The Blue and the Gray on Land
A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN
AUTHOR OF "THE ARMY AND NAVY SERIES" "YOUNG AMERICA ABROAD, FIRST AND SECOND SERIES" "THE BOAT-CLUB STORIES" "THE GREAT WESTERN SERIES" "THE WOODVILLE STORIES" "THE ONWARD AND UPWARD SERIES" "THE LAKE SHORE SERIES" "THE YACHT-CLUB SERIES" "THE RIVERDALE STORIES" "THE BOAT-BUILDER SERIES" "THE BLUE AND THE GRAY—AFLOAT" "A MISSING MILLION" "A MILLIONAIRE AT SIXTEEN" "A YOUNG KNIGHT-ERRANT" "STRANGE SIGHTS ABROAD" "THE YOUNG NAVIGATORS" "UP AND DOWN THE NILE" "ASIATIC BREEZES" "ACROSS INDIA" "HALF ROUND THE WORLD" ETC., ETC., ETC., ETC., ETC.
BOSTON LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
COPYRIGHT, 1895, BY LEE AND SHEPARD
All rights reserved
LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN
MY PATRIOTIC FRIEND
MRS. SARA WHITE LEE
THE MASSACHUSETTS REGENT
DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION
IS RESPECTFULLY AND CORDIALLY
"A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN" is the third of the series of "The Blue and the Gray—on Land." The stirring events of thirty-four years ago, when the first gun of the Great Rebellion awoke the nation from its slumber of thirteen years of peace, transformed the older boys of the day into men. Thousands of them who lacked three or four years of their majority, and some of them even six or seven years of it, flocked to the standard of the imperilled Union. While the volunteers were in considerable numbers over the military age, those who were not yet out of their teens were earnest in their desire to be enrolled in the ranks of the loyal army, and in one way or another surmounted the obstacle of their tender age.
The youth of the hero of this volume is not contrary to the facts set forth in the official records of the States; neither does his appearance in a squadron of cavalry constitute an improbability, nor his promotion from the rank of second lieutenant to that of first lieutenant, nor even his appointment on the staff of a brigadier-general. In the rosters of three regiments of cavalry, preserved in the archives of a certain State, the name of a young man of seventeen is given as a first lieutenant; two of eighteen as captains; one of the same age as first lieutenant; and three more of that age as second lieutenants. Deck Lyon's rank, therefore, is not exceptional.
Since the close of the war many high schools in the larger cities, and many other educational institutions, have taught military drill and evolutions in their regular courses; and the students have been organized as companies, battalions, and regiments, and are thus trained in actual practice as officers, from a corporal to a colonel, and as privates, for service in the field if we should again unfortunately be involved in a war with a foreign or domestic enemy.
The important battle of Mill Springs, or Logan's Cross Roads as it is indifferently called in the official reports of the government, is introduced in the story, though not in its minute details. The Riverlawn Cavalry are present, and take part in the action, and the command of the principal character renders important service on the outskirts of the battle-field; and the squadron, either as a whole or in detachments, was busily employed. The State was overrun by lawless hordes of ruffians, of which Shaler, the latest historian of the State, writes as follows:—
"Deserters from both armies formed bands of outlaws called guerillas. These wretches, without commanders from either army, sheltered in the great forests that abound in nearly all parts of the State, were often strong enough to overcome the domestic forces, and were guilty of many outrages. They brought back to Kentucky the evils of its struggle with the Indians. Men again tilled their fields with their muskets by their sides, and slept in expectation of combat. During this and the following year these parties were hunted down, and, when captured, hanged without mercy. Still their numbers, their daring, and their swift movements, made the struggle as difficult and as bloody as in any year during the last century."
The Riverlawn Cavalry was largely employed in operations against these irregular bodies of marauders; and there were so many of them that the force was kept constantly occupied. The cavalry had plenty of exciting experience; and the hero, in command of his platoon on detached service, proved himself to be not only a brave officer, but a skilful strategist.
Compared with the States farther north, Kentucky had a terrible experience in the earlier years of the war, in her desperate struggle with Confederate and domestic enemies; and she is certainly entitled as a Union State to greater honor and respect for her loyalty and fidelity to the Union, and for sending so large a number of troops as she did "to the front," than any other loyal State.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS.
PAGE CHAPTER I. GRACE MORGAN AND HER TREASURE-CHEST 15
CHAPTER II. PREPARATIONS FOR DECISIVE ACTION 28
CHAPTER III. THE LIEUTENANT BAGS HIS GAME 41
CHAPTER IV. A REFRACTORY GUERILLA CHIEF 54
CHAPTER V. LIEUTENANT LYON ENCOUNTERS ANOTHER ENEMY 67
CHAPTER VI. A SMART SKIRMISH IN THE ROAD 80
CHAPTER VII. THE BATTLE AT THE BREEDINGS FORT 92
CHAPTER VIII. BEFORE THE BATTLE OF MILL SPRINGS 105
CHAPTER IX. PREPARING FOR ANOTHER BATTLE IN THE ROAD 118
CHAPTER X. THE SHARPSHOOTERS OF MILLERSVILLE 131
CHAPTER XI. THE APPROACH OF ANOTHER CAVALRY FORCE 144
CHAPTER XII. A NEW COMPANY OF MOUNTED RIFLEMEN 156
CHAPTER XIII. A NIGHT IN A JAIL AT JAMESTOWN 169
CHAPTER XIV. THE AIDE-DE-CAMP OF THE GENERAL 182
CHAPTER XV. THE ATTEMPTED ESCAPE OF A WAGON-TRAIN 195
CHAPTER XVI. AN IMAGINARY AND A REAL BATTLE 208
CHAPTER XVII. THE OVERWHELMING DEFEAT OF THE ENEMY 221
CHAPTER XVIII. THE FLAG OF TRUCE ON THE MEADOW 234
CHAPTER XIX. THE RIVERLAWN CAVALRY ON THE FLANK 247
CHAPTER XX. THE FLOWING TIDE OF THE ENEMY'S RETREAT 260
CHAPTER XXI. DECK FINDS HIMSELF IN A TIGHT PLACE 273
CHAPTER XXII. A LIEUTENANT AMONG THE "MISSING" 286
CHAPTER XXIII. WITHIN THE CONFEDERATE LINES 299
CHAPTER XXIV. A NIGHT ADVENTURE ON THE CUMBERLAND 311
CHAPTER XXV. A BOAT VOYAGE DOWN THE GREAT RIVER 324
CHAPTER XXVI. FOUR FUGITIVES FROM THE BATTLE-FIELD 337
CHAPTER XXVII. THE OWNER OF THE MANSION ON THE HILL 349
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE FIGHT BEGINS AT GROVE-HILL MANSION 362
CHAPTER XXIX. A NEW METHOD OF OPERATIONS 375
CHAPTER XXX. THE SURRENDER OF CAPTAIN GRUNDY 387
CHAPTER XXXI. AN UNEXPECTED RE-ENFORCEMENT 399
CHAPTER XXXII. DECK LYON'S PLAN OF BATTLE 411
CHAPTER XXXIII. THE DEFEAT AND SURRENDER OF THE GUERILLAS 424
CHAPTER XXXIV. THE GATHERING OF A NEW COMMAND 437
CHAPTER XXXV. A FIRST LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN 450
CHAPTER XXXVI. SCOUTING IN THE ENEMY'S COUNTRY. 463
"SERGEANT FRONKLYN DRAGGED THE FORM OF LIEUTENANT LYON OUT OF THE MELEE" Frontispiece
"COME DOWN, OR YOU ARE A DEAD MAN" Page 64
"THEY LAID HIM ON THE GRASS JUST AS THE RECALL WAS SOUNDED" 141
"HE SOON DISCOVERED HIS LIEUTENANT RIDING AT THE HEAD OF HIS PLATOON" 210
"THE SHARPSHOOTERS RUSHED DOWN THE DECLIVITY" 262
"THE BALL STRUCK HIM IN THE HEAD" 388
"THE UNWELCOME VISITORS POINTED THEIR WEAPONS" 461
A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN
GRACE MORGAN AND HER TREASURE-CHEST
"Are you an honest man, sir?" asked a very pretty young woman, not more than twenty years old, as she stopped in the open field in front of Sergeant Life Knox of the Riverlawn Cavalry, as it was generally called, though the squadron belonged to a numbered regiment in Kentucky.
