to the work of educating and
elevating the despised race,—how often the stereotyped phrase occurred
to me, “The Southern people were always their best friends!”

The wonder with me was, how these “best friends” could be so utterly
careless of the intellectual and moral interests of the freedmen. For my
own part, I could never enter one of those schools without emotion. They
were often held in old buildings and sheds good for little else. There
was not a school-room in Tennessee furnished with appropriate seats and
desks. I found a similar condition of things in all the States. The pews
of colored churches, or plain benches in the vestries, or old chairs
with boards laid across them in some loft over a shop, or out-of-doors
on the grass in summer,—such was the usual scene of the freedmen’s
schools.

In the branches taught, and in the average progress made, these do not
differ much from ordinary white schools at the North. In those studies
which appeal to the imagination and memory, the colored pupil excels. In
those which exercise the reflective and reasoning faculties, he is less
proficient.

But it is in the contrasts of age and of personal appearance which they
present, that the colored schools differ from all others. I never
visited one of any size in which there were not two or three or half a
dozen children so nearly white that no one would have suspected the
negro taint. From these, the complexion ranges through all the
indescribable mixed hues, to the shining iron black of a few
pure-blooded Africans, perhaps not more in number than the seemingly
pure-blooded whites. The younger the generation, the lighter the average
skin; by which curious fact one perceives how fast the race was
bleaching under the “peculiar” system of slavery.[15]

The contrast of features is no less than that of complexions. Here you
see the rosy child, whose countenance shows a perfect Caucasian contour,
shaded perhaps by light brown curls, reciting in the same class with
thick-lipped girls and woolly-headed boys.

The difference in ages is even more striking. Six years and sixty may be
seen, side by side, learning to read from the same chart or book.
Perhaps a bright little negro boy or girl is teaching a white-haired old
man, or bent old woman in spectacles, their letters. There are few more
affecting sights than these aged people beginning the child’s task so
late in life, often after their eyesight has failed. Said a very old man
to a teacher who asked him his age, “I’m jammed on to a hundred, and dis
is my fust chance to git a start.”

The scholars are generally well behaved. It is the restlessness and love
of fun of the younger ones which prove the greatest trial to the
teacher’s patience. The proportion of vicious mischief-makers is no
greater than in white schools. In the evening-schools, attended chiefly
by adults, all is interest and attention. The older pupils are
singularly zealous and assiduous in their studies. The singing is
usually excellent. Never shall I forget the joyous blending of sweet,
rich, exultant childish voices, to which I often listened. The voices of
singing children are always delightful and touching: how especially so
the musical choruses of children, once slaves, singing the glad songs of
freedom!

At Memphis, as at Nashville and other points in Tennessee, I saw much of
the operations of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

General Fiske appeared to me peculiarly fitted for his position; and he
was generally supported by firm and efficient officers; although, like
all the Assistant-Commissioners I saw, he complained that the law
establishing the Bureau did not permit him to choose his own agents. He
had to take such army officers as were given him; some of whom were
always found to be incompetent, or neglectful of their duties, or so
prejudiced for or against the blacks that they were rendered incapable
of administering justice. A few were in sympathy with slavery. Others,
meaning to do right, were seduced from a straightforward course by the
dinners to which they were invited by planters who had favors to ask.
With such, the rights of the freedmen were sure to suffer, when into the
opposite scale were thrown the aristocratic Rebel’s flattering
attentions and the smiles of his fair daughters.

[Illustration: TEACHING THE FREEDMEN.]

It was the practice of the agents of the Bureau to make frequent tours
of their counties, and General Fiske himself was in the habit of running
off every few days to visit some important point, where his organizing
and conciliatory influence was necessary. Often he would find the
planters and the freedmen separated by hedges of animosity and distrust.
Usually his first step was to call together as large an audience as
could be obtained of both classes, and explain to them the object of the
Bureau, and the duty each class owed the other. In nearly every
instance, earnestness and common sense prevailed; the freedmen came
forward and made contracts with the land-owners, and the land-owners
conceded to the freedmen advantages they had refused before.

Sometimes exciting and dramatic scenes occurred at these meetings. “Not
long ago,” said General Fiske, “I addressed a mixed audience of three
thousand persons at Spring Hill. The meeting was presided over by a
black man. Rebel generals and Federal generals sat together on the
platform. I made a short speech, and afterwards answered questions for
anybody, white or black, that chose to ask them. I had said that the
intention of the Bureau was to do justice to all, without respect to
color; when there rose up in the audience a tall, well dressed,
fine-looking woman, sallow, very pale, and much agitated, and wished to
know if _she_ could have justice. Said she, ‘I was owned by a
respectable planter in this neighborhood who kept me as his wife for
many years. I have borne him five children. Two of them are dead. A
short time ago he married another woman, and drove me and my three
children off.’ The man was in the audience. Everybody present knew him,
and there were a hundred witnesses that could vouch for the truth of the
woman’s story. I told her justice should certainly be done in her case.
The respectable planter now supports her and her three children.”

I have known many wrongs of this nature to be righted by the Bureau; the
late slave-owners learning that instead of making their offspring by
bondwomen profitable to them as chattels, in the new order of things
they were to be held responsible for their maintenance.

The freedmen’s courts were designed to adjudicate upon cases which could
not be safely intrusted to the civil courts.[16] They are in reality
military courts, and the law by which they are governed is martial law.
I found them particularly efficient in Tennessee. The annoying
technicalities and legal quibbles by which, in ordinary courts, the
truth is so often inextricably embarrassed, were here swept aside, and
justice reached with admirable directness. I have watched carefully
scores of cases decided by these tribunals, and do not remember one in
which substantial justice was not done. No doubt exceptions to this rule
occur, but I am satisfied that they are no more frequent than those
which occur in common-law courts; and they are insignificant compared
with the wholesale wrong to which the unprotected freedman would be
subjected in communities where old slave codes and immemorial prejudice
deny to him human rights.

The freedmen’s court is no respecter of persons. The proudest aristocrat
and the humblest negro stand at its bar on an equal footing. I remember
a case in which a member of the Tennessee Legislature was the defendant,
and upwards of twenty freedmen hired by him were the plaintiffs. He had
voted against the Negro Testimony Bill, which, if it had passed, would
have placed his case in a civil court; and now he had the satisfaction
of seeing eight of these blacks stand up and testify against him. He
admitted that they were faithful and truthful men; and their testimony
was so straightforward, I was astonished that he should have waited to
have his accounts with them adjusted by the Bureau.

Many difficulties arise from honest misunderstandings between the
contracting parties. These are decided by the Bureau according to
general rules of equity, and nearly always to the satisfaction of both.
I was assured by several of the most experienced officers of the Bureau
in Tennessee, that, in cases where contracts were fully understood, they
were much less frequently broken by the freedmen than by the whites.

Complaints of assaults upon freedmen, and even upon women and girls,
were very common. Here is a simple story of wrong related to me by a
girl of fourteen whom I saw, weary and famished and drenched, after she
had walked thirty-four miles to obtain the protection of the Bureau,
bearing the marks of cruel beatings upon her back.

“My name is Milly Wilson; I live in Wilson County; my mistress’s brother
was my father. I have been kept a slave since Emancipation. I worked in
de cornfield; I had to hoe and drap corn; I ho’ped gether the corn and
shuck it. I had to cuke; and I had spinning to do. I ho’ped sow, hoe,
and pick cotton. I had to pick bolls and bring ’em into house, and pick
cotton out o’ bolls till chickens crowed for midnight. Dey never give me
nothing. I didn’t dare ax ’em for wages; and dey said if I run away
dey’d shoot me. My mistress tried to whoop me, but she couldn’t; I’d run
from her. Den her son Tom whooped me with a soap-paddle till he broke
it. He struck me side of head with his fist, and knocked me down.” (Her
face was still discolored by the blow.) “His father said, ‘That’s no way
to beat ’em; take ’em down and paddle ’em.’ Dat night I lef’. I told
Jennie to tell ’em I’d gone to Murfreesboro’, so dey wouldn’t git on de
right track; and I started for Nashville. It wasn’t long till day when I
lef’. I walked till sun-up; and laid by de balance part of de day in an
old barn. I had nothing to eat, but on’y jist de meat and bread I had
for my supper I took and carried with me for de nex’ day. De nex’ night
de moon riz. I couldn’t see de moon, but it give light enough so I could
see how to walk. Two miles from Triune I found some friends, and dey
give me breakfas’. Wednesday mornin’ it was sleetin’, and dey give me a
shawl. Thursday I got to Nashville. Now I want to send for my clothes;
for it was so dark when I lef’ I couldn’t see to find ’em. I lef’ my
clothes, and a skillet and led, and a basket.” The court sent not only
for these, but for Master Tom who had paddled her, and for Master Tom’s
father who had abetted the outrage and held her enslaved after slavery
was abolished. This is a very mild case compared with some that came to
my knowledge, too horrible or too disgusting to be narrated.

The freedmen’s affairs in West Tennessee were giving the Bureau daily
less and less trouble,—both whites and blacks beginning to learn that
contracts were made to be kept, and that their mutual interests depended
upon mutual good-will. The most aggravated and embarrassing cases were
from Mississippi. The farce of opening the civil courts to the blacks in
that State had caused a discontinuance of the freedmen’s courts, and the
result was a stampede of wronged and outraged people across the line.
During an hour I spent at the Bureau one morning, a stream of these
cases kept coming in. The newly organized Mississippi militia, under
pretence of searching for arms which the blacks were supposed to have
provided for the forthcoming Christmas insurrections, had committed
robberies, murders, and other outrages, against these unoffending and
unprotected people. The Bureau at Memphis could do nothing but refer
these cases to the Assistant-Commissioner at Vicksburg, who could do
nothing but refer them to the civil courts, which let them alone. One
case I recall, however, in which the officers at Memphis thought they
could do something. A colored man, who had been managing a Mississippi
plantation under contract for a quarter of the crop, came to Memphis for
a redress of grievances. The owner had given him fifteen dollars, and
refused to give him anything more for his labor. The cotton was baled,
and ready for market. It would soon be in Memphis. “Keep watch of that
cotton,” said the agent; “and as soon as it arrives, we will attach it,
and you shall have your share.”

While I was there, two negroes came in from Parson Botts’s plantation,
in De Soto County, (Mississippi,) bringing guns which they had run off
with on the approach of the militia. The wife of one of these men had
been beaten over the head with a pistol, and afterwards hung by the
neck, to compel her to disclose where the guns were hidden. In this case
there was no redress.

A great variety of business is brought before the Bureau. Here is a
negro-man who has printed a reward offering fifty dollars for
information to assist him in finding his wife and children, sold away
from him in times of slavery: a small sum for such an object, you may
say, but it is all he has, and he has come to the Bureau for assistance.
Here is a free mulattress, who was stolen by a guerilla during the war,
and sold into slavery in Arkansas, and she has come to enter a claim for
wages earned during two years of enforced servitude. Yonder is a white
woman, who has been warned by the police that she must not live with her
husband because he is black, and who has come to claim protection in her
marriage relation, bringing proof that she is in reality a colored
woman. That poor old crippled negro was maimed for life when a slave by
a cruel master, who will now be compelled to pension him. Yonder comes
an old farmer with a stout colored boy, to get the Bureau’s sanction to
a contract they wish to make. “Pull off your hat, Bob,” says the old
man; “you was raised to that;” for he was formerly the lad’s owner. He
claims to have been a Union man. “I was opposed to secession till I was
swep’ plumb away.” He is very grateful for what the officers do for him,
and especially for the good advice they give the boy. “I’ll do well by
him, and larn him to read, if he’ll do well by me.”

As they go out, in comes a powerful, short-limbed black, in tattered
overcoat, with a red handkerchief on his head, and with a lordly
countenance, looking like a barbarian chief. He has made a crop; found
everything—mules, feed, implements; hired his own help,—fifteen men and
women; managed everything; by agreement he was to have one half; but,
owing to an attempt to swindle him, he has had the cotton attached; and
now it is not on his own account he has come, but he is owing his men
wages, and they want something for Christmas, which he thinks
reasonable, and he desires the Bureau’s assistance to raise three
hundred dollars on the said cotton. “For I’m bound,” he says, “to be
liberal with my men.”

Here is a boy, who was formerly a slave, to whom his father, a free man,
willed a sum of money, which the boy’s owner borrowed, giving his note
for it, but never repaid,—for did not the boy and all that he had belong
to his master? The worn and soiled bit of paper is produced; and now the
owner will have that money to restore, with interest. Lucky for the boy
that he kept that torn and dirty scrap carefully hidden all these years!
Such documents are now serving to right many an ancient wrong. I saw at
the Freedmen’s Bureau at Richmond a large package of wills, made in
favor of slaves, usually by their white fathers, all which had been
suppressed by the legitimate heirs. One, a mere rotten and jaundiced
rag, scarcely legible, had been carried sewed in the lining of a
slave-woman’s dress for more than forty years,—the date of the will
being 1823. Her son was legally emancipated by that instrument; but her
owner, who claimed to be his owner by inheritance, threatened to kill
her if the will was not destroyed, and he believed that it had been
destroyed. That boy was now a middle-aged man, having passed the flower
of his years in bondage; and his mother was an old woman, living to
thank God that her son was free at last. The master, a rich man, had as
yet no idea of the existence of that will, by which he was to be held
responsible for the payment of over forty years’ wages to his unlawful
bondman.

From another of these documents, made by a white master, I copied the
following suggestive paragraph: “It is also my last will and desire that
_my beloved wife_ SALLY DANDRIDGE, and _my son_ HARRISON, and _my
daughters_ CHARITY and JULIA, should be free; and it is my wish and
desire for them to be emancipated hereafter, and for them to remain as
free people.” Another paragraph gave them property. This will, like
nearly all the rest, had been registered and proved; and, like them, it
had been suppressed,—the beloved wife and son and daughters remaining in
bondage, until the slave system went down with the Rebellion, and a day
of judgment came with the Freedmen’s Bureau.

[Illustration]

-----

Footnote 15:

  At Vicksburg, Miss., in one school of 89 children, only three were of
  unmixed African blood. In another, there were two black and 68 mixed.
  In a school for adults, there were 41 black to 50 mixed. In a school
  of children on a Mississippi plantation, there were 46 black and 23
  mixed. In another plantation school, there were 30 black and 7 mixed.
  These figures illustrate not only the rapid bleaching of the race, but
  also the difference in color between town and country.

Footnote 16:

  See Paragraph VII. in Circular No. 5, issued by Major-General Howard,
  Commissioner of the Bureau, and approved by the President, June 2d,
  1865:—

  “In all places where there is an interruption of civil law, or in
  which local courts, by reason of old codes, in violation of the
  freedom guaranteed by the Proclamation of the President and the laws
  of Congress, disregard the negro’s right to justice before the laws,
  in not allowing him to give testimony, the control of all subjects
  relating to refugees and freedmen being committed to this Bureau, the
  Assistant-Commissioners will adjudicate, either themselves or through
  officers of their appointment, all difficulties arising between
  negroes themselves, or between negroes and whites or Indians, except
  those in military service, so far as recognizable by military
  authority, and not taken cognizance of by the other tribunals, civil
  or military, of the United States.”



                             CHAPTER XLIX.
                         DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI.


At Memphis I took passage in a first-class Mississippi steam-packet for
Vicksburg. It was evening when I went on board. The extensive saloon,
with its long array of state-rooms on each side, its ornamental gilt
ceiling, and series of dazzling chandeliers, was a brilliant spectacle.
A corps of light-footed and swift-handed colored waiters were setting
the tables,—bringing in baskets of table-cloths, and spreading them;
immense baskets of crockery, and distributing it; and trays of silver,
which added to the other noises its ringing and jingling accompaniment.
About the stove and bar and captain’s office, at the end of the saloon,
was an astonishing crowd of passengers, mostly standing, talking,
drinking, buying tickets, playing cards, swearing, reading, laughing,
chewing, spitting, and filling the saloon, even to the ladies’ cabin at
the opposite end, with a thick blue cloud which issued from countless
bad pipes and cigars, enveloped the supper-tables, and bedimmed the
glitter of the chandeliers. In that cloud supper was to be eaten.

At a signal known only to the initiated I noticed that pipes were put
out and quids cast out, and a mighty rush began. Two lines of battle
were formed, confronting each other, with the table between them, each
dauntless hero standing with foot advanced, and invincible right hand
laid upon the back of a chair. In this way every place was secured at
least five minutes before the thundering signal was given for the
beginning of the conflict. At last the gong-bearing steward, poising his
dread right hand, anxiously watched by the hostile hosts, till the
ladies were fairly seated, beat the terrible roll and, instantly, every
chair was jerked back with a simultaneous clash and clatter, every
soldier plunged forward, every coat-tail was spread, and every pair of
trousers was in its seat.

Then, rallied by the gong from deck and state-room and stove, came the
crowd of uninitiated ones, (_quorum pars parva fui_,) hungry,
rueful-faced, dismayed, finding themselves in the unhappy position of
the fifth calf that suckled the cow with but four teats,—compelled to
wait until the rest had fed.

After supper, there were music and dancing in the after-part of the
saloon, and gambling, and clicking glasses, and everlasting talk about
Yankees and niggers and cotton, in the other part. There were a few
Federal officers in their uniforms, and a good many Rebel officers in
civil dress. I recognized a thin sprinkling of Northern capitalists and
business men. But the majority were Mississippi and Arkansas planters
going down the river to their estates: a strongly marked, unrefined,
rather picturesque class,—hard swearers, hard drinkers, inveterate
smokers and chewers, wearing sad-colored linen for the most part, and
clad in coarse “domestic,” slouching in their dress and manners, loose
of tongue, free-hearted, good-humored, and sociable. They had been to
Memphis to purchase supplies for their plantations, or to lease their
plantations, or to hire freedmen, or to “buy Christmas” for their
freedmen at home. They appeared to have plenty of money, if the
frequency with which they patronized the bar was any criterion. Liquors
on board the Mississippi steamers were twenty-five cents a glass, and
the average cost of such dram-drinking as I witnessed could not have
been less than three or four dollars a day for each man. A few did not
seem to be much attracted by the decanters; while others made drafts
upon them every hour, or two or three times an hour, from morning till
bedtime, and were never sober, and never quite drunk.

How shall I describe the conversation of these men? Never a word did I
hear fall from the lips of one of them concerning literature or the
higher interests of life; but their talk was of mules, cotton, niggers,
money, Yankees, politics, and the Freedmen’s Bureau,—thickly studded
with oaths, and garnished with joke and story.

Once only I heard the subject of education indirectly alluded to. Said a
young fellow, formerly the owner of fifty niggers,—“I’ve gone to
school-keeping.”—“O Lord!” said his companion, “you ha’n’t come down to
that!”

I judged that most were married men, from a remark made by one of them:
“A married man thinks less of personal appearance than a bachelor. I’ve
done played out on that since I got spliced.”

There were a few Tennesseeans aboard, who envied the Mississippians
their Rebel State government, organized militia, and power over the
freedmen. “We might make a pile, if we could only regulate the labor
system. But that can’t be done in this dog-goned Brownlow State. In
Mississippi, if they can only carry out the laws they’ve enacted,
there’ll be a chance.” It was impossible to convince these gentlemen
that the freedmen could be induced to work by any other means than
despotic compulsion.

Leaving the gamblers over their cards, and the tipplers over their
glasses, I went to bed,—to be awakened at midnight by an inebriated
gentleman (weight two hundred, as he thickly informed me) climbing into
the berth above me.

After a night of fog, Christmas morning dawned. In the cabin, the
generous steward gave to each passenger a glass of egg-nog before
breakfast; not because it was Christmas, but because passengers were
human, and egg-nog (especially the whiskey in it) was one of the
necessities of life.

The morning was warm and beautiful. Mists were chasing each other on the
river, and clouds were chasing each other in the sky. A rival steamer
was passing us. The decks of both boats were black with spectators
watching the race, and making comments upon it: “Look how she piles the
water up ahead of her!” “She’ll open a gap of a mile between us in an
hour!” and so forth.

The river was about half a mile in breadth. We were running down the
broad current between high banks covered with forests, on one side, and
sand-bars extending their broad yellow shelves out into the river, on
the other. Sometimes the sand was on our right, then it shifted to our
left; it was nearly always to be seen on one side, but never on both
sides at once. The river is continually excavating one bank and making
another opposite,—now taking from Arkansas to give to Mississippi, and
now robbing Mississippi to pay Arkansas, and thus year after year
forming and destroying plantations. I remember one point on the Arkansas
shore where the bank rose forty feet above the water, and was covered
with trees eighteen inches in thickness; of which a gentleman of the
country said to me, “That is all a recent formation. Forty years ago the
bed of the river was where that bank is.” The water was now tearing away
again what it had so suddenly built up, trying to get back into its old
bed.

We were making landings at every plantation where passengers or freight
were to be put off, or a signal was shown from the shore. Sometimes a
newspaper or piece of cloth was fluttered by negroes among the trees on
the bank; or a man who wished to come on board, stood on some exposed
point and waved his handkerchief or hat. There was never a wharf, but
the steamer, rounding to in the current, and heading up stream, went
bunting its broad nose against the steep, yielding bank. The planks were
pushed out; the passengers stepped aboard or ashore, and the deck-hands
landed the freight.

Dirtier or more toilsome work than this landing of the freight I have
seldom seen. Heavy boxes, barrels of flour and whiskey, had to be lifted
and rolled up steep paths in the soft sand to the summit of the bank.
Often the paths were so narrow that but one man could get hold of the
end of a barrel and lift it, while another hauled it from above, their
feet sinking deep at every step. Imagine a gang of forty or fifty men
engaged in landing boxes, casks, sacks of corn and salt, wagons,
live-stock, ploughs; hurrying, crowding, working in each other’s way,
sometimes slipping and falling, the lost barrel tumbling down upon those
below; and the mate driving them with shouts and curses and kicks, as if
they were so many brutes.

Here the plantations touched the river; and there the landing-place was
indicated by blazed trees in the forest, where negroes and mules were in
waiting.

Wooding-up was always an interesting sight. A long wood-pile lines the
summit of the bank, perhaps forty feet above the river. The steamer
lands; a couple of stages are hauled out: fifty men rush ashore and
climb the bank; the clerk accompanies them with pencil and paper and
measuring-rod, to take account of the number of cords; then suddenly
down comes the wood in an amazing shower, rattling, sliding, bounding,
and sometimes turning somersaults into the river. The bottom and side of
the bank are soon covered by the deluge; and the work of loading begins
in equally lively fashion. The two stages are occupied by two files of
men, one going ashore at a dog-trot, empty-handed, and another coming
aboard with the wood. Each man catches up from two to four sticks,
according to their size or his own inclination, shoulders them, falls
into the current, not of water, but of men, crosses the plank, and
deposits his burden where the corded-wood, that stood so lately on the
top of the bank, is once more taking shape, divided into two
equally-balanced piles on each side of the boiler-deck.

The men are mostly negroes, and the treatment they receive from the mate
is about the same as that which they received when slaves. He stands on
the shore between the ends of the two stages, within convenient reach of
both. Not a laggard escapes his eye or foot. Often he brandishes a
billet of wood, with which he threatens, and sometimes strikes; and now
he flings it at the head of some artful dodger who has eluded his blow.
And all the while you hear his hoarse, harsh voice iterating with
horrible crescendo: “Get along, _get along_! Out o’ the way’th that
wood! _out o’ the way_, OUT O’ THE WAY! OUT O’ THE WAY! _Git on_, GIT
ON, GIT ON!”

Meanwhile the men are working as hard as men can reasonably be expected
to work; and how they discipline their souls to endure such brutality is
to me a mystery.

Planters got off at every landing, by day and night; and although a few
came aboard, the company was gradually thinning out. At one plantation a
colony of sixty negroes landed. They had a “heap of plunder.” Beds and
bedding, trunks, tubs, hen-coops, old chests, old chairs,
spinning-wheels, pots, and kettles, were put off under the mate’s
directions, without much ceremony. The dogs were caught and pitched into
the river, much to the distress of the women and children, who appeared
to care more for the animals than for any other portion of their
property. These people had been hired for an adjoining plantation. The
plantation at which we landed had been laid waste, and the mansion and
negro-quarters burned, leaving a grove of fifty naked chimneys
standing,—“monuments of Yankee vandalism,” said my Southern friends.

At one place a fashionably dressed couple came on board, and the
gentleman asked for a state-room. Terrible was the captain’s wrath. “God
damn your soul,” he said, “get off this boat!” The gentleman and lady
were colored, and they had been guilty of unpardonable impudence in
asking for a state-room.

“Kick the nigger!” “He ought to have his neck broke!” “He ought to be
hung!” said the indignant passengers, by whom the captain’s prompt and
energetic action was strongly commended.

The unwelcome couple went quietly ashore, and one of the hands pitched
their trunk after them. They were in a dilemma: their clothes were too
fine for a filthy deck passage, and their skins were too dark for a
cabin passage. So they sat down on the shore to wait for the next
steamer.

“They won’t find a boat that’ll take ’em,” said the grim captain.
“Anyhow, they can’t force their damned nigger equality on to me!” He was
very indignant to think that he had landed at their signal. “The expense
of running this boat is forty dollars an hour,—six thousand dollars a
trip;—and I can’t afford to be fooled by a nigger!” I omit the epithets.

Afterwards I heard the virtuous passengers in calmer moments talking
over the affair. “How would you feel,” said one, with solemn emphasis,
“to know that _your wife was sleeping in the next room to a nigger and
his wife_?” The argument was unanswerable: it was an awful thought!

There is not a place of any importance on the river between Memphis and
Vicksburg, a distance of four hundred miles. The nearest approach to an
exception is Helena, on the Arkansas shore, a hastily built,
high-perched town, looking as if it had flown from somewhere else and
just lit. Another place of some note is Napoleon, which was burnt during
the war. Here there is one of those natural “cut-offs” for which the
Mississippi is remarkable; the river having formed for itself a new
channel, half a mile in length, across a tongue of land about which it
formerly made a circuit of twelve miles. We passed through the cut-off,
and afterwards made a voyage of six miles up the old channel, which
resembles a long, placid, winding lake, to Beulah Landing, called after
a novel of that name written by a Southern lady.

I remember Beulah as the scene of a colored soldier’s return. He had no
sooner landed from the steamer than his friends in waiting seized him,
men, women, and girls, some grasping his hands, some clinging to his
arms and waist, others hanging upon his neck, smothering him in their
joyful embraces. All who could reach him hugged him; while those who
could not reach him hugged those who were hugging him, as the next best
thing to be done on the happy occasion.

Below Napoleon, the cleared lands of many plantations extend to the
river, while others show only a border of trees along the shore. The
banks were continually caving, masses of earth flaking off and falling
into the turbid current, as we passed. The levees, neglected during the
war, were often in a very bad condition. The river, encroaching upon the
shores upon which these artificial embankments were raised, had made
frequent breaches in them, and in many places swept them quite away; so
that whole plantations lay at the mercy of the usual spring freshets,
which render cotton culture on such unprotected lands impracticable.

The power and extent of these freshets is something astonishing. The
river averages nearly half a mile in width. Its depth is very great,
often exceeding one hundred feet. Its average velocity is something over
two miles an hour. Yet when come the sudden rains and thaws, and the
great tributaries, with their thousand lesser streams, pour their floods
into the bosom of the Father of Waters, this huge artery becomes but an
insignificant channel for them, and they spread out into a vast lake
inundating the valley. The course of the river is then traceable only by
the swifter current in its vicinity, and by the broad sinuous opening
through the forests. A gentleman of my acquaintance told me that in
Bolivar County, Mississippi, he had ridden thirty miles back from the
river, and seen all the way the marks of high water on the trees as far
up as he could reach with his riding-whip.

The crevasses, or breaks in the levees and banks, which occur at such
times, are often terrific. Plantations are destroyed, and buildings
swept away. Boats are drawn into the current and carried inland, to be
landed, like the Ark, on the subsidence of the waters, or lost among the
trees of the deep swamps.

The violence of these freshets is said to be on the increase of late
years, from two or three causes,—the drainage of newly cultivated lands;
and the cut-offs and the levees, which project the floods more directly
upon the lower country, instead of retarding the water, and suffering it
to spread out gradually over the valley, naturally subject to its
overflow.

The best-protected plantations are those which are completely surrounded
by independent levees. “If my neighbor’s levee breaks, my land is still
defended,” said a planter to me, describing his estate. “Inside of the
levee is a ditch by which the water that soaks in can all be drained to
one place and thrown over the embankment by a steam-pump.”

I learned something of the planter’s anxiety of mind during the great
floods. “Many is the time I’ve sat up all night just like these mates,
looking after the levee on my plantation. Come a wind from the right
direction, I’d catch up a lantern, and go out, and maybe find the water
within three or four inches of the top. In some places a little more
would send it over and make a break. My heart would be nigh about to
melt, as I watched it. Sometimes I waited, all night long, to see
whether the water would go an inch higher. If it didn’t, I was safe; if
it did, I was a ruined man.”

On some of the levees negroes were at work making the necessary repairs;
but I was told that many plantations would remain unprotected and
uncultivated until another year.

I had heard much about the anticipated negro insurrections at Christmas
time. But the only act of violence that came to my knowledge, committed
on that day, was a little affair that occurred at Skipwith’s Landing, on
the Mississippi shore, a few miles below the Arkansas and Louisiana
line. Four mounted guerillas, wearing the Confederate uniform, and
carrying Spencer rifles, rode into the place, robbed a store kept by a
Northern man, robbed and murdered a negro, and rode off again,
unmolested. Very little was said of this trifling operation. If such a
deed, however, had been perpetrated by freedmen, the whole South would
have rung with it, and the cry of “Kill the niggers!” would have been
heard from the Rio Grande to the Atlantic.



                               CHAPTER L.
                        IN AND ABOUT VICKSBURG.


On the afternoon of the third day we came in sight of Vicksburg,—four
hundred miles from Memphis by water, although not more than half that
distance in a straight line, so voluminous are the coils of the Great
River.

The town, seen across the intervening tongue of land as we approached
it,—situated on a high bluff, with the sunlight on its hills and roofs
and fortifications,—was a fine sight. It diverted my attention, so that
I looked in vain for the famous canal cut across the tongue of land,
which pushes out from the Louisiana shore, and about which the river
makes an extensive curve.

“You couldn’t have found it without looking mighty close,” said a native
of the country. “It’s a little small concern. The Yankees made just a
big ditch to let the water through, thinking it would wash out, and make
a cut-off. If it had, Farragut’s fleet could have got through, and
Vicksburg would have been flanked, high and dry. But, in the first
place, they did not begin the ditch where the current strikes the shore;
in the next place the water fell before the ditch was completed, and
never run through it at all.”

On the opposite shore, overlooking this peninsula and the winding river,
stands Vicksburg, on the brow of a line of bluffs which sweep down from
the north, here first striking the Mississippi. In this ridge the town
is set,—to compare gross things with fine,—like a diamond in the back of
a ring. It slopes up rapidly from the landing, and is built of brick and
wood, not beautiful on a nearer view.

The hills are cut through, and their sides sliced off, by the deeply
indented streets of the upper portion of the city. Here and there are
crests completely cut around, isolated, and left standing like yellowish
square sugar-loaves with irregular tops. These excavations afforded the
inhabitants fine facilities for burrowing during the siege. The base of
the hills and the cliff-like banks of the dug streets present a most
curious appearance, being completely honey-combed with caves, which
still remain, a source of astonishment to the stranger, who half fancies
that a colony of large-sized bank-swallows has been industriously at
work there.

The majority of the caves were mere “gopher-holes,” as the soldiers call
them. Others were quite spacious and aristocratic. The entrance was
usually large enough to admit a person stooping slightly; but within,
the roofs of the best caves were hollowed sufficiently to permit a man
to stand upright. The passage by which you entered commonly branched to
the right and left, forming with its two arms a sort of letter Y, or
letter T.

Every family had its cave. But only a few of the more extensive ones
were permanently occupied. “Ours” (said a lady resident) “was very large
and quite comfortable. There was first the entrance, under a pointed
arch; then a long cross-gallery. Boards were laid down the whole length
and covered with carpets. Berths were put up at the sides, where we
slept very well. At first we did not take off our dresses when we lay
down; but in a little while we grew accustomed to undressing and
retiring regularly. In the morning we found our clothes quite wet from
the natural dampness of the cave. Over the entrance there was built a
little arbor, where our cooking was done, and where we sat and talked
with our neighbors in the daytime, when there were no shells dropping.
In the night the cave was lighted up. We lived this sort of life six
weeks.”

But few buildings were destroyed by the shells. Those that were
partially injured had generally been patched up. After the twenty-sixth
of May, when the bombardment became almost incessant, being continued
night and day, it was estimated that six thousand shells were thrown
into the city by the mortars on the river-side every twenty-four hours.
Grant’s siege guns, in the rear of the bluffs, dropped daily four
thousand more along the Rebel lines. The little damage done by so great
a bombardment is a matter of surprise. The soldiers had also their
“gopher-holes,” and laughed at the projectiles. Of the women and
children in the town, only three were killed and twelve injured.

Both citizens and troops suffered more from the scarcity of provisions
than from the abundance of shells. On both the river and land sides the
city was completely cut off from supplies. The garrison was put upon
fourteen-and-a-half-ounce rations; and in the town, mule-meat, and even
dog-meat, became luxuries.

The day after my arrival I joined a small equestrian party, got up by
Lieutenant E—— for my benefit, and rode out to visit the fortifications
behind the city. We first came to the line of works thrown up by our
troops after the capitulation. Exterior to these, zigzagging along the
eastern brow of the bluffs, from the Mississippi, below Vicksburg, to
the Yazoo River on the North, a distance of near fifteen miles, were the
original Rebel defences, too extensive to be manned by less than a large
army.

Three miles northeast of the city we passed Fort Hill, in the “crater”
of which, after the Rebel bastions had been successfully mined and blown
up, occurred one of the most desperate fights that marked the siege.
Pushed up dangerously near to the Rebel position, is the advanced
Federal line. Between the two, a little way down the slope from Fort
Hill, is the spot rendered historic by the interview which terminated
the long struggle for the key to the Mississippi. There, in full view of
the confronting armies, the two commanding generals met under an
oak-tree, and had their little talk.

Every vestige of the tree, root and branch, had long since
disappeared,—cut up, broken up, dug up, and scattered over the country
in the form of relics; and we found on the spot a monument, which bids
fair to have a similar fate.

This was originally a neat granite shaft, erected by a private
subscription among officers and soldiers of the national army, and
dedicated on July 4th, 1864, the first anniversary of the surrender of
the city. It bears the following inscription:—

                                SITE OF
                           INTERVIEW BETWEEN
                     MAJOR-GENERAL GRANT, U. S. A.,
                                  AND
                     LIEUTENANT-GENERAL PEMBERTON,
                                JULY 4,
                                 1863.

Nothing certainly could be more simple and modest. Not a syllable is
there to wound the sensibilities of a fallen foe. Yet, since the close
of the war, when the returning Confederates first obtained access to
this monument, it had been shamefully mutilated. The fact that it was
never injured before, and the circumstance that the eagle and shield of
the escutcheon surmounting the inscription had been nearly obliterated
by persistent battering and grinding, showed that no mere relic-hunters
had been hammering here, but that the mischief had been done by some
enemy’s hand. The shaft was enclosed by a handsome iron fence, which we
found broken and partly thrown down.

From the monument we rode northward over ridges crowned with zigzag
fortifications, around steep crests and slopes, and past deep ravines
green with tangled cane-brakes,—a broken and wild region; crossing over
through woods and hilly cotton-fields to the western brow of the bluffs,
where Sherman made his unsuccessful assault in the gloomy last days of
1862.

We reined up our horses on a commanding point, and looked down upon the
scene of the battle. Away on our left was the Mississippi, its bold
curve sweeping in from the west, and doubling southward toward the city.
Before us, under the bluff, was the bottom across which our forces
charged, through the bristling abatis and their terrible entanglements,
and in the face of a murderous fire captured the Rebel rifle-pits,—a
most heroic, bloody, but worse than useless work.

Finding a road that wound down the steep hill-sides, we galloped through
the cotton-fields of the bottom to Chickasaw Bayou, which bounded them
on the west,—a small stream flowing down through swamps and lagoons,
from the Yazoo, and emptying into the Mississippi below the
battle-field. We rode along its bank, and found one of the bridges by
which our forces had crossed. Beyond were ancient woods, sombre and
brown, bearded with long pendant moss.

Returning across the bottom, the Lieutenant guided us to three prominent
elevations in the midst of the plain, which proved to be Indian mounds
of an interesting character. The largest was thirty feet in height, and
one hundred and fifty feet across the base. Leaving the ladies in the
saddle, the Lieutenant and myself hitched our horses to a bush on one of
the smaller mounds, and entered an excavation which he had assisted in
making on a former visit.

