My readers will remember that Nelly was suddenly sent off to stay at the farm-house. Then Maum Winnie took occasion to pick a quarrel with the white servants, in which she succeeded so well that they both left in high displeasure. Shortly afterward, one dark night, Farmer Dale drove up to the carriage gate with a high-piled load of hay. There was a great deal of "geeing" and "hawing" and fuss, and then, instead of getting down, the farmer called out,—
"Say, are you all asleep?"
At once Maum Winnie's voice was heard inquiring,—
"Hey, old girl, come down here and open the gate. I've brought your hay, but I got stalled on the way, and it's too late to put it up to-night. I'll have to drive the wagon in and leave it. I'll unload it in the morning."
Maum Winnie shut the window, and soon was heard shuffling along the carriage-road, grumbling to herself.
"'Fore do Lawd, I is plum wore out. I dun wuk sence sun-up, an' dere dat ar fodder fotch here jes' es I gwine ter lie down."
This pretence of ill-humor was kept up until the wagon was well out of sight from the street and driven up under a shed close by the kitchen-door, when poor old Maum Winnie came up close and whispered,—
"Is you brung Mars Ned shure 'nuff? Oh, whar he? tell Winnie whar he!"
Just then the two ladies stole out from the house and came close to the wagon. Both seemed calm and self-possessed, save that the hurried breathing of Mrs. Grey showed her excitement. A light might have betrayed them, and they dared not run any risks. No time was now to be lost. Mr. Grey was, indeed, concealed among the hay, and needed immediate attention, for the long ride had greatly increased the pain and fever of his wound.
Slowly he crept out from his hiding-place, and, with the assistance of the farmer and Winnie, managed to reach an upper room, where he sank exhausted, yet with a contented sigh, on the comfortable bed which had been for days awaiting him.
Under the loving care of the ladies and Maum Winnie he slowly improved. No one had suspected his presence in the house until Nelly discovered him, as above related.
Mr. Grey scarcely dared to hope that the little girl would be able to keep the secret, but all was explained to her. She was made to understand the extreme danger to all concerned in case of discovery. The trust reposed in her made the child feel quite womanly. Every day she became more helpful, a greater comfort to her anxious mamma, better able to assist in nursing.
Weeks passed, bringing renewed health and strength to the soldier, who began to feel very anxious to rejoin his command. Various plans were discussed, but none appeared practicable. Rumors of an advance of the Confederate forces, and of an impending battle, became every day more like certainties. At last, one morning all were startled by the sound of heavy guns; later, volleys of musketry could be plainly heard. Federal troops marched at double-quick through the town, on their way to the scene of strife. All day the fight raged. Sometimes the sound of firing would seem nearer, then farther off; at nightfall it ceased. When it became quite dark, Mr. Grey, bidding them all farewell, hurriedly left the house, hoping to join some detachment of Confederates during the night, and to participate in the battle next day.
The next day was fought the battle of ——, which raged almost in sight of the town. Nelly was, of course, in a state of great alarm and excitement, but both her mamma and grandma were carefully preparing the house for the reception of the wounded. Soon every room was occupied, and the ladies had their hands full in attending to them. On the second day a wounded Federal was brought to the house. While nursing him, Mrs. Grey learned that he was a private in the regiment commanded by Colonel ——, the officer who had so kindly assisted in her time of need. He told her that the colonel had been terribly wounded and carried to a hospital on the battle-field. Mrs. Grey at once determined to find him, and, if still alive, to do him all the good in her power. So, summoning farmer Dale, she rode with him to the hospital. Being an officer, Colonel —— was easily found. He had just suffered amputation of an arm, and was weak from loss of blood, but recognizing Mrs. Grey, smiled and seemed glad to see her. It was impossible to move him, but from that time he lacked nothing that could add to his comfort. Later, Nelly was allowed to visit him, frequently bringing flowers, and in many pleasant ways cheering his loneliness.
Meanwhile the Confederate forces had swept on into Pennsylvania, but, alas, were forced back. When they returned to Virginia, Mrs. Grey and Nelly went with them, for both preferred to risk all chances rather than to remain within the Federal lines, cut off from all communication with the husband and father who might at any time need their services. So they became "refugees," living as did thousands of homeless ones, as best they might. Maum Winnie having proved her skill as a nurse, found plenty of employment. Her wages, added to the little Mrs. Grey could earn by her needle, kept them from absolute want. At last came the sad day of "the surrender."
Nelly was yet too young to understand the sorrow and despair of her mother, nor could she refrain from exceeding wonder when one day Mr. Grey appeared, looking like an old and haggard man, and without a greeting to his wife and child, tottered to a seat, throwing his arms upon the table, burying his face within them, while be moaned and sobbed as only a man can. Kneeling by his side, his wife tried to soothe and comfort him, but although he was able at last to restrain his grief, it was many a day before he was seen to smile.
There was nothing left for the impoverished family but to return to the old Virginia home, and try to make the best of it. They were compelled to travel as best they could, sometimes walking many miles, sometimes taking advantage of a passing wagon. At last one evening, just as the sun was setting, they approached the home-place, once a blooming paradise, now a desert waste. The cabin of Maum Winnie with a few of the servants' houses were still standing, but deserted and desolate. Doors, log fireplaces, etc., had been torn down for firewood, and in many places patches of charred wood, or dead embers, showed where camp-fires had been lighted. The little garden in front of Maum Winnie's cabin, made and carefully tended by "de ole man," was a wilderness of weeds among which flowers of rank growth still struggled for a place. Where the chimneys of the "house" still stood, and all over the half-burned trunks of once beautiful trees crept and clung sickly-looking vines, springing from the roots which had once nourished a luxuriant growth and were not wholly dead.
As Mr. Grey surveyed the scene, a deep groan burst from his lips; but the wife laid her hand upon his shoulder, saying, "Courage, dear, we will make a home even here." Maum Winnie here stepped to the front, briskly leading the way to the little cabin, followed by Nelly, who, child-like, entered readily into any plan that promised to be novel and exciting. Everything of value had been carried off, but a few chairs and a bed with a shuck mattress remained, together with a few pots and pans. The fireplaces were also ready for use. Winnie soon had a cheerful fire, while Nelly set out on the top of a box the remains of the rations they had brought along, and which with some steaming coffee of parched corn formed the evening meal.
Ten years later a plain but tasteful cottage occupied the site of the ruined home. Fast-growing vines were doing their best to rival the luxuriant foliage which once almost hid the old house. A well-kept garden perfumed the air and delighted the eye. Fields ripe for the harvest occupied the land where the negro cabins had stood, forming an effective background to the newly-repaired and whitewashed house of Maum Winnie, which stood, a pleasant feature of this scene of peace and plenty, its fences intact, posies blooming as of old. On the little porch sat the old woman, dozing over her knitting. The gallery of the house was occupied by a family group, who were enjoying the fresh coolness of the evening out of doors. Mrs. Grey sat upon the upper steps arranging some flowers, which were supplied to her as she called for them by a lovely boy, who had just brought his apron full of them. Nelly, swinging in a hammock, was a picture of lazy enjoyment. The attention of all was attracted by the sound of wheels, which ceased as a carriage drove up containing a gentleman and lady, and a young lady who sat by the driver (an old negro who was often employed as a driver and guide by strangers). Nelly ran down to the gate, followed by her mother. The gentleman had by this time descended. One glance at the empty sleeve was enough, even if the kindly face had not been so little changed. It was Colonel ——, who, having business in Richmond, had "stopped off" at the wayside station for a few hours, that he might endeavor to find the Greys, and introduce to his wife and daughter the kind friends who had so faithfully nursed him when wounded, and also show them the scene of incidents often related to them.
The ladies having been introduced, the strangers accepted a cordial invitation to alight. While they were chatting pleasantly upon the vine-shaded gallery, Mr. Grey rode into the yard upon a strong-looking white mule. The greeting of the soldiers was courteous and pleasant. The contrast between them was striking indeed.
The one clad elegantly and fashionably, his shirt-front blazing with diamond studs, his hair and beard luxuriant and carefully kept. The pleasant eyes untroubled and smiling. The other in the plain garb of one who must earn his bread, coarse but scrupulously neat. The face bronzed from exposure, the hair damp with the sweat of toil, and yet, when the brown, hardened hand of the Virginia gentleman met the white clasp of the rich man of the North, Mr. Grey lost nothing by comparison. Colonel —— having laughingly inquired after Maum Winnie, the whole party repaired to her cabin. The old woman received her guests with stately politeness, holding her turbaned head high, as she majestically stalked before them to show, at their request, her chickens, ducks, and pigs. She omitted nothing that was due to her visitors, but there was a strained politeness, and a rolling of her eyes toward them, which made Mrs. Grey uneasy and quite prepared her for what followed. While Colonel —— was in the act of saying something which he thought would quite win the old creature's heart, she looked up at him over her glasses, saying,—
"Yer ain't seen nuffin er dat ar fedder-bed yet, is yer? Kase ole Miss she dun giv' me dat ar bed too long to talk about, an' ebery one ob dem fedders was ris rite on dis yere place. 'Fore de Lawd, if ole Miss know I dun loss dat ar bed she gwine ter rise rite outen de grabe."
