Let me give you a sketch of our movements thus far. Having reached Troy at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the day you and I parted, I spent the remainder of the evening until 8 o'clock in the city. At that hour we embarked for New York, and the boys had a very exciting and enthusiastic time on board the steamer Vanderbilt. Wednesday was spent at 648 Broadway, Regimental Headquarters of the "Harris Light Cavalry;" and on that night we came by train to our present camp: or, rather, as near it as we could, for it is two miles from the nearest station. The spot is picturesque enough to be described. An old farm, surrounded by stone fences that look like ramparts, constitutes the camp. The Hudson and Harlem rivers are in full view, and the country around is full of beauty. On the first night we bivouacked upon the bare sod, with no covering for our bodies but the broad canopy of heaven. It was not until a late hour on the following afternoon that our white tents began to dot the ground and gleam through the dark foliage of the trees.
Crowds of visitors from the neighboring village come out every day to see us. My health was never better, and this sort of life affords me keen enjoyment. The very roughness of it is invigorating. My present writing-desk is the top of the stone wall I have alluded to, so you must criticise neither my penmanship nor my style. I received a letter from father on Tuesday afternoon, and, thank God! I enter the service with his full approbation. The discipline enforced here is strict, our rations are good, fruit is very abundant, and to be had for the asking; so that if you will only write soon and often, there will be little else required to fill the wants of
Your affectionate brother, Willard.
Fortunately for their future comfort, the Harris Light Cavalry, at the very outset of its military career, was placed under the charge of a rigid and skilful disciplinarian—one Captain A. N. Duffie—who, having graduated honorably at the celebrated French military school, St. Cyr, possessed all the martial enthusiasm as well as personal peculiarities of his excitable countrymen.
The captain either was, or believed himself to be, an eloquent speaker, and his efforts at rhetorical display, added to his French pronunciation of English words, became a source of great amusement to the men. He was wont to harangue them, as if they were about to enter upon a sanguinary battle. The old stone walls of the peaceful farm were pictured as bristling with the enemy's bayonets, and the boys were called on to "charge" at the hidden foe and capture him.
"One morning," says Captain Glazier, "after a week spent in drill, we were all surprised by receiving an order to 'fall into line,' and discovered that the object of this movement was to listen to a Napoleonic harangue from Captain Duffie. So loud had been our protests, so manifest our rebellious spirit on the subject of fortifying a peaceful farm on the banks of the Hudson, that the captain undoubtedly feared he might not be very zealously supported by us in his future movements, and, like Napoleon on assuming command of the Army of Italy, sought to test the devotion of his men. After amusing us a-while in broken English, appealing to our patriotism and honor, he at length shouted:
"'Now, as many of you as are ready to follow me to the cannon's mouth, take one step to the front!'
"This ruse was perfectly successful, and the whole line took the desired step."
The time passed pleasantly enough in this camp of instruction, despite the monotony of drill and guard duty, and, by the time the order to break camp reached the men, they were well advanced in the duties of the soldier.
The regiment left Camp Howe about the end of August, and, passing through New York, entered that most beautiful and patriotic of cities, Philadelphia, where they were royally entertained by the managers of the "Volunteer Refreshment Saloon." They at length reached Washington and encamped a half mile beyond the Capitol.
From this point Glazier writes to his mother as follows:
Camp Oregon, Near Washington, D.C., August 25th, 1861.
Dear Mother: I am at present seated under the branches of a large peach tree that marks the spot where two sentinels of our army, while on duty last night, were shot by the rebels. I was one of the same guard, having been assigned to such duty for the first time since entering the service. Like all other sentinels, I was obliged to walk my lonely beat with drawn sabre.
It may interest you to know where I performed my first guard duty. It was in front of the residence of a rabid secessionist, who is now an officer in the famous Black-Horse Cavalry. You may remember that this regiment was reported to have been utterly destroyed at Bull Run, and yet I am informed by Washingtonians that it had but two companies in the fight. So much for newspaper gossip.
During the day I was very kindly treated by the family of this gentleman, but in the evening our camp commander came to me and said: "Take this revolver, and if you value your life, be vigilant. Remember, you are not at Scarsdale now!" He, of course, referred to our old camp near Scarsdale, twenty-four miles from New York. Our present one is a little over half a mile from the Capitol, and from my tent I can see the dome of that building, glittering, like a ball of gold, in the sunlight.
Yesterday I paid a visit to the city. The streets were crowded with infantry, artillery and cavalry soldiers, all actively engaged in preparing for the coming conflict. An engagement seems to be close at hand. Entrenchments are being dug and batteries erected in every direction. The citizens do not apprehend any danger from an attack by the enemy.
My regiment has been attached to Brigadier-General Baker's Brigade. It will be three weeks to-morrow since I enlisted. I have been in this camp one week, and one week was spent at Camp Howe, Scarsdale, New York.
We are being rapidly prepared for field service. Our drill is very rigid, yet I submit to the discipline willingly, and I find that hard study is as essential to the composition of a good soldier as to a good teacher. I have purchased a copy of the "Cavalry Tactics," and devote every leisure hour to its mastery. There is but one thing which gives me any serious annoyance now, and that is the question of the ways and means for the education of my brothers and sisters. I think Elvira and Marjorie had better teach this winter, and then, if the war should be concluded before next spring, I will make arrangements for their attendance at school again. With kindest love to all, I am
Your loving and dutiful son,
About two months more were occupied by the Harris Light in camp-duty, scouting and foraging, but almost immediately after their arrival in Virginia, young Glazier was promoted to the rank of Corporal. Shortly after his promotion he was detailed for recruiting service and sent to the city of New York for that purpose. The great city was in a turmoil of excitement.
The "Tammany" organization carried things with a high hand, and was opposed by the equally powerful Union League. Between these two centres the current of public opinion ran in strong tides. But, in the midst of it all, the young corporal was successful in his recruiting service, and on the second day of December rejoined his comrades, who were then at Camp Palmer, Arlington Heights.
This spot was one of peculiar beauty. Its associations were hallowed. There stood the ancestral home of the Lees, whose deserted rooms seemed haunted with memories of a noble race. Its floors had echoed to the tread of youth and beauty. Its walls had witnessed gatherings of renown. From its portals rode General Lee to take command of the Richmond troops—a man who must be revered for his qualities of heart and remembered especially by the North as one who, amid all the fury of passion which the war engendered, was never betrayed into an intemperate expression towards the enemy. Now, the halls and porches of the quaint old building rang with the tread of armed men. Its rooms were despoiled, and that atmosphere of desolation which ever clings about a deserted home, enveloped the place. A winding roadway under thick foliaged trees, led down the Heights to the "Long Bridge," crossing the Potomac. Near the house stood an old-fashioned "well sweep" which carried a moss-covered bucket on its trips down the well, to bring up the most sparkling of water. Instinctively a feeling of sadness took possession of the heart at the mournful contrast between the past and present of this beautiful spot.
"Ah, crueler than fire or flood Come steps of men of alien blood, And silently the treacherous air Closes—and keeps no token, where Its dead are buried."
The day of trial—the baptism of battle—seemed rapidly approaching. General McClellan, having drilled and manoeuvred and viewed and reviewed the Army of the Potomac, until what had been little better than an armed and uniformed mob began to assume the aspect of a body of regulars, determined upon an advance movement. Accordingly on the third of March, 1862, the army marched upon Centreville, captured the "Quaker" guns and, much to the disgust of his followers, fell back upon his original position, instead of continuing the advance.
As the Harris Light enjoyed throughout this campaign of magnificent possibilities, the honor of being "Little Mac's" body guard, they were of course during the forward movement in high spirits. They believed it to be the initial step to a vigorous campaign in which they might hold the post of honor. But when the order to fall back came, their disappointment was great indeed. At first they were mystified, but it soon leaked out that a council of war had been held and that McClellan's plan of the Peninsular Campaign had been adopted.
It had also been determined that a section of the army should be left behind, under the command of General Irvin McDowell, to guard the approaches to Washington.
The First Pennsylvania Cavalry, under the command of General (then Colonel) George Dashiel Bayard, and the Harris Light, remained with the latter force. Under such a leader as Bayard, the men could have no fear of rusting in inactivity. He was the soul of honor, the bravest of the brave. No more gallant spirit ever took up the sword, no kinder heart ever tempered valor, no life was more stainless, no death could be more sad; for the day that was appointed for his nuptials closed over his grave.
Judson Kilpatrick, one of those restless, nervous, energetic and self-reliant spirits who believe in themselves thoroughly, and make up in activity what they lack in method, was Colonel of the Harris Light, and the dawning glory of young Bayard's fame excited a spirit of emulation, if not of envy in his heart, which found vent in a very creditable desire to equal or excel that leader in the field. The brilliant night attack on Falmouth Heights was one of the first results of this rivalry, and as it was also the initial battle in Corporal Glazier's experience, we give his own vivid description of it as it is found in "Three Years in the Federal Cavalry."
"Our instructions," he says, "were conveyed to us in a whisper. A beautiful moonlight fell upon the scene, which was as still as death; and with proud determination the two young cavalry chieftains moved forward to the night's fray. Bayard was to attack on the main road in front, but not until Kilpatrick had commenced operations on their right flank, by a detour through a narrow and neglected wood-path. As the Heights were considered well-nigh impregnable, it was necessary to resort to some stratagem, for which Kilpatrick showed a becoming aptness.
