Then followed a description of the process, narrated with horrible circumstantiality. A fluid holding in solution pounded glass and certain chemicals, was, by the doctor's "system," injected into the bloodvessels, and the subject at the same time bled at the neck. The body thus became hard and stony, and would retain its form for years. He had, by his account, experimented for a lifetime, and said that little "Willie," the son of President Lincoln, had been so preserved that his fond parents must have enjoyed his decease.
It seemed to me that the late lamented practitioners, Messrs. Burke and Hare, were likely to fade into insignificance, beside this new light of science.
I went upon deck for some moments, and marked the beating of the waves; the glitter of sea-lights pulsing on the ripples; the sweep of belated gulls through the creaking rigging; the dark hull of a passing vessel with a grinning topmast lantern; the vigilant pilot, whose eyes glared like a fiend's upon the waste of blackness; the foam that the panting screw threw against the cabin windows; the flap of fishes caught in the threads of moonlight; the depths over which one bent, peering half wistfully, half abstractedly, almost crazily, till he longed to drop into their coolness, and let the volumes of billow roll musically above him.
A woman approached me, as I stood against the great anchor, thus absorbed. She had a pale, thin face, and was scantily clothed, and spoke with a distrustful, timorous voice:—
"You don't know the name of the surgeon-general, do you sir!"
"At Washington, ma'am?"
"No, sir; at Old Point."
I offered to inquire of the Captain: but she stopped me, agitatedly. "It's of no consequence," she said,—"that is, it is of great consequence to me; but perhaps it would be best to wait." I answered, as obligingly as I could, that any service on my part would be cheerfully rendered.
"The fact is, sir," she said, after a pause, "I am going to Williamsburg, to—find—the—the body—of my—boy."
Here her speech was broken, and she put a thin, white hand tremulously to her eyes. I thought that any person in the Federal service would willingly assist her, and said so.
"He was not a Federal soldier, sir. He was a Confederate!"
This considerably altered the chances of success, and I was obliged to undeceive her somewhat. "I am sure it was not my fault," she continued, "that he joined the Rebellion. You don't think they'll refuse to let me take his bones to Baltimore, do you, sir? He was my oldest boy, and his brother, my second son, was killed at Ball's Bluff: He was in the Federal service. I hardly think they will refuse me the poor favor of laying them in the same grave."
I spoke of the difficulty of recognition, of the remoteness of the field, and of the expense attending the recovery of any remains, particularly those of the enemy, that, left hastily behind in retreat, were commonly buried in trenches without headboard or record. She said, sadly, that she had very little money, and that she could barely afford the journey to the Fortress and return. But she esteemed her means well invested if her object could be attained.
"They were both brave boys, sir; but I could never get them to agree politically. William was a Northerner by education, and took up with the New England views, and James was in business at Richmond when the war commenced. So he joined the Southern army. It's a sad thing to know that one's children died enemies, isn't it? And what troubles me more than all, sir, is that James was at Ball's Bluff where his brother fell. It makes me shudder to think, sometimes, that his might have been the ball that killed him."
The tremor of the poor creature here was painful to behold. I spoke soothingly and encouragingly, but with a presentiment that she must be disappointed. While I was speaking the supper-bell rang, and I proposed to get her a seat at the table.
"No, thank you," she replied, "I shall take no meals on the vessel; I must travel economically, and have prepared some lunch that will serve me. Good by, sir!"
Poor mothers looking for dead sons! God help them! I have met them often since; but the figure of that pale, frail creature flitting about the open deck,—alone, hungry, very poor,—troubles me still, as I write. I found, afterward, that she had denied herself a state-room, and intended to sleep in a saloon chair. I persuaded her to accept my berth, but a German, who occupied the same apartment, was unwilling to relinquish his bed, and I had the power only to give her my pillow.
Supper was spread in the forecabin, and at the signal to assemble the men rushed to the tables like as many beasts of prey. A captain opposite me bolted a whole mackerel in a twinkling, and spread the half-pound of butter that was to serve the entire vicinity upon a single slice of bread. A sutler beside me reached his fork across my neck, and plucked a young chicken bodily, which he ate, to the great disgust of some others who were eyeing it. The waiter advanced with some steak, but before he reached the table, a couple of Zouaves dragged it from the tray, and laughed brutally at their success. The motion of the vessel caused a general unsteadiness, and it was absolutely dangerous to move one's coffee to his lips. The inveterate hate with which corporations are regarded in America was here evidenced by a general desire to empty the ship's larder.
"Eat all you can," said a soldier, ferociously,—"fare's amazin' high. Must make it out in grub."
"I always gorges," said another, "on a railroad or a steamboat. Cause why? You must eat out your passage, you know!"
Among the passengers were a young officer and his bride. They had been married only a few days, and she had obtained permission to accompany him to Old Point. Very pretty, she seemed, in her travelling hat and flowing robes; and he wore a handsome new uniform with prodigious shoulder-bars. There was a piano in the saloon, where another young lady of the party performed during the evening, and the bride and groom accompanied her with a song. It was the popular Federal parody of "Gay and Happy:"
"Then let the South fling aloft what it will,— We are for the Union still! For the Union! For the Union! We are for the Union still!"
The bride and groom sang alternate stanzas, and the concourse of soldiers, civilians, and females swelled the chorus. The reserve being thus broken, the young officer sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," and the refrain must have called up the mermaids. Dancing ensued, and a soldier volunteered a hornpipe. A young man with an astonishing compass of lungs repeated something from Shakespeare, and the night passed by gleefully and reputably. One could hardly realize, in the cheerful eyes and active figures of the dance, the sad uncertainties of the time. Youth trips lightest, somehow, on the brink of the grave.
The hilarities of the evening so influenced the German quartered with me, that he sang snatches of foreign ballads during most of the night, and obliged me, at last, to call the steward and insist upon his good behavior.
In the gray of the morning I ventured on deck, and, following the silvery line of beach, made out the shipping at anchor in Hampton Roads. The Minnesota flag-ship lay across the horizon, and after a time I remarked the low walls and black derricks of the Rip Raps. The white tents at Hampton were then revealed, and finally I distinguished Fortress Monroe, the key of the Chesapeake, bristling with guns, and floating the Federal flag. As we rounded to off the quay, I studied with intense interest the scene of so many historic events. Sewall's Point lay to the south, a stretch of woody beach, around whose western tip the dreaded Merrimac had so often moved slowly to the encounter. The spars of the Congress and the Cumberland still floated along the strand, but, like them, the invulnerable monster had become the prey of the waves. The guns of the Rip Raps and the terrible broadsides of the Federal gunboats, had swept the Confederates from Sewall's Point,—their flag and battery were gone,—and farther seaward, at Willoughby Spit, some figures upon the beach marked the route of the victorious Federals to the city of Norfolk.
The mouth of the James and the York were visible from the deck, and long lines of shipping stretched from each to the Fortress. The quay itself was like the pool in the Thames, a mass of spars, smoke-stacks, ensigns and swelling hills. The low deck and quaint cupola of the famous Monitor appeared close into shore, and near at hand rose the thick body of the Galena. Long boats and flat boats went hither and thither across the blue waves: the grim ports of the men of war were open and the guns frowned darkly from their coverts; the seamen were gathering for muster on the flagship, and drums beat from the barracks on shore; the Lincoln gun, a fearful piece of ordnance, rose like the Sphynx from the Fortress sands, and the sodded parapet, the winding stone walls, the tops of the brick quarters within the Fort, were some of the features of a strangely animated scene, that has yet to be perpetuated upon canvas, and made historic.
At eight o'clock the passengers were allowed to land, and a provost guard marched them to the Hygeia House,—of old a watering-place hotel,—where, by groups, they were ushered into a small room, and the oath of allegiance administered to them. The young officer who officiated, repeated the words of the oath, with a broad grin upon his face, and the passengers were required to assent by word and by gesture. Among those who took the oath in this way, was a very old sailor, who had been in the Federal service for the better part of his life, and whose five sons were now in the army. He called "Amen" very loudly and fervently, and there was some perceptible disposition on the part of other ardent patriots, to celebrate the occasion with three cheers. The quartermaster, stationed at the Fortress gave me a pass to go by steamer up the York to White House, and as there were three hours to elapse before departure, I strolled about the place with our agent. In times of peace, Old Point was simply a stone fortification, and one of the strongest of its kind in the world. Many years and many millions of dollars were required to build it, but it was, in general, feebly garrisoned, and was, altogether, a stupid, tedious locality, except in the bathing months, when the beauty and fashion of Virginia resorted to its hotel. A few cottages had grown up around it, tenanted only in "the season;" and a little way off, on the mainland, stood the pretty village of Hampton.
By a strange oversight, the South failed to seize Fortress Monroe at the beginning of the Rebellion; the Federals soon made it the basis for their armies and a leading naval station. The battle of Big Bethel was one of the first occurrences in the vicinity. Then the dwellings of Hampton were burned and its people exiled. In rapid succession followed the naval battles in the Roads, the siege and surrender of Yorktown, the flight of the Confederates up the Peninsula to Richmond, and finally the battles of Williamsburg, and West Point, and the capture of Norfolk. These things had already transpired; it was now the month of May; and the victorious army, following up its vantages, had pursued the fugitives by land and water to "White House," at the head of navigation on the Pamunkey river. Thither it was my lot to go, and witness the turning-point of their fortunes, and their subsequent calamity and repulse.