We found the earth full of human bones and antique pottery. A little
digging exposed entire skeletons sitting upright, in the posture in
which they had been buried,—who knows how many centuries before? Who
were these ancient people, over whose unknown history the past had
closed, as the earth had closed over their bodies? Perhaps these
burial-mounds marked the scene of some great battle on the very spot
where the modern fight took place.

We found the surface of the mound, washed by the storms of centuries,
speckled with bits of bones, yellowish, decayed, and often friable to
the touch. Fragments of pottery were also exposed, ornamented in a
variety of styles, showing that this ancient people was not without rude
arts.

The cotton-fields on the bluffs and in the bottom were cultivated by a
colony of freedmen, whose village of brown huts we passed, on the broad
hill-side above the river, as we returned to the city.

The ride back over the western brow of the bluffs was one to be
remembered. The sun was setting over the forests and plains of
Louisiana, which lay dark on the horizon, between the splendid sky and
the splendid, wide-spreading river reflecting it. Every cloud, every
fugitive fleece, was saturated with fire. The river was a flood of
molten gold. The ever-varying glory seemed prolonged for our sakes. The
last exquisite tints had scarcely faded, leaving the river dark and
melancholy, sweeping between its solitary shores, when we left the
crests, with the half-moon sailing in a thinly-clouded sky above our
heads, and descended, by the deep-cut, narrow streets, and through the
open gates at the breastworks, into the city.

The next day, in company with Major-General Wood, in command of the
Department of Mississippi, I visited the fortifications below Vicksburg.
For a mile and a half we rode along beside banks perforated with
“gopher-holes” dug by the Rebel soldiers, and lines of rifle-pits, which
consisted often of a mere trench cut across the edge of a crest. These
were the river-side defences. The real fortifications commenced with a
strong fort constructed on a commanding bluff. This did not abut on the
river, as maps I had seen, and descriptions I had read, had led me to
expect. Below the city a tract of low bottom-land opens between the
river and the bluffs, of such a nature that no very formidable attack
was to be apprehended in that quarter. Standing upon the first redan, we
saw a mile or two of low land and tangled and shaggy cypress swamps
intervening between us and the glimpses of shining light which indicated
the southward course of the Mississippi.

In this excursion, as in that of the previous day, I noticed on every
side practical answers to the question, “Will the freedmen work?” In
every broken field, in every available spot on the rugged crests, was
the negro’s little cotton patch.

Riding through the freedmen’s quarter below the town the General and I
called at a dozen or more different cabins, putting to every person we
talked with the inquiry,—how large a proportion of the colored people he
knew were shiftless characters. We got very candid replies: the common
opinion being that about five out of twenty still had a notion of living
without work. Yet, curiously enough, not one would admit that _he_ was
one of the five,—every man and woman acknowledging that labor was a
universal duty and necessity.



                              CHAPTER LI.
                       FREE LABOR IN MISSISSIPPI.


Colonel Thomas, Assistant-Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau for the
State of Mississippi, stationed at Vicksburg, gave the negroes more
credit for industry than they gave each other. In the large towns, to
which vagrancy naturally gravitates, one in four was probably a fair
estimate of the proportion of colored people unable or unwilling to earn
an honest livelihood. “But I am confident,” said the Colonel, “there is
no more industrious class of people anywhere than the freedmen who have
little homesteads of their own. The colonies under my charge, working
lands assigned them by the government, have raised this year ten
thousand bales of cotton, besides corn and vegetables for their
subsistence until another harvest.”

Other well-informed and experienced persons corroborated this statement.
Dr. Warren, Superintendent of Freedmen’s Schools in Mississippi, told me
of a negro family, consisting of one man, three women, and a half-grown
girl, who took a lot of five acres, which they worked entirely with
shovel and hoe, having no mule, and on which they had that season
cleared five hundred dollars, above all expenses. I heard of numerous
other well-authenticated instances of the kind.

Dr. Warren spoke of the great eagerness of the blacks to buy or lease
land, and have homes of their own. This he said accounted in a great
measure for their backwardness in making contracts. He said to one
intelligent freedman: “The whites intend to compel you to hire out to
them.” The latter replied: “What if we should compel them to lease us
lands?”

There were other reasons why the blacks would not contract. At
Vicksburg, a gentleman who had been fifty miles up the valley looking
for a plantation, said to me: “The negroes everywhere I went have been
shamefully abused. They had been promised that if they would remain and
work the plantations, they should have a share of the crops; and now the
planters refuse to give them anything. They have no confidence in
Southern men, and will not hire out to them; but they are very eager to
engage with Northern men.”

This was the universal testimony, not only of travellers, but of candid
Southern planters. One of the latter class explained to me how it was
that the freedman was cheated out of his share of the crop. After the
cotton is sent to market, the proprietor calls up his negroes, and tells
them he has “furnished them such and such things, for which he has
charged so much, and that there are no profits to divide. The darkey
don’t understand it,—he has kept no accounts; but he knows he has worked
hard and got nothing. He won’t hire to that man again. But I, and any
other man who has done as he agreed with his niggers, can hire now as
many as we want.”

Colonel Thomas assured me that two thirds of the laborers in the State
had been cheated out of their wages during the past year.

Mr. C——, a Northern man who had taken a plantation at ——, (I omit names,
for he told me that not only his property but his life depended upon the
good-will of his neighbors,) related to me his experience. He hired his
plantation of a gentleman noted for his honesty: “He goes by the name of
‘Honest M——’ all through the country. But honesty appeared to be a
virtue to be exercised only towards white people: it was too good to be
thrown away on niggers. This M—— has four hundred sheep, seventy milch
cows, fifteen horses, ten mules, and forty hogs, all of which were saved
from the Yankees when they raided through the country, by an old negro
who run them off across a swamp. Honest M—— has never given that negro
five cents. Another of his slaves had a cow of his own from which he
raised a fine pair of oxen: Honest M—— lays claim to those oxen and
sells them. A slave-woman that belonged to him had a cow she had raised
from a calf: Honest M—— takes that, and adds it to his herd. He promised
his niggers a share of the crops this year; but he has sold the cotton,
and locked up the corn, and never given one of them a dollar. And all
this time he thinks he is honest: he thinks Northern capitalists treat
free laborers in this way. You can’t get it through the heads of these
Southern planters that the laboring class has any rights.

“Honest M—— has two plantations,” continued Mr. C——: “he rents me one of
them. But he gave me notice at the start that he should take all the
niggers from my plantation, and that I must look out for my own help.
When I went to take possession I was astonished to find the niggers all
there.

“’How’s this?’ I said. ‘I thought these people were going with you?’

“He said he couldn’t induce one of them to contract; and he had about
given up the idea of running his other plantation, because the niggers
wouldn’t work. He had offered twenty-five dollars a month, with board
and medical attendance, and they wouldn’t engage to him even for that.

“’Well,’ said I, ‘if you have got through I should like to hire them.’

“He said I was welcome to try. They knew me to be a Northern man, and
when I called them around me for a talk, they all came with grinning
faces. Said I: ‘Mr. M—— offers you twenty-five dollars a month. That is
more than I can afford to pay, and I think you’d better hire to him.’
They looked stolid: they couldn’t see it: they didn’t want to work for
him at any price.

“Then I said, ‘If you won’t work for him, will you work for me?’ I never
saw faces light up so in my life. ‘Yes, master! Yes, master!’ ‘But,’
said I, ‘ten dollars a month is all I can afford to pay.’ That made no
difference, they said; they’d rather work for ten dollars, and be sure
of their pay, than for twenty-five dollars, and be cheated out of it. I
gave them a day to think of it: then they all came forward and made
contracts, with one exception. They went right to work with a will: I
won’t ask men to do any better than they have been doing. They are
having their Christmas frolic now, and it’s as merry a Christmas as ever
you saw!”

I met with many planters in the situation of Honest M——. Having made
arrangements to run their plantations, and got in the necessary
supplies, they had discovered that “the niggers wouldn’t contract.” They
were then trying to lease their lands to Northern capitalists.

I have seldom met a more anxious, panic-stricken set of men than the
planters I saw on the steamer going down to Vicksburg to hire freedmen.
Observing the success of Northern men, they had suddenly awakened to the
great fact that, although slavery was lost, all was not lost, and that
there was still a chance to make something out of the nigger. They could
not hire their own freedmen, and were going to see what could be
effected with freedmen to whom they were not known. Each seemed to fear
lest his neighbor should get the start of him.

“They’re just crazy about the niggers,” said one, a Mississippian, who
was about the craziest of the set,—“crazy to get hold of ’em.”

“But,” I remarked, “they say the freedmen won’t work.”

“Well, they won’t,” said my Mississippi friend, unflinchingly.

“Then what do you want of them?”

“Well, I found everybody else was going in for hiring ’em, and if
anything was to be made, I didn’t want to be left out in the cold.”
Adding with great candor and earnestness: “_If everybody else would have
refused to hire ’em anyhow, that would have just suited me: I’d have
been willing to let my plantation go to the devil for one year, just to
see the free niggers starve._”

I saw this gentleman afterwards in Vicksburg, and was not deeply grieved
to learn that he had failed to engage a single freedman. “They are
hiring to Northern men,” said he, bitterly; “but they won’t hire to
Southern men anyhow, if they can help it.”

“How do you account for this singular fact?” I asked.

“I don’t know. They’ve no confidence in us; but they imagine the Yankees
will do wonders by ’em. The Southern people are really their best
friends.” At which stereotyped bit of cant I could not forbear a smile.

The usual terms proposed by the planters were one hundred and fifty
dollars, for a full hand, payable at the end of the year; together with
doctors’ bills, two hundred pounds of pork, and a peck of meal a week.

The terms most approved by Colonel Thomas were as follows: Fifteen
dollars a month, with food, including flour, sugar, and molasses; a
little patch of ground for each family, and Saturday afternoon, for the
raising of their own vegetables; the freedmen to clothe themselves.

The planters insisted on furnishing all needful supplies, and charging
the blacks for them when not stipulated for in the contract. The alleged
reason for this was that the negroes, if allowed to buy their own
supplies, would spend half their time in running about the country for
knick-knacks. But the better class of planters admitted that the system
was liable to gross abuse. “I have neighbors,” said one, “who keep
stores of plain goods and fancy articles for their people; and, let a
nigger work ever so hard, and earn ever so high wages, he is sure to
come out in debt at the end of the year.”

Those who had given the free-labor system a fair trial admitted that the
negro would work as well as ever before, while in the field,—some said
better; but he would not work as many hours.

“How many hours did he formerly work?” I inquired; and received the
following statement with regard to what was done on a well-regulated
Mississippi plantation.

“Mr. P——’s niggers were in the field at daylight. It was so in the
longest days of summer, as at other times of the year. They worked till
six o’clock, when their breakfast was carried to them. They had just
time enough allowed them to eat their breakfast; then they worked till
noon, when their dinner was carried to them. They had an hour for their
dinner. At six o’clock their supper was carried to them. Then they
worked till dark. There were cisterns in the field, where they got their
water. Nobody was allowed to leave the field from the time they entered
it in the morning until work was over at night. That was to save time.
The women who suckled babies had their babies carried to them. A little
nigger-boy used to drive a mule to the field with a cart full of nigger
babies; and the women gave the brats their luncheon while they ate their
own. So not a minute was lost.”

And this was the plantation of a “liberal” owner, worked by a
“considerate and merciful overseer.” It appeared, according to the
planters’ own statements, that their slaves used to work at least
sixteen hours a day in summer,—probably more, for they had chores to do
at home after dark. That they should not choose to keep up such a
continual strain on their bodily faculties, now that they were free, did
not appear to me very unreasonable,—but that was perhaps because I was
prejudiced.

Under the old system, many plantations were left entirely to the
management of overseers, the owners living in some pleasant town where
they enjoyed the advantages of society for themselves and of schools for
their children. The overseer who could produce the most cotton to the
hand was in great request, and commanded the highest wages. The natural
result was that both lands and negroes were often worked to a ruinous
excess. But the occupation of these best overseers was now gone. Not a
freedman would hire out to work on plantations where they were known to
be employed. Some managed, however, to avoid being thrown out of
business by attaching themselves to other plantations, and changing
their title. With the negroes a name is imposing. Many would engage
cheerfully to work under a “superintendent,” who would not have entered
the field under an “overseer.”

But it is easier to change an odious name than an odious character. Said
a candid Southern planter to me, “I should get along very well with my
niggers, if I could only get my superintendent to treat them decently.
Instead of cheering and encouraging them, he bullies and scolds them,
and sometimes so far forgets himself as to kick and beat them. Now they
are free they won’t stand it. They stood it when they were slaves,
because they had to. He can’t get the notion out of his head that they
are still somehow slaves. When I see things going right badly, I take
him, and give him a good talking to. Then for about three days he’ll use
’em better, and everything goes smooth. But the first I know, there’s
more bullying and beating, and there’s more niggers bound to quit.”

Meanwhile the Christmas holidays were effecting a change in the
prospects of free labor for the coming year. I never witnessed in so
short a time so complete a revolution in public feeling. One day it
seemed that everybody was in despair, complaining that the niggers
wouldn’t work; the next, everybody was rushing to employ them. And the
freedmen, who, before Christmas, had refused to make contracts, vaguely
hoping that lands would be given them by the government, or leased to
them by their owners, now came forward to make the best terms they
could. The presence of the Bureau at this time in the South was an
incalculable benefit to both parties. It inspired the freedmen with
confidence, and persuaded them, with the promise of its protection, to
hire out once more to the Southern planters. The trouble was, that there
was not labor enough in the State to supply the demand. Many negroes had
enlisted in the war; others had wandered back to the slave-breeding
States from which they had been sold; others had become small
proprietors; and others had died, in consequence of the great and sudden
change in their circumstances which the war had brought about.



                              CHAPTER LII.
                         A RECONSTRUCTED STATE.


It seemed impossible for the people of Mississippi—and the same may be
said of the Southern people generally—to understand the first principle
of the free-labor system. Their notions of it were derived from what
they had seen of the shiftless poor whites about them, demoralized by an
institution that rendered labor disreputable. They could not conceive of
a man devoting himself voluntarily to hard manual toil, such as they had
never seen performed except under the lash. Some compulsory system
seemed to them indispensable. Hence the new black codes passed by the
reconstructed legislatures of several States.

Mississippi, like South Carolina, on returning to the fold of the Union,
from which those innocent lambs had strayed, made haste to pass
apprentice laws, vagrant laws, and laws relating to contracts and labor,
designed to bring back the freedmen under the planters’ control. “An Act
to regulate the Relation of Master and Apprentice,” passed in November,
1865, provides that “all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, under
the age of eighteen, who are orphans,” or are not maintained by their
parents, shall be apprenticed “to some competent and suitable
person,”—the former owner to “have the preference;” that “the said
apprentices shall be bound by indenture, in the case of males until they
are twenty-one years old, and in case of females until they are eighteen
years old”; that said master or mistress shall have power to inflict
“moderate corporal chastisement”; that in case the apprentice leaves
them without their consent, he may be committed to jail, and “_punished
as provided for the punishment of hired freedmen, as may be from time to
time provided for by law_,”—the meaning of which is clear, although the
grammatical construction is muddy; and that any person who shall employ,
feed, or clothe an apprentice who has deserted his master, “shall be
deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor,” and so forth.

It will be seen that, by this act, (approved November 22d, 1865,) not
merely children without means of support may be thus bound out under a
modified system of slavery, but that young girls, and lads of from
fourteen to eighteen, capable not only of supporting themselves, but of
earning perhaps the wages of a man or woman, may be taken from the
employment of their choice and compelled to serve without wages the
master or mistress assigned them by the court.

“An Act to amend the Vagrant Laws of the State” provides that “all
freedmen over the age of eighteen years, found on the second Monday in
January, 1866, or thereafter, with no lawful employment or business,”
(as if no man was ever honestly without employment,) “or found
unlawfully assembling themselves together either in the day or night
time, shall be deemed vagrants, and on conviction thereof shall be fined
in the sum of not exceeding fifty dollars, and imprisoned at the
discretion of the court not exceeding ten days”; provided, however, that
in case any freedman “shall fail for five days after the imposition of
said fine to pay the same, that it shall be, and is hereby, made the
duty of the sheriff of the proper county to hire out said freedman to
any person who will for the shortest period of service pay said fine or
forfeiture and all costs.”

A bill “To confer Civil Rights on Freedmen, and for other Purposes,”
enacts “That all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes may sue and be
sued, implead and be impleaded in all the courts of law and equity of
this State, and may acquire personal property and choses in action, by
descent or purchase, and may dispose of the same, in the same manner,
and to the same extent that white persons may: _Provided that the
provisions of this section shall not be so construed as to allow any
freedman, free negro, or mulatto to rent or lease any lands or
tenements, except in incorporated towns and cities._”

Not to speak of the gross injustice of this last provision, what shall
be said of the wisdom of that legislation which prohibits an entire
laboring class from acquiring real estate in the country, where their
presence and energies are indispensable, and holds out an inducement for
them to flock to the towns, which are crowded with them already, but
where alone they can hope to become freeholders?

Another section of this bill enacts that freedmen shall be competent
witnesses in all cases where freedmen are parties to the suit, or where
a crime is alleged to have been committed by a white person upon the
person or property of a freedman. But it does not give them the power to
testify in cases in which only white persons are concerned. All the
negro testimony bills which I have seen, passed by the legislatures of
the reconstructed States under gentle pressure from Washington, are
marked by this singular inconsistency. If the negro is a competent
witness in cases in which his own or his fellow’s interests are
involved, he is certainly a competent witness in cases involving only
the interests of white persons. He is permitted to give evidence when
there may exist a temptation for him to swear falsely, and not when
there is no such temptation. By the enactment of such laws the whites
are in reality legislating against themselves. Even Governor
Humphreys—late Rebel general, but now the reconstructed executive of the
“loyal” State of Mississippi, elected for his services in the
Confederate cause—in his message to this same legislature, favoring the
admission of negroes into the courts as an indispensable step towards
ridding the State of the military power, and of “that black incubus, the
Freedman’s Bureau,” made this suggestive statement:—

“There are few men living in the South who have not known many white
criminals to go ‘unwhipt of justice’ because negro testimony was not
permitted in the courts.”

The act “To confer Civil Rights on the Freedmen,” proceeds to make the
following provisions, which look much more like wrongs: “That every
freedman, free negro, and mulatto shall, on the second Monday of
January, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and annually
thereafter, have a lawful home or employment,” (of course on any terms
that may be offered him,) “and shall have written evidence thereof, as
follows, to wit: If living in any incorporated city, town, or village, a
license from the Mayor thereof; and if living outside of any
incorporated city, town, or village, from the member of the Board of
Police of his beat, authorizing him or her to do irregular and job work,
or a written contract, as provided in section sixth of this act; which
licenses may be revoked for cause, at any time, by the authority
granting the same.”

Section sixth enacts: “That all contracts for labor made with freedmen,
free negroes, and mulattoes, for a longer period than one month, shall
be in writing and in duplicate; ... and said contracts shall be taken
and held as entire contracts; and if the laborer shall quit the service
of the employer before expiration of his term of service, without good
cause, he shall forfeit his wages for that year up to the time of
quitting.” But who is to be the judge with regard to the “good cause?”
The white man, of course, and not the negro.

“Section 7. Be it further enacted, That every civil officer shall, and
every person may, arrest and carry back to his or her legal employer any
freedman, free negro, or mulatto, who shall have quit the service of his
or her employer before the expiration of his or her term of service.”

Section ninth provides that if any person “_shall knowingly employ any
such deserting freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or shall knowingly give
or sell to any such deserting freedman, free negro, or mulatto any food,
raiment, or other thing, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and
upon conviction, shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars, and
not more than two hundred dollars and the costs_.”

These extracts—which I have made verbatim from an authorized copy of the
recent State laws, with only such abridgments as were necessary to
compress them within reasonable limits—show plainly enough what ideas
prevail in the late Slave States on the subject of free labor. The
design of all such enactments is simply to place both the labor and the
laborer in the power of the employer, and to reorganize slavery under a
new name. The fact that they are practically set aside and annulled by
the military power and the Freedmen’s Bureau, does not set aside or
annul the spirit which dictated them. This still animates the people of
the South; and I was often plainly told that as soon as the States were
fully restored to their rights, just such laws as these would certainly
be put in force. I remarked to a Mississippi planter, “Do you not think
it was unwise for your Legislature to pass such a code of laws?” “Yes,
it was unwise, _at this time_,” he replied, not understanding the scope
of my question. “_We showed our hand too soon._ We ought to have waited
till the troops were withdrawn, and our representatives admitted to
Congress; then we could have had everything our own way.”

Since the admission of negro testimony in the civil courts of the State,
the freedmen’s courts had been discontinued,—greatly to the disadvantage
of the colored race. The civil courts could hardly be induced to give
the negro’s cause a hearing. There were some exceptions; and at
Vicksburg I found a judge who seemed inclined to administer justice
without regard to the prejudice against color. This was Judge Yerger, an
original Union man,—one of the seven (against seventy-eight) who voted
No, on the adoption of the ordinance of secession in the Convention of
1861; the same who, when asked by a member what title should be given to
that act, replied, “Call it _An Ordinance for the Abolition of Slavery
and the Desolation of the South_.”

Yerger was the President of the new Convention that reconstructed the
State. That Convention was animated by a very different temper from that
shown by the new Legislature. The Convention was composed of the best
men in Mississippi, who went prepared to do what the Government at
Washington had a right to expect of rebellious States returning to their
allegiance; the Legislature was made up of a different class, elected
after the people of the South had been encouraged in their animosity and
arrogance by the discovery that treason was not to be punished, nor made
particularly odious. The Convention was governed by men of large
influence and liberal views; the Legislature was controlled by
narrow-minded intermeddlers, mostly from the poorer districts of the
State, where the inhabitants hated the negroes the more by way of
revenge for having owned so few.

It was claimed by the better class that the Legislature did not
represent them, and there was talk of calling another State Convention.
But the Legislature, although it did not carry out the views of the more
enlightened and progressive citizens, nor reflect in any way the
sentiments of the great mass of true Union men in the South, namely, the
blacks, represented quite faithfully the majority by which it was
elected.

I have already alluded to the organizing of the State militia,—an abuse
that unfortunately received the sanction of the Administration. The only
possible excuse for it was the cry raised regarding anticipated negro
insurrections. To guard against danger from a class whose loyalty and
good behavior during the war challenged the admiration of the world,
arms were put into the hands of Confederate soldiers who had returned to
their homes reeking with the blood of the nation. Power was taken from
the friends of the government and put into the hands of its enemies. The
latter immediately set to work disarming the former. They plundered
their houses, under the pretence of searching for weapons; committing
robberies, murders, and other atrocities, with authentic reports of
which pages might be filled. Neither were white men, known to sympathize
with the Union party of the North, safe from their violence. Governor
Humphreys himself, startled by the magnitude of the evil that had been
called into existence, told Colonel Thomas that he had been obliged to
disband several militia companies already organized, “on learning that
they were sworn to kill negroes asserting their independence, and to
drive off Northern men.”

Of what was being done by private parties outside of the militia
organizations, a curious glimpse is given in the following “general
order,” published in the Holmesville (Miss.) “Independent”:—

                        “[General Order No. 1.]

                                        “SUMMIT, MISS., Nov. 28, 1865.

  “In obedience to an order of His Excellency, the Governor of
  Mississippi, I have this day assumed command of all the militia in
  this section of the State, with head-quarters at this place. And
  whereas it has been reported to me that there are various
  individuals, not belonging to any military organization, either
  State or Federal, who are engaged in shooting at, and sometimes
  killing, the freedmen on private account; and whereas there are
  other white men reported as the attendants of, and participants in,
  the negro balls, who, after placing themselves upon a social
  equality with the people of color, raise quarrels with the freedmen,
  upon questions of social superiority already voluntarily waived and
  relinquished by them in favor of the negro, by which the peace of
  the country is broken and the law disregarded; I therefore order the
  arrest of all such offenders, by the officers and soldiers under my
  command, and that they be taken before some civil officer having
  power to commit to the county jail, for the purpose of awaiting the
  action of the Grand Jury.

  “Men must quit blacking themselves, and do everything legally.

                                         “OSCAR J. E. STUART,
                                     “Q. M. G. and Col. Com. Militia.”

The objection here seems to be to shooting the freedmen “on private
account,” or doing anything “illegally,” thus taking the proper work of
the militia out of its hands.

There were no doubt serious apprehensions in the minds of the people on
the subject of negro insurrections. But a great deal that was said about
them was mere pretence and cant, with which I have not seen fit to load
these pages. There was not, while I was in the South, the slightest
danger from a rising of the blacks, nor will there be, unless they are
driven to desperation by wrongs.

I remember two very good specimens of formidable negro insurrections.
One was reported in Northern Mississippi, and investigated personally by
General Fiske, who took pains to visit the spot and learn all the facts
concerning it. According to his account, “a colored man hunting
squirrels was magnified into a thousand vicious negroes marching upon
their old masters with bloody intent.”

The other case was reported at the hotel in Vicksburg where I stopped,
by a gentleman who had just arrived in the steamer “Fashion” from New
Orleans. He related an exciting story of a rising of the blacks in
Jefferson Parish, and a great slaughter of the white population. He also
stated that General Sheridan had sent troops to quell the insurrection.
Afterwards, when at New Orleans, I made inquiry of General Sheridan
concerning the truth of the rumor, and learned that it was utterly
without foundation. The most noticeable phase of it was the effect it
had upon the guests at the hotel table. Everybody had been predicting
negro insurrections at Christmas-time; now everybody’s prophecy had come
true, and everybody was delighted. A good deal of horror was expressed;
but the real feeling, ill-concealed under all, was exultation.

“What will Sumner & Co. say now?” cried one.

“The only way is to kill the niggers off, and drive ’em out of the
country,” said another.

I was struck by the perfect unanimity with which the company indorsed
this last sentiment. All the outrages committed by whites upon blacks
were of no account; but at the mere rumor of a negro insurrection, what
murderous passions were roused!

Of the comparative good behavior of whites and blacks in a large town,
the police reports afford a pretty good indication. Vicksburg, which had
less than five thousand inhabitants in 1860, had in 1865 fifteen
thousand. Of these, eight thousand were blacks. On Christmas-day, out of
nineteen persons brought before the police court for various offences,
fourteen were white and five colored. The day after there were ten cases
reported,—nine white persons and one negro. The usual proportion of
white criminals was more than two thirds.

An unrelenting spirit of persecution, shown towards Union men in
Mississippi, was fostered by the reconstructed civil courts. Union
scouts were prosecuted for arson and stealing. A horse which had been
taken by the government, and afterwards condemned and sold, was claimed
by the original owner, and recovered,—the quartermaster’s bill of sale,
produced in court by the purchaser, being pronounced null and void. The
government had leased to McAlister, a Northern man, an abandoned
plantation, with the privilege of cutting wood upon it, for which he
paid forty cents a cord: the Rebel owner returns with his pardon, and
sues the lessee for alleged damages done to his property by the removal
of wood, to the amount of five thousand dollars; a writ of attachment
issues under the seal of the local court, and the defendant is compelled
to give bonds to the amount of ten thousand dollars, or lie in jail.
Such cases were occurring every day.

The beautiful effect of executive mercy upon rampant Rebels was well
illustrated in Mississippi. A single example will suffice. The Reverend
Dr. ——, an eloquent advocate of the Confederate cause,—who, as late as
March 23d, 1865, delivered a speech before the State Legislature, urging
the South to fight to the last extremity,—under strong pretences of
loyalty, obtained last summer a full pardon, and an order for the
restoration of his property. The —— House, in Vicksburg, belonging to
this reverend gentleman, was at that time used as a hospital for colored
persons by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Returning, with the President’s
authority, he turned out the sick inmates with such haste as to cause
the deaths of several; and on the following Sunday preached a vehement
sermon on reconstruction, in which he avowed himself a better friend to
the blacks than Northern men, and declared that it was “the duty of the
government to treat the South with magnanimity, because it was not
proper for a living ass to kick a dead lion.”

There was great opposition to the freedmen’s schools. Dr. Warren, the
superintendent for the State, told me that “if the Bureau was withdrawn
not a school would be publicly allowed.” There were combinations formed
to prevent the leasing of rooms for schools; and those who would have
been willing to let buildings for this purpose were deterred from doing
so by threats of vengeance from their neighbors. In Vicksburg,
school-houses had been erected on confiscated land, which had lately
been restored to the Rebel owners, and from which they were ordered,
with other government buildings, to be removed.

In the month of November there were 4750 pupils in the freedmen’s
schools,—the average attendance being about 3000. Of these, 2650 were
advanced beyond the alphabet and primer; 1200 were learning arithmetic,
and 1000 writing.

The schools were mainly supported by the Indiana Yearly Meeting of
Friends, the Ohio Yearly Meeting, the American Freedmen’s Aid
Commission, (composed of various denominations,) and the American
Missionary Association, (Congregational.) Elkanah Beard, of the Indiana
Yearly Meeting, was the first to organize a colony of colored refugees
in Mississippi, and through him his society have furnished to the
freedmen practical relief, in the shape of food, clothing, and shelter,
to a very great amount. The United Presbyterian Body had fifteen
teachers at Vicksburg and Davis’s Bend. The Old School Presbyterian
Church had a missionary at Oxford, introducing schools upon plantations,
and the Moravian Church had a pioneer at Holly Springs.



                             CHAPTER LIII.
                       A FEW WORDS ABOUT COTTON.


The best cotton lands in the States lie between 31° and 36° north
latitude. Below 31° the climate is too moist, causing the plant to run
too much to stalk, and the fibre to rot. Above 36° the season is too
short and too cold. The most fertile tracts for the cultivation of
cotton are the great river bottoms. In the Mississippi Valley, twice or
even three or four times as much may be raised to the acre as in
Northern Alabama or Middle Tennessee. But in the Valley there is danger
from floods and the army worm, by which sometimes entire crops are swept
away. On the uplands there is danger from drought.

The life of the planter is one of care and uncertainty. It requires
almost as extensive organization to run a large plantation as a factory.
You never know, until the crop is picked, whether you are going to get
fifty or five hundred pounds to the acre. Anxiety begins at
planting-time. The weather may be too wet; it may be too dry; and the
question eagerly asked is, “Will you have a stand?” If the “stand” is
favorable,—that is, if the plants come up well, and get a good
start,—you still watch the weather, lest they may not have drink enough,
or the levees, lest they may have too much. Look out also for the
destructive insects: kindle fires in your fields to poison with smoke
the moths that lay the eggs; and scatter corn to call the birds, that
they may feed upon the newly-hatched worms. Perhaps, when the cotton is
just ready to come out, a storm of rain and wind beats it down into the
mud. Then, when the crop is harvested, it is liable to be burned; and
you must think of your insurance.

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, there is great fascination in the
culture,—the possibility of clearing in one season from a good
plantation fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, causing you to take
cheerfully all risks. The plausible figures dazzle you; and to the
Northern man the novelty of the life in prospect for a year or two is
itself an inducement. You think little of the danger to health from the
miasmas of the swamps; or to property, from the midnight torch of an
enemy; or to life, from the ill-timed recreation of some bushwhacking
neighbor. And you are quite insensible to what the Southern planter
deems the greatest of all risks that beset your crop,—that some day your
freedmen will desert, and leave it to destruction.

I found many Northern planters in the upland districts of Alabama and
Tennessee, where lands are cheaper, plantations smaller, and the risks
less, than in the Mississippi Valley. But the latter region proved the
greater attraction to adventurous capital. Men from the Middle States
and the great West were everywhere, buying and leasing plantations,
hiring freedmen, and setting thousands of ploughs in motion.

From experienced cotton-growers I obtained various estimates of the cost
and probable profits of a crop the present year. They usually differed
little as to items of expense, but sometimes very widely as to profits,
according to each man’s conjectures regarding freedmen’s willingness to
work, and the price of cotton next fall, which one would place as low as
fifteen cents, and another as high as fifty. The annexed statement,
furnished by the Southern Land Agency at Vicksburg, is probably as good
as any:—

  “Sir:—The following is an estimate of the expense and cash capital
  required to cultivate 500 acres of cotton land within the scope of
  our agency, for the year 1866.

   25 mules @ $150                                        $3,750

   25 single sets plough harness @ $4                        100

    3 lumber wagons @ $75                                    225

   25 single ploughs @ $13                                   325

   10 double ploughs @ $18                                   180

  700 bushels cotton-seed @ $1                               700

      Total outlay for stock, seed, and implements                $5,280

 1200 bushels corn @ $0.75                                  $900

  120 barrels of corn meal @ $6 (about 1⅓ lb. per
        ration)                                              720

   84 barrels pork @ $35 (about ⅔ lb. per ration)          2,940

  250 gallons molasses @ $0.75 (about ¾ gallon per
        ration each)                                         187

    5 barrels salt @ $3, for stock and hands                  15

 Wages of 60 hands for 10 months @ $15 per month           9,000

 Incidentals                                               1,000

      Total for supplies, wages, and incidentals                 $14,762

 Rent of 500 acres land @ $10                                      5,000

                                                                 ———————

      Total outlay during the season                             $25,042

 Value of the articles on hand at the end of the year:—

 Amount paid for stock and implements, _less ¼ for usual
   wear_                                                   3,435

 Amount paid for cotton-seed, which is replaced from the
   crop                                                      700  $4,135

                                                                 ———————

      Leaving _total expenditure during the year_                $20,907

 For the actual amount of cash required up to the time a
   portion of the crop may be disposed of—say Sept.
   30th—deduct ⅔ of the rent, which is not due until the
   crop is gathered                                        3,333

    Last quarter’s expenditures for supplies, wages, &c.   4,940  $8,273

                                                                 ———————

                                                                 $16,769

  “From which calculation we see that the _actual cash capital
  required_ is $16,769, or about $33 per acre, and the _actual
  expense_ about $42 per acre. But as men’s financial abilities differ
  materially, we think it quite possible to cultivate land with
  smaller capital. Many are hiring men, agreeing to pay but a small
  portion of their wages monthly, and the balance at the end of the
  year; while others save the use of capital by procuring supplies on
  a short credit, or by allowing a portion of the crop for rent.

  “The average crop on alluvial land is full one bale per acre; on
  second bottom or table lands, about ⅔ bale, and on uplands ½ bale.

  “Clothing and extra supplies furnished to hands are usually charged
  against their wages.

  “This calculation is considered by the most experienced
  cotton-growers in the country a fair and liberal estimate; and from
  it you may estimate the profit on any sized tract, as the difference
  in the amount of land tilled will not materially change the figures.

                       “Very respectfully,” etc.

Here the cost of some articles is placed too low. Two hundred dollars
each for mules would be nearer the actual price. The cotton-seed to be
replaced by the crop should also be thrown out of the consideration if
you expect to close up business at the end of the year, for although
seed this season brought one dollar and upwards, it has no merchantable
value in ordinary times. This you will take into account if intending to
undertake a plantation next year.

But suppose we call the total expenditure for this year twenty-four
thousand dollars. And suppose a full crop is produced,—five hundred
acres yielding an equal number of bales. Taking twenty-five cents a
pound as a safe estimate, you have for each bale (of five hundred
pounds) $125; for five hundred bales, $62,500. From this gross amount
deduct the total expenditure, and you have remaining $38,500. If you go
to the uplands where less cotton is produced, you employ fewer hands,
and have less rent to pay,—perhaps not more than four or five dollars
for good land. Should cotton be as low as twenty cents, you have still a
fair margin for profits; and should it be as high as fifty, as many
confidently maintain it will be, the resulting figures are sufficiently
exciting.

In 1850 Mississippi produced 484,292 bales, of 400 pounds each; in 1860,
more than twice that quantity. The present year, notwithstanding the
scarcity of labor and the number of unprotected and desolated
plantations, there is a prospect of two thirds of an average crop,—say
half a million bales. The freedmen are working well; and cotton is
cultivated to the neglect of almost everything else. If we have a good
cotton season, there will be a large yield. If there is a small yield,
the price will be proportionately high. So that in either case the crop
raised in Mississippi this year bids fair to produce forty or fifty
million dollars.



                              CHAPTER LIV.
                   DAVIS’S BEND.—GRAND GULF.—NATCHEZ.


Descending the Mississippi, the first point of interest you pass is
Davis’s Bend, the former home of the President of the Confederacy.

A curve of the river encircles a pear-shaped peninsula twenty-eight
miles in circumference, with a cut-off across the neck seven hundred
yards in length, converting it into an island. There is a story told of
a man who, setting out to walk on the levee to Natchez, from Mr. Joe
Davis’s plantation, which adjoins that of his brother Jeff, unwittingly
made the circuit of this island, and did not discover his mistake until
he found himself at night on the spot from which he had started in the
morning.