"Having approached to within hearing distance of the rebel pickets, but before we were challenged, Kilpatrick shouted with his clear voice, which sounded like a trumpet on the still night air:
"'Bring up your artillery in the centre, and infantry on the left!'
"'Well, but, Colonel,' said an honest though rather obtuse Captain, 'we haven't got any inf—'
"'Silence in the ranks!' commanded the leader. 'Artillery in the centre, infantry on the left!'
"The pickets caught and spread the alarm and thus greatly facilitated our hazardous enterprise.
"'Charge!' was the order which then thrilled the ranks, and echoed through the dark, dismal woods; and the column swept up the rugged heights in the midst of blazing cannon and rattling musketry.
"So steep was the ascent that not a few saddles slipped off the horses, precipitating their riders into a creek which flowed lazily at the base of a hill; while others fell dead and dying, struck by the missiles of destruction which filled the air. But the field was won, and the enemy, driven at the point of the sabre, fled unceremoniously down the heights, through Falmouth and over the bridge which spanned the Rappahannock, burning that beautiful structure behind them, to prevent pursuit."
This engagement, while otherwise of but little importance, was valuable because it taught the enemy that the Federals could use the cavalry arm of the service as effectively as their infantry.
All accounts agree that Corporal Glazier acquitted himself very creditably in his first battle. After the action was over he accompanied his comrades to the field and contributed his best aid towards the care of the wounded and the unburied dead. Such an experience was full of painful contrast to the quiet scenes of home and school life to which he had hitherto been accustomed. In his history, as with thousands of other brave boys who missed death through many battles, this period was the sharp prelude to a long experience of successive conflicts, of weary marches seasoned with hunger, of prison starvation and the many privations which fall to the lot of the soldier, all glorified when given freely in the defence of liberty and country.
FIRST BATTLE OF BRANDY STATION.
The sentinel's lonely round.—General Pope in command of the army.—Is gunboat service effective?—First cavalry battle of Brandy Station.—Under a rain of bullets.—Flipper's orchard.—"Bring up the brigade, boys!"—Capture of Confederate prisoners.—Story of a revolver.—Cedar Mountain.—Burial of the dead rebel.—Retreat from the Rapidan.—The riderless horse.—Death of Captain Walters.
The Harris Light now entered upon exciting times, and Corporal Glazier, ever at the post of duty, had little leisure for anything unconnected with the exigencies of camp and field. At that period the men of both armies were guilty of the barbarous practice of shooting solitary sentinels at their posts, and no man went on guard at night without feeling that an inglorious death might await him in the darkness, while deprived of the power to strike a defensive blow, or to breathe a prayer.
On the twenty-second of July, 1862, a new commander was assigned the Army of Virginia in the person of General John Pope. General McClellan had lost the confidence of the Northern people by his continued disasters, and was at length succeeded by General Pope, who was placed at the head of the united commands of Fremont, Banks, McDowell (and later in August), Burnside and Fitz-John Porter. General Pope commenced his duties with a ringing address to the army under his command. Among other things, he declared: "That he had heard much of 'lines of communication and retreat,' but the only line in his opinion, that a general should know anything about, was the line of the enemy's retreat." The dash of such a theory of war was extremely invigorating, and once more the hearts of the Northern people cherished and exulted in the hope that they had found the "right man for the right place." Popular enthusiasm reacted upon the army; their idol of yesterday was dethroned, and they girded their loins for a renewal of the struggle, in the full belief that, with Pope to lead them, they would write a very different chapter upon the page of History, from that which recorded their Peninsular campaign.
Here we desire to correct a statement, then current, regarding the value of the gunboat service, viz., that McClellan's army was indebted for its safety during the retreat from Malvern Hill to the gunboats stationed in James River. That this was not the case is proven by the testimony of L. L. Dabney, chief-of-staff to General T. J. Jackson. He says: "It is a fact worthy of note, that the fire of the gunboats, so much valued by the Federals, and, at one time, so much dreaded by the Confederates, had no actual influence whatever in the battle. The noise and fury doubtless produced a certain effect upon the emotions of the assailants, but this was dependent upon their novelty. The loss effected by them was trivial when compared with the ravages of the field artillery; and it was found chiefly among their own friends. Far more of their ponderous missiles fell within their own lines than within those of the Confederates. Indeed, a fire directed at an invisible foe across two or three miles of intervening hills and woods can never reach its aim, save by accident. Nor is the havoc wrought by the larger projectiles in proportion to their magnitude. Where one of them explodes against a human body it does, indeed, crush it into a frightful mass, but it is not likely to strike more men, in the open order of field operations, than a shot of less weight; and the wretch blown to atoms by it is not put hors du combat more effectually than he whose brain is penetrated by half an ounce of lead or iron. The broadside of a modern gunboat may consist of three hundred pounds of iron projected by forty pounds of powder, but it is fired from only two guns. The effect upon a line of men, therefore, is but one-fifteenth of that which the same metal might have had, fired from ten-pounder rifled guns."
The truth of the matter is, that so far as offensive operations in conjunction with that army were concerned, the gunboats were more ornamental than useful; and it is not just that the modicum of glory (mingled with so much of disaster), won fairly upon that occasion by the land forces, should be awarded to another branch of the service.
General Pope was not permitted to remain long before an opportunity offered for practically testing his war theories. McClellan's troops had scarcely recovered breath after their retreat from before Richmond when Lee, leaving his entrenchments, boldly threw himself forward and met Pope and the Union forces, face to face on the old battle-ground of Manassas. The Harris Light, prior to the second battle of Bull Run, had been offered, and eagerly accepted, an opportunity to cross swords with the "Southern chivalry," and the result now was a desperate encounter at Brandy Station. The first action which baptized in blood this historic ground took place August twentieth, 1862. About six o'clock in the morning a heavy column of Stuart's cavalry was discovered approaching from the direction of Culpepper, and Kilpatrick received orders to check their advance. The Harris Light, acting as rear guard of Bayard's brigade, kept the enemy in check until Bayard could form his command at a more favorable point two miles north of the station. Corporal Glazier was in the front rank of the first squadron that led the charge, and repulsed the enemy. His horse was wounded in the neck, and his saddle and canteen perforated with bullets.
The fight at Flipper's Orchard preceded that at Brandy Station by more than a month, having occurred on the Fourth of July. The Troy company of the Harris Light had been ordered, about eight o'clock in the morning of that day, to reconnoitre the Telegraph Road, south of Fredericksburg. Leaving camp, they soon came in sight of a detachment of Bath cavalry on patrol duty, escorting the Richmond mail. They learned the strength of the enemy from some colored people along the route, and also the probability that they would halt at Flipper's Orchard for refreshments. This place was on the south bank of the Po River, some twenty miles from Fredericksburg, in an angle formed by the roads leading to Bull Church and the Rappahannock. After following them for several hours, the company halted for consultation, "and," says Glazier, "our lieutenant put the question to vote, whether we should go on and capture the foe, about one hundred strong, or return to camp. The vote was unanimous for battle. I was in charge of the advance guard, having a squad of four men, and received orders to strike a gallop. Just as we came within sight of the Orchard, we saw the Confederates dismounting and making leisurely arrangements for their repast. Dashing spurs into our horses' flanks, we wheeled round the corner and along the Bull Church Road, sweeping down upon them with tremendous clatter. 'Here they are, boys!' I shouted; 'bring up the brigade!' We were about forty in number, but surprised them completely, and they fled panic-stricken. Twelve men and nine horses were captured. On reaching Dr. Flipper's house, I noticed a dismounted Confederate officer who, with others, was running across a wheat-field. I started in hot pursuit, jumping my horse over a six-rail fence to reach him. He fired upon me with both carbine and revolver, but missed his mark, and by this time I stood over him with my navy-revolver, demanding his surrender. He gave up his arms and equipments, which were speedily transferred to my own person. We made quick work of the fight, the whole affair lasting not longer than fifteen minutes. The Confederate reserves were only a short distance off at Bull Church, and we hurried back with our spoils towards the Rappahannock, fearful that we might be overtaken. My prisoner, as I afterward learned, was Lieutenant Powell, in command of the patrol. His revolver has a story of its own. It was a beautiful silver-mounted weapon, and I resolved to keep possession of it as my especial trophy, instead of turning it over to the Quartermaster's Department. This was not an easy matter, as vigilant eyes were on the look-out for all 'munitions of war captured from the enemy,' which were consigned to a common receptacle. I therefore dug a hole in the ground of our tent and buried my treasure, where it remained until we changed our encampment. One day, some time after, I carelessly left it lying on a log, a short distance from camp, and on returning found it gone. While I stood there deploring my ill luck, I heard a succession of clear, snapping shots just beyond a rise of ground directly in front of me, and recognized the familiar report of my revolver. Going in the direction of the shots, I rescued it from the hands of a sergeant by whom it had been temporarily confiscated. After this adventure I concluded to incur no further risks with the weapon, and so packed it in a cigar-box and sent it to my sister Elvira."