I found Old Point a weary place of resort, even in the busy era of civil war. The bar at the Hygeia House was beset with thirsty and idle people, who swore instinctively, and drank raw spirits passionately. The quantity of shell, ball, ordnance, camp equipage, and war munitions of every description piled around the fort, was marvellously great. It seemed to me that Xerxes, the first Napoleon, or the greediest of conquerors, ancient or modern, would have beheld with amazement the gigantic preparations at command of the Federal Government. Energy and enterprise displayed their implements of death on every hand. One was startled at the prodigal outlay of means, and the reckless summoning of men. I looked at the starred and striped ensign that flaunted above the Fort, and thought of Madame Roland's appeal to the statue by the guillotine.
The settlers were numbered by regiments here. Their places of business were mainly structures or "shanties" of rough plank, and most of them were the owners of sloops, or schooners, for the transportation of freight from New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, to their depots at Old Point. Some possessed a dozen wagons, that plied regularly between these stores and camps. The traffic was not confined to men; for women and children kept pace with the army, trading in every possible article of necessity or luxury. For these—disciples of the dime and the dollar—war had no terrors. They took their muck-rakes, like the man in Bunyan, and gathered the almighty coppers, from the pestilential camp and the reeking battle-field.
ON TO RICHMOND.
Yorktown lies twenty-one miles northwestward from Old Point, and thither I turned my face at noon, resolving to delay my journey to "White House," till next day morning. Crossing an estuary of the bay upon a narrow causeway, I passed Hampton,—half burned, half desolate,—and at three o'clock came to "Big Bethel," the scene of the battle of June 11, 1861. A small earthwork marks the site of Magruder's field-pieces, and hard by the slain were buried. The spot was noteworthy to me, since Lieutenant Greble, a fellow alumnus, had perished here, and likewise, Theodore Winthrop, the gifted author of "Cecil Dreeme" and "John Brent." The latter did not live to know his exaltation. That morning never came whereon he "woke, and found himself famous."
The road ran parallel with the deserted defences of the Confederates for some distance. The country was flat and full of swamps, but marked at intervals by relics of camps. The farm-houses were untenanted, the fences laid flat or destroyed, the fields strewn with discarded clothing, arms, and utensils. By and by, we entered the outer line of Federal parallels, and wound among lunettes, cremailleres, redoubts, and rifle-pits. Marks of shell and ball were frequent, in furrows and holes, where the clay had been upheaved. Every foot of ground, for fifteen miles henceforward, had been touched by the shovel and the pick. My companion suggested that as much digging, concentred upon one point, would have taken the Federals to China. The sappers and miners had made their stealthy trenches, rod by rod, each morning appearing closer to their adversaries, and finally, completed their work, at less than a hundred yards from the Confederate defences. Three minutes would have sufficed from the final position, to hurl columns upon the opposing outworks, and sweep them with the bayonet. Ten days only had elapsed since the evacuation (May 4), and the siege guns still remained in some of the batteries. McClellan worshipped great ordnance, and some of his columbiads, that were mounted in the water battery, yawned cavernously through their embrasures, and might have furnished sleeping accommodations to the gunners. A few mortars stood in position by the river side, and there were Parrott, Griffin, and Dahlgren pieces in the shore batteries.
However numerous and powerful were the Federal fortifications, they bore no comparison, in either respect, to those relinquished by the revolutionists. Miniature mountain ranges they seemed, deeply ditched, and revetted with sods, fascines, hurdles, gabions or sand bags. Along the York riverside there were water batteries of surpassing beauty, that seemed, at a little distance, successions of gentle terraces. Their pieces were likewise of enormous calibre, and their number almost incredible. The advanced line of fortifications, sketched from the mouth of Warwick creek, on the South, to a point fifteen miles distant on the York: one hundred and forty guns were planted along this chain of defences; but there were two other concentric lines, mounting, each, one hundred and twenty, and two hundred and forty guns. The remote series consisted of six forts of massive size and height, fronted by swamps and flooded meadows, with frequent creeks and ravines interposing; sharp fraise and abattis planted against scarp and slope, pointed cruelly eastward. There were two water batteries, of six and four thirty-two columbiads respectively, and the town itself, which stands upon a red clay bluff, was encircled by a series of immense rifled and smooth-bore pieces, including a powerful pivot-gun, that one of McClellan's shells struck during the first day's bombardment, and split it into fragments. At Gloucester Point, across the York river, the great guns of the Merrimac were planted, it is said, and a fleet of fire-rafts and torpedo-ships were moored in the stream. By all accounts, there could have been no less than five hundred guns behind the Confederate entrenchments, the greater portion, of course, field-pieces, and, as the defending army was composed of one hundred thousand men, we must add that number of small arms to the list of ordnance. If we compute the Federals at so high a figure,—and they could scarcely have had less than a hundred thousand men afield,—we must increase the enormous amount of their field, siege, and small ordnance, by the naval guns of the fleet, that stood anchored in the bay. It is probable that a thousand cannon and two hundred thousand muskets were assembled in and around Yorktown during this memorable siege. The mind shudders to see the terrible deductions of these statistics. The monster, who wished that the world had but one neck, that he might sever it, would have gloated at such realization! How many days or hours would have here sufficed to annihilate all the races of men? Happily, the world was spared the spectacle of these deadly mouths at once aflame. Beautiful but awful must have been the scene, and the earth must have staggered with the shock. One might almost have imagined that man, in his ambition, had shut his God in heaven, and besieged him there.
While the fortifications defending it amazed me, the village of Yorktown disappointed me. I marvelled that so paltry a settlement should have been twice made historic. Here, in the year 1783, Lord Cornwallis surrendered his starving command to the American colonists and their French allies. But the entrenchments of that earlier day had been almost obliterated by these recent labors. The field, where the Earl delivered up his sword, was trodden bare, and dotted with ditches and ramparts; while a small monument, that marked the event, had been hacked to fragments by the Southerners, and carried away piecemeal. Yet, strange to say, relics of the first bombardment had just been discovered, and, among them, a gold-hilted sword.
I visited, in the evening, the late quarters of General Hill, a small white house with green shutters, and also the famous "Nelson House," a roomy mansion where, of old, Cornwallis slept, and where, a few days past, Jefferson Davis and General Lee had held with Magruder, and his associates, a council of war. It had been also used for hospital purposes, but some negroes were now the only occupants.
The Confederates left behind them seventy spiked and shattered cannon, some powder, and a few splintered wagons; but in all material respects, their evacuation was thorough and creditable. Some deserters took the first tidings of the retreat to the astonished Federals, and they raised the national flag within the fortifications, in the gray of the morning of the 4th of May. Many negroes also escaped the vigilance of their taskmasters, and remained to welcome the victors. The fine works of Yorktown are monuments to negro labor, for they were the hewers and the diggers. Every slave-owner in Eastern Virginia was obliged to send one half of his male servants between the ages of sixteen and fifty to the Confederate camps, and they were organized into gangs and set to work. In some cases they were put to military service and made excellent sharpshooters. The last gun discharged from the town was said to have been fired by a negro.
I slept on board a barge at the wharf that evening, and my dreams ran upon a thousand themes. To every American this was hallowed ground. It had been celebrated by the pencil of Trumbull, the pen of Franklin, and the eloquence of Jefferson. Scarce eighty years had elapsed since those great minds established a fraternal government; but the site of their crowning glory was now the scene of their children's shame. Discord had stolen upon their councils and blood had profaned their shrine.
I visited next day a bomb-proof postern, or subterranean passage, connecting the citadel with the outworks, and loitered about the fortifications till noon, when I took passage on the mail steamer, which left the Fortress at eleven o'clock, and reached White House at dusk the same evening. The whole river as I ascended was filled with merchant and naval craft. They made a continuous line from Old Point to the mouth of York River, and the masts and spars environing Yorktown and Gloucester, reminded one of a scene on the Mersey or the Clyde. At West Point, there was an array of shipping scarcely less formidable, and the windings of the interminably crooked Pamunkey were marked for leagues by sails, smoke-stacks, and masts. The landings and wharves were besieged by flat-boats and sloops, and Zouaves were hoisting forage and commissary stores up the red bluffs at every turn of our vessel.
The Pamunkey was a beautiful stream, densely wooded, and occasional vistas opened up along its borders of wheat-fields and meadows, with Virginia farm-houses and negro quarters on the hilltops. Some of the houses on the river banks appeared to be tenanted by white people, but the majority had a haunted, desolate appearance, the only signs of life being strolling soldiers, who thrust their legs through the second story windows, or contemplated the river from the chimney-tops, and groups of negroes who sunned themselves on the piazza, or rushed to the margin to gaze and grin at the passing steamers. There were occasional residences not unworthy of old manorial and baronial times, and these were attended at a little distance by negro quarters of logs, arranged in rows, and provided with mud chimneys built against their gables. Few of the Northern navigable rivers were so picturesque and varied.
We passed two Confederate gunboats, that had been half completed, and burned on the stocks. Their charred elbows and ribs, stared out, like the remains of some extinct monsters; a little delay might have found each of them armed and manned, and carrying havoc upon the rivers and the seas. West Point was simply a tongue, or spit of land, dividing the Mattapony from the Pamunkey river at their junction; a few houses were built upon the shallow, and some wharves, half demolished, marked the terminus of the York and Richmond railroad. A paltry water-battery was the sole defence. Below Cumberland (a collection of huts and a wharf), a number of schooners had been sunk across the river, and, with the aid of an island in the middle, these constituted a rather rigid blockade. The steamboat passed through, steering carefully, but some sailing vessels that followed required to be towed between the narrow apertures. The tops only of the sunken masts could be discerned above the surface, and much time and labor must have been required to place the boats in line and sink them. Vessels were counted by scores above and below this blockade, and at Cumberland the masts were like a forest; clusters of pontoons were here anchored in the river, and a short distance below we found three of the light-draught Federal gunboats moored in the stream. It was growing dark as we rounded to at "White House;" the camp fires of the grand army lit up the sky, and edged the tree-boughs on the margin with ribands of silver. Some drums beat in the distance; sentries paced the strand; the hum of men, and the lowing of commissary cattle, were borne towards us confusedly; soldiers were bathing in the river; team-horses were drinking at the brink; a throng of motley people were crowding about the landing to receive the papers and mails. I had at last arrived at the seat of war, and my ambition to chronicle battles and bloodshed was about to be gratified.
