The trials of the bereaved wife and mother were indeed sore and hard to be borne, but she could go to the graves of her dead and there pray for faith to look upward, where she knew her treasures were safe for time and for eternity. Under the same roof the wife of General Francis T. Nichols passed days and nights of agonizing suspense. Her husband was wounded and a prisoner. She knew he had suffered amputation of an arm, but could learn nothing more. Rumors were fearful enough to distress the young wife, whose trembling heart was filled with foreboding. Every few days reports that seemed true startled her,—he was dead. Alas! it might be true, for how could he live in the midst of enemies to whom his high spirit would not bend, wounded, suffering, deprived of the loving care for which he pined? Again, he had tried to escape in the garb of a peddler, and had been taken up as a spy (which no one who knew him believed). In that sad household Mrs. Caldwell's duties became onerous and multifarious enough to appall one less stout-hearted or less devoted to the cause. The inmates of the dwelling looked to her for sympathy, advice, nursing, and all kinds of attention, as well as for the comfort which could come only by superexcellent housekeeping. And all this was done, and well done, by one woman, inspired by supreme devotion to the Confederate cause and its defenders. Truly such a woman deserves to be immortalized, to live in history long after the hearts that now enshrine her image shall have ceased to beat.
Later, larger hospital accommodation having been provided, it became difficult to obtain permission for private soldiers to leave the wards to which they had been assigned.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Edwards Caldwell then resolved to fill up the "Refuge" with their own friends among the officers, saying to each other, "We will do all the good we can, and will agree to sustain each other in any course without consulting." Very sick and very badly-wounded patients were now sent to Mrs. Caldwell. In fact, cases which were considered hopeless, but lingering, were despatched from the hospital to the "Refuge" to die, but not one of them did what was expected of him. The efforts of Mrs. Caldwell were blessed of God, and her patients, without exception, improved. One of these was Lawson Lewis Davis, of New Orleans, wounded at Frazier's Mills, near Richmond. He was suffering from a terrible wound, the cap of the shoulder having been removed. He suffered for a whole year before recovering. A still more remarkable case was that of Captain Charles Knowlton, Tenth Louisiana Regiment. He was wounded in the knee in November, 1863, and was at once invited to the "Refuge," but, having recession of the knee, was compelled to remain under surgical treatment until April, 1864, when he was sent to Mrs. Caldwell, and remained nine months more under her care. An order had been issued that in all such cases amputation should be performed, but Dr. Reid, of Richmond, his attendant surgeon, decided to attempt to save the limb, and was successful. Out of many cases of the kind, this was the only one recorded where amputation was avoided and the patient's life was saved.
Captain Knowlton now resides near Hopevilla, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is married, and has two children. Another desperate case was that of John McCormick, from whose leg nearly all the bones were removed, but who also recovered.
There were, besides, three men sick of fever and dysentery, desperately ill, considered hopeless when sent to the "Refuge," but who all recovered. This is certainly a remarkable record, and one to be proud of. Among the patients was that noble patriot, Colonel Alcibiades de Blanc, of St. Martin's Parish, Louisiana, of whom Lousianians proudly relate that he refused to be made a brigadier-general, saying he did not feel competent to fill such a position, and was content to serve his country as a private soldier, feeling that no position could be more honorable.
Of Company K, Eighth Louisiana, and Company H, Seventh Louisiana, nearly all the sick and wounded enjoyed, at one time or another during the war, the hospitalities of the "Refuge." General Hays was a personal friend and honored guest. Henry Weir Baker there recovered from typhoid fever. This gentleman was a member of Washington Artillery, a distinction which is enough of itself, without an added word of praise. He is now residing in New Orleans, a successful journalist, and has been untiring in his patriotic efforts to develop the splendid resources of Louisiana. Fred Washington, of New Orleans, was also saved to his country by the kindly attentions of Mrs. Caldwell. He also is an honored citizen of New Orleans, engaged as a journalist, and is one of the faithful few who do not forget.
He is an active member of the association A.N. Va., always "to the fore" when opportunities occur to honor the dead Confederates or to succor the living.
Of the hundreds who now live to remember with liveliest gratitude the "Refuge" they once found from the horrors and toils and pains of battle, and the gentle hostess who so unweariedly ministered to them, I can gather only a few names besides those already mentioned,—those of Lieutenant Brooks, Seventh Louisiana; Dr. Henry Larreux, —— ——; Lieutenant Henri Puisson, Tenth Louisiana.
Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell were New Orleans people. Their temporary home in Virginia was taken with the definite object in view of offering a "refuge" to sick and wounded Louisiana soldiers. She is, of course, proud of its "record" and her own, but simply says in her letter to me, "On opening the 'Refuge' (Mr. John Edwards Caldwell said to his wife) we will each do all we find to do, and all we can do, without consulting or telling each other what we do. And this we carried out."
While seeking materials for this sketch, I have interviewed several of the veterans who were in Virginia her guests and patients. I had but to mention her name to ask, "Do you know Mrs. Caldwell, of the 'Refuge?'" and forthwith the eyes of stern men grew misty, and an indescribable look brightened careworn faces, the look I know so well and have learned to think more beautiful than "any light that falls on land or sea." "Know her! Why, but for her I must have died." Thus to become of blessed memory is worth a lifetime of toil and self-devotion. And yet the cause and its defenders were worth it all, and more. As far as the wounded and sick soldiers are concerned, I am sure that Mrs. Caldwell, equally with myself and all others, who during the war were so blessed as to be permitted to minister to them, will be willing to declare that magnificent as were their brave deeds, their patient endurance seemed almost "the better part of valor."
There is one bright, shining record of a patriotic and tireless woman which remains undimmed when placed beside that of the most devoted of Confederate women: I refer to Mrs. Rose Rooney, of Company K, Fifteenth Louisiana Regiment, who left New Orleans in June, 1861, and never deserted the "b'ys" for a day until the surrender.
She was no hanger-on about camp, but in everything but actual fighting was as useful as any of the boys she loved with all her big, warm, Irish heart, and served with the undaunted bravery which led her to risk the dangers of every battle-field where the regiment was engaged, unheeding the zip of the minies, the shock of shells, or the horrible havoc made by the solid shot, so that she might give timely succor to the wounded or comfort the dying. When in camp she looked after the comfort of the regiment, both sick and well, and many a one escaped being sent to the hospital because Rose attended to him so well. She managed by some means to keep on hand a stock of real coffee, paying at times thirty-five dollars per pound for it. The surrender almost broke her heart. Her defiant ways caused her to be taken prisoner. I will give in her own words an account of what followed.
"Sure, the Yankees took me prisoner along with the rest. The next day, when they were changing the camps to fix up for the wounded, I asked them what would they do with me. They tould me to 'go to the divil.' I tould them, 'I've been long enough in his company; I'd choose something better.' I then asked them where any Confederates lived. They tould me about three miles through the woods. On my way I met some Yankees. They asked me, 'What have you in that bag?' I said, 'Some rags of my own.' I had a lot of rags on the top, but six new dresses at the bottom; and sure I got off with them all. Then they asked me if I had any money. I said no; but in my stocking I had two hundred dollars in Confederate money. One of the Yankees, a poor divil of a private soldier, handed to me three twenty-five cents of Yankee money. I said to him, 'Sure, you must be an Irishman.' 'Yes,' said he. I then went on till I got to the house. Mrs. Crump and her sister were in the yard, and about twenty negro women—no men. I had not a bite for two days, nor any water, so I began to cry from weakness. Mrs. Crump said, 'Don't cry, you are among friends.' She then gave me plenty to eat,—hot hoe-cake and buttermilk. I stayed there fifteen days, superintending the cooking for the sick and wounded men. One-half of the house was full of Confederates, and the other of Yankees. They then brought us to Burkesville, where all the Yankees were gathered together. There was an ould doctor there, and he began to curse me, and to talk about all we had done to their prisoners. I tould him, 'And what have you to say to what you done to our poor fellows?' He tould me to shut up, and sure I did. They asked me fifty questions after, and I never opened me mouth. The next day was the day when all the Confederate flags came to Petersburg. I had some papers in my pocket that would have done harrum to some people, so I chewed them all up and ate them, but I wouldn't take the oath, and I never did take it. The flags were brought in on dirt-cars, and as they passed the Federal camps them Yankees would unfurl them and shake them about to show them. My journey from Burkesville to Petersburg was from eleven in the morning till eleven at night, and I sitting on my bundle all the way. The Yankee soldiers in the car were cursing me, and calling me a damn rebel, and more ugly talk. I said, 'Mabbe some of you has got a mother or wife; if so, you'll show some respect for me.' Then they were quiet. I had to walk three miles to Captain Buckner's headquarters. The family were in a house near the battle-ground, but the door was shut, and I didn't know who was inside, and I couldn't see any light. I sat down on the porch, and thought I would have to stay there all night. After a while I saw a light coming from under the door, and so I knocked; when the door was opened and they saw who it was, they were all delighted to see me, because they were afraid I was dead. I wanted to go to Richmond, but would not go on a Yankee transportation. When the brigade came down, I cried me heart out because I was not let go on with them. I stayed three months with Mrs. Cloyd, and then Mayor Rawle sent me forty dollars and fifty more if I needed it, and that brought me home to New Orleans."