About a mile from the river stands the Jeff Davis Mansion, with its wide
verandas and pleasant shade-trees. The plantation comprises a thousand
acres of tillable land, now used as a Home Farm for colored paupers,
under the superintendence of a sub-commissioner of the Bureau. Here are
congregated the old, the orphaned, the infirm, and many whose energies
of body and mind were prematurely worn out under the system which the
Confederacy was designed to glorify and perpetuate.

Here you find the incompetent and thriftless. Some have little
garden-spots, on which they worked last season until their vegetables
were ripe, when they stopped work and went to eating the vegetables. The
government cultivates cotton with their labor; and once, at a critical
period, it was necessary to commence ejecting them from their quarters
in order to compel them to work to keep the grass down.

The freedmen on the other plantations of the island represent other
qualities of the race. Besides the Home Farm there are five thousand
acres divided into farms and homesteads, cultivated by the negroes on
their own account, and paying a large rent to the government. On these
little farms twenty-five hundred bales of cotton were raised last year,
besides large quantities of corn, potatoes, and other produce. Many of
the tenants had only their naked hands to begin with: they labored with
hoes alone the first year, earning money to buy mules and ploughs the
next. The signal success of the colony perhaps indicates the future of
free labor in the South, and the eventual division of the large
plantations into homesteads to be sold or rented to small farmers. This
system suits the freedman better than any other; and under it he is
industrious, prosperous, and happy.

There were about three thousand people at the Bend. Some worked a few
acres, others took large farms, and hired laborers. Fifty had
accumulated five thousand dollars each during the past two years; and
one hundred others had accumulated from one to four thousand dollars.
Some of these rising capitalists had engaged Northern men to rent
plantations for the coming year, and to take them in as partners,—the
new black code of Mississippi prohibiting the leasing of lands to the
freedmen.

The colony is self-governing, under the supervision of the
sub-commissioner. There are three courts, each having its colored judge
and sheriff. The offender, before being put on trial, can decide whether
he will be tried by a jury, or have his case heard by the judge alone.
Pretty severe sentences are sometimes pronounced; and it is found that
the negro will take cheerfully twice the punishment from one of his own
color that he will from a white court.

Some sound sense often falls from the lips of these black Solomons. Here
is a sample. A colored man and his mother are brought up for stealing a
bag of corn.

_Judge_: “Do you choose to be tried by a jury?”

_Culprit_ (not versed in the technicalities of the court): “What’s dat?”

_Judge_: “Do you want twelve men to come in and help me?”

_Culprit_, emphatically: “No, sah!”—for he thinks one man will probably
be too much for him.

_Judge_, sternly: “Now listen you! You and your mother are a couple of
low-down darkies, trying to get a living without work. You are the cause
that respectable colored people are slandered, and called thieving and
lazy niggers; when it’s only the likes of you that’s thieving and lazy.
Now this is what I’ll do with you. If you and your mother will hire out
to-day, and go to work like honest people, I’ll let you off on good
behavior. If you won’t, I’ll send you to Captain Norton. That means,
you’ll go up with a sentence. And I’ll tell you what your sentence will
be: three months’ hard labor on the Home Farm, and the ball and chain in
case you attempt to run away. Now which will you do?”

_Culprit_, eagerly: “I’ll hire out, sah!” And a contract is made for him
and his mother on the spot.

The next point of interest is Grand Gulf; the only place that offered
any resistance to our gun-boats between Vicksburg and Port Hudson. It
had before the war a thousand inhabitants, three churches, and several
steam-mills. Water and fire appear to have conspired against it. The
Yankees burned every vestige of the village, and the river has torn away
a large section of the bank on which it stood. A number of cheap
whitewashed wooden buildings have taken its place on the shore; above
and behind which rises a steep rocky bluff, covered with sparse timber,
sedge, and cane-brakes, and crowned by Rebel batteries.

There was formerly an extensive whirlpool below the confluence of the
Big Black with the Mississippi, which had worn a gulf six hundred feet
deep, just above this place: hence its name, Grand Gulf. This immense
chasm has been filled, since the beginning of the war, by the river that
excavated it; and where the whirlpool was there is now a solid sand-bar
overgrown with cotton-wood bushes. Opposite the town, on the Louisiana
side, there is another sand-bar, bare and low, occupying the place of a
fine plantation that flourished there before the war.

A hundred and twenty miles below Vicksburg is Natchez, one of the most
romantically and beautifully situated cities in the United States. It is
built on an almost precipitous bluff, one hundred and fifty feet above
the river, which is overlooked by a delightful park and promenade along
the city front. The landing is under the bluff.

The “Quitman” (in which I had taken passage) stopped several hours at
Natchez getting on board a quantity of cotton. Above Vicksburg, I
noticed that nearly all the cotton was going northward: below, it was
going the other way, toward New Orleans. At every town, and at nearly
every plantation landing, we took on board, sometimes a hundred bales
and more, sometimes but two or three, until the “Quitman” showed two
high white walls of cotton all round her guards, which were sunk to the
water’s edge. She was constructed to carry forty-three hundred bales.

On the levee at Natchez I made the acquaintance of an old plantation
overseer. He knew all about cotton raising. “I’ve overseed in the
swamps, and I’ve overseed on the hills. You can make a bale to the acre
in the swamps, and about one bale to two acres on the hills. I used to
get ten to fifteen hundred dollars a year. I’m hiring now to a Northern
man, who gives me three thousand. A Northern man will want to get more
out of the niggers than we do. Mine said to me last night, ‘I want you
to get the last drop of sweat and the last pound of cotton out of my
niggers;’ and I shall do it. I can if anybody can. There’s a heap in
humbuggin’ a nigger. I worked a gang this summer, and got as much work
out of ’em as I ever did. I just had my leading nigger, and I says to
him, I says, ‘Sam, I want this yer crop out by such a time; now you go
ahead, talk to the niggers, and lead ’em off right smart, and I’ll give
you twenty-five dollars.’ Then I got up a race, and give a few dollars
to the men that picked the most cotton, till I found out the extent of
what each man could pick; then I required that of him every day, or I
docked his wages.”

As we were talking, the mate of the “Quitman” took up an oyster-shell
and threw it at the head of one of the deck-hands, who did not handle
the cotton to suit him. It did not hurt the negro’s head much, but it
hurt his feelings.

“Out on the plantations,” observed my friend the overseer, “it would
cost him fifty dollars to hit a nigger that way. It cost me a hundred
and fifty dollars just for knocking down three niggers lately,—fifty
dollars a piece, by ——!”

He thought the negroes were going to be crowded out by the Germans; and
went on to say, with true Southern consistency,—

“The Germans want twenty dollars a month, and we can hire the niggers
for ten and fifteen. The Germans will die in our swamps. Then as soon as
they get money enough to buy a cart and mule, and an acre of land
somewhar, whar they can plant a grape-vine, they’ll go in for
themselves.”



                              CHAPTER LV.
                         THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.


We were nearly all night at Natchez loading cotton. The next day, I
noticed that the men worked languidly, and that the mate was plying them
with whiskey. I took an opportunity to talk with him about them. He
said,—

“We have a hundred and eighty hands aboard, all told. Thar’s sixty
deck-hands. That a’n’t enough. We ought to have reliefs, when we’re
shipping freight day and night as we are now.”

I remarked: “A gentleman who came up to Vicksburg in the ‘Fashion,’
stated, as an excuse for the long trip she made, that the niggers
wouldn’t work,—that the mates couldn’t make them work.”

He replied: “I reckon the hands on board the ‘Fashion’ are about in the
condition these are. These men are used up. They ha’n’t had no sleep for
four days and nights. I’ve seen a man go to sleep many a time, standing
up, with a box on his shoulder. We pay sixty dollars a month,—more’n
almost any other boat, the work is so hard. But we get rid of paying a
heap of ’em. When a man gets so used up he can’t stand no more, he
quits. He don’t dare to ask for wages, for he knows he’ll get none,
without he sticks by to the end of the trip.”

While we were talking, a young fellow, not more than twenty years old,
came up, looking very much exhausted, and told the mate he was sick.

“Ye a’n’t sick neither!” roared the mate at him, fiercely. “You’re lazy!
If you won’t work, go ashore.”

The fellow limped away again, and went ashore at the next landing.

“Is he sick or lazy?” I asked.

“Neither. He’s used up. He was as smart a hand as I had when he came
aboard. But they can’t stand it.”

“Was it always so?”

“No; before the war we had men trained for this work. We had some
niggers, but more white men. We couldn’t git all the niggers we wanted;
a fifteen hundred dollar man wore out too quick.”

“The whites were the best, I suppose.”

“The niggers was the best. They was more active getting down bales. They
liked the fun. They stand it better than white men. Business stopped,
and that set of hands all dropped off,—went into the war, the most of
’em. Now we have to take raw hands. These are all plantation niggers.
Not one of ’m’ll ship for another trip; they’ve had enough of it. Thar’s
no compellin’ ’em. You can’t hit a nigger now, but these d——d Yankee
sons of b——s have you up and make you pay for it.”

I told him if that was the case, I didn’t think I should hit one.

“They’ve never had me up,” he resumed. “When I tackle a nigger, it’ll be
whar thar an’t no witnesses, and it’ll be the last of him. That’s what
ought to be done with ’em,—kill ’em all off. I like a nigger in his
place, and that’s a servant, if thar’s any truth in the Bible.”

This allusion to Scripture, from lips hot with words of wrath and wrong,
was especially edifying.

The “Quitman” was a fine boat, and passengers, if not deck-hands, fared
sumptuously on board of her. The table was equal to that of the best
hotels. An excellent quality of claret wine was furnished, as a part of
the regular dinner fare, after the French fashion, which appears to have
been introduced into this country by the Creoles, and which is to be met
with, I believe, only on the steamboats of the Lower Mississippi.

On the “Quitman,” as on the boat from Memphis to Vicksburg, I made the
acquaintance of all sorts of Southern people. The conversation of some
of them is worth recording.

One, a Mississippi planter, learning that I was a Northern man, took me
aside, and with much emotion, asked if I thought there was “any chance
of the government paying us for our niggers.”

“What niggers?”

“The niggers you’ve set free by this abolition war.”

“This abolition war you brought upon yourselves; and paying you for your
slaves would be like paying a burglar for a pistol lost on your
premises. No, my friend, believe me, you will never get the first cent,
as long as this government lasts.”

He looked deeply anxious. But he still cherished a hope. “I’ve been told
by a heap of our people that we shall get our pay. Some are talking
about buying nigger claims. They expect, when our representatives get
into Congress, there’ll be an appropriation made.”

He went on: “I did one mighty bad thing. To save my niggers, I run ’em
off into Texas. It cost me a heap of money. I came back without a
dollar, and found the Yankees had taken all my stock, and everything,
and my niggers was free, after all.”

Jim B——, from Warren County, ten miles from Vicksburg, was a Mississippi
planter of a different type,—jovial, generous, extravagant in his
speech, and, in his habits of living, fast. “My niggers are all with me
yet, and you can’t get ’em to leave me. The other day my boy Dan drove
me into town; when we got thar, I says to him, ‘Dan, ye want any money?’
‘Yes, master, I’d like a little?’ I took out a ten-dollar bill and give
him. Another nigger says to him, ‘Dan, what did that man give you money
for?’ ‘That man?’ says Dan; ‘I belongs to him.’ ‘No, you don’t belong to
nobody now; you’re free.’ ‘Well,’ says Dan, ‘he provides for me, and
gives me money, and he’s my master, any way.’ I give my boys a heap more
money than I should if I just hired ’em. We go right on like we always
did, and I pole ’em if they don’t do right. This year I says to ’em,
‘Boys, I’m going to make a bargain with you. I’ll roll out the ploughs
and the mules and the feed, and you shall do the work; we’ll make a crop
of cotton, and you shall have half. I’ll provide for ye, give ye
quarters, treat ye well, and when ye won’t work, pole ye like I always
have. They agreed to it, and I put it into the contract that I was to
whoop ’em when I pleased.”

Jim was very enthusiastic about a girl that belonged to him. “She’s a
perfect mountain-spout of a woman!” (if anybody knows what that is.)
“When the Yankees took me prisoner, she froze to a trunk of mine, and
got it out of the way with fifty thousand dollars Confederate money in
it.”

He never wearied of praising her fine qualities. “She’s black outside,
but she’s white inside, shore!” And he spoke of a son of hers, then
twelve years old, with an interest and affection which led me to inquire
about the child’s father. “Well,” said Jim, with a smile, “he’s a
perfect little image of me, only a shade blacker.”

An Arkansas planter said: “I’ve a large plantation near Pine Bluff. I
furnish everything but clothes, and give my freedmen one third of the
crop they make. On twenty plantations around me, there are ten different
styles of contracts. Niggers are working well; but you can’t get only
about two thirds as much out of ’em now as you could when they were
slaves” (which I suppose is about all that ought to be got out of them).
“The nigger is fated: he can’t live with the white race, now he’s free.
I don’t know one I’d trust with fifty dollars, or to manage a crop and
control the proceeds. It will be generations before we can feel friendly
towards the Northern people.”

I remarked: “I have travelled months in the South, and expressed my
sentiments freely, and met with better treatment than I could have
expected five years ago.”

“That’s true; if you had expressed abolition sentiments then, you’d have
woke up some morning and found yourself hanging from some limb.”

Of the war he said: “Slavery was really what we were fighting for,
although the leaders didn’t talk that to the people. They saw the slave
interest was losing power in the Union, and trying to straighten it up,
they tipped it over.”

A Louisiana planter, from Lake Providence,—and a very intelligent,
well-bred gentleman,—said: “Negroes do best when they have a share of
the crop; the idea of working for themselves stimulates them. Planters
are afraid to trust them to manage; but it’s a great mistake. I know an
old negro who, with three children, made twenty-five bales of cotton
this year on abandoned land. Another, with two women and a blind mule,
made twenty-seven bales. A gang of fifty made three hundred bales,—all
without any advice or assistance from white men. I was always in favor
of educating and elevating the black race. The laws were against it, but
I taught all my slaves to read the Bible. Each race has its
peculiarities: the negro has his, and it remains to be seen what can be
done with him. Men talk about his stealing: no doubt he’ll steal: but
circumstances have cultivated that habit. Some of my neighbors couldn’t
have a pig, but their niggers would steal it. But mine never stole from
me, because they had enough without stealing. Giving them the elective
franchise just now is absurd; but when they are prepared for it, and
they will be some day, I shall advocate it.”

Another Louisianian, agent of the Hope Estate, near Water-Proof, in
Tensas Parish, said: “I manage five thousand acres,—fourteen hundred
under cultivation. I always fed my niggers well, and rarely found one
that would steal. My neighbors’ niggers, half-fed, hard-worked, they’d
steal, and I never blamed ’em. Nearly all mine stay with me. They’ve
done about two thirds the work this year they used to, for one seventh
of the crops. Heap of niggers around me have never received anything;
they’re only just beginning to learn that they’re free. Many planters
keep stores for niggers, and sell ’em flour, prints, jewelry and
trinkets, and charge two or three prices for everything. I think God
intended the niggers to be slaves; we have the Bible for that:” always
the Bible. “Now since man has deranged God’s plan, I think the best we
can do is to keep ’em as near a state of bondage as possible. I don’t
believe in educating ’em.”

“Why not?”

“One reason, schooling would enable them to compete with white
mechanics.”

“And why not?”

“It would be a _disadvantage_ to the whites,” he replied,—as if that was
the only thing to be considered by men with the Bible in their mouths!
“In Mississippi, opposite Water-Proof, there’s a minister collecting
money to buy plantations in a white man’s name, to be divided in little
farms of ten and fifteen acres for the niggers. He couldn’t do that
thing in my parish: he’d soon be dangling from some tree. There isn’t a
freedman taught in our parish; not a school; it wouldn’t be allowed.”

He admitted that the war was brought on by the Southern leaders, but
thought the North “ought to be lenient and give them all their rights.”
Adding: “What we want chiefly is to legislate for the freedmen. Another
thing: the Confederate debt ought to be assumed by the government. We
shall try hard for that. If we can’t get it, if the North continues to
treat us as a subjugated people, the thing will have to be tried over
again,”—meaning the war. “We must be left to manage the nigger. He can’t
be made to work without force.” (He had just said his niggers did two
thirds as much work as formerly.) “My theory is, feed ’em well, clothe
’em well, and then, if they won’t work, d—n ’em, whip ’em well!”

I did not neglect the deck-passengers. These were all negroes, except a
family of white refugees from Arkansas, who had been burnt out twice
during the war, once near Little Rock, and again in Tennessee, near
Memphis. With the little remnant of their possessions they were now
going to seek their fortunes elsewhere,—ill-clad, starved-looking,
sleeping on deck in the rain, coiled around the smoke-pipe, and covered
with ragged bedclothes.

The talk of the negroes was always entertaining. Here is a sample, from
the lips of a stout old black woman:—

“De best ting de Yankees done was to break de slavery chain. I shouldn’t
be here to-day if dey hadn’t. I’m going to see my mother.”

“Your mother must be very old.”

“You may know she’s dat, for I’m one of her baby chil’n, and I’s got
’leven of my own. I’ve a heap better time now ’n I had when I was in
bondage. I had to nus’ my chil’n four times a day and pick two hundred
pounds cotton besides. My third husband went off to de Yankees. My first
was sold away from me. Now I have my second husband again; I was sold
away from him, but I found him again, after I’d lived with my third
husband thirteen years.”

I asked if he was willing to take her back.

“He was willing to have me again _on any terms_”—emphatically—“for he
knowed I was Number One!”

Several native French inhabitants took passage at various points along
the river, below the Mississippi line. All spoke very good French, and a
few conversed well in English. One, from Point Coupée Parish, said:
“Before the war, there were over seventeen thousand inhabitants in our
parish.” (In Louisiana a county is called a parish.) “Nearly thirteen
thousand were slaves. Many of the free inhabitants were colored; so that
there were about four colored persons to one white. We made yearly
between eight and nine thousand hogsheads of sugar, and fifteen hundred
bales of cotton. The war has left us only three thousand inhabitants. We
sent fifteen hundred men into the Confederate army. All the French
population were in favor of secession. The white inhabitants of these
parishes are mostly French Creoles. We treated our slaves better than
the Americans treated theirs. We didn’t work them so hard; and there was
more familiarity and kindly feeling between us and our servants. The
children were raised together; and a white child learned the negroes’
_patois_ before he learned French. The patois is curious: a negro says
‘_Moi pas connais_’ for ‘_Je ne sais pas_’ (I do not know); and they use
a great many African words which you would not understand. Our slaves
were never sold except to settle an estate. Besides these two classes
there was a third, quite separate, which did not associate with either
of the others. They were the free colored, of French-African descent,
some almost or quite white, with many large property holders and
slave-owners among them; a very respectable class, forming a society of
their own.”

The villages and plantation dwellings along here, with their low roofs
and sunny verandas, on the level river bank, had a peculiarly foreign
and tropical appearance.

The levees of Louisiana form a much more extensive and complete system
than those of Mississippi. In the latter State there is much hilly land
that does not need their protection, and much swamp land not worth
protecting; and there is, I believe, no law regarding them. In the low
and level State of Louisiana, however, a large and fertile part of which
lies considerably below the level of high water, there is very strict
legislation on the subject, compelling every land-owner on the river to
keep up his levees. This year the State itself had undertaken to repair
them, issuing eight per cent. bonds to the amount of a million dollars
for the purpose,—the expense of the work to be defrayed eventually by
the planters.

For a long distance the Lower Mississippi, at high water, appears to be
flowing upon a ridge. The river has built up its own banks higher than
the country which lies back of them; and the levees have raised them
still higher. Behind this fertile strip there are extensive swamps,
containing a soil of unsurpassed depth and richness, but unavailable for
want of drainage. Three methods are proposed for bringing them under
cultivation. First, to surround them by levees, ditch them, and pump the
water out by steam. Second, to cut a canal through them to the Gulf.
Third, to turn the Mississippi into them, and fill them with its
alluvial deposit. This last method is no doubt the one Nature intended
to employ; and it is the opinion of many that man, confining the flow of
the stream within artificial limits, attempted the settlement of this
country several centuries too soon.

A remarkable feature of Louisiana scenery is its forests of
cypress-trees growing out of the water, heavy, sombre, and shaggy with
moss.

The complexion of the river water is a light mud-color, which it derives
from the turbid Missouri,—the Upper Mississippi being a clear stream.
Pour off a glass of it after it has been standing a short time, and a
sediment of dark mud appears at the bottom. Notwithstanding this
unpleasant peculiarity, it is used altogether for cooking and drinking
purposes on board the steamboats, and I found New Orleans supplied with
it.

A curious fact has been suggested with regard to this wonderful
river,—that it _runs up hill_. Its mouth is said to be two and a half
miles higher—or farther from the earth’s centre—than its source. When we
consider that the earth is a spheroid, with an axis shorter by
twenty-six miles than its equatorial diameter; and that the same
centrifugal motion which has caused the equatorial protuberance tends
still to heap up the waters of the globe where that motion is greatest;
the seeming impossibility appears possible,—just as we see a revolving
grindstone send the water on its surface to the rim. Stop the
grindstone, and the water flows down its sides. Stop the earth’s
revolution, and immediately you will see the Mississippi River turn and
flow the other way.

Some years ago I made a voyage of several days on the Upper Mississippi,
to the head of navigation. It was difficult to realize that this was the
same stream on which I was now sailing day after day in an opposite
direction,—six days in all, from Memphis to New Orleans. From St.
Anthony’s Falls to the Gulf, the Mississippi is navigable twenty-two
hundred miles. Its entire length is three thousand miles. Its great
tributary, the Missouri, is alone three thousand miles in length:
measured from its head-waters to the Gulf, it is four thousand five
hundred miles. Consider also the Ohio, the Arkansas, the Red River, and
the hundred lesser streams that fall into it, and well may we call it by
its Indian name, Michi-Sepe, the Father of Waters.



                              CHAPTER LVI.
                           THE CRESCENT CITY.


On the morning of January 1st, 1866, I arrived at New Orleans.

It was midwinter; but the mild sunny weather that followed the first
chill days of rain, made me fancy it May. The gardens of the city were
verdant with tropical plants. White roses in full bloom climbed upon
trellises or the verandas of houses. Oleander trees, bananas with their
broad drooping leaves six feet long, and Japan plums that ripen in
February, grew side by side in the open air. There were orange-trees
whose golden fruit could be picked from the balconies which they half
concealed. Magnolias, gray-oaks and live-oaks, some heavily hung with
moss that swung in the breeze like waving hair, shaded the yards and
streets. I found the roadsides of the suburbs green with grass, and the
vegetable gardens checkered and striped with delicately contrasting rows
of lettuce, cabbages, carrots, beets, onions, and peas in blossom.

The French quarter of the city impresses you as a foreign town
transplanted to the banks of the Mississippi. Many of the houses are
very ancient, with low, moss-covered roofs projecting over the first
story, like slouched hat-brims over quaint old faces. The more modern
houses are often very elegant, and not less picturesque. The names of
the streets are Pagan, foreign, and strange. The gods and muses of
mythology, the saints of the Church, the Christian virtues, and modern
heroes, are all here. You have streets of “Good Children,” of “Piety,”
of “Apollo,” of “St. Paul,” of “Euterpe,” and all their relations. The
shop-signs are in French, or in French and English. The people you meet
have a foreign air and speak a foreign tongue. Their complexions range
through all hues, from the dark Creole to the ebon African. The
anomalous third class of Louisiana—the respectable free colored people
of French-African descent—are largely represented. Dressed in silks,
accompanied by their servants, and speaking good French,—for many of
them are well educated,—the ladies and children of this class enter the
street cars, which they enliven with the Parisian vivacity of their
conversation.

The mingling of foreign and American elements has given to New Orleans a
great variety of styles of architecture; and the whole city has a light,
picturesque, and agreeable appearance. It is built upon an almost level
strip of land bordering upon the left bank of the river, and falling
back from the levee with an imperceptible slope to the cypress and
alligator swamps in the rear. The houses have no cellars. I noticed that
the surface drainage of the city flowed _back_ from the river into the
Bayou St. John, a navigable inlet of Lake Ponchartrain. The old city
front lay upon a curve of the Mississippi, which gave it a crescent
shape: hence its poetic _soubriquet_. The modern city has a river front
seven miles in extent, bent like the letter S.

The broad levee, lined with wharves on one side and belted by busy
streets on the other, crowded with merchandise, and thronged with
merchants, boatmen, and laborers, presents always a lively and
entertaining spectacle. Steam and sailing crafts of every description,
arriving, departing, loading, unloading, and fringing the city with
their long array of smoke-pipes and masts, give you some idea of the
commerce of New Orleans.

Here is the great cotton market of the world. In looking over the cotton
statistics of the past thirty years, I found that nearly one half the
crop of the United States had passed through this port. In 1855–1856
(the mercantile cotton year beginning September 1st and ending August
31st) 1,795,023 bales were shipped from New Orleans,—986,622 to Great
Britain (chiefly to Liverpool); 214,814 to France (chiefly to Havre);
162,657 to the North of Europe; 178,812 to the South of Europe, Mexico,
&c.; and 222,100 coastwise,—151,469 going to Boston and 51,340 to New
York. In 1859–1860, 2,214,296 bales were exported, 1,426,966 to Great
Britain, 313,291 to France, and 208,634 coastwise,—131,648 going to
Boston, 62,936 to New York, and 5,717 to Providence. This, it will be
remembered, was the great cotton year, the crop amounting to near
5,000,000 bales.

One is interested to learn how much cotton left this port during the
war. In 1860–1861, 1,915,852 bales were shipped, nearly all before
hostilities began; in 1861–1862, 27,627 bales; in 1862–1863, 23,750; in
1863–1864, 128,130; in 1864–1865, 192,351. The total receipts during
this last year were 271,015 bales. From September 1st, 1865, to January
1st, 1866, the receipts were 375,000 bales; and cotton was still coming.
The warehouses on the lower tributaries of the Mississippi were said to
be full of it, waiting for high water to send it down. There had been
far more concealed in the country than was supposed: it made its
appearance where least looked for; and such was the supply that
experienced traders believed that prices would thenceforth be steadily
on the decline.

A first-class Liverpool steamer is calculated to take out 3000 500-pound
bales, the freight on which is 7–8ths of a penny per pound,—not quite
two cents. The freight to New York and Boston is 1 1–4th cents by
steamers, and 7–8ths of a cent by sailing-vessels.

I put up at the St. Charles, famous before the war as a hotel, and
during the war as the head-quarters of General Butler. It is a
conspicuous edifice, with white-pillared porticos, and a spacious
Rotunda, thronged nightly with a crowd which strikes a stranger with
astonishment. It is a sort of social evening exchange, where merchants,
planters, travellers, river-men, army men, (principally Rebels,)
manufacturing and jobbing agents, showmen, overseers, idlers, sharpers,
gamblers, foreigners, Yankees, Southern men, the well dressed and the
prosperous, the rough and the seedy, congregate together, some leaning
against the pillars, and a few sitting about the stoves, which are
almost hidden from sight by the concourse of people standing or moving
about in the great central space. Numbers of citizens regularly spend
their evenings here, as at a club-room. One, an old plantation overseer
of the better class, told me that for years he had not missed going to
the Rotunda a single night, except when absent from the city. The
character he gave the crowd was not complimentary.

“They are all trying to get money without earning it. Each is doing his
best to shave the rest. If they ever make anything, I don’t know it.
I’ve been here two thousand nights, and never made a cent yet.”

I inquired what brought him here.

“For company; to kill time. I never was married, and never had a home.
When I was young, the girls said I smelt like a wet dog; that’s because
I was poor. Since I’ve got rich, I’m too old to get married.”

What he was thinking of now was a fortune to be made out of labor-saving
machinery to be used on the plantations: “I wish I could get hold of a
half-crazy feller, to fix up a cotton planter, cotton-picker,
cane-cutter, and a thing to hill up some.”

He talked cynically of the planters. “They’re a helpless set. They’re
all confused. They don’t know what they’re going to do. They never did
know much else but to get drunk. If a man has a plantation to rent or
sell, he can’t tell anything about it; you can’t get any proposition out
of him.”

He complained that Northern capital lodged in the cotton belt; but
little of it getting through to the sugar country. He did not know any
lands let to Northern men. “They hav’n’t got sugar on the brain; it’s
cotton they’re all crazy after.”

He used to oversee for fifteen hundred dollars a year: he was now
offered five thousand. He was a well-dressed, rather intelligent,
capable man; and I noticed that the planters treated him with respect.
But his manner toward them was cool and independent: he could not forget
old times. “I never was thought anything of by these men, till I got
rich. Then they began to say ‘Dick P—— is a mighty clever feller;’ and
by-and-by it got to be ‘Mr. P——.’ Now they all come to me, because I
know about business, and they don’t know a thing.”

Like everybody else, he had much to say of the niggers. “A heap of the
planters wants ’em all killed off. But I believe in the nigger. He’ll
work, if they’ll only let him alone. They fool him, and tell him such
lies, he’s no confidence. I’ve worked free niggers and white men, and
always found the niggers worked the best. But no nigger, nor anybody
else, will work like a slave works with the whip behind him. You can’t
make ’em. I was brought up to work alongside o’ niggers, and soon as I
got out of it, nothing, no money, could induce me to work so again.”

Speaking of other overseers, he said: “I admit I was about as tight on
the nigger as a man ought to be. If I’d been a slave, I shouldn’t have
wanted to work under a master that was tighter than I was. But I wa’n’t
a priming to some. You see that red-faced feller with his right hand
behind him, talking with two men? He’s an overseer. I know of his
killing two niggers, and torturing another so that he died in a few
days.” (I omit the shocking details of the punishment said to have been
applied.) “The other night he came here to kill me because I told about
him. He pulled out his pistol, and says he, ‘Dick P——, did you tell
so-and-so I killed three niggers on Clark’s plantation?’ ‘Yes,’ I says,
‘I said so, and can prove it; and if there’s any shooting to be done, I
can shoot as fast as you can.’ After that he bullied around here some,
then went off, and I hav’n’t heard anything about shooting since.”

Among the earliest acquaintances I made at New Orleans was General Phil.
Sheridan, perhaps the most brilliant and popular fighting man of the
war. I found him in command of the Military Division of the Gulf,
comprising the States of Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. In Florida he
had at that time seven thousand troops; in Louisiana, nine thousand; and
in Texas, twenty thousand, embracing ten thousand colored troops at
Corpus Christi and on the Rio Grande, watching the French movements.

It was Sheridan’s opinion that the Rebellion would never be ended until
Maximilian was driven from Mexico. Such a government on our borders
cherished the seeds of ambition and discontent in the minds of the late
Confederates. Many were emigrating to Mexico, and there was danger of
their uniting either with the Liberals or the Imperialists, and forming
a government inimical to the United States. To prevent such a
possibility, he had used military and diplomatic strategy. Three
thousand Rebels having collected in Monterey, he induced the Liberals to
arrest and disarm them. Then in order that they should not be received
by the Imperialists, he made hostile demonstrations, sending a pontoon
train to Brownsville, and six thousand cavalry to San Antonio,
establishing military posts, and making extensive inquiries for forage.
Under such circumstances, Maximilian did not feel inclined to welcome
the Rebel refugees. It is even probable that, had our government at that
time required the withdrawal of the French from Mexico, the demand,
emphasized by these and similar demonstrations, would have been complied
with. Maximilian is very weak in his position. Nineteen twentieths of
the people are opposed to him. There is no regular, legitimate taxation
for the support of his government, but he levies contributions upon
merchants for a small part of the funds he requires, and draws upon
France for the rest. His “government” consists merely of an armed
occupation of the country; with long lines of communication between
military posts, which could be easily cut off and captured one after
another by a comparatively small force.

The Southern country, in the General’s opinion, was fast becoming
“Northernized.” It was very poor, and going to be poorer. The planters
had no enterprise, no recuperative energy: they were entirely dependent
upon Northern capital and Northern spirit. He thought the freedmen’s
affairs required no legislation, but that the State should leave them to
be regulated by the natural law of supply and demand.

Phil. Sheridan is a man of small stature, compactly and somewhat
massively built, with great toughness of constitutional fibre, and an
alert countenance, expressive of remarkable energy and force. I inquired
if he experienced no reaction after the long strain upon his mental and
bodily powers occasioned by the war.

“Only a pleasant one,” he replied. “During my Western campaigns, when I
was continually in the saddle, I weighed but a hundred and fifteen
pounds. My flesh was hard as iron. Now my weight is a hundred and
forty-five.”

He went over with me to the City Hall, to which the Executive department
of the State had been removed, and introduced me to Governor Wells, a
plain, elderly man, affable, and loyal in his speech. I remember his
saying that the action of the President, in pardoning Governor
Humphreys, of Mississippi, after he had been elected by the people on
account of his services in the Confederate cause, was doing great harm
throughout the South, encouraging Rebels and discouraging Union men.
“Everything is being conceded to traitors,” said he, “before they have
been made to feel the Federal power.” He spoke of the strong Rebel
element in the Legislature which he was combating; and gave me copies of
two veto messages which he had returned to it with bills that were
passed for the especial benefit of traitors. The new serf code, similar
to that of Mississippi, engineered through the Legislature by a member
of the late Confederate Congress, he had also disapproved. After this, I
was surprised to hear from other sources how faithfully he had been
carrying out the very policy which he professed to condemn,—even going
beyond the President, in removing from office Union men appointed by
Governor Hahn and appointing Secessionists and Rebels in their place;
and advocating the Southern doctrine that the Government must pay for
the slaves it had emancipated. Such discrepancies between deeds and
professions require no comment. Governor Wells is not the only one, nor
the highest, among public officers, who, wishing to reconcile the
irreconcilable, and to stand well before the country whilst they were
strengthening the hands and gaining the favor of its enemies, have
suffered their loyal protestations to be put to some confusion by acts
of doubtful patriotism.

At the Governor’s room I had the good fortune to meet the Mayor of the
city, Mr. Hugh Kennedy, whom I afterwards called upon by appointment. By
birth a Scotchman, he had been thirty years a citizen of New Orleans,
and, from the beginning of the Secession troubles, had shown himself a
stanch patriot. He was appointed to the mayoralty by President Lincoln;
General Banks removed him, but he was afterwards reinstated.

I found him an almost enthusiastic believer in the future greatness of
New Orleans. “It is certain,” he said, “to double its population in ten
years. Its prosperity dates from the day of the abolition of slavery.
Men who formerly lived upon the proceeds of slave-labor are now
stimulated to enterprise. A dozen industrial occupations will spring up
where there was one before. Manufactures are already taking a start. We
have two new cotton-mills just gone into operation. The effect upon the
whole country will be similar. Formerly planters went or sent to New
York and Boston and laid in their supplies; for this reason there were
no villages in the South. But now that men work for wages, which they
will wish to spend near home, villages will everywhere spring up.”

Living, in New Orleans, he said, was very cheap. The fertile soil
produces, with little labor, an abundance of vegetables the year round.
Cattle are brought from the extensive prairies of the State, and from
the vast pastures of Texas: and contractors had engaged to supply the
charitable institutions of the city with the rumps and rounds of beef at
six cents a pound.

The street railroads promised to yield a considerable revenue to the
city. The original company paid only $130,000 for the privilege of
laying down its rails, and an exclusive right to the track for
twenty-five years. But two new roads had been started, one of which had
stipulated to pay to the city government eleven and a half per cent. of
its gross proceeds, and the other twenty-two and a half per cent. “In
two or three years an annual income from that source will not be less
than $200,000.”

From Mr. Kennedy I learned that free people of color owned property in
New Orleans to the amount of $15,000,000.

He was delighted with the working of the free-labor system. “I thought
it an indication of progress when the white laborers and negroes on the
levees the other day made a strike for higher wages. They were receiving
two dollars and a half and three dollars a day, and they struck for five
and seven dollars. They marched up the levee in a long procession, white
and black together. I gave orders that they should not be interfered
with as long as they interfered with nobody else; but when they
undertook by force to prevent other laborers from working, the police
promptly put a stop to their proceedings.”



                             CHAPTER LVII.
                    POLITICS, FREE LABOR, AND SUGAR.


Through the courtesy of the Mayor I became acquainted with some of the
radical Union men of New Orleans. Like the same class in Richmond and
elsewhere, I found them extremely dissatisfied with the political
situation and prospects. “Everything,” they said, “has been given up to
traitors. The President is trying to help the nation out of its
difficulty by restoring to power the very men who created the
difficulty. To have been a good Rebel is now in a man’s favor; and to
have stood by the government through all its trials is against him. If
an original secessionist, or a time-serving, half-and-half Union man,
ready to make any concession for the convenience of the moment, goes to
Washington, he gets the ear of the administration, and comes away full
of encouragement for the worst enemies the government ever had. If a man
of principle goes to Washington, he gets nothing but plausible words
which amount to nothing, if he isn’t actually insulted for his trouble.”