At first, I was troubled to make my way; the tents had just been pitched; none knew the location of divisions other than their own, and it was now so dark that I did not care to venture far. After a vain attempt to find some flat-boats where there were lodgings and meals to be had, I struck out for general head-quarters, and, undergoing repeated snubbings from pert members of staff, fell in at length, with a very tall, spare, and angular young officer, who spoke broken English, and who heard my inquiries, courteously; he stepped into General Marcy's tent, but the Chief of Staff did not know the direction of Smith's division; he then repaired to Gen. Van Vleet, the chief Quartermaster, but with ill success. A party of officers were smoking under a "fly," and some of these called to him, thus—
"Captain! Duke! De Chartres! What do you wish?"
It was, then, the Orleans Prince who had befriended me, and I had the good fortune to hear that the division, of which I was in search, lay a half mile up the river. I never spoke to the Bourbon afterward, but saw him often; and that he was as chivalrous as he was kind, all testimony proved.
A private escorted me to a Captain Mott's tent, and this officer introduced me to General Hancock. I was at once invited to mess with the General's staff, and in the course of an hour felt perfectly at home. Hancock was one of the handsomest officers in the army; he had served in the Mexican war, and was subsequently a Captain in the Quartermaster's department. But the Rebellion placed stars in many shoulder-bars, and few were more worthily designated than this young Pennsylvanian. His first laurels were gained at Williamsburg; but the story of a celebrated charge that won him the day's applause, and McClellan's encomium of the "Superb Hancock," was altogether fictitious. The musket, not the bayonet, gave him the victory. I may doubt, in this place, that any extensive bayonet charge has been known during the war. Some have gone so far as to deny that the bayonet has ever been used at all.
Hancock's regiments were the 5th Wisconsin, 49th Pennsylvanian, 43d New York, and 6th Maine. They represented widely different characteristics, and I esteemed myself fortunate to obtain a position where I could so eligibly study men, habits, and warfare. During the evening I fell in with the Colonel of each of these regiments, and from the conversation that ensued, I gleaned a fair idea of them all.
The Wisconsin regiment was from a new and ambitious State of the Northwest. The men were rough-mannered, great-hearted farmers, wood-choppers, and tradesmen. They had all the impulsiveness of the Yankee, with less selfishness, and quite as much bravery. The Colonel was named Cobb, and he had held some leading offices in Wisconsin. A part of his life had been adventurously spent, and he had participated in the Mexican war. He was an ardent Republican in politics, and had been Speaker of a branch of the State Legislature. He was an attorney in a small county town when the war commenced, and his name had been broached for the Governorship. In person he was small, lithe, and capable of enduring great fatigue. His hair was a little gray, and he had no beard. He did not respect appearances, and his sword, as I saw, was antique and quite different in shape from the regulation weapon. He had penetrating gray eyes, and his manners were generally reserved. One had not to regard him twice to see that he was both cautious and resolute. He was too ambitious to be frank, and too passionate not to be brave. In the formula of learning he was not always correct; but few were of quicker perception or more practical and philosophic. He might not, in an emergency, be nicely scrupulous as to means, but he never wavered in respect to objects. His will was the written law to his regiment, and I believed his executive abilities superior to those of any officer in the brigade, not excepting the General's.
The New York regiment was commanded by a young officer named Vinton. He was not more than thirty-five years of age, and was a graduate of the United States Military Academy. Passionately devoted to engineering, he withdrew from the army, and passed five years in Paris, at the study of his art. Returning homeward by way of the West Indies, he visited Honduras, and projected a filibustering expedition to its shores from the States. While perfecting the design, the Rebellion commenced, and his old patron, General Scott, secured him the colonelcy of a volunteer regiment. He still cherished his scheme of "Colonization," and half of his men were promised to accompany him. Personally, Colonel Vinton was straight, dark, and handsome. He was courteous, affable, and brave,—but wedded to his peculiar views, and, as I thought, a thorough "Young American."
The Maine regiment was fathered by Colonel Burnham, a staunch old yeoman and soldier, who has since been made a General. His probity and good-nature were adjuncts of his valor, and his men were of the better class of New Englanders. The fourth regiment fell into the hands of a lawyer from Lewistown, Pennsylvania. He had been also in the Mexican war, and was remarkable mainly for strictness with regard to the sanitary regulations of his camps. He had wells dug at every stoppage, and his tents were generally fenced and canopied with cedar arbors. General Hancock's staff was composed of a number of young men, most of whom had been called from civil life. His brigade constituted one of three commanded by General Smith. Four batteries were annexed to the division so formed; the entire number of muskets was perhaps eight thousand. The Chief of Artillery was a Captain Ayres, whose battery saved the three months' army at Bull Run. It so happened that he came into the General's during the evening, and recited the particulars of a gunboat excursion, thirty miles up the Pamunkey, wherein he had landed his men, and burned a quantity of grain, some warehouses, and shipping. I pencilled the facts at once, made up my letter, and mailed it early in the morning.
RUSTICS IN REBELLION.
At White House, I met some of the mixed Indians and negroes from Indiantown Island, which lies among the osiers in the stream. One of these ferried me over, and the people received me obsequiously, touching their straw hats, and saying, "Sar, at your service!" They were all anxious to hear something of the war, and asked, solicitously, if they were to be protected. Some of them had been to Richmond the previous day, and gave me some unimportant items happening in the city. I found that they had Richmond papers of that date, and purchased them for a few cents. They knew little or nothing of their own history, and had preserved no traditions of their tribe. There was, however, I understood, a very old woman extant, named "Mag," of great repute at medicines, pow-wows, and divination. I expressed a desire to speak with her, and was conducted to a log-house, more ricketty and ruined than any of the others. About fifty half-breeds followed me in respectful curiosity, and they formed a semicircle around the cabin. The old woman sat in the threshold, barefooted, and smoking a stump of clay pipe.
"Yaw's one o' dem Nawden soldiers, Aunt Mag!" said my conductor. "He wants to talk wid ye."
"Sot down, honey," said the old woman, producing a wooden stool; "is you a Yankee, honey? Does you want you fauchun told by de ole 'oman?"
I perceived that the daughter of the Delawares smelt strongly of fire-water, and the fumes of her calumet were most unwholesome. She was greatly disappointed that I did not require her prophetic services, and said, appealingly—
"Why, sar, all de gen'elmen an' ladies from Richmond has dere fauchuns told. I tells 'em true. All my fauchuns comes out true. Ain't dat so, chillen?"
A low murmur of assent ran round the group, and I was obviously losing caste in the settlement.
"Here is a dime," said I, "that I will give you, to tell me the result of the war. Shall the North be victorious in the next battle? Will Richmond surrender within a week? Shall I take my cigar at the Spotswood on Sunday fortnight?"
"I'se been a lookin' into dat," she said, cunningly; "I'se had dreams on dat ar'. Le'um see how de armies stand!"
She brought from the house a cup of painted earthenware containing sediments of coffee. I saw her crafty white eyes look up to mine as she muttered some jargon, and pretended to read the arrangement of the grains.
"Honey," she said, "gi' me de money, and let de ole 'oman dream on it once mo'! It ain't quite clar' yit, young massar. Tank you, honey! Tank you! Let de old 'oman dream! Let de ole 'oman dream!"
She disappeared into the house, chuckling and chattering, and the sons of the forest, loitering awhile, dispersed in various directions. As I followed my conductor to the riverside, and he parted the close bushes and boughs to give us exit, the glare of the camp-fires broke all at once upon us. The ship-lights quivered on the water; the figures of men moved to and fro before the fagots; the stars peeped timorously from the vault; the woods and steep banks were blackly shadowed in the river. Here was I, among the aborigines; and as my dusky acquaintance sent his canoe skimming across the ripples, I thought how inexplicable were the decrees of Time and the justice of God. Two races united in these people, and both of them we had wronged. From the one we had taken lands; from the other liberties. Two centuries had now elapsed. But the little remnant of the African and the American were to look from their Island Home upon the clash of our armies and the murder of our braves.
By the 19th of May the skirts of the grand army had been gathered up, and on the 20th the march to Richmond was resumed. The troops moved along two main roads, of which the right led to New Mechanicsville and Meadow Bridges, and the left to the railroad and Bottom Bridges. My division formed the right centre, and although the Chickahominy fords were but eighteen miles distant, we did not reach them for three days. On the first night we encamped at Tunstalls, a railroad-station on Black Creek; on the second at New Cold Harbor, a little country tavern, kept by a cripple; and on the night of the third day at Hogan's farm, on the north hills of the Chickahominy. The railroad was opened to Despatch Station at the same time, but the right and centre were still compelled to "team" their supplies from White House. In the new position, the army extended ten miles along the Chickahominy hills; and while the engineers were driving pile, tressel, pontoon, and corduroy bridges, the cavalry was scouring the country, on both flanks, far and wide.