Mrs. Rooney is still cared for and cherished by the veterans of Louisiana. At the Soldiers' Home she holds the position of matron, and her little room is a shrine never neglected by visitors to "Camp Nichols."
Upon every occasion when the association of A.N.Va. appear as an association, Mrs. Rooney is with them, an honored and honorary member. Neatly dressed, her cap of the real Irish pattern surmounting her face, beaming with pride in "the b'ys."
In fiery patriotism, unfaltering devotion, defiant courage the women of New Orleans had no rival, save the women of Baltimore. I know no other place where the fiery furnace was so hot, the martyrdom so general or so severe. In both instances the iron hand of despotism failed to crush or subdue.
Women continued to give aid and comfort to Confederate soldiers in hospital and prison, using every art they possessed to accomplish their ends. The sick were nursed and fed and comforted. Prisoners were assisted to escape, concealed until they could be spirited away, while their fair friends bravely faced and dared the consequences of discovery, never hesitating to avow their partisanship, crying, "If this be treason, make the most of it." A dozen arrests among these devotees did no good, for their name was legion. Every house was a nest of "treason;" for here dwelt the women whose best beloved were Confederate soldiers.
And when the end came, when the bravest soldiers returned, wretched and despairing, even weeping bitter tears within the faithful arms that sheltered them, the faces which bent above them still bravely smiled. Beloved voices whispered of encouragement and hope, patient hearts assumed burdens under which men fainted and failed.
From the root of patriotism, deeply buried in the hearts of Southern women, sprung a new and vigorous growth. Its tendrils overspread and concealed desolate places; the breath of its flowers filled all the land, stealing over the senses like an invigorating breeze.
"There is life in the old land yet," said men to each other. Let us cherish and develop it. And so, once more each lifted his heavy burden, and finding it unexpectedly lightened, turned to find at his side, no longer a helpless clinging form which should hamper his every step, but a true woman, strong in the love which defied discouragement, "with a heart for any fate," a helpmeet, indeed, who hereafter would allow no burden to remain unshared.
Thus faithful to the living, the women of the South never forgot their dead heroes. At first it was impossible to do more than to "keep green" their sacred graves, or to deposit thereon a few simple flowers, but the earliest rays of the sun of prosperity fell upon many a "storied urn and animated bust," raised by tireless love and self-sacrifice, to mark "the bivouac of the dead." In connection with one of these, erected by the ladies of New Orleans, in Greenwood Cemetery, I know an anecdote which has always seemed to me particularly beautiful and touching, as illustrative of an exquisite sentiment which could have had its birth only in the heart of a true and tender woman. After the removal of the bones of the Confederate soldiers, who had died in and about New Orleans, from their lowly graves to their last resting-place, under their grand and beautiful monument, many people repaired thither as to a shrine. Among them appeared one evening Mrs. H——, a sister of the gallant and ever-lamented Major Nelligan, of the First Louisiana. After viewing the monument, Mrs. H—— strolled over among the graves, and there came upon a few bones of Confederate soldiers, which had been accidentally left upon the ground.
They seemed to her so precious, so sacred, that they must have sepulchre; but how should she accomplish this end? Nothing that she had or could get, in short, nothing that had been used would do. Instantly she sought the first store where a piece of new linen could be bought; returning with it, she reverently laid the bones within it, and, without speaking a word to any one of her intentions, buried them in the garden at home, where they now lie.
I have not yet told all I know about Confederate women, nor even the half, nor is it needful that I should. While recounting their history to future generations, Fame will put by her brazen trumpet, yet sing their praises in tones so sweet and clear that all the world shall hear and wonder and admire.
AN INCIDENT OF THE BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS.
These facts were related to me by a Virginia soldier, and woven by me into a story for the Southern Bivouac.
On the night of May 11, 1864, Lee had withdrawn his forces from a salient point called the "Horseshoe," in consequence of a retrograde or flank movement of the enemy opposite that point. A battery of artillery, consisting of four companies, which was to have occupied that point, was removed some two miles back. At early dawn, word was brought that Grant's forces had again advanced, and the artillery was ordered to return with all speed. Faster and faster they advanced until they reached the top of the hill, in the very toe of the Horseshoe, to find themselves in the jaws of the enemy. It fell to the lot of a non-commissioned officer of Captain W.P. Carter's Battery to prepare the ammunition. He first cut the fuse for one second's time. After preparing several shells and receiving no word from his general he made ready several charges of canister, knowing the enemy to be close at hand. Still nobody came for the ammunition. He observed next that the drivers of the limber-chest had dismounted and left their horses, and the horses being without a driver, backed the wheels of the limber over the ammunition. To prevent damage, he seized the off-leader by the bridle, turning them back to a front position. While doing this, he distinctly heard the minie-balls crashing through the bones of the horses. They did not fall at once, however, and he had just gotten them to a front position, when a forcible blow upon the right shoulder, made by the enemy's color-bearer with the point of his staff, showed him that they were upon him. There was no time to say "good-morning," so he beat a hasty retreat around his limber, "Sauve que peut." He had scarcely commenced to run when he felt a heavy blow about the middle of his back. His thought was, "Can that color-bearer have repeated his blow, or am I struck by a ball, which has deadened the sense of feeling?" There being no flow of blood, however, he concluded he was not much hurt. After a run of forty yards he came to the dry bed of a stream between two hills. Here he paused to reconnoitre. The morning fog and the smoke of battle obscured the view, except close to the ground. Crouching on all-fours, he peered below the cloud of smoke toward the crest of the hill where the battery was. He soon saw that the case was hopeless, and the battery in possession of the enemy. Looking to the left, he read in the anxious countenance of an aide-de-camp on horseback that matters at that point were in a desperate case. Running up the bed of the stream, he reached the shelter of the woods on his left. So far he had run parallel to the line of battle. When well in the woods, turning at right angles, it seemed that he had made his escape. Meeting just then with an officer of the battery (the only one who escaped) and several comrades, a brief consultation was held, suddenly cut short by a continuous roar of musketry in the rear and near the heel of the Horseshoe, showing that the party were in danger of being enclosed and cut off within the circle. The consultation was summarily ended, and flight again resumed. This time they ran well out of the Horseshoe and out of danger, stopping not until they met Lee's reinforcements going to the front. Here, from a point of safety, they could hear war holding high revelry in the bottom below. Now, for the first time the soldier took occasion to examine his knapsack. A minie-ball had entered the lower part, passing through sixteen folds of tent-cloth, many folds of a blanket, riddling several articles of underwear, and finally burying itself in a small Bible. Such was its force that not a leaf from Revelations to Genesis remained without impress of the ball, and half the leaves were actually penetrated.
Just at this time he was overjoyed to see his brother (about whom he had been painfully anxious) returning to the rear with a company of the Richmond Howitzers, who, having spent all their ammunition, came to replenish their chests. This young man had been color-bearer of the company, and when the battery first reached the hill, had turned to the woods on his left to tie his horse. Hearing a wild yell, which he supposed to be the battle-cry of the Confederates, he joined lustily in the shout and rushed forward bearing his colors. The fog and smoke concealing from him the true state of affairs, it was a terrible shock to see, suddenly, the enemy's color floating from the battery. Realizing for the first time that all was lost, he hastily lowered his flag between the chests of a caisson, and, tearing off the colors, thrust them into his bosom, throwing the staff away. He then ran into the woods and up the lines, where he came upon a company of the Richmond Howitzers, and served with them until their ammunition was exhausted.
A remarkable circumstance connected with the above incident was the fact that, during the confusion and haste following the order for the hasty march, the brothers lost sight of each other, and the elder (who bore the flag) was compelled to gallop to the front, leaving the tent-cloth and blankets, which usually were included in the roll behind the saddle, to be carried in the other's knapsack. The first thought of the younger was impatience at the unusual burden he had to carry into battle, but reflection brought with it a feeling (perhaps a premonition), "It is all right and perhaps the means of saving my life." In less than half an hour it had proved indeed a blessing in disguise.
The owner of the Bible, then a youth of nineteen, now a minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church, cherishes the book and the minie-ball, not only as a memento of the war, but with feelings of deepest gratitude, which find appropriate expression in the consecration of his life to Him who "protected his head in the day of battle." It is his earnest hope that he may, by the blessing of God, so expound the teaching of that blessed Book as to make it a means of salvation to many souls.
FENNER'S LOUISIANA BATTERY.
Dear friends, when you read the caption of this page in my book of "Memories," do not accuse me in your hearts of favoritism. Of all soldiers who wore the gray, only one was nearer than others to my heart. I took no special pride in one organization above others, save in the command to which my husband belonged. Surely this is quite natural.
Who does not remember the epidemic of blue cockades which broke out in New Orleans during the winter of 1860 and 1861, and raged violently throughout the whole city? The little blue cockade, with its pelican button in the centre and its two small streamers, was the distinguishing mark of the "Secessionist."
By none was it more universally and proudly worn than by the youth and young men, who, in April, 1861, discarded it with their citizen's dress and began "the wearing of the gray," which they have helped to make a garb of honor and a glory forever.