The non-commissioned officer was a tall Kentuckian, over six feet high, lank and raw-boned. He looked at the young woman, and a smile lighted up his thin face.
"I reckon I am, Miss; I never robbed a bank, or stole a poor woman's last dollar," he replied, thinking it was a queer question if the lady proposed to trust him on his own recommendation.
"Are you a Confederate soldier, for I see that you wear a uniform?" continued the young woman, looking behind her with a timid glance.
"I am not!" protested Life with earnestness enough to prove that he meant all that he said. "Don't you see that I wear the uniform of the United States army? and, Hail Columby! if I ain't a Union man from the smallest nail in the heel of my boot to the top hair on my Kentucky skull!"
"You won't rob me if I tell you the truth, will you?" asked she very simply, and evidently agitated by painful doubts.
"No, indeed, Missy! I wouldn't do that even if you didn't tell me the truth; not if you lied to me till you was black in the face," replied the sergeant warmly. "But what difference does it make to you whether I am honest or not? I am forty-two, and I reckon you don't think of marrying me without my mother's consent."
"I am very serious, sir, and I hope you will not make fun of me," pleaded the young woman with a deep blush on her face, as she looked behind her and listened.
"I wouldn't say a sassy thing to you for half a Kentucky county; but you asked me a queer question. I'll do anything I kin for you. I reckon I'm an honest man; and I don't reckon you kin find anybody in my county that would say I'm not honest."
"That's enough; you look like an honest man, and I believe you," added the fair woman, as she took from under her clothing a hard-wood box about eight inches long by four in width and depth.
From the effort it required for her to handle it, Life judged that it was quite heavy. It was bound with straps of brass, screwed to the wood; and the sight of it was enough to convince the sergeant that it contained something valuable. Her strange question seemed to be explained by this supposition.
"What is your name, Missy?" asked Life, becoming very sedate all at once; for, rough as his manners were, he had a kind heart, and would not trifle with the feelings of any one.
"My name is Grace Morgan," replied the lady, looking behind her once more, as though she dreaded some peril in that direction.
"Be you afeerd of sunthin', that you keep lookin' over yender?" inquired the cavalryman in kindly tones. "What is it? Tell me all about it."
"You say you are a Union man?" she inquired doubtfully.
"Bet your life on't! I'm orderly sergeant of the fust company of the Riverlawn Cavalry. What's it all about?" asked Life, very tenderly for him.
"Stephen Halliburn, who lives about half a mile over there, is my guardian. About twenty Confederate soldiers, or guerillas, I don't know which, are plundering his house and stable, and they say they will have his money if they have to pull his house down to find it," answered Grace, trembling, and glancing frequently behind her, as though she were in mortal terror of the approach of the enemy.
"Oh, ho, Grace! That's what's the matter, ain't it? We'll soon fix the gorrillas, or the soldiers, whatever they may be," replied Life, as he looked earnestly in the direction of the road, a few rods distant from the spot.
"But I can't carry this chest any farther. I am worn out bringing it so far; for I have been so frightened that all the strength has gone out of me," said Grace, as she placed the box on a rock near her. "I am terribly afraid that Mr. Halliburn will be killed or badly hurt; for he is a Union man, and speaks out just what he thinks."
"We will do what we can for him," added Life, still looking in the direction of the road, and listening for sounds from the north.
"But you are only a single man; and what can you do against twenty ruffians?" asked the Kentucky girl, who still trembled, and did not seem to believe that the stalwart cavalryman could do anything to aid Mr. Halliburn.
"About fifty on us," added Life quietly, still looking and listening. "I'm a scout sent out ahead of half the fust company marchin' this way. I left my horse in the road, to come over this way and take a look, for I had an idee I heerd sunthin' on the left."
"Perhaps you heard the ruffians who are plundering my guardian," replied Grace, brightening up when she learned that fifty Union soldiers were in the neighborhood. "He is a dear good man, and I love him as though he were my father. I would not have left him if he had not insisted that I should do something with the chest, which contains all his money and papers. I can't carry it any farther, for it is very heavy."
"And what were you gwine to do with it?" inquired Life, looking into her pretty face.
"I was going to carry it over to the house of Colonel Ben Halliburn, my guardian's brother, as he told me to do."
"All right, Missy; I'll tote it over to the road, and report to the leftenant as soon as he comes up with the men," added Life as he picked up the treasure-chest.
It was heavy, as the young woman had said, though it was a light load for the powerful Kentuckian; and he concluded at once that it must contain a considerable amount of gold. In the distracted condition of the State very few had any confidence in the banks, and some had turned their bills into coin for any emergency that might arise. Before he reached the road he saw another scout getting over the fence.
"Get on your hoss agin, Fronklyn!" shouted Life, who walked with long and hurried strides, so that Grace had to run in order to keep near him.
The story of the bearer of the chest had fully aroused him by this time; and he was ready for action, whether it was in a fight, or in the service of the fair maiden, though there was hardly a fibre of sentimentalism in his composition. When he reached the road, Sergeant Fronklyn had mounted his horse, and was waiting for orders from the chief scout.