The battle of Cedar Mountain, fought on the afternoon of August ninth, 1862, needs only a passing notice in connection with this record. The battalion in which Corporal Glazier served acted as body-guard to General McDowell, and arrived on the field just as the wave of battle was receding. The following morning, on passing over the slopes of Cedar Mountain, where the guns of General Banks had made sad havoc on the previous day, a dead Confederate soldier, partially unburied, attracted the attention of the troopers. At that period of the war a sentiment of extreme bitterness toward the adversary pervaded the ranks on both sides, and as the squadron swept by the men showered on the poor dead body remarks expressive of their contempt. Corporal Glazier was an exception. Moved by an impulse born of our common humanity, he returned and buried the cold, stark corpse, covering it with mother Earth; and when questioned why he gave such consideration to a miserable dead rebel, replied, that he thought any man brave enough to die for a principle, should be respected for that bravery, whether his cause were right or wrong.
On the eighteenth of the month our cavalry relieved the infantry on the line of the Rapidan, and on the nineteenth, in a sharp skirmish between Stuart's and Bayard's forces, Captain Charles Walters, of the Harris Light Cavalry, was killed. This officer was very popular in the regiment, and his death cast a gloom over all. Wrapped in a soldier's blanket his body was consigned to a soldier's grave at the solemn hour of midnight. And while the sad obsequies were being performed, orders came for the retreat to Culpepper.
"We buried him darkly at dead of night, The sod with our bayonets turning, By the struggling moonbeam's misty light, And our lanterns dimly burning.
* * * * *
"Slowly and sadly we laid him down, On the field of his fame fresh and gory; We carved not a line, we raised not a stone, But left him alone with his glory."
MANASSAS AND FREDERICKSBURG.
Manassas.—The flying troops.—The unknown hero.—Desperate attempt to stop the retreat.—Recruiting the decimated ranks.—Fredericksburg.—Bravery of Meagher's brigade.—The impregnable heights.—The cost of battles.—Death of Bayard.—Outline of his life.
The plains of Manassas still speak to us. The smoke of battle that once hung over them has long since rolled away, but the blood of over forty thousand brave men of both North and South who here met, and fighting fell to rise no more, consecrates the soil. Between them and us the grass has grown green for many and many a summer, but it cannot hide the memory of their glorious deeds. From this altar of sacrifice the incense yet sweeps heavenward. The waters of Bull Run Creek swirl against their banks as of old, and, to the heedless passer-by, utter nothing of the despairing time when red carnage held awful sway, and counted its victims by the thousand; yet, if one strays thitherward who can listen to the mystic language of the waves, they will reword their burden of death and of dark disaster which "followed fast and followed faster," and at last overtook the devoted Northern army, and made wild confusion and wilder flight.
No general description of the battle need be given here. That portion only which concerns the subject of this biography, now promoted to the rank of Sergeant, will be set in the framework of these pages. Concerning the part which he took in the action, and which occurred under his own observation, he says:
"On the eventful thirtieth—it was August, 1862—our artillery occupied the crest of a hill a short distance beyond Bull Run Creek, the cavalry regiments under Bayard being stationed next, and the infantry drawn up in line behind the cavalry.
"A short time before the battle opened, I was sent to a distant part of the field to deliver an order. An ominous stillness pervaded the ranks. The pickets as I passed them were silent, with faces firmly set towards the front, and the shadow of coming battle hovered portentously, like a cloud with veiled lightnings, over the Union lines.
"It was the calm which precedes a storm, and the thunderbolts of war fell fast and heavy when the storm at length broke over our heads. I had just taken my place in the cavalry ranks when a shell from the enemy's guns whizzed over our heads with a long and spiteful shriek. One of the horses attached to a caisson was in the path of the fiery missile, and the next instant the animal's head was severed entirely from his neck. The deathly silence was now broken, and more shot and shell followed in quick succession, plowing through the startled air and falling with destructive force among the Union troops. This iron hail from the guns of the enemy was composed in part of old pieces of chain and broken iron rails, as well as the shot and shell ordinarily used. Our artillery soon replied, but from some unexplained cause the Union troops in this portion of our line broke and fled in panic before a shot had been fired from the muskets of the enemy. This battle, like the first Bull Run, had been well planned, and every effort which good generalship and good judgment could dictate in order to insure success, had been made by Generals Pope and McDowell.
"At this crisis of affairs, the cavalry under Bayard and Kilpatrick were ordered to the rear, to stem, if possible, the tide of retreat, but the effort was well nigh fruitless. Regiment after regiment surged by in one continuous and almost resistless wave. A cheer was heard to go up from the Confederate ranks as Stuart's cavalry charged us, and though we returned the charge it did not stop the panic which had taken possession of our troops.
"One of its causes was undoubtedly the supposition that the enemy was executing a flank movement on our left. In forty-five minutes from the beginning of the battle, this part of the army was in full retreat; but the determined stand made by Heintzelman, and also one or two heroic attempts to stop the backward-surging wave, saved our forces from utter rout and possible capture.
"As soon as the Union batteries were taken by the enemy, they were turned upon us, in addition to their own guns, and afterwards, on came Stuart in a head-long charge with one of those hideous yells peculiar to the Southern 'chivalry.' With thousands of others who were rapidly retiring, I had recrossed Bull Run Creek when my attention was arrested by a mounted officer who sprang out from the mass of flying men, and waving his sword above his head, called on every one, irrespective of regiment, to rally around him and face the foe. He wore no golden leaf—no silver star. He was appealing to officers higher in command than himself, who, mixed with the crowd, were hurrying by. His manner, tense with excitement, was strung up to the pitch of heroism, and his presence was like an inspiration, as he stood outside the mass, a mark for the bullets of the enemy.
"I halted, filled with admiration for so noble an example of valor, and then rode rapidly towards him. Seeing me, he galloped forward to meet me and asked my aid in making a stand against the enemy.
"'Sergeant,' said he, 'you are just in time. As you are mounted, you can be of great service in rallying these men for a stand on this ground.'
"'Lieutenant,' I replied, 'they will not listen to the wearer of these chevrons.'
"'Tear off your chevrons,' said this unknown hero,—'the infantry will not know you from a field officer—and get as many men to turn their muskets to the front as you can.'
"Lieutenant,' I responded, 'I will do all I can to help you,' and the insignia of non-commissioned rank was immediately stripped from my sleeves.
"I put myself under his command and fought with him until he gave the order to retire. While he was talking with me he was at the same time calling on the men to make a stand, telling them they could easily hold the position. He seemed to take in the situation at a glance.
"The enemy having advanced to the first crest of hills, were throwing their infantry forward with full force, and with the three thousand or more of men who rallied around this heroic officer, a stand was made on the rising ground north of Bull Run from which the advance of the enemy was opposed. We held this position for half an hour, which gave considerable time for reorganization.
"While riding along the line, helping my unknown superior as best I could, my horse was shot—the first experience of this kind which had befallen me.
"Just as the disaster was occurring which culminated in retreat, General McDowell, on his white horse, galloped up to the guns behind which Heintzelman was blazing destruction on the Confederates. Alighting from his horse he sighted the guns and gave a personal superintendence to this part of the action. An artillery captain, standing by his battery while his horses were shot down, his pieces in part disabled, and the infantry deserting him, shed tears in consequence.
"'You need not feel badly over this affair,' said the general, 'General McDowell is responsible for this misfortune. Stand by your guns as long as you can. If the general is blamed, your bravery will be praised.'
"Was there a touch of irony in this remark which met in advance the grumblings and questionings of the future? Was it the sarcasm of a man who, having done his utmost, could not yet prevent disaster, and who knew that an unthinking public sometimes measured loyalty by success?
"Later in the day our regiment—the 'Harris Light Cavalry'—lost a squadron. Most of them were killed.
"In the deepening twilight we charged the enemy just as they were forming for a similar attack on us. They were compelled to halt, and Pope was thus enabled to discover their position and arrange for the next day's defence.
"On the night of the thirtieth, the enemy occupied the battle-field and buried the dead of both armies. And thus it was that Bull Run again ran red with patriot blood and witnessed the retreat of the Union battalions.
"By what strange fatality General Pope was allowed to struggle on alone against an army twice the size of the Federal force, has not been satisfactorily explained. One is almost tempted to believe, with astrologists, that baleful stars sometimes preside with malign influence over the destinies of battles, as they are said to do over individuals and nations."
After the battle of Manassas, the Harris Light Cavalry was so reduced in numbers that it was ordered into camp at Hall's Hill, near Washington, with a view of recruiting its wasted strength and equipment. They remained at that point until November, when they were again moved forward to form the principal picket line along the front, prior to the Federal disaster at Fredericksburg.
Burnside, having strongly secured the mountain passes in the neighborhood, in order to conceal from Lee his real object, made a feint in the direction of Gordonsville; but the keen eye of the Confederate generalissimo penetrated his true design and took measures to defeat its accomplishment. Upon the eighth of this month, a lively encounter between the Harris Light and a detachment of Confederate cavalry resulted in the defeat of the latter, and soon after, the regiment joined the main army.
As all know, the battle of Fredericksburg was fought and lost during the three days intervening between the thirteenth and sixteenth of December. Burnside's gallant army, in the midst of darkness, rain and tempestuous wind, came reeling back from a conflict of terrible ferocity and fatality. Six times in one day Meagher's gallant Irishmen were literally hurled against Marye's Heights, a point of almost impregnable strength, and which, even if carried, would still have exposed them to the commanding fire of other and stronger Confederate positions.