The advance was full of incident, and I learned to keep as far in front as possible, that I might communicate with scouts, contrabands, and citizens. Many odd personages were revealed to me at the farm-houses on the way, and I studied, with curious interest, the native Virginian character. They appeared to be compounds of the cavalier and the boor. There was no old gentleman who owned a thousand barren acres, spotted with scrub timber; who lived in a weather-beaten barn, with a multiplicity of porch and a quantity of chimney; whose means bore no proportion to his pride, and neither to his indolence,—that did not talk of his ancestry, proffer his hospitality, and defy me to an argument. I was a civilian,—they had no hostility to me,—but the blue-coats of the soldiers seared their eyeballs. In some cases their daughters remained upon the property; but the sons and the negroes always fled,—though in contrary directions. The old men used to peep through the windows at the passing columns; and as their gates were wrenched from the hinges, their rails used to pry wagons out of the mud, their pump-handles shaken till the buckets splintered in the shaft, and their barns invaded by greasy agrarians, they walked to and fro, half-weakly, half-wrathfully, but with a pluck, fortitude, and devotion that wrung my respect. Some aged negro women commonly remained, but these were rather incumbrances than aids, and they used the family meal to cook bread for the troops. An old, toothless, grinning African stood at every lane and gate, selling buttermilk and corn-cakes. Poor mortal, sinful old women! They had worked for nothing through their three-score and ten, but avarice glared from their shrivelled pupils, and their last but greatest delight lay in the coppers and the dimes. One would have thought that they had outlived the greed of gold; but wages deferred make the dying miserly.
The lords of the manors were troubled to know the number of our troops. For several days the columns passed with their interminable teams, batteries, and adjuncts, and the old gentlemen were loth to compute us at less than several millions.
"Why, look yonder," said one, pointing to a brigade; "I declar' to gracious, there ain't no less than ten thousand in them!"
"Tousands an' tousands!" said a wondering negro at his elbow. "I wonda if dey'll take Richmond dis yer day?"
Many of them hung white flags at their gate-posts, implying neutrality; but nobody displayed the Federal colors. If there were any covert sympathizers with the purposes of the army, they remembered the vengeance of the neighbors and made no demonstrations. There was a prodigious number of stragglers from the Federal lines, as these were the bane of the country people. They sauntered along by twos and threes, rambling into all the fields and green-apple orchards, intruding their noses into old cabins, prying into smoke-houses, and cellars, looking at the stock in the stables, and peeping on tiptoe into the windows of dwellings. These stragglers were true exponents of Yankee character,—always wanting to know,—averse to discipline, eccentric in their orbits, entertaining profound contempt for everything that was not up to the measure of "to hum."
"Look here, Bill, I say!" said one, with a great grin on his face; "did you ever, neow! I swan! they call that a plough down in these parts."
"Devilishest people I ever see!" said Bill, "stick their meetin'-houses square in the woods! Build their chimneys first and move the houses up to 'em! All the houses breakin' out in perspiration of porch! All their machinery with Noah in the ark! Pump the soil dry! Go to sleep a milkin' a keow! Depend entirely on Providence and the nigger!"
There was a mill on the New Bridge road, ten miles from White House, with a tidy farm-house, stacks, and cabins adjoining. The road crossed the mill-race by a log bridge, and a spreading pond or dam lay to the left,—the water black as ink, the shore sandy, and the stream disappearing in a grove of straight pines. A youngish woman, with several small children, occupied the dwelling, and there remained, besides, her fat sister-in-law and four or five faithful negroes. I begged the favor of a meal and bed in the place one night, and shall not forget the hospitable table with its steaming biscuit; the chubby baby, perched upon his high stool; the talkative elderly woman, who took snuff at the fireplace; the contented black-girl, who played the Hebe; and above all, the trim, plump, pretty hostess, with her brown eyes and hair, her dignity and her fondness, sitting at the head of the board. When she poured the bright coffee into the capacious bowl, she revealed the neatest of hands and arms, and her dialect was softer and more musical than that of most Southerners. In short, I fell almost in love with her; though she might have been a younger playmate of my mother's, and though she was the wife of a Quartermaster in a Virginia regiment. For, somehow, a woman seems very handsome when one is afield; and the contact of rough soldiers, gives him a partiality for females. It must have required some courage to remain upon the farm; but she hoped thereby to save the property from spoliation. I played a game of whist with the sister-in-law, arguing all the while; and at nine o'clock the servant produced some hard cider, shellbarks, and apples. We drank a cheery toast: "an early peace and old fellowship!"—to which the wife added a sentiment of "always welcome," and the baby laughed at her knee. How brightly glowed the fire! I wanted to linger for a week, a month, a year,—as I do now, thinking it all over,—and when I strolled to the porch,—hearing the pigeons cooing at the barn; the water streaming down the dam; the melancholy monotony of the pine boughs;—there only lacked the humming mill-wheel, and the strong grip of the miller's hand, to fill the void corner of one's happy heart.
But this was a time of war, when dreams are rudely broken, and mine could not last. The next day some great wheels beat down the bridge, and the teams clogged the road for miles; the waiting teamsters saw the miller's sheep, and the geese, chickens, and pigs, rashly exposed themselves in the barnyard; these were killed and eaten, the mill stripped of flour and meal, and the garden despoiled of its vegetables. A quartermaster's horse foundered, and he demanded the miller's, giving therefor a receipt, but specifying upon the same the owner's relation to the Rebellion; and, to crown all, a group of stragglers, butchered the cows, and heaped the beef in their wagons to feed their regimental friends. When I presented myself, late in the afternoon, the yard and porches were filled with soldiers; the wife sat within, her head thrown upon the window, her bright hair unbound, and her eyes red with weeping. The baby had cried itself to sleep, the sister-in-law took snuff fiercely, at the fire; the black girl cowered in a corner.
"There is not bread in the house for my children," she said; "but I did not think they could make me shed a tear."
If there were Spartan women, as the story-books say, I wonder if their blood died with them! I hardly think so.
If I learned anything from my quiet study of this and subsequent campaigns, it was the heartlessness of war. War brutalizes! The most pitiful become pitiless afield, and those who are not callous, must do cruel duties. If the quartermaster had not seized the horses, he would have been accountable for his conduct; had he failed to state the miller's disloyalty in the receipt, he would have been punished. The men were thieves and brutes, to take the meal and meat; but they were perhaps hungry and weary, and sick of camp food; on the whole, I became a devotee of the George Fox faith, and hated warfare, though I knew nothing to substitute for it, in crises.
Besides, the optimist might have seen much to admire. Individual merits were developed around me; I saw shop-keepers and mechanics in the ranks, and they looked to be better men. Here were triumphs of engineering; there perfections of applied ingenuity. I saw how the weakest natures girt themselves for great resolves, and how fortitude outstripped itself. It is a noble thing to put by the fear of death. It was a grand spectacle, this civil soldiery of both sections, supporting their principles, ambitions, or whatever instigated them, with their bodies; and their bones, lie where they will, must be severed, when the plough-share some day heaves them to the ploughman.
One morning a friend asked me to go upon a scout.
"Where are your companies?" said I.
"There are four behind, and we shall be joined by six at Old Cold Harbor."
I saw, in the rear, filing through a belt of woods, the tall figures of the horsemen, approaching at a canter.
"Do you command?" said I again.
"No! the Major has charge of the scout, and his orders are secret."
I wheeled beside him, as the cavalry closed up, waved my hand to Plumley, and the girls, and went forward to the rendezvous, about six miles distant. The remaining companies of the regiment were here drawn up, watering their nags. The Major was a thick, sunburnt man, with grizzled beard, and as he saw us rounding a corner of hilly road, his voice rang out—
"Attention! Prepare to mount!"
Every rider sprang to his nag; every nag walked instinctively to his place; every horseman made fast his girths, strapped his blankets tightly, and lay his hands upon bridle-rein and pommel.
The riders sprang to their seats; the bugles blew a lively strain; the horses pricked up their ears; and the long array moved briskly forward, with the Captain, the Major, and myself at the head. We were joined in a moment by two pieces of flying artillery, and five fresh companies of cavalry. In a moment more we were underway again, galloping due northward, and, as I surmised, toward Hanover Court House. If any branch of the military service is feverish, adventurous, and exciting, it is that of the cavalry. One's heart beats as fast as the hoof-falls; there is no music like the winding of the bugle, and no monotone so full of meaning as the clink of sabres rising and falling with the dashing pace. Horse and rider become one,—a new race of Centaurs,—and the charge, the stroke, the crack of carbines, are so quick, vehement, and dramatic, that we seem to be watching the joust of tournaments or following fierce Saladins and Crusaders again. We had ridden two hours at a fair canter, when we came to a small stream that crossed the road obliquely, and gurgled away through a sandy valley into the deepnesses of the woods. A cart-track, half obliterated, here diverged, running parallel with the creek, and the Major held up his sword as a signal to halt; at the same moment the bugle blew a quick, shrill note.
"There are hoof-marks here!" grunted the Major,—"five of 'em. The Dutchman has gone into the thicket. Hulloo!" he added, precipitately—"there go the carbines!"
I heard, clearly, two explosions in rapid succession; then a general discharge, as of several persons firing at once, and at last, five continuous reports, fainter, but more regular, and like the several emptyings of a revolver. I had scarcely time to note these things, and the effect produced upon the troop, when strange noises came from the woods to the right: the floundering of steeds, the cries and curses of men, and the ringing of steel striking steel. Directly the boughs crackled, the leaves quivered, and a horse and rider plunged into the road, not five rods from my feet. The man was bareheaded, and his face and clothing were torn with briars and branches. He was at first riding fairly upon our troops, when he beheld the uniform and standards, and with a sharp oath flung up his sword and hands.