"Ride back like a streak o' lightnin', and tell Leftenant Lyon that the gorrillas is cleanin' out a house over yender!" said Life in hurried speech. "How fur back is the platoon?"
"Not more than half a mile," said Fronklyn.
"Go it, and don't let the grass grow under your hoss's irons!"
The other scout went off at the fastest gallop of his steed, and soon disappeared beyond a turn in the road. The Riverlawn Cavalry had been enlisted, drilled, and mustered into the loyal army at the plantation of Noah Lyon, who had inherited the property under the will of his elder brother. The raising of hemp and horses had made the deceased brother, Colonel Duncan Lyon, a rich man, as worldly possessions were gauged in this locality. His property had been fairly divided among his heirs. The plantation had been given to his younger brother, greatly to the dissatisfaction of the elder one.
Titus Lyon, the other surviving brother, was an entirely different kind of man from Noah, as the original owner of Riverlawn was well aware when he gave the place to his younger brother. All of them had come from New Hampshire, the colonel in his early manhood, and Titus a few years before Noah. The latter was a man of character, with lofty principles, while his living brother was far from being a high-toned person. He had always been what is called "a moderate drinker," and his politics had always been the opposite of Noah's in the North.
Titus believed that he ought to have been born a rich man. He was a mason by trade, and had gone to Kentucky to establish himself in this business. For a time he did very well. He fawned upon and tried to flatter his brother; but he drank more whiskey than ever. When the colonel's health began to fail him, he looked forward to the possession of Riverlawn. When it went to Noah he was mortally offended, and an unhappy feud grew into being, though it was altogether on the side of Titus.
The dissatisfied brother, apparently as much to spite Noah, who was an enthusiastic Union man, cast in his lot with the Secessionists. With the money he had received from his deceased brother's estate he became a leader among them. They were bullies and ruffians for the most part, operating at first in the interests of neutrality, the governor's favorite scheme, and in the end falling very naturally into the ranks of the enemies of the Union. Titus raised a company of Home Guards, in which thousands of the citizens of the State were organized, some on one and some on the other side of the question.
Titus was ambitious, and he was chosen captain of his company. He displayed more energy and activity than he had ever manifested in his business, and spent his money recklessly in fitting out and arming his recruits. He purchased a considerable quantity of muskets, cannon, and revolvers, with the ammunition for them. He concealed these military supplies in a "sink," or cave, till he could organize his command. One of Noah's sons discovered them while exploring the creek that flowed by Riverlawn.
When the discovery was reported to his father, Major Lyon, as he was courteously called before he was entitled to this handle to his name, immediately decided that his duty to his country required him to take possession of the arms and munitions. They were all removed to a building prepared for their reception at Riverlawn. Captain Titus knew, or suspected, that his brother had taken the military supplies, and his wrath knew no bounds. When the Union men held a meeting in a schoolhouse the smouldering fire was fanned into a blaze. The ruffians, led on by their captain, marched upon Riverlawn, proposing to burn the mansion and hang its owner to a tree on the lawn, though Titus denied that he had any such intention, and declared that he had prevented his followers from committing this outrage.
Major Lyon had heard of the threats against him and his property, and he was prepared for the marauders. With the aid of his neighbors, and arming his negroes, he fought the "Battle of Riverlawn," defeating and dispersing the ruffians. Then, as arranged at the Union meeting, he proceeded to raise a company of cavalry. The enthusiasm among the loyal people was immense, and two companies were enlisted and mustered in. Against his wishes he was chosen major of the battalion.
Levi Bedford was his overseer. He was a Tennessee Unionist in whom the planter had unbounded confidence. When the major left his home in command of the squadron of two companies, Levi took charge of his family and estate. This family consisted of a daughter Hope, and a son Dexter, now a lieutenant at eighteen. Noah had brought up in his family from their early childhood the children of a brother who died penniless in Vermont. Artemas, always called Artie, was sixteen, and a soldier in one of the companies. Dorcas, the adopted daughter, was eighteen. They had always been a happy family; and all the young people called Noah and his wife, who treated them as their own, father and mother.
The squadron had been on detached duty. Their first service was to protect a railroad bridge which Captain Titus's company and a troop of Texan cavalry had been sent to destroy in order to prevent the transportation of Union forces to Bowling Green. The Texans were thoroughly defeated, and the Home Guards surrounded, beaten, and captured. The major's brother was sent with them to the North, where he had the opportunity to repent and get sober. His two sons, Alexander and Orlando, half starved and disgusted, had fled from Bowling Green; and when their mother and sisters went back to the North, the two boys had enlisted in the Riverlawn Cavalry.
The next service of the squadron was in repressing guerilla outrages; and they took part in the small battle of Munfordsville. When it was known that the Confederates were marching into Kentucky from the south and east, the squadron was sent to take part in the operations in this quarter. The command arrived at Columbia, from which Major Lyon sent the first company towards Mill Springs, where the enemy were reported to be, by the way of Liberty and Miltonville. The second company were to proceed by Millersville and Jamestown, with the same objective point in view.
PREPARATIONS FOR DECISIVE ACTION
Captain Gordon was in command of the first company of the Riverlawn Cavalry. He was an excellent officer, and had been sent down to organize the company, and Major Lyon wished him to take the command of the battalion; but he insisted that the planter should have that position. The wealthy and influential men of the county, among whom the major was honored and respected, persuaded him to accept; and he had finally done so, Captain Gordon being the most strenuous that he should do so.
Tom Belthorpe, the son of a planter residing near Riverlawn, was the first lieutenant. Deck Lyon, as he had always been called by everybody but his father, had proved to be one of "the bravest of the brave," and to have excellent judgment for a young man of eighteen. He was a universal favorite throughout the squadron. In the battles with the guerillas at Greeltop and Plain Hill, Deck had greatly distinguished himself. In the first of these actions, Lieutenant Gilder of the first company had been killed, and his place was vacant. Among themselves the company signed a paper in favor of the promotion of Deck to the grade of lieutenant.
Major Lyon had no knowledge of this movement on the part of the men, or perhaps he would have interfered to prevent its success; but the paper went to higher authority than he, indorsed by Captain Gordon and Lieutenant Belthorpe; and when the commission came it was as much of a surprise to the father as to the son.
Wearing his new uniform, with shoulder-straps, he had fought as bravely as ever at Munfordsville, and had led his platoon with skill and discretion. Though in an attack of cavalry he led his men into action, he was not again charged with recklessness, as he had been in the action at the Cross Roads, as the fight at the other railroad bridge was called. He conducted himself with dignity in his new position, and all of a sudden he seemed to forget that he was only a boy.