Twenty times had charge and counter-charge swept the tide of battle to and fro—at what terrible cost, the killed and wounded, strewing the ground like leaves in the forest, made answer. Twelve thousand men lay dead on the field when the battle ended, and one thousand prisoners were taken, besides nine thousand stand of arms.
Although this battle seems to have been well planned by General Burnside, a want of capacity to meet unforeseen emergencies doubtless contributed to his defeat. He committed a fatal error at a critical moment, by sending General Franklin an equivocal recommendation, instead of an order to attack the enemy in force. The enemy, however, though having nobly held their ground, could not boast of having advanced their lines by so much as a foot. There were, indeed, but few even of the Confederate officers, who knew they had been victorious, and the amazement of their army was beyond description when the gray dawn of the fourteenth of December revealed the deserted camps of the Federals, who had withdrawn their entire command during the night to the north side of the river.
Had General Franklin brought his men into action, as he should have done, at the critical moment when the issue of the fight was trembling in the balance, the fortunes of this day would have terminated differently. Had the splendid divisions of brave Phil. Kearney or "Fighting Joe Hooker" been ordered into the arena, and lent the inspiration of their presence to this hour of need, the scales of victory would have turned in an opposite direction.
The "might have beens" always grow thickly on the soil of defeat.
Among the lamented dead of this day's havoc, no loss was more keenly felt than that of Major-General George Dashiel Bayard. He was standing among a group of officers around the trunk of an old tree, near the headquarters of Generals Franklin and Smith, when the enemy suddenly began to shell a battery near by, and one of the deadly missiles struck this gallant leader. He was carried to the field-hospital, mortally wounded.
Quietly turning to the surgeon who examined his ghastly wounds, he asked "if there was any hope." On being informed that there was none, he proceeded with undisturbed composure, and without a murmur of pain, to dictate three letters. One of these was to his affianced bride. This day, it was said, had been appointed for his wedding. The time-hands marked the hour of eight when this letter was finished, and, as he uttered its closing words, his spirit fled from the shattered body and left it only cold and tenantless clay. He was but twenty-eight years of age, of prepossessing appearance and manners, with as brave a soul as ever defended the flag of the Union, and a capacity for military usefulness equal to any man in the service. Gradually he had arisen from one position of honor and responsibility to another, proving himself tried and true in each promotion, while his cavalry comrades especially were watching the developments of his growing power with unabating enthusiasm.
Briefly, the outlines of his history are as follows:
He was born December eighteenth, 1835, at Seneca Falls, New York, from whence, in 1842, he removed with his parents to Fairfield, Iowa. From this place he went to the Dorris Military Institute at St. Louis, Missouri, where he remained eighteen months.
The family then removed to the East, and settled at Morristown, New Jersey. From Morristown, he entered West Point Academy. When twenty years of age, he graduated with the highest honors, and, strange to say, it was through the offices of Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, that he was at once assigned to a cavalry regiment as second lieutenant. His subsequent career, so full of brilliance and the true spirit of heroism, is better known to the country.
Watered by the dews of hallowed remembrance, his fame, as a sweet flower, still exhales its fragrance, and finds rich soil in the hearts of the people.
"How sleep the brave who sink to rest, By all their country's wishes blest? When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallowed mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
* * * * *
"By fairy hands their knell is rung, By forms unseen their dirge is sung, There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray, To bless the turf that wraps their clay. And Freedom shall awhile repair, To dwell a weeping hermit there."
"What boots a weapon in a withered hand?"—A thunderbolt wasted.—War upon hen-roosts.—A bit of unpublished history.—A fierce fight with Hampton's cavalry.—"In one red burial blent."—From camp to home.—Troubles never come singly.—The combat.—The capture.—A superfluity of Confederate politeness.—Lights and shadows.
While the events we have narrated were occurring, the "Harris Light" was not idle. Under the command of their favorite Kilpatrick, they made a dashing raid, and completely encircled the rebels under Lee, penetrating to within seven miles of Richmond. Such duties as were assigned them were effectively performed, and yet, General Hooker's object in detaching his cavalry from the main army remained unaccomplished, either by reason of General Stoneman's want of comprehension, or want of energy. This general, instead of hurling his thirteen thousand troopers like a thunderbolt upon the body of the Confederates, divided and frittered away the strength under his command by detaching and scattering it into mere scouting parties, to "raid on smoke-houses and capture hen-roosts." General Hooker was very naturally exasperated by this conduct. The detachment from the main army of such a splendid body of horse, was a measure he had taken after mature deliberation, and with the view of cutting off Lee's communications with Richmond; thus precluding the possibility of his being reinforced during the grand attack which Hooker contemplated upon that leader at Chancelorsville.
The Federal general attributed the loss of that battle in a great degree to Stoneman's failure to carry out the spirit of his orders. In a letter to the author, long after that field of carnage had bloomed and blossomed with the flowers and fruits of Peace, when the heart-burning and fever engendered by the contest had subsided, and it was possible to obtain access to men's judgments, General Hooker wrote: "Soon after Stonewall Jackson started to turn my right (a project of which I was informed by a prisoner), I despatched a courier to my right corps commander informing him of the intended movement, and instructing him to put himself in readiness to receive the attack. This dispatch was dated at nine o'clock A. M., and yet, when 'Stonewall' did attack, the men of this corps had their arms stacked some distance from them, and were busily engaged in cooking their supper. When the attack came these men ran like a flock of sheep. This, in a wooded country, where a corps ought to be able to check the advance of a large army. To make this more clear, I must tell you that the corps commander, General Howard, received the dispatch while on his bed, and, after reading it, put it in his pocket, where it remained until after the battle of Gettysburg, without communicating its contents to his division commander, or to any one!!! My opinion is that not a gun of ours was fired upon Stonewall Jackson's force until he had passed nearly into the centre of my army. Judge, if you can, of the consternation throughout that army caused by this exhibition of negligence and cowardice. One word more, in regard to the cavalry. I had to have, under the seniority rule of the service, a wooden man for its commander. If you will turn to the first volume of the Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, you will find my instructions to General Stoneman, and then you will see the mistake that I made in informing him of the strength and position of the enemy he would be likely to encounter on his raid, as that officer only made use of the information to avoid the foe. He traveled at night, made extensive detours, and did not interrupt the traffic on the railroads between Lee's army and Richmond for a single day. As he was charged to make this duty his especial object of accomplishment over all others, he had twelve thousand sabres, double the force the enemy could collect from all quarters. I had men enough with me to have won Chancelorsville without the cavalry and other corps, but of what use could a field of battle have been to me when the enemy could fall back a few miles and post himself on a field possessing still greater advantages to him? General Grant did this, and is entitled to all the merit of his soldiership from a grateful country. I believe if he had sacrificed every officer and soldier of his command in the attainment of this object, the country would have applauded him. When I crossed the Rappahannock I aimed to capture General Lee's whole army and thus end the war, by manoeuvring, and not by butchery."
While his superior in command did little that was practically useful with the cavalry, Kilpatrick covered his little band with glory, and gave the people of Richmond, a scare as great as Stuart administered to our Quaker friends in Pennsylvania during his famous foray into the border counties of the Keystone State.
Their return was almost immediately followed by the second grand cavalry battle of Brandy Station, June ninth, 1863, a struggle as hotly contested as any that occurred during the war. In this encounter Sergeant Willard Glazier took part, leading the first platoon of the first battalion that crossed the Rappahannock. Matters were now assuming a warlike aspect. The Valley of the Shenandoah groaned beneath the tramp of the main army of the Confederacy, under Lee. The Federal general, Pleasanton, and the Confederate general, Stuart, were in fierce conflict among the Blue Ridge mountains.
At Aldie, on the seventeenth of June, 1863, the "Harris Light" led the division under Kilpatrick, Glazier's squadron again being the advance guard—his place at the head of the long column which wound down the road. As they came upon Aldie, the enemy's advance, under W. H. F. Lee, was unexpectedly encountered. But Kilpatrick was equal to the occasion. Dashing to the front, his voice rang out, "Form platoons! trot! march!" Down through the streets they charged, and along the Middleburg Road, leading over the low hill beyond. This position was gained so quickly and gallantly that Fitzhugh Lee, taken by surprise, made no opposition to the brilliant advance, though immediately afterward he fought for two hours to regain the lost position, while the guns of his batteries blazed destruction upon the Federal cavalry. The latter, however, handsomely repelled the attack.