"I surrender!" he said; "I give in! Don't shoot!"
The scores of carbines that were levelled upon him at once dropped to their rests at the saddles; but some unseen avenger had not heeded the shriek; a ball whistled from the woods, and the man fell from his cushion like a stone. In another instant, the German sergeant bounded through the gap, holding his sabre aloft in his right hand; but the left hung stiff and shattered at his side, and his face was deathly white. He glared an instant at the dead man by the roadside, leered grimly, and called aloud—
"Come on, Major! Dis vay! Dere are a squad of dem ahead!"
The bugle at once sounded a charge, the Major rose in the stirrups, and thundered "Forward!" I reined aside, intuitively, and the column dashed hotly past me. With a glance at the heap of mortality littering the way, I spurred my nag sharply, and followed hard behind. The riderless horse seemed to catch the fever of the moment, and closed up with me, leaving his master the solitary tenant of the dell. For perhaps three miles we galloped like the wind, and my brave little traveller overtook the hindmost of the troop, and retained the position. Thrice there were discharges ahead; I caught glimpses of the Major, the Captain, and the wolfish sergeant, far in the advance; and once saw, through the cloud of dust that beset them, the pursued and their individual pursuers, turning the top of a hill. But for the most part, I saw nothing; I felt all the intense, consuming, burning ardor of the time and the event. I thought that my hand clutched a sabre, and despised myself that it was not there. I stood in the stirrups, and held some invisible enemy by the throat. In a word, the bloodiness of the chase was upon me. I realized the fierce infatuation of matching life with life, and standing arbiter upon my fellow's body and soul. It seemed but a moment, when we halted, red and panting, in the paltry Court House village of Hanover; the field-pieces hurled a few shells at the escaping Confederates, and the men were ordered to dismount.
It seemed that a Confederate picket had been occupying the village, and the creek memorized by the skirmish was an outpost merely. Two of the man Otto's party had been slain in the woods, where also lay as many Southerners.
Hanover Court House is renowned as the birthplace of Patrick Henry, the colonial orator, called by Byron the "forest Demosthenes." In a little tavern, opposite the old Court House building, he began his humble career as a measurer of gills to convivials, and in the Court House,—a small stone edifice, plainly but quaintly constructed,—he gave the first exhibitions of his matchless eloquence. Not far away, on a by-road, the more modern but not less famous orator, Henry Clay, was born. The region adjacent to his father's was called the "Slashes of Hanover," and thence came his appellation of the "Mill Boy of the Slashes." I had often longed to visit these shrines; but never dreamed that the booming of cannon would announce me. The soldiers broke into both the tavern and court-house, and splintered some chairs in the former to obtain relics of Henry. I secured Richmond newspapers of the same morning, and also some items of intelligence. With these I decided to repair at once to White House, and formed the rash determination of taking the direct or Pamunkey road, which I had never travelled, and which might be beset by Confederates. The distance to White House, by this course, was only twenty miles; whereas it was nearly as far to head-quarters; and I believed that my horse had still the persistence to carry me. It was past four o'clock; but I thought to ride six miles an hour while daylight lasted, and, by good luck, get to the depot at nine. The Major said that it was foolhardiness; the Captain bantered me to go. I turned my back upon both, and bade them good by.
PUT UNDER ARREST.
While daylight remained, I had little reason to repent my wayward resolve. The Pamunkey lay to my left, and the residences between it and the road were of a better order than others that I had seen. This part of the country had not been overrun, and the wheat and young corn were waving in the river-breeze. I saw few negroes, but the porches were frequently occupied by women and white men, who looked wonderingly toward me. There were some hoof-marks in the clay, and traces of a broad tire that I thought belonged to a gun-carriage. The hills of King William County were but a little way off, and through the wood that darkened them, sunny glimpses of vari-colored fields and dwellings now and then appeared. I came to a shabby settlement called New Castle, at six o'clock, where an evil-looking man walked out from a frame-house, and inquired the meaning of the firing at Hanover.
I explained hurriedly, as some of his neighbors meantime gathered around me. They asked if I was not a soldier in the Yankee army, and as I rode away, followed me suspiciously with their eyes and wagged their heads. To end the matter I spurred my pony and soon galloped out of sight. Henceforward I met only stern, surprised glances, and seemed to read "murder" in the faces of the inhabitants. A wide creek crossed the road about five miles further on, where I stopped to water my horse. The shades of night were gathering now; there was no moon; and for the first time I realized the loneliness of my position. Hitherto, adventure had laughed down fear; hereafter my mind was to be darkened like the gloaming, and peopled with ghastly shadows.
I was yet young in the experience of death, and the toppled corpse of the slain cavalry-man on the scout, somehow haunted me. I heard his hoof-falls chiming with my own, and imagined, with a cold thrill, that his steed was still following me; then, his white rigid face and uplifted arms menaced my way; and, at last, the ruffianly form of his slayer pursued him along the wood. They glided like shadows over the foliage, and flashed across the surfaces of pools and rivulets. I heard their steel ringing in the underbrush, and they flitted around me, pursuing and retreating, till my brain began to whirl with the motion. Suddenly my horse stumbled, and I reined him to a halt.
The cold drops were standing on my forehead. I found my knees a-quiver and my breathing convulsive. With an expletive upon my unmanliness, I touched the nag with my heel, and whistled encouragingly. Poor pony! Fifty miles of almost uninterrupted travel had broken his spirit. He leaped into his accustomed pace: but his legs were unsteady and he floundered at every bound. There were pools, ruts, and boughs across the way, with here and there stretches of slippery corduroy; but the thick blackness concealed these, and I expected momentarily to be thrown from the saddle. By and by he dropped from a canter into a rock; from a rock to an amble; then into a walk, and finally to a slow painful limp. I dismounted and took him perplexedly by the bit. A light shone from the window of a dwelling across some open fields to the left, and I thought of repairing thither; but some deep-mouthed dogs began to bay directly, and then the lamp went out. A tiny stream sang at the roadside, flowing toward some deeper tributary; lighting a cigar, I made out, by its fitful illuminings, to wash the limbs of the jaded nag. Then I led him for an hour, till my own limbs were weary, troubled all the time by weird imaginings, doubts, and regrets. When I resumed the saddle the horse had a firmer step and walked pleasantly. I ventured after a time to incite him to a trot, and was going nicely forward, when a deep voice, that almost took my breath, called from the gloom—
"Who comes there? Halt, or I fire! Guard, turn out!"
Directly the road was full of men, and a bull's-eye lantern flashed upon my face. A group of foot-soldiery, with drawn pistols and sabres, gathered around me, and I heard the neigh of steeds from some imperceptible vicinity. "Who is it, Sergeant?" said one. "Is there but one of 'em?" said another. "Cuss him!" said a third; "I was takin' a bully snooze." "Who are yeou?" said the Sergeant, sternly; "what are yeou deouin' aout at this hour o' the night? Are yeou a rebbil?"
"No!" I answered, greatly relieved; "I am a newspaper correspondent of Smith's division, and there's my pass!"
I was taken over to a place in the woods, where some fagots were smouldering, and, stirring them to a blaze, the Sergeant read the document and pronounced it right.
"Yeou hain't got no business, nevertheless, to be roamin' araound outside o' picket; but seein' as it's yeou, I reckon yeou may trot along!"
I offered to exchange my information for a biscuit and a drop of coffee, for I was wellnigh worn out; while one of the privates produced a canteen more wholesome than cleanly, another gave me a lump of fat pork and a piece of corn bread. They gathered sleepily about me, while I told of the scout, and the Sergeant said that my individual ride was "game enough, but nothin' but darn nonsense." Then they fed my horse with a trifle of oats, and after awhile I climbed, stiff and bruised, to the saddle again, and bade them good night.
I knew now that I was at "Putney's," a ford on the Pamunkey, and an hour later I came in sight of the ship-lights at White House, and heard the steaming of tugs and draught-boats, going and coming by night. I hitched my horse to a tree, pilfered some hay and fodder from two or three nags tied adjacent, and picked my way across a gangway, several barge-decks, and a floating landing, to the mail steamer that lay outside. Her deck and cabin were filled with people, stretched lengthwise and crosswise, tangled, grouped, and snoring, but all apparently fast asleep. I coolly took a blanket from a man that looked as though he did not need it, and wrapped myself cosily under a bench in a corner. The cabin light flared dimly, half irradiating the forms below, and the boat heaved a little on the river-swells. The night was cold, the floor hard, and I almost dead with fatigue. But what of that! I felt the newspapers in my breast pocket, and knew that the mail could not leave me in the morning. Blessed be the news-gatherer's sleep! I think he earned it.
It was very pleasant, at dawn, to receive the congratulations of our agent, with whom I breakfasted, and to whom I consigned a hastily written letter and all the Richmond papers of the preceding day. He was a shrewd, sanguine, middle-aged man, of large experience and good standing in our establishment. He was sent through the South at the beginning of the Rebellion, and introduced into all public bodies and social circles, that he might fathom the designs of Secession, and comprehend its spirit. Afterward he accompanied the Hatteras and Port Royal expeditions, and witnessed those celebrated bombardments. Such a thorough individual abnegation I never knew. He was a part of the establishment, body and soul. He agreed with its politics, adhered to all its policies, defended it, upheld it, revered it. The Federal Government was, to his eye, merely an adjunct of the paper. Battles and sieges were simply occurrences for its columns. Good men, brave men, bad men, died to give it obituaries. The whole world was to him a Reporter's district, and all human mutations plain matters of news. I hardly think that any city, other than New York, contains such characters. The journals there are full of fever, and the profession of journalism is a disease.