I heard everywhere the same complaints from this class. And here I may
state that they were among the saddest things I had to endure in the
South. Whatever may be thought of the intrinsic merits of any measures,
we cannot but feel misgivings when we see our late enemies made jubilant
by them, and loyal men dismayed.

The Union men of New Orleans were severe in their strictures on General
Banks. “It was he,” they said, “who precipitated the organization of the
State government on a Rebel basis. Read his _General Orders No. 35_,
issued March 11th, 1864, concerning the election of delegates to the
Convention. Rebels who have taken the amnesty oath are admitted to the
polls, and loyal colored men are excluded. Section 4th reads, ‘Every
free white man,’ &c. Since his return to Massachusetts he has been
making speeches in favor of negro suffrage. He is in favor of it there,
where it is popular as an abstraction, and a man gets into Congress on
the strength of it; but he was not in favor of it here, where there was
a chance of making it practical. His excuse was, that if black men voted
white men would take offence, and keep away from the polls. Very likely
some white men would, but loyal white men wouldn’t. That he had the
power to extend the franchise to the blacks, or at least thought he had,
may be seen by his apology for not doing so, in which he says: ‘I did
not decide upon this subject without very long and serious
consideration,’ and so forth. So he let the great, the golden
opportunity slip, of organizing the State government on a loyal
basis,—of demonstrating the capacity of the colored man for
self-government, and, of setting an example to the other Rebel States.”

Being one day in the office of Mr. Durant, a prominent lawyer and Union
man, I was much struck by the language and bearing of a gentleman who
called upon him, and carried on a long conversation in French. Having
understood that the Creoles were nearly all secessionists, I was
surprised to hear this man give utterance to the most enlightened
Republican sentiments. After he had gone out, I expressed my
gratification at having met him.

“That,” said Mr. Durant, “is one of the ablest and wealthiest business
men in New Orleans. He was educated in Paris. But there is one thing
about him you do not seem to have suspected. He belongs to that class of
Union men the government has made up its mind to leave politically bound
in the hands of the Rebels. That man, whom you thought refined and
intelligent, has not the right which the most ignorant, Yankee-hating,
negro-hating Confederate soldier has. He is a colored man, and has no
vote.”

There were six daily newspapers published in New Orleans,—five in
English and one in English and French,—besides several weeklies. There
was but one loyal sheet among them, and that was a “nigger paper,” the
_Tribune_, not sold by any newsboy, and, I believe, by but one
news-dealer.

I called on General T. W. Sherman, in command of the Eastern District of
Louisiana, who told me that, in order to please the people, our troops
had been withdrawn from the interior, and that the militia, consisting
mostly of Rebel soldiers, many of whom still wore the Rebel uniform, had
been organized to fill their place. The negroes, whom they treated
tyrannically, had been made to believe that it was the United States,
and not the State government, that had thus set their enemies to keep
guard over them.

Both Governor Wells and General Sherman had received piles of letters
from “prominent parties” expressing fears of negro insurrections. The
most serious indications of bloody retribution preparing for the white
race had been reported in the Teche country, where regiments of black
cavalry were said to be organized and drilled. The General, on visiting
the spot, and investigating the truth of the story, learned that it had
its foundation in the fact that some negro boys had been playing soldier
with wooden swords. No wonder the Rebel militia was thought necessary!

From General Baird, Assistant-Commissioner, and General Gregg,
Inspecting-Agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, I obtained official
information regarding the condition of free labor in Louisiana. A
detailed account of it would be but a recapitulation, with slight
variations, of what I have said of free labor in other States. The
whites were as ignorant of the true nature of the system as the blacks.
Capitalists did not understand how they could secure labor without
owning it, or how men could be induced to work without the whip. It was
thought necessary to make a serf of him who was no longer a slave. To
this end the Legislature had passed a code of black laws even more
objectionable than that enacted by the Legislature of Mississippi. By
its provisions freedmen were to be arrested as vagrants who had not, on
the 10th of January, 1866, entered into contracts for the year. They
were thus left little choice as to employers, and none as to terms. They
were also subjected to a harsh system of fines and punishments for loss
of time and the infraction of contracts; and made responsible for all
losses of stock on the plantation, until they should be able to prove
that they had not killed it. Although these laws had not been approved
by the Governor, there was no doubt but they would be approved and
enforced as soon as the national troops were removed.

A majority of the Southern planters clamored for the withdrawal of the
troops and the Freedmen’s Bureau. But Northern planters settled in the
State as earnestly opposed the measure. “If the government’s protection
goes, we must go too. It would be impossible for us to live here without
it. Planters would come to us and say, ‘Here, you’ve got a nigger that
belongs to us;’ they would claim him, under the State laws, and compel
him to go and work for them. Not a first-class laborer could we be sure
of.”

Here, as elsewhere, the fact that the freedmen had no independent homes,
but lived in negro-quarters at the will of the owner, placed him under
great disadvantages, which the presence of the Bureau was necessary to
counteract. The planters desired nothing so much as to be left to manage
the negroes with or without the help of State laws. “With that
privilege,” they said, “we can make more out of them than ever. The
government must take care of the old and worthless niggers it has set
free, and we will put through the able-bodied ones.” The disposition to
keep the freedmen in debt by furnishing their supplies at dishonest
prices, and to impose upon their helplessness and ignorance in various
other ways, was very general.

Fortunately there was a great demand for labor, and the freedmen, with
the aid of the Bureau, were making favorable contracts with their
employers. When encouraged by just treatment and fair wages, they were
working well. But they were observed to be always happier, thriftier,
and more comfortable, living in little homes of their own and working
land on their own account, than in any other condition. “I believe,”
said General Gregg, “the best thing philanthropic Northern capitalists
can do both for the freedmen and for themselves, is to buy up tracts of
land, which can be had in some of the most fertile sections of Louisiana
at two, three, and five dollars an acre, to be leased to the freedmen.”

The more enlightened planters were in favor of educating the blacks. But
the majority were opposed to it; so that in many parishes it was
impossible to establish schools, while in others it had been very
difficult. In January last there were 278 teachers in the State,
instructing 19,000 pupils in 143 schools. The expenses, $20,000 a month,
were defrayed by the Bureau from the proceeds of rents of abandoned and
confiscated estates. But this source of revenue had nearly failed, in
consequence of the indiscriminate pardoning of Rebel owners and the
restoration of their property. In New Orleans, for example, the rents of
Rebel estates had dwindled, in October, 1865, to $8,000; in December, to
$1,500; and they were still rapidly diminishing. The result was, it had
been necessary to order the discontinuance of all the schools in the
State at the end of January, the funds in the treasury of the Bureau
being barely sufficient to hold out until that time. It was hoped,
however, that they would soon be reëstablished on a permanent basis, by
a tax upon the freedmen themselves. For this purpose, the Assistant
Commissioner had ordered that five per cent. of their wages should be
paid by their employers to the agents of the Bureau. The freedmen’s
schools in New Orleans were not in session at the time I was there; but
I heard them highly praised by those who had visited them. Here is Mr.
Superintendent Warren’s account of them:—

  “From the infant which must learn to count its fingers, to the
  scholar who can read and understand blank-verse, we have grades and
  departments adapted and free to all. Examinations, promotions, and
  gradations are had at stated seasons. The city is divided into
  districts; each district has its school, and each school the several
  departments of primary, intermediate, and grammar. A principal is
  appointed to each school, with the requisite number of assistants.
  Our teachers are mostly from the North, with a few Southerners, who
  have heroically dared the storm of prejudice to do good and right.
  The normal method of teaching is adopted, and object teaching is a
  specialty.

  “There are eight schools in the city, with from two to eight hundred
  pupils each, which, with those in the suburbs, amount to sixteen
  schools with nearly six thousand pupils and one hundred teachers.”

It was estimated that there were at least fifty thousand Northern men in
Louisiana. Some were in the lumber business, which had been stimulated
to great activity throughout the South. Many were working cotton
plantations with every prospect of success; a few had purchased, others
were paying a fixed rent, while some were furnishing capital to be
refunded by the crop, of which they were to have a third or a half.

Occasionally I heard of one who had taken a sugar plantation. Mr. ——, a
merchant of New York, told me he had for two years been working the
Buena Vista plantation, in St. James Parish. He employed an agent, and
visited the place himself once a year. There were twelve hundred acres
under cultivation, for which he paid an annual rent of sixteen thousand
dollars. There was one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of machinery on
the plantation. He employed sixty freedmen. They worked faithfully and
well, but needed careful management. During the past year but one had
deserted, while two had been discharged. They received one third of
their wages monthly, and the remainder at the end of the year. “If they
were paid in full as fast as their work was done, when sugar-making
season comes they would be apt to quit, the labor is so hard,—though we
pay them then fifty cents a night extra.”

I inquired concerning profits. “The first year we lost money. This year
we have made it up, and more. Next year we shall be in full blast.”

It takes three years from the start to get a sugar plantation going; and
in two years, if neglected, the cane will run out. This is the case in
Louisiana,—although I was told that in the West Indies some kinds of
cane would yield twenty or thirty successive crops, without replanting.
In some parts of the State, where the soil is too dry, or the climate
too cold for the most profitable cultivation, it requires replanting
every year for the subsequent year’s crop.

The majority of the plantations in Lower Louisiana, said to be good for
little else but sugar and sweet potatoes, were waste and unavailable.
St. Mary’s Parish had been almost entirely abandoned. The cane had run
out; seed-cane was not to be had; and to recommence the culture an
outlay of capital was necessary, from which no such immediate, bountiful
returns could be anticipated as from the culture of cotton.

The sugar region and the cotton belt overlap each other. Cane may be
cultivated to some extent as far north as 34°, while cotton ranges as
far south as 30°, although it can scarcely be considered a safe or
profitable crop much below 31°. In 1850 there were in Louisiana 4205
cotton and 1558 sugar plantations. This year cotton is not only king,
but a usurper, holding with uncertain tenure much of the special
province of sugar.

Good cotton plantations in Louisiana yield a bale (of five hundred
pounds) to the acre. The sugar crop varies from five hundred to
thirty-five hundred pounds, according to the fitness of the soil, the
length of the season, and the mode of culture. A hogshead of eleven
hundred and fifty pounds to the acre, is about an average crop.

Five different varieties of cane are used by the planters of Louisiana.
The cuttings from which it is propagated are called “seed-cane.” They
are cut in September, and laid in “mats,”—a sort of stack adapted to
protect them from frost. Cane is usually planted between the months of
October and March. Two or three stalks are laid together in prepared
rows seven feet apart, and covered by five or six inches of soil. This
is called the “mother-cane.” In cold soil it rots, and is eaten by
vermin. The first year’s growth is called “plant-cane,” and is ploughed
and hoed like corn. On being cut, new stalks spring up from the roots.
These subsequent year’s stalks are called rattoons,—a West Indian word,
derived from the Spanish _retonó_, (_retoñar_, to sprout again,) which
was probably imported into Louisiana, together with the Creole cane, by
the refugees from St. Domingo, in 1794.

“There’s nothing handsomer,” said my friend Dick P——, the overseer,
“than a field of cane on the first of June, high as your head, all
green, a thousand acres, waving and shining in the wind.” It is a lively
scene when a gang of fifty or sixty negroes, armed with knives, enter
such a field in the fall, and the cutting begins.

I was desirous of seeing a sugar-mill in operation, but could hear of
none within convenient visiting distance. The scene is thus described in
a letter written by a Northern lady whose husband was last year working
a Louisiana plantation:—

  “I am sitting in the gallery of a building two hundred and fifty
  feet long. This gallery was made expressly for the white overseer,
  and overlooks all that is going on in the main building. There is a
  sleeping-room in each end of it, and a large open space in the
  middle which serves as a dining-room; here I am writing. In the
  opposite end of the building I can see the engine which carries all
  the machinery; just this side of it are the great rollers that crush
  the cane, and the apron, or feed-carrier, that carries the cane from
  the shed outside up to the crushers.

  “Just this side of the crushers are four large vats that receive the
  juice. From these it is carried into two large kettles, where the
  lime is put in, and the juice is raised to the boiling-point, and
  then skimmed. From these kettles the juice is transferred by means
  of a bucket attached to a long pole, to the next kettle, where it is
  worked to the right consistency for clarifying.

  “This done, it is conveyed, by means of a steam-pump, to the
  filtering room, where it is passed into large vats filled with burnt
  bones, called bone black, through which it is filtered, and thus
  freed from all impurities. From these filters it is run off into a
  large cistern, and pumped up by the same steam-pump into tanks,
  where, by means of faucets, it is drawn into the sugaring-off pan.
  In this pan it is heated by means of a coil of pipe that winds round
  and round till it fills the bottom of the pans and carries the steam
  which, in from fifteen to twenty minutes, finishes the boiling
  process. From this pan it is let off into a box car, set on a
  railroad track which runs up and down between the coolers, which are
  ranged along each side of this end of the building, like pews in a
  church.

  “The Creoles along the coast have looked with amazement all summer
  upon our success with free black laborers, and have been obliged to
  acknowledge that they never saw a more cheerful, industrious set of
  laborers in all their experience. ‘But wait till sugar-making
  comes,’ they have said, ‘and then see if you can get off your crop
  without the old system of compulsion. Your niggers will flare up
  when you get off your ten-hour system. They are not going to work
  night and day, and you cannot get off the crop unless they do.’

  “White sugar-makers presented themselves, telling us, in all
  sobriety, ‘Niggers cannot be trusted to make sugar,’ and offering,
  with great magnanimity, to oversee the matter for five hundred
  dollars. J—— declined all such friendly offers, and last Monday
  morning commenced grinding cane. The colored men and women went to
  work with a will,—no shirking or flinching. The cutters pushed the
  handlers, the handlers pushed the haulers, and so on, night and day,
  each gang taking their respective watches, and all moving on with
  the regularity of clock-work.

  “And so the business went on with black engineers, black crushers,
  black filterers, black sugar-makers,—all black throughout,—but the
  sugar came out splendid in quantity and quality. Sixty hogsheads of
  sugar, finished by Saturday night, and things in readiness for the
  Sabbath’s rest, is acknowledged by old planters to be the largest
  run ever made in this sugar-house for the first week of the sugar
  season. So they gape and stare, and wonder that humanity and justice
  can bring forth more profitable results than the driver’s whip.”

Louisiana has been the great sugar-growing State of the Union. For
several years before the war, the annual crop varied from 100,000 to
450,000 hogsheads. In 1864 less than nine thousand hogsheads were
produced. In 1865 the crop amounted to between sixteen and seventeen
thousand hogsheads, less than was raised in 1860 on four plantations!

Attempts were being made to introduce white laborers into Louisiana.
While I was there, one hundred Germans, who had been hired in New York
for a sugar plantation, were landed in New Orleans. Within twenty-four
hours thirty of them deserted for higher wages; by which trifling
circumstance planters, who had hoped to exchange black for white labor,
were very much disgusted.



                             CHAPTER LVIII.
                       THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY.


Leaving New Orleans for Mobile at half-past four o’clock, by the usual
route, I reached Lake Ponchartrain by railroad in time to take the
steamer and be off at sunset.

The lake, with its low, dark-wooded shores, and its placid, glassy
waters, unruffled by a breeze, outspread under the evening sky, was a
scene of solitary and tranquil beauty. Here its breast was burnished
with the splendors of a reflected cloud, which faded, leaving upon the
darkening rim of the lake the most delicate belts of green, and blue,
and violet, until these faded in their turn, and the gloomy surface
appeared sprinkled all over with molten stars. Strange constellations
rose in the Southern hemisphere; while others about the opposite pole,
which never set in the latitude of the Northern States, were below the
horizon. The “Dipper” was dipped in the lake. I had never seen the North
Star so low before.

I walked the deck with the mate, who had been a good Rebel, and was
concerned in the capture of the United States steamer “Water Witch.”

“I had command of one of the boats,” said he. “There was a consultation
of officers, and it was proposed to make the attack that night at eleven
o’clock; we would have the tide with us then. ‘For that very reason,’ I
said, ‘I would postpone it until two. Then we shall have the tide
against us. It will be harder pulling down to her, but we can board
better, and if we miss grappling the first time we shan’t drift by and
get fired upon; and if we fail, we can come back on the tide.’”

The steamer was surprised, and the boarding was a success. “The officer
in command of our party was killed, and the command devolved upon me. I
got three wounds, one through this arm, one across my stomach, and one
through the fleshy part of my thigh. But I laid out a man for each
wound. I got to the cabin, and had my sword at the captain’s throat, and
would have run him through, if he hadn’t been mighty glib in his speech:
‘I surrender! I surrender!’ He didn’t stammer a bit! ‘Do you surrender
your command?’ ‘Yes, yes! I do!’ And in a minute I stopped the
fighting.”

This is the style of story one hears travelling anywhere in the South.
Lying in my berth in the cabin, I was kept awake half the night by Rebel
soldiers relating similar adventures.

[Illustration]

The next morning we were in the Gulf of Mexico. We had entered by the
South Pass, the tide being unfavorable for an inside passage between the
islands and the coast. It was a summer-like, beautiful day. Gulls and
pelicans were sailing around and over the steamer and sporting on the
waves. On the south was the open Gulf; on our left, a series of low,
barren, sandy islands,—Ship Island among them, reminding one of Butler’s
Expedition.

All the morning we sailed the lustrous, silken waters of the Gulf;
approaching in the afternoon the entrance to Mobile Bay. Porpoises were
tumbling, and pelicans diving, all around us. Flocks of gulls followed,
picking up the fragments of our dinner thrown overboard by the cook.
Sometimes a hundred would be fighting in the air for a morsel one of
them had picked up,—chasing the bird that bore it, snatching it,
dropping it, and darting to catch it as it fell,—until left far behind,
and almost lost to sight on the horizon; then they would come up again,
flapping low along our white wake, until another fragment attracted and
detained them.

We passed the curious, well-defined line, where the yellowish
river-water from the Bay and the pure liquid crystal of the Gulf met and
mingled. On our left, the long, smooth swells burst into white breakers
on the shoals below Pelican Island. On the point of Dauphin Island
beyond was Fort Gaines, while close upon our right, as we passed up, was
Fort Morgan, on a point of the main land,—its brick walls built upon a
sheet of sand white as snow.

Having kept the outside passage, instead of the usual route of the New
Orleans steamers, our course lay between these forts, up the main
ship-channel, past the scene of Farragut’s famous fight. I thought of
Brownell’s ringing lyric of that day:—

                “Gaines growled low on our left,
                  Morgan roared on our right:
                Before us, gloomy and fell,
                With breath like the fume of hell,
                Lay the Dragon of iron shell,
                  Driven at last to the fight!

                       *       *       *       *       *

                “Every ship was drest
                In her bravest and her best,
                  As if for a July day;
                Sixty flags and three,
                  As we floated up the Bay;
                Every peak and mast-head flew
                The brave Red, White, and Blue:
                  We were eighteen ships that day.

                       *       *       *       *       *

                “On in the whirling shade
                  Of the cannon’s sulphury breath,
                  We drew to the Line of Death
                That our devilish Foe had laid;
                Meshed in a horrible net,
                  And baited villanous well,
                Right in our path were set
                  Three hundred traps of hell!”

These were the torpedoes, one of which destroyed the iron clad
“Tecumseh,” Commander T. A. M. Craven.

                 “A moment we saw her turret,
                   A little heel she gave,
                 And a thin white spray went o’er her,
                   Like the crest of a breaking wave;
                 In that great iron coffin,
                   The Channel for their grave,
                   The Fort their monument,
                 (Seen afar in the offing,)
                 Ten fathom deep lie Craven,
                   And the bravest of our brave.”

We passed very near to the spot where that “great iron coffin” still
lies at the bottom of the stream.

But the ships went in undismayed.

                “Right abreast of the Fort,
                  In an awful shroud they lay,
                  Broadsides thundering away,
                And lightnings in every port,—
                  Scene of glory and dread!
                A storm-cloud all aglow
                  With flashes of fiery red,
                The thunder raging below,
                  And the forest of flags overhead!

                       *       *       *       *       *

                “Fear? a forgotten form!
                  Death? a dream of the eyes!
                We were atoms in God’s great storm
                  That roared through the angry skies.”

The combat with the Rebel ram “Tennessee,” the “Dragon of iron shell,”
commanded by Admiral Buchanan, (the same who commanded the “Merrimac” in
her brief but brilliant career in Hampton Roads,) was as fierce as any
of the old sea-fights, but wholly unique and modern.

                “Half the fleet, in an angry ring,
                Closed round the hideous Thing,
                Hammering with solid shot,
                And bearing down, bow on bow:
                  He has but a minute to choose;
                Life or Renown?—which now
                  Will the Rebel Admiral lose?

                “Cruel, haughty, and cold,
                He was ever strong and bold:
                  Shall he shrink from a wooden stem?
                He will think of that brave band
                He sank in the ‘Cumberland,’—
                  Ay, he will sink like them!

                “Nothing left but to fight
                Boldly his last sea-fight!
                  Can he strike? By Heaven, ’t is true!
                  Down comes the traitor Blue,
                And up goes the captive White!

                “Up went the White! Ah, then,
                The hurrahs that once and again
                Rang from three thousand men
                  All flushed and savage with fight!
                Our dead lay cold and stark,
                But our dying, down in the dark,
                  Answered as best they might,—
                Lifting their poor lost arms,
                  And cheering for God and Right!”



                              CHAPTER LIX.
                                MOBILE.


Above the forts the merchant fleet lies at anchor, twenty-five miles
from Mobile,—the shallowness of the bay preventing at all times vessels
drawing more than ten feet of water from going up to the city. The
extensive gulf coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, presents
not a single first-class harbor. The first you meet with is that of
Pensacola.

Steamers were plying between the ships and the city, receiving and
delivering cargoes. We met or passed them as we kept on our course.
Blueish lines of forests enclosed the Bay. Four miles below the city we
came in sight of the Rebel defences. On our right were the bastion and
extensive fortifications of Spanish Fort, commanding Minetta Bay and
several miles of the coast of Mobile Bay. This work, originally built by
De Soto more than three centuries ago, was finally invested by our fleet
and land forces on the day of the fall of Richmond. It surrendered on
the ninth of April, and on the eleventh Mobile was evacuated. The water
approaches to this fort, and to the other defences of the city, were
strewn with torpedoes, by which four or five vessels of our fleet were
blown up.

We passed a line of obstructions, consisting of piles and sunken wrecks
thrown across the channel; and Mobile, a smoking, sunlit city, lay
before us on the low shore. By the direct channel it was less than three
miles distant; but, in order to reach it, we were compelled to ascend
Spanish River to the Mobile River, and descend that stream, a circuit of
over twenty miles. It was four o’clock when we reached the wharf.

[Illustration: EXPLOSION AT MOBILE.]

Mobile is a level, shady town, regularly laid out, and built on a dry,
sandy plain. It is the principal city of Alabama, and the second city in
importance in the Gulf States; its commerce ranking next to that of New
Orleans. For several years before the war its annual exports of cotton
were between six and seven hundred thousand bales. It endured a four
years’ blockade, falling into Federal hands only at the latter end of
the war.

But its great catastrophe did not occur until some time after the
termination of hostilities. It would seem as if the genius of
Destruction was determined to strike a final blow at the city. The
explosion of the lately captured Confederate ammunition was one of the
most terrible disasters of the kind ever known. It was stored in a large
three-story warehouse one street back from the river. The last of Dick
Taylor’s shells were going in, when, it is supposed, one of them
accidentally ignited. Twenty brick blocks, and portions of other blocks,
were instantly blown to atoms. Four or five hundred persons were
killed,—it was never known how many. A black volcanic cloud of smoke and
fragments went up into the sky: “It was big as a mountain,” said one. It
was succeeded by a fearful conflagration sweeping over the field of
ruins. Ten thousand bales of cotton were burned. The loss of property
was so immense that nobody ventured to estimate it.

In the vicinity of the explosion, citizens were thrown off their feet,
chimneys knocked down, and windows and doors demolished. Lights of glass
were broken all over the city, a mile or more from the scene of the
explosion.

“I was lifted from the ground, and my hat thrown off,” said one. “Then I
looked up, and there were great black blocks of something in the air,
high as I could see, and shells exploding.”

Said another: “I was riding out a mile and a half from the city. I heard
a sound, and at the same time my head and shoulders were thrown forward
on my horse’s neck, as if I had dodged. ‘That’s the first time I’ve
dodged a cannon,’ I said, ‘and that’s after the war is over.’ I looked
around, and saw the strangest cloud going up slowly over the city. Then
I knew it was the shock that had thrown me down.”

The town had neither the means nor the material to rebuild: “We made no
bricks during the war.” I found the scene of the disaster a vast field
of ruins. Where had stood the warehouse in which the ammunition was
stored, there was a pit twenty feet deep, half filled with water, and
surrounded by fragments of iron and bricks, and unexploded shells. A
large brick block, containing a cotton-press, which stood between the
magazine and the river, had entirely disappeared. “The bricks were all
blown into the water, and we never saw them any more.”

Business was brisk. “There are more goods on Dauphin Street to-day,” an
old merchant told me, “than I have ever before seen in the whole of
Mobile.” And the captain of the Mobile steamer, who took me up the
Alabama to Selma, said: “There was never such a trade on this river
before. Nobody ever expected such a freight on this boat: her guards are
all under water.” Her upward-bound lading consisted mostly of supplies
for plantations and provincial stores,—barrels of Western flour and
whiskey that had come down the Mississippi, and boxes of fine liquors,
soap, starch, and case goods, from the North Atlantic ports. Her
downward freight was chiefly cotton.



                              CHAPTER LX.
                           ALABAMA PLANTERS.


The Alabama River steamers resemble those of the Mississippi, although
inferior in size and style. But one meets a very different class of
passengers on board of them. The Alabamians are a plain, rough set of
men, not so fast as the Mississippi-Valley planters, but more sober,
more solid, more loyal. They like their glass of grog, however, and some
of them are very sincere in their hatred of the government. I found the
most contradictory characters among them, which I cannot better
illustrate than by giving some specimens of their conversation.

Here is one of the despairing class. “The country is ruined; not only
the Southern country, but the Northern country too. The prosperity of
our people passed away with the institution of slavery. I shall never
try to make another fortune. I made one, and lost it in a minute. I had
a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in niggers. I am now sixty years
old. I’ll bet a suit of clothes against a dime, there’ll be no cotton
crop raised this year. If there’s a crop grown, the hands that raise it
won’t pick it. Some few niggers go on, and do well, just as before; but
they’re mighty scarce. They never will be as well off again as they have
been, and some of ’em see it. A nigger drayman came to me the other day
and asked me to buy him. He said, ‘I want a master. When I had a master,
I had nothing to do but to eat and drink and sleep, besides my work. Now
I have to work and think too.’ When I said the law wouldn’t allow me to
buy him, he looked very much discouraged.”

I heard of a few such cases as this drayman’s, but they were far less
common than one would have expected. Poor fellow, he did not know that
if he was ever to be anything but an animal, a beast of burden, it was
necessary for him to begin to think.

Mr. J——, of Marengo County, also an old man, talked in a different
spirit.

“The trouble with the freedmen is, they have not yet learned that living
is expensive. They never before had any idea where their clothes came
from, except that ‘Master gave ’em to me.’ In my county, I find them
generally better disposed than the whites. I don’t know of a case where
they have been treated kindly and justly, and have deserted their
masters. A few restless ones are exceptions. I noticed one of my boys
that I had asked to make a contract for the coming year, packing up his
things; and I said to him, ‘Warren, what are you doing?’ He replied,
‘Master, they say if we make contracts now, we’ll be branded, and made
slaves again.’ I had always treated him well. I don’t remember that I
ever struck him, but he says I did strike him once, and he’s a truthful
boy. Another old man that I was raised with, said, ‘Master, all the
contract I want with you is that you shall bury me, or I’ll bury you.’
He said he would go on and work for me like he always had; and he’ll do
it, for he’s an honest man.”

Mr. J—— related the case of one of his neighbors who contracted with his
freedmen to furnish their supplies and give them one fifth of the crop.
He gave them provisions for a year at the start; and deducted a dollar a
day for lost time. “He raised the largest crop of corn he ever did; but
when he came to harvest it, he owed them nothing, though he had kept his
contract. He was honest, but he had managed badly. I give my hands a
share of the crop,” added Mr. J——. “But I do not give them provisions
any faster than they need them, for if I did they would call in their
friends, make a great feast, and eat up everything,—they are so generous
and improvident. I deduct a dollar a day for lost time, but instead of
putting it into my own pocket, I give the lazy man’s dollar to those who
do the lazy man’s work. I find that encourages them, and the consequence
is, there are few lost days.”

This genial old gentleman, whom I found to be well known and highly
esteemed throughout the country, justified the North in its course
during the war, and expressed confidence in the future of the South
under the free-labor system.

Mr. G——, one of the bitterest Yankee-haters I met, became nevertheless
one of my most intimate steamboat acquaintances. I cull the following
from many talks I had with him.

“I owned a cotton factory in Dallas County, above Selma. I had two
plantations besides, and an interest in a tan-yard. Wilson’s Thieves
came in, and just stripped me of everything. They burned eight hundred
bales of cotton for me. That was because I happened to be running my
mill for the Confederate government. I was making Osnaburgs for the
government for a dollar a yard, when citizens would have paid me four
dollars a yard; and do you imagine I’d have done that except under
compulsion? But the Yankee rascals didn’t stop to consider that fact.
They skipped my neighbors’ cotton and burned mine.

“In other respects they treated them as bad as they did me. They robbed
our houses of everything they could find and carry away. I shouldn’t
have had a thing left, if it hadn’t been for my niggers. Some of ’em run
off my mules and saved ’em. I gave all my gold and silver to an old
woman who kept it hid from the raiders. On one of my plantations a
colored carpenter and his wife barrelled up three barrels of fine table
crockery and buried it. One of the Yankee officers rode up and said to
this woman, ‘Where’s your husband?’ ‘There’s my husband,’ she said,
pointing to the mulatto. ‘You’re a sight whiter’n he is,’ he said,—for
she is white as anybody, and he had taken her for the lady of the house.
An old negro saved the tannery by pleading with the vandals, and lying
to ’em a little bit.

“Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in gold wouldn’t cover my
losses. I never can feel towards this government like I once did. I got
started to leave the country; I swore I wouldn’t live under a government
that had treated me in this way. I made up my mind to go to Brazil. I
got as far as Mobile, and changed my mind. Now I’ve concluded to remain
here, like any alien. I’m a foreigner. I scorn to be called a citizen of
the United States. I shall take no oath, so help me God! Unless,” he
added immediately, “it is to enable me to vote. I want to vote to give
the suffrage to the negro.”

As I expressed my surprise at this extraordinary wish, he went on:
“Because I think that will finish the job. I think then we’ll have
enough of the nigger, North and South, and all will combine to put him
out of the country.”

“It seems to me,” I said, “you are a little ungrateful after all you say
your negroes have done for you.”

“There are a few faithful ones among them,” he replied. “If all were
like some of mine I wouldn’t say anything. They’re as intelligent and
well behaved as anybody. But I can’t stand free niggers, any how!”

“I notice,” said I, “that every man who curses the black race, and prays
for its removal or extermination, makes exceptions in favor of negroes
he has raised or owned, until I am beginning to think these exceptions
compose a majority of the colored population.”

G—— made no reply to the remark, but resumed,—

“I want this country filled up with white men. I want the large
plantations cut up, and manufactories established. We never had any
manufactories for this reason: Southern capitalists all jammed their
money into niggers and land. As their capital increased, it was a few
more niggers, a little more land. The few factories we had were
consequently one-horse concerns, that couldn’t compete with those at the
North. They were patronized by men who wanted to buy on credit. If a man
had cash, he went to the North to buy goods; if he was short, he bought
here. Consequently, to carry on a business of a hundred thousand
dollars, a capital of three hundred thousand dollars was necessary. Two
thirds of it was sunk; below the water, like the guards of this boat.

“Now I want the old system played out. But,” continued G——, “if the
Freedmen’s Bureau is withdrawn, things will work back again into their
old grooves. The nigger is going to be made a serf, sure as you live. It
won’t need any law for that. Planters will have an understanding among
themselves: ‘You won’t hire my niggers, and I won’t hire yours;’ then
what’s left for them? They’re attached to the soil, and we’re as much
their masters as ever. I’ll stake my life, this is the way it will work.
The country will be no better off than it ever was. To make a farming
and manufacturing country, like you have at the North, we must put the
nigger out of the way. For this reason, I hope the cotton crop this year
will be a failure. And I not only hope, but I know it will. There a’n’t
labor enough in the country; the planters are going to bid against each
other, and make contracts they won’t be able to keep, and that’s going
to put the Old Harry into the freedmen.”

I remarked that, as long as the demand for labor exceeded the supply,
planters would continue to bid against each other, and that the plan he
had suggested, by which the freedman was to be made a serf without the
aid of legislation, would thus be defeated.

“Let the Bureau be taken away,” he replied, “and planters will come into
the arrangement. That is, all honorable ones will; and if a man hasn’t
honor enough to come in, he’ll be scared in. If he hires my niggers, or
yours, he’ll be mobbed.”

Mr. H——, of Lowndes County, often joined in our conversation. “I don’t
believe my friend G—— here believes half he says. I am sure the South is
going to make this year a million bales,—probably much more. One thing
planters have got to learn: the old system is gone up, and we must begin
new. It won’t do to employ the old overseers; they can’t learn to treat
the freedmen like human beings. I told my overseer the old style
wouldn’t do,—the niggers wouldn’t stand it,—and he promised better
fashions; but it wasn’t two days before he fell from grace, and went to
whipping again. That just raised the Old Scratch with them; and I don’t
blame ’em.”

H—— went on to say that it was necessary now to treat the negroes like
men. “We must deal justly with them;” he had a great deal to say about
justice. “We must reason with them,—for they are reasonable beings;” and
he repeated some of the excellent homilies with which he had enlightened
their consciences and understandings.

“’Formerly,’ I said to them, ‘you were my slaves; you worked for me, and
I provided for you. You had no thought of the morrow, for I thought of
that for you. If you were sick, I had the doctor come to you. When you
needed clothes, clothes were forthcoming; and you never went hungry for
lack of meal and pork. You had little more responsibility than my mules.

“’But now all that is changed. Being free men, you assume the
responsibilities of free men. You sell me your labor, I pay you money,
and with that money you provide for yourselves. You must look out for
your own clothes and food, and the wants of your children. If I advance
these things for you, I shall charge them to you, for I cannot give them
like I once did, now I pay you wages. Once if you were ugly or lazy, I
had you whipped, and that was the end of it. Now if you are ugly and
lazy, your wages will be paid to others, and you will be turned off, to
go about the country with bundles on your backs, like the miserable
low-down niggers you see that nobody will hire. But if you are
well-behaved and industrious, you will be prosperous and respected and
happy.”

“They all understood this talk,” added H——, “and liked it, and went to
work like men on the strength of it. If every planter would begin that
way with his freedmen, there’d be no trouble. There’s everything in
knowing how to manage them.”

“If anybody knows how to manage them, you do,” said G——. Then turning to
me: “H—— is the shrewdest manager in this country. There’s a good story
about his managing a nigger and a horse;—shall I tell it, H——?”

“Go ahead,” said H——, laughing.

“An old nigger of his picked up a horse the Yankee raiders had turned
loose in the country, and brought him home to H——’s plantation. The old
nigger gave the horse to his son Sip, and died. The horse had been used
up, but he turned out to be a mighty good one,—just such an animal as
H—— wanted; so he laid claim to him, and Sip had to go to the Freedmen’s
Bureau for an order to compel my friend here to give him up. He told his
story, got the order, and brought it home, and showed it to H——, who
looked at it, then looked at Sip, and said, ‘Do you know what this paper
says?’ ‘It says I’m to have de hoss; dat’s what dey told me.’ ‘I’ll tell
you what it says,’ and H—— pretended to read the order: ‘_If this boy
troubles you any more about that horse, give him a sound thrashing!_’
‘’Fore God,’ says Sip, ‘I done went to de wrong man!’”

I looked to see H——, the just man, who treated his freed people like
rational beings, deny the truth of this story.

“G—— has told something near the fact; but there’s one thing he has left
out. _I just put my Spencer to Sip’s head, and told him if he pestered
me any more about that horse, I’d kill him._ He knew I was a man of my
word, and he never pestered me any more.”

I thought G—— must have intended the story as a hard hit at H——’s
honesty; but I now saw that he really meant it as a compliment to his
“shrewd management,” and that as such H—— received it with satisfaction.