When the Dreux Battalion embarked for Pensacola, it was with a definite purpose in view, and a certain conviction that they would at once meet and vanquish the enemy. Their prowess was to teach the Yankee a lesson and to settle matters inside of sixty days. They fully expected to fight, and were eager to begin. Day after day, night after night, they momentarily expected an assault upon Fort Pickens. But they did not expect to be set at the hard duty of digging and wheeling sand hour after hour, and throwing up intrenchments under a burning sun.
Then the irksomeness of being under military discipline, which at first was frequently infringed. For instance, a party of Orleans Cadets overstayed their leave of absence an hour or two; "upon our return we found ourselves locked up in the guard-house for four hours and a half."
Here is an account of one of the monotonous days, transcribed from a letter of one of the Orleans Cadets, a boy who had been used at home to take his coffee before rising, a late, comfortable breakfast, and to walk down-town at his leisure on the shady side of the street, clad in the cool, white linen suit then so universally worn: "We get up at five o'clock to attend roll-call; at 6.30 get our coffee and our breakfast, which consists of crackers and salt pork; at 7.30, back to our tents and pack our knapsack, rub our guns, and get ready for parade at nine o'clock.
"We are now drilling at light infantry tactics (Hardee's), which occupies until eleven. We then wash our clothes, bring wood for the cook, also water and various other things; dine at two, and again drill at four until dark; get our supper at seven; lie around until roll-call at nine; afterward go to bed to dream of home.
"General Bragg has just sent us word that we are to be exempt from hard labor at present."
It is not to be supposed that the men were confined to the rations here mentioned. All had money and could buy additional food; most of the messes had negro servants, who were excellent cooks, and boxes of goodies arrived continually from home. But, as I said before, the strict discipline, combined with deprivation of the glorious fighting in which they had expected to participate, was terribly irksome.
It was a most welcome order which transferred them to Virginia, and to the shady and delightful camping-ground which I have described in a former article (Introductory). An order to join the forces about to engage in the battle of Manassas was countermanded on account of a movement of the enemy which resulted in the "affair" at "Bethel Church." They remained upon the Peninsula under General McGruder, who was successfully holding McClellan in check by appearing at every point assailed by the Federals.
"The forces under General McGruder were the only obstacle in McClellan's road to Richmond.
"Under these circumstances, McGruder, with superb rashness, threw out his whole force as skirmishers, along a line of nine or ten miles.
"The Dreux Battalion bore a conspicuous part in all the operations of this campaign." Later, the battalion went into winter quarters.
Because I wish to contrast the condition of these men during the first part of their service and when, later, they encountered inconceivable hardships and deprivations, I will here give entire a letter from one of the battalion, kindly placed at my disposal, describing the "house-warming" which was given when they moved into winter quarters on the Peninsula:
"CAMP RIGHTOR, November 29, 1861.
"I received yours of the 14th a few days since, and the 20th yesterday, both of which I will answer in one. The half-barrel of sugar was received long since, as you will see by looking over my letter to you about three weeks ago. The sugar came through in good order, also the white sugar, medicine, and coffee; the latter we use sparingly, mixing it with wheat,—one-third coffee and two-thirds wheat. The wheat does not seem to change the flavor in the least. Sweet potatoes are also used in camp in place of coffee,—you dry it, then parch and grind it; we have not tried that method yet on account of the scarcity of potatoes. All our cabins are finished at last; the tents are used no more to sleep in. Our house-warming has taken place. We made about ten gallons of egg-nog for the occasion; we used about six dozen eggs. Walton's mess was over, and a good many from the rifles; various members from both companies of the guards. Also the major, doctor, adjutant, and Lieutenant Dunn, Grivot Guards. They say it was the best nog they ever drank; the house was crowded. The nog gave out, and we had to produce the jug. If we had had our sick messmate from Williamsburg, we would have had noise (Noyes) all night, but as it was it only lasted until one o'clock. Everybody in camp seemed to be trying to make more noise than his neighbor. Beard told us next day that it was a very well-conducted affair, that everything passed off so quietly with so much nog as that. He evidently went to bed early after he left us. I saw Posey yesterday, he was looking badly, seeming to have been troubled with the chills for some time. Since it has become so cold we have had to take the cook in the house, which makes eleven. This boy outsnores creation, beating anything you ever heard; he woke me up last night, and I thought it was the dog Cadet barking outside at the door.
"If you get this before ma sends off the expected-to-be-sent package, and if there is some room, you might put in one blanket. Since we sleep two in a bunk, we spread our blankets across the bunk. Brunet has three, and I have three, which makes it equal to six apiece. Send the blanket; it shall do its share of warming, I assure you. I suppose what ma sends will be my share of Christmas in New Orleans. Our turkeys look droopy, and there is no telling when they will peg out. We keep the gobbler's spirits up by making him fight. The camp is full of turkeys, and we make ours fight every day. I have plenty of clothes and socks: I have over half a dozen of woollen socks.
"The Gopher Mess send their best regards.
"Co. A, ORLEANS CADETS,
"Louisiana Battalion, Williamsburg, Virginia."
The formation of Fenner's Louisiana Battery was attended by tremendous difficulties and discouragements, patiently met, nobly overcome, by the gallant officer who found himself at last at the head of a company composed of men who, whether considered in the aggregate, or as individuals, had not their superiors in the Confederate armies,—intelligently brave, enthusiastic, patriotic, gentlemen by birth, breeding, and education, whom chivalrous devotion to duty forbade to murmur at any hardship which fell to their lot. As officers or private soldiers, looking to the future of the Confederacy as to something assured; never despairing, ready to follow wherever and whenever a "hope" was led, no matter how "forlorn."
The record of this little band of devoted patriots has never been thoroughly known or understood as it deserves to be. Only once has its history appeared in print,—upon the occasion of a reunion of the command held in New Orleans, May 12, 1884. With great pride I transfer to these pages part of an article which then appeared in the Times-Democrat of that date:
"As the term of service (twelve months) of the corps began to approach its end, Captain Charles E. Fenner, commanding the company of Louisiana Guards, conceived the idea of raising a battery of artillery. He had no difficulty in getting the men, a sufficient number volunteering at once from the battalion, but he encountered other most disheartening obstacles. The War Department had not the means of equipping the artillery companies already in service, and authorized to be raised, and he could only obtain the authority to raise this battery on condition of furnishing his own armament of guns. He succeeded, however, in making arrangements with his friends in New Orleans to furnish the guns, and the battery had been made and was ready for him in New Orleans, when the city fell, and it was captured.
"Upon the discharge of the battalion, however, he changed his rendezvous to Jackson, Mississippi, and proceeded there to try and accomplish his object. Many of those who intended to join him looked upon his enterprise as so hopeless that they abandoned it and joined other commands. A sufficient number, however, rallied around him at Jackson, Mississippi, and, on the 4th of May, 1862, his company was organized by the election of officers, and on the 16th was mustered into service. Meantime, the chance of getting an armament was hopeless indeed. At last, however, Captain Fenner found, lying abandoned by the railroad, the ruins of a battery, which had been destroyed on the eve of evacuating New Orleans, under the apprehension that it would have to be left, but was subsequently brought off. The guns were spiked and rammed with wads and balls, the spokes and felloes of the wheels were cut, the trails hacked to pieces, and all the ordinary means of disabling a battery had been resorted to. The task of reconstructing this ruined battery was undertaken, and, after much difficulty, successfully accomplished.
"Then came the trouble of obtaining horses, harness, and other equipments, which had to be wrested from reluctant and ill-supplied quartermasters and ordnance-officers. At last, however, all difficulties were overcome. A few weeks of active drilling, and Fenner's Battery was ready for the field. On August 20, 1862, it received marching-orders for Port Hudson. Arrived there just after the evacuation of Baton Rouge by the Federal forces. Ordered on to Baton Rouge. Remained there a few days, when the battery returned to Port Hudson with the exception of one section, which was left with one regiment of infantry to occupy the city. Held it till retaken by the Federals in December, when our small force successfully evacuated it under the fire of the enemy's gunboats, and before the advance of their infantry, which had landed. The battery remained at Port Hudson, participating in all the operations of the forces there till May 1, 1863, when it was ordered to Williams's Bridge to intercept Grierson's raid, arriving there a few hours after the raid had passed.
"May 7. Ordered to Jackson, Mississippi, with Marcy's Brigade.
"Participated in the Big Black campaign of General Johnston.
"In position at Jackson, and engaged in the fighting around that place from 10th to 16th of July, losing several men killed and wounded.
"After the evacuation of Jackson, retreated with Johnston's army to Forrest and Morton. Thence to Enterprise, and from there to Mobile, and remained there till November 21, 1863, when ordered to the Army of Tennessee.
"Reached Dalton November 27, just after the defeat at Missionary Ridge.
"Spent the winter in building winter-quarters successively at Dalton and Kingston, which were evacuated before occupied.
"On the 1st of May, 1864, General Sherman advanced from Chattanooga toward Dalton, and the great Georgia campaign commenced. From that time till the 1st of September following, the Army of Tennessee was almost constantly engaged with the enemy.
"May 8 to 12. Battery in position at Mill Creek Gap, near Dalton, and engaged with the enemy. They fell back to Resaca. Engaged on the 14th of May in supporting charge by Stewart's Division upon the enemy.