Colonel ——, remembering the scene of the disaster to Winnie's feather-bed, felt inclined to laugh heartily, but wishing to mollify the old creature preserved his gravity while he offered her quite a handsome sum "to buy some more feathers." A look from Mr. Grey put a stop to the old woman's talk. Soon the visitors took their leave, having given and received most pleasant impressions. Their visit recalled so vividly their time of trial and adventure that the Greys sat talking far into night.
The next morning Mr. Grey walked over to the cabin to administer a rebuke to Maum Winnie. As he drew near the gate the quavering voice of the old woman was heard singing jerkily, and with a pause between every few words,—
"Aldo yer sees me gwine 'long so, I has my troubles heah below."
At last, discovering Mr. Grey, she rose and dropped a courtesy.
"Mornin', Mars Ned."
"Well, Winnie, you forgot your Virginia raising yesterday. What is all this about your feather-bed?"
"Well, Mars Ned, dey dun stole it."
"Who stole it?"
"Dah, honey, de Lawd only knows, an' he ain't gwine ter tell. I dun loss it anyhow, an' my pore ole bones mity sore sleepin' on dem shucks."
Mr. Grey, finding that the old creature's grievance was very real to her, refrained from scolding, and, passing out through the little flower-garden, proceeded to the stable to feed the stock, a piece of work which before the war had employed many hands, but which now was performed by himself, assisted only by one negro man.
Upon the summer air rang the sweet voice of Nelly as she sang at her work. In the scented garden Mrs. Grey with her little boy weeded and trimmed and twined the lovely flowers, feeling really a greater delight in the fruit of their labor than if they had no real acquaintance with the flowers, but only received them from the hands of a gardener.
Dear reader, we must now say farewell to our Nelly. Let us hope that the clouds which darkened her childhood and early youth have passed never to return, and that although "into each life some rain must fall," her rainy days may be few and far between.
I believe I may safely say that no cause ever fought for, no army ever raised, numbered among its adherents and soldiers so many mere boys as rallied around "The Bonnie Blue Flag," bringing to its defence the ardor of youth, added to unquestioning loyalty and Spartan bravery. Aye, more wonderful, more worthy of admiration than the bravery of the Spartan youth, because our Southern boys had, up to the beginning of the war, known nothing of hardship or danger. Yet they met with splendid courage all that fell to their lot as soldiers, fighting with an impetuosity and determination which equalled that of the oldest veterans. My book contains already many instances of lofty courage and patient endurance as shown by boys. I will add one or two incidents worthy of record.
In one of the companies of the Third Lee Battalion was a bright Irish boy named Flannagan, who had been brought to Virginia by one of the officers as his attendant. During the seven days' fight around Richmond this child, having procured a small shot-gun, fought with the best of them, coming out safe and sound. I learned this little history from a soldier who knew the boy. Flannagan now lives in Texas.
It is well known that the boys of the Virginia University did excellent service under "Stonewall" Jackson. Here is a story of some other school-boys, related to me by their teacher, himself a brave soldier who lost an arm in one of the battles around Richmond.
When Wilson's raiders reached Charlotte County, Virginia, preparations were made by the Home Guards, aided by a few veterans who happened to be home on furlough, to check their further progress. Breastworks were thrown up on the south side of Stanton River, the railroad bridge was blockaded, and a gun placed in position to defend the passage. Colonel Coleman, who was at home on furlough, gave it as his opinion that these precautions must be supplemented and supported by rifle-pits on the north side, or no successful defence could be made. The pits were hastily dug, but, when volunteers were called for, the extreme danger prevented a hearty response. None appeared except a few old soldiers and six or seven school-boys, whose ages ranged from fourteen to sixteen. The Yankees advanced in line, in an open plain, about two thousand strong. A rapid fire was opened from the rifle-pits and from the gun on the railroad bridge.
After a few minutes the enemy retired, reformed, and came on again, but were again routed as before. Although the boys held a place where many a veteran would have quailed, they stood their ground nobly, and did a soldier's duty.
After the fight was over, two of them had a quarrel regarding a Federal officer whom both shot at and both claimed to have killed.
These were Virginia boys, the sons of veterans, and attending a local school.
The raid came to grief soon after, being routed by Fitz-Hugh Lee.
Thomas Hilton, of Uniontown, Alabama, volunteered in the "Witherspoon Guards," Twenty-first Alabama Regiment, at the tender age of fourteen. He was too small to carry a musket, and was detailed as a drummer boy. At the battle of Shiloh he threw away his drum and so importuned his captain for a gun that it was given him.
Shortly after, while in the thick of the fight, he was shot through the face, the ball entering one side and passing out at the other.
Rev. N.I. Witherspoon (chaplain of the regiment) found him lying upon the ground, bleeding to death as he then supposed, and knelt beside him to pray. To his surprise the boy looked up, the fire in his eyes unquenched, and gasped out while the blood gushed afresh at every word,—
Thomas Hilton still lives in Uniontown, Alabama, respected by all who know him. His fellow-citizens regard the ugly scar which still appears upon his face with pride and reverence.
The battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, was one of the most hotly-contested and bloody of the war, the loss in men and officers being terrific. The tide of battle rolled on, through lofty pine forests, amid tangled undergrowth, and over open fields, where the soldiers were exposed a to storm of shot and shell, and where, on that beautiful Sunday morning, hundreds of the dead and dying strewed the ground. While the battle was at its height it became necessary, in order to secure concerted action, to send dispatches to a certain point. The only way lay across a ploughed field, exposed to a terrific fire from the enemy, whose target the messenger would become: and it seemed as if certain death must be the fate of any one who should attempt to run the gauntlet. And yet the necessity was met. A boy of eighteen years stepped forth from the ranks of Company G, Crescent Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers, and offered to perform this dangerous service.
Dashing on through a perfect hail of shot and shell, stumbling and falling over the furrowed ground, struggling up and on again, he passed unharmed, successfully executing his mission. His escape was so miraculous that one can only account for it by the belief that God gave his angels charge concerning him.
The name of this valiant boy—James V. Nolan—should live in history. He still lives, and has been for years secretary of the Cotton Exchange at Shreveport, Louisiana.
THE YOUNG COLOR-BEARER.
The story of "The Little Apron" was written up by Major McDonald, of Louisville, to be read at a meeting of veterans of Association Army of Northern Virginia, Kentucky Division. It is true in every particular,—indeed, a matter of history.
I have given it a place here because I feel sure that many of my young readers will remember having seen the apron in question, and will like to read its full history. It was very kindly loaned to me, during the New Orleans Exposition, by Major McDonald, and was on exhibition at my tent ("The Soldiers' Best"), among many other Confederate relics, where it never ceased to be an object of profound interest and veneration. Hundreds of people handled it. Veterans gazed upon it with moistened eyes. Women bedewed it with tears, and often pressed kisses upon it. Children touched it reverently, listening with profound interest while its story was told. The little apron was of plain white cotton, bordered and belted with "turkey red,"—an apron of "red, white, and red," purposely made of these blended colors in order to express sympathy with the Confederates. It yet bears several blood-stains. The button-hole at the back of the belt is torn out, for the eager little patriot did not wait to unbutton it. There is another hole, just under the belt in front, made when the wounded boy tore it from the staff to which he had nailed it to conceal it in his bosom. The story as told by Major McDonald is as follows:
In the spring of 1863, while the Army of Northern Virginia was encamped on the Rapidan River, preparing for that memorable campaign which included the battle of Gettysburg, there came to it, from Hampshire County, Virginia, a beardless boy, scarcely eighteen years of age, the eldest son of a widowed mother. His home was within the enemy's lines, and he had walked more than one hundred miles to offer his services to assist in repelling a foe which was then preying upon the fairest portions of his native State. He made application to join Company D, Eleventh Virginia Cavalry, which was made up principally from his county, and, therefore, contained many of his acquaintances, and seemed much surprised when told that the Confederate government did not furnish its cavalry with horses and equipments. Some members of the company present, who noticed his earnestness and the disappointment caused by this announcement from the officer, said,—
"Enroll him, captain; we will see that he has a horse and equipments the next fight we get into."
On faith of this promise he was enrolled,—James M. Watkins, Company D, Eleventh Virginia Cavalry, Jones's Brigade. Shortly afterward the campaign opened with the fight at Brandy Station, in which twenty thousand cavalry were engaged from daylight to sundown. Before the battle was over Watkins, mounted and fully equipped, took his place with his company. It was not long after this engagement that General Lee advanced the whole army, and crossed into Maryland, Watkins's command covering the rear. During the battle of Gettysburg, on the 3d and 4th of July, we were engaged several times with the enemy's cavalry on our right, upon which occasions he was always found in the front, and while on the march was ever bright and cheerful.