The first company had marched down the road towards the South not more than three miles, before the forward movement was arrested by a messenger, coming in through a path from the road to Breedings with the information that a guerilla or foraging party were approaching a hamlet, evidently with the intention of plundering the houses and out-buildings. It was known that the Confederate forces, who had established and fortified themselves in and around Mill Springs, were destitute of supplies. They were in a hungry or half-starved condition, and their food was obtained mostly by foraging parties sent a considerable distance from their camps.
Major Lyon had divided his squadron at Columbia in order to check the operations of these bodies, some of which were said to be regular partisan bands, robbing and plundering for their own benefit, and not authorized to procure supplies for the Southern army. Captain Gordon had been instructed to be on the lookout for these marauders. The messenger said the party approaching the Breedings road consisted of about thirty mounted men. He decided to send Lieutenant Belthorpe's platoon to attack them, accompanying the force himself, for he could not remain inactive when there was fighting to be done.
The captain had not expected to meet an enemy in the direction of Breedings; but he had received an intimation that trouble might be expected in the region between Columbia and Harrison, though nothing was known in regard to such a raid. The country was cut up by cross-roads, not much more than mere paths, on which several plantations were located, making the territory very favorable to the operations of guerillas or foragers.
"Lieutenant Lyon, I am going with Belthorpe's platoon, for I am more likely to be needed where he goes than where you go," said Captain Gordon, riding up to the young officer. "You will continue on this road till you come to Millersville, and wait there until I join you."
"At Millersville," repeated Deck. "I have studied the map, and I know just where it is."
"I talked with a planter just this side of Columbia, who gave me a hint that marauding parties had a fine chance to operate in the country that will be on your left as you proceed," continued the commander of the company. "If you hear firing, or see anything that looks like a fire, you will attend to the matter."
"Of course I should do so," added Deck.
"I want you to hurry up the baggage wagons, for they are what makes our progress so slow. I need hardly warn you to be prudent, and not expose yourself unnecessarily to a superior force. Don't leave your wagons too far in your rear, for they contain just what the enemy want most. Now, relying as much upon your discretion as your bravery, continue on your march to Millersville," the captain concluded, as he galloped after the first platoon, which had left the road a few minutes before.
Lieutenant Lyon saluted his superior, and then, conscious for the first time in his life that he had been assigned to an independent command, though it was likely to be of brief duration, he sent for the two sergeants of his platoon, and sent them forward as scouts, with two privates to assist them.
"Platoon—attention! Forward—march!" called the young officer, when he had sent the scouts ahead with orders to keep a sharp lookout on both sides, especially on the left.
Life Knox obeyed his orders to the letter, and made the left his particular study; and when he saw something like signs of a plantation in the distance, he dismounted, got over the fence, moving in a direction to satisfy himself that no foragers were in sight. As he was advancing towards the plantation, Grace Morgan came out of a bushy knoll and confronted him. After the interview with her, he had carried the treasure-chest to the road. He had sent the two privates to the left; and as Sergeant Fronklyn galloped off to hurry up the platoon, they rode down the road, and halted in front of him. One of these soldiers was Deck's cousin, Alick Lyon.
"Have you seen or heard anything crooked, Lyon?" asked the chief scout.
"Not a thing, Sergeant; I thought I heard voices one time, but I could make nothing of them. I saw this woman walking across a cornfield;" and he pointed at Grace.
"I saw him too; but I was afraid of him," added the young woman.
"Wasn't you afeerd of me?" asked the sergeant, with a smile on his wiry face.
"No, I was not; besides, I was tired out with the load I carried, and I felt as though I could go no farther."
"How far from here does Colonel Halliburn live?" asked Life.
"It is more than a mile from this road."
"I reckon this box will not be very safe with him, for there's more gorillas runnin' loose about this country than there is skippers in an old cheese. Kin you ride horseback, Grace?"
"Every Kentucky girl can ride horseback," replied she, with the first smile he had yet seen on her face, perhaps because she expected to be sent to Colonel Halliburn's mansion.
"But we hain't got no side-saddle," suggested Life.
"I can get along very well on any saddle; and I have ridden a spirited animal without any saddle," said the lady.
"Perhaps you would like to enlist in our company," added the sergeant, with a heavy chuckle.
"I should like it first-rate, if it could be allowed," replied Grace, with energy, while her eyes snapped at the idea.
"I shall have to leave that matter to Major Lyon. But here comes the platoon," said Life, as thirty-five or forty men dashed down the road, led by Lieutenant Lyon.
"Where are the enemy, Sergeant?" demanded the officer, as he reined in his panting steed some distance in advance of his men, and in front of Life and Grace Morgan.
"Half a mile or more to the east of where we stand," replied the scout.
"Is there a road or path over there?" inquired Deck.
"This is Grace Morgan, and she can tell you all about it, for she brought me the news," answered Life, presenting the young woman.
The lieutenant raised his cap and bowed politely to the Kentucky damsel; and he could not help observing that she was a very pretty girl, though he had no time to indulge in the phrases of gallantry, even if his fealty to Miss Kate Belthorpe had permitted him to do so. This fair young lady was the sister of Lieutenant Belthorpe, and Deck had made her acquaintance on the evening of the "Battle of Riverlawn," when he had rescued her from the grasp of a ruffian. He was too young to be absolutely in love with the maiden, though he believed she was the prettiest girl in the State of Kentucky.
Miss Morgan repeated the story she had told the sergeant.
"How did you escape from the ruffians?" asked Deck.
"We saw them coming from the direction of Miltonville; and Mr. Halliburn, who is my guardian, sent me to carry his valuables to the mansion of his brother, about a mile and a half from his own house," replied Grace, by this time quite reassured by the presence of the soldiers.
"Have you the valuables now?"
"They are in a box," she replied, pointing to the treasure-chest. "It contains a good deal of money in gold and silver, and it is so heavy that I could not carry it any farther, for I was faint and tired out."
"I will send two of my men to see you safely to the house where you are going," continued the lieutenant, as he glanced at his platoon, which had halted in the road near the place where the maiden stood. "Life, name two of your trustiest men," he added in a low tone to the sergeant.
"Fronklyn and Sandy Lyon," responded Life promptly. "The lady can ride on an army saddle, or even without any saddle."
"Send the men you mention; as our spare horses are with the baggage-wagons, you can wait till they come up. Is there any road, Miss Morgan, across these fields to your guardian's mansion?" added Deck, willing that his men should rest for a few minutes, for he was not inclined to fight his first battle, while in command, without fully understanding the situation.
"There is a rough road across the fields and through the woods to the mansion; but it is very soft and muddy," replied Grace.
"There comes a man across the field!" exclaimed Life.
"That is Win Milton!" cried the maiden, her face suffused with a blush, as though she supposed all the listeners understood her relations to the young man, who was now running with all the speed of his legs across the field.