"On the 15th, battle of Oostenaula. The battery was divided, one section on each side of a battery in a fortified work. The charge of the enemy was most desperate, and they captured and held the fortification, but were repulsed from the front of each section of Fenner's Battery, which held their positions till night, and then evacuated. Retreat of the army was continued to Calhoun, Adairsville, Cassville, Centerville; engaged more or less at each of those points.
"On the 25th of May occurred the battle of New Hope Church, one of the finest fights of the war. It was an assault of the whole of Hooker's Corps on Stewart's Division. The attack was almost a complete surprise. Fenner's Battery went into position at a gallop, had several horses killed while unlimbering, and fired canister at the first discharge. The engagement was continuous for two hours, during the whole of which time, owing to the thickness of the woods, the enemy's skirmishers were enabled to maintain their position within from fifty to one hundred yards, but their repeated charges were well repulsed. The enemy's loss was terrific, admitted to be over two thousand, far exceeding the number of our men engaged. Fenner's Battery lost twenty-three men killed and wounded, and nearly all of its horses, and was specially complimented in orders for gallantry and efficiency.
"From this point, in continual conflict with the enemy, the army gradually fell back till it reached Atlanta, around which continuous fighting was kept up, until its evacuation on the 2d of September.
"1st September. Battle of Jonesboro', in which the battery was engaged.
"This may be considered the end of the Georgia campaign.
"After brief rest at Lovejoy's Station, the army commenced its long march to Tennessee by Centre, Jacksonville, Gadsden, and Florence.
"Left Florence November 20; arrived at Columbia, Tennessee, and struck the enemy there November 26. Enemy evacuate on the 28th.
"November 30. Battle of Franklin.
"December 2. Reached Nashville.
"December 6. Fenner's Battery was ordered to join General Forrest's command at Murfreesboro'; participated in the battle of Murfreesboro' on the 8th, and was still with Forrest when the battles of Nashville were fought, on the 15th and 16th, and the great retreat commenced.
"In this fight, which is called the second of Murfreesboro', it will be remembered that Bates's Infantry Division was stampeded early in the action, causing the loss of several guns of the Fifth Company, Washington Artillery. On this occasion (one of the few instances, if not the only one during the war) six pieces of field artillery, being four Napoleons of Fenner's Battery and two rifled pieces of Missouri Battery, placed in position by General Forrest,—their horses having been sent to the rear across Stone River,—held the line for three-quarters of an hour against the enemy's entire force until the infantry and wagons had safely crossed the river on the only bridge half a mile in the rear.
"As soon as the news reached Forrest, his command started across from Murfreesboro' to join the main column at Columbia. There was no turnpike, the roads were in awful condition, the horses reduced and broken down, and a continuous rain pouring down. Two of the guns reached Columbia in safety; the other two would have been brought through but for the swelling of a creek by the rain, which it was impossible to cross,—the only guns the battery ever lost. The men remained by them alone till Columbia was evacuated by our forces and the enemy within a mile of them, when they destroyed their pieces, swam Duck River, and started after the army. The terrors of the retreat from Tennessee in midwinter, the men shoeless, without blankets, and almost without clothes, need not be recounted here.
"January 10. The battery reached Columbus, Mississippi.
"January 31. Ordered to Mobile. Remained there as heavy artillery till 11th of April, when it was evacuated; go up the river to Demopolis; from there to Cuba Station, Meridian, where, on the 10th of May, arms are laid down and the battery with the rest of General Taylor's army."
A member of the battery, who was an exceptional soldier, and who still cherishes and venerates everything that reminds him of the glorious past, has kindly placed in my hands some letters which I am permitted to copy and here subjoin, feeling sure that they will prove quite as interesting as the numerous documents of the kind published in the "lives" of those high in authority, although they contain only the experience of a young private soldier, conveyed in dutiful letters to his mother. Some of these will suggest the changes which befell the soldiers who gave the house-warming in Virginia, and the difference between the first and last years of the war.
"NEAR NEW HOPE CHURCH, GEORGIA,
"May 26, 1864.
"MY DEAR,—Knowing that you will be anxious to hear from me and the company after the late fight, I avail myself of the first opportunity to write. Stewart's Division of Hood's Corps arrived in the vicinity of the Church yesterday morning. Soon after skirmishes commenced, moving a mile off, and gradually approached us. By 3 p.m. it commenced to near us, and 5 p.m. found us galloping into position. Clayton's Brigade supported us behind log works, which served as an excellent shelter for us from the minies. The Yankees approached under cover of the woods to within two or three hundred yards, where they made their lines. As soon as we could see where they were we commenced firing into them, and kept it up until the ammunition of the limber was expended. They made several charges, but were repulsed by the infantry and artillery each time. Our loss was heavy (artillery), the infantry not being as much exposed as we were; their casualties were slight. At our howitzer Willie Brunet was killed after firing some fifteen rounds. He was killed in the act of giving the command to fire, the ball piercing him above the left eye. Early had four wounded,—viz., Vaudry, painfully in the breast; J.T. Pecot, painfully in the back; Eaton, in the wrist; Corporal J——, ball in the side. At Carly's piece none were killed, but McGrath and Joe Murphy were shot through the arm,—the latter it is thought will lose his arm,—and young Ford. At Woester's piece, R.A. Bridges was killed; Joe Bridges was shot in the leg; McCarty, in the foot; Dunbar, in the thigh; Lieutenant Cluverius, wounded in the side; Joe Reeves, through the leg; St. Germain, foot. The loss in horses was heavy. Woester had all eight horses of his piece killed, and his riding-horse. Lieutenant Cluverius lost his horse 'Rebel,' who was shot in the head, and died. Our detachment had three wounded; the horses saved themselves by running away. In all, we lost twenty-three, and perhaps more. Stanford was on our left, they lost about fifteen killed and wounded; Oliver, sixteen. John Cooper has a welt on his shin from a spent ball; John was driving and lost both horses. I was number six at the limber until Willie was killed, when I acted as gunner. McGregor ranks me, and hereafter I expect to be caisson-corporal. General Clayton paid us the very highest compliment upon the manner in which the guns were managed; 'too flattering to be repeated,' as Captain Fenner remarked. 'Owing to the loss in horses, men, and ammunition expended,' we were relieved and sent to the rear to replenish. A couple of days may right us, when we will again be in the front. Stewart did the fighting yesterday; I don't believe any other division was engaged. A part of Polk's (if not all) arrived about midnight. Since Polk's Corps joined us, I have found several acquaintances, among whom are John Butler, lieutenant of engineers; the two Spencer boys, in Cowan's Battery; and Ed. Hoops, in Tenth Mississippi. They were all apparently well when I saw them last, and inquired particularly of you.
I enclose a letter that we received from General Clayton on a copy of the letter to the captain, with an extract from the general's report of the battle of New Hope Church:
"HEADQUARTERS, CLAYTON'S BRIGADE,
"June 7, 1864.
"CAPTAIN,—I take pleasure in making for you the following extract from my report of the battle of New Hope Church. With renewed expression of the profoundest acknowledgments for the signal service you did the country, and particularly my brigade, of which every officer and man speak in the highest terms,
"Believe me, dear captain,
"For its conduct in the engagement too much praise cannot be awarded to Fenner's Louisiana Battery, which occupied a position along my line. Although the enemy came within fifty or sixty yards of the guns, every officer and man stood bravely to his post."
The following letter describing a Christmas dinner in 1864 presents so true a picture of the situation, and at the same time so well illustrates the soldierly spirit of the battery, that I publish it in full:
"RIENZA, MISSISSIPPI, January 4, 1865.
"MY DEAR MOTHER,—An opportunity of writing now offers,—the first since our leaving Florence, before going on our Tennessee campaign, which has finally terminated so disastrously for us. Had orders been obeyed and carried out at Spring Hill, there never would have been a fight at Nashville. By some misunderstanding, the Yankee army was allowed to cross at the above-named place without being attacked. We followed on their tracks to Franklin, picking up stragglers and prisoners all along the way, to the amount of several hundred.