On the evening of the 4th, General Lee, in preparation for his retreat, began to send his wagons to the rear in the direction of Williamsport, when it was found that the enemy's cavalry had gone around our left and taken possession of a pass in South Mountain, through which lay our line of march. To dislodge them required a stubborn fight, lasting late into the night, in which General Jones's brigade was engaged, and he himself, becoming separated from his men in the darkness, was supposed to have been captured or killed.
Finally the Federals were repulsed, and the wagon-train proceeded on its way to Williamsport. In the morning Watkins's command was ordered to march on the left flank of the train to prevent a renewal of the attack upon it, and on approaching Hagerstown those in the rear of the column heard loud and repeated cheering from the men in front. After having been in an enemy's country fighting night and day, in rain and mud, those cheers came to those who heard them in the distance as the first rays of sunshine after a storm. Many were the conjectures as to their cause: some said it was fresh troops from the other side of the Potomac; others that it was the ammunition-wagons, for the supply was known to be short; while others surmised that it was General Jones reappearing after his supposed death or capture. Whatever the cause was, its effect was wonderful upon the morale of those men, and cheers went up all along the line from those who did not know the cause in answer to those who did. When the command had reached a stone mill, about three miles southeast of Hagerstown, they found the cause only a little girl about fourteen years of age, perhaps the miller's daughter, standing in the door wearing an apron in which the colors were so blended as to represent the Confederate flag. A trivial thing it may seem to those who were not there, but to those jaded, war-worn men it was the first expression of sympathy for them and their cause that had been openly given them since they had crossed the Potomac, and their cheers went up in recognition of the courage of the little girl and her parents, who thus dared to give their sympathy to a retreating army, almost in sight of a revengeful foe. When Company D was passing the house the captain rode up and thanked the little girl for having done so much to revive the spirits of the troops, and asked her if she would give him a piece of the apron as a souvenir of the incident. "Yes, certainly," she replied, "you may have it all," and in her enthusiasm she tore it off, not waiting to unbutton it, and handed it to the officer, who said it should be the flag of his company as long as it was upon Maryland soil.
"Let me be the color-bearer, captain," said young Watkins, who was by his side; "I promise to protect it with my life." Fastening it to a staff he resumed his place at the head of the company, which was in the front squadron of the regiment.
Later in the evening, in obedience to an order brought by a courier, the Eleventh Cavalry moved at a gallop in the direction of Williamsport, whence the roll of musketry and report of cannon had been heard for some time, and, rejoining the brigade, was engaged in a desperate struggle to prevent the Federal cavalry from destroying the wagons of the whole army, which, the river being unfordable, were halted and parked at this point, their principal defence against the whole cavalry force of the enemy being the teamsters and stragglers that General Imboden had organized. The Eleventh Cavalry charged the battery in front of them, this gallant boy with his apron flag riding side by side with those who led the charge. The battery was taken and retaken, and then taken again, before the Federals withdrew from the field, followed in the direction of Boonsboro', until darkness covered their retreat. In those desperate surges many went down on both sides, and it was not until after it was over that men thought of their comrades and inquiries were made of the missing. The captain of Company D, looking over the field for the killed and wounded, found young Watkins lying on the ground, his head supported by the surgeon. In reply to his question, "was he badly hurt?" he answered, "Not much, captain, but I've got the flag!" and, putting his hand in his bosom, he drew out the little apron and gave it to the officer. When asked how it came there, he said that when he was wounded and fell from his horse the Federals were all around him, and to prevent them from capturing it he had torn it from the staff and hid it in his bosom.
The surgeon told the captain, aside, that his leg was shattered by a large piece of shell, which was imbedded in the bone; that amputation would be necessary, and he feared the wound was mortal. "But," he added, "he has been so intent upon the safe delivery of that apron into your hands as to seem utterly unconscious of his wound."
After parting with his flag the brave boy sank rapidly. He was tenderly carried by his comrades back to Hagerstown, where a hospital had been established, and his leg amputated. The next morning his captain found him pale and haggard from suffering. By his side was a bouquet of flowers, placed by some kind friend, which seemed to cheer him much. The third day afterward he died, and was buried in a strange land, by strangers' hands, without a stone to mark the place where he sleeps.
Thus ended the mortal career of this gallant youth, who had scarcely seen sixty days' service; but though he lies in an unknown grave, he has left behind a name which should outlast the most costly obelisk that wealth or fame can erect. Gentle as a woman, yet perfectly fearless in the discharge of his duty, so sacred did he deem the trust confided to him that he forgot even his own terrible sufferings while defending it. Such names as this it is our duty to rescue from oblivion, and to write on the page of history, where the children of our common country may learn from them lessons of virtue and self-sacrifice. In his character and death he was not isolated from many of his comrades: he was but a type of many men, young and old, whose devotion to what is known as the "lost cause" made them heroes in the fullest acceptation of the term, flinching from neither suffering nor death itself if coming to them in the line of duty.
BRAVERY HONORED BY A FOE.
The following story was written out for me by Eddie Souby, of New Orleans, while I was acting as assistant editress of the Southern Bivouac.
It was related to him by his father, E.J. Souby, Esq., formerly a gallant soldier of the Fifth Regiment, Hay's Brigade, and now an honored member of Association Army of Northern Virginia, Louisiana Division. It is a true story in every particular, and the name of the youthful hero is given, that it may live in our hearts, and be honored as it deserves, though he who so nobly bore it is now dead. I wish that I could also give the name of his generous foe,—no doubt as brave as generous,—the Federal officer who interposed his authority to preserve the life of this gallant boy. They should be recorded, side by side, on the same page of history, and be remembered with pride by the youth of our land, no matter whether their fathers wore the blue or the gray during the late civil war.
Nathan Cunningham was the name of this young hero. He was a member of the Second Company Orleans Cadets, afterwards Company E, Fifth Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers, Hay's Brigade, Array of Northern Virginia, and color-bearer of the regiment at the time the incident narrated below occurred. The story is as follows:
It was a dark and starless night. Tattoo-beat had long been heard, and Hay's Brigade, weary after a long day's march, rested beneath the dewy boughs of gigantic oaks in a dense forest near the placid Rappahannock. No sound broke the stillness of the night. The troops were lying on nature's rude couch, sweetly sleeping, perhaps, little dreaming of the awful dawn which was soon to break upon them. The camp-fires had burned low. The morrow's rations had been hastily cooked, hunger appeased, and the balance laid carefully away; but that which was most essential to life had, unfortunately, been neglected. No provision for water had been made. The springs being somewhat distant from the camp, but few had spirit, after the day's weary march, to go farther. The canteens were, for the most part, empty.
Though thirsting, the tired soldiers slept, oblivious to their physical sufferings. But ere the morning broke, the distant sound of musketry echoed through the woods, rudely dispelling the solemn silence of the night, and awakening from their broken dreams of home and kindred the whole mass of living valor.
The roll of the drum and the stentorian voice of the gallant chief calling to arms mingled together. Aroused to duty, and groping their way through the darkness, the troops sallied forth in battle array.
In a rifle-pit, on the brow of a hill overlooking the river, near Fredericksburg, were men who had exhausted their ammunition in the vain attempt to check the advancing column of Hooker's finely equipped and disciplined army, which was crossing the river. But owing to the heavy mist which prevailed as the morning broke, little or no execution had been done. To the relief of these few came the brigade in double-quick time. But no sooner were they intrenched than the firing on the opposite side of the river became terrific, and the constant roaring of musketry and artillery became appalling.
Undismayed, however, stood the little band of veterans, pouring volley after volley into the crossing column.
Soon many soldiers fell. Their agonizing cries, as they lay helpless in the trenches, calling most piteously for water, caused many a tear to steal down the cheeks of their comrades in arms, and stout hearts shook in the performance of their duty.
"Water!" "Water!" But, alas! there was none to give.
Roused as they had been from peaceful dreams to meet an assault so early and so unexpected, no time was left them to do aught but buckle on their armor.
"Boys!" exclaimed a lad of eighteen, the color-bearer of one of the regiments, "I can't stand this any longer. My nature can't bear it. They want water, and water they must have. So let me have a few canteens, and I'll go for some."
Carefully laying the colors, which he had conspicuously borne on many a field, in the trench, he leaped out in search of water, and was soon, owing to the heavy mist, out of sight.
Shortly afterwards the firing ceased for a while, and there came a courier with orders to fall back to the main line, a distance of over twelve hundred yards to the rear. It had, doubtless, become evident to General Lee that Hooker had crossed the river in sufficient force to advance.
The retreating column had not proceeded far when it met the noble youth, his canteens all filled with water, returning to the sufferers, who were still lying in the distant trenches. The eyes of the soldier-boy, who had oftentimes tenderly and lovingly gazed upon the war-worn and faded flag floating over the ranks, now saw it not. The troops, in their hurry to obey orders and owing, probably, to the heavy mist that surrounded them, had overlooked or forgotten the colors.
On sped the color-bearer back to the trenches to relieve the thirst of his wounded companions as well as to save the honor of his regiment by rescuing its colors.