On the crest of the hill there was a field of haystacks, inclosed in a barricade of rails. Behind these the enemy occupied a strong position, and their sharp-shooters had annoyed Kilpatrick's lines to such an extent as to prevent their advance on the left. It was well known to the officers of the "Harris Light" that their regiment had not met Kilpatrick's expectations on the field of Brandy Station, and on the morning of this battle they had asked their general for "an opportunity to retrieve their reputation." This chance came soon enough. Kilpatrick, ordering forward a battalion of the "Harris Light," and giving the men a few words of encouragement, turned to Major McIrvin and pointing to the field of haystacks, said: "Major, there is the opportunity you ask for! Go take that position!" Away dashed the "Harris Light," and in a moment the enemy was reached and the struggle began. The horses could not leap the barricade, the men dismounted, scaled the barriers, and with drawn sabres rushed furiously upon the hidden foe, who quickly called for quarter. Aldie was by far the most bloody cavalry battle of the war. The rebel "chivalry" was beaten; Kilpatrick from this moment took a proud stand among the most famous of the Union cavalry generals, and the fame of the regiment was greatly enhanced. To quote our young soldier in "Battles for the Union:" "Many a brave soul suffered death's sad eclipse at Aldie, and many escaped the storm of bullets when to escape was miraculous. In looking back upon that desperate day, I have often wondered by what strange fatality I passed through its rain of fire unhurt; but the field which brought a harvest of death to so many others marked an era in my own humble, military history, which I recall with pride and pleasure, for from the Battle of Aldie I date my first commission. The mantle of rank which fell from one whom death had garnered on that ground dropped upon my shoulders, and I was proud and grateful to wear it in my country's service. I feel proud also of having been a participant in the 'Battle of the Haystacks,' where the glorious squadrons of the 'Harris Light' swept into the mad conflict with the same invincible bravery that distinguished them on the field of Brandy Station. Every soldier of the saddle who there fought under Kilpatrick may justly glory in the laurels won at Aldie."
In the same month followed the engagements of Middleburg and Upperville, in each of which the "Harris Light" participated with great eclat, charging in face of the enemy's guns, forming in platoon under fire, and routing him in splendid style. At Upperville, Kilpatrick received orders to charge the town. With drawn sabres and shouts which made the mountains and plains resound, they rushed upon the foe. The encounter was terrific. The enemy's horse were driven through the village of Paris, and finally through Ashby's Gap upon their own infantry columns in the Shenandoah Valley. At Rector's Cross-Roads, where Kilpatrick ordered the "Harris Light" to charge the enemy's battery, as they were forming, a fatal bullet pierced Glazier's horse, and it fell dead under him. Fortunately he was not dragged down in the fall, and as he struck the ground a riderless horse belonging to an Indiana company came up. Its owner, a sergeant, had been shot dead, and, rapidly mounting, Lieutenant Glazier rode forward with his regiment as they valiantly charged the enemy's position.
These actions were succeeded by the battle of Gettysburg (July first, second and third), in which the disasters of Chancelorsville and Fredericksburg were fully retrieved, and the rebel army, under Lee, received a blow so staggering in its effects as to result in a loss of prestige, and all hope in the ultimate success of their cause. Prior to this battle the Confederates had warred upon the North aggressively; thenceforward they were compelled to act upon the defensive. During the progress of this great and (so far as the ultimate fate of the Confederacy was concerned) decisive battle, the cavalry, including the brigade to which our subject was attached, performed brilliant service. They held Stuart's force effectually at bay, and while the retreat of the rebel army was in progress their services were in constant requisition. On the first day of the battle, General John Buford, commanding the Third Cavalry Division, was in position on the Chambersburg Pike, about two miles west of the village. Early in the forenoon the vanguard of the rebel army appeared in front of them, and our dauntless troopers charged the enemy vigorously, and drove them back upon their reserves.
The second day of the battle was spent by the cavalry in hard, bold and bloody work, in collision with their old antagonists, Stuart, Lee and Hampton. Charge succeeded charge; the carbine, pistol and sabre were used by turns; the artillery thundering long after the infantry around Gettysburg had sunk to rest exhausted with the carnage of the weary day. Stuart, however, was driven back on his supports, and badly beaten.
Upon the third day the sun rose bright and warm upon the bleached forms of the dead strewn over the sanguinary field; upon the wounded, and upon long, glistening lines of armed men ready to renew the conflict. Each antagonist, rousing every element of power, seemed resolved upon victory or death. Finally victory saluted the Union banners, and with great loss the rebel army sounded the retreat. "Thus," says Glazier in his "Battles for the Union"—"the Battle of Gettysburg ended—the bloody turning-point of the rebellion—the bloody baptism of the redeemed republic. Nearly twenty thousand men from the Union ranks had been killed and wounded, and a larger number of the rebels, making the enormous aggregate of at least forty thousand, whose blood was shed to fertilize the Tree of Liberty."
During this sanguinary battle; the cavalry were in daily and hourly conflict with the enemy's well-trained horse under their respective dashing leaders. The sabre was no "useless ornament," but a deadly weapon, and "dead cavalrymen" and their dead chargers, were sufficiently numerous to have drawn forth an exclamation of approval from even so exacting a commander as "Fighting Joe Hooker." Haggerstown, Boonsboro', Williamsport and Falling Waters, all attested the great efficiency of the cavalry arm, and at the end of the month it was an assured, confident and capable body of dragoons, that, according to Captain Glazier, "crossed the Rapidan for, as they believed, the purpose of a continued advance movement against the enemy."
And here, parenthetically, we may observe, that he, and other recent writers (Mr. Lossing being an exception), are scarcely accurate in so designating the river crossed by them as the Rapidan. It was the chief tributary of the Rappahannock, while two sister streams, which together form the Pamunkey, are known to local topography as the North and South Rapid Anna rivers.
It was a pleasant locality, and the "Harris Light" encamped there for several weeks, having no occupation more exciting or belligerent than picket duty. Duties of a more stirring character, were, however, awaiting them, and as these are intimately associated with the career of the subject of this biography, the delineation of whose life is the purpose of the writer, we will give them something more than a cursory notice.
We will first, however, take the opportunity of introducing a letter from our young cavalryman to his parents, illustrative in some measure of his intelligence and soldierly qualities, while it is no less so of his sense of filial duty:
Headquarters Harris Lgt. Cavalry, Near Hartwood Church, Virginia, August 22d, 1863.
Dear Father and Mother:
Another birthday has rolled around, and finds me still in the army. Two years have passed since we were lying quietly in camp near Washington. Little did I think at that time that the insurrection, which was then in process of organization, was of such mighty magnitude as to be able to continue in its treacherous designs until now. Newspaper quacks and mercenary correspondents kept facts from the public, and published falsehoods in their stead. Experience has at last taught us the true state of things, and we now feel that the great work of putting down the rebellion is to be accomplished only by energy, perseverance and unity. Our cause never looked more favorable than to-day. It is no longer a rumor that Vicksburg and Port Hudson have fallen, but a stern reality, an actual and glorious victory to our arms, and a sure exposure of the waning strength of the ill-fated Confederacy. Charleston and Mobile must soon follow the example of the West, and then the Army of the Potomac will strike the final blow in Virginia.
Kilpatrick's cavalry is now watching the movements of the enemy on the Rappahannock—his head-quarters being near Hartwood Church. I have seen nothing that would interest you much, save a few expeditions among the bushwhackers of Stafford County.
It may not be uninteresting to you to learn that I have just been promoted to a lieutenancy, my commission to date from the seventeenth of June. I have received four successive promotions since my enlistment. Your son can boast that his Colonel says he has earned his commission. Political or moneyed influence has had nothing to do with it. I have been in command of a platoon or company ever since the thirteenth of last April, and have very frequently been in charge of a squadron. I conclude by asking you to remember me kindly to all my friends,
And believe me, as ever, your dutiful son, Willard.
It will be remembered that the greater part of the spring of this year (1863), that is, from the time the Federal army moved from its winter-quarters in Stafford and King George counties, and all the early summer, were passed by the belligerent forces in efforts to compel their adversaries to fall back on their respective capitals. The people and the press on both sides were clamoring for the accomplishment of something definite, and when Vicksburg fell, and on the stricken field of Gettysburg, victory perched upon the Union banners, our hopes seemed on the point of realization, but the fall of the leaf found the hostile armies still confronting each other. Lee's force, though fearfully shattered, maintained its organization, and to all appearance had lost little of its former self-confidence. General Meade, perhaps the most scientific strategist of all the generals who had held the chief command of the Army of the Potomac, was severely criticised, simply because he declined by "raw Haste, half-sister to Delay," to hazard the ultimate fruition of his well-laid plans; and Captain Glazier, it must be admitted, was one of his adverse critics. We think the censure was uncalled for. Wellington had but one Waterloo, and although to him was due the victory, it was the fresh army of Blucher that pursued the retreating French, and made defeat irretrievable. But whenever Lee, or McClellan, Jackson, or Meade obtained a hard-earned victory, the people, on either side, were dissatisfied because their triumph was not followed up by, at once and forever, annihilating the foe!
FROM BATTLE-FIELD TO PRISON.
A situation to try the stoutest hearts.—Hail Columbia!—Every man a hero.—Kilpatrick's ingenuity.—A pen-picture from "Soldiers of the Saddle."—Glazier thanked by his general.—Cessation of hostilities.—A black day.—Fitzhugh Lee proposes to crush Kilpatrick.-"Kil's" audacity.—Capture of Lieutenant Glazier.—Petty tyranny.—"Here, Yank, hand me that thar hat, and overcoat, and boots."