He cashed me a draft for a hundred dollars, and I filled my saddle-bags with smoking-tobacco, spirits, a meerschaum pipe, packages of sardines, a box of cigars, and some cheap publications. Then we adjourned to the quay, where the steamer was taking in mails, freight and passengers. The papers were in his side-pocket, and he was about to commit them to a steward for transmission to Fortress Monroe, when my name was called from the strand by a young mounted officer, connected with one of the staffs of my division. I thought that he wished to exchange salutations or make some inquiries, and tripped to his side.
"General McClellan wants those newspapers that you obtained at Hanover yesterday!"
A thunderbolt would not have more transfixed me. I could not speak for a moment. Finally, I stammered that they were out of my possession.
"Then, sir, I arrest you, by order of General McClellan. Get your horse!"
"Stop!" said I, agitatedly, "—it may not be too late. I can recover them yet. Here is our agent,—I gave them to him."
I turned, at the word, to the landing where he stood a moment before. To my dismay, he had disappeared.
"This is some frivolous pretext to escape," said the Lieutenant; "you correspondents are slippery fellows, but I shall take care that you do not play any pranks with me. The General is irritated already, and if you prevaricate relative to those papers he may make a signal example of you."
I begged to be allowed to look for——; but he answered cunningly, that I had better mount and ride on. An acquaintance of mine here interfered, and testified to the existency of the agent and his probable connection with the journals. Pale, flurried, excited, I started to discover him, the Lieutenant following me closely meantime. We entered every booth and tent, went from craft to craft, sought among the thick clusters of people, and even at the Commissary's and Quartermaster's pounds, that lay some distance up the railroad.
"I am sorry for you, old fellow," said the Lieutenant, "but your accomplice has probably escaped. It's very sneaking of him, as it makes it harder for you; but I have no authority to deal with him, though I shall take care to report his conduct at head-quarters."
I found that the Lieutenant was greatly gratified with the duty entrusted to him. He had been at the cavalry quarters on the return of the scouting party, and had overheard the Major muttering something as to McClellan's displeasure at receiving no Richmond journals. The Major had added that one of the correspondents took them to White House, and, mentioning me by name, this young and aspiring satellite had blurted out that he knew me, and could doubtless overtake me at the mail-boat in the morning. The Commanding General authorised him to arrest me with the papers, and report at head-quarters. This was then a journey to recommend him to authority, and it involved no personal danger. I was not so intimidated that I failed to see how the Lieutenant would lose his gayest feather by failing to recover the journals, and I dexterously insinuated that it would be well to recommence the search. This time we were successful. The shrewd, sanguine, middle-aged man was coolly contemplating the river from an outside barge, concealed from the shore by piled boxes of ammunition. He was reading a phonetic pamphlet, and appeared to take his apprehension as a pleasant morning call. I caught one meaning glance, however, that satisfied me how clearly he understood the case.
"Ha! Townsend," said he, smilingly, "back already? I thought we had lost you. One of your military friends? Good-day, Lieutenant."
"I am under arrest, my boy," said I, "and you will much aggravate General McClellan, if you do not consign those Richmond journals to his deputy here."
"Under arrest? You surprise me! I am sorry, Lieutenant that you have had so fatiguing a ride, but the fact is, those papers have gone down the river. If the General is not in a great hurry, he will see their columns reproduced by us in a few days."
"How did they go?" said the Lieutenant, with an oath, "if by the mail-boat I will have General Van Vliet despatch a tug to overhaul her."
"I am very sorry again," said the bland civilian, smoothing his hands: "but they went by the South America at a much earlier hour."
I looked appealingly to him; the satellite stared down the river perplexedly, but suddenly his eye fell upon something that absorbed it; and he turned like a madman to——
"By! —— sir, you are lying to me. There is the South America moored to a barge, and her steam is not up!"
"Those words are utterly uncalled for," said the agent,—"but you cannot irritate me, my dear sir! I know that youth is hot,—particularly military youth yet inexperienced; and therefore I pardon you. I made a mistake. It was not the South America, it was—it was—upon my word I cannot recall the name!"
"You do not mean to!" thundered the young Ajax, to whose vanity, ——'s speech had been gall; "my powers are discretionary: I arrest you in the name of General McClellan."
"Indeed! Be sure you understand your orders! It isn't probable that such a fiery blade is allowed much discretionary margin. The General himself would not assume such airs. Why don't you shoot me? It might contribute to your promotion, and that is, no doubt, your object. I know General McClellan very well. He is a personal friend of mine."
His manner was so self-possessed, his tone so cutting, that the young man of fustian—whose name was Kenty—fingered his sword hilt, and foamed at the lips.
"March on," said he,—"I will report this insolence word for word."
He motioned us to the quay; we preceded him. The sanguine gentleman keeping up a running fire of malevolent sarcasm.
"Stop!" said he quietly, as we reached his tent,—"I have not sent them at all. They are here. And you have made all this exhibition of yourself for nothing. I am the better soldier, you see. You are a drummer-boy, not an officer. Take off your shoulder-bars, and go to school again."
He disappeared a minute, returned with two journals, and looking at me, meaningly, turned to their titles.
"Let me see!" he said, smoothly,—"Richmond Examiner, May 28, Richmond Enquirer, May 22. There! You have them! Go in peace! Give my respects to General McClellan! Townsend, old fellow, you have done your full duty. Don't let this young person frighten you. Good by."
He gave me his hand, with a sinister glance, and left something in my palm when his own was withdrawn. I examined it hastily when I girt up my saddle. It said: "Your budget got off safe, old fellow." He had given Kenty some old journals that were of no value to anybody. When we were mounted and about to start, the Lieutenant looked witheringly upon his persecutor—
"Allow me to say, sir," he exclaimed, "that you are the most unblushing liar I ever knew."
"Thank you, kindly," said——, taking off his hat, "you do me honor!"
Our route was silent and weary enough. The young man at my side, unconscious of his wily antagonist's deception, boasted for some time that he had attained his purposes. As I could not undeceive him, I held my tongue; but feared that when this trick should be made manifest, the vengeance would fall on me alone. I heartily wished the unlucky papers at the bottom of the sea. To gratify an adventurous whim, and obtain a day's popularity at New York, I had exposed my life, crippled my nag, and was now to be disgraced and punished. What might or might not befall me, I gloomily debated. The least penalty would be expulsion from the army; but imprisonment till the close of the war, was a favorite amusement with the War Office. How my newspaper connection would be embarrassed was a more grievous inquiry. It stung me to think that I had blundered twice on the very threshold of my career. Was I not acquiring a reputation for rashness that would hinder all future promotion and cast me from the courts of the press. Here the iron entered into my soul; for be it known, I loved Bohemia! This roving commission, these vagabond habits, this life in the open air among the armies, the white tents, the cannon, and the drums, they were my elysium, my heart! But to be driven away, as one who had broken his trust, forfeited favor and confidence, and that too on the eve of grand events, was something that would embitter my existence.
We passed the familiar objects that I had so often buoyantly beheld,—deserted encampments, cross-roads, rills, farm-houses, fields, and at last came to Daker's. I called out to them, and explained my woful circumstances with rueful conciseness.
It was growing dark when we came to general headquarters, two miles beyond Gaines's Mill. The tents were scattered over the surface of a hill, and most of them were illumined by candles.
The Lieutenant gave our horses to an orderly, and led the way through two outer circles of wall-tents, between which and the inner circle, guards were pacing, to deny all vulgar ingress.
A staff officer took in our names, and directly returned with the reply of "Pass in!" We were now in the sacred enclosure, secured by flaming swords. Four tents stood in a row, allotted respectively to the Chief of Staff, the Adjutant-General, the telegraph operators, and the select staff officers. Just behind them, embowered by a covering of cedar boughs, stood the tent of General McClellan. Close by, from an open plot or area of ground, towered a pine trunk, floating the national flag. Lights burned in three of the tents: low voices, as of subdued conversation, were heard from the first.
A little flutter of my heart, a drawing aside of canvas, two steps, an uncovering, and a bow,—I stood at my tribunal! A couple of candles were placed upon a table, whereat sat a fine specimen of man, with kindly features, dark, grayish, flowing hair, and slight marks of years upon his full, purplish face. He looked to be a well-to-do citizen, whose success had taught him sedentary convivialities. A fuming cigar lay before him; some empty champagne bottles sat upon a pine desk; tumblers and a decanter rested upon a camp-stool; a bucket, filled with water and a great block of ice, was visible under the table. Five other gentlemen, each with a star in his shoulder-bar, were dispersed upon chairs and along a camp bedside. The tall, angular, dignified gentleman with compressed lips and a "character" nose, was General Barry, Chief of Artillery. The lithe, severe, gristly, sanguine person, whose eyes flashed even in repose, was General Stoneman, Chief of Cavalry. The large, sleepy-eyed, lymphatic, elderly man, clad in dark, civil gray, whose ears turned up habitually as from deafness, was Prince de Joinville, brother to Louis Philippe, King of France. The little man with red hair and beard, who moved quickly and who spoke sharply, was Seth Williams, Adjutant-General. The stout person with florid face, large, blue eyes, and white, straight hair, was General Van Vliet, Quartermaster-General. And the man at the table, was General Marcy, father-in-law to McClellan, and Executive officer of the army.
Maps, papers, books, and luggage lay around the room; all the gentlemen were smoking and wine sparkled in most of the glasses. Some swords were lying upon the floor, a pair of spurs glistened by the bed, and three of the officers had their feet in the air.