His mission of mercy was soon accomplished. The wounded men drank freely, thanked and blessed him. And now to seize the flag and double-quick back to his regiment was the thought and act of a moment. But hardly had he gone ten paces from the ditch when a company of Federal soldiers appeared ascending the hill. The voice of an officer sternly commanded him to "Halt and surrender!" The morning sun, piercing with a lurid glare the dense mist, reveals a hundred rifles levelled at his breast. One moment more and his soul is to pass into eternity, for his answer is, "Never while I hold these colors."
But why is he not fired upon? Why do we still see him with the colors flying above his head, now beyond the reach of rifle-balls, when but a moment before he could have been riddled with bullets? And now, see I he enters proudly but breathlessly the ranks, and receives the congratulations of his friends in loud acclaim.
The answer comes, because of the generous act of the Federal officer in command of that company. When this noble officer saw that the love of honor was far dearer to the youth than life, in the impulse of a magnanimous heart he freely gave him both in the word of command,—
"Bring back your pieces, men! don't shoot that brave boy!"
Such nobility of character and such a generous nature as that displayed by this officer, must ever remain a living monument to true greatness; and should these lines perchance meet his eyes, let him know and feel the proud satisfaction that the remembrance of his noble deed is gratefully cherished, and forever engraved in the heart of the soldier-boy in gray.
On a bright Sunday morning Sally sat upon the gallery of her uncle's house slowly swaying backward and forward in a low rocking-chair. In her hand was her prayer-book, but I greatly fear she had not read as she ought, for while her finger was held between the shut covers, marking "the Psalms for the day," her bright eyes wandered continually over the lovely scene before her. Above her head branches of tender green were tossing merrily in the March wind, at her feet lay a parterre bright with spring buds and flowers. Beyond the garden-fence the carriage-road described a curve, and swept away under the lofty pines which here bounded the view. On either side lay fields of newly-planted cotton. Behind the house, seen through the wide-open doors and windows, the orchard gleamed pink and white. Still beyond, blue smoke curled upward from the cabins of the negroes in "the quarter,"—almost a village in itself. The noise of their children at play was borne upon the wind, mingled with the weird chanting of hymns by the older negroes. The family, with the exception of Sally, had gone to church,—a distance of twelve miles.
For weeks it had been known that "Wilson's raiders" would be likely at any time to appear; but continued security had lulled the apprehensions of the planters hereabouts, and, besides, they depended upon Confederate scouts to give timely warning. But suddenly on this peaceful Sunday a confused noise from the direction of "the quarter" startled Sally, and directly a crowd of frightened negroes ran to the house with the tale that a party of scouts had been driven in, reporting the Yankees approaching and only ten miles away.
The sense of responsibility which at once took possession of the girl's mind overmastered her terror. She, as well as a few servants considered worthy of trust, had received clear instructions how to act in such an emergency; but before anything could be accomplished a party of horsemen (Confederates) rode up, and hastily giving information that the Federals had taken the "Pleasant Hill road," dashed off again. This knowledge did not relieve Sally's mind, however, for on the Pleasant Hill road lay the fine plantation of another uncle, Dr. ——, who was, she knew, absent.
The overseer, unaware of the approach of the raiders, would, unless warned, not have time to run off the valuable horses. By the road the enemy had taken the distance was several miles, but there was a "short cut" through the woods, which would bring a rapid rider to the plantation much sooner, and at once it occurred to our heroine to send a boy on the only available animal, an old white mule, which had long enjoyed exemption from all but light work as a reward for faithful services in the past. Alas! Sally found she had "reckoned without her"—negro. Abject terror had overcome even the habitual obedience of the servants, and not one would venture; they only rolled their eyes wildly, breaking forth into such agony of protestations that the girl ceased to urge them, and, dismayed at the peril she was powerless to arrest, sat down to consider matters. She know that the family had that morning driven to church, and so the carriage-horses were safe for the present.
But there was the doctor's buggy-horse, a magnificent iron-gray, and Persimmon, her cousin's riding-horse, a beautiful cream-colored mare with black, flowing mane and tail, and Green Persimmon, her colt, which was like its mother, and scarcely less beautiful. Besides, there were horses and mules which, if not so ornamental, were indispensable. Oh, these must be run off and saved,—but how? Goaded by these thoughts, and upon the impulse of the moment, the girl ordered a sidesaddle to be put upon old "Whitey," and, hastily mounting, belabored the astonished beast until, yielding to the inevitable, he started off at a smart trot.
Once in the woods, Sally's heart quailed within her; her terror was extreme. The tramp, tramp of her steed she thought was as loud as thunder, and felt sure that thus she would be betrayed. The agitation of the underbrush caused by the wind seemed to her to denote the presence of a concealed enemy. She momentarily expected a "Yank" to step from behind a tree and seize her bridle. As she rushed along, hanging branches (which at another time she would have stooped to avoid) severely scratched her face and dishevelled her hair; but never heeding, she urged on old Whitey until he really seemed to become inspired with the spirit of the occasion, to regain his youthful fire, and so dashed on until at length Sally drew rein at the bars of the horse-lot, where the objects of her solicitude were quietly grazing, with the exception of Green Persimmon, who seemed to be playing a series of undignified capers for the amusement of her elders. To catch these was a work of time: Sally looked on in an agony of impatience. But, fortunately, a neighbor rode up just then with the news that for some unknown reason the Federal soldiers had, after halting awhile just beyond the forks of the road, marched back to the river and were recrossing. With the usual inconsistency of her sex, Sally now began to cry, trembling so violently that she was fain to dismount, and submit to be coddled and petted awhile by the old servants. She declared that she never could repass those dreadful woods, but later, a sense of duty overcame her nervousness, and (the family having returned), escorted by her cousins and followed by a faithful servant, she returned to her anxious friends, who in one breath scolded her for having dared so great risks and in the next praised her courage and devotion.
The visit of the raiders was, alas! not long delayed, but its attendant horrors may not here be described. The terrible story may, perhaps, be told at another time,—for the present, adieu.
The following story, originally written by me for the Southern Bivouac, is strictly true. The successful forager was once a patient of mine, and is well known to me. I also know that he perpetrated the joke as described. The article is intended to appear as if written by a soldier's son.
HIGH PRICE FOR NEEDLES AND THREAD.
My father was once a private soldier in the Confederate army, and he often tells us interesting stories of the war. One morning, just as he was going down town, mother sent me to ask him to change a dollar. He could not do it, but he said,—
"Ask your mother how much change she wants."
She only wanted a dime to buy a paper of needles and some silk to mend my jacket. So I went back and asked for ten cents. Instead of taking it out of his vest-pocket, father opened his pocket-book and said,—
"Did you say you wanted ten dollars or ten cents, my boy?"
"Why, father," said I, "whoever heard of paying ten dollars for needles and thread?"
"I have," said he. "I once heard of a paper of needles, and a skein of silk, worth more than ten dollars."
His eyes twinkled and looked so pleasant that I knew there was a story on hand, so I told mother and sis' Loo, who promised to find out all about it. After supper that night mother coaxed father to tell us the story. We liked it ever so much: so I got mother to write it down for the Bivouac.
After the battle of Chickamauga, one of "our mess" found a needle-case which had belonged to some poor fellow, probably among the killed. He did not place much value upon the contents, although there was a paper of No. 8 needles, several buttons, and a skein or two of thread, cut at each end and neatly braided so that each thread could be smoothly drawn out. He put the whole thing in his breast-pocket, and thought no more about it. But one day, while out foraging for himself and his mess, he found himself near a house where money could have procured a fine meal of fried chicken, corn-pone, and buttermilk, besides a small supply to carry back to camp. But Confederate soldiers' purses were generally as empty as their stomachs, and in this instance the lady of the house did not offer to give away her nice dinner. While the poor fellow was inhaling the enticing odor, and feeling desperately hungry, a girl rode up to the gate on horseback, and bawled out to another girl inside the house,—
"Oh, Cindy, I rid over to see if you couldn't lend me a needle! I broke the last one I had to-day, and pap says thar ain't nary 'nother to be bought in the country hereabouts!"
Cindy declared she was in the same fix, and couldn't finish her new homespun dress for that reason.
The soldier just then had an idea. He retired to a little distance, pulled out his case, sticking two needles on the front of his jacket, then went back and offered one of them, with his best bow, to the girl on the horse. Right away the lady of the house offered to trade for the one remaining. The result was a plentiful dinner for himself; and in consideration of a thread or two of silk, a full haversack and canteen.
After this our mess was well supplied, and our forager began to look sleek and fat. The secret of his success did not leak out till long afterward, when he astonished the boys by declaring that he "had been 'living like a fighting-cock' on a paper of needles and two skeins of silk."
"And," added father, "if he had paid for all the meals he got in Confederate money, the amount would have been far more than ten dollars."
I know other boys and girls will think this a queer story, but I hope they will like it as well as mother and Loo and I did.