“But,” said I, “as you relate the circumstance, it seems to me the horse
belonged to Sip.”

“A nigger has no use for a horse like that,” replied H——.

“He had been brought on to the plantation and fed there at H——’s
expense,” explained G——.

“Hadn’t he done work enough to pay for his keeping?”

“Yes, and ten times over,” said H——, frankly. “I foresaw in the
beginning there was going to be trouble about the ownership of that
horse. So I told my driver to kill him,—with hard work, I mean. He tried
his best to do it; but he was such a tough beast, he did the work and
grew fat all the time.”

I was still unable to see why the horse did not belong rightfully to
Sip, instead of his master. But one thing I did see, more and more
plainly: that it was impossible for the most honorable men who had been
bred up under the institution of slavery to deal at all times and
altogether honorably with those they had all their lives regarded as
chattels. Mr. H—— was one of the fairest and most sensible men in his
speech whom I chanced to meet; and I believe that he was sincere,—or at
least meant to be sincere. I made inquiries concerning him of his
neighbors fifty miles around,—for every large planter knows every other,
at least by reputation, within a circuit of several counties,—and all
spoke of him as a just and upright man. No doubt if I had had dealings
with him I should have found him so. He meant to give the freedmen their
rights, but he was only beginning dimly to perceive that they had any
rights; and when it came to treating a black man with absolute justice,
he did not know the meaning of the word.

Mr. B——, of Monroe County, was a good sample of the hopeful class.

“We’re brushed out, and must begin new. I’ve lost as much as any other
man, but it’s foolish to sit down and complain of that. I believe if
Southern men will only take courage, and do their best, in five years
the country will be more prosperous than ever. When you hear it said the
country is ruined, and the niggers won’t work, the trouble is in them
that make the complaint, and not in the niggers. My niggers say to me,
‘Massa Joe, we ought to work mo’e ’n we ever did befo’e; for once, we
just worked for our victuals and clothes, and now we’re getting wages
besides.’ And they’ll do it,—they _are_ doing it. If you want a freedman
to do what he promises, you’ve only to set him the example, and do by
him just what you promise. I’ve a negro foreman on my plantation that
has been with me twenty years; and I can trust him to manage just as far
as I can trust myself.

“Talk about the country being ruined!” B—— went on: “I’m sick of such
nonsense. Just look at it. I hire my freedmen by the year; I give four
and five dollars a month to women, and seven and eight to men. A woman
will do about two thirds as much work ploughing, hoeing, and picking as
a man. For two months now I shall keep my women spinning and making
clothes, and my men cutting and hauling wood to the steamboats, for
which I get four dollars a cord. That will pay their wages and more.
Then what have we got to do the rest of the year? Make a crop of cotton.
If we don’t make more than a quarter of a crop, it will pay handsomely,
at present prices; but it’s my opinion we shall make a good crop. I used
to find it profitable to pay a hundred and fifty dollars a year for
slaves, with cotton at ten cents a pound; and if I can’t make money now,
I’m a fool.”

A Mobile merchant, overhearing this talk, remarked: “You are the most
hopeful man, Mr. B——, I ever saw. I don’t know but what you say is true;
but it won’t do to talk it very loud, so they’ll hear it on the other
side of the water. It’s our policy to talk the other way, and keep the
prices up.”

B—— assured me that the majority of the planters in Monroe County were
of his way of thinking. They had formed an Agricultural Association, the
object of which was “to protect and preserve the colored population, by
furnishing them employment and ministering to their wants and
necessities.” The constitution adopted by this association breathes such
a different spirit from the serf-codes of Mississippi, Louisiana, and
South Carolina, that it is refreshing and encouraging to refer to it. I
quote some of its provisions:—

  “ARTICLE 6th. It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to
  look after the welfare of the freedmen, in their respective beats,
  to inspect and sanction each and every contract made between the
  freedmen and their employers, and to see that said freedmen are not
  deceived or overreached in any contract made with the employer....
  And when any contract, as aforesaid, shall be fairly and
  understandingly made, it shall be the law between the parties
  thereto, and when any difficulty arises between any freedman and his
  white employer, relative to the construction or performance of any
  contract, said committeeman may act as arbitrator between the
  parties, and his decision shall be final, unless one or both of the
  parties desire an appeal.

  “ART. 8th. It shall be the duty of all the officers of this
  Association, to see that the freedman shall receive from his
  employer his wages or earnings, and in case such employer refuses to
  pay promptly such wages and earnings, to aid the freedman by their
  full power in the collection of the same.

  “ART. 9th. It shall also be the duty of this Association, and
  particularly the officers thereof, to see that the freedman shall
  comply with his contracts with his employer unless he can show some
  good or reasonable excuse for the non-performance.

  “ART. 13th. It shall be the duty of the said Association to provide
  a home for the aged and helpless freedmen of the county, and for
  such others as are unable to make an honest support, and to see that
  they are provided with the necessaries of life,—to devise ways and
  means for their permanent relief and support.

  “ART. 15th. It shall be the duty of this Association, and all the
  officers thereof, to favor, as much as possible, the education and
  schooling of the colored children in said county, and to aid in
  devising ways and means, and making arrangements for having said
  children properly taught and their general morals taken care of.”

The association taxed itself for the purpose of carrying out the
provisions of its constitution. Every planter in Monroe County had
joined it. General Swayne, Assistant-Commissioner of the Freedmen’s
Bureau for Alabama, had approved its action, and appointed its president
superintendent of freedmen for that county. “The thing is working
admirably,” said B——. “The planters are encouraged, and the freedmen are
contented and at work.”

I said to him: “If all the members of the association are as sincere as
yourself, and will perform what they promise; if all the counties in the
State will follow the example of Monroe; and if other States will follow
the example of Alabama, there will be no longer any trouble about
reconstruction: the great problem of the country will be solved.”

He said he believed so, and was sure the association would act in good
faith. And I heard afterwards that Conecuh County had already followed
the example of Monroe.



                              CHAPTER LXI.
                             WILSON’S RAID.


We had lovely weather, sailing up the Alabama River. The shores were
low, and covered with cane-brakes, or with growths of water-oak, gum,
sycamore, and cotton-wood trees, with here and there dark and shaggy
swamps. Then plantations began to appear, each with its gin-house and
cotton-press, planter’s house, corn-crib, and negro-quarters, on the
river’s bank.

The sycamores, with their white trunks covered all over with small black
spots, and heavily draped with long moss, presented a peculiar
appearance. Green tufts of the mistletoe grew upon the leafless
tree-tops. Clouds of blackbirds sometimes covered the shore, casting a
shadow as they flew. The second day, the low shores disappeared,
replaced by pleasantly wooded bluffs and elevated plantations.

Nearly all the planters I met had been down to Mobile to purchase their
supplies for the season. Freight went ashore at every landing. Recent
rains had made the steep clayey banks as slippery as if they had been
greased; and it was quite exciting to see the deck-hands carry up the
freight,—many a poor fellow getting a perilous fall. The wood for the
steamboat was sometimes shot from the summit of the bluff down a long
wooden spout which dropped it at the landing.

Seeing some heavy bars of iron going ashore at one place, I asked an old
gentleman to what use they were put on the plantation.

“They are to make ploughs of, sir.”

“Does every plantation make its own ploughs?”

[Illustration]

“Do we make our own ploughs?” he repeated, regarding me with
astonishment and indignation. “Why, sir, it wouldn’t be a civilized
country, if we didn’t. How do you think, sir, we should get our
ploughs?”

“Buy them, or have them made for you.”

“Buy our ploughs! It would impoverish us, sir, if we had to buy our
ploughs.”

“On the contrary, I should think a plough-factory could furnish them for
less than they now cost you,—that, like boots and shoes, it would be
cheaper to buy them than to make them.”

“No, sir! I’ve a black man on my plantation who can make as good a
plough, at as little cost, as can be made anywhere in the world.”

After that I had nothing to say, having already sufficiently exposed my
ignorance.

On the third day (it was the slowest trip, our captain said, which he
had made in twenty years) we reached Selma, three hundred miles above
Mobile,—a pleasantly situated town, looking down from the level summit
of a bluff that rises almost precipitously from the river. Before the
war it had three thousand inhabitants, and exported annually near a
hundred thousand bales of cotton. It is connected by railroads with the
North and West, and by railroad and river with Montgomery and the East.
It was a point of very great importance to the Confederacy.

I found it a scene of “Yankee vandalism” and ruin. The Confederate
arsenal, founderies, and rolling-mills,—the most important works of the
kind in the South, covering many acres of ground, furnished with coal
and iron by the surrounding country,—together with extensive warehouses
containing ammunition and military stores, were burned when Wilson
captured the place. A number of private stores and dwellings were
likewise destroyed; and the work of rebuilding them was not yet half
completed.

Climbing the steps from the landing to the level of the town, the first
object which attracted my attention was a chain-gang of negroes at work
on the street; while a number of white persons stood looking on,
evidently enjoying the sight, and saying to one another, “That’s the
beauty of freedom! that’s what free niggers come to!”

On inquiring what the members of the chain-gang had done to be punished
in this ignominious manner, I got a list of their misdemeanors, one of
the gravest of which was “using abusive language towards a white man.”
Some had transgressed certain municipal regulations, of which, coming in
from the country, they were very likely ignorant. One had sold farm
produce within the town limits, contrary to an ordinance which prohibits
market-men from selling so much as an egg before they have reached the
market and the market-bell has rung. For this offence he had been fined
twenty dollars, which being unable to pay, he had been put upon the
chain. Others had been guilty of disorderly conduct, vagrancy, and petty
theft, which it was of course necessary to punish. But it was a singular
fact that no white men were ever sentenced to the chain-gang,—being, I
suppose, all virtuous.

The battle of Selma was not a favorite topic with the citizens, most of
whom were within the stockade, or behind the breastworks, captured by an
inferior force of the Yankee invaders. But on the subject of the burning
and pillaging that ensued they were eloquent.

A gray-haired old gentleman said to me: “I was in the trenches when
Wilson came. Everybody was. I just watched both ways, and when I saw how
the cat was jumping, I threw my musket as far as I could, dropped down
as if I was killed, and walked into town atter the Yankees. I stood by
my own gate, when four drunken fellows came up, slapped me on the
shoulder, and said, ‘This old man was in the stockade,—he’s a Rebel!’
‘Of course I’m a Rebel,’ I said, ‘if I’m ketched in a Rebel trap.’

“They was taking me away when an officer rode up. ‘Old man,’ says he,
‘can you show me where the corn depot is?’ ‘I reckon I kin, if these
gentlemen will let me,’ I says. So I got off; and when I had showed him
the corn he let me go.

“The fire was first set by our own men: that was in the cotton yards.
They blazed up so quick, the Yankees couldn’t have got thar without they
went on wires. The next was the post-office; that they burned. The next
was a drug store; the other drug store they didn’t burn, but they
smashed everything in it. The Arsenal was owing me and my family fifteen
hundred dollars, when they destroyed it.

“They just ruined me. They took from me six cows, four mules, fifteen
hogs, fifteen hundred pounds of bacon, eight barrels of flour, and
fifty-five sacks of corn. They took my wife’s and daughters’ clothing to
carry away flour in. I saw a man take my wife’s best dress, empty into
it all the flour he could tote, tie it up, clap it on his shoulder, and
march off. Another went off with an elegantly embroidered petticoat full
of flour swung on his arm. Another would take a pair of ladies’ drawers,
fill the legs with flour, and trot off with ’em riding straddle of his
neck. It made me feel curi’s! It made me feel like if I had ’em down in
the squirrel woods, I could shoot a right smart passel of ’em with a
will!”

There were one hundred and fifty dwellings burned; some caught from the
shops and warehouses, and others were said to have been set by
marauders. These robbed everybody, even the negroes in the streets and
the negro-women in their houses. Charles Mencer, a well-known and
respectable colored man, related to me the following:—

“I worked here in a saddle-shop, at the time of Wilson’s raid. I hired
my time of my master, and had laid up two hundred dollars in gold and
silver: I had invested my earnings in specie, and in two watches,
because I knew the Confederacy couldn’t last. The Yankees came in on
Sunday evening; they robbed my house and stole my gold and silver, and
one of my watches. Four of them stopped me in the street, and took my
other watch, and my pocket-book, with all my Confederate money in it.”

The rest of this man’s story possesses a semi-historical interest.

“The next Tuesday General Wilson sent for me; he wanted somebody that he
could trust to carry despatches for him down the river to General Canby,
and I had been recommended to him by some colored people. I said I would
take them; and I sewed them up in my vest collar. Then I went to my
master, and told him there was no chance for work since the Yankees had
come in, and got a pass from him to go down to Mobile and find work.
Tuesday night I started in a canoe, and paddled down the river. I dodged
the Rebel guard when I could, but I was taken and searched twice, and
got off by showing my master’s pass. I paddled night and day, and got to
Montgomery Hill on Sunday. There I saw Federal troops, and went ashore,
and delivered myself up to the captain. He took me to General Lucas, who
sent me with a cavalry escort to General Canby at Blakely.”

For this service Mencer was paid three hundred dollars in greenbacks,
which he had recently invested in a freedmen’s newspaper, “The
Constitutionalist,” just started in Mobile.

The negroes everywhere sympathized with the Federal cause, and served it
when they could; but they would seldom betray a master who had been kind
to them. Many stories were told me by the planters, illustrating this
fidelity. Here is one, related by a gentleman of Lowndes County:—

“The Yankees, when they left Selma, passed through this side of the
river, on their way to Montgomery. The streams were high; that hindered
them, and did us a sight of damage. I got the start of ’em, and run off
my horses and mules. I gave a valise full of valuable papers to my negro
boy Arthur, and told him to hide it. He took it, and put it in his
trunk,—threw out his own clothes to hide my property; for he didn’t
suppose the Yankees would be mean enough to rob niggers. But they did:
after they robbed my house, they went to the negro-quarters, and
pilfered them. They found my valise, took out my old love-letters, and
had a good time reading ’em for about an hour. Then they said to
Arthur,—

“’You are your master’s confidential servant, a’n’t you?’

“’Yes, sir,’ says Arthur, proud of the distinction.

“’You know where he has gone with his mules and horses?’

“’Yes, sir, I know all about it.’

“’Jump on to this horse, and go and show us where he is, and we’ll give
you five dollars.’

“’I don’t betray my master for no five dollars,’ says Arthur.

“’Then,’ says they, ‘we’ll shoot you if you won’t show us!’ And they put
their carbines to his head.

“He never flinched. ‘You can shoot me if you like,’ he says, ‘but I
sha’n’t betray my master!’

“They were so struck with his courage and fidelity that they just let
him go. So I saved my horses. He don’t know it, but I’m going to give
that boy a little farm and stock it for him.”

Another planter in Lowndes County, an old man, told me his story, which
will pass as a sample of a hundred others.

“The Yankees burnt my gin-house and screw. They didn’t burn my house,
for they made it a rule to destroy none but unoccupied dwellings. But
they took everything from my house they wanted, and ruined about
everything they didn’t want. They mixed salt with the sugar, emptied it
on the floor, and poured vinegar on it. They took a great fancy to a
little grandson of mine. They gave him a watch, and told him they’d give
him a little pony to ride if he would go to camp with them. ‘I won’t go
with you,’ says he, ‘for you’re taking away all the flour that we make
biscuit of.’ They carried him a little ways, when they stopped to burn a
school-house. ‘Here! You mustn’t burn that!’ he says; ‘for that’s our
school-house.’ And they didn’t burn it.”

“The Confederates used me as bad as the Yankees,” said Mr. M——, a
planter whom I saw in Macon County. “They had taken twenty-six horses
from me, when Wilson came and took thirty more. I ran off six of my best
horses to a piny hill; and there I got on a high stump, and looked over
the bushes, to see if the Yankees were coming. I wasn’t near as happy as
I’d been some days in my life! All I thought of was to get my horses off
down one side of the hill, if I saw the raiders coming up the other.”

This gentleman had been extensively engaged in the culture of the
grape,—to which, by the way, the soil and climate of Alabama are
admirably adapted. He had in his cellar twenty thousand dollars’ worth
of wine, when Wilson came. His wife caused it all to be destroyed, to
prevent it from falling into the hands of the soldiers. The last cask
was scarcely emptied when they arrived. “She thought she’d sooner deal
with men sober than drunk,” said M——. “They treated her very well and
took nothing from the house they didn’t need.”

The route of Wilson’s cavalry can be traced all the way, by the burnt
gin-houses with which they dotted the country. At Montgomery they
destroyed valuable founderies and machine-shops, after causing the
fugitive Rebels to burn a hundred thousand bales of cotton, with the
warehouses which contained it. I followed their track through the
eastern counties of Alabama, and afterwards recrossed it in Georgia,
where the close of hostilities terminated this, the most extensive and
destructive raid of the war.



                             CHAPTER LXII.
                           NOTES ON ALABAMA.


Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, and originally the capital of the
Confederacy, is a town of broad streets and pleasant prospects, built on
the rolling summits of high bluffs, on the left bank of the Alabama, one
hundred miles above Selma. Before the war it had ten thousand
inhabitants.

Walking up the long slope of the principal street, I came to the
Capitol, a sightly edifice on a fine eminence. On a near view, the
walls, which are probably of brick, disguised to imitate granite, had a
cheap look; and the interior, especially the Chamber of Representatives
in which the Confederate egg was hatched, appeared mean and shabby. This
was a plain room, with semicircular rows of old desks covered with green
baize exceedingly worn and foul. The floor carpet was faded and ragged.
The glaring whitewashed walls were offensive to the eye. The Corinthian
pillars supporting the gallery were a cheap imitation of bronze. Over
the Speaker’s chair hung a sad-looking portrait of George Washington,
whose solemn eyes could not, I suppose, forget the scenes which Treason
and Folly had enacted there.

I remained two days at Montgomery; saw General Swayne and other officers
of the Bureau; visited plantations in the vicinity; and conversed with
prominent men of the surrounding counties. Both there, and on my
subsequent journey through the eastern part of the State, I took copious
notes, which I shall here compress within as small a space as possible.

I have already sketched the class of planters one meets on steamboats
and railroads. These are generally men who mix with the world, read the
newspapers, and feel the current of progressive ideas. Off the main
routes of travel, you meet with a different class,—men who have never
emerged from their obscurity, who do not read the newspapers, and who
have not yet learned that the world moves. Many of them were
anti-secessionists; which fact renders them often the most troublesome
people our officers now have to deal with. Claiming to be Union men,
they cannot understand why their losses, whether of slaves or other
property, which the war occasioned, should not be immediately made up to
them by the government.

As in Mississippi and Tennessee, the small farmers in the Alabama
legislature were the bitterest negro-haters in that body; while the more
liberal-minded and enlightened members were too frequently controlled by
a back-country constituency, whom they feared to offend by voting for
measures which ignorance and obstinacy were sure to disapprove.

In Alabama, as in all the Southern States, the original secessionists
were generally Democrats and the Union men Old Line Whigs. The latter
opposed the revolution until it swept them away; when they often went
into the war with a zeal which shamed the shirking policy of many who
were very hot in bringing it on, and very cool in keeping out of it. I
found them now the most hopeful men of the South. If a planter said to
me, “I’m going to raise a big crop of cotton this year,—my negroes are
working finely,”—I needed no other test that he belonged to this class.

Concerning the loyalty of the people I shall give the testimony of a
very intelligent young man of Chambers County,—whose story will in other
respects prove instructive.

“I enlisted in the Confederate Army for one year; and before my time was
up I was conscripted for two years; then, before these expired, I was
conscripted for two more. I was made prisoner at Forest Hill, in
Virginia, and taken to Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania. At the end of the
war I was paroled. I knew that my people were ruined, and all my
property gone. That consisted in twelve slaves; their labor supported me
before the war, but now I had nothing but my own hands to depend upon. I
made up my mind to stay where I was and go to work. I hired out to a
farmer for six dollars a month. I had never done a stroke of labor in my
life, and it came hard to me at first. But I soon got used to it.

“One day a merchant of Harrisburg was riding by, and he asked me some
questions which I answered. A few days after he came that way again, got
into conversation with me, and proposed to me to go into his store. He
offered me eighteen dollars a month. I said to him, ‘You are very kind,
sir, but you probably do not know who I am, or you would not want me: I
am a Rebel soldier, just out of prison.’ He said he believed I was an
honest fellow, and would like to try me. I went into his store, and
after the first month he raised my wages to thirty dollars. After the
second month, he gave me forty, and after the third month he gave me
fifty. I had been a wild boy before the war; I had plenty of money with
no restrictions upon my spending it. But I tell you I was never so happy
in my life as when I was at work for my living in that store. My
employer liked me, and trusted me, and I liked the people.

“I have now come home on a visit. My relations and neighbors are very
much incensed against me because I tell them plainly what I think of the
Yankees. I know now that we were all in the wrong, and that the North
was right, about the war; and I tell them so. I have met with the most
insulting treatment on this account. They feel the bitterest animosity
against the government, and denounce and abuse the Yankees, and call me
a Yankee, as the worst name they can give me. To you, a Northern man, I
suppose they won’t say much; but they talk among themselves and to me.”

“How large a proportion of your people express such sentiments?”

“Well, sir, there are fifteen hundred voting men in the county; and all
but about a hundred and eighty feel and talk the way I tell you. They
can’t be reconciled to living under the old government, and those who
are able are preparing to emigrate. A fund has already been raised to
send agents to select lands for them in Mexico.”

“Did you find in the North any such animosity existing towards the
people of the South?”

“Very little; and there was this difference: In the North it is only a
few ignorant people, of the poorer class, who hate the South: I believe
the mass of the Northern people, while they hate treason and rebellion,
have only kind feelings towards the Southern people. But with us it is
the wealthy and influential class that hates the North, while only the
poor whites and negroes have any loyalty at heart. I wish,” he added,
“that for every Northern man now settling in the South, a Southern man
would go into business at the North, and see for himself, as I have
done, just what sort of people and institutions we have all our lives
been taught to misunderstand and slander.”

The editors of the southern half of the State were nearly all disloyal,
judged by their prints. The same may be said of the ministers of the
aristocratic churches, judged by their words and works.

There is a wide difference between the people of Northern and Southern
Alabama. The inhabitants of many of the upper counties were as loyal as
those of East Tennessee. In some it was necessary for the Davis
government to maintain a cavalry force in order to keep the people in
subjection. Such a county was Randolph, whose inhabitants were as
strongly opposed to secession, as those of Chambers County, its next
neighbor on the South, were in favor of it.

“The commanders discriminated in their foraging against the Union
people. The fact that a man was absent in the service of the United
States, or was opposed to the rebellion, was deemed a sufficient warrant
to take the last piece of meat from his smoke-house, and the last ear of
corn and bundle of fodder from his barns, leaving his family to starve.
Randolph alone furnished nearly five hundred men who actually took up
arms in the service of the United States, enlisting in whatever
organization they found convenient as they made their escape from the
Rebel conscripting officers into our lines. Their graves are upon every
battle-field, attesting their bravery, their patriotism, and their
sacrifices.”

Thus wrote, in a private letter to General Swayne, Lieutenant R. T.
Smith, himself a loyal Alabamian who served in the Union army. The
county was impoverished by the absence of its men in both armies, and by
the troopers who preyed upon it. There was still great suffering at the
time of my visit.

“Much destitution also exists,” said the lieutenant, “among the families
of the late Rebels; for the soldiery, who had come in the beginning
partly at their instance, consumed their substance when the means of the
Union people were exhausted. Like Actæon, they were eaten by their own
dogs.”

“It is a common, an every-day sight in Randolph County, to see women and
children, most of whom were formerly in good circumstances, begging for
bread from door to door. They must have immediate help, or perish.
Fifteen hundred families, embracing five thousand persons, are in need
of immediate aid.” This was in January, 1866.

The destitution here described was not confined to a portion of the
country, nor was it a new thing. In 1863, the shortness of the crops,
the depreciation of the currency, and the consequent high prices of
provisions, produced a famine among the poorer classes. The families of
soldiers, fighting the battles of a confederacy which paid them in
worthless paper, were left to suffer the extremes of want, while many,
who helped to bring on the war, were growing rich by speculating upon
the misery it occasioned. In Mobile there were insurrections of women,
driven by starvation to acts of public violence. The State was finally
awakened to the necessity of ameliorating these sufferings; and during
the last year of the war it fed with meal and salt one hundred and forty
thousand white paupers.

This charity, inherited, in a manner, by the government which feeds the
enemy it subjugates, was continued, after the war had closed, with the
aid of the United States Commissary Department. At the same time the
emancipation of four hundred and fifty thousand slaves,—nearly half the
population of the State,—threw a large number of black paupers upon the
community.

In these circumstances, the Freedmen’s Bureau proved an instrument of
inestimable good. Its mediatory and organizing influence prevented
outbreaks, and saved thousands from perishing. It assumed the care of
homeless blacks and of white refugees. It colonized the former upon
abandoned lands, and thence supplied many plantations with labor.

In the month of August, 1865, there were at one of these colonies
thirty-four hundred freedmen. “I have been sending paupers to it ever
since,” said General Swayne; “and there are now but one hundred and
fifty persons there.” This was in January. At that time the Bureau was
feeding less than twenty-five hundred blacks, and the number was rapidly
diminishing.

No freedmen’s courts had been established by the Bureau in Alabama. “We
had not officers enough to establish more than ten courts,” General
Swayne told me. “And when those were withdrawn, the negro would have
been left defenceless. I therefore preferred to educate the civil courts
to do the freedmen justice.” He had displayed considerable diplomatic
skill in securing the coöperation of the Convention, and getting an
ordinance passed by it, which authorized civil officers to try
freedmen’s cases and receive negro testimony. If an officer failed of
his duty towards the blacks, his commission as an agent of the Bureau
was revoked. General Swayne thought the system was working well; but he
confessed that these officers required close watching; and some of his
special agents, who came more directly in contact with the people, and
with the actual crude state of affairs, while he saw them too much
perhaps through the atmosphere of influential State officials, assured
me that the justice obtained by the freedmen from these courts was but
scanty. “At the outset,” said one, “they meet with obstacles. If they
enter a complaint, they must give bail to appear as witnesses, or be
lodged in jail. As no white man will give bail for a negro to appear as
a witness against a white man, and as they don’t fancy lying perhaps
weeks in jail in order to be heard, they prefer to suffer wrong rather
than seek redress.”

There were but two freedmen’s schools in the State, one at Montgomery,
and another at Mobile, with an aggregate of fifteen teachers and nine
hundred pupils.

Everywhere I heard complaints of the demoralization of the people
occasioned by the war. There were throughout the South organized bands
of thieves. In Alabama, cotton-stealing had become a safe and profitable
business. I was told of men, formerly respectable, and who still held
their heads high in society, who were known to have made large fortunes
by it. These men employ negroes to do the work, because negroes cannot
give legal evidence against a white man. During the last three months of
1865, it was estimated that, on the line of the Mobile and Ohio
Railroad, ten thousand bales of cotton had been stolen.

Crimes of every description, especially upon the property and persons of
the freedmen, were very common. General Swayne told me that he stood
greatly in need of a force of cavalry, without which it was almost
impossible to arrest the offenders.

There was every prospect of a good cotton crop the present year. Since
the invention of the spinning-jenny by Arkwright, and of the gin by
Whitney, the culture of this great staple has received no such impulse
as the recent high prices have given it. The planters were taking
courage, the freedmen were at work, and a large amount of Northern
capital was finding investment in the State. Even the poor whites, who
never before would consent to degrade themselves by industrious labor in
the field, seemed inspired by the general activity, and many of them,
for the first time in their lives, were preparing to raise a few bales
of cotton. Labor was not abundant. “Our best young men went off with the
Yankee army; and our best girls followed the officers.” Men of sense and
reputation had not much difficulty, however, in securing laborers. “When
I got all ready to hire,” said one, “I just turned about four hundred
hogs into a field near the road. Every freedman that came that way
stopped; and in a week I had as many as I wanted. They all like to hire
out where there is plenty of pork.” Others, to fill their quota of
hands, were paying the fines of stout negroes on the chain-gangs, and
bailing those who were lying in jail.

All sorts of contracts were entered into; and various devices were used
to stimulate the energies of the freedmen. Some paid wages; some gave a
share in the crop; and I heard of planters who defrayed all expenses,
and gave five cents a pound for the cotton raised on their lands. One
man, who hired sixty freedmen at moderate wages, divided them into six
gangs of ten each, and offered a premium of three hundred dollars to the
gang which should produce the greatest number of bales.

General Swayne estimated that there were five thousand Northern men in
the State, engaged in planting and trading. Many of them were late
army-officers. Business in the principal towns had been paying large
profits; and Northern merchants, who purchased their goods at the North,
were, notwithstanding the popular prejudice against them, enabled to
compete with, and undersell, native traders who bought in smaller
quantities and at second hand.

The hilly northern part of Alabama falls off gradually through the
rolling prairies and alluvial bottoms of the central, to the low, flat
southern portion of the State. Much of this latter region is sandy and
barren, producing little besides poor whites and sweet potatoes. There
are fertile bottom lands, however, adapted to the sugar-cane; and rice
has also been successfully cultivated near the coast.

All through the lower half of the State, the long tree-moss grows with
great luxuriance. It flourishes in a warm, moist climate; and the
forests of the entire Southern country, below thirty-three degrees, are
festooned by it. It likes the dank and heavy shade of swamps, which it
darkens still more with its pendant shrouds. In favorable localities it
grows to a great length, till its long-fibred masses appear dripping
from the trees. One can imagine the effect when the great winds move
through the woods, and to their solemn roaring is added the weird,
unearthly aspect of a myriad gloomy banners, waving and beckoning from
every limb.

Gathered by means of hooks attached to long poles, and seasoned by a
simple process, this moss becomes a valuable article of merchandise,
being principally used in the manufacture of mattresses. I saw many
bales of it going down the rivers to New Orleans, Mobile, and Savannah.
Its color on the boughs is a dull greenish gray; but when prepared for
market, it resembles black crinkled horse-hair. A gentleman of
Charleston told me that just before the war he tried the experiment of
sending a bale of it to France, where it was not permitted to pass the
custom-house until his factor had obtained from him a properly attested
certificate, showing that it was to be taxed, not as hair, but as a
vegetable substance. The French called it “vegetable horse-hair.”

The best cotton lands of Alabama lie between the Alabama and Tombigbee
rivers, where a bale to the acre is the usual yield. The valleys of the
Black Warrior and some lesser streams are scarcely inferior.

The general fertility of the great central portion of the State is
offset by two or three disadvantages. One is the mud of the “black lime
land,” which, in the rainy season, is often of such depth and tenacity
that travel on the roads by means of wheeled vehicles is impracticable.
A greater inconvenience is the scarcity of wells. In the northern
portion of the State good water is abundant; but in other parts
plantations are supplied only by means of house and field cisterns. In
some towns excellent Artesian wells have been constructed; a few
reaching a depth of a thousand feet, and throwing water in sufficient
volume and force to carry machinery. At Selma there were lately two very
good flowing wells, but on an attempt being made to bore a third, a rock
was split, which injured materially the condition of the two first. In
the large public square at Montgomery, the broad circular basin of the
Artesian well, surrounded by an iron railing on a stone curb, visited by
throngs of citizens, descending the steps, dipping up the water, or
catching it as it gushes from the spout, and filling their pails and
casks, forms an interesting feature of the place.

In the northern part of Alabama there are beautiful and fertile valleys
adapted to the culture of both cotton and grain. On the other hand,
there are hills unfit for cultivation. Between these two extremes there
are upland tracts of moderate fertility, capable of producing a third or
a quarter of a bale to the acre. This is the region of small farms and
few negroes.

The climate throughout the elevated portions of the State is healthy and
delightful. On the low river bottoms there is much suffering from fevers
and mosquitoes.

The common-school system of Alabama is very imperfect. The wealthy
planters send their children to private schools, and object to taxation
for the education of the children of the poor. The poor, on the other
hand, take no interest in schools, to which they will not send their
children as long as money is to be paid for tuition, or as long as there
is cotton to pick and wood to cut at home. The isolation of the
inhabitants on plantations, or in widely scattered log-cabins, and the
presence of an uneducated race forming nearly one half the population,
have been great obstacles in the way of popular education.

Alabama has a common-school fund, derived principally from lands,
comprising the sixteenth section in each township, given for educational
purposes by the United States. This fund has never been consolidated,
but each township enjoys the income, by sale or rent, of its own
allotted portion. The system works badly. The sixteenth section is
valueless in many of the townships where both the land and the
inhabitants are poor, and where there is consequently most need of
educational assistance; while in townships occupied by planters who have
grown rich on the richness of the soil, and who need no such assistance,
it has generally proved very valuable. Mr. Taylor, the State
Superintendent of Schools, told me that in one of these wealthier
townships, in Montgomery County, there was for some years but a single
child to whose education the sixteenth-section fund could be properly
applied. She was a girl; and the independent planters performed their
duty faithfully in her case. They sent her to a boarding-school, where
she received a fashionable education; and, when she came to marry,
furnished her wedding-outfit, and presented her with a piano.

Alabama is comparatively a new State. Admitted into the Union in 1819,
her rise in importance has kept pace steadily with the progress of
modern cotton cultivation. It sounds strange to hear planters still
young refer to their experiences in the early days of cotton in regions
which are now celebrated for its production. “I came to Montgomery
County in 1834,” said one. “I raised my first cotton crop in 1836. I had
nine negroes, and I made a bale to the hand. They didn’t know how to
pick it. So I hired thirty Indian girls to pick,—as handsome young
creatures as ever you saw. Cotton was then eighteen cents a pound. The
Indian war disturbed us some; but I and a dozen more settlers went out
and killed more Indians than all Scott’s army. I have now two large
plantations; this year I work a hundred and ten hands, and fifty-five
mules and horses, on thirteen hundred acres of cotton and five hundred
of corn; and I intend to make more money than ever before.”

The principal railroads of the State were all in running condition;
although the rolling stock was generally shabby and scarce. The
Montgomery and West Point Road, which Wilson’s raiders damaged to the
amount of several millions, had been temporarily repaired. Depots were
never plenty in the South, and where our forces had passed, not one was
left;—a great inconvenience, especially to single gentlemen, going to
take the train at two or three o’clock in the morning, finding the cars
locked and guarded until the ladies should all be seated, and compelled
to wait perhaps an hour, in the cold, for them to be opened.



                             CHAPTER LXIII.
                         IN AND ABOUT ATLANTA.


The railroad runs eastward from Montgomery, forks at Opelika, and enters
Georgia by two divergent routes,—the south branch crossing the
Chattahoochee at Columbus, and the north branch at West Point.

Wilson, the Raider, paid his respects to both these roads. The main body
of his troops proceeded to Columbus, (one of the principal towns of
Georgia,) which they carried by assault, with a loss of but thirty men,
capturing fifteen hundred prisoners, twenty-four pieces of artillery,
and immense military stores. At the same time Lagrange’s Brigade took
West Point. These were the closing battles of the great war of the
rebellion. Pushing on towards Macon, Wilson’s advance was met, not by
bloody opposition, but by a flag of truce announcing the surrender of
Lee and the armistice between Sherman and Johnston.

Concerning our loss at West Point I was not able to obtain very exact
information. A citizen, who claimed to have been in the fight, said to
me, “We had seven men killed, and we just slaughtered over three hundred
Yankees.” A negro said: “I saw five dead Yankees, and if there was any
more nobody knows what was done with ’em.” A returned Confederate
soldier, who regarded with great contempt the little affair the citizens
bragged so much about, said it was no fight at all; the militia gave up
the fort almost without a struggle; and there were not over a dozen men
killed on both sides. The fort was situated on a high hill; and one old
man, who was in it, told me they could not hold it because they couldn’t
use the guns effectively,—they “couldn’t elevate ’em down enough.”

The Yankees had the credit of behaving very well at West Point. “They
were going to burn the railroad depot, full of rolling stock; but a lady
told ’em that would set her house, so they just run the cars off down
the track, over a hundred of ’em, and fired ’em there,”—the black ruins
remaining to attest the fact.

Leaving West Point at noon I reached Atlanta at seven o’clock in the
evening. It was a foggy night; the streets were not lighted, the hotels
were full, and the mud, through which I tramped from one to the other,
with a dark guide and a very dark lantern, was ankle deep on the
crossings. I was at length fortunate enough to find lodgings, with a
clergyman and a cotton-speculator, in an ancient tavern-room, where we
were visited all night by troops of rats, scampering across the floor,
rattling newspapers, and capering over our beds. In the morning, it was
discovered that the irreverent rogues had stolen the clergyman’s
stockings.