"We left Columbia at daylight, marched twenty-three miles, and fought the battle of Franklin before dark. Our battery did not take part in the battle: we were in position, but, owing to the close proximity of the two armies, could not fire,—we were under fire, but no one was hurt. Stewart's and Cheatam's Corps with one division from our corps, fought the battle. I passed over the field next morning and saw enough for never wanting to see another such field. The men were actually lying in some portions of the trenches three deep. Ours being the attacking party suffered severely,—almost an equal loss to the Yankees. Our loss was about forty-five hundred, and theirs five thousand, including prisoners. Next day we started for Nashville, eighteen miles distant. Our battery remained there till the 5th, when we were ordered to Murfreesboro' to aid General Forrest in reducing that place. On the 6th we arrived there, took position, and built works. Next day, on account of a flank movement by the enemy, we had to move our position back a mile. Soon the enemy appeared in our front, and skirmishing commenced. The infantry fell back, leaving the artillery to do the fighting without one musket to protect us. We stayed as long as we could, when we finally had to follow the footsteps of the infantrymen. The fight—there was none—nothing but a big scare and run. General Forrest sent General Bateman with his division to Nashville, but kept our battery with him. We lost one man at Murfreesboro, I.T. Preston, brother of the Prestons of Carrollton. We stayed in camp for seven days when General Forrest determined to attack again and took one section of the battery with him,—the other section, the one I belong to, was sent to protect his wagon-train. Two days afterwards the army commenced its retreat from Nashville (the particulars of which no doubt you have already learned). Our march was over a muddy and rugged road for fifty miles to Columbia. It was the severest march I ever undertook: we pushed and worked at the wheels all the time. The horses finally broke down, and we had to take oxen and yoke them in and drive them. Can you imagine me up to my knees in mud, barefooted and muddy, with a long pole, driving oxen. It was a very picturesque scene, and no doubt the 'Yankee Illustrators' would pay a good price for such a picture. I was about on a par with two-thirds of the others, and we made as merry as possible under the circumstances. We had no rations, and lived entirely on the people: they treated us splendidly, gave us more than we could eat, and left us duly indebted to them for their many kindnesses. I for one will never forget the hospitality received in Tennessee. We recrossed the Tennessee on the 26th of December. Christmas day was quite an event to us. We were then out of Tennessee, in a poor country, and could get very little to eat. All day myself and mess were without food; late in the evening we saw a butcher-pen and made for it; all we could get was oxtails and a little tallow procured by a good deal of industry from certain portions of the beef. One of the boys procured a lot of bran and unbolted flour and at twelve o'clock at night we sat down at our Christmas dinner (oxtail soup and biscuit), and if I ever enjoyed a meal I enjoyed that one. The army is retiring to Okolona and the artillery to Columbus, Mississippi. The barefooted men were left here to go by rail. When we get away I cannot say. We had to leave two of our pieces stuck in the mud, the other side of Columbus; the third piece was thrown in the river; the fourth piece, the one I am interested in, was saved and represents the battery."
And here is the last, written from Demopolis, Alabama, April 15, 1865:
"DEAR MOTHER,—You have heard ere this of the evacuation of Mobile, which happened on the day of the eleventh. After the fall of Spanish Fort and Blakely, all hope of holding Mobile was given up. The works around the city were made to be manned by eight thousand, but, after the capture of the garrison at Blakely, our forces were too much reduced to hold the place. When evacuated, the place was not threatened, but might have been completely invested in a week's time. All the heavy guns were destroyed: we destroyed seven twenty-four pounders. The total loss of guns must have amounted to three hundred. We left Mobile by boat, and each man with a musket. It is a heavy fall for us who have been in artillery for three years, and now find ourselves as infantrymen, much to our displeasure. As much as I dislike it, I shall keep my musket until something better turns up...."
The history of the battery, from first to last, is that of thorough soldiers, brave in battle, uncomplaining, cheerful, even jolly, under the most trying circumstances, bearing with equanimity the lesser ills of a soldier's life, with unshaken fortitude and undiminished devotion to "The Cause," indescribable hardships and discouragements.
Proud as I am of their whole record, I must admire the noble spirit which animated these patriots, when, at Mobile, having been deprived of their cannon, they cheerfully shouldered the muskets assigned to them, and were prepared to use them, never dreaming that the bitter end was so near. All soldiers will well understand that this was a crucial test of their devotion and patriotism.
The exceptional talent which, during the war, these young men freely gave in aid of every charity, was then only budding. Since the war, splendid fruit has appeared.
Perhaps no single company of veterans numbers among its members more talented and remarkable men, or more prominent and loyal citizens.
Of the "boys" who once composed Fenner's Louisiana Battery, a goodly number yet survive.
The ties of old comradeship bind them closely. Not one forgets the glories of the past. True,
"Some names they loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb,"
but the survivors "close up" the broken ranks, and still preserve, in a marked degree, the esprit du corps which belonged to
"The days that are no more."
The Boy and the Man.
In the early summer of 1846, after the victories of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, the United States Army, under General Zachary Taylor, lay near the town of Matamoras. Visiting the hospital quarters of a recently-joined volunteer corps from "the States," I remarked a bright-eyed youth of some nineteen years, wan with disease, but cheery withal. The interest he inspired led to his removal to army headquarters, where he soon recovered health and became a pet. This was "Bob Wheat," son of an Episcopal clergyman, and he had left school to come to the war. He next went to Cuba with Lopez, was wounded and captured, but escaped the garroters to follow General Walker to Nicaragua.
Exhausting the capacity of South American patriots to pronounce, he quitted their society in disgust, and joined Garibaldi in Italy, whence his keen scent of combat summoned him home in time to receive a bullet at Manassas. The most complete Dugald Dalgetty possible; he had "all the defects of the good qualities" of that doughty warrior.
Some months after the time of which I am writing, a body of Federal horse was captured in the valley of Virginia. The colonel commanding, who had dismounted in the fray, approached me. A stalwart, with huge moustache, cavalry boots adorned with spurs worthy of a caballero, slouched hat and plume; he strode along with the nonchalant air of one who had wooed Dame Fortune too long to be cast down by her frowns.
Suddenly Major Wheat near by sprung from his horse with a cry of "Percy, old boy!" "Why, Bob!" was echoed back, and a warm embrace followed. Colonel Percy Windham, an Englishman in the Federal service, had parted from Wheat in Italy, where the pleasant business of killing was then going on, and now fraternized with his friend in the manner described.
Poor Wheat! A month later he slept his last sleep on the bloody battle-field of Cold Harbor. He lies there in a soldier's grave.
Gallant spirit; let us hope that his readiness to die for his country has made "the scarlet of his sins like unto snow."
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
In the early autumn, on a lovely afternoon, a little girl sat upon the stile which led from a spacious farmyard into a field of newly-mown wheat. In her hand she held a long switch, and her business was to watch the motions of a large flock of fowls, which, as is usual at harvest-time, had been kept in their coop all day, and only let out for an hour or two, just before sunset, to run about in the grassy yard, seeking bugs and worms, or other dainties, which they alone know how to find.
Of course they could not be allowed in the field before the grain had been safely garnered, so Nelly had been permitted to mount guard upon the stile, the better to observe and control them. She quite felt the importance of the trust, and, holding her switch as proudly as if it had been a sceptre, was eager and quick to discover occasions to use it. Many a staid and demure-looking hen, or saucy, daring young chicken, had stolen quite near to her post, stopping every few moments to peer cautiously around, or to peck at a blade of grass or an imaginary worm, as if quite indifferent to the attractions presented by the field beyond, but just as they had come close to the fence, thinking themselves unnoticed, Nelly would jump from her perch, and, with a thwack of the switch, send them squawking back to their companions. At length, however, the child seemed to grow weary of her task. Slowly descending to the ground, she walked toward the barn, and, returning with her apron full of corn, opened the door of the chicken-house, and, having enticed her charge within, shut them up for the night. This done, Nelly wandered aimlessly about for a while, then, sitting down upon a large stone, which seemed to have been rolled under a tree just to make a nice seat, she looked around in an impatient and discontented manner. The sights and sounds which surrounded her were very pleasant, and—one would have imagined—exceedingly attractive to a child. The rays of the declining sun, slanting across the grassy yard, brightened up the low, brown farm-house until the old-fashioned glass door and latticed windows on either side seemed as if brilliantly lighted from within. One might easily have imagined it an enchanted castle. The mossy roof looked as if gilded. In front of the house the well-bucket, hanging high upon the sweep, seemed dropping gold into the depths beneath. On the porch, upon a table scrubbed "white as the driven snow," were set the bright tin pans ready to receive the evening's milk. Within the house the maids were singing gayly as they passed to and fro preparing a substantial supper for the farmer. Outside, the creaking wagons were being driven into the barn-yard. Gentle oxen, released from their daily toil, stood patiently waiting to be fed. Horses, with a great deal of stamping and fuss, were led into the barn. Up the lane came the cow-boy, alternately whistling, singing, and cracking his whip, until at length the drove of sweet-breathed cows stood lowing at the bars, which, at milking-time, would be let down for them to pass each to her own stall.
Nelly seemed to see and hear nothing that was passing around her. The shadow upon her face deepened; the sweet blue eyes filled with tears. At last she rose, and, crossing the stile, passed rapidly through the wheat-field, climbed a low stone wall and presently came to a green knoll, shaded by a sycamore-tree, commanding a view of the public road. Here she stood, eagerly gazing down the road, while seemingly struggling to subdue a sorrow which, however, soon found vent in heart-broken sobs. Still searching the road with anxious, tearful eyes, she seemed to hesitate for a while, but at last, after casting many a fearful glance toward the farm-house, the little girl began to descend the high bank, slipping many times, and sadly scratched by the rough gravel and projecting roots of the trees.
Having reached the bottom, she did not pause a moment, but drew her light shawl over her head and ran swiftly away. And now let us try to discover the cause of all this trouble.
My dear young friends, have you ever heard of a disease called "nostalgia?" A long, hard word, and one which contains a world of terrible meaning. It is a kind of sickness which attacks not only children, but also strong and wise men, who have been known to suffer, nay, even to die, because they could not obtain the only remedy which ever does any good. Nostalgia means homesickness.