One bright morning I sat in the matron's room of the "Buckner Hospital," then located at Newnan, Georgia. Shall I describe to you this room—or my suite of rooms? Indeed, I fear you will be disappointed, dear young readers, for perhaps the word "hospital" conveys to your mind the idea of a handsome and lofty building containing every convenience for nursing the sick, and for the comfort of attendants. Alas! during the war hospital arrangements were of the roughest. Frequent changes of location were imperative, transportation was difficult. So it became a "military necessity" to seize upon such buildings as were suitable in the towns where it was intended to establish a "post." Courthouses, halls, stores, hotels, even churches had to be used,—the pews being removed and replaced by the rough hospital beds.
The "Buckner Hospital" was expected to accommodate nearly one thousand sick and wounded, and embraced every building for two solid squares. Near the centre a small store had been appropriated to the matron's use during the day. Here all business relating to the comfort of the sick and wounded was transacted. The store as it stood, shelves, counters, and all, became the "linen-room," and was piled from floor to ceiling with bedding and clean clothing. The back "shed-room" was the matron's own. A rough table, planed on the top, stood in the centre. With the exception of one large rocking-chair, kindly donated by a lady of Ringgold, Georgia, boxes served for chairs. A couch made of boxes and piled with comforts and pillows stood in one corner. This served not only as an occasional resting-place for the matron, but, with the arm-chair, was frequently occupied by soldiers who, in the early stages of convalescence, having made a pilgrimage to my room, were too weak to return at once, and so rested awhile.
Here I sat on the morning in question looking over some "diet lists," when I heard a slight noise at the door. Soon a little girl edged her way into the room.
Her dress was plain and faded, but when she pushed back the calico sun-bonnet a sweet, bright face appeared. She came forward as shyly as a little bird and stood at my side. As I put out my hand to draw her closer, she cried, "Don't, you'll scare him!"
And then I perceived that she held close to her breast, wrapped in her check apron, something that moved and trembled. Carefully the little girl removed a corner of the apron, disclosing the gray head and frightened eyes of a squirrel. Said she, "It's Bunny; he's mine; I raised him, and I want to give him to the sick soldiers! Daddy's a soldier!" And as she stated this last fact the sweet face took on a look of pride.
"What is your name, and how did you get here?" I said.
"My name is Ca-line. Uncle Jack, he brung in a load of truck, and mammy let me come along, an' I didn't have nothing to fetch to the poor soldiers but Bunny. He's mine," she repeated, as she tenderly covered again the trembling little creature. I soon found that she desired to give the squirrel away with her own hands, and did not by any means consider me a sick soldier. That she should visit the fever-wards was out of the question, so I decided to go with her to a ward where were some wounded men, most of whom were convalescent. My own eyes, alas! were so accustomed to the sight of the pale, suffering faces, empty sleeves, and dreadful scars, that I did not dream of the effect it would have upon the child.
As we entered she dropped my hand, clinging convulsively to my dress. Addressing the soldiers, I said, "Boys, little Ca-line has brought you her pet squirrel; her father is a soldier, she says." But here the poor child broke down utterly; from her pale lips came a cry which brought tears to the eyes of the brave men who surrounded her: "Oh, daddy, daddy; I don't want you to be a soldier! Oh, lady, will they do my daddy like this?"
Hastily retreating, I led the tortured child to my room, where at last she recovered herself. I gave her lunch, feeding Bunny with some corn-bread, which he ate, sitting on the table by his little mistress, his bright eyes fixed warily upon me. A knock at the door startled us. The child quickly snatched up her pet and hid him in her apron. The visitor proved to be "Uncle Jack," a white-headed old negro, who had come for "little Missy."
Tears came to my eyes as I watched the struggle which at once began in that brave little heart. Her streaming eyes and heaving breast showed how hard it was to give up Bunny. Uncle Jack was impatient, however, and at last "Missy" thrust the squirrel into my hands, saying, sobbingly, "Thar, you keep him to show to 'em, but don't let nothin' hurt him." I arose and placed Bunny in the deep pocket of an army overcoat that hung by the window, where he cuddled down contentedly. Ca-line passed out with a lagging step, but in a few moments ran back, and, drawing a box under the window, climbed upon it to peep into the pocket at her pet, who ungratefully growled at being disturbed. She then ran out without a word to me, and I saw her no more.
Bunny soon attached himself to me. Creeping into my pocket, he would always accompany me in my rounds through the wards. The sick and wounded took the greatest delight in his visits. As soon as I entered the door the squirrel would run up on my shoulder; from thence, jumping upon the beds, would proceed to search for the treasures which nearly every patient had saved and hidden for him. His capers were a source of unceasing amusement to his soldier friends,—I cannot describe to you how great. The story of little Ca-line's self-sacrifice went the rounds among them. All admired and truly appreciated her heroism and her love for "the poor, sick soldiers."
Bunny lived happily for a long time. One day, however, as I was passing along the street, he began as usual to run from out my pocket to my shoulder, and back again to nestle in his hiding-place.
Just then a large dog came by. The frightened squirrel made a vain attempt to reach a tree by the road-side. Failing, he was at once seized and instantly killed. My regret was shared by all the soldiers, who long remembered and talked of poor Bunny.
One very cold day in the winter of 1862 there came to the Third Alabama Hospital, in Richmond, Virginia, a sick soldier, belonging to the Third Alabama Regiment. He was shivering, and so hoarse that he could only speak in whispers. Instead of going at once to bed, however, he sat down upon a bench by the stove, keeping his blanket drawn closely over his chest. His teeth were chattering, and continued to do so until I ordered him to go to his bed immediately, meanwhile hastening down-stairs to prepare for him a hot drink. Upon my return, my patient was in bed, closely covered up,—head and all. As soon as I turned down the bedclothes from his face, I was startled by a furious er-r-r-r bow-wow, wow, wow, which also attracted the attention of every one in the large ward. Of course it was impossible longer to conceal the fact that the new patient had brought with him a dog, so he showed me—nestling under his arm—a young Newfoundland puppy, looking like nothing so much as a fluffy black ball. His bright eyes gleamed fiercely and he continued to bark in a shrill tone, which could not be allowed to continue, as it excited and disturbed the sick. I am a lover of dogs, and now offered to take charge of this little waif. His master was unwilling to part with him, but there was no alternative, so I carried him off down-stairs, where, installed in comfortable quarters and petted by everybody, the ungrateful little dog seemed to forget the sick master who had cherished him so fondly, and, far from grieving or moping at the separation, grew every day more frolicsome. From the soldier I learned the history of his dog. He said,—
"Shortly before I was sent to the hospital our regiment captured a Federal camp. Among the plunder I found that little fellow curled up in a camp-bed that some Yankee had just got out of, and as warm as toast. He seemed to take to me right off. I reckon the Yankee had a name for him, but I call him 'Beauregard.' The poor fellow has had a hard time since I got him, for rations in the valley are poor and scant, but I've done with less so he could have a bite, and I tell you he has kept me warm a many a night."
However, when the soldier was ready to return to camp, Beauregard had grown quite too large to be carried in his master's bosom. So he was given to my little son, and remained to claim our care and to become an object of interest to all inmates of the hospital. It became so much a matter of course for me to take the dog with me on my morning rounds through the wards that whenever he was left behind, my patients never failed to miss him, and to inquire, "Where's the general to-day?" He was very intelligent, easily learning to trot quietly along down the rows of beds. If he ever grew too frisky, I had only to stop short, pointing to the entrance, when down would drop his tail, and he was off like a shot to the yard. There he awaited my coming, always looking anxiously in my face to see if I was still angry. When I would ask, "Are you sorry, Beau?" he would whine and come crawling to my feet. As soon as he heard me say "All right," he began to bound and run around in a circle and in other ways to show his joy.
Among the patients he had many warm friends who used to take great pleasure in saving scraps to feed him with. They also loved to tease him by wrapping some nice morsel in many papers. The parcel was then hidden. Beauregard knew just which beds to stop at, and, greatly to the delight of his friends, would put his paws upon the bunks and "nose about" under the mattress or pillows for the bundles there hidden. After many attempts to get through the many papers in which lay a coveted morsel, he would grow impatient and disgusted, and would at last sit down, looking earnestly first at the inmate of the bed, then at the parcel on the floor. Then, if he was not helped, he would push the bed with his paw, until at last he succeeded in gaining his wish.
Early in the spring Beau fell into some disgrace, for while romping with my little boy he threw him down and broke his arm. Everybody scolded the poor dog, crying shame on him wherever he appeared, until he got a habit of slinking out of sight. Before the broken arm was quite well, little Wally grow very ill of typhoid fever, so ill that his papa was sent for, for it seemed that he must die. Beauregard attached himself very closely to my husband, rarely leaving his side. When his new master returned to camp, I went down to the boat to see him off. The dog followed us. The boat was crowded with soldiers going to reinforce McGruder, so I did not go on board, but when ready to return discovered that Beau was missing. The first letter from my husband announced that the dog had followed his master on the boat, where he must have hidden, for his presence was not discovered until some time after the boat had left the wharf. In camp he became a terrible nuisance. No matter how securely he was tied, the dog always managed to escape and attend the drill. Here he would sometimes sit down and gravely watch the proceedings, cocking his head first on one side, then on the other, but usually he would rush into the ranks to find his master, getting under the feet of the men, who in consequence lost step and got out of line, of course becoming very angry. The shells frequently exploding in the vicinity became a constant terror to this unfortunate, who knew not how to avoid them. He soon learned to distinguish the shriek of a coming shell, and would race off in one direction, looking fearfully back over his shoulder, until a similar sound in another quarter would so puzzle and terrify him that he would stand still awhile until the noise of an explosion utterly demoralized him, when he would frantically dig up the ground, as if trying to bury himself.