At this period of the war, the Cavalry Corps was separated into three divisions. Buford with his division fell back by the way of Stevensburg, and Gregg by Sulphur Springs; leaving Kilpatrick with the brigades of Custer and Davies, which included the "Harris Light," on the main thoroughfare along the railroad line. "No sooner," says Glazier, "had Kilpatrick moved out of Culpepper, than Hampton's cavalry division made a furious attack upon the 'Harris Light,' then acting as rear-guard, with the evident design of breaking through upon the main column to disperse, or delay it, so as to enable a flanking force to intercept our retreat. Gallantly repelling this assault, the command, on the eleventh of October, advanced to Brandy Station, where an accumulation of formidable difficulties threatened our annihilation." It appears that Fitzhugh Lee, with the flower of the Confederate cavalry, held possession of the only road over which it was possible for Kilpatrick to retire, while Stuart, at the head of another body of cavalry, supported by artillery well posted along a line of hills, completely covered the Federal left. His right was exposed to a galling fire from sharp-shooters hidden behind the forest; "while just behind them was Hampton's legion threatening speedy destruction to its surrounded foe." Here was a situation to try the stoutest hearts. Nothing daunted, however, by this terrific array of an enemy very much his superior in numbers, Kilpatrick displayed that decision and daring which ever characterized him. "His preparations for a grand charge," for he had determined to cut his way out of this cul-de-sac, "were soon completed. Forming his division into three lines of battle, he assigned the right to General Davies, the left to General Custer; and placing himself, with General Pleasanton, in the centre, advanced with terrible determination to the contest. Approaching to within a few yards of the enemy's lines, he ordered the band to strike up a national air, to whose stirring strains was added the blast of scores of bugles ringing out the 'charge.' Brave hearts became braver, and weak ones waxed strong, until 'pride of country had touched this raging sea of thought, and emotion kindled an unconquerable principle that affirmed every man a hero until death.'" The troops filled the air with their battle-cry, and hurled themselves on their unequal foe. "So swiftly swept forward this tide of animated power that the Confederates broke and fled, and Kilpatrick thus escaped a disaster which had seemed inevitable."
"No one"—we quote from "Soldiers of the Saddle,"—"who looked upon that wonderful panorama, can ever forget it. On the great field were riderless horses and dying men; clouds of dirt from solid shot and bursting shells, broken caissons, and overturned ambulances; and long lines of dragoons dashing into the charge, with their drawn and firmly grasped sabres glistening in the light of the declining sun; while far beyond the scene of tumult were the dark green forests skirting the distant Rappahannock."
In this action Glazier, who occupied the post of volunteer aide to General Davies, had his horse shot under him, received a sabre-stroke on the shoulder, two bullets in his hat, and had his scabbard split by a shot or shell. His conduct was such as to obtain for him the thanks of his general and a promise of early promotion. This was the fourth battle of Brandy Station in which the Harris Light Cavalry had been engaged. The first occurred on August the twentieth, 1862, the second on June ninth, the third on September twelfth, and this last action on October eleventh, 1863. They were followed by a number of spirited engagements between the Federal cavalry and the cavaliers of the South—the former under Generals Buford and Kilpatrick, and the latter under Stuart and Wade Hampton. In all of these both sides behaved gallantly, the result being the masterly retreat of the Federals across the Rappahannock to the old battle-ground of Bull Run, where they made a protracted halt.
From this time until the fifteenth of October, nothing of sufficient importance transpired to require mention here. Upon that day an indecisive battle was fought at Bristoe Station, which was followed by another calm that continued until the nineteenth of October—a black day in the calendar of Willard Glazier's life.
Far away among the peaceful hills of his native State there fell upon his father's house a sorrow such as its inmates had never known before. Not that this family had escaped the ordinary bereavements of human life. On the contrary, two little children had been taken from them at intervals of time which seemed to them cruelly brief. But the death of an infant, while a sad, is a beautiful thing to witness. There is no flower that blooms on a baby grave that does not speak to the world-worn heart, of Immortality. The grief, therefore, is gentle in its touch. But with the ebb of a maturer life the sorrow is of a different character, and when the physician announced to this worthy couple that their daughter, Elvira, would die, they were stunned by the blow, and when the event came "they refused" like Rachel "to be comforted." The child that is going from us is, for the time, the favorite, and these afflicted parents could not realize that she who had grown up among them, the ewe lamb of their flock, could be torn from their loving arms, and go down, like coarser clay, to the dark grave. She was so good, so gentle, so loving to her kindred, that their simple hearts could not understand how God could let her die, in the very bloom and beauty of her maidenhood. But though crushed, they bowed their heads in submission. Their hearts were almost broken, but they rebelled not against the Hand that chastened them. Why is it that such examples of tender feeling and unquestioning faith are seldom found in cities? Is it that "the memories which peaceful country scenes call up, are not of this world; nor of its thoughts and hopes?" That "their gentle influences teach us how to weave fresh garlands for the graves of those we love, purify our thoughts, and beat down old enmities and hatreds?" And that "beneath all this there lingers in the least reflective mind, a vague and half-formed consciousness of having held such feelings long before, which calls up solemn thoughts of distant times to come, and bends down pride and worldliness before it?" The physician had said that Elvira would not live another day, and the mother sat down to the sad task of writing the mournful news to her soldier son. Meanwhile beyond the Rappahannock, a scene was on the eve of being enacted, which was destined to inflict upon her a pain as poignant as that she was, now about to bestow.
The night of October eighteenth was passed by Kilpatrick's command at Gainesville, but the first faint streak of dawn saw him and his faithful followers in the saddle, booted, spurred, and equipped for some enterprise as yet unexplained to them, but evidently, in their leader's estimation, one of "pith and moment." At the word of command, the force, including the "Harris Light," moved forward at a quick trot, taking the road to Warrenton, and anticipating a brush with Stuart's cavalry who, during the previous ten hours, had thrown out videttes in their immediate front.
The surprise of the Federals was great to find their advance unimpeded, and that, instead of offering opposition, the Confederates fell back as rapidly as their opponents approached. On they dashed, unopposed and unobstructed, until Buckland Mills was reached. At this point they found themselves checked, and in a manner that somewhat astounded them. As they arrived within a stone's throw of that village, Fitzhugh Lee, with his magnificent following, struck their flank. That astute and valiant officer, it appears, had cut his way through the Federal infantry at Thoroughfare-Gap, and accompanied by a battery of flying artillery, swept down upon Kilpatrick, designing to crush him at a blow. General Stuart, taking in the situation, and keenly anxious to profit by the advantage thus afforded him, instantly turned upon and charged the Federals in his front, while, as if to make their utter annihilation a certainty, the rebel General Gordon, with a third body of men (his proximity at that moment not being suspected), bore down fiercely on their left, threatening to cut Kilpatrick's division in two.
Kilpatrick possessed an extraordinary amount of ingenuity in devising means of escape from a dangerous position. In the present case his plan was formed in an instant, and executed as soon as formed. He immediately changed his front, and, without the slightest hesitation, headed a mad and desperate charge upon Fitzhugh Lee's advancing column. The merit of the movement lay in its audacity; it was the only one that promised the remotest chance of escape to the entrapped Federals. Executed with great rapidity and desperate decision, the movement resulted in the salvation of the greater portion of his command. It so happened, however, that the "Harris Light," originally, be it remembered, forming the vanguard of Kilpatrick's force, was by this manoeuvre thrown round upon the rear, and Stuart, who was now the pursuer instead of the pursued, had a fine opportunity of attacking them with his full force, at a great disadvantage to the former—an opportunity he was not slow to avail himself of.
Kilpatrick's men met the assault manfully, retiring slowly, until at length, upon the brow of a small hill, they turned at bay, and for a time formed a living rampart between their retreating comrades and the enemy. Every attempt to approach and penetrate their line proved instant death to their assailants, and General Stuart, seeing no chance of otherwise dislodging them, determined to charge in person, and crush them with an entire division. Glazier, who had already emptied two saddles, sat coolly upon his horse, reloading as this formidable body came sweeping down. By this time, experience of the vicissitudes of a soldier's career, and possibly the fact that he had hitherto been very fortunate in the numerous conflicts in which his regiment had been engaged, left him quite composed under fire. Singling out one of Stuart's men, he covered that cavalier with his revolver, and probably, in another instant, would have ended his career; but, just as his finger gave the final pressure upon the trigger, his horse, riddled with bullets, fell dead under him, the shot flew wide of its mark, and he fell to the ground.
His first sensation was of a dense cloud between himself and the sky, and next of being crushed by tramping hoofs, whole squadrons of horse passing over his body as he lay prone and helpless. A vague, dreamy sensation of being a mass of wounds and bruises was succeeded by utter darkness and oblivion. How long he continued in this comatose state he never knew. Raised from the ground, a terrible sense of acute bodily pain gradually crept over him, as he found himself hurried along at a rapid pace. Where he was going, who had him in charge, what he had done, whether he was in this or some other world, were matters of which he had no more conception than the dead charger he had ridden. Pain, pain, nothing but intense pain, absorbed the whole of his faculties. Gradually his full consciousness returned. He remembered the fierce onset of the enemy, his fall from his horse, and at once concluded that he was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy! Very soon after, he discovered that, in addition to being deprived of his arms, he had been stripped of his watch and other valuables.
One of the great annoyances to which a newly captured prisoner was subjected, arose from the fact that skulkers and sneaks, in order to secure safe positions, coveted and sought the privilege of quartering them. In his own words Glazier says:
"The woods in the vicinity were full of skulkers, and, in order to make a show of having something to do, they would make their appearance in the rear of the fighting column, and devote themselves sedulously to guarding the prisoners." He adds, that "privates, corporals and sergeants, in turn, had them in charge;" and that "each in succession would call them into line, count them in an officious manner, and issue orders according to their liking," until some sneak of higher rank came along, assumed the superior command, and in a tone of authority, would say to the other poltroons: "Gentlemen, your services are much needed at the front. Go, and do your duty like soldiers." The result would be an exchange of tyrants, but no diminution of the petty tyranny. At dusk the prisoners were marched to, and lodged in, the jail at Warrenton.