A sun-bright morning did not transmute the town into a place of very
great attractiveness. Everywhere were ruins and rubbish, mud and mortar
and misery. The burnt streets were rapidly rebuilding; but in the mean
while hundreds of the inhabitants, white and black, rendered homeless by
the destruction of the city, were living in wretched hovels, which made
the suburbs look like a fantastic encampment of gypsies or Indians. Some
of the negro huts were covered entirely with ragged fragments of
tin-roofing from the burnt government and railroad buildings. Others
were constructed partly of these irregular blackened patches, and partly
of old boards, with roofs of huge, warped, slouching shreds of tin, kept
from blowing away by stones placed on the top. Notwithstanding the
ingenuity displayed in piecing these rags together, they formed but a
miserable shelter at the best. “In dry weather, it’s good as anybody’s
houses. But they leaks right bad when it rains; then we have to pile our
things up to keep ’em dry.” So said a colored mother of six children,
whose husband was killed “fighting for de Yankees,” and who supported
her family of little ones by washing. “Sometimes I gits along tolerable;
sometimes right slim; but dat’s de way wid everybody;—times is powerful
hard right now.”

Every business block in Atlanta was burned, except one. The railroad
machine-shops, the founderies, the immense rolling-mill, the tent,
pistol, gun-carriage, shot-and-shell factories, and storehouses, of the
late Confederacy, disappeared in flames and explosions. Half a mile of
the principal street was destroyed. Private residences remained, with a
few exceptions. The wooden houses of the suburbs had been already torn
down, and their materials used to construct quarters for Sherman’s men.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, built by the colored people with
their hard earnings, and viewed by them with as much pride and
satisfaction as the Jews felt in the contemplation of the great Temple
at Jerusalem, was also demolished by our soldiers,—at the instigation,
it is said, of a white citizen living near, who thought the negro’s
religious shoutings a nuisance.

“When I came back in May,” said a refugee, “the city was nothing but
piles of brick and ruins. It didn’t seem it could ever be cleared. But
in six weeks new blocks began to spring up, till now you see more stores
actually in operation than we ever had before.”

The new business blocks were mostly one-story structures, with cheap
temporary roofs, designed to be rebuilt and raised in more prosperous
times. Nine stores of this description had just been put up by a
Connecticut man; each costing three thousand dollars, and renting for
twenty-five hundred. “He run a rolling-mill for the Confederate
Government during the war; sold out when Sherman was coming; called
himself a good Union man;—a mighty shrewd fellow!” said one who knew
him.

Here and there, between the new buildings, were rows of shanties used as
stores, and gaps containing broken walls and heaps of rubbish.

Rents were enormous. Fifteen and twenty dollars a month were charged for
huts which a respectable farmer would hardly consider good enough for
his swine. One man had crowded into his backyard five of these little
tenements, which rented for fifteen dollars a month each, and a very
small brick house that let for thirty dollars. Other speculators were
permitting the construction, on their premises, of houses that were to
be occupied rent-free, for one year, by the poor families that built
them, and afterwards to revert to the owners of the land.

The destitution among both white and black refugees was very great. Many
of the whites had lost everything by the war; and the negroes that were
run off by their masters in advance of Sherman’s army, had returned to a
desolate place, with nothing but the rags on their backs. As at nearly
every other town of any note in the South which I visited, the small-pox
was raging at Atlanta, chiefly among the blacks, and the suffering poor
whites.

I stopped to talk with an old man building a fence before the lot
containing the ruins of his burnt house. He said: “The Yankees didn’t
generally burn private dwellings. It’s my opinion these were set by our
own citizens, that remained after Sherman’s order that all women who had
relatives in the Southern army should go South, and all males must leave
the city except them that would work for government. I put for
Chattanooga. My house was plundered, and I reckon, burnt, by my own
neighbors,—for I’ve found some of my furniture in their houses. Some
that stayed acted more honorably; they put out fires that had been set,
and saved both houses and property. My family is now living in that
shebang there. It was formerly my stable. The weather-boards had been
ripped off, but I fixed it up the best I could to put my little ’uns in
till we can do better.”

Another old man told me the story of his family’s sufferings, with tears
running down his cheeks. “During the battle of July, I had typhoid fever
in my house. One of my daughters died, and my other three were down with
it. The cemeteries were being shelled, and I had to take out my dead
child and bury her hastily in my backyard. My house was in range of the
shells; and there my daughters lay, too sick to be moved.” His
description of those terrible days I shall not repeat. At length his
neighbors came with ambulances, and the sick daughters were removed.
They were scarcely out of the house when a shell passed through it.

Walking out, one Sunday afternoon, to visit the fortifications, I
stopped to look at a negro’s horse, which had been crippled by a nail in
his foot. While I was talking with the owner, a white man and two
negroes, who had been sitting by a fire in an open rail-cabin close by,
conversing on terms of perfect equality, came out to take part in the
consultation, around the couch of the sick beast. One proffered one
remedy; another, another.

“If ye had some tare,” said the white man (meaning tar);—“open his huf,
and bile tare and pour int’ it.”

His lank frame and slouching dress,—his sallow visage, with its sickly,
indolent expression,—his lazy, spiritless movements, and the social
intimacy that appeared to exist between him and the negroes, indicated
that he belonged to the class known as “Sand Hillers” in South Carolina,
“Clay-eaters” in North Carolina, “Crackers” in Georgia, and “white
trash” and “poor whites” everywhere. Among all the individuals of this
unfortunate and most uninteresting class, whom I have seen, I do not
remember a specimen better worth describing. I give his story in his own
words.

He told me his name was Jesse Wade. “I lived down in Cobb,” (that is,
Cobb County,)—seating himself on the neap of the negro’s wagon, and
mechanically scraping the mud from it with his thumb-nail. “I was a
Union man, I was that, like my daddy befo’e me. Thar was no use me bein’
a fule ’case my neighbors was. The Rebel army treated us a heap wus’n
Sherman did. I refugeed,—left everything keer o’ my wife. I had four
bales o’ cotton, and the Rebs burnt the last bale. I had hogs, and a
mule, and a hoss, and they tuk all. They didn’t leave my wife narry
bedquilt. When they’d tuk what they wanted, they put her out the house
and sot fire to ’t. Narry one o’ my boys fit agin the Union; they was
conscripted with me, and one night we went out on guard together, we
did, and jest put for the Yankees. All the men that had a little
property went in for the wa’, but the po’ people was agin it. Sherman
was up yer to Kenesaw Mountain then, and I left, I did, to jine him.”

Wade claimed to have acted as a scout, and referred me to the
quartermaster: “This one that’s yer,” (the quartermaster at Atlanta,)
“you ax him what Wade done, if you don’t reckon I tell the truth.” He
pronounced the division of the Federal forces a great stroke of
strategy. “Atter we split the army, the Rebels couldn’t hold us no
back.”

He was very poor. “I’ve got two hosses and a wagon, and I shouldn’t have
them if Sherman hadn’t gin ’em tu me.” He held up his feet, and looked
at his toes protruding through great gaps in his shoes. “I kain’t git
money enough to buy me a new pair, to save my life.”

“I beat ye, then,” said the owner of the crippled horse, showing a very
good pair of boots.

“_You_’re drayin’,” said Wade. “_I_ haul. I’m gittin’ wood to the
halves. The owner’s as strong an old secessioner as ever lived. I kain’t
make but tu loads a day, and one’s mine, and one’s the feller’s; I give
one load for t’ other. Takes me three loads to git a cord; I git a
dollar and a half, and sometime tu, for a load. I’ve got one boy that
helps,—he’s about as high as hand boy standin’ hander,” (yond’ boy
standing yonder,)—pointing to a negro lad of fourteen.

I asked Wade how old he was. “I’m in my fifty-one year old,” he replied;
“and thar’s eight on us in the family, and tu hosses.”

I inquired concerning education in his county. “Thar’s a heap o’ po’ men
in Cobb that kain’t read nor write. I’m one. I never went to skule narry
time, and I was alluz so tight run I never could send my chil’n, only
’tween crap time.”

“What do you mean by ‘_’tween crap time_’?”

“When I’d laid by my crap,” (that is, stopped hoeing it, as corn,) “till
fodder pullin’. I alluz had to make a little cotton, to keep up. I could
alluz rent land befo’e the wa’, by givin’ half to the owners,—them a
pound o’ cotton, and me a pound o’ cotton; them a load and me a load.
That’s tu much; but I kain’t git it for that now. You might as well try
to git their eyes as their land.”

Wade’s theory of reconstruction was simple, and expressed in few words:
“We should tuk the land, as we did the niggers, and split it, and gin
part to the niggers and part to me and t’ other Union fellers. They ’d
have had to submit to it, as they did to the niggers.” I also found the
freedmen, who had gathered about us, unanimously of this opinion.

“Wade,” I said, “you’re a candid man: now tell me which you think will
do the most work,—a white man, or a nigger?”

“The nigger,” said Wade, surprised at so simple a question.

“Do you mean to say that one of these black men will do more work than
you?”

“Yes, sho’e,” (sure.)

“What’s the reason of that?”

“’Case they was allus put mo’e at it.”

He went on to complain that he couldn’t always get pay for the work he
did. “A man owes me money for wood. If he don’t pay me soon, I’ll take a
stick and beat it out on him.”

“That’ll be to work for it twict, and not git it then,” observed a
negro, very wisely; and I trust Wade was persuaded not to try the stick.

“Ought to have such laws yer as dey has up in Tennessee,” said another
negro. “Dar you’d git yer money! Laws is strick in Tennessee! Ebery man
chalks a line up dar. A man owes you money, de probo’ marshal make him
toe de line. I’s been round, since de wa’ busted, and I han’t seen no
whar laws like dey got up dar in Tennessee.”

By this time a large number of negroes had assembled on the spot,
dressed in their Sunday clothes; and such an animated discussion of
their political rights ensued, that, concluding I had strayed by mistake
into an out-door convention of the freed people, I quietly
withdrew,—followed by my friend Wade, who wished to know if I could
accommodate him to a “chaw of tobacker.”

[Illustration: CONVENTION OF FREEDMEN DISCUSSING THEIR POLITICAL
RIGHTS.]

Atlanta is the centre of a “perfect crow’s-foot of railroads,” which
have given it its business and military importance. The Western and
Atlantic Road, connecting it with Chattanooga, forms a main trunk, with
tributaries running into it from all parts of the North and West, and
with branches from Atlanta running to all parts of the South. This road
was constructed by the State, which in past years derived from it a
large revenue. The war left it in a bad condition, with a dilapidated
track, and merely temporary bridges in place of those which had been
destroyed;—without machine-shops, or materials for the repair of what
little remained of the old, worn-out rolling-stock. A purchase of four
hundred thousand dollars’ worth of indispensable stock from the
government, had sufficed to put it in operation, and it was contributing
something, by its earnings, towards the great outlay still necessary to
refurnish it and place it in thorough repair. The other railroads in the
State, built by private companies, were nearly all doing well, by reason
of the great amount of freight and travel passing over them. Those
destroyed by Sherman belonged to corporations which could best afford to
rebuild them; and work upon them was going forward with considerable
vigor. All these roads had heavy claims against the Confederate
Government; some of them amounting to several millions.

Georgia, before the war, had over twelve hundred miles of railroad in
operation, forming the most extensive and complete system south of
Tennessee and Virginia,—Alabama having but five hundred miles, and
Mississippi seven hundred.

The best of the old Georgia banks were connected with the railroads. The
bills of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company were still worth,
after the war had swept over the State, ninety-five per cent. of their
par value. Those of the Central Railroad and Banking Company were
selling for about the same. The issues of the other banks were worth
from five to seventy-five per cent.; the stock being sacrificed.



                             CHAPTER LXIV.
                        DOWN IN MIDDLE GEORGIA.


As my first view of Atlanta was had on a dismal night, (if view it could
be called,) so my last impression of it was received on a foggy morning,
which showed me, as I sat in the cars of the Macon train, waiting at the
depot, groups of rain-drenched negroes around out-door fires; the dimly
seen trees of the Park; tall ruins looming through the mist; Masonic
Hall standing alone (having escaped destruction); squat wooden buildings
of recent, hasty construction, beside it; windrows of bent railroad iron
by the track; piles of brick; a small mountain of old bones from the
battle-fields, foul and wet with the drizzle; a heavy coffin-box, marked
“glass,” on the platform; with mud and litter all around.

A tide of negro emigration was at that time flowing westward, from the
comparatively barren hills of Northern Georgia to the rich cotton
plantations of the Mississippi. Every day anxious planters from the
Great Valley were to be met with, inquiring for unemployed freedmen, or
returning home with colonies of laborers, who had been persuaded to quit
their old haunts by the promise of double wages in a new country.
Georgia planters, who raise but a bale of cotton on three, four, or five
acres, could not compete with their more wealthy Western neighbors: they
higgled at paying their freedmen six or seven dollars a month, while
Arkansas and Mississippi men stood ready to give twelve and fifteen
dollars, and the expenses of the journey. As it cost no more to
transport able-bodied young men and women than the old and the feeble,
the former were generally selected and the latter left behind. Thus it
happened that an unusually large proportion of poor families remained
about Atlanta and other Georgia towns.

There were two such families huddled that morning under the open shed of
the depot. They claimed that they had been hired by a planter, who had
brought them thus far, and, for some reason, abandoned them. They had
been at the depot a week or more, sleeping in piles of old rags, and
subsisting on rations issued to them by the Bureau: stolid-looking
mothers, hardened by field-labor, smoking short black pipes; and older
children tending younger ones, feeding them out of tin cups, and rocking
them to sleep in their arms. It was altogether a pitiful
sight,—although, but for the rain which beat in upon them, I might have
thought their freely ventilated lodgings preferable to some of the
tavern-rooms I had lately slept in. But to me the most noticeable
feature of the scene was the spirit manifested towards these poor
creatures by spectators of my own color.

“That baby’s going to die,” said one man. “Half your children will be
dead before spring.”

“How do you like freedom?” said another.

“Niggers are fated,” said a third. “About one out of fifty will take
care of himself; the rest are gone up.”

“The Southern people are the niggers’ best friends,” resumed the first
speaker. “They feel a great deal of sympathy for them. There are many
who give them a heap of good advice when they leave them.”

Good advice is cheap; but nobody gave these homeless ones anything else,
nor even that,—with a single exception: there was one who gave them kind
words and money, but he was a Yankee.

The remarks of the ladies in the car were equally edifying.

“How much better they were off with somebody to take care of ’em!”

“Oh dear, yes! I declare it makes me hate an Abolitionist!”

“The government ought to have given them houses!”—(sneeringly.) “If I
had seven children to take care of, I’d go back and sell ’em to my old
master.”

“Do see that little bit of a baby! it’s a-kicking and screaming! I
declare, it’s white! one of the young Federals’, I reckon.”

From Atlanta, until within about twenty-five miles of Macon, the
railroad runs upon a ridge, from which the waters of the country flow
each way,—those of the west side, through the Flint River and the
Appalachicola to the Gulf; those of the east, through the Ocmulgee and
Altamaha to the Atlantic. The soil of this ridge is sandy, with a
mixture of red clay; much of it producing little besides oaks and pines.
The doorways of the log-huts and shabby framed houses we passed, were
crowded with black, yellow, and sallow-white faces,—women, children, and
slatternly, barefoot girls, with long, uncombed hair on their
shoulders,—staring at the train. The country is better, a little back
from the railroad, as is frequently the case in the South.

Macon, at the head of steamboat navigation on the Ocmulgee River, and
the most important interior town in the State, is a place of broad,
pleasant streets, with a sandy soil which exempts it from mud. It had in
1860 eight thousand inhabitants. As it was a sort of city of refuge,
“where everybody was run to,” during the latter years of the war, its
population had greatly increased. Hundreds of white refugees from other
parts of the country were still crowded into it, having no means of
returning to their homes, or having no homes to return to. The
corporation of Macon showed little disposition to relieve these
unfortunate people, and the destitution and suffering among them were
very great. They were kept from starvation by the government. “To get
rid of feeding them,” said Colonel Lambert, Sub-Assistant-Commissioner
of the Freedmen’s Bureau, “we are now giving them free transportation
wherever they wish to go.”

By a recent census, taken with a view to catching vagrants and setting
them to work, the colored population of Macon was shown to be four
thousand two hundred and seventy-three. “All those who are not now
employed will soon be taken by the planters. If any will not hire out,
they will be set to earning their living on the public streets. I have
now on hand applications from Alabama and Mississippi planters for three
hundred laborers; I could fill the orders if I chose to, for the negroes
are much disposed to emigrate. But all the freedmen in the counties of
my district are needed here, and I encourage them to remain.”

Colonel Lambert had on hand sixteen cases of murder and felonious
shooting by white persons, negroes being the victims. The seventeenth
case was reported from Twiggs County, while I was at Macon. A chivalrous
sportsman, apparently for the fun of the thing, took a shot at a negro
walking peaceably along the street, and killed him. The Colonel sent out
twenty-five mounted men to hunt the murderer; but it was almost
impossible to make arrests in such cases. There were in every place
unprincipled men who approved the crime and helped to shield the
criminal. Warned by them of the approach of blue uniforms, he would
betake himself to the cane-brakes, or to some friendly garret, where he
would lie safely concealed until the scouts had given up their search
for him and retired from the neighborhood. These negro-shooters and
their accomplices were no doubt a small minority of the people, but they
were a very dangerous minority, whom the better class did not deem it
prudent to offend by assisting the officers of justice.

Crimes of this description were more or less frequent in districts
remote from the military posts. In some places the freedmen were shot
down in mere wantonness and malice. In others, the very men who had been
wishing them all dead or driven out of the country, had become enraged
at seeing them emigrate for higher wages than they were willing to pay,
and sworn to kill any that attempted to leave the State.

Said Colonel Lambert: “To prevent these outrages, we need a much greater
military force than we have. But the force we have is being reduced by
the mustering out of more troops. We are thus prevented from carrying
out the intentions of the government; and there is danger that before
long the continuance of its authority here will be regarded as a mere
farce. What we need is cavalry; but our troops are all infantry. I mount
them in a case of emergency, where some desperado is to be hunted, by
seizing horses at the first livery-stable, which we return after we have
got through with them, politely thanking the proprietor in the name of
the government.”

The southwestern part of Georgia is one of the most fertile sections of
the South: it is the region of large plantations and rich planters. The
northern half of the State is comparatively unproductive: it is the
region of small planters, and of farmers who do their own work with the
aid of their sons. Much of the northwestern part is barren. The fertile
Southwest suffered little damage from the war; it came out of it with
its plantations unimpaired, and a large stock of cotton on hand.
Northern and Middle Georgia were ploughed with the furrows of
desolation. Sherman’s army left nothing in its track but poverty and
ruin. Plantations were wasted, provisions taken, stock killed or driven
away, buildings and farming implements destroyed. The people were left
very poor: they raised no crops in ’65, and a famine was very generally
anticipated.

In this condition, all the better class of planters recognized the
sincere efforts of the Freedmen’s Bureau to aid them, and to organize a
labor system which should prove beneficial to both employers and
employed. They generally spoke of its officers with respect; and many
acknowledged that it would be a great injury to the country to have it
immediately removed. Others were bitter in their opposition to it; and I
often heard such remarks as this: “The idea of a _nigger_ having the
power of bringing a _white man_ before a tribunal! The Southern people
a’n’t going to stand that.”

The negro of Middle Georgia is a creature in whom the emotions entirely
predominate over the intellectual faculties. He has little of that
shrewdness which town life cultivates in the black race. The agents of
the Bureau complained that they had sometimes great difficulty in
persuading him to act in accordance with his own interests. If a
stranger offered him twelve dollars a month, and a former master in whom
he had confidence, appealing to his gratitude and affection, offered him
one dollar, he would exclaim impulsively, “I work for you, Mass’r Will!”
Sometimes, when he had been induced by his friends to enter a complaint
against his master or mistress for wrongs done him, ludicrous and
embarrassing scenes occurred in the freedmen’s courts. “Now, Thomas,”
says the good lady, “can you have the heart to speak a word against your
old, dear, kind mistress?” “No, missus, I neber will!” blubbers Thomas;
and that is all the court can get out of him.

The reverence shown by the colored people toward the officers of the
Bureau was often amusing. They looked to them for what they had formerly
depended upon their masters for. If they had lost a pig, they seemed to
think such great and all-powerful men could find it for them without any
trouble. They cheered them in the streets, and paid them at all times
the most abject respect.

I was told that the blacks were quite as apt to keep their contracts as
the whites; and that often, when they broke them, it was through the
persuasion of some planter who lacked laborers. “Look here, Sam, I’m
giving two dollars a month more than this man you are at work for; why
don’t you come and live with me?” A respectable planter was fined a
hundred and fifty dollars for this offence, by the Bureau, whilst I was
at Macon. “It is one of the worst offences we have to deal with,” said
Colonel Lambert, “and one that we punish most severely.”

It was the popular belief that the agents of the Bureau had control of
funds arising from such fines, and that they appropriated them pretty
freely to their own use. On the contrary, they were required at the end
of each month to make returns and forward all funds on hand to the chief
quartermaster of the State, who alone was authorized to apply them in
necessary expenditures.

There were four freedmen’s schools in Macon, with eleven teachers and a
thousand pupils. There was a night-school of two hundred children and
adults, where I saw men of my own age learning their letters, (and
thought, “What if _I_ was now first learning _my_ letters?”) and
gray-haired old men and women forming, with slowness and difficulty, by
the aid of spectacles, the first characters in the writing-book. The
teachers were furnished by the American Missionary Association,—the
freedmen paying for their own books, (an item with the booksellers,) and
for the necessary fuel and lights.

Mr. Eddy, the superintendent, and an old experienced teacher, said to
me: “The children of these schools have made in a given time more
progress in the ordinary branches of education than any white schools I
ever taught. In mathematics and the higher sciences they are not so
forward. The eagerness of the older ones to learn is a continual wonder
to me. The men and women say, ‘We work all day, but we’ll come to you in
the evening for learning, and we want you to make us learn; we’re dull,
but we want you to beat it into us!’”

I was much interested in a class of young clergymen who recited in the
evening to the young matron of the “teachers’ home.” One of them told me
with tears of gratitude how kind and faithful all the teachers had been
to them.

“Are you not mistaken?” I said. “I have been told a hundred times that
the Southern people are your best friends.”

He replied: “Georgia passed a law making it a penitentiary offence,
punishable with five years’ imprisonment, to teach a slave to read. Now
we are no longer slaves, and we are learning to read. They may deceive
you, but _we_ know who are our best friends.”

I was repeatedly assured by earnest secessionists that there were no
Union men in Georgia; that, soon or late, all went into the rebellion.
But one day I met an old man who denied the charge with indignation.

“I am sixty-five years old. I fought for the spot where Macon now
stands, when it was Indian territory. I don’t know what they mean by no
Union men. If to fight against secession from first to last, and to
oppose the war in every way, makes a Union man, I was that. Of course I
paid taxes, because I couldn’t help it. And when Stoneman raided on us,
and every man that could bear arms was pressed, I went with the rest,
and was all day behind the breastworks. But I’ve always spoke my mind,
and being an old citizen, I never got hung yet. A majority of the people
of Macon were with me, if they had only dared to say so. They hate the
secessionists now worse than they hate the Yankees: no comparison! The
secessionists now cry, ‘No party!’ but never a party stuck together
closer than they do.

“The Confederates,” he went on, “injured us ten times more than the
Yankees did. When Wilson came in last April, he put a guard at my house,
who stayed with me seven weeks, and did his duty faithfully.”



                              CHAPTER LXV.
                             ANDERSONVILLE.


Just across the railroad track below Macon, in a pleasant pine grove, is
the Fair Ground, where was located that thing of misery known to us as
the Macon Prison. It was the “Yankee Prison,” down here.

I visited the spot one bright morning after a shower, when the breezes
and the sunshine were in the pine-tops overhead. The ground was covered
with a thin growth of brown grass, wet with the rain: stepping along
which I came suddenly to a quadrangular space, as arid as the hill of
Golgotha. No marks were necessary to show where the stockade had stood,
with its elevated scaffolding on which walked the Rebel guard. The
stockade had been removed; but the blasted and barren earth remained to
testify of the homesick feet that had trodden it into dreary sterility.

A little stream runs through a hollow below the Fair Ground, carrying
off much of the filth of the town. From that stream our prisoners drank.
The tub set in the side of the bank at the foot of the hill, and the
ditch that conducted into it the water for their use, were still there.
Guarded, they came down from the stockade, to this tub, of the contents
of which they were not always permitted to have enough. “I used to hear
’em yell for water,” said a negro living near. “I was bad off as a
slave, but I never begun to be so bad off as they was. Some of ’em had
no shoes for winter, and almost no clothes.”

In the pine woods on the hill above the area of the stockade is “Death’s
Acre,”—the prison burying-ground, enclosed by a plain board fence, and
containing little rows of humble graves marked with stakes, and
numbered. I noticed numbers as high as two hundred and thirty. How many
national soldiers lie buried in this lot I do not know.

I shall not dwell upon the sufferings endured by the inmates of this
prison. They shrink into insignificance compared with the horrors of the
great military prison of Georgia and the South. Neither of these do I
purpose to say much. Enough, and more than enough has been spoken and
written about them. The infamy of Andersonville is world-wide.

Passing through Washington in August, 1865, I one morning looked into
the hot and steaming court-room where Captain Henry Wirz was on trial.
In a somewhat worn broadcloth coat, with his counsel at his side
occasionally whispering him, his elbow on a table, and his thin uneasy
hand fingering his dark beard or supporting his chin; attenuated, bent,
and harassed with the most terrible anxieties,—for, however indifferent
he may have been to the lives of other and better men, there was one
life to which he was not indifferent, and which was now at stake;
down-looking for the most part, but frequently glancing his quick sharp
eye at the court or the witnesses; there sat the miserable man,
listening to minutely detailed accounts of the atrocities of which he
had been the instrument. The cause he had served with such savage
fidelity, had perished; and the original authors of the enormities he
had been employed to commit, stalked at large, or lay in temporary
confinement, confidently expecting the executive clemency; while this
wretched hireling, whose sin consisted in having done their work too
well, was to suffer, not the just for the unjust, but the guilty dog for
the still more guilty masters.

Fifty-eight miles below Macon, by the South-western Railroad, is the
scene of the crimes against humanity for which Henry Wirz was punished
with death. The place is set down as _Anderson_ on maps and in
guide-books; and that is the name by which it was known to the
inhabitants of the country, until the immense hideous business the war
brought to it dignified it with the title of _ville_.

It is a disagreeable town, with absolutely no point of interest about it
except the prison. Before the war it had but five buildings: a church
without a steeple; a small railroad depot; a little framed box in which
was the country post-office; and two dwellings,—a log-cabin, and a house
with a saw- and grist-mill attached. There were other dwellings within a
mile.

Such was Anderson. Anderson_ville_ contains some forty additional
cheap-looking, unpainted buildings, of various sizes, all of which were
constructed with reference to the prison; such as officers’ houses,
large or small according to the rank of the occupants, government
storehouses, hospital buildings, (for the troops on duty,) and so forth.
The hospital is now used as a hotel. The entire aspect and atmosphere of
the place are ugly and repulsive.

The village lies on the railroad and west of it. Between a third and one
half of a mile east of it, is the prison.

The space enclosed by the rough stockade contains twenty-five acres,
divided by a sluggish stream flowing through it. It looks like a great
horse-yard. Much of the land is swampy, but the rest is elevated, rising
on the south side gradually, and on the north side quite steeply from
the brook. It was from this shallow stream, defiled with refuse from the
camp of the Georgia Reserves, which it received before entering the
stockade, that the thirty thousand prisoners, who were sometimes crowded
into this broken oblong space, drew their chief supply of water. There
were a few little springs in the banks, very precious to them.

The walls of the stockade are of upright logs about a foot in diameter,
twenty feet high above the ground, in which they are set close together,
deep enough to be kept firmly in their position. There are an outer and
an inner wall of this description, with a space some fifty yards in
breadth between them. There were sentry-boxes for the soldiers on guard,
hung like birds’-nests near the top of the inner wall. These were
reached by ladders. For further security, the stockade was partly
surrounded by a deep ditch; and on portions of two sides there is an
unfinished third line of upright logs.

The outer wall of the stockade has but one entrance. Through this the
newly arrived prisoners were marched, and along the space between the
two walls, to one of two gates which gave admission to the interior of
the prison. How many thousands of brave and stalwart soldiers entered
these infernal doors, from which only ghostly skeleton-men, or the
corpses of skeleton-men, ever issued forth again!

The prisoners were of course confined within the inner wall. And not
only so, but they were prevented from approaching within twenty feet of
it by the dead line. Or if not prevented,—for much of the way this fatal
boundary was marked only by posts set at intervals of six or seven
yards,—he who, in blindness and sickness and despair, perhaps jostled
out of his way by the blind, sick, despairing multitude crowded within,
set his foot one inch beyond the strict limits, as some Rebel on guard
chose to _imagine_ them, crack-went a musket, a light puff of smoke
curled up from one of the birds’-nests, and the poor wretch lay in his
blood, groaning out the last of many groans, which ended his long
misery.

I learned that when the stockade was first built the ground it encloses
was covered with forest-trees. Why were they not left—at least a few of
them—to bless with their cooling shade the unfortunate captives, in the
heat of those terrible prison summers? Not a tree remained. Near by were
forests of beautiful timber, to which they were not even permitted to go
and cut wood for fuel and huts.

One can imagine nothing more dreary and disheartening than the interior
view of the stockade as it is to-day, except the stockade as it was
during the war. The holes in which the prisoners burrowed for protection
from the weather, have been mostly destroyed by the washing rains.
Nearly all the huts are in ruins. The barrack sheds, in which but a mere
handful of the thirty thousand prisoners could find place, still remain,
marked with sad relics,—bunks with the names of the occupants cut upon
them, or fragments of benches, knives, old pipes, and old shoes.

Between the outer and inner walls were the bakehouse, the pen for
sick-call, and the log-sheds in which the stocks were kept. The
cookhouse was outside.

Besides the great stockade, there was a small stockade for officers, and
a hospital stockade containing some eight acres, and surrounded by
upright logs ten or twelve feet high.

In pleasant pine woods, about a hundred rods north of the stockade, is
the original burying-ground of the Andersonville prison, enlarged and
converted into a national cemetery since the war. A whitewashed
picket-fence encloses a square space of near fifty acres, divided into
four main sections by two avenues crossing it and cutting each other at
right angles. Two of these sections—those south of the east-and-west
road—are subdivided by alleys into five smaller sections, where the dead
lie in long, silent rows, by hundreds. Here are about seven thousand
graves. The northeast quarter of the cemetery is undivided; and here, in
a single vast encampment, sleep five thousand men. There are in all near
thirteen thousand graves, each with its little white head-board
commemorating the name, rank, company, regiment, and date of death, of
its inmate. The records show that the first death occurred on February
27th, 1864, and the last on April 28th, 1865. From April 1st, 1864, to
April 1st, 1865, the average rate of mortality was over a thousand a
month. It sometimes reached a hundred a day.

Apart from the rest, in the northwestern corner of the cemetery, are the
graves of the Georgia Reserves who died while on duty here,—one hundred
and fifteen out of four regiments. The mortality among them appears also
to have been great; and indeed one cannot conceive how it should be
otherwise, living as they did within the pestiferous influence of the
prison atmosphere.

At the entrance to the cemetery, on the south side, appears the
following inscription,—the same I noticed above the graves at
Spottsylvania, and which might with propriety be placed before every
national soldiers’ cemetery:—

                   “On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
                     Their silent tents are spread,
                   And Glory guards with solemn round
                     The bivouac of the dead.”

At the alley-crossings stand the following:—

              “The hopes, the fears, the blood, the tears,
                That marked the battle strife,
              Are now all crowned by Victory
                That saved the Nation’s life.”

              “Whether in the prison drear,
                Or in the battle’s van,
              The fittest place for man to die,
                Is where he dies for man.”

              “A thousand battle-fields have drunk
                The blood of warriors brave,
              And countless homes are dark and drear
                In the land they died to save.”

              “Then shall the dust
                Return to the earth as it was;
              And the spirit shall return
                Unto God who gave it.”

Over the encampment of five thousand is raised the following:—

                   “Through all Rebellion’s horrors
                     Bright shines our Nation’s fame:
                   Our gallant soldiers, perishing,
                     Have won a deathless name.”

At the intersection of the avenues rises the flag-staff planted here by
Miss Clara Barton’s party, who laid out the Cemetery Grounds in the
summer of 1865. Here, on the soil of Georgia, above the graves of our
dead, waves the broad symbol of the Nation’s power and victory; while
all round this sanctified ground stand the ancient pines, Nature’s
serene and solemn priesthood, waving their green arms, and murmuring
softly, by day and all through the starry night,—whilst thou, O mother!
O wife! art mourning in thy desolated Northern home,—the requiems of the
weary ones at rest.

The Rebel owner of the land occupied by the prison had been pardoned by
the President; and I learned of the Freedmen’s Bureau that he had asked
for the restoration of his property,—demanding even that the cemetery
grounds should be turned over to him.

In conclusion I may state that citizens of Georgia, living at a distance
from Andersonville, said to me that they knew of the atrocities
permitted there at the time of their occurrence, and that they did not
think it possible for the Rebel leaders to have been ignorant of them.



                             CHAPTER LXVI.
                       SHERMAN IN MIDDLE GEORGIA.


According to a tradition which I found current in Middle Georgia,
General Sherman remarked, while on his grand march through the State,
that he had his gloves on as yet, but that he should take them off in
South Carolina. Afterwards, in North Carolina, I heard the counterpart
of this story. As soon as he had crossed the State line, “Boys,” said he
to his soldiers, “remember we are in the old North State now;” which was
equivalent to putting his gloves on again.

At the mere mention of these anecdotes, however, many good Georgians and
North Carolinians blazed up with indignation: “If he had his gloves on
here, I should like to know what he did with his gloves off!”—and it was
not easy to convince them that they had suffered less than their
neighbors in South Carolina.

A Confederate brigadier-general said to me: “One could track the line of
Sherman’s march all through Georgia and South Carolina by the fires on
the horizon. He burned the gin-houses, cotton-presses, railroad depots,
bridges, freight-houses, and unoccupied dwellings, with some that were
occupied. He stripped our people of everything. He deserves to be called
the Great Robber of the nineteenth century. He did a sort of retail
business in North Carolina, but it was a wholesale business, and no
mistake, in Georgia, though perhaps not quite so smashing as his South
Carolina operations.”

Confederate soldiers delight in criticisms and anecdotes of this famous
campaign. Here are two or three samples.

“When we were retreating before old Sherman, he sent word to Johnston
that he wished he would leave just a horseshoe, or something to show
where he had been. Hood always left enough; but Johnston licked the
ground clean behind him.”

“Didn’t we have high old times laying in the water, nights when we had a
chance to lay down at all! I remember, one of our boys was told he must
move his position, one night, after we’d just got comfortably settled
down in the wet. Says he, ‘I’ve got my water hot, and I be d——d if I’m
going to move for anybody!’”

“The approach to Savannah was defended by splendid, proud forts,
bristling with long old cannon, and our cowardly militia just run from
them without firing a shot!”

“You should have seen Washington’s statue, at Columbia, after Sherman
burned the city! Nose broke, eyes bunged, face black and blue, and
damaged miscellaneously, the Father of his Country looked like he’d been
to an Irish wedding.”

The citizens talked with equal freedom, but with less hilarity, of the
doings of the “Great Robber.” A gentleman of Jones County said:—

“I had a noble field of corn, not yet harvested. Old Sherman came along,
and turned his droves of cattle right into it, and in the morning there
was no more corn there than there is on the back of my hand. His devils
robbed me of all my flour and bacon and corn meal. They took all the
pillow-slips, ladies’ dresses, drawers, chemises, sheets, and
bed-quilts, they could find in the house, to tie up their plunder in.
You couldn’t hide anything but they’d find it. I sunk a cask of molasses
in a hog-wallow; that I think I should have saved, but a nigger boy the
rascals had with ’em said he ’lowed there was something hid there; so he
went to feeling with a stick, and found the molasses. Then they just
robbed my house of every pail, cup, dish, what-not, that they could
carry molasses off to their camping-ground in. After they’d broke open
the cask, and took what they wanted, they left the rest to run in a
river along the ground. There was one sweet hog-wallow, if there never
was another!”

A lady, living near Milledgeville, was the president of a soldiers’ aid
society. At the time of Sherman’s visit she had in her house a dry-goods
box full of stockings knit by the fair hands of patriotic ladies for the
feet of the brave defenders of their country. This box she caused to be
buried in a field which was afterwards ploughed, in order to obliterate
all marks of its concealment. A squadron of cavalry arriving at this
field, formed in line, charged over it, and discovered the box by a
hollow sound it gave forth under the hoofs of the horses. The box was
straightway brought to light, to the joy of many a stockingless invader,
who had the fair ladies of Milledgeville to thank for his warm feet that
winter.