I am afraid I must acknowledge that my dog was not strictly honest. In fact, his depredations upon their larders won for him the undying hatred of the colored cooks of various messes, who were always seeking revenge. Their dislike culminated one day in a dreadful scalding, inflicted upon the poor dog by the cook of an officers' mess, who poured a whole kettle of boiling water upon his back, causing him weeks of suffering and the loss of part of his beautiful glossy coat. This seemed to have implanted in his mind a profound distrust of negroes, which he never ceased to entertain until the day of his death. After this Beauregard was sent up to Richmond that I might cure his wound; this I was more easily enabled to do, as my friends among the surgeons kindly advised and assisted me. He was soon quite well, the growing hair nearly concealing his scars. When I left Richmond with my little boy, Beau accompanied us, and found a permanent home upon the plantation of a relative in Alabama. It was here that he first showed his extreme dislike for negroes, which attracted attention and became unmistakable. At first it gave much trouble, but gradually he grew tolerant of the servants upon the "home-place," although he never took kindly even to these. He never forgot that he had been scalded. At any time steam arising from a boiling tea-kettle or pot would send him yelping away. I remember hearing the youngsters say that once when Beauregard had followed them miles into the woods, seeming to enjoy the tramp and the hunt, they having decided to have a lunch of broiled birds, heated some water in a camp-kettle to scald them preparatory to picking off the feathers. As soon as the birds were dipped into the water and taken out steaming, the dog set out for home, where they found him, upon their return, hiding under a corn-crib.
Although, as I said before, Beau became used to the servants whom he saw every day upon the home-place, no strange negro dared to come inside the big gate unless accompanied by one of the family. Whenever the deep, hoarse bark of Beauregard announced the appearance of strangers, it was known that the dog must be chained. Not once, but many times, I have seen a load of "fodder" or "garden-truck" driven into the yard and immediately surrounded by this one big dog, who would keep the black driver crouching at the very top of the load with "ashy" face and chattering teeth, while his besieger walked growling around the wagon, occasionally jumping up upon the chance of seizing an unguarded foot. Until the dog was securely chained nothing would induce his prisoner to venture down. No chicken-thieves dared to put in an appearance so long as this faithful beast kept watch upon the premises. And for his faithfulness he was doomed to destruction. Such a state of security in any place could not long be tolerated. The would-be thieves, exasperated by the impunity with which fine, fat turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens walked about before their very eyes, and smoke-houses, melon-patches, and wood-piles remained undisturbed, at last poisoned faithful Beauregard, whose death left the home-place unprotected, for not one of his successors ever followed his example or proved half as watchful.
AFTER TWENTY YEARS.
 These articles, originally prepared for The Southern Bivouac and "South Illustrated," are here republished by special request.
Address to the Wives and Children of Confederate Veterans.
I have been often and earnestly requested by "my comrades" to address to you a few words explanatory of the tie which binds me to them and them to me. They tell me, among other things, that you "wonder much, and still the wonder grows," that I should presume to call grave and dignified husbands and fathers "my boys." Having promised to meet their wishes, I must in advance apologize for the egoism which it is quite impossible to avoid, as my own war record is inseparable from that of my comrades.
Does it seem strange to you that I call these bronzed and bearded men "my boys?" Ah, friends, in every time-worn face there lives always for me "the light of other days." Memory annihilates the distance between the long-ago and the present.
I seem to see them marching, with brave, bright faces and eager feet, to meet the foe. I hear the distant boom of cannon, growing fainter as they press the retreating enemy. And then, alas! many come back to me mutilated, bleeding, dying, yet with ardor unquenched, repressing moans of anguish that they may listen for the shout of victory: wrestling fiercely with the King of Terrors, not that they fear to die, but because his chill grasp palsies the arm that would fain strike another blow for the right.
I stood among the sick and wounded lying in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, while the magnificent Army of Northern Virginia was passing from the scene of their late glorious victory at Manassas to meet the invaders under McClellan, who were marching upon the Peninsula. Around me lay many sick and wounded men, gathered under the immense roof of a tobacco factory, which covered nearly a whole square. Its windows commanded a full view of the legions passing on both sides.
The scene I can never forget. As the strains of martial music fell upon the summer air, pale, gaunt forms struggled to their feet, feebly but eagerly donned clothes and accoutrements, and, staggering under their weight, crept to the office of the surgeon in charge, piteously begging that they might "get to go on with the boys." Many, too weak to rise, broke into bitter sobs: tears poured from eyes bright with fever or dim with the shadow of death. Passing among these, I was startled to see a patient, whom all had supposed to be dying, sitting up in bed. Stretching his arms toward me, he cried out, "Lady, lady, come here!" He was a boy of sixteen years, one of the glorious Third Alabama, and he begged so hard to be allowed to see "the boys" that I had his bunk drawn up to an open window, supporting him in my arms so that he could see. When his own regiment passed, he tried with faltering breath to cheer, but, failing, waved his feeble hand, gasping out, "God knows, I wish I could be with you, boys, but 'pears like the heavenly Master ain't willing."
His comrades passed on. The boy was borne back to his place, whence, in a few hours, he passed beyond all pain and disappointment.
I need not mention here the magnificent record of the army that passed that day the streets of Richmond. The pages of history are ablaze with the glory of it. Not less glorious to me are the records written in my heart of heroic fortitude, patient endurance, sublime resignation. Alas for my poor, worn, shattered, suffering, dying boys! how their souls were tried, yet never found wanting!
The fortunes of war led me from the scenes of my first service to rejoin my husband, who had been ordered to the Army of Tennessee. On my journey, and while waiting to be assigned to duty, I lingered for a while among the homes of Southern soldiers. How can I convey to you the impressions there received?
Here lay the main-spring of the valor which then and long afterward astonished the world. In the towns and near the front thousands of women daily ministered to the sick and wounded. When a battle ended, these could soon know the fate of loved ones, perhaps were permitted to nurse them, to attend their dying hour, or—inestimable privilege—reclaim the precious casket which had enshrined a gallant soul. But in many a country home women endured, day after day, crucifixion of the soul, yet heroically, patiently, toiled and prayed on. Startled by flying rumors, tortured by suspense, weary with unwonted labor, they never dreamed of leaving the post of duty or of neglecting the interests confided to their care. No comforter had they save their God, no resource but unwearied prayer.
Memory brings back to me a scene which sadly illustrates the exalted courage and faith of these noble women. I was present one night when, at a plantation home, the family and servants were assembled, as usual, for prayers. The aged father led the worship, but, while praying for the absent sons, two of whom had already fallen in battle, he faltered and ceased. Instantly the clear, sweet voice of the mother was heard as she prayed fervently, not only for the dear ones at the front, but for the holy cause, for other parents, other sons, and for strength to submit to God's will.
I have, sitting by the bedside of sick or wounded soldiers, read to them letters from just such homes, breathing lofty courage, full of cheer, although I knew that the hearts of the writers had been almost breaking, the fingers that penned them stiff and trembling with toil hitherto unknown. God bless the women of the South.
If from every wreath that ever adorned the brow of a hero the brightest laurels were plucked, all would not form an offering too resplendent to lay at their feet.
Soon after the battle of Shiloh began my service with the Army of Tennessee. How shall I make you understand, dear friends, how strong, how dear, how imperishable are the ties which bind me to these grand and noble heroes,—the true, brave boys with whom I shared until the bitter end their trials and glory. Heroic souls who bore with equal fortitude and transcendent bravery alike the shock of battle, the pangs of "hope deferred," the untold hardships which soon became their daily portion. Their bleeding feet dyed alike the snows of Georgia and the rocky mountain paths of Tennessee.
As their ranks were decimated by battle, disease, starvation, death, the hearts that were left swelled higher and higher with holy zeal, sublime courage. Night after night, with lagging, unwilling feet, they made the hated retreat.
Day after day the sun shone on those defiant faces as they presented a still unbroken front and hurled themselves again and again against the invaders, contesting every inch of the land they loved.
Ah, the horrors of those latter days, when daily, almost hourly, brought to me ghastly wrecks of manhood, when my ears were always filled with the moans of the dying, or irrepressible agonizing shrieks of those who were undergoing the torture of the surgeon's knife without the blessed aid of chloroform, for that was contraband of war. Do you wonder, then, that I love to call those comrades of mine "my boys"? Whether they served in the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee, they were all alike my comrades. Their precious blood has often dyed my own garments. I have gone down with them to the very gates of death, wrestling with the death angel every step of the way, sometimes only to receive their last sighs as they passed into the valley of the shadow, sometimes permitted to guide their feeble feet once more into the paths of glory.