Like all Federal soldiers who fell into the enemy's hands, Glazier complains very bitterly of the small persecutions inflicted by the officers and men of the Home Guard, and unfortunately these mongrels—a cross between a civilian and a soldier—were their chief custodians during that night, and signalized themselves after their fashion. They deprived the prisoners of their clothing, and, in truth, everything of the slightest value in the eyes of a thief. One of these swashbucklers attempted to reduce our young hero's wardrobe to an Arkansas basis, namely, a straw-hat and a pair of spurs, with what success the following dialogue, taken mainly from "The Capture, Prison-Pen, and Escape," will indicate.
"Here, Yank," said the guard, "hand me that thar hat, and over-coat, and boots."
"No, sir, I won't; they are my property. You have no right to take them from me."
"I have," said the guard. "We have authority from General Stuart to take from you prisoners whatever we d——d choose."
"That I doubt," said the captive, "and if you are a gentleman you won't be guilty of stripping a defenceless prisoner."
"I'll show you my authority, you d——d blue-belly," said the ruffian, drawing his revolver. "Now, take off that coat, or I'll blow your brains out."
By this time Glazier's Northern blood was up, and he grew desperate, so he angrily answered:
"Blow away then! It is as well to be without brains as without clothing."
So the fellow, who was evidently a contemptible blusterer, whom General Stuart, had he been aware of his conduct, would have drummed out of the army, not willing to risk the consequences of actual violence—sneaked away.
While this little incident was occurring at Warrenton jail, a very different event was transpiring at his father's house. His sister was dying. It was a peaceful, hopeful death—the death of a Christian—of one who in her young life had never by word or deed injured man or woman. Many weeks elapsed before her imprisoned brother heard of her death, and when the intelligence at length reached him, he was overwhelmed with grief at her loss.
Upon the morning following the day of his capture, in that dense darkness that precedes the dawn, the prisoners started on their tramp toward Culpepper, and as the day broke, and the sun mounted above the eastern hills, their march, which extended to full thirty miles, became a weary and exhausting journey. Themselves on foot, and compelled to keep up with the pace of mounted men, it was a tiresome task; but to do so under the burning rays of a Southern sun was nearly impossible. To make matters worse, in the present case, the Confederates having sustained a defeat at Bristoe and Rappahannock Station, the guard was not in the most amiable humor; in addition to which they were compelled to use haste in order to avoid capture by the victorious Federals. Glazier gave no thought to his present discomfort, and to use his own words, "felt relieved when he heard of the successes of his comrades." Still the annoyance of this compulsory tramp was felt keenly. The prisoners "being encumbered with heavy high-heeled cavalry boots," and their feet having become tender from contact with the mud and water through which they marched, soon became a mass of blisters, and their sufferings from this cause alone were intense. Six of the poor fellows succumbed, unable to proceed. After a journey attended with much mental depression, and bodily agony, the former increased by the barbarous contumely flung at them by men who emerged from roadside inns, to stare at them as they passed, the prisoners, including the subject of our story, entered Richmond, and were at once introduced to the amenities of "Libby Prison."
"All ye who enter here abandon hope."—Auld lang syne.—Major Turner.—Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.—Stoicism.—Glazier enters the prison-hospital.—A charnel-house.—Rebel surgeons.—Prison correspondence.—Specimen of a regulation letter.—The tailor's joke.—A Roland for an Oliver.—News of death.—Schemes for escape.—The freemasonry of misfortune.—Plot and counter-plot.—The pursuit of pleasure under difficulties.
It does not come within the scope of the present work to enter into a detailed description of the sufferings of the Union prisoners in this place of durance: those who have a taste for such gloomy themes may gratify it by reading the first work by our young soldier-author, entitled "The Capture, Prison-Pen and Escape," in which the horrors of that house of misery are eloquently described. We may, however, say this much, that if the testimony of eye-witnesses is to be credited, it was a fearful place, and one over whose portals the words of Dante might have been appropriately inscribed, "All ye who enter here abandon hope."
Of some thousand Northern officers confined here, Glazier, of course, met several from his own corps, who had been previously captured. He at first felt his condition very acutely. His roving life amid the magnificent scenery of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania was now exchanged for the gloomy and monotonous routine of a prison; but he writes under date of October twenty-eighth, in a more reconciled and hopeful strain "I am gradually," he says, "becoming accustomed to this dungeon life, and I presume I shall fall into the habit of enjoying myself at times. 'How use doth breed a habit in a man.' Indeed he can accommodate himself to almost any clime or any circumstance of life, a gift of adaptation no other living thing possesses in any such degree." Of one man, in the midst of all his philosophy, our hero speaks very bitterly. We allude to Major Turner, military warden of the prison. He describes him as possessed of a vindictive, depraved, and fiendish nature, and moralizes over the man and his career in this wise:
"There is nothing more terrible than a human soul grown powerful in sin, and left to the horrible machinations of the evil one, and its own evil promptings. Demons developed from germs that might have produced seraphs, become rank growths, drinking in the healthful stimulants of life and reproducing them in hideous forms of vice and crime.
"'Souls made of fire, and children of the sun, With whom revenge is virtue.'
"Thus we see a soul coming pure and plastic from its Maker's hand, yet afterward standing before the world, stained and hardened."
Slowly and wearily the days and weeks passed on in "Libby," leaving its drear monotony unbroken, except when the rumor of a prospect of being exchanged came to flush the faces of the captives with a hope destined not to be fulfilled while Willard Glazier was in Richmond. The result was that he at length abandoned all hope of being exchanged, and for a time tried hard to cultivate and "grow into the luxury of indifference." His experience told him that "however reprehensible" it might be in ordinary life, "stoicism, under the circumstances in which he then found himself, was an actual necessity." His mind appears at this time to have sustained him under many extreme bodily privations. But despite all his philosophy and cultivated resignation of spirit, despite the mental resources which he fortunately possessed in no small degree, and which enabled him to occupy his time profitably, while others were pacing up and down the room like caged beasts, feeding upon their own hearts, his bodily health was materially impaired. The first winter month, with its frosty atmosphere, and fierce northern blasts, instead of bringing invigoration to his wasted frame, left him more debilitated; and upon the eighth of December he succumbed to a disease which had been encroaching upon him for some time, and requested to be sent to the hospital. His sensations were far from pleasant when, for the first time in his life, he found himself seriously ill among enemies, and in that most dismal of all dismal places, a Prison Infirmary. "Once in the hospital," he writes, "I found myself soon subjected to its peculiar influences. There was the ominous stillness, broken only by the choking cough, or labored groan; the chilling dread, as though one were in the immediate presence of death, and under the ban of silence; and the anxious yearning—the almost frantic yearning one feels in the contemplation of suffering which he is powerless to alleviate. And worse than all, at last came the hardened feeling which a familiarity with such scenes produces. This is nothing but an immense charnel-house. We are constantly in the midst of the dead and dying. Nearly every day some of our comrades, and on some days several of them, are borne away coffinless and unshrouded to their unmarked graves. Nor flower, nor cross, nor hallowed token, gives grace to the dead, or beauty to the grave. I am well aware that in time of war, on the field of carnage, in camp, where the pestilential fever rages, or in the crowded prisons of the enemy, human life is but little valued. Yet there are moments amidst all these scenes, when the importance of life and the terrors of death, seem to force themselves upon the mind of every man, with a power which cannot be resisted."
It is pleasant to find that here, as generally in the world with members of the learned professions, the surgeons were humane and kind; and remonstrated with the authorities whenever remonstrance on behalf of the poor sufferers was needed. Of course they could not "minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow," or,
"With some sweet oblivious antidote, cleanse The choked bosom of that perilous stuff That weighs upon the heart;"
but gracious words and sympathizing looks, and the consciousness that he was once more in the hands of gentlemen, were a source of great comfort to the patient, after having been brought into daily and hourly contact with the familiars of Major Turner. Another gratifying circumstance was, that the Federal surgeons held as prisoners were permitted to attend upon their sick comrades when they expressed a wish to do so, and that, of course, was very frequently. Even an hospital has its little events, which although they appear very trifling in the retrospect, are of considerable importance at the time of their occurrence. Here these little episodes were not infrequent. At one time it was the destruction of a box of dainties sent by the Federal Sanitary Commission for the prisoners; at another, it was the excitement incident to an exchange of the surgeons held in captivity; and again, it was the surreptitious acquisition by some of the patients of a daily newspaper, and the guarded dissemination of such items as it might contain among his fellow-sufferers; but greatest of all in importance was the receipt of a letter from HOME. Even when surrounded by all the incidents of home life, the postman is ever a welcome visitor; but in the midst of such a dreary captivity as these men were undergoing, a letter from home was like a message from heaven.