He was a stalwart fellow, and the maiden's crimson cheeks betrayed the whole story. He was well dressed, and his face was intelligent and expressive.
"I am so glad you have come, Win," ejaculated the blushing beauty, as the young man grasped her offered hands. "What is the news from the house?"
"The ruffians are guerillas, and they are trying to make Mr. Halliburn give up his money, but he declared that he had not a dollar in the house; yet he found time to tell me that you had taken the chest containing it to his brother's," replied Winfield Milton, which was his full name. "The robbers were ransacking the house in search of the money or other valuables; and Mr. Halliburn insisted that I should follow you, for he was alarmed in regard to your safety."
"Mr. Win—I have not heard your name yet," interposed the lieutenant.
"This is Mr. Winfield Milton, of Miltonville," added Grace, with another blush.
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Milton, for you can be of service to me. I suppose you are acquainted with this locality?" replied Deck.
"Born and raised in these parts, Captain."
"Lieutenant Lyon, if you please. I have already detailed two of my men to conduct Miss Morgan to the mansion where she wishes to go, for I desire to employ you as my guide, if the lady will consent," continued Deck.
"Certainly I will consent!" exclaimed Grace. "I would guide you myself, if I had not to take care of the treasure-chest."
"I shall be very glad to serve you, Lieutenant," added Win.
Although not ten minutes had elapsed since the arrival of the officer in command, the baggage wagons were in sight. Men were sent to them for two of the extra horses, saddled for immediate use. One of them was given to Miss Morgan, Sergeant Fronklyn received the treasure-chest on his horse, and Sandy Lyon was sent on ahead to scout the path. The lady seated herself on the army saddle, and the party moved off as rapidly as the muddy road would permit.
THE LIEUTENANT BAGS HIS GAME
The Riverlawn Cavalry had lost a number of its men, who had been killed in the several actions in which it had been engaged, and a greater number had been disabled by wounds; though both companies had been recruited up to their full standard. The squadron was so popular that more than twenty had applied to enlist after its ranks were full. Deck had, therefore, his full quota, and two more.
"The other horse is for you, Mr. Milton," said the lieutenant, when he was ready to move on to the mansion invested by the ruffians.
"Thank you, Lieutenant Lyon; I left my horse a mile beyond Mr. Halliburn's, when I learned that the guerillas were going in that direction," replied the guide. "I am satisfied, now that Grace is safe."
"There is another band of guerillas or foragers in the direction of Breedings; but the first platoon of our company has gone over to give them a reception, and I don't believe any of them will get as far south as the house to which Miss Morgan is going," Deck explained.
"I hope not, for I am very anxious about Grace," added the guide.
"She is a very attractive young lady," suggested Deck.
"Which makes her peril all the greater," replied her intended, for such he was, as they entered a forest of black walnut. "We have tried to persuade her to go to her uncle's house in Springfield, Ohio; but she refuses to leave her guardian, who has been a father to her from her childhood. I shall get my horse, if the ruffians have not stolen him, and hasten to Colonel Halliburn's, as soon as you have disposed of these villains."
"I shall try to bag the whole of them," said Deck. "But so many prisoners would be a nuisance to me."
"There is a loyal Home Guard in Millersville, if the Confederates have not scattered them; and they would take care of your prisoners," suggested the guide.
"Now, Mr. Milton,"—
"Call me Win, as everybody else does, and that will save time," interposed the young man.
"As you please, Win; the name is shorter, and perhaps you will recognize it more readily because it is more familiar to you than one with a handle to it. Now, I want to know something more about the surroundings of Mr. Halliburn's mansion. I wonder that this gentleman is not a colonel, like most people of any importance in this State."
"He was formerly a clergyman, and sometimes officiates now on an emergency. That fact saved him from any military infliction. Then his brother is a real colonel, and two of the same title would have made confusion in talking about them," the guide explained.
The mud was so deep that no great speed could be made on the march, and the guerillas were not likely to complete their mission for some hours, for they seldom left a plundered house without requiring a meal to be provided for them. Still, the lieutenant pushed on with all practicable haste.
"How does the land lie about the house?" asked Deck.
"All the land cultivated on the plantation, which contains over a thousand acres, is on the east side of the mansion. Most of the ground on the west of it is in walnut; for in the dry season it is easily hauled to the Cumberland River, and carried to a market during high water. It is a profitable crop to the planter."
"Does the walnut grove reach as far as the mansion?"
"Very nearly. There is a small grove south of the house, and a wooded hill to the north-east of it."
"Very well; I think I have got the idea of it," replied Deck, as he relapsed into silence to study his plan.
Though he had a great deal of confidence in himself, he was fully conscious of the responsibility which rested upon him. Probably if Captain Gordon had suspected that the lieutenant at eighteen would encounter an enemy, he would have come with the platoon himself, though he had quite as much confidence in Deck as in Tom Belthorpe. But the other division was reasonably sure to engage an enemy, and doubtless this consideration had decided the question as to which he should accompany.
"This wood extends around to the north side of the mansion, if I understand the situation," said Deck, when he had arranged the attack in his own mind.
"Precisely so," replied the guide.
"That is on our left; how is it on the right, Win?"
"You come out of the woods into a cornfield; beyond this is a low hill, and beyond it is a grove, where the family walk in warm weather."
"How far are we from the mansion now?"
"Something more than a hundred rods."
"Platoon—halt!" said the lieutenant, suddenly whirling his horse about as on a pivot. "Sergeant Knox!"
Life rode up to him, saluted, and waited for further orders.
"With fifteen men you will move to the left through the woods till you come to the mansion now directly in front of us. Move without noise, and halt your force as near the house as you can without being seen by the enemy, who are too busy to notice anything just now. When the bugle sounds the 'Advance,' you will march at a gallop to the east side of the house. Do you understand me, Life?" said Deck, speaking very clearly, but in a low tone.
"I'll bet I do; shall I repeat the orders?" replied the sergeant.
"It is not necessary."
Deck then directed Corporal Tilford, another non-commissioned officer, to take twelve men and proceed to the right, through the cornfield, concealing himself behind the hill mentioned by Win, and halt in the grove. At the same signal, a second time given, the corporal was to march his men in haste to the front of the mansion. The two detachments went to the left and the right as directed, and the lieutenant continued the march directly to his destination. The stable of the plantation was the first building they saw, for the west side of the mansion was concealed by a dozen lofty trees. If the ruffians were still in the house, they appeared to have taken no precautions to guard against a surprise: for there was no sentinel, and no person could be seen near the mansion.
"Platoon—halt!" said Deck, when he had led his men into the shelter of the trees; but he spoke in a very low tone, for he was not more than fifty feet from the mansion.