I have shared their rations, plain but plentiful at first, at the last only a mouldy crust and a bit of rusty bacon. I have been upon an ambulance-train freighted with human agony delayed for hours by rumors of an enemy in ambush. I have fed men hungry with the ravening hunger of the wounded with scanty rations of musty corn-bread; have seen them drink eagerly of foetid water, dipped from the road-side ditches. Yet they bore it all with supreme patience; fretted and chafed, it is true, but only on account of enforced inactivity. I have packed haversacks with marching rations for forty-eight hours, a single corn-dodger split and with only a thin slice of bacon between the pieces. This was a Confederate sandwich. And on such food Southern soldiers marched incredible distances, fought desperate battles. The world will never cease to wonder at the unfailing devotion, the magnificent courage, the unparalleled achievements of the Southern armies. Scarcely less admirable is the heroic spirit in which they have accepted defeat; the industry which has hidden the desolation of our land with bountiful harvest, the honesty of purpose which now seeks to restore the constitution framed by our forefathers as it was, the patient yet invincible determination which has driven out tyranny and oppression, and reclaimed for posterity this beautiful Southland, rich with historic memories, made sacred and beautiful by the graves of heroes.
And these are my boys—still—always my boys. From the highest places of the land they turn to give me a comrade's greeting. I glory in the renown of these, but just as dear and precious to me is the warm grasp of the toil-hardened hand and the smile which beams upon me from the rugged face of the very humblest of "the boys who wore the gray."
Dear friends, this subject is to me inexhaustible; but I may no longer trespass upon your patience. With loving, reverent hands I have lifted the veil of the past. Let the transcendent glory streaming through penetrate the mask which time and care and sorrow have woven for the faces of my boys, and show you the brave, unfaltering hearts as I know them.
THE CONFEDERATE REUNION AT DALLAS.
On the morning of August 6, 1885, a small party of ladies and gentlemen set forth from Shreveport to attend the Confederate reunion at Dallas, Texas.
The gentlemen of the party were veteran soldiers, and your correspondent claimed like honors. (Place this admission to my credit, for, believe me, it is a ruthless sacrifice of womanly vanity to dearer memories.)
In congenial companionship the day passed quickly. Its close brought us to Dallas. And here began at once an emotional experience which might well be called "a tempest of the heart,"—glimpses of glory once real. "Forms and scenes of long ago" appeared in such constant succession that it seemed like a resurrection of the dead and buried past.
The first object that met our view was a large Confederate battle-flag, suspended from a conspicuous building on one of the principal streets, surmounted, surrounded by "star-spangled banners," large and small, but still there, to set our hearts throbbing wildly, to call forth a rain of blinding tears. This was but the beginning. Borne swiftly onward to the hotel, we momentarily started forward with streaming eyes and bated breath to gaze upon the phantom legions ever passing. Squads of cavalry dashed by, manly, weather-beaten boys in gray, and elegant-looking officers wearing the well-remembered slouched hat with cord and feathers, and full Confederate uniforms. Infantry and artillery officers and privates thronged the sidewalks, arm in arm, walking in half embrace, or standing with hand grasping hand. Those not in uniform wore the badges of their respective commands, and frequently some faded remnant of "the gray."
In the largo dry-goods establishment of Sauger & Brothers an immense show-window was skilfully and beautifully arranged in honor of the occasion. Confederate soldiers (life size), so natural and life-like as to startle one, were grouped around a camp-fire anxiously watching a large kettle containing a tempting-looking "mess" of green corn, potatoes, other vegetables, and the rations of pork and beef. Blankets neatly rolled and strapped, canteens, haversacks, etc., lay near upon the ground. In the background, a deck of cards and two piles of Confederate money had evidently been thrown down and deserted to "watch the pot." We learned that this most realistic arrangement was the work of a "Yankee boy," whose father had served in the Federal army,—a loving tribute to the people among whom he had come to make his home.
Arrived at the hotel, where a crowd of people waited in the parlor to be assigned rooms, we witnessed many a touching scene between veterans who met now after twenty years. An anxious face would look in at the door, a manly form would advance irresolutely into the room, furtively scanning the new-comers. Suddenly,—"Jim, can this be you?" "Why, Dave, old fel! great God, is this Dave?" Then as hand met and grasped hand these strong men would often break into sobs which forbade all speech, while every heart of those who looked on thrilled with responsive feeling.
From what I learned of the intended evening festivities at the camp-ground (music and dancing under the glare of the electric light), I felt disinclined to be present. All day I had walked hand in hand with memory, turning again and again to clasp her closely and to feel the throbbing of her sad heart upon my own. The dear presence still enthralled me, and I could imagine no counter-charm in the laughing face and airy form of Terpsichore.
On the following morning, Amy and I, escorted by a gallant Missouri veteran, set out for the rendezvous, where we found assembled three or four thousand people, among whom hundreds wearing more or less of the gray were conspicuous. The perfect and magnificent arrangements for the comfort and entertainment of guests inspired one with genuine admiration for those who had so well accomplished the grand results everywhere apparent. Did one thirst? In a hundred cool, pleasant nooks were placed casks of ice-water, with dippers and gourds of all sizes attached by long chains. If hungry, at "Headquarters" requisitions were furnished and duly honored by the commissary, who seemed to have a never-failing supply of delicious barbecued beef and mutton, also generous rations of fresh bread.
These were supplemented by elegant refreshments of all kinds, served under shaded tents by ladies, whose entire cordiality made them charming hostesses.
Bands of music continually enlivened the scene. One of these (Gauche Brothers, of Dallas) was of rare excellence, rendering "Bonnie Blue Flag," "Dixie," and an exquisite nocturne, "The Soldier's Dream" (composed for this occasion by the leader of this band), with so much expression and skill as to elicit great applause. The speaker's stand was beautifully ornamented. Hanging on either side of the rostrum was a Confederate battle-flag. Above them, in the centre, floated a new and very handsome United States banner in graceful undulations. From its blue field not a star was missing. All had been restored, and the bunting waved proudly as if instinct with knowledge of this fact. But, oh, those other flags! sacred emblems of a cause so loved, so nobly defended, yet, alas, lost! shattered and torn by shot and shell, begrimed with the smoke of battle, deeply stained with precious blood; as the summer breeze dallied with their ragged folds, they seemed to stir with a feeble, mournful motion, like the slow throbbing of a breaking heart. Pictures illustrating camp-life, battle scenes, etc., ornamented the stand, which was also decorated plentifully with red and white, with a sufficient admixture of blue to make one remember to be loyal to the present. The attempt to depict camp-life, cannon, camp-fires, tents, stacked guns, sentries, etc., was utterly upset by the presence of hundreds of ladies and children, with the inevitable paraphernalia necessary to their comfort. "The front of grim-visaged war" was constantly being smoothed into beauty by baby fingers. Men, lured by siren voices, deserted the tented field, and were happy, in entire forgetfulness of duty (so called). Soldiers who did not bring ladies enjoyed hugely living in tents and once more "messing" together. Many eloquent speakers addressed the crowd. Pearls of eloquence were sown broadcast, and brought forth a generous harvest of applause.
The number of officers present was surprising. Generals, colonels, majors were pointed out to me by the score, and at last I began to wonder whether in the portion of the Confederate army here represented there were any "privates," at least I might have so wondered had I not known that, after many of the battles now being recalled with honest pride and merited applause, my own eyes had been too dim with tears to see the glory, my ears had failed to catch the sounds of triumph, because so filled with awful death-groans or the agonizing cries of the wounded. Men whose parting breath was an ascription of praise to the god of battles, whose last earthly joy was the knowledge of victory, and others who, shattered and torn and in throes of agony, yet repressed their moans that they might listen for the music of the fount which "springs eternal," whose bright waters (to them) mirrored the cause they loved so well.
All honor to those who planned the glorious campaigns of the late war—who dauntlessly led heroic legions. Their record is without a parallel in the history of nations. Equal honor to the rank and file—whose splendid valor and self-sacrifice made success possible even when further efforts seemed but a "forlorn hope."
I believe I have omitted no important detail of the reunion. Each day was just like the preceding one. Meetings and partings "tried men's souls," and women's hearts were stirred to their depths.
At last the end came; afterwards to many painful reaction. Still it was passing sweet to meet old friends and comrades, and to find that memory had not proven faithless to her trust. For many a day in the future we shall stand in the light of the surpassing glory which streamed through as the curtain, which has so long obscured the past, was lifted again and again by tender, reverent hands, under the oaks at Dallas.
An Incident of the Dallas Reunion.
 Written at the time for the Shreveport paper by Colonel Henderson, a true and gallant soldier, who has since died.
(The scene here described is to me a "memory" passing sweet, and one which I desire to perpetuate. This feeling is far removed from vanity. Had the "Lost Cause" been triumphant, my lips would have been sealed as to my own service. As it is, I glory in having served it, and cherish fondly even the slightest token that "my boys" do not forget me.)