"What is it you wish, Lieutenant?" said General Marcy, gravely.
The boor in uniform at my side, related his errand and order, gave the particulars of my arrest, declaimed against our agent, and submitted the journals. He told his story stammeringly, and I heard one of the officers in the background mutter contemptuously when he had finished.
"Were you aware of the order prohibiting correspondents from keeping with the advance?" said the General, looking up.
"I had not been notified from head-quarters. I have been with the army only a week."
"You knew that you had no business upon scouts, forages, or reconnoissances; why did you go?"
"I went by invitation."
"Who invited you?"
"I would prefer not to state, since it would do him an injury."
Here the voices in the background muttered, as I thought, applaudingly. Gaining confidence as I proceeded, I spoke more boldly—
"I am sure I regret that I have disobeyed any order of General McClellan's; but there can nothing occur in the rear of an army. Obedience, in this case, would be indolence and incompetence; for only the reliable would stay behind and the reckless go ahead. If I am accredited here as a correspondent, I must keep up with the events. And the rivalries of our tribe, General, are so many, that the best of us sometimes forget what is right for what is expedient. I hope that General McClellan will pass by this offence."
He heard my rambling defence quietly, excused the Lieutenant, and whistled for an orderly.
"I don't think that you meant to offend General McClellan," he said, "but he wishes you to be detained. Give me your pass. Orderly, take this gentleman to General Porter, and tell him to treat him kindly. Good night."
When we got outside of the tent, I slipped a silver half-dollar into the orderly's hand, and asked him if he understood the General's final remark. He said, in reply, that I was directed to be treated with courtesy, kindness, and care, and asked me, in conclusion, if there were any adjectives that might intensify the recommendation. When we came to General Porter, the Provost-Marshal, however, he pooh-poohed the qualifications, and said that his business was merely to put me under surveillance. This unamiable man ordered me to be taken to Major Willard, the deputy Provost, whose tent we found after a long search. The Major was absent, but some young officers of his mess were taking supper at his table, and with these I at once engaged in conversation.
I knew that if I was to be spared an immersion in the common guardhouse, with drunkards, deserters, and prisoners of war, I must win the favor of these men. I gave them the story of my arrest, spoke lightly of the offence and jestingly of the punishment, and, in fact, so improved my cause that, when the Major appeared, and the Sergeant consigned me to his custody, one of the young officers took him aside, and, I am sure, said some good words in my favor.
The Major was a bronzed, indurated gentleman, scrupulously attired, and courteously stern. He looked at me twice or thrice, to my confusion; for I was dusty, wan, and running over with perspiration. His first remark had, naturally, reference to the lavatory, and, so far as my face and hair were concerned, I was soon rejuvenated. I found on my return to the tent, a clean plate and a cup of steaming coffee placed for me, and I ate with a full heart though pleading covertly the while. When I had done, and the tent became deserted by all save him and me, he said, simply—
"What am I to do with you, Mr. Townsend?"
"Treat me as a gentleman, I hope, Major."
"We have but one place of confinement," said he, "the guardhouse; but I am loth to send you there. Light your pipe, and I will think the matter over."
He took a turn in front, consulted with some of his associates, and directly returning, said that I was to be quartered in his office-tent, adjoining. A horror being thus lifted from my mind, I heard with sincere interest many revelations of his military career. He had been a common soldier in the Mexican war, and had fought his way, step by step, to repeated commissions. He had garrisoned Fort Yuma, and other posts on the far plains, and at the beginning of the war was tendered a volunteer brigade, which he modestly declined. His tastes were refined, and a warm fancy, approaching poetry, enhanced his personal reminiscences. His face softened, his eyes grew milder, his large, commanding mouth relaxed,—he was young again, living his adventures over. We talked thus till almost midnight, when two regulars appeared in front,—stiff, ramrodish figures, that came to a jerking "present," tapped their caps with two fingers, and said, explosively; "Sergeant of Guard, Number Five!"
The Major rose, gave me his hand, and said that I would find a candle in my tent, with waterproof and blankets on the ground. I was to give myself no concern about the nag, and might, if I chose, sit for an hour to write, but must, on no account, attempt to leave the canvas, for the guard would instantly shoot me down. The guard in question had a doppel-ganger,—counterpart of himself in inflexibility,—and both were appendages of their muskets. He was not probably a sentient being, certainly not a conversational one. He knew the length of a stride, and the manual of bayonet exercise, but was, during his natural life, a blind idolater of a deity, called "Orders." The said "Orders," for the present evening, were walking, not talking, and he was dumb to all conciliatory words. He took a position at one end of my tent, and his double at the other end. They carried their muskets at "support arms," and paced up and down, measuredly, like two cloaked and solemn ghosts. I wrapped myself in the damp blankets, and slept through the bangs of four or five court-martials and several executions. At three o'clock, they changed ramrods,—the old doppel-gangers going away, and two new ones fulfilling their functions.
AFTER THE VICTORY.
The two ramrods were still pacing to and fro, when I aroused in the gray of the morning; but they looked very misty and moist, as if they were impalpables that were shortly to evaporate. The Major poked his head between the flaps at eight o'clock, and said that breakfast was ready; but the ramrod nearest me kept vigilantly alongside, and I thought he had been invited also. The other ramrod guarded the empty tent, and I think that he believed me a doppel-ganger likewise.
I wondered what was to be done with me, as the hours slipped rapidly by. The guards were relieved again at ten o'clock, and Quartermaster's men commenced to take down the tents. Camps were to be moved, and I inquired solicitously if I was to be moved also. The Major replied that prisoners were commonly made to walk along the road, escorted by horsemen, and I imagined, with dread, the companionship of negroes, estrays, ragged Confederates, and such folk, while the whole army should witness my degradation. Finally, all the tents were lifted and packed in wagons, as well as the furniture. I adhered to a stool, at which the teamster looked wistfully, and the implacable sentinels walked to and fro. A rumor became current among the private soldiers, that I was the nephew of the southern General Lee, whose wife had been meantime captured at Hanover Court House. Curious groups sauntered around me, and talked behind their hands. One man was overheard to say that I had fought desperately, and covered myself with glory, and another thought that I favored my uncle somewhat, and might succeed to his military virtues.
"I guess I'll take that cheer, if you ain't got no objection," said the teamster, and he slung it into the wagon. What to do now troubled me materially; but one of the soldiers brought a piece of rail, and I "squatted" lugubriously on the turf.
"If you ever get to Richmond," said I, "you shall be considerately treated." (Profound sensation.)
"Thankee!" replied the man, touching his cap; "but I'm werry well pleased out o' Richmond, Captain."
Here the Major was seen approaching, a humorous smile playing about his eyes.
"You are discharged," said he; "General Marcy will return your pass, and perhaps your papers."
I wrung his hand with indescribable relief, and he sent the "ramrod" on guard, to saddle my horse. In a few minutes, I was mounted again, much to the surprise of the observers of young Lee, and directly I stood before the kindly Chief of Staff. At my request, he wrote a note to the division commander, specifying my good behavior, and restoring to me all privileges and immunities. He said nothing whatever as to the mistake in the papers, and told me that, on special occasions, I might keep with advances, by procuring an extraordinary pass at head-quarters. In short, my arrest conduced greatly to my efficiency. I invariably carried my Richmond despatches to General Marcy, thereafter, and, if there was information of a legitimate description, he gave me the benefit of it.
My own brigade lay at Dr. Gaines's house, during this time, and we did not lack for excitement. Just behind the house lay several batteries of rifled guns, and these threw shells at hourly intervals, at certain Confederate batteries across the river. The distance was two miles or less; but the firing was generally wretched. Crowds of soldiers gathered around, to watch the practice, and they threw up their hats applaudingly at successful hits. Occasionally a great round shot would bound up the hill, and a boy, one day, seeing one of these spent balls rolling along the ground, put out his foot to stop it, but shattered his leg so dreadfully that it had to be amputated. Dr. Gaines was a rich, aristocratic, and indolent old Virginian, whose stables, summerhouses, orchards, and negro-quarters were the finest in their district. The shooting so annoyed him that he used to resort to the cellar; several shots passed through his roof, and one of the chimneys was knocked off. His family carriages were five in number, and as his stables were turned into hospitals, these were all hauled into his lawn, where their obsolete trimmings and queer shape constantly amused the soldiers. About this time I became acquainted with some officers of the 5th Maine regiment, and by permission, accompanied them to Mechanicsville. I was here, on the afternoon of Thursday, May 27, when the battle of Hanover Court House was fought. We heard the rapid growl of guns, and continuous volleys of musketry, though the place was fourteen miles distant. At evening, a report was current that the Federals had gained a great victory, and captured seven hundred prisoners. The truth of this was established next morning; for detachments of prisoners were from time to time brought in, and the ambulances came to camp, laden with the wounded. I took this opportunity of observing the Confederate soldiers, as they lay at the Provost quarters, in a roped pen, perhaps one hundred rods square.