Taking the bugler and the guide with him, he crept carefully around the principal building, halting at the corner. From this point he obtained a full view of the ground in front. He counted twenty-two horses, secured to a fence and in other places where it could be done. This he concluded was the force of the enemy. He could hear very loud noises and shouts within the mansion, and the sounds appeared to come from the upper story of the building. It was evident that the marauders had searched the lower part of the house, and were now engaged in going through the upper portion.
"Was it known that Mr. Halliburn had a large sum of money in his house?" asked Deck in a whisper of the guide.
"Probably it was; he kept it in several banks till recently. When he withdrew the money from the banks, the officers of these institutions were incensed against him; for his example would be followed by other influential people, and the banks would be ruined," Win explained in the same low tone.
"Stufton, go to the rear of the house, and send the first six men you come to around to me. Tell them to make no noise," continued the lieutenant, addressing the bugler.
He was not absent more than three minutes, and the men crept around the house as though they had been engaged in a burglarious enterprise, securing their sabres so that they did not rattle. Milton wondered what the cavalryman in command intended to do, but he waited patiently for the outcome. Ordering the men in a whisper to follow him, Deck stole silently to the portico of the mansion on the east side, which was precisely like one on the west.
The front door of the mansion was wide open. Deck stationed his six men on the piazza, close to the building, and then passed into the hall through the open passage. A door on each side opened into as many large apartments. The one on the right was plainly the parlor. On a broad sofa reclined a man with white hair and beard. He lay there, and did not move any more than if the breath had left his body. In the room on the left lay an elderly woman on another sofa, as motionless as the other.
Heavy footsteps could be heard on the floors of the upper story, with the sound of rough voices, from which proceeded a constant flow of profanity. Deck stepped out of the hall to the piazza, and called the men to him one at a time, and then stationed them in the hall surrounding the staircase leading to the second story.
"If any one attempts to descend the stairs, warn him not to do so, and shoot him if he disobeys," said Deck to each of the troopers, who had his carbine in readiness for use.
"Are there any back stairs in the house, Win?" asked Deck in the usual whisper.
"There are, by the dining-room in the rear," replied the guide, who began to understand the method by which the lieutenant meant to operate, but he said nothing.
Deck went to the west door of the mansion, opened it, and called three more men, whom he instructed as he had the others, and stationed them at the foot of the back stairs. Calling a corporal and a private, he sent them to Life and Tilford, with an order to secure all horses, and load their carbines, putting their revolvers in their belts. Then they were to wait for the signal from the bugle.
"Now we will look into the two rooms, and see if the man and woman on the sofas are dead," said Deck to the guide. "Come with me, Win, if you please."
Milton had not entered the house before, and had not seen the persons on the sofas. He followed the lieutenant into the room where the man lay. Going nearer to him than before, he discovered that the gentleman was strapped to the sofa so that he could not move.
"It is Mr. Halliburn!" was the whispered exclamation of Win.
"Hush! Don't speak, sir," said Deck, as he proceeded to remove the straps which bound him, aided by the guide.
"Not a sound, sir!" continued the young officer. "You are safe, and so is Miss Morgan, and also the treasure-chest. Not a word!"
Win assisted him to sit up on the sofa, and then went into the other front room with Deck. The latter warned her as he had the man not to speak, and then asked the guide who she was, while both of them began at once to remove her bonds.
"Mrs. Halliburn," replied Win, who assisted her to rise as soon as she was liberated.
"Now, Win, if you wish to go and find your horse, I can spare you, though I should like very well to have you remain longer."
"I want to see this thing through," answered Milton. "I have seen you pile up all the incidents of this affair, like those in a novel; and now I want to see you pull out the pin in the last chapter, and let everything down in a heap. I suppose Grace is safe with your men to guard her."
"I will vouch for her safety. I am going to pull out the pin now," added Deck, as he beckoned the bugler to follow him to the front or east piazza.
He ordered him to sound the "Advance," and the command was promptly obeyed. The ringing notes of the startling call sounded clearly in the silence of the retired locality, and it could have been heard at least half a mile. Life Knox's force came first, and Deck directed the sergeant to surround the house, and shoot down any guerilla that attempted to escape. The bugle sounded the second call, and Corporal Tilford and his dozen men appeared in front of the mansion. The sergeant continued to station the men till all of them were in position.
The marauders flocked to the windows, and found half a dozen carbines pointed at each opening. It checked their enthusiasm at once. At the staircase those who proposed to descend found as many pieces aimed at them. It looked just then as though Lieutenant Lyon had bagged the twenty-two guerillas in the upper story of the mansion.
A REFRACTORY GUERILLA CHIEF
The situation did not look hopeful to the ruffians who had taken possession of the mansion. They saw at least forty carbines pointed at them, and the staircase looked like a barred gate to them. Their heavy footsteps could be heard in the lower story as they walked about from one window to another, searching for some avenue of escape. Life Knox was passing around the house, assisted by Corporal Tilford, in readiness to meet the first attempt to resist the fate that was in store for them.
The lieutenant stood at the front door, and occasionally stepped out-doors to assure himself that the house was well covered by his troopers. He was disposed to wait for some movement on the part of the enemy, or to allow them to get accustomed to the situation. He had fought guerillas before; and it was not wise, in his judgment, to force them suddenly into desperation, for they became reckless when pressed too hard.
"You have got them into a tight place," said Win Milton, who was watching the young officer with the most intense interest.
"The circumstances have just fitted the situation for me," replied Deck, who kept his eyes wandering in every direction in search of any demonstration on the part of the ruffians. "Do you know any of the men you have seen about the place, Win?"
"I recognize one of them, and I have seen some of the others," replied the guide. "A fellow who is called Captain Coonly seems to be in command of the gang. He has been the most active Secessionist in Adair County, and the most desperate one. He has an intense hatred of the Union men of the vicinity, and has advocated hanging every one of them. He is a fire-eater of the most pronounced stamp; but the rascal is a coward, I believe, though he has the reputation of being a brave man; yet he is nothing but a bully. You would think, to hear him talk, that he was going to burn up the Cumberland River."
"Is he the long-haired fellow I saw at the head of the stairs, dressed better than the rest of the gang?" asked Deck.
"That is the man. He is well educated, and is a lawyer in Columbia; but the influential and conservative men, who are nearly all Unionists, will have nothing to do with him, and have always looked upon him as a scallawag. He raised a company of Home Guards, but he could enlist only the ruffians of the vicinity," replied Milton, as he drew the picture of the leader of the guerillas; and Deck thought the lawyer was not unlike some of the Secessionists of Butler and Edmonson Counties.
"As you say, we have the ruffians in a tight place, and I want to give them a chance to think over the situation, and take it in," added Deck. "If they want to fight, we can accommodate them at any moment they are ready to open the ball. I suppose they are all armed."