Poor little Nelly was homesick, and in desperation she had fled, hoping to find, not her own dear, Southern home, for that she knew she could never see again, but the house of her grandmamma, where she had some time before left her dear mother. The little girl had, ever since she could remember, lived very happily with her parents in their lovely Virginia home. An only child, she was petted to her heart's content, having scarcely a wish ungratified. But when the war began her papa became a soldier. Nelly thought he looked very grand in his uniform of gray with its red trimmings and bright buttons, and rather liked the idea of having a soldier papa. But after he had gone away she missed him dreadfully. Her mamma was always so pale and sad that the child also grew anxious, and could no longer enjoy her play. At first letters from the absent soldier cheered them, but as the months passed they ceased to hear at all, except the wild rumors which often frightened and distressed the anxious wife. "Maum Winnie," an old negro servant, who claimed to have "raised Mars Ned" (Nelly's papa), now proved a faithful friend and a great comfort to her mistress; but Nelly, missing the old woman's cheerful talk and the laugh that used often to shake her fat sides, thought she had grown cross and exacting.
The bright morning sunlight sometimes made the little girl forget to be sorrowful, and when her "Ponto" came frisking around her, she gladly joined him in a wild romp. Immediately Maum Winnie would appear, the very picture of dignified astonishment,—"Now, Miss Nelly, ain't you 'shame'? Yer pore mar she bin had a mity onrestless night, an' jes' as she 'bout to ketch a nap o' sleep, yere you bin start all dis 'fusion. Now, her eye dun pop wide open, an' she gwine straight to studyin' agin." The days passed, each made more gloomy by rumors of the near approach of the enemy. At last, one dreadful night, a regiment of Federal soldiers suddenly appeared, and at midnight Nelly and her mamma were compelled to seek shelter in Maum Winnie's cabin. The next morning only a heap of smoking ruins remained to show where their sweet home had been.
The plantation owned by Nelly's papa was some three miles distant from the family residence; therefore, only the few servants necessary for household service lived upon the "home place." Their cabins, somewhat removed from the house, had escaped the flames. Maum Winnie's was larger and better furnished than any, and far more attractive in appearance. A rustic fence, built by her old husband, "Uncle Abe" (long since dead), enclosed a small yard, where grew all kinds of bright, gaudy "posies," with here and there a bunch of mint or parsley or sage, and an occasional stalk or two of cabbage. Over the little porch were trained morning-glories and a flourishing gourd vine. Beneath, on each side, ran a wide seat, where, in the shade, Maum Winnie used to sit with her knitting, or nodding over the big Bible which on Sunday evening she always pretended to read. The neat fence was now broken down, the bright flowers all trampled and crushed by the feet of men and horses. Inside also, the once spotless floor was muddy and stained with tobacco, all the old woman's treasures being broken and scattered. Amid all this confusion, in the little front room, once the pride of Winnie's heart, was carefully placed almost the only thing saved from the burning, an easy-chair, cushioned upon the back and sides, and covered with old-fashioned chintz. How the faithful soul had managed to get it there no one could have told, but there it stood, and Winnie said, "Dat ar wos ole mistes' cheer, and she sot in it plum twill she die. Ole Winnie couldn't stan' an' see dat burn, nohow." Upon the little porch sat Nelly and her mamma on the morning after the fire, worn out with excitement, and feeling utterly forlorn. Soon Winnie appeared, bearing upon a gay red tray two steaming cups of coffee. Mrs. Grey took only a sip or two, then setting the cup upon the bench at her side, she grasped the arm of her old servant, and, leaning her head upon the faithful breast, began to sob and moan piteously. Nelly at this also cried bitterly. Tears streamed down Winnie's fat black cheeks. But the faithful negro tried to soothe and comfort her mistress, patting her shoulders as if she had been a baby, saying, "Dah! Dah! honey, don't take it so haad. Try to truss in de Lawd. He dun promus, an' he aint gwine back on nobody. I's dun sperience dat."
At last, won by Nelly's caresses and Maum Winnie's coaxing, the weary lady consented to take some repose in "ole missis' cheer," where, leaning her aching head upon the cushioned side, she fell asleep.
Nelly greatly enjoyed the strong coffee (which she never before had been allowed to drink). It made her feel very wide awake. Presently she strolled off toward the adjoining cabins. These were quite empty, the men-servants having disappeared with the Federal soldiers the night before, the women had followed to their camp not far distant. Not a living thing was to be seen; even the chickens had disappeared. The whole scene was very desolate,—the smoking ruins, the deserted cabin, a cloudy sky. Soon the child remembered her playfellow, Ponto, and began to call him. A doleful whine answered her, seeming to proceed from under one of the negro cabins. Nelly stooped to look, but could only see two glowing eyes, and hear the knocking of the dog's tail upon the ground. Ponto had been so badly frightened that no coaxing or ordering would induce him to come out. So his little mistress walked angrily away, and, passing through the broken gate, stood looking up and down the road. Presently there came riding along a Federal officer on horseback, who, discovering the forlorn child, stopped to speak to her.
Nelly's first impulse was to run away, but, instead, she stood clinging to the gate-post, kicking the ground with one foot and flashing angry glances at the "Yankee." The officer sighed deeply as his glance fell upon the ruined home, and then upon the little, tear-stained face before him. Dismounting, he approached more closely, and strove to take the unwilling hand. But the child now broke into a storm of sobs, crying out, "Go away! you're a naughty Yankee, and I hate you. 'You alls' have burnt up my mamma's pretty house, and all our things, and my mamma just cries and cries; but my papa is gone to fight the 'Yankees,' and I hope he will shoot them all!"
The soldier slowly paced back and forth. "Ah," said he, softly, "if this were my little Ida: God bless her! Little girl, where is your mamma? Perhaps I can help her. Will you lead me to her?"
The child had hidden her face upon her arm, but now looked up in affright. "You won't hurt my mamma? You ar'n't going to burn up Maum Winnie's house?" said she.
Gradually his kind face and gentle manner reassured her, and she was, at last, persuaded to convey to her mother a few lines which he pencilled on a card. To Nelly's surprise, Mrs. Grey consented to receive the "Yankee." The little girl was sent to conduct him to the cabin. The lady was standing at the door as the officer and his little escort drew near. Nelly thought she had never seen her mamma look so pretty. Her eyes were shining, a lovely red spot glowed upon each cheek, but she did not smile as she used to do when receiving a guest, and, while offering the stranger a seat, she remained standing, looking very tall and grand.
During the conversation which followed, Mrs. Grey learned that as a battle was imminent at the front it was impossible to pass her through the lines (which had been her hope when she consented to see the officer). It was equally impossible to remain where she was. Her only place of refuge was her mother's home in Maryland, where she had been raised, and had lived previous to her marriage.
Promising to arrange for her transportation to the nearest railroad station, the kind-hearted officer took his leave.
When Maum Winnie was told of the proposed journey, she was greatly troubled. But when Mrs. Grey further informed her that she was free and not expected to make one of the party, her distress knew no bounds. Rushing out of the cabin, she seated herself on a log at some distance, and, throwing her apron over her head, rocked her body to and fro, wailing out, "Oh, my hebbenly Marster, 'pears like I aint fitten to bar all dis trouble. An' how dem dar gwine to do 'out ole Winnie?"
After a while, drawing her pipe and tobacco from her pocket, she sought the comfort of a smoke. Just then, Ruthy, the cook, made her appearance with a large bucket on her head. Flaunting past the old woman, she entered the kitchen without a word, and set about preparing a supper for the hungry inmates of the cabin. Where the material came from she declared was "her bizness," and her saucy manner and independent talk so confounded Maum Winnie that she asked no more questions, concluding that "Mars Yankee sont 'em an' made dat gal fotch 'em."
Mrs. Grey and Nelly had few preparations to make for the morrow. The child, soon after sunset, threw herself across the foot of the high feather-bed which stood in a corner of the cabin, and slept soundly. Maum Winnie, taking off her shoes, bustled about in her stocking-feet, apparently very busy. Her movements were for some time unobserved by her mistress, who was lost in thought. At last, kneeling before the fireplace, she reached up the chimney and brought out from its hiding-place an old, black tea-pot, with a broken spout. From this she took several papers of dried "yarbs," some watermelon-seed, an old thimble, a broken tea-spoon, a lock of "de ole man's ha'r," and lastly, the foot of an old stocking, firmly tied up.
This last it took some time to undo, but finally, approaching Mrs. Grey, she turned out into the astonished lady's lap what proved to be a collection of gold and silver coins, the hoarded savings of years, the gift of many whom she had served.
"Why, Winnie," said Mrs. Grey, "what does this mean? Where did you get this money, and why do you give it to me?"
"Wall, Miss Ellen, yo' see, ez fur back ez ole mass an' mistes' time, me an' my ole man usen to wait on de wite genplums an' ladies wot come to de big house, an' de ole man he mity clus-fisted, an' nebber spen' nuffin, an' sence he die, an' ole mass an' miss dey gone, too, Mars Ned he dun tuk mity good keer of ole Winnie, an' I nebber bin had no excessity to spend dat money, so I's kep' it an' kep' it, ontwill 'pears like de Lawd he dun pint out de way fur it to go. 'Sides, we all's gwine way off yander, an' we can't 'pear no ways 'spectable 'dout little cash money."