It was evening, as I hitched my horse to a stake near-by, and pressed up to the receptacle for the unfortunates. Sentries enclosed the pen, walking to-and-fro with loaded muskets; a throng of officers and soldiers had assembled to gratify their curiosity; and new detachments of captives came in hourly, encircled by sabremen, the Southerners being disarmed and on foot. The scene within the area was ludicrously moving. It reminded me of the witch-scene in Macbeth, or pictures of brigands or Bohemian gypsies at rendezvous, not less than five hundred men, in motley, ragged costumes, with long hair, and lean, wild, haggard faces, were gathered in groups or in pairs, around some fagot fires. In the growing darkness their expressions were imperfectly visible; but I could see that most of them were weary, and hungry, and all were depressed and ashamed. Some were wrapped in blankets of rag-carpet, and others wore shoes of rough, untanned hide. Others were without either shoes or jackets, and their heads were bound with red handkerchiefs. Some appeared in red shirts; some in stiff beaver hats; some were attired in shreds and patches of cloth; and a few wore the soiled garments of citizen gentlemen; but the mass adhered to homespun suits of gray, or "butternut," and the coarse blue kersey common to slaves. In places I caught glimpses of red Zouave breeches and leggings; blue Federal caps, Federal buttons, or Federal blouses; these were the spoils of anterior battles, and had been stripped from the slain. Most of the captives were of the appearances denominated "scraggy" or "knotty." They were brown, brawny, and wiry, and their countenances were intense, fierce, and animal. They came from North Carolina, the poorest and least enterprising Southern State, and ignorance, with its attendant virtues, were the common facial manifestations. Some lay on the bare ground, fast asleep; others chatted nervously as if doubtful of their future treatment; a few were boisterous, and anxious to beg tobacco or coffee from idle Federals; the rest—and they comprehended the greater number—were silent, sullen, and vindictive. They met curiosity with scorn, and spite with imprecations. A child—not more than four years of age, I think—sat sleeping in a corner upon an older comrade's lap. A gray-bearded pard was staunching a gash in his cheek with the tail of his coat. A fine-looking young fellow sat with his face in his hands, as if his heart were far off, and he wished to shut out this bitter scene. In a corner, lying morosely apart, were a Major, three Captains, and three Lieutenants,—young athletic fellows, dressed in rich gray cassimere, trimmed with black, and wearing soft black hats adorned with black ostrich-feathers. Their spurs were strapped upon elegantly fitting boots, and they looked as far above the needy, seedy privates, as lords above their vassals.
After a time, couples and squads of the prisoners were marched off to cut and carry some firewood, and water, for the use of their pen, and then each Confederate received coffee, pork, and crackers; they were obliged to prepare their own meals, but some were so hungry that they gnawed the raw pork, like beasts of prey. Those who were not provided with blankets, shivered through the night, though the rain was falling, and the succession of choking coughs that ran through the ranks, told how ill they could afford the exposure. Major Willard had charge of these men, and he sent a young officer to get me admittance to the pen, that I might speak with them.
"Good evening, Major," I said, to the ranking Confederate officer, and extended my hand. He shook it, embarrassedly, and ran me over with his eye, as if to learn my avocation. "Can I obtain any facts from you," I continued, "as to the battle of Hanover?"
"Fuh what puhpose?" he said, in his strong southern dialect.
"For publication, sir."
He sat up at once, and said that he should be happy to tell me anything that would not be a violation of military honor. I asked him, therefore, the Confederate Commandant at Hanover, the number of brigades, regiments, and batteries engaged, the disposition of forces, the character of the battle, and the losses, so far as he knew, upon his own side. Much of this he revealed, but unguardedly let out other matters, that direct inquiry could not have discovered. I took notes of the legitimate passages, trusting to memory for the rest; and think that I possessed his whole stock of information, in the course of an hour's manoeuvring. It seemed that General Branch, formerly a member of the Federal congress, had been sent with some thousands of Carolina troops across the upper Chickahominy, to see if it would not be possible to turn the Federal right, and cut off one of its brigades; but a stronger Federal reconnoissance had gone northward the day before, and discovering Branch's camp-fires, sent, during the night, for reinforcements. In the end, the "North State" volunteers were routed, their cannon silenced or broken, and seven hundred of their number captured. The Federals lost a large number of men killed, and the wounded upon both sides, were numerous.
The Confederate Major was of the class referred to in polite American parlance, as a "blatherskite." He boasted after the manner of his fellow-citizens from the county of "Bunkum," but nevertheless feared and trembled, to the manifest disgust of one of the young Captains.
"Majuh!" said this young man, "what you doin' thah! That fellow's makin' notes of all your slack; keep your tongue! aftah awhile you'll tell the nombah of the foces! Don't you s'pose he'll prent it all?"
The Major had, in fact, been telling me how many regiments the "old Nawth State, suh," had furnished to the "suhvice," and I had the names of some thirty colonels, in order. The young Captain gave me a sketch of General Branch, and was anxious that I should publish something in extenuation of North Carolina valor.
"We have lost mo' men," said he, "than any otha' Commonwealth; but these Vuhginians, whose soil, by——! suh, we defend suh! Yes, suh! whose soil we defend; these Vuhginians, stigmatize us as cowads! We, suh! yes suh, we, that nevah wanted to leave the Union,—we cowads! Look at ou' blood, suh, ou' blood! That's it, by——! look at that! shed on every field of the ole Dominion,—killed, muhdud, captued, crippled! We cowads! I want you prent that!"
I was able to give each of the officers a drop of whiskey from my flask, and I never saw men drink so thirstily. Their hands and lips trembled as they took it, and their eyes shone like lunacy, as the hot drops sank to the cold vitals, and pricked the frozen blood. Mingling with the privates, I stirred up some native specimens of patriotism, that appeared to be in great doubt as to the causes and ends of the war. They were very much in the political condition of a short, thick, sententious man, in blue drilling breeches, who said—
"Damn the country! What's to be done with us?"
One person said that he enlisted for the honor of his family, that "fit in the American Revolution;" and another came out to "hev a squint et the fightin'." Several were northern and foreign lads, that were working on Carolina railroads, and could not leave the section, and some labored under the impression that they were to have a "slice" of land and a "nigger," in the event of Southern independence. A few comprehended the spirit of the contest, and took up arms from principle; a few, also, declared their enmity to "Yankee institutions," and had seized the occasion to "polish them off," and "give them a ropein' in;" but many said it was "dull in our deestreeks, an' the niggers was runnin' away, so I thought I'ud jine the foces." The great mass said, that they never contemplated "this box," or "this fix," or "these suckemstances," and all wanted the war to close, that they might return to their families. Indeed, my romantic ideas of rebellion were ruthlessly profaned and dissipated. I knew that there was much selfishness, peculation, and "Hessianism" in the Federal lines, but I had imagined a lofty patriotism, a dignified purpose, and an inflexible love of personal liberty among the Confederates. Yet here were men who knew little of the principles for which they staked their lives;—who enlisted from the commonest motives of convenience, whim, pelf, adventure, and foray; and who repented, after their first misfortune, with the salt rheum in their eyes. I think that all "great uprisings" resolve to this complexion. With due reverence for my own ancestry, I think that they sometimes stooped from greatness to littleness. I must confess that certain admissions in my revolutionary textbook are much clearer, now that I have followed a campaign. And if, as I had proposed, I could have witnessed the further fortunes of the illustrious Garibaldi, I think that some of his compatriots would have been found equally inconsistent. Let no man believe that the noblest cause is fought out alone by the unerring motives of duty and devotion. The masses are never so constant. They cannot appreciate an abstraction, however divine. Any of the gentlemen in question would have preferred their biscuit and fat pork before the political enfranchisement of the whole world!
I rode across the fields to the Hogan, Curtis, and Gaines mansions; for some of the wounded had meantime been deposited in each of them. All the cow-houses, wagon-sheds, hay-barracks, hen-coops, negro cabins, and barns were turned into hospitals. The floors were littered with "corn-shucks" and fodder; and the maimed, gashed, and dying lay confusedly together. A few, slightly wounded, stood at windows, relating incidents of the battle; but at the doors sentries stood with crossed muskets, to keep out idlers and gossips. The mention of my vocation was an "open sesame," and I went unrestrained, into all the largest hospitals. In the first of these an amputation was being performed, and at the door lay a little heap of human fingers, feet, legs, and arms. I shall not soon forget the bare-armed surgeons, with bloody instruments, that leaned over the rigid and insensible figure, while the comrades of the subject looked horrifiedly at the scene. The grating of the murderous saw drove me into the open air, but in the second hospital which I visited, a wounded man had just expired, and I encountered his body at the threshold. Within, the sickening smell of mortality was almost insupportable, but by degrees I became accustomed to it. The lanterns hanging around the room streamed fitfully upon the red eyes, and half-naked figures. All were looking up, and saying, in pleading monotone: "Is that you, doctor?" Men with their arms in slings went restlessly up and down, smarting with fever. Those who were wounded in the lower extremities, body, or head, lay upon their backs, tossing even in sleep. They listened peevishly to the wind whistling through the chinks of the barn. They followed one with their rolling eyes. They turned away from the lantern, for it seemed to sear them. Soldiers sat by the severely wounded, laving their sores with water. In many wounds the balls still remained, and the discolored flesh was swollen unnaturally. There were some who had been shot in the bowels, and now and then they were frightfully convulsed, breaking into shrieks and shouts. Some of them iterated a single word, as, "doctor," or "help," or "God," or "oh!" commencing with a loud spasmodic cry, and continuing the same word till it died away in cadence. The act of calling seemed to lull the pain. Many were unconscious and lethargic, moving their fingers and lips mechanically, but never more to open their eyes upon the light; they were already going through the valley and the shadow. I think, still, with a shudder, of the faces of those who were told mercifully that they could not live. The unutterable agony; the plea for somebody on whom to call; the longing eyes that poured out prayers; the looking on mortal as if its resources were infinite; the fearful looking to the immortal as if it were so far off, so implacable, that the dying appeal would be in vain; the open lips, through which one could almost look at the quaking heart below; the ghastliness of brow and tangled hair; the closing pangs; the awful quietus. I thought of Parrhasius, in the poem, as I looked at these things:—