"With old shot-guns, horse-pistols, and antique rifles," replied Win contemptuously.
"But even such weapons will kill; and I don't want to lose my men unless it is absolutely necessary, for they can be put to a better use than in grinding up such blackguards as we have here."
"Don't you think they comprehend the situation by this time?" asked Milton, who seemed to be impatient to see the end of the affair.
"I might as well wait here as at Millersville; for Captain Gordon has gone over to Breedings to settle up a case of this kind, and he may not arrive for several hours yet. I will go into the house and talk with Mr. Halliburn," said Deck, as he suited the action to the word.
"I doubt if he can give you any information you have not already obtained," answered Milton, following the lieutenant into the mansion.
The planter and his wife were found on the sofas where they had been confined; and they seemed to be still paralyzed with terror, for not a few Union men had been hung or shot in the State within the preceding year. Mr. Halliburn was a man of sixty or more. He had been a clergyman during a considerable portion of his life, and he was not at all belligerent in his nature.
"Mr. Halliburn, this is Lieutenant Lyon, of the Riverlawn Cavalry, serving the United States Government," said Win, presenting the young officer.
"I am very glad to see you, Lieutenant Lyon; I may say that I am rejoiced to see you at this time, for I am beset by the children of Satan, who would hang me to the highest walnut in my park," said the venerable gentleman, with a sweetly religious smile on his thin lips, while his eyes lighted up with an expression in keeping with the smile, which excited the reverence of the youthful soldier.
"I am very glad to see you, Mr. Halliburn, for I hope I shall soon be able to relieve you of your troublesome visitors," replied Deck, taking the hand the planter extended to him.
"I am not a man of war or blood, and I have submitted with what resignation I could command to the outrages of these myrmidons of sin," continued the ex-clergyman. "They learned in some manner that I had money in the house, which belongs mostly to my ward, Miss Morgan."
"I have met her, and sent two of my men to conduct her to the house of your brother," added Deck.
"God bless you for your kindness to the child!" exclaimed Mr. Halliburn, grasping the officer's hand again. "When I saw these foes of God and man coming towards the mansion, I understood their mission; and I sent Grace to my brother's with all the money in the house. I hoped to save it for her use, for nearly all of it belongs to her. But where is my poor wife?"
"She is all right, in the sitting-room," replied Win. "I will bring her in," and he hastened to the other front room for her.
Mr. Halliburn told the lieutenant that the marauders had threatened to hang him if he did not tell where his money was concealed. He had told them the truth, that there was no money in the house; but they refused to believe him, and had been searching the house for the last hour. They had opened every drawer and closet, explored the cellar, examined the chimneys at each end of the house, and then gone up-stairs to continue the hunt.
Mrs. Halliburn came into the room, leaning on the arm of Win Milton, who presented her to the lieutenant. She looked like the twin-sister, rather than the wife, of the planter, and the same pious expression was settled upon her face. But Deck had learned all he cared to know at present, and he thought by this time that the guerillas had come to a realizing sense of their situation. He thought it was time for him to attend to them. As he passed out of the parlor, a soldier saluted him.
"One on 'em wants to speak to the commanding officer," said he, pointing to the head of the stairs, where the marauders were huddled together. "This is the lieutenant in command," added the cavalryman, calling to the man who wished to see him.
"What! that boy?" demanded the ruffian.
"Boy or man, I am in command of this detachment of United States cavalry," replied Deck, elevating his head as high as he could get it; and he was quite as tall as half of his platoon. "If you have anything to say to me, say it with a civil tongue in your head."
"That is Captain Coonly," said Win in a low tone.
"I have come to the conclusion that I had better make terms with you," replied the leader of the ruffians.
"I make no terms with thieves and robbers," answered Deck, with dignity enough for a major-general. "I find you engaged in plundering a citizen of the United States, threatening him, and ransacking his mansion. Soldiers do not engage in such work."
"I am in the service of the Southern Confederacy," replied Captain Coonly, evidently somewhat crestfallen.
"Have you a commission about you?"
"Not yet; but I shall have one."
"I look upon you and your gang as guerillas, and I shall treat you as such. Will you surrender to an officer of the United States?"
"No, I won't surrender! I am willing to make terms with you, and will do the fair thing," blustered the captain without a commission.
"I do not make terms with such as you are. We have talked enough on that subject, and you need not say another word about terms; there is no such word in my book."
"My men are all armed in good shape, and they are fighting characters. All I ask is fair play."
"You shall have it; and according to the civil law of Kentucky, that means the inside of a prison-cell for such fellows as you are!" answered the lieutenant coolly and calmly, with no display of anger; for he was trying with all his might to follow the excellent advice his father had given him for his guidance as an officer.
"No civil law about it!" exclaimed Captain Coonly, his wrath stirred up by the mention of a prison. "I am a soldier, and so are my men. I demand terms such as one military officer should give to another."
"I do not recognize you as a soldier in the service of the Confederacy, which would entitle you to military consideration," Lieutenant Lyon declared with as much solemnity as though he had been presiding over a court-martial.
Win Milton could hardly control his risible muscles; for he was inclined to laugh outright as he heard a young fellow of eighteen talk as though he understood military law as well as he did cavalry tactics. But Deck had studied the needed subjects for his conduct as an officer while others slept, and he had improved every opportunity to converse with Captain Gordon upon the laws and customs of the service.
"I thought you said we should have fair play?" growled Captain Coonly.
"I did; and I explained what fair play was in a case like this. But we have talked enough about terms; and now we will proceed to business, or to fight out this thing, if you so elect," said Deck very calmly but very decidedly.
"But I only ask"—
"You need not ask anything!" interposed the lieutenant. "We have talked enough; now will you oblige me by coming down the stairs?"
"What if I decline to come down the stairs?" demanded Captain Coonly.
"Then I shall interpret your reply to mean that you prefer to fight out this matter."
"But you have us"—
"I have you, and I propose to keep you. No more talk! Come down-stairs, Captain Coonly, or I will order my men to fire!"
The leader of the marauders hesitated, and then took a single step in the descent; he halted there.
"I only want to say"—
"Say nothing more! Come down, or you are a dead man in another second!" added Deck, still calm and resolute.
"Go down, Cap!" said several of his followers as they retired from the dangerous locality at the head of the stairs.
The captain did not hesitate any longer, but descended the steps very slowly, as though he was marching at his own funeral.
"Win, bring all the cords and straps you can find. We shall want a lot of them," said Deck in a low tone to the guide. "Bugler, go with him and help him bring them."
"This is not fair play," said the captain as he landed in the hall.
"No more talk!"
"What are you going to do with me?" demanded Coonly.