Their correspondence had, however, its sad as well as its cheerful aspect. The prisoners were restricted in writing their letters to six lines, by an arbitrary order from Major Turner, and much ingenuity was exercised in the effort to crowd into these six lines the thousand and one messages which many of the writers desired to send to mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts. Here is a genuine specimen of a "regulation" letter from a fond husband to the wife of his bosom:
My Dear Wife: Yours received—no hope of exchange—send corn-starch—want socks—no money—rheumatism in left shoulder—pickles very good—send sausages—God bless you—Kiss the baby—Hail Columbia! Your devoted husband,
A. D. S.
But the "rule of six" was successfully evaded for a considerable time, by the manufacture and use of invisible ink. The trick was however at last discovered, and the way in which Glazier tells the story is so amusing, that we are tempted to give it in his own words:
"A certain captain writing to a fair and undoubtedly dear friend, could not brook the idea of being limited to six lines, when he had so much to communicate; so resorting to the use of invisible ink, he comfortably filled the sheet with 'soft and winning words,' and then fearing lest his inamorata would not discover the secret he added this postscript:
"'P.S.—Now, my dear, read this over, and then bake it in the oven and read it again.'
"This was too much. The rebels thinking if the letter would improve by baking it might be well to improve it at once, accordingly held it over the fire. This brought to light four closely written pages of the tenderest and most heart-rending sentiment."
Ever after all letters sent out by the prisoners were carefully inspected and subjected to the "ordeal by fire," so that, to use the expressive language of an old soldier, "that game was played."
Among Glazier's fellow-prisoners at this time was a certain Major Halsted. He was one of those social anomalies that are not infrequently met with in this country, a man of obscure origin, a member of a very humble calling, prior to entering the army, and yet possessing the personal appearance and manners of a man of distinction. He really belonged to that terribly maligned craft of whose followers it is popularly said, "It takes nine to make a man,"—he was a tailor. Upon this fact some of the little wits of the prison, forgetting that one of the bravest of Napoleon's generals, and one of the most intrepid of America's sons, had each followed the same occupation, were in the habit of jokingly asking him to repair their old and dilapidated clothes.
When this jest was first indulged in, those who knew the undaunted spirit and somewhat irascible temper of the major, expected to hear him blaze out upon the perpetrator of the mauvaise plaisantrie, or possibly knock him down. To their surprise, however, he did neither. For a single moment a gleam of passionate wrath shot up in his eyes, but it was instantly suppressed, and he joined in the laugh against himself. Seeing, however, that the victim of the joke did not appear at all disturbed or hurt, other, better-natured fellows followed in the wake, and the jest of asking the major to patch a pair of breeches or mend a coat, became somewhat threadbare by repetition.
It happened, however, that one day the rebel surgeon accidentally tore his coat across the breast, and turning to Major H. said, he would give him a bottle of wine if he would repair it. "Yes, sir," said the major, "if you will furnish me with a needle, thread, and a few other indispensables, I will take the whole suit and make it look very different." He added, "the fact is, I would rather do anything than rust in idleness in this d——d prison." Finding that he spoke seriously, and as if it were an ordinary business, the Confederate sawbones, who had a lively appreciation of Yankee handicraft, accepted the offer, and all next day the major was hard at work clipping and scouring and pressing the surgeon's uniform, every now and then the owner thereof passing by and smiling approval; and it was remarked that his face wore that complacent expression common to all good men when they have furnished employment for idle hands—and it is not going to cost them anything.
The same evening, however, when the work, so neatly done, was finished, the major very quietly slipped it upon his own dignified person, and taking with him a fellow-prisoner as "hospital steward," coolly walked past the guard, remarking, to the great consternation of that personage, "My friend, there are unmistakable indications of cerebro-spinal meningitis in your eyes. Come over to the hospital as soon as you are relieved, and I will see what can be done for you," walked out into the street, and neither he nor the "hospital steward" was heard of again until they reached the Federal lines.
The devices resorted to, to effect an escape, were as ingenious as they were numerous, and for a short time the most popular and successful ruse was for the prisoners to get into the hospital, simulate death, and, while left unguarded in the dead-house, to escape. The difference, however, between the tally of the deaths and the burials ultimately attracted the attention of the authorities, and that was stopped.
It will be remembered that while young Glazier was fighting his last fight prior to his capture upon the nineteenth of October, the family at home were gathered around his sister's dying bed, when her gentle spirit winged its flight to Heaven. From that day until the twenty-ninth of November, he had received no news of his family, and consequently, up to that time, was ignorant of her decease. It had been his habit during the weary hours of his prison life, to overcome the tendency to despair from brooding over his misfortunes—which is common to all human beings in trouble—to fix his thought upon the loved ones at home. His imagination constantly conjured up pictures of his parents, his sisters and brothers, and placed them amid the rustic surroundings of his boyhood's home. Even while in the hospital, and tossing with fever upon his bed, the visions which haunted him were not visions of red-handed war, but of quiet country life, where his kindred filled their several spheres of duty. He had never thought of them, except collectively. Although he had, from time to time, felt apprehensive that "Elvi" was somewhat delicate, he never had the slightest fear that her life was thereby endangered. Hence, when the sad news arrived, it came as a terrible surprise. His sisters had been the objects of his peculiar care. The relation he had borne to them, young as he was, was that of a father, as well as brother. He never wearied of devising plans for their intellectual improvement. He made it his peculiar care that they should be thoroughly educated, and that, while intellectually robust, none of the soft down and bloom of true womanhood should be brushed away in the process. They were his memory's "good angels" even in sleep; for what must have been his dreams in the midst of such surroundings, if he had not had them to think of!
The shock on thus learning of his sister's death was a very great one to young Glazier, and his reflections for a time were bitter. He alludes to the subject himself in this way: "In the very midst of death I am permitted to drag out a weary life, while dear ones in a land of health, freedom and plenty are struck down by the fatal shaft. Her death occurred on the nineteenth of October, the very day of my capture. I was thrust into prison, and doubly bound to the groveling discomforts of earth, while she was released from the prison-house of clay, and received, I believe into the joyous, freedom of Heaven. Our lives are all in the hands of Him who doeth all things well. He appoints us a period of existence, and appoints a moment to depart. All other influences are subordinate to His will. 'What can preserve our lives, and what destroy!'"
From the moment he realized that he was in the hands of the enemy, after the battle of New Baltimore, Glazier had made up his mind to exercise sleepless vigilance in seeking for opportunities of escape. He pondered over the matter until he became a complete enthusiast in his efforts to master the minute details of the construction and topography of the place of his confinement, and, by the exercise of that natural freemasonry which enables kindred spirits to recognize each other, soon effected an understanding upon the subject with certain of the more daring of his companions in misfortune. One of these gentlemen was a Lieutenant Tresouthick, an officer of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. In order to comprehend the plan which they finally determined to carry out, it will be necessary to premise that Libby Prison was a three-story structure, built over very ample cellarage; that the stories were each divided into three compartments, as was the cellar; and that these spaces were all of equal size in length and breadth. For the purpose of conveying a clear conception of the locus in quo of the proposed effort, the reader should also be informed that the hospital occupied the first floor; that Lieutenant Tresouthick was one of the occupants of the room immediately above it; and that there were sinks built against the exterior wall of the same height as each story, and running the entire length of the building. The lieutenant's plan was, that "he should feign sickness and get into the hospital," says our hero, in describing the scheme; "and that I, in the meanwhile, should, with a saw-backed knife, cut a board out of the sink large enough to let us through." This looked feasible enough, and the two conspirators were beginning to felicitate themselves upon their approaching freedom, when they discovered that any such opening as they proposed, would let them out "directly opposite the guard," so that plan had to be dropped. Glazier then proposed a plan of operations, promising better and safer results. It was, that Tresouthick should still carry out his original idea of a feigned sickness and consequent admission to the hospital; that he (Glazier) should procure a piece of rope, eight or ten feet long, and then, "some dark, rainy night," the pair should "steal down into the basement"—the outer doors of which were "not locked until ten o'clock"—and await their opportunity. That, when they once reached the exterior of the building, and the sentry's back was turned, they should rush past him on either side, and, with the rope, trip him up, in the hope of being beyond the reach of his musket before he could fire. This was approved by the lieutenant, and they made up their minds to try it. Of course, it was necessary that Lieutenant Tresouthick's illness should come on very gradually, and progress naturally from bad to worse, until he became a fit subject for the hospital, so that some time was occupied in preliminary preparations before any steps could be taken for the execution of their plan.
Meanwhile, through the kindness of one of the surgeons, young Glazier was furnished with some reading matter, a very great luxury to a man in his situation and of his tastes. In his more serious hours he re-read the Bible, and committed to memory daily a portion of "Saint Matthew's Gospel;" and for relaxation read "Napoleon and his Marshals." This with an occasional game at chess, checkers, or dominos, games in which the invalids were permitted to indulge, made the hours pass much more pleasantly than those spent in the convalescent department. It is true their chess-board was made with chalk upon the floor, the "men" being pieces wrought out of bone saved from their soup, and the "checkers" old buttons ripped from their scanty wardrobe. But these rude implements afforded as much real sport as if they had been constructed of ivory or gold. The scene must at all times have been grimly grotesque in this place, for all the trades and professions had their representatives there, and the lawyers held mock courts, politicians formed caucuses, gamblers started a square game of faro, and even some ministers of the gospel gathered together a few of the prisoners each day, who listened to words of hope and comfort from their lips.