"On the last day of the Southern Soldiers' Reunion at Dallas, and when sentiments had been read in honor of this and that officer of distinction in the service of the Lost Cause, a lady occupying a somewhat retired position on the platform handed to General Gano a slip of paper on which was traced the following noble sentiment as read by General Gano in a clear, distinct voice, and in tones that expressed his entire concurrence.
"The sentiment and the name subscribed are sufficient of themselves. We give it as follows:
"'THE PRIVATE SOLDIER OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY.
"'He bore in his bosom a heart of oak; he withstood the brunt of battle and sustained the heat and burthen of the day. His blood nourished the laurels which otherwise had never bloomed to grace the brow of Lee and Jackson. For myself, no blessing has ever crowned my life more highly prized than the God-given privilege I enjoyed during four years of the war, of ministering to the boys who wore the ragged, unornamented gray.
"'Your devoted friend and comrade,
"'MRS. FANNY A. BEERS, "'Late of the Confederate Army.'
"To this sentiment came the response of three cheers and a regular rebel yell, repeated and repeated for the space of twenty minutes.
"But the most touching feature followed. A number of old Confederate soldiers, who had in wounds and sickness received gentle and healing ministrations from the hands of Mrs. Beers, and learned just then that she was present, in defiance of all order, rushed to the stand and gathered about her. Each and every one bore the mark of some wound received in the war, and wore about their person some fragment of Confederate uniform—a hat, a coat, or other article—as souvenirs of the days of trials and glory.
"Like old children they gathered around her, grasping her hand and blessing her and testifying to all the world what a blessing she had been to them.
"It was, indeed and truly, the most touching and striking incident of the late reunion of Confederate veterans at Dallas."
The Louisiana Soldiers' Home.
I must begin with a digression, for, as thought concentrates itself upon this pleasant subject, one is irresistibly impelled to remember the delightful ride thitherward, and to wonder if any other city in the United States can boast of street-car routes so beautiful. The visitor to "Camp Nichols," taking on Canal Street a car of the Esplanade and Bayou Bridge line, is borne smoothly along for miles under cool, green arches of oak-trees, a broad street on either side, bordered by elegant residences and lovely, fragrant gardens.
Looking back, where the green arcade narrows away in the distance, or forward, to observe how the rough track is made beautiful by the shadows of dancing leaves and boughs,—glancing at the rapidly-succeeding pictures of beauty and comfort on either side, inhaling the mingled perfume of flowers,—one is placed under a spell of enchantment which lasts until, at "Bayou Bridge," the end of the route is reached. Leaving the car, a very short walk along the banks of the Bayou brings the visitor to the "camp." Upon entering the gate the first thought is, "How pleasant, how peaceful, how homelike." The comfortable-looking house is beautifully shaded by large live-oaks. Under these green grass is diversified by neatly-kept walks. Midway between the outer gate and the house a small stream is spanned by a rustic bridge. As I stood upon this bridge and saw, upon the pleasant galleries in front of their rooms, the maimed and scarred veterans sitting in groups or apart, tranquilly smoking and chatting or reading, the dying words of our "Stonewall" Jackson came into my mind,—"Let us cross the river and rest in the shade of the trees." To him was given eternal rest. The weary spirit even then stood by the river of death and viewed beyond the trees of paradise. Less happy these who remain to witness the downfall of hope. Ah, what can be more glorious, yet more deeply sorrowful, than the story of their past. The strength and beauty of their youth and early manhood was freely given to the cause they deemed sacred. It was, alas! lost; and, the tempest of war subsiding, left upon a desolate shore these wrecks.
Returning after the war to find only ruined homes and shattered fortunes, those who had retained health and strength found them taxed to the utmost. Necessity held them in bonds of iron, and the demands of helpless families absorbed them. All the same, manly hearts have been often and painfully stirred by the silent appeals of maimed and suffering comrades, and the faithful few have never ceased to hope and strive for the result now attained in the "Soldiers' Home."
It is pleasant to feel that the first rays of the newly-arisen sun of prosperity have dispelled the darkness wherein these poor fellows have wandered so long, revealing to them the kindly faces of brothers, who, having gone in search of them, will lead them to home and rest.
As I said before, the "Home" viewed from the bridge, a few hundred yards in front, suggests ideas of comfort which are fully realized upon a closer investigation. The rooms are delightfully situated (opening upon a shaded gallery), perfectly ventilated, and very cool, furnished with iron bedsteads, comfortable and cleanly bedding, wardrobes or bureaus, and washstands. The library and reception-room is a charming nook, embellished with many gifts from loving hands.
Immediately opposite the entrance is placed an excellent portrait of General Francis T. Nichols, a hero whom all (Louisianians especially) delight to honor. From the bloody battle-fields of Northern Virginia he brought back a mangled and shattered body, but enough to hold and enshrine a powerful, active brain, and a heart as brave and generous as ever beat in human bosom.
He is idolized by his comrades and beloved by us all. By a unanimous vote of the board of directors the home has been called "Camp Nichols," and from a gracefully-proportioned flag-staff, placed directly in front of the reception-room (the gift of the Army of Tennessee), floats a banner whereon this honored name was embroidered by the daughters of Generals Lee and Jackson during their recent visit to New Orleans.
The dining-room is very large, well lighted, and fairly shines with cleanliness. In short, every appointment is excellent, and every effort of managers and officers is directed toward making the disabled veterans feel that they are honored inmates of a home which they have earned and deserved, not recipients of charity. Camp Nichols may well be called a trysting-place of heroes. Here old comrades meet as comrades and friends. In the warm grasp of hands there is no suspicion of patronage. Right down in these brave, long-suffering hearts shine glances full of the unforgotten "light of other days," causing eyes dim and clouded by care and sorrow to beam with a responsive brightness. Ah, who shall undertake to estimate the value and blessedness of this work!
The Legislature of Louisiana organized this enterprise in 1881, making a yearly appropriation for its support. It is designed for all soldiers of Louisiana who have been disabled by wounds received in her service or have become incapacitated by age or disability; is controlled by a board of directors, also created by the State, consisting of the president, three vice-presidents, and recording secretary of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the president, three vice-presidents, and recording secretary of the Army of Tennessee.
The harmonious action of this board is nobly sustained by the members composing both organizations.
The president of the Army of Tennessee, Judge Walter Rogers, is an indefatigable worker, as he was once a brave and faithful soldier. He may with perfect truth be written "as one who loves his fellow-men" (especially his fellow-soldiers). I believe he will, as long as he lives, stand a faithful sentinel upon the sands of time, watching lest the ever-encroaching tide of years may obliterate sacred foot-prints.
All arrangements having been nearly completed, the Home was opened January 1, 1884. Eight soldiers were at once admitted, and since the number has been increased to fifty. Under the rules of the institution no compulsory labor is allowed except that necessary to properly police the quarters. Yet all feel so deep an interest in their Home that they yield willing assistance whenever asked. They choose such occupations as they are physically able to perform, and take delight in keeping things in order.
The Home has many friends outside of the Confederate organizations, none more zealous and truly kind than the officers and members of the Grand Army of the Republic, "Mewer Post." These are frequent and welcome visitors to Camp Nichols, and have shown both generosity and thoughtfulness in their contributions to the comfort of its inmates. The superintendent, Captain William Bullitt, was selected on account of his soldierly qualities and excellent administrative abilities, and by a unanimous vote of the board elected to fill the position.
His record is untarnished and excellent. At the inception of the war, having assisted in raising the First Company Louisiana Guards, he went out as first lieutenant of the same, won by promotion the rank of captain and afterwards of major, which he held at the close of the war. Used, therefore, to command, he also brings to his work a thorough love for it, and an amount of intelligence in interpreting, and skill in carrying out arrangements and improvements proposed by the board of directors, which insures success and the satisfaction of all concerned.
"God bless our Home," and let the light of His countenance shine upon it and bless it.
And may God strengthen the kindly hands which have led these weary ones away from thorny pathways "through green pastures and beside still waters." May they never falter nor fail until the all-merciful Father shall himself provide the "rod and staff" which shall guide all through the dark valley to rest eternal.
THE MARCH OF TIME.
Thoughts suggested while witnessing the ceremonies attending the unveiling of a statue of General Albert Sydney Johnston, erected upon their tomb by the Louisiana Division, Army of Tennessee, in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 6, 1887.
 The article was first published in "The Illustrated South."
Little more than three years ago there came a day long to be remembered by every man, woman, and child resident in New Orleans, and by all strangers then sojourning within her gates. A day when the souls of thousands held but a single thought, when all hearts beat as one, when one impulse, strong, thrilling, irresistible led willing feet to where, upon a pedestal, raised stone by stone by love and self-sacrifice, stood the shrouded figure of General Robert E. Lee. Above hung heavy clouds, alas! too suggestive of the hopes that perished forever at Appomattox, but ever and anon the struggling sun broke through, lingering awhile as if to recall the matchless glory which, even in the hour of disaster and defeat, gilded and made immortal the untarnished swords, the stacked arms, then and there surrendered.