"But, Winnie, only Nelly and I are going away. You are free now, and will find other friends, and—"
"Dah! dah! honey," broke in the poor old creature, "don' say no mo'! I's 'bleeged to go 'long. Wat I want to be free for? Who gwine keer 'bout me? 'Sides, I dun promus Mars Ned I gwine to see to you an' dat chile yander, an' I's gwine 'long shuah."
Wearied and exhausted with the discussion, and unwilling to grieve her husband's faithful old nurse, who still clung to her own fallen fortunes, Mrs. Grey ceased to object, but resolutely refused to take the money, which Winnie reluctantly gathered up and carried out of the room, to seek among the numerous secret pockets she always wore a secure hiding-place for her treasure. This decided upon, while Mrs. Grey sank into an uneasy slumber in the chair, the old woman made a little fire just outside the back shed, where, with her pipe now lighted and now "dead out," she nodded and dozed until morning.
Nelly awoke at sunrise, bewildered at her strange surroundings, then oppressed and sadly grieved by recollections of all that had happened. Catching sight of her mother's pale, suffering face, the child flew to her side, seeking to cheer her by fond caresses.
Just then the sound of wheels was heard as the ambulance-wagon, which was to convey them to the railroad, drew up before the door. The driver dismounting, announced that, as the camp was about to be broken up, Colonel —— desired the ladies to start at once, adding that "the colonel would ride over to see them off."
Their loss by the fire had been so complete that there was no baggage. Nelly was glad to wear a clean, white sun-bonnet of Winnie's, and Mrs. Grey was similarly equipped with a black one and a small black shawl. Maum Winnie appeared in full Sunday rig, her head crowned with a towering head-handkerchief. Her manner was lofty and imposing. Evidently she was aiming to support the family dignity, which had been quite lost sight of by the others, Mrs. Grey being far too sorrowful, and Nelly, in spite of everything, gay and excited at the prospect of a ride and a change. Putting on her brass-rimmed spectacles, the old woman inspected, with an air of supreme contempt, the "turnout" before the door, occasionally rolling her eyes toward the driver in a manner that spoke volumes, but was quite lost upon "dat po' wite trash, who 'spected Miss Ellen to git in dat ole market-wagon." After the others were seated, Winnie disappeared within the cabin, and, after much delay, came out dragging an immense bundle. She had tied up in a gorgeous bed-quilt her feather-bed and pillows with,—nobody knows how many things besides.
The driver sprang to the ground in consternation.
"Hey, old nigger, what's in that great bundle? You can't lug that along. What you got in there, anyhow?"
"Dat my bizness," retorted Winnie. "You is too inquisity; 'sides, who you call nigga'? I's a 'spectable cullud ooman, and Mars Ned nebber 'low nobody to call me outen my name."
Mrs. Grey vainly tried to restore peace; her voice was not even heard; but just then Colonel —— rode up, and as Winnie seemed inclined to stand her ground, he gave her a choice between mounting at once to a seat beside the driver or being left behind. Then perceiving that Mrs. Grey seemed quite overcome by emotion, and wishing to remove her as quickly as possible from the desolate scene before her, he gave the order to drive on, and, raising his hat, rode off towards camp before the lady could find voice to express her gratitude. A few hours' ride brought the refugees to the railroad station, where they took the cars for ——, the home of Nelly's grandmamma. Here a warm welcome and entire comfort awaited them. Nelly had often spent weeks at a time with her grandmamma, and was delighted to find all her old haunts as pleasant as ever. Her dolls, toys, books, etc., had been carefully kept. Better than all, she discovered a fine Newfoundland puppy and a litter of pretty white kittens to console her for the loss of Ponto.
One day, when they had been at grandmamma's only a fortnight, Nelly saw a neighboring farmer drive up to the front gate, and ran gladly to meet him, for farmer Dale was a cheery old man, who had always seemed very fond of the child. Now, however, he looked very grave, merely shaking hands, then bidding Nelly tell her grandmamma that he must see her at once, "and, Nelly, you need not come back," said he, "I have business with your grandma." Soon after the farmer drove away, while grandmamma returned to the house, wearing a very serious face, and after sitting in the darkened parlor awhile, apparently thinking deeply, passed slowly into her daughter's room. Then Nelly heard a faint cry from her mamma, and hurrying into the house, found her excitedly walking up and down, wringing her hands, and crying, "I must go to him! I must, I must!" A letter received by farmer Dale from his son, who was a Confederate soldier, had contained the news that Mr. Grey was wounded and a prisoner. Just where was unknown, or whether his wounds were severe or perhaps fatal. This news rendered the poor wife almost frantic. All night she paced the floor in sleepless agony. Next day the farmer paid a second visit, and was for a long time closeted with the distressed ladies. Afterward, Mrs. Grey seemed more restless than before, requiring the constant attention of both grandmamma and Maum Winnie. Thus a week passed.
Suddenly, one morning farmer Dale again appeared, and this time very smiling and gracious to Nelly.
"Chatterbox," said he, "how would you like to ride home with me and stay awhile, until your mother gets better? You can run about over there, and make all the noise you want to; nobody will mind it."
Nelly could not tell whether she would like or not. It was very dull where she was, but she did not care to leave her poor mamma. Grandmamma, however, decided the matter by assuring her that Mrs. Grey needed perfect quiet, and would be better without her. So the little girl ran off to Maum Winnie to be dressed for her ride.
Arrived at the farm-house, the kindness of the family, and the novelty of everything she saw, so charmed the child that for a while she was quite content. Little tasks were, by her own request, assigned to her, easy and pleasant, but seeming to the child of great consequence. But, in spite of all, homesickness attacked her; she grew weary of everything, and begged to be taken to her mamma. The kind farmer and his wife tried to turn her thoughts from the subject, telling her she could not go just then; but day by day Nelly became more dissatisfied, the longing for home grew stronger, until, on the evening when this begins, she actually ran away. And now let us see what became of her.
Once on the road, Nelly ran very fast, until, almost breathless, she found herself compelled to rest awhile in a little grove by the roadside. Scarcely had she seated herself upon the grass when the steady trot, trot of a horse was heard. She had barely time to hide behind a large tree when one of the farm-hands passed on his way from the mill. It seemed to Nelly that the slight rustle of the leaves under her feet must betray her, and the loud beatings of her heart be heard. But the boy passed on, and soon his low whistle, as well as the measured beat of the horse's hoofs, grew fainter.
However, all danger was not over, for just as she was about to venture forth, the panting of some animal startled her. For a moment her terror was extreme. This changed to chagrin and vexation as Rover, the farmer's dog, ran to her hiding-place and fawned upon her. Having followed the farm-boy to the distant mill, the poor dog, growing weary with his long run, had fallen far behind. Now Rover and the little girl had been great friends, and had enjoyed many a romp together, but just then his presence made her very cross; so, seizing a large stick, she beat the poor fellow until he ran yelping away.
Left alone once more, Nelly set off in the direction of town. Having often, in her rides with grandmamma, passed along the same road, she thought she knew the way; but night was approaching. It appeared to the child that darkness must bring added danger. Besides, she would soon be missed at the farm, pursued, overtaken, and carried back. This dread gave her fresh courage, and again the young traveller walked rapidly on. Before she had gone far, a light wagon overtook her. In its driver she gladly recognized an old man who sometimes supplied her grandmamma with vegetables. He drew up in great astonishment as Nelly called to him, but at her request allowed her to climb to the seat beside him. As they approached the town, the heart of the runaway began to sink; a sense of her disobedience, and the knowledge that it would add to the grief of her dear mother, and, perhaps, greatly displease grandmamma, oppressed her sorely. She decided that she could not face them just then. Begging the old man to put her down at the nearest corner, the unhappy little girl approached the house by a back entrance, and, concealed amid the shrubbery, stood trembling and weeping. The lamps had been lighted, and from the windows of the dining-room a bright ray shone out upon the lawn, seeming almost to reach the place where the child was hidden. Within was a pleasant little group gathered around the tea-table. To her great surprise, Nelly discovered her mother busily engaged in arranging upon a waiter covered with a white napkin a nice supper, while grandmamma added a cup of steaming tea. Winnie stood by as if waiting to carry supper to somebody, but Nelly was puzzled to know for whom it was intended. Just then, however, the gate-bell rang loudly. Winnie hurriedly caught up the waiter and disappeared as the opposite door opened to admit farmer Dale. His first words seemed greatly to disturb and alarm the ladies. Grandmamma quickly arose with a cry of grief and horror. Mrs. Grey stood motionless, her eyes fixed on the farmer's face, her hands pressed to her heart.
Nelly could bear no more. Rushing impetuously into the house, she threw both her arms around her frightened mother, crying,—
"Oh, mamma, grandmamma, I am not lost, but I have been so naughty. I wanted you so, and I ran away. Oh, let me stay; please let me stay."
The mother sank into a chair, her arms instinctively enfolding her naughty child, but she did not kiss or welcome her. Grandmamma, too, looked very grave and troubled. After a few minutes of painful silence, the farmer took his leave, saying,—
"I'll leave you to settle with the little one. I must make haste to relieve my wife's anxiety."