The Yankees took special delight in killing dogs, many an innocent cur
having to atone with his life for the sins committed by bloodhounds used
in hunting down negroes, conscripts, and escaped Yankee prisoners.

Sherman’s field-orders show that it was not his intention to permit
indiscriminate destruction and plundering.[17] Yet these orders appear
to have been interpreted by his men very liberally. A regiment, was
usually sent ahead with instructions to guard private dwellings; but as
soon as the guards were removed, a legion of stragglers and negroes
rushed in to pillage; and I am convinced that in some cases even the
guards pilfered industriously.

Wilson’s men, when they seized fresh horses for their use, turned the
jaded ones loose in the country. Sherman’s army-corps acted on a
different principle. The deliberate aim seemed to be to _leave no stock
whatever in the line of march_. Whenever fresh horses were taken, the
used-up animals were shot. Such also was the fate of horses and mules
found in the country, and not deemed worth taking. The best herds of
cattle were driven off; inferior herds were slaughtered in the fields,
and left. A company of soldiers would shoot down a drove of hogs, cut
out the hind-quarters, and abandon what remained.

“The Federal army generally behaved very well in this State,” said a
Confederate officer. “I don’t think there was ever an army in the world
that would have behaved better, on a similar expedition, in an enemy’s
country. Our army certainly wouldn’t. The destruction of railroads,
mills, and gin-houses, if designed to cripple us, was perfectly
justifiable.

“But you did have as mean a set of stragglers following your army as
ever broke jail. I’ll do you the credit to say, though, that there were
more foreigners than Yankees among them.

“A lot of these rascals came to my house, and just about turned it
inside out. They wouldn’t wait for my wife to give them the keys of the
bureau, but smashed in the drawers with the butts of their muskets, and
emptied them.

“My sister, living near me, gave her plate and valuables, locked up in a
trunk, to a negro, who took it and hid it in the woods. Then, to avoid
suspicion, he joined the Yankees, and was gone with ’em several days.
She felt great anxiety about the trunk, until one morning he came home,
by the way of the woods, grinning, with the trunk on his shoulder.

“My wife did like my sister. She gave her money and plate to a negro,
who hid it; but he didn’t get off so well as the other darkey. The
Yankees suspected him, and threatened to hang him if he didn’t give it
up. They got the rope around his neck, and actually did string him up,
till they found he would die sooner than tell, when they let him down
again.

“Your fellows hung several men in my neighborhood, to make ’em tell
where their money was. Some gave it up after a little hanging; but I
know one man who went to the limb three times, and saved his money, and
his life too. Another man had three hundred dollars in gold hid in his
garden. He is very fat; weighs, I suppose, two hundred and fifty pounds.
He held out till they got the rope around his neck, then he caved in.
‘I’m dogged,’ says he, ‘if I’m going to risk my weight on a rope around
my neck, just for a little money!’”

An old gentleman in Putnam County, near Eatonton, related the
following:—

“Sherman’s men gave my son-in-law sut! He had made that year thirty-two
hundred gallons of syrup,—more than he had casks for; so he sunk a tank
in the ground, and buried it. The Yankee soldiers all came and helped
themselves to it. He had the finest flower-garden in the country; they
made his own slaves scatter salt, and corn-on-the-cob, all over it, then
they turned their horses on, and finished it. They made my own daughter
wait on them at table. She said she kept servants for such work; but
they replied: ‘You are none too good.’ They robbed all the houses
through here of all the jewels, watches, trinkets, and hard metals the
people didn’t put out of their way; and stripped us of our bedding and
clothing.”

Sherman’s invasion of the South cannot properly be called a raid: even
Wilson’s brilliant expedition with twelve thousand cavalry is belittled
by that epithet.

Sherman had under his command four infantry corps and a corps of
cavalry, pursuing different routes, their caterpillar tracks sometimes
crossing each other, braiding a belt of devastation from twenty-five to
fifty miles in breadth, and upwards of six hundred miles in extent. The
flanking parties driving the light-footed Rebel cavalry before them;
bridges fired by the fugitives; pontoon trains hurrying to the front of
the advancing columns, when streams were to be crossed; the hasty
corduroying of bad roads; the jubilant foraging parties sweeping the
surrounding country of whatever was needful to support life and vigor in
those immense crawling and bristling creatures, called army-corps; the
amazing quantity and variety of plunder collected together on the routes
of the wagon-trains,—the soldiers sitting proudly on their heaped-up
stores, as the trains approached, then, in lively fashion, thrusting
portions into each wagon as it passed,—for no halt was allowed; the
ripping up of railroads, the burning and plundering of plantations; the
encampment at evening, the kindling of fires, the sudden disappearance
of fences, and the equally sudden springing up of shelter-tents, like
mushrooms, all over the ground; the sleep of the vast, silent, guarded
hosts; and the hilarious awakening to the toil and adventures of a new
day; such are the scenes of this most momentous expedition, which
painters, historians, romancers, will in future ages labor to conceive
and portray.

Warned by the flying cavalry, and the smoke and flames of plantations on
the horizon, the panic-stricken inhabitants thought only of saving their
property and their lives from the invaders. Many fled from their homes,
carrying with them the most valuable of their possessions, or those
which could be most conveniently removed. Mules, horses, cattle, sheep,
hogs, were driven wildly across the country, avoiding one foraging party
perhaps only to fall into the hands of another. The mother caught up her
infant; the father, mounting, took his terrified boy upon the back of
his horse behind him; the old man clutched his money-bag and ran; not
even the poultry, not even the dogs were forgotten; men and women
shouldering their household stuffs, and abandoning their houses to the
mercies of the soldiers, whose waving banners and bright steel were
already appearing on the distant hill-tops.

[Illustration: FLEEING BEFORE SHERMAN’S GRAND MARCH.]

Such panic flights were often worse than useless. Woe unto that house
which was found entirely deserted! To the honor of Southern housewives
be it recorded, that the majority of them remained to protect their
homes, whilst their husbands and slaves ran off the live stock from the
plantations.

The flight from Milledgeville, including the stampede of the Rebel State
legislators, who barely escaped being entrapped by our army,—the
crushing of passengers and private effects into the overloaded cars, the
demand for wheeled vehicles, and the exorbitant prices paid for them,
the fright, the confusion, the separation of families,—formed a scene
which neither the spectators nor the actors in it will soon forget.

The negroes had all along been told that if they fell into the hands of
the Yankees they would be worked to death on fortifications, or put into
the front of the battle and shot if they did not fight, or sent to Cuba
and sold; and that the old women and young children would be drowned
like cats and blind puppies. And now the masters showed their affection
for these servants by running off the able-bodied ones, who were
competent to take care of themselves, and leaving the aged, the infirm,
and the children, to the “cruelties” of the invaders. The manner in
which the great mass of the remaining negro population received the
Yankees, showed how little they had been imposed upon by such stories,
and how true and strong their faith was in the armed deliverance which
Providence had ordained for their race.

-----

Footnote 17:

  See, in _Special Field-Orders, No. 120_, issued Nov. 24th, 1864, the
  following paragraphs:—

  “IV. The army will _forage liberally on the country during the march_.
  To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and
  sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet
  officers, who will gather near the route travelled corn or forage of
  any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables or corn-meal or whatever is
  needed by the command; aiming at all times to keep in the wagon trains
  _at least ten days’ provisions for the command, and three days’
  forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings_ of the inhabitants, or
  commit any trespass during the halt or a camp; they may be permitted
  to gather turnips, potatoes, and other vegetables, and drive in stock
  in front of their camps. To regular foraging parties must be intrusted
  the gathering of provisions and forage at any distance from the road
  travelled.

  “V. To army-corps commanders is intrusted the power _to destroy mills,
  houses, cotton-gins, &c._, and for them this general principle is laid
  down: In districts and neighborhoods _where the army is unmolested no
  destruction_ of such property should be permitted; but should
  guerillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants
  burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility,
  then army-corps commanders should order and _enforce a devastation
  more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility_.

  “VI. As for horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants,
  the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit,
  discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile,
  and the poor or industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging
  parties may also take mules or horses to replace the jaded animals of
  their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments or brigades.
  In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain
  from abusive or threatening language, and may, when the officer in
  command thinks proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no
  receipts; and they will endeavor to leave with each family a
  reasonable portion for their maintenance.”



                             CHAPTER LXVII.
                          PLANTATION GLIMPSES.


In travelling through the South one sees many plantations ruined for
some years to come by improper cultivation. The land generally washes
badly, and where the hill-sides have been furrowed up and down, instead
of being properly “horizontalized,” the rains plough them into gulleys,
and carry off the cream of the soil. Or perhaps neglect, during four
years of war, has led to the same result. Many worn-out plantations are
in this condition, the gulleys cutting the slopes into ridges and
chasms.

In Georgia, as in parts of Alabama, one becomes weary of tracts of
poor-looking country, overgrown with sedge-grass, or covered with oaks
and pines. The roads, never good, in bad weather are frightful. Never a
church steeple relieves the monotony of the landscape. Occasionally
there is a village, its houses appearing to be built upon props. If
standing upon a ridge above the highway or railroad by which you pass,
the sight of the blue sky _under_ them gives them a singular appearance.

It is customary, all through the South, to build country-houses in this
manner, and rarely with cellars. The props, which are sometimes of
brick, but oftener of fat pine, which makes an underpinning almost as
durable as brick, lift the building a few feet from the earth and allow
a free circulation of air under it. This peculiarity, which strikes a
stranger as unnecessary, is not so. A Northern man of my acquaintance,
settled in North Carolina, told me that he built his house in the
New-England style, with a close underpinning; but soon discovered that
the dampness of the earth was causing the lower timbers to rot badly. By
opening the underpinning, and ventilating the foundation, he succeeded
in checking the decay. Let Northern men emigrating to the South take a
hint from his experience. No doubt many Southern customs, which appear
to us irrational or useless, will thus be found to have originated in
common sense and necessity.

I was too late to see the cotton-picking, and too early for the
chopping-out and hoeing, but in season to witness the preparation of the
ground for planting. Sometimes, in a gang of fifty or sixty laborers
running as many ploughs on the fields of a large plantation, there would
be twenty or thirty women and strong girls. The sight of so many ploughs
in motion, each drawn by a single mule, and scratching its narrow furrow
three inches deep, was of itself interesting; and the presence with the
ploughmen of the stout black ploughwomen added to it a certain
picturesqueness.

I have already related how my ignorance was enlightened with regard to
the manufacture of ploughs on Alabama plantations. I afterwards saw the
blacksmiths at work upon these somewhat rude implements, and learned
that some of the larger plantations manufactured their own carts and
wagons. The plantation harness is a simple affair, and is nearly always
made on the place. While the negro women are spinning and weaving cloth
in rainy-weather, the men are bending hames, braiding mule-collars of
corn husks, and making back-bands of leather or bagging.

I found that some of the large plantations had, besides a white
superintendent, two black overseers,—one whose sole business was to take
care of the ploughs and hoes, and one who looked after the mules and
other live stock.

The buildings of a first-class plantation form a little village by
themselves. There is first the planter’s house, which is commonly a
framed dwelling of good size, with two or four brick chimneys built
outside. There is not a closet in the house. The pantry and dairy form a
separate building. The kitchen is another; and the meat-house still
another. Next in importance to the planter’s house is the overseer’s
house. Then come the negro quarters, which, on some plantations I have
seen, are very comfortable and neat-looking little framed houses. They
are oftener mere huts. A barn is a rare exception. The corn is kept in
cribs, and other grain in out-door bins framed with roof-like covers
that shut down and lock. Then there are the mule-pens; the gin-house (if
it has not been burned); and the mill for crushing sorghum. Orchards are
rare, planters thinking of little besides cotton, and living, like their
negroes, chiefly on hog and hominy.

Travelling by private conveyance from Eatonton—the northern terminus of
the Milledgeville and Eatonton Railroad—over to Madison on the Georgia
road, on my way to Augusta, I passed a night at a planter’s house of the
middle class. It was a plain, one-and-a-half story, unpainted,
weather-browned framed dwelling, with a porch in front, and two front
windows. The oaken floors were carpetless, but clean swept. The rooms
were not done off at all; there was not a lath, nor any appearance of
plastering or whitewash about them. The rafters and shingles of the roof
formed the ceiling of the garret-chamber; the sleepers and boards of the
chamber-floor, the ceiling of the sitting-room; and the undisguised
beams, studs, and clapboards of the frame and its covering, composed the
walls. The dining-room was a little detached framed box, without a
fireplace, and with a single broken window. There was a cupboard, a
wardrobe, and a bed in the sitting-room; a little bedroom leading off
from it; and two beds in the garret.

There was a glowing fire in the fireplace, beside which sat a
neatly-attired, fine-looking, but remarkably silent grandmother, taking
snuff, or smoking.

The house had three other inmates,—the planter and his wife, and their
son, a well-educated young man, who sat in the evening reading “Handy
Andy” by the light of pitch-pine chips thrown at intervals upon the
oak-wood fire. No candle was lighted except for me, at bedtime.

This, be it understood, was not the house of a small farmer, but of the
owner of two plantations, of a thousand acres each. He had fifty-nine
negroes before the war.

There was a branch running through his estate, on the bottom-land of
which he could make a bale of cotton to the acre. On the uplands it took
three or four acres to make a bale. This year his son had undertaken to
run the plantation we were on, while he was to oversee the other.

The young man was far more hopeful of success than his father.

The old man said: “You can’t get anything out of the niggers, now
they’re free.”

“I never knew them to work any better,” said the young man.

“Just now they are showing a little spirit, maybe,” said the father;
“but it won’t continue.”

“I believe mine will do more work this year than ever,” said the son.

“Perhaps they will for you, but they won’t for me.”

The old man went away early in the evening to spend the night on his
other plantation. After he was gone, the young man looked up from the
pages of “Handy Andy,” and remarked emphatically:—

“The great trouble in this country is, the people are mad at the niggers
because they’re free. They always believed they wouldn’t do well if they
were emancipated, and now they maintain, and some of them even hope,
they won’t do well,—that too in the face of actual facts. The old
planters have no confidence in the niggers, and as a matter of course
the niggers have no confidence in them. They have a heap more confidence
in their young masters, and they work well for us. They have still more
confidence in the Yankees, and they work still better for them. They
have the greatest affection for the Yankees; they won’t steal from them,
like they will from us. I had forty-seven hogs in one lot when I took
the plantation; and in two weeks there were only twenty-six left. The
same thing happened to my turnip patch. I don’t reckon it is my freedmen
that steal from me; but the country is full of thieving darkeys that
think it’s no wrong to take from a Southern white man.”

“I wish we older ones had the faculty you say you have for making the
free niggers work,” said the young man’s mother. “I always kept two
women just to weave. The same women are with me now. Before they were
declared free, they could weave six and eight yards of cloth a day,
easy. Now the most they do is about one yard.”

The house was on the main road traversed by the 15th corps, belonging to
the left wing of Sherman’s army, on its way from Madison to
Milledgeville.

“I never would have thought I could stay home while the Yankees were
passing,” said the young man’s mother, “but I did. They commenced
passing early in the morning, and there wasn’t an hour in the day that
they were not as thick, as blue pigeons along the road.

“I was very much excited at first. My husband was away, and I had nobody
with me but our negroes. A German soldier came into the house first of
any. He was an ugly-looking fellow as ever I saw; but I suppose any man
would have looked ugly to me under such circumstances. Said he, ‘I’ve
orders to get a saddle from this house.’ I told him my husband had done
gone off with the only saddle we had. Then he said, ‘A pistol will do.’
I said I had no pistol. Then he told me he must have a watch of me. I
had a watch, but it was put out of the way where I hoped no Yankee could
find it; so I told him I had none for him.

“He then looked all around the room, and said, ‘Madam, I have orders to
burn this house.’ I replied that I hoped the Federals were too
magnanimous to burn houses over the heads of defenceless women. He said,
‘I’ll insure it for fifty dollars;’ for that’s the way they got a heap
of money out of our people. I said, ‘I’ve no fifty dollars to pay for
insuring it; and if it depends upon that, it must burn.’

“Soon as he saw he couldn’t frighten me into giving him anything, he
went to plundering. He had found a purse, with five dollars in
Confederate money in it, when he saw an officer coming into the front
door, and escaped through the back door. He was a very great villain,
and the officer said if he was caught he would be punished.

“I don’t know what I should have done if it hadn’t been for the Yankee
officers. They treated me politely in every way. They couldn’t prevent
my meal and bacon from being taken by the foraging parties,—all except
what I had hid; but they gave me a guard to keep soldiers from
plundering the house, and when one guard was taken away I had another in
his place. Some families on this road, who had no guard, were so broken
up they had nothing left to keep house with.

“When the foragers were carrying off our provisions, I said to an
officer, ‘That’s all the corn meal I have,’—which wasn’t quite true, for
I had some hid away; but he ordered the men to return me a sack. I
didn’t make anything by the lie; for the next party that came along took
the sack the others had left. But I did save a pot of lard. I said to an
officer, ‘They’ve done taken all my turkeys and cows and hogs, and you
will leave me without anything.’ ‘Take back that pot of lard to the
lady,’ said he; and I soon had it where it wasn’t seen again that day.

“What was out doors nothing could prevent the soldiers from taking. I
had bee-gum, and they just carried it off, hives and all. A soldier
would catch up a hive, and march right along, with it on his head, and
with the bees swarming all about him. They didn’t care anything for the
bees. I reckon they wouldn’t sting Yankees.”

During the evening, I paid a visit to the freedmen’s quarters. The doors
of the huts were all open, in a row, and I could see a dozen negro
families grouped around cheerful fires within, basking in the yellow
light, and looking quite happy and comfortable.



                            CHAPTER LXVIII.
                  POLITICS AND FREE LABOR IN GEORGIA.


At Milledgeville,—a mere village (of twenty-five hundred inhabitants
before the war), surrounded by a beautiful hilly and wooded country,—I
saw something of the Georgia State Legislature. It was at work on a
cumbersome and rather useless freedmen’s code, which, however, contained
no very objectionable features. In intelligence and political views this
body represented the State very fairly. I was told that its members,
like the inhabitants of the State at large, were, with scarce an
exception, believers in the right of secession. The only questions that
ever divided them on that subject, were not as to the right, but as to
the policy; and whether the State should secede separately, or coöperate
with the other seceding States.

Since the Rebel State debt had been repudiated, there existed a feeling
among both legislators and people that all debts, public and private,
ought to be wiped out with it. I remember well the argument of a
gentleman of Morgan County. “Two thirds of the people in this county are
left hopelessly involved by the loss of the war debt. There is a law to
imprison a man for paying what the act of the convention takes from him
the power of paying. The more loyal portion of our citizens would not
invest in Confederate scrip, but put their money into State bonds, which
they thought safe from repudiation. A large number of debts are for
negro property. Now, since slavery is abolished, all debts growing out
of slavery ought to be abolished. Four or five men in this county,” he
added, “have the power to ruin over thirty families, whose obligations
they bought up with Confederate money. As that money turns out to have
never been legally good for anything, all such obligations should be
cancelled.”

Throughout the State I heard the bitterest complaints against the Davis
despotism. “There was first a tax of ten per cent. levied on all our
produce; then of twelve per cent. on all property. Worse still, our
property was seized at the will of the government, and scrip given in
exchange, which was not good for taxes or anything else. There was
public robbery by the government, and private robbery by the officers of
the government. The Secretary of War, Seddon, had grain to sell; so he
raised the price of it to forty dollars a bushel, when it should have
sold for two dollars and a half. The conscript act was executed with the
most criminal partiality. A man of an influential family had no
difficulty in evading it. During the last year of the war, there were
one hundred and twenty-two thousand young Confederates in bomb-proof
situations. But an ordinary conscript was treated like a prisoner,
thrown into jail, and often handcuffed.”

The value of slave property was the subject of endless debate. Said a
Georgia planter: “I owned a hundred niggers; their increase paid me
eight per cent., their labor four per cent.; and I’ve sixty thousand
dollars’ worth of property buried in that lot,”—pointing to the
plantation graveyard. The convention that reconstructed the State had
not the grace to accept emancipation without inserting in the new Bill
of Rights the proviso “that this acquiescence in the action of the
United States Government is not intended as a relinquishment, or waiver
or estoppel of such claim for compensation of loss sustained by reason
of the emancipation of his slaves as any citizen of Georgia may
hereafter make upon the justice and magnanimity of that government.” And
there existed in most minds a growing hope that, when the Southern
representatives got into Congress, measures would be carried, compelling
the government not only to pay for slaves, but for all other losses
occasioned by the war.

Not one of the men elected as members of Congress could take the
Congressional test-oath. The mere fact that a man could take that oath
was sufficient to insure his defeat.

Georgia has no common-school system. The poor, who can show that they
are unable to pay for the tuition of their children, are permitted to
send them to private schools on the credit of the county in which they
reside. Few, however, take advantage of a privilege which involves a
confession of poverty. There is great need of Northern benevolent effort
to bring forward the education of the poor whites in all these States.

I found the freedmen’s schools in Georgia supported by the New-England
Freedmen’s Aid Society, and the American Missionary Association. These
were confined to a few localities,—principally to the large towns. There
were sixty-two schools, with eighty-nine teachers, and six thousand six
hundred pupils. There were in other places, self-supporting schools,
taught by colored teachers, who did not report to the State
Superintendent. The opposition to the freedmen’s schools, on the part of
the whites, was generally bitter; and in several counties school-houses
had been burned, and the teachers driven away, on the withdrawal of the
troops. Occasionally, however, I would hear an intelligent planter make
use of a remark like this: “The South has been guilty of the greatest
inconsistency in the world, in sending missionaries to enlighten the
heathen, and forbidding the education of our own servants.”

At Augusta, I visited a number of colored schools; among others, a
private one kept by Mr. Baird, a colored man, in a little room where he
had secretly taught thirty pupils during the war. The building,
containing a store below and tenements above, was owned and occupied by
persons of his own race; the children entered it by different doors, the
girls with their books strapped under their skirts, the boys with theirs
concealed under their coats; all finding their way in due season to the
little school-room. I was shown the doors and passages by which they
used to escape and disperse, at the approach of white persons.

Mr. Baird told me that during ten years previous to the War, he taught a
similar school in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The laws
prohibited persons of color from teaching; and accordingly he employed a
white woman to assist him. She sat and sewed, and kept watch, until the
patrol looked in, when she appeared as the teacher, and the real teacher
(a small man) fell back as a pupil. It was ostensibly a school for free
colored children, the teaching of slaves to read being a criminal
offence; yet many of those were taught.

                  *       *       *       *       *

On the road to Augusta, my attention was attracted by the conversation
of two gentlemen, a Georgian and a Mississippian, sitting behind me in
the car.

We had just passed Union Point, where there was considerable excitement
about an unknown negro found lying out in the woods, sick with the
small-pox. Nobody went to his relief, and the citizens, standing with
hands in their pockets, allowed that, if he did not die of his disease,
he would soon perish from exposure and starvation.

“The trouble is just here,” said the Georgian behind me. “The niggers
have never been used to taking care of their own sick. Formerly, if
anything was the matter with them, their masters had them taken care of;
and now they don’t mind anything about disease, except to be afraid of
it. If they’ve a sick baby, they let it die. They’re like so many
children themselves, in respect to sickness.”

“How much better off they were when slaves!” said the Mississippian. “A
man would see to his own niggers, like he would to his own stock. But
the niggers now don’t belong to anybody, and it’s no man’s business
whether they live or die.”

“I exercise the same care over _my_ niggers I always did,” replied the
Georgian. “They are all with me yet. Only one ever left me. He was a
good, faithful servant, but sickly. He said one day he thought he ought
to have wages, and I told him if he could find anybody to do better by
him than I was doing, he’d better go. He went, and took his family; and
in six weeks he came back again. ‘Edward,’ I said, ‘how’s this?’ ‘I want
to come and live with you again, master, like I always have,’ he said.
‘I find I ain’t strong enough to work for wages.’ ‘Edward,’ I said, ‘I
am very sorry; you wanted to go, and I got another man in your place;
now I have nothing for you to do, and your cabin is occupied.’ He just
burst into tears. ‘I’ve lived with you all my days, master,’ he said,
‘and now I have no home!’ I couldn’t stand that. ‘Take an ax,’ I said;
‘go into the woods, cut some poles, and build you a cabin. As long as I
have a home, you shall have one.’ He was the happiest man you ever saw!”

“A Yankee wouldn’t have done that,” said the Mississippian. “Yankees
won’t take care of a poor white man. I’ve travelled in the North, and
seen people there go barefoot in winter, with ice on the ground.”

“Indeed!” said I, turning and facing the speaker. “What State was that
in?”

“In the State of New York,” he replied. “I’ve seen hundreds of poor
whites barefoot there in the depth of winter.”

“That is singular,” I remarked. “I am a native of that State; I lived in
it until I was twenty years old, and have travelled through it
repeatedly since; and I never happened to see what you describe.”

“I have seen the same thing in Massachusetts too.”

“I have been for some years a resident of Massachusetts, and have never
yet seen a man there barefoot in the snow.”

The Mississippian made no direct reply to this, but ran on in a strain
of vehement and venomous abuse of the Yankees, in which he was cordially
joined by his friend the Georgian. Although not addressed to me, this
talk was evidently intended for my ear; but I had heard too much of the
same sort everywhere in the South to be disturbed by it. At length the
conversation turned upon the Freedmen’s Bureau.

“General Tillson” (Assistant Commissioner for the State) “has done a
mighty mean thing!” said the Georgian. “I’ve just made contracts to pay
my freedmen seventy-five and a hundred dollars a year. And now he is
going to issue an order requiring us to pay them a hundred and
forty-four dollars. That will ruin us. Down in South-western Georgia
they can afford to pay that; but in my county the land is so poor we
can’t feed our people at that rate. I’m going to Augusta now to see
about it. If Tillson insists upon it, I shall throw up my contracts: I
can’t do it: I’ll sell out: I won’t live in a country that’s ruled in
this way.”

“From what county are you, sir?” I inquired.

“Oglethorpe; my name is C——. Are you an agent of the Bureau?”

“No, sir.” But from some remark I made, he got the impression that I was
connected with it. His abuse of the Yankees ceased; and after a while he
said:—

“I believe General Tillson is a very fair man; and I understand why he
intends to issue such an order. To one planter who is willing to do
right by the freedmen, there are five that will be unjust towards them.
I wouldn’t accept the agency of the Bureau in my county, because so many
contracts have been made that I couldn’t approve; and they would get me
into trouble with my neighbors. One man has hired a good fair field
hand, his wife, who is a good cook, his sister, a good field hand, and
his daughter, a good house servant, all for a hundred dollars a
year,—twenty-five dollars apiece; and he doesn’t clothe them, either.
That’s a specimen. I think the Bureau ought to interfere in such cases.
But it a’n’t fair to make honest men suffer for the conduct of these
sharpers.”

I said I thought so too.

“Then I hope you’ll tell General Tillson so.”

“I’ll tell him so, if you wish me to.”

“And tell him you think I’m an honest man.”

“I am inclined to think you are an honest man, and I’ll tell him that
too.”

“But see here: don’t mention what I said about the Yankees, will you?”

“Certainly not: that’s of no consequence.”

C—— appeared quite anxious on that point. After serious reflection, he
said:—

“If you overheard me damn the Yankees, you’ll forgive me, when I tell
you how they treated me. It was after the war was over, and that’s what
made it hurt so. Seven of Stoneman’s men came to my house, and put a
carbine to my breast, and demanded my watch. ‘You may shoot me,’ I said,
‘but you can’t have my watch.’ ‘Then give us some dinner,’ they said. I
got dinner for them, and waited on them with my own hands. They paid me
for my trouble by stealing seven of my horses. While I was absent from
home, trying to get back my horses, some more Yankees came and robbed my
house; they broke open the bureau with a chisel, and injured more than
they took. You don’t blame me for cursing ’em, do you?”

“Not in the least. According to your story, they were very great
rascals.”

After another interval of silence, C—— resumed:—

“Tell General Tillson I am willing to pay my laborers every dollar
they’re worth: and that I treat them well. I’ve one boy that has always
been with me, and is a better overseer than any white man I ever had. He
looks after my interest better than I can myself, for he is younger. I
trust everything in his hands,—all my keys, and sometimes money.” He
could not forbear adding,—“Your fanatics at the North wouldn’t believe I
treat this man so well.”

“Very likely. But it seems you have good reason for treating him well.
What do you pay him?”

“I pay him two hundred dollars a year.”

“And what would you have to pay a white overseer?”

“I couldn’t get a white man to do for me what he does, for eight hundred
dollars.”

“I am quite sure,” I said, “that our fanatics at the North would _not_
see your extraordinary kindness to this man in the same light you do.
They would think him worth considerably more than you pay him. If he
does the work of a white overseer, they would say he ought to have the
salary of a white overseer. They are such an unreasonable set, they
would consider six hundred dollars, the difference between his wages and
a white man’s, a pretty heavy tax to pay on the color of his skin.”

C—— did not seem inclined to pursue the subject, but commenced talking
in a very candid, sensible manner, of the old Southern methods.

“If the war only breaks them up, it will have done some good. Our large
planters generally gave no attention to business. The men were fast and
reckless; the women, helpless and luxurious. We gave so much attention
to cotton and niggers we couldn’t stop to think of the comforts of life.
And after all we were just working to enrich Northern capitalists. There
are no millionaires amongst us. Three hundred thousand dollars is a rare
and large fortune in Georgia.”

Arriving in Augusta that night, I went the next morning to call on
General Tillson. In our conversation, I took early occasion to speak to
him of my yesterday’s acquaintance, Mr. C——, of Oglethorpe County. “He
will be here soon, and explain to you why it is that planters in
Northern Georgia cannot afford to pay the twelve dollars a month you
insist upon.”

“He will not be the first who has come to me on that business,” replied
the clear-headed general. “I shall give him a patient hearing, and if he
convinces me that I am wrong, he will do more than any have done yet.
When it was white man against white man, these planters paid one hundred
and fifty and two hundred dollars a year for first-class field-hands.
Now they are not willing to pay the negro for his labor one half what
they formerly paid his owner. When I took charge of the Bureau’s affairs
in this State, last September, I found the ordinary wages to be from two
to seven dollars a month,—sometimes as low as twelve bushels of corn for
a year’s labor. And the planters complained that the freedman wouldn’t
work for those prices. Now all I ask is that they should pay what his
labor is worth in the open market. Men from Alabama, Mississippi,
Arkansas, say it is worth fifteen dollars, and stand ready to give it.
Since that is the case, to permit him to make contracts for very much
less, is to permit him to be swindled. A little while ago many of these
men were wishing the negroes all driven out of the State; and now they
are in a great panic, because I am allowing them to go. They come to me
to remonstrate against sending off any more laborers. ‘Gentlemen,’ I
say, ‘if you cannot afford to pay the freedman what his services are
worth, it is not his fault, but your misfortune.’

“But they _can_ afford it. Here is a careful statement of facts relating
to free labor in Wilkes County, which adjoins Oglethorpe. ‘One
field-hand will cultivate nine acres of cotton, on which he will raise
three and a half bales, worth—say three hundred and seventy-five
dollars. The same hand will also cultivate nine acres of corn, raising
one hundred and eight bushels, worth one hundred and eight dollars.
Total, four hundred and eighty-three dollars.

“’Expenses:—Board, fifty-two dollars. Rent of cabin, six. Fuel, six.
Wages, one hundred forty-four. Total, two hundred and eight dollars.’
Deducting two hundred and eight from four hundred and eighty-three, you
have a clear profit of two hundred and seventy-five dollars on each man;
that, too, at the rate of wages I prescribe.

“These, understand, are the planters’ own estimates. In South-western
Georgia, where the land is much richer than in this section, the most
extravagant charges against the plantation show a nett income of three
hundred and twenty-five dollars from the labor of a full field freedman.
This estimate is from data furnished by several of the most popular and
extensive planters in that region.

“Now,” added the Commissioner, “when your friend, Mr. C——, of
Oglethorpe, comes to make his complaint, if he is the honest man you
represent him to be, I will show him, by his own figuring, that so far
from being impoverished by paying his men twelve dollars a month, he
will make a handsome profit from them.”

As I went out, I found Mr. C——, of Oglethorpe, in the ante-room, waiting
to see the General. He regarded me with a curious, uneasy expression,
fearing no doubt lest I had reported to the Commissioner his indiscreet
remarks of yesterday concerning the Yankees and the Bureau. I introduced
him to General Tillson, however, in a manner that seemed to reassure
him, and left them closeted together.

That evening, by appointment, I saw the General at his residence.
“Well,” I asked, “how did you and my friend C—— get along?” and received
from him the following statement, which he had kindly had copied for me.

 “_Statement of —— —— C——, of Oglethorpe County, leading planter of that
                                county._


   “Good hands in county will work 8½ acres in
   cotton—2 bales                                      $300 00

   8½ acres in corn—85 bush.                             85 00

                                                     ————————— —————————

 Gross Income,                                                   $385 00


 “Expenses.

   3 lbs. bacon a week, 60 cts. }

   1 peck meal,         25 cts. }

   Board of hand for year                               $44 20

   Rent of Cabin                                         10 00

   Fuel                                                  25 00

   Wages                                                144 00

                                                     ————————— —————————

                                     Total Expenses,             $223 20

             Nett Income from each hand,                       $161 80.”

“Here,” said General Tillson, “the profits of the labor are placed as
low, and the expenses as high, as Mr. C—— could figure them, after
considerable study. From the labor of a hundred freedmen, on his two
plantations, he would clear, according to his own account, upwards of
sixteen thousand dollars,—sufficient to cover all risks, and all other
expenses of the plantation, and leave him a little fortune at the end of
the year.”

Mr. C—— had repeated to General Tillson his statement to me, regarding
the dishonest contracts made with the freedmen in his county. “The truth
is,” said the General, “he wants to hire them himself for about half
what they are worth, and he is indignant because others have hired them
for less. He can really afford to pay his help twice what I demand, and
then make two hundred dollars a year from the labor of each freedman.
The other day some leading planters from South-western Georgia made the
same complaint with regard to wages. ‘Very well,’ I said, ‘if you can’t
pay twelve dollars a month, give your laborers a part of the crops.’
They thought one seventh of the cotton was more than they ought to give,
declaring that the negro would get rich on that. ‘If sixty freedmen,’ I
said, ‘can get rich on one seventh of a crop, the planter, I am sure,
can get rich on six sevenths.’

“The trouble is, these men wish to make everything there is to be made,
and leave the freedman nothing. They resort to the meanest schemes to
cheat him. They tell the negroes that if they go with the agents of the
Bureau to other places, the able-bodied among them will be carried off
and sold into Cuba, and the women and children drowned in the
Mississippi.[18]

“I have not yet sent a thousand negroes out of the State,” continued
General Tillson. “But I have sent off enough to alarm the people, and
raise the rate of wages. I told the planters on the coast of Georgia,
that they must pay the women twelve dollars a month, and the men
fifteen, or I would take the colored population out of their counties.
That brought them to terms, after all their talk about wanting to get
rid of the niggers.

“The freed people in most parts of the State are still so ignorant of
their condition, that they are glad to make contracts to work for only
their food and clothes. There are many, however, who will live vagrant
lives, if permitted. It is necessary to compel such to enter into
contracts.” Firmly convinced of this necessity, General Tillson had
issued an order directing his agents to make contracts for all freedmen
without other means of support, who should neglect to make contracts for
themselves after a given time. The Commissioner at Washington
disapproved the order, for what reason I cannot divine, unless it was
feared that the over-zealous friends of the negro at the North might be
alarmed by it. No contracts were made for the vagrant blacks under it;
but its effect, in inducing them to make contracts for themselves, was
immediate, wholesome, and very gratifying.

The officers of the Bureau were everywhere subject to the temptation of
bribes; and I often heard planters remark that they could do anything
with the Bureau they pleased, if they had plenty of money. General
Tillson said, “I could make a million dollars here very shortly, if I
chose to be dishonest. Only to-day I was offered a thousand dollars for
one hundred freedmen, by a rich planter.” He had made it a rule of the
Bureau to receive no personal fees whatever for any services.

Over three thousand dollars had been paid in fines by the people of
Georgia for cruelties to the freedmen during the past three months. “It
is considered no murder to kill a negro. The best men in the State admit
that no jury would convict a white man for killing a freedman, or fail
to hang a negro who had killed a white man in self-defence.”