After his departure, the penitent nestled more closely to her mother. She felt sure of her love and forgiveness, and hoped that grandmamma might not be too severe, although she fully expected a good scolding and some kind of punishment besides, which she meant to bear quite meekly. To her surprise, neither mentioned her fault. Her mother seemed to be thinking of something else, and Nelly did not at all understand the queer looks which passed between the ladies. At last Winnie put her head in the door, evidently to deliver some message, for she began, "Mars—," when Mrs. Grey started up suddenly, saying,—
"Oh, Winnie, here is our Nelly," while the child sprang forward to throw herself on the breast of her astonished nurse.
"De Lawd er Massy! Whar dat chile cum from dis time o' nite?"
"Why, Winnie," explained grandmamma, "she has run away from the farm, and here she is. Did you ever hear of such badness?"
"Dah, now!" cried the negro, "didn't I tole you dat? I jest know dat chile wasn't gwine to stay nowhar 'dout her mar an' me. Po' chile, she look mity bad, 'deed she do."
"Well, Winnie, never mind that now, she is only tired; let her eat her supper and go to bed."
Nelly had expected, at the very least, to be sent supperless to bed, but instead, grandma gave her all she could eat, and, but for the strange preoccupied manner which so puzzled her, the child would have been very comfortable. When, led by her mamma and attended by Winnie, she went up-stairs she found that her couch had been removed into her grandmamma's room. "You will be better here," explained Mrs. Grey, "for I am very restless and might disturb you."
Nelly was just conscious of an unusual bustle in the passage outside, and of hearing voices and footsteps going up to the third story; but, too sleepy to pay attention, she soon ceased to hear anything.
When she awoke the morning was far advanced, and her grandmamma was not in the room. While she lay thinking over the strange events of the day before, Maum Winnie appeared with some fresh, clean clothes upon her arm.
"Mornin', little missy," said she, pleasantly; "is you gwine ter sleep all day?"
Nelly sprang up and was soon dressed. Running into her mamma's room, she found it all in order, the sweet wind and the morning sun coming in freely through the open windows. Mrs. Grey, however, was not there; nor did she find her in the breakfast-room, where only grandmamma sat waiting to give the child her breakfast. Upon the sideboard stood a tray which had contained breakfast for somebody; Nelly wondered who, and suddenly asked,—
"Is mamma sick?"
"No, she is quite well now," was the reply.
"Well, did she eat breakfast with you?"
The child again glanced toward the sideboard, and at last asked plainly,—
"Whose breakfast is that yonder, and who did you all send supper to last night?"
"Nelly," said her grandmamma, sharply, "eat your breakfast, and ask no more questions. Little girls should be seen and not heard."
The child obeyed, but remained curious, and determined to find out the mystery, if she could. Soon her mother came in, kissed her affectionately, and stood for a few moments by her chair, smoothing back her curls just as she used to do. Nelly thought gladly of the happy day she would spend at her mother's side, but Mrs. Grey disappointed her by saying,—
"My daughter, you must play as quietly as possible to-day, and don't run or romp near the house. I am far from well, and very nervous."
The little girl, however, drew her mother out of the room upon the vine-shaded gallery, where they walked up and down for a few moments. But Mrs. Grey still seemed ill at ease, and soon returned within the house. Then Nelly ran down the steps and across the lawn in search of her old playmates, the kittens and the puppy, visited the garden and summer-house, where she occupied herself in arranging a bouquet for her mamma. At last it seemed to her that it must be nearly twelve o'clock; so returning to the house, and finding the lower rooms deserted, she wandered into the kitchen, where she found Maum Winnie broiling some birds and preparing some nice toast, while near by upon the kitchen-table was a waiter ready to carry up the delicate lunch to somebody. Nelly at once began,—
"Oh, Maum Winnie, who are those birds for? Where is the cook? What are you in the kitchen cooking for?"
Winnie seemed wonderfully flurried and confused by all these questions, and Nelly was equally disconcerted at finding the old woman so cross.
"Jes' listen to de chile!" cried Winnie. "Wot you makin' all dis miration 'bout? I nebber seed nobody so inquisity as you is. De cook she dun leff, an' I's cookin' ontwill yer grandmar git somebody. Ef you don' belieb me, ax yer mar. Ennyhow, I's gwine to 'quaint yer mar with yer conduck, axin' so many perterment questions."
"But, who are the birds for?" persisted Nelly. "I know mamma never eats birds, and grandmamma isn't sick."
"I 'clar, Miss Nelly, I's outdone wid you. Go outer heah, 'fore I calls yer grandmar."
Nelly left, still very curious and dissatisfied.
Having wandered about aimlessly for a while, the little girl at last strayed into the empty parlor, and there sat down to consider. Suddenly she heard a stealthy step upon the stairs. At the same time a faint odor of broiled birds saluted her nostrils. Nelly crept softly to the door, just in time to see her grandma ascending the flight of stairs leading to the third story. "Now," thought the child, "I will find out what all this means."
Waiting until the old lady had passed out of sight in the corridor above, she stealthily followed. All the doors of the rooms in the third story were closed, but through an open transom came the sound of voices. Listening eagerly, she heard her mamma speaking, and in reply a voice which set her heart beating wildly and made her dizzy with surprise. In a moment she was vainly striving to open the locked door, screaming loudly, "Papa! oh, papa!" Instantly the door was opened, and she found herself dragged inside the room, her grandma's hand placed closely over her mouth, while her mother, in a hoarse whisper, said, "Nelly, for pity's sake hush, no one must know." Gazing about her with wildly-distended eyes, the frightened girl beheld, reclining in an easy-chair by the bedside, her dear papa, but, oh, so pale, so changed. A small table drawn closely to his side so as to project over the arm of the chair held a large pillow covered with oil-cloth, upon this lay one arm, which, with the shoulder, was entirely bare; just under the collar-bone appeared a frightful wound, over which Mrs. Grey was preparing to lay a linen cloth wet with cool water. Nelly gasped for breath and turned very white, but when her papa held out his well hand towards her with the old sweet smile she so well remembered, she ran to his side and nestled there, still trembling and sobbing, for she had been frightened, first by the rough treatment of her grandma, and yet more by the changed appearance of the dearly-loved father, who, as it seemed to her, must be dying. As further concealment was useless, Nelly was taken into the confidence of the ladies, who, however, seemed almost in despair lest the child in some thoughtless manner should betray the secret so anxiously guarded.
A short time before the visit to the farm a dreadful battle had been fought in Virginia, not many miles from the State-line, near which stood the house of Nelly's grandma. It so happened that the regiment to which Mr. Grey belonged had participated in the fight, and at the conclusion he found himself badly wounded and a prisoner. Having been ill previously, the wounded soldier was unable to be marched off with other prisoners, but was left, as all supposed, to die. The tide of battle rolled on, leaving the field where the fight began strewn with the dying and the dead. A blazing sun poured its intolerable light and heat upon the upturned faces and defenceless heads of hundreds of suffering, dying men, adding frightful tortures to the pain of their wounds. When the dews of night came to moisten parched lips, to cool aching brows, Mr. Grey managed to drag himself to a stump near by, and placing his back against it, waited hoping to gain a little more strength. His mouth was parched and dry, but he had not a drop of water. Suddenly his eyes fell upon a canteen lying at no great distance, almost within reach of his hand; with infinite pain and trouble he at last possessed himself of it. It was not quite empty, but just as Mr. Grey was about to drink, he heard a deep groan, and turning, met the imploring eyes of a Federal soldier. He was but a youth, and had been shot through the body and mortally wounded. His parched lips refused to speak, only the earnest eyes begged for water. Mr. Grey at once handed him the canteen, although he felt almost as if he would die for want of the water it contained. Eagerly the dying boy drank. It seemed as if he must take all, there was so very little, but after a swallow or two he resolutely handed it back, gasping, "God bless ——. Left you some." When the moon arose, its rays fell upon the dead young face of the boy in his gory blue, whose last words had been a blessing upon the wounded, exhausted soldier in gray sitting beside him.
Later came help,—old men who, starting when the first news of the battle reached them, had ridden miles guided by the sound of the firing. Most of them were Marylanders, who had sent forth their sons to battle for the Confederate cause, and who now sought among the dead and dying with dim, anxious eyes for the loved faces they yet prayed not to find. Among them came farmer Dale, whose son was a Confederate soldier. Eagerly he examined the faces of those who lay upon the bloody field. All, however, were strange, until at last he came upon Mr. Grey. Carefully assisting him to reach an old cabin which stood near, he made the suffering man as comfortable as possible, then, without loss of time, set out to convey the news to Mrs. Grey. Now, it would seem that the very easiest thing would have been to carry the wounded soldier at once to the house of his wife's mother to be nursed and cared for, but it must be remembered that the Federal army had been shown in many ways that they were considered as invaders by the people of Maryland, and that their presence was obnoxious and hateful. They, on the other hand, considered all Southern sympathizers as traitors to their flag and their country. Every open expression of such feelings was severely punished. Had it been known that any Confederate soldier was harbored or concealed in any house within the Federal lines, the owners would have been arrested together with the soldier they had hidden, their house would probably have been burned. So it was necessary in the case of Mr. Grey to observe great secrecy and to plan carefully his removal.