The General added: “As soon as the troops were withdrawn from Wilkes
County, last November, a gang of jay-hawkers went through, shooting and
burning the colored people, holding their feet and hands in the fire to
make them tell where their money was. It left such a stigma on the
county that the more respectable class held a meeting to denounce it.
This class is ashamed of such outrages, but it does not prevent them,
and it does not take them to heart; and I could name a dozen cases of
murder committed on the colored people by young men of these first
families.”

General Tillson, by his tact, good sense, business capacity, freedom
from prejudice for or against color, and his uniform candor, moderation,
and justice, had secured for the Bureau the coöperation of both the
State Convention and the Legislature, and was steadily winning the
confidence and respect of the planters. The most serious problem that
remained to be solved was the Sea-Island question, of which I shall
speak hereafter.

The prospect was favorable for a good cotton crop in Georgia, although
anxiety was felt with regard to the vitality of the seed, much of which,
being several years old, had no doubt been injured by keeping.

-----

Footnote 18:

  Since my return from the South, I have received a letter from a
  gentleman of character, late an officer in the Federal army, from
  which I make the following extract bearing on this subject:—

  “After leaving you at Grand Gulf, I rode twenty or thirty miles into
  the interior, but could find little inducement for a Northern man to
  settle in that portion of the South. The further you go from main
  routes, the more hostile you find the inhabitants. I finally
  determined to locate on or near the Mississippi, and recent experience
  only confirms my earlier impressions. I am now located on the river,
  one hundred and sixty miles below Memphis, on the Arkansas side, and
  am making preparations to plant one thousand acres of cotton. It has
  been very difficult to secure help here, and I determined to make a
  trip to Georgia for the purpose of obtaining the requisite number of
  hands. I succeeded tolerably well, and could have hired many more than
  I needed, had not the people induced the negroes to believe that we
  were taking them to Cuba to sell them. I award the palm to the
  Georgians, as the meanest and most despicable class of people it was
  ever my misfortune to meet. While they are constantly urging that the
  negro will not work, they use every means to dissuade him from
  securing honorable and profitable employment. I was never so grossly
  insulted as when in Georgia. They fear the powerful arm of the
  government, but are to-day as bitter Rebels as at any time during the
  war. The consequences would be most disastrous if the military force
  scattered through the South should be at once removed.”



                             CHAPTER LXIX.
                      SHERMAN IN EASTERN GEORGIA.


The track of the Central Railroad, one hundred and ninety-one miles in
length, was destroyed with conscientious thoroughness by Sherman’s army.
From Gordon, twenty miles below Macon, to Scarborough Station, nine
miles below Millen, a distance of one hundred miles, there was still an
impassable hiatus of bent rails and burnt bridges, at the time of my
journey; and in order to reach Savannah from Macon, it was necessary to
proceed by the Georgia road to Augusta, either returning by railroad to
Atlanta, or crossing over by railroad and stage to Madison, between
which places the Georgia road, destroyed for a distance of sixty-seven
miles, had been restored. From Augusta I went down on the Augusta and
Savannah road to a station a few miles below Waynesboro’, where a break
in that road rendered it necessary to proceed by stages to Scarborough.
From Scarborough to Savannah the road was once more in operation.

The relaid tracks were very rough; many of the old rails having been
straightened and put down again. “General Grant and his staff passed
over this road a short time ago,” said a citizen; “and as they went
jolting along in an old box-car, on plain board seats, they seemed to
think it was great fun: they said they were riding on Sherman’s
_hair-pins_,”—an apt name applied to the most frequent form in which the
rails were bent.

“Sherman’s men had all sorts of machinery for destroying the track. They
could rip it up as fast as they could count. They burnt the ties and
fences to heat the iron; then two men would take a bar and twist it or
wrap it around a tree or a telegraph post. Our people found some of
their iron-benders, and they helped mightily about straightening the
rails again. Only the best could be used. The rest the devil can’t
straighten.”

Riding along by the destroyed tracks, it was amusing to see the curious
shapes in which the iron had been left. Hair-pins predominated.
Corkscrews were also abundant. Sometimes we found four or five rails
wound around the trunk of a tree, which would have to be cut before they
could be got off again. And there was an endless variety of most
ungeometrical twists and curves.

The Central Railroad was probably the best in the State. Before the war
its stock paid annual dividends of fifteen per cent.,—one year as high
as twenty seven and a half per cent. It owned property to the amount of
a million and a half dollars, mostly invested in Europe. This will be
nearly or quite sunk in repairing the damage done by Sherman. Then the
road will have all of its bent iron,—for Sherman could not carry it away
or burn it;—and this was estimated to be worth two thirds as much as new
iron. The track, composed partly of the T and partly of the U rail, was
well laid; and the station-houses were substantially built of brick. I
was told that the great depot building at Millen, although of wood, was
equal in size and beauty to the best structures of the kind in the
North. Sherman did not leave a building on the road, from Macon to
Savannah. For warehouses, I found box-cars stationed on the side tracks.

The inhabitants of Eastern Georgia suffered even more than those of
Middle Georgia from our army operations,—the men having got used to
their wild business by the time they arrived there, and the General
having, I suspect, slipped one glove off. Here is the story of an old
gentleman of Burke County:—

“It was the 14th Corps that came through my place. They looked like a
blue cloud coming. They had all kinds of music,—horns, cow-bells,
tin-pans, everything they could pick up that would make a hideous noise.
It was like Bedlam broke loose. It was enough to frighten the old stumps
in the deadenings, say nothing about the people. They burned everything
but occupied dwellings. They cut the belluses at the blacksmith-shops.
They took every knife and fork and cooking utensil we had. My wife just
saved a frying-pan by hanging on to it; she was considerable courageous,
and they left it in her hands. After that they came back to get her to
cook them some biscuit.

“’How can I cook for you, when you’ve carried off everything?’ she said.

“They told her if she would make them a batch of biscuit they would
bring back a sack of her own flour, and she should have the balance of
it. She agreed to it; but while the biscuit was baking, another party
came along and carried the sack off again.

“The wife of one of my neighbors,—a very rich family, brought up to
luxuries,—just saved a single frying-pan, like we did. Their niggers and
all went off with Sherman; and for a week or two they had to cook their
own victuals in that frying-pan, cut them with a pocket-knife, and eat
them with their fingers. My folks had to do the same, but we hadn’t been
brought up to luxuries, and didn’t mind it so much.

“General Sherman went into the house of an old woman after his men had
been pillaging it. He sat down and drank a glass of water. Says she to
him, ‘I don’t wonder people say you’re a smart man; for you’ve been to
the bad place and got scrapings the devil wouldn’t have.’ His soldiers
heard of it, and they took her dresses and hung them all up in the
highest trees, and drowned the cat in the well.

“A neighbor of mine buried all his gold and silver, and built a hog-pen
over the spot. But the Yankees were mighty sharp at finding things. They
mistrusted a certain new look about the hog-pen, ripped it away, stuck
in their bayonets, and found the specie.

“Another of my neighbors hid his gold under the brick floor of his
smoke-house. He put down the bricks in the same place; but the rascals
smelt out the trick, pulled up the floor, got the gold, and then burnt
the smoke-house. They made him take off his boots and hat, which they
wore away. They left him an old Yankee hat, which he now wears. He
swears he never’ll buy another till the government pays him for his
losses.

“My wife did the neatest thing. She took all our valuables, such as
watches and silver-spoons, and hid them in the cornfield. With a knife
she would just make a slit in the ground, open it a little, put in one
or two things, and then let the top earth down, just like it was before.
Then she’d go on and do the same thing in another place. The soldiers
went all over that cornfield sticking in their bayonets, but they didn’t
find a thing. The joke of it was, she came very near never finding them
again herself.

“One of my neighbors, a poor man, was stopped by some cavalry boys, who
demanded his watch. He told ’em it was such a sorry watch they wouldn’t
take it. They wanted to see it, and when he showed it, they said, ‘Go
along!—we won’t be seen carrying off such a looking thing as that!’”

The following story was related to me by a Northern man, who had been
twenty-five years settled in Eastern Georgia:—

“My neighbors were too much frightened to do anything well and in good
order. But I determined I’d save as much of my property as I could drive
on its own feet or load on to wagons. I took two loads of goods, and all
my cattle and hogs, and run ’em off twenty miles into Screven County. I
found a spot of rising ground covered with gall bushes, in the middle of
a low, wet place. I went through water six inches deep, got to the
knoll, cut a road through the bushes, run my wagons in, and stuck the
bushes down into the wet ground where I had cut them. They were six or
eight feet high, and hid everything. My cattle and hogs I turned off in
a bushy field. After that, I went to the house of a poor planter and
staid. That was Friday night.

“Sunday, the soldiers came. I lay hid in the woods, and saw ’em pass
close by the knoll where my goods were, running in their bayonets
everywhere. The bushes were green yet, and they didn’t discover
anything, though they passed right by the edge of them.

“All at once I heard the women of the house scream murder. Thinks I, ‘It
won’t do for me to be lying here looking out only for my own interests,
while the soldiers are abusing the women.’ I crawled out of the bushes,
and was hurrying back to the house, when five cavalrymen overtook me.
They put their carbines to my head, and told me to give ’em my money.

“As soon as I’d got over my fright a little, I said, ‘Gentlemen, I’ve
got some Confederate money, but it will do you no good.’

“’Give me your pistol,’ one said. I told him I had no pistol. They
thought I lied, for they saw something in my pocket; but come to snatch
it out, it was only my pipe. Then they demanded my knife.

“’I’ve nothing but an old knife I cut my tobacco with;—you won’t take an
old man’s knife!’

“They let me go, and I hurried on to the house. It was full of soldiers.
I certainly thought something dreadful was happening to the women; but
they were screeching because the soldiers were carrying off their butter
and honey and corn-meal. They were making all that fuss over the loss of
their property; and I thought I might as well have stayed to watch mine.

“That night the army camped about a mile from there; and the next
morning I rode over to see if I could get a safeguard for the house. But
the officers said no;—they were bound to have something to eat. I went
back, and left my horse at the door while I stepped in to tell the women
if they wished to save anything that was left they must hide it. Before
I could get out again my horse was taken. I went on after it; the army
was on the march again, and I was told if I would go with it all day, I
should have my horse come night. I marched a few miles, but got sick of
it, and went back. I could see big fires in the direction of my house,
and I knew that the town was burning.

“I got back to the poor planter’s house, and found a new misfortune had
happened to him. The night before, all his hogs and mine came together
to his door,—the soldiers having let the fences down. ‘This won’t do,’ I
said; ‘I’m going to make another effort to save my hogs.’ But he was
true Southern; he hadn’t energy; he said, ‘No use!’ and just sat still.
I tolled my hogs off with corn, and scattered corn all about in the
bushes to keep them there. The next day it was hot, and they lay in the
shade to keep cool; so the soldiers didn’t find them.

“But when, as I said, I got back to his house, I found the soldiers
slaughtering his hogs right and left. They killed every one. So much for
his lack of faith. But the worst part of the joke was, they borrowed his
cart to carry off his own hogs to the wagon-train which was passing on
another road half a mile away. They said they’d bring it back in an
hour. As it didn’t come, he went for it, and found they’d piled rails on
to it and burnt it. I had taken care of my wagons, and he might have
done the same with his. But that’s the difference between a Northern and
a Southern man.

“Monday I returned home, and found my family living on corn-meal bran.
They had been robbed of everything. The soldiers had even taken the hat
off from my little grandson’s head, six years old. They took a
mother-hen away from her little peeping chickens. There were fifty or a
hundred soldiers in the house all one day, breaking open chests and
bureaus; and those that come after took what the first had left. My
folks asked for protection, being Northern people; and there was one
officer who knew them; but he could control only his own men. So we
fared no better than our neighbors.”

The staging to Scarborough was very rough; but our route lay through
beautiful pine woods, carpeted with wild grass. It was January, but the
spring frogs were singing.

The best rolling-stock of the Central Road had been run up to Macon on
Sherman’s approach, and could not be got down again. So I had the
pleasure of riding from Scarborough to Savannah in an old car crowded
full of wooden chairs, in place of the usual seats.

The comments of the passengers on the destruction wrought by Sherman
were sometimes bitter, sometimes sentimental. A benevolent gentleman
remarked: “How much good might be done with the millions of property
destroyed, by building new railroads elsewhere!” To which a languishing
lady replied: “What is the use of building railroads for _slaves_ to
ride on? I’d rather be free, and take it afoot, than belong to the
Yankees, and ride.”

Our route lay along the low, level borders of the Ogeechee River, the
soil of which is too cold for cotton. We passed immense swamps, in the
perfectly still waters of which the great tree-trunks were mirrored. And
all the way the spring frogs kept up their shrill singing.

At some of the stations I saw bales of Northern hay that had come up
from Savannah. “There is a commentary on our style of farming,” said an
intelligent planter from near Millen. “This land, though worthless for
cotton, could be made to grow splendid crops of grass,—and we import our
hay.”



                              CHAPTER LXX.
                         A GLANCE AT SAVANNAH.


On the 16th of November, 1864, Sherman began his grand march from
Atlanta. In less than a month his army had made a journey of three
hundred miles, consuming and devastating the country. On December 13th,
by the light of the setting sun, General Hazen’s Division of the 15th
Corps made it’s brilliant and successful assault on Fort McAlister on
the Ogeechee, opening the gate to Savannah and the sea. On the night of
the 20th, Savannah was hurriedly evacuated by the Rebels, and occupied
by Sherman on the 21st. The city, with a thousand prisoners, thirty-five
thousand bales of cotton, two hundred guns, three steamers, and valuable
stores, thus fell into our hands without a battle. Within forty-eight
hours a United States transport steamer came to the wharf, and the new
base of supplies, about which we were all at that time so anxious, was
established.

The city was on fire during the evacuation. Six squares and portions of
other squares were burned. At the same time a mob collected and
commenced breaking into stores and dwellings. The destroyers of
railroads were in season to save the city from the violence of its own
citizens.

A vast multitude of negroes had followed the army to the sea. This
exodus of the bondmen from the interior had been permitted, not simply
as a boon to them, but as an injury to the resources of the Confederacy,
like the destruction of its plantations and railroads. What to do with
them now became a serious problem. Of his conference with Secretary
Stanton on the subject at Savannah, General Sherman says: “We agreed
perfectly that the young and able-bodied men should be enlisted as
soldiers or employed by the quartermaster in the necessary work of
unloading ships, and for other army purposes; but this left on our hands
the old and feeble, the women and children, who had necessarily to be
fed by the United States. Mr. Stanton summoned a large number of the old
negroes, mostly preachers, with whom he held a long conference, of which
he took down notes. After this conference, he was satisfied the negroes
could, with some little aid from the United States by means of the
abandoned plantations on the sea islands and along the navigable rivers,
take care of themselves.” Sherman’s “General Orders No. 15” were the
result, giving negro settlers “possessory titles” to these lands. Thus
originated the knotty Sea-Island controversy, of which more by-and-by.

The aspect of Savannah is peculiarly Southern, and not without a certain
charm. Its uniform squares, its moist and heavy atmosphere, the night
fogs that infest it, the dead level of its sandy streets, shaded by two
and four rows of moss-draped trees, and its frequent parks of live-oaks,
water-oaks, wild-olives, and magnolias, impress you singularly. The
city, notwithstanding its low, flat appearance, is built on a plain
forty feet above the river. The surrounding country is an almost
unbroken level. Just across the Savannah lie the low, marshy shores of
South Carolina. It is the largest city of Georgia, having something like
twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Here, before the war, dwelt the
aristocracy of the country, living in luxurious style upon the income of
slave labor on the rice and cotton plantations.

Trade was less active at Savannah than in some of the interior towns,
owing to its greater isolation. A flood of business passed through it,
however. The expense of transportation was very great. Every bale of
cotton brought down the river from Augusta, two hundred and thirty
miles, cost eight dollars; and the tariff on returning freights was two
cents a pound.

There were sixteen hundred colored children in Savannah, twelve hundred
of whom attended school. Three hundred and fifty attended the schools of
the Savannah Educational Association, organized and supported by the
colored population. I visited one of these schools, taught by colored
persons, in a building which was a famous slave-mart, in the good old
days of the institution. In the large auction-room, and behind the
iron-barred windows of the jail-room over it, the children of slaves
were now enjoying one of the first, inestimable advantages of freedom.

If you go to Savannah, do not fail to visit the Bonaventure Cemetery,
six miles from the city. You drive out southward on the Thunderbolt
Road, past the fortifications, through fields of stumps and piny
undergrowths, whose timber was cut away to give range to the guns, to
the fragrant, sighing solitude of pine woods beyond. Leaving the main
road, you pass beneath the low roof of young evergreen oaks overarching
the path. This leads you into avenues of indescribable beauty and gloom.
Whichever way you look, colonnades of huge live-oak trunks open before
you, solemn, still, and hoary. The great limbs meeting above are draped
and festooned with long fine moss. Over all is a thick canopy of living
green, shutting out the glare of day. Beneath is a sparse undergrowth of
evergreen bushes, half concealing a few neglected old family monuments.
The area is small, but a more fitting scene for a cemetery is not
conceivable.



                             CHAPTER LXXI.
                        CHARLESTON AND THE WAR.


The railroad from Savannah to Charleston, one hundred and four miles in
length, running through a country of rice-plantations, was struck and
smashed by Sherman in his march _from_ the sea. As it never was a paying
road before the war, I could see no prospect of its being soon repaired.
The highway of the ocean supplies its place. There was little travel and
less business between the two cities, two or three small steamers a week
being sufficient to accommodate all. Going on board one of these
inferior boats at three o’clock one afternoon, at Savannah, I awoke the
next morning in Charleston harbor.

A warm, soft, misty morning it was, the pale dawn breaking through rifts
in the light clouds overhead, a vapory horizon of dim sea all around.
What is that great bulk away on our left, drifting past us? That is the
thing known as Fort Sumter: it does not float from its rock so easily:
it is we who are drifting past it. We have just left Fort Moultrie on
our right; the low shores on which it crouches lie off there still
visible, like banks of heavier mist. That obscure phenomenon ahead
yonder looms too big for a hencoop, and turns out to be Fort Ripley. The
dawn brightens, the mist clears, and we see, far on our right, Castle
Pinckney; and on our left a gloomy line of pine forests, which we are
told is James Island.

This is historic ground we are traversing,—or rather historic water. How
the heart stirs with the memories it calls up! What is that at anchor
yonder? A monitor! A man on its low flat deck walks almost level with
the water. Two noticeable objects follow after us: one is a
high-breasted, proud-beaked New York steamer; the other, the wonderful
light of dawn dancing upon the waves.

Before us all the while, rising and expanding as we approach, its
wharves and shipping, its warehouses and church steeples, gradually
taking shape, on its low peninsula thrust out between the two rivers, is
the haughty and defiant little city that inaugurated treason, that led
the Rebellion, that kindled the fire it took the nation’s blood to
quench. And is it indeed you, city of Charleston, lying there so quiet,
harmless, half asleep, in the peaceful morning light? Where now are the
joy-intoxicated multitudes who thronged your batteries and piers and
house-tops, to see the flag of the Union hauled down from yonder
shattered little fortress? Have you forgotten the frantic cheers of that
frantic hour? Once more the old flag floats there! How do you like the
looks of it, city of Charleston?

[Illustration]

I gave my travelling-bag to a black boy on the wharf, who took it on his
head and led the way through the just awakened streets to the Mills
House.

The appearance of the city in the early morning atmosphere, was
prepossessing. It is a well built, light, and airy city. It lacks the
broad streets, the public squares, and the forest of trees, which give
to Savannah its charm; but it strikes one as a more attractive place for
a residence. You are not at all oppressed with a sense of the lowness of
the situation; and yet it is far less elevated than Savannah, the flat
and narrow peninsula on which it is built rising but a few feet above
high water.

Charleston did not strike me as a very cleanly town, and I doubt if it
ever was such. Its scavengers are the turkey buzzards. About the
slaughter-pens on the outskirts of the city, at the markets, and
wherever garbage abounds, these black, melancholy birds, properly
vultures, congregate in numbers. There is a law against killing them,
and they are very tame. In contrast with these obscenities are the
gardens of the suburban residences, green in midwinter with
semi-tropical shrubs and trees.

Here centred the fashion and aristocracy of South Carolina, before the
war. Charleston was the watering-place where the rich cotton and rice
planters, who lived upon their estates in winter, came to lounge away
the summer season, thus inverting the Northern custom. It has still many
fine residences, built in a variety of styles; but, since those recent
days of its pride and prosperity, it has been wofully battered and
desolated.

The great fire of 1861 swept diagonally across the city from river to
river. A broad belt of ruin divides what remains. One eighth of the
entire city was burned, comprising much of its fairest and wealthiest
quarter. No effort had yet been made to rebuild it. The proud city lies
humbled in its ashes, too poor to rise again without the helping hand of
Northern Capital.

The origin of this stupendous fire still remains a mystery. It is looked
upon as one of the disasters of the war, although it cannot be shown
that it had any connection with the war. When Eternal Justice decrees
the punishment of a people, it sends not War alone, but also its sister
terrors, Famine, Pestilence, and Fire.

The ruins of Charleston are the most picturesque of any I saw in the
South. The gardens and broken walls of many of its fine residences
remain to attest their former elegance. Broad, semicircular flights of
marble steps, leading up once to proud doorways, now conduct you, over
their cracked and calcined slabs, to the level of high foundations swept
of everything but the crushed fragments of their former superstructures,
with here and there a broken pillar, and here and there a windowless
wall. Above the monotonous gloom of the ordinary ruins rise the
churches,—the stone tower and roofless walls of the Catholic Cathedral,
deserted and solitary, a roost for buzzards; the burnt-out shell of the
Circular Church, interesting by moonlight, with its dismantled columns
still standing, like those of an antique temple; and others scarcely
less noticeable.

There are additional ruins scattered throughout the lower part of the
city, a legacy of the Federal bombardment. The Scotch Church, a large
structure, with two towers and a row of front pillars, was rendered
untenantable by ugly breaches in its roof and walls, that have not yet
been repaired. The old Custom-House and Post-Office building stands in
an exceedingly dilapidated condition, full of holes. Many other public
and private buildings suffered no less. Some were quite demolished;
while others have been patched up. After all, it would seem that the
derisive laughter with which the Charlestonians, according to
contemporaneous accounts in their newspapers, received the Yankee
shells, must have been of a forced or hysterical nature. Yet I found
those who still maintained that the bombardment did not amount to much.
A member of the city fire department said to me:—

[Illustration: LEAVING CHARLESTON ON THE CITY BEING BOMBARDED.]

“But few fires were set by shells. There were a good many fires, but
they were mostly set by mischief-makers. The object was to get us
firemen down in shelling range. There was a spite against us, because we
were exempt from military duty.”

The fright of the inhabitants, however, was generally frankly admitted.
The greatest panic occurred immediately after the occupation of Morris
Island by General Gillmore. “The first shells set the whole town in
commotion. It looked like everybody was skedaddling. Some loaded up
their goods, and left nothing but their empty houses. Others just packed
up a few things in trunks and boxes, and abandoned the rest. The poor
people and negroes took what they could carry on their backs or heads,
or in their arms, and put for dear life. Some women put on all their
dresses, to save them. For a while the streets were crowded with
runaways,—hurrying, hustling, driving,—on horseback, in wagons, and on
foot,—white folks, dogs, and niggers. But when it was found the shells
only fell down town, the people got over their scare; and many who went
away came back again. Every once in a while, however, the Yankees would
appear to mount a new gun, or get a new gunner; and the shells would
fall higher up. That would start the skedaddling once more. One shell
would be enough to depopulate a whole neighborhood.”

A Northern man, who was in Charleston during the war, told me that he
was lying sick in a house which was struck by a shell early during the
bombardment. “A darkey that was nursing me took fright and ran away, and
left me in about as unpleasant a condition as I was ever in. I couldn’t
stir from my bed, and there was much more danger that I might die from
neglect, than from Gillmore’s shells. Finally a friend found me out, and
removed me to another house a few streets above. It was nine months
before the shells reached us there.”

The shelling began in July, 1863, and was kept up pretty regularly until
the surrender of the city, on the 18th of February, 1865. This last
event occurred just four years after the inauguration of Jefferson Davis
as President of the Confederate States. How did the people of Charleston
keep that last glorious anniversary?

Sherman’s northward marching army having flanked the city, its
evacuation was not unexpected; but when it came, confusion and dismay
came with it. The Rebel troops, departing, adhered to their usual custom
of leaving ruin behind them. They fired the upper part of the city,
burning an immense quantity of cotton, with railroad buildings and
military stores. While the half-famished poor were rushing early in the
morning to secure a little of the Confederate rice in one of the
warehouses, two hundred kegs of powder blew up, killing and mutilating a
large number of those unfortunate people. Here also it devolved upon the
Union troops to save the city from the fires set by its own friends.

Of the sixty-five thousand inhabitants which the city contained at the
beginning of the secession war, only about ten thousand remained at the
time of the occupation by our troops. Those belonged mostly to the
poorer classes, who could not get away. Many people rushed in from the
suburbs, got caught inside the intrenchments, and could not get out
again. Others rushed out panic-stricken from the burning city, and when
they wished to return, found that they could not. Charleston, from the
moment of its occupation, was a sealed city. Families were divided.
Husbands shut within the line of fortifications drawn across the neck of
the peninsula, could not hear from their families in the country; and
wives in the country could not get news from their husbands. “It was two
months before I could learn whether my husband was dead or alive,” said
a lady, who took refuge in the interior. And some who remained in
Charleston, told me it was a month before they heard of the burning of
Columbia; that they could not even learn which way Sherman’s army had
gone.



                             CHAPTER LXXII.
                        A VISIT TO FORT SUMTER.


One morning I went on board the government supply steamer “Mayflower,”
plying between the city and the forts below. As we steamed down to the
rows of piles, driven across the harbor to compel vessels to pass under
the guns of the forts, I noticed that they were so nearly eaten off by
worms that, had the war continued a year or two longer, it would have
been necessary to replace them. There is in these Southern waters an
insect very destructive to the wood it comes in contact with. It cannot
live in fresh water, and boats, the bottoms of which are not sheathed,
or covered with tar, are taken occasionally up the rivers, to get rid of
it. Only the palmetto is able to resist its ravages; of the tough logs
of which the wharves of Charleston are constructed.

Fort Sumter loomed before us, an enormous mass of ruins. We approached
on the northeast side, which appeared covered with blotches and patches
of a most extraordinary description, commemorating the shots of our
monitors. The notches in the half-demolished wall were mended with
gabions. On the southeast side not an angle, not a square foot of the
original octagonal wall remained, but in its place was an irregular
steeply sloping bank of broken bricks, stones, and sand,—a
half-pulverized mountain, on which no amount of shelling could have any
other effect than to pulverize it still more.

I could now readily understand the Rebel boast, that Fort Sumter, after
each attack upon it, was stronger than ever. Stronger for defence, as
far as its walls were concerned, it undoubtedly was; but where were the
double rows of portholes for heavy ordnance, and the additional
loopholes on the south side for musketry? Our guns had faithfully
smashed everything of that kind within their range.

On the northwest side, facing the city, the perpendicular lofty wall
stands in nearly its original condition, its scientific proportions, of
stupendous solid masonry, astonishing us by their contrast with the
other sides. Between this wall and the wreck of a Rebel steamer, shot
through and sunk whilst bringing supplies to the fort, we landed. By
flights of wooden steps we reached the summit, and looked down into the
huge crater within. This is a sort of irregular amphitheatre, with
sloping banks of gabions and rubbish on all sides save one. On the
southeast side, where the exterior of the fort received the greatest
damage from the guns on Morris Island, the interior received the least.
There are no casemates left, except on that side. In the centre stands
the flag-staff, bearing aloft the starry symbol of the national power,
once humbled here, and afterwards trailed long through bloody dust, to
float again higher and haughtier than ever, on those rebellious shores.
Who, that loves his country, can look upon it there without a thrill?

The fort is built upon a mole, which is flooded by high-water. It was
half-tide that morning, and climbing down the slope of the southeast
embankment, I walked upon the beach below,—or rather upon the litter of
old iron that strewed it thick as pebble-stones. It was difficult to
step without placing the foot upon a rusty cannon-ball or the fragment
of a shell. The curling waves broke upon beds of these iron debris,
extending far down out of sight into the sea. I suggested to an officer
that this would be a valuable mine to work, and was told that the right
to collect the old iron around the fort had already been sold to a
speculator for thirty thousand dollars.

The following statement of the cost to the United States of some of the
forts seized by the Rebels, and of others they would have been glad to
seize, but could not see their way clear to do so, will interest a few
readers.

Fort Moultrie, $87,601. (Evacuated by Major Anderson Dec. 26th, 1860.)

Castle Pinckney, $53,809. (Seized by South Carolina State troops, Dec.
27th, 1860.)

Fort Sumter, $977,404.

Fort Pulaski, at the mouth of the Savannah River, $988,859. (Seized by
order of Governor Brown, Jan. 3d, 1861.)

Fort Morgan, Mobile Harbor, $1,242,552. (Seized Jan. 4th, 1861.)

Fort Gaines, opposite, $221,500. (Same fate.)

Fort Jackson, on the Mississippi, below New Orleans, $837,608. Its
fellow, Fort St. Philip, $258,734. (Both seized Jan. 10th, 1861.)

Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, $1,208,000. (Not convenient for the Rebels
to appropriate.)

Fortress Monroe, the most expensive, as it is the largest of our forts,
$2,476,771. (Taken by Jeff Davis in May, 1865, under peculiar
circumstances, and still occupied by him at this date, May, 1866.)

I found eighty-five United States soldiers in Sumter: a mere handful,
yet they were five more than the garrison that held it at the time of
Beauregard’s bombardment in April, 1861. My mind went back to those
earlier days, and to that other little band. How anxiously we had
watched the newspapers, week after week, to see if the Rebels would
_dare_ to execute their threats! Even the children caught the
excitement, and asked eagerly, as papa came home at night with the news,
“Is Fort Sumter attackted?” At last the defiant act was done, and what a
raging, roaring fire it kindled all over the land! How our hearts
throbbed in sympathy with Major Anderson and his seventy-nine heroes!
Major, Colonel, General Anderson,—well might he step swiftly up the
degrees of rank, for he was already atop of our hearts.

It was so easy for a man to blaze forth into sudden glory of renown at
that time! One true, loyal, courageous deed, and fame was secure. But
when the hurricane howl of the storm was at its height, when the land
was all on fire with such deeds, glory was not so cheap. Only the taller
flame could make itself distinguished, only the more potent voice be
heard amid the roar. So many a hero of many a greater exploit than
Anderson’s passed on unnoted.

And looking back coolly at the event from the walls of Sumter to-day, it
is not easy to understand how a patriot and a soldier, who knew his
duty, could have sat quiet in his fortress while Rebel batteries were
rising all around him. He was acting on the defensive, you say,—waiting
for the Rebels to commence hostilities. But hostilities had already
begun. The first spadeful of earth thrown up, to protect the first Rebel
gun, within range of Sumter, was an act of war upon Sumter. To wait
until surrounded by a ring of fire, which could not be resisted, before
opening the guns of the fort, appears, by the light both of military
duty and of common sense, absurd. But fortunately something else rules,
in a great revolution, besides military duty and common sense; and in
the plan of that Providence which shapes our ways, I suppose Major
Anderson did the best and only thing that was to be done. Besides,
forbearance, to the utmost verge of that virtue, and sometimes a little
beyond, was the policy of the government he served.

Reëmbarking on the steamer, and running over to Morris Island, I noticed
that Sumter, from that side, looked like nothing but a solitary sandy
bluff, heaved up in the middle of the harbor.



                            CHAPTER LXXIII.
                        A PRISON AND A PRISONER.


“Is this your first visit to Charleston?” I asked General S——, one day
as we dined together.

“My first visit,” he replied, “occurred in the summer of 1864,
considerably against my inclination. I was lodged at the expense of the
Confederate Government in the Work-House,—not half as comfortable a
place as this hotel!”

Both visits were made in the service of the United States Government;
but under what different circumstances! Then, a helpless, insulted
prisoner; now, he came in a capacity which brought to him as humble
petitioners some of the most rebellious citizens of those days. When
sick and in prison, they did not minister unto him; but since he sat in
an office of public power, nothing could exceed their polite,
hat-in-hand attentions.

Dinner over, he proposed that we should go around and look at his old
quarters in the Work-House. I gladly assented, and, on the way, drew
from him the story of his capture.

He was taken prisoner at the battle of July 22d, before Atlanta, and
placed on a train, with a number of other prisoners, to be conveyed to
Macon.

“When we were about ten or a dozen miles from Macon, I went and sat on
the platform with the guard. To prevent his suspecting my design, I told
him I was disabled by rheumatism, and complained of pain and weakness in
my back. He presently leaned against the car, and closed his eyes; like
everybody else after the battles of July, he was pretty well used up,
and in a few minutes he appeared to be asleep. His gun was cocked, ready
to shoot any prisoner that attempted to escape; and I quietly took the
cap off, without disturbing him. Then I didn’t dare wait a minute for a
better opportunity, but jumped when I could. We were five or six miles
from Macon, and the train was running about ten miles an hour. As I took
my leap, I felt my hat flying from my head, and instinctively put up my
hand and caught it, knowing if it was lost it might give a clew that
would lead to my recapture. All this passed through my mind while I went
rolling down an embankment eighteen or twenty feet high. I thought I
never should strike the bottom. When I did, the concussion was so great
that I lay under a fence, nearly senseless, for I don’t know how long: I
couldn’t have moved, even if I had known a minute’s delay would cause me
to be retaken.

“After a while I recovered, got up, crossed the fields, and found a road
on the edge of some woods. It was then just at dusk. I walked all night,
and in the morning found myself where I started. I had been walking
around a hill, on a road made by woodmen.

“I was very tired, but I made up my mind I must leave that place. I got
the points of the compass by the light in the east, and started to walk
in a northerly direction, hoping to strike our lines somewhere near
Atlanta. I soon passed a field of squealing hogs. I ought to have taken
warning by their noise; but I kept on, and presently met a man with a
bag of corn on his shoulder, going to feed them. I was walking fast,
with my coat on my arm; and we passed each other without saying a word.
My whole appearance was calculated to excite suspicion. Besides, one
might know by my uniform that I was a Yankee officer. I suppose, by the
law of self-defence, I ought to have turned about and put him out of the
way of doing me any mischief. It would have been well for me if I had. I
was soon out of sight; but I could hear the hogs squealing still, so I
knew he had not stopped to give them the corn; I knew he had dropped his
bag and run, as well as if I had watched him.

“I crossed the fields to the road, where I saw somebody coming very fast
on a horse. I hid in some weeds, and presently saw this same man riding
by at a sharp gallop towards a neighboring plantation.

“Then I knew I had a hard time before me. I first sat down and rubbed
pine leaves and tobacco on the soles of my boots; then took once more to
the fields. It wasn’t an hour before I heard the bloodhounds on my
track. I can never tell what I suffered during the next three days. I
did not sleep at all; I travelled almost incessantly. Sometimes when I
stopped to rest the dogs would come in sight; and often I could hear
them when I did not see them. I baffled them continually by changing my
course, walking in streams, and rubbing tobacco and pine leaves on my
boot-soles.”

“What did you live on all this time?”

“I will tell you what I ate: three crackers, which I had with me when I
jumped from the cars, one water-melon, and some raw green corn I picked
in a field. The third day I got rid of the dogs entirely. I saw a lonely
looking house on a hill, and went to it. It was occupied by a widow. I
asked for something to eat, and she cooked me a dinner while I kept
watch for the dogs. Perhaps she was afraid to do differently; but she
appeared very kind. When the dinner was ready I was so sick from
excitement and exhaustion that I couldn’t eat. I managed to force down
an egg and a spoonful of peas, and that was all. The Rebels had taken my
money, and I could pay her only with thanks.

“I travelled nearly all that night again. Towards morning I lay by in a
canebrake, and slept a little. It was raining hard. The next day I
started on again. As I was crossing a road, suddenly a man came round a
steep bank, on horseback. I didn’t see him until he was right upon me. I
felt desperate. He asked me some question, and I gave him a surly
answer. I thought I wouldn’t leave the road until he had gone on; but he
checked his horse, and rode along by my side.

“’You look like you are in trouble,’ he said.

“’I am,’ I said.

“’Can I be of any service to you?’

“’Yes. I want to go to Crawford’s Station. How far is it?’

“He said it was three miles, and told me the way to go. Crawford’s is
only fifteen miles from Macon; so you see I had not got far whilst
running from the dogs.

“Suddenly a terrible impulse took me. I turned upon him; I felt fierce;
I could have murdered him, if necessary.

“’I told you a lie,’ said I. ‘I am not going to Crawford’s. I am a
Federal soldier trying to escape.’

“He turned pale. ‘I am the provost-marshal of this district,’ he said,
after we had looke