"You are my prisoner, and I intend to secure you properly. Give me your sword and pistols."
"I'll see you in"—
"Life!" called Deck, as he saw the stalwart sergeant near the front door.
"Here, Leftenant!" replied Life as he strode into the hall and made the military salute to his officer.
"Disarm this man!" said Deck, pointing to the ruffian leader.
The tall sergeant seized Coonly by the collar of his coat with his left hand, held him out as though he had been a small boy, unbuckled his sword-belt, and took two revolvers from his pockets with his right. The captain was a middling-sized man, and he struggled in the gripe of the powerful Kentuckian; but he might as well have attempted to resist Hercules himself.
"Now bind his arms behind him," continued Deck.
"I protest, Lieutenant, against this brutal treatment!" stormed the prisoner in a loud voice.
"All right; protest as much as you please, but don't make too much noise about it, or I shall be obliged to have you gagged."
This hint quieted him; and with the aid of the bugler he was secured as the officer had ordered.
LIEUTENANT LYON ENCOUNTERS ANOTHER ENEMY
Surrounded by double their own number of soldiers, armed with the best weapons, the marauders imprisoned in the upper story of the mansion could not help realizing that their situation was hopeless. They had not offered to come to the assistance of Captain Coonly when he was in the gripe of the stalwart sergeant; for the carbines of the cavalrymen still covered them, and they saw that they would be shot down if they attempted to descend the stairs without orders, or fired upon their assailants in the hall.
The captain was conducted into the sitting-room, and a man was placed at the door to keep watch of him. But he was harmless by this time; as Win expressed it, "the fun had all gone out of him." Deck began to think he had spent time enough over the affair; and he was in a hurry to return to the Millersville Road.
"Up-stairs there!" he called to the ruffians, who remained there because they could not escape without the certainty of being shot whether they attempted to leave by the windows or the stairs. "Is there any officer among you?"
"Lieutenant Billock is here," replied one of them.
"Let him show himself."
"That is my name," responded a fellow nearly as big as Life Knox at the head of the stairs.
"Your commander is a prisoner, and you rank next to him. What do you propose to do, fight or surrender?" Deck inquired of him.
"What can I do?" asked the big fellow; and he had not the air of a fighting-man, in spite of his ample proportions.
"That is for you to decide," answered Deck.
"We are surrounded by double our own number, and caged here like a lot of mules. Give me five minutes to talk to the boys," returned the guerilla lieutenant.
"All right; but not a minute more than five," added the officer of cavalry, as he looked at his watch.
"What are you gwine to do with 'em when you get 'em?" asked Life in a low tone.
"Turn them over to Captain Gordon when I have done my share of the job," answered Deck.
"We have concluded to surrender," said Lieutenant Billock at the head of the stairs. "I don't see 's we kin help ourselves under the sucumstances."
"Very well; I shall hold you as prisoners, and treat you as I did your captain. Call in six more men, Life."
This additional force, carbine in hand, was stationed in the hall by the officer, with orders to shoot any man who resisted or tried to escape; and the orders were given in a loud tone, so that the prisoners on the floor above could hear them.
"Now you will form a line up there, and march down in single file, six feet apart. Each man will deposit all his weapons on the floor, and go into the room on the left, after his arms are tied behind him," continued Deck.
The prisoners said nothing, and obeyed the order in silence. Lieutenant Billock came first. The bugler was ordered to see that every one put all his arms on the floor, and assist him in doing so. Two men tied his arms behind him, and led him to the sitting-room. All the others followed him, and were served in the same manner. Twenty-two men were counted when the ceremony was finished. The bugler was ordered to blow the Assembly, and the whole platoon gathered in front of the mansion, which faced the east.
Lieutenant Lyon appeared to have studied up his plan, for he was ready to take the next step as soon as all the prisoners had been secured. He next formed his men in two ranks, reaching from the mansion to the fence, where the ruffians had hitched their horses, retaining the sergeant and half a dozen soldiers in the hall, where he stood himself. Then he sent half the prisoners out-doors, with their arms still secured behind them, and directed Life in what manner to mount and otherwise dispose of them.
The sergeant called ten men from the ranks to assist him, and each one of them took a ruffian in his charge. Life had Captain Coonly in his own hands. As the prisoners pointed out their own horses, they were conducted to the fence. The cord or strap was then loosened from the left wrist of each, but remained fastened to the right. They were then required to mount their steeds, which were a sorry-looking set of animals.
"Now you are all right," said Life when the captain was in his seat in the saddle.
"Why don't you take this strap from my right wrist?" asked the prisoner.
"Beca'se I kin make a better use on't," replied the sergeant, taking the strap in his hand, and making it fast to the crupper strap behind the rider.
It was drawn back far enough to prevent the prisoner from reaching it with his left hand. This was a device of Deck himself; and he had treated a prisoner in this manner once before, and it had succeeded admirably, though his man was disposed to resist. Life looked over the work the men had done, and changed some of it when necessary. Half of the cavalrymen were then sent for their horses.
They returned mounted in a few minutes, and were placed in charge of the prisoners, under Corporal Tilford. The other half of the ruffians were then mounted in the same manner, and the rest of the platoon went for their steeds in the grove; while orderly Sergeant Life formed the platoon, with the prisoners in the centre, and half a dozen soldiers on their flanks, to check the ambition of any who attempted to escape. All was ready for the march to the Millersville Road, and Deck went in to bid adieu to Mr. Halliburn and his wife.
"I sincerely hope that you will have no more visits from such ruffians," said he as he took the hand of the ex-clergyman. "I am confident this gang will not molest you again. I had my men search them as they laid down their arms, and they found a few trinkets, which I passed over to Mr. Milton."
"All we had of any great value was in the treasure-chest which Grace carried away before the servants of sin entered the mansion. I am under such a load of obligation to you, Lieutenant Lyon, that I shall never be able to repay or reciprocate your kindness to us in our distress; but I thank you with all my heart, and I shall pray daily for you, that you may be saved from peril and temptation in this world, and that we may meet in the happy land beyond the grave."
Mrs. Halliburn expressed herself in the same terms; and the young officer hastened away, attended by Win Milton, who was going to the home of Colonel Halliburn, to assure himself of the safety of Grace Morgan.
"What shall we do with all these guns and pistols, Lieutenant?" asked Win, as he pointed to the pile of them in the hall.
"Anything you like; I don't want them. I advise you to conceal them under the hay in your stable. There must be some servants about this house, though I have not seen one," said Deck.
"There are about thirty of them; but they all fled at the approach of the guerillas. They will all come back now that the danger is over."
The lieutenant mounted his horse, and placed himself at the head of the column, with Win at his side, still acting as guide. Deck then gave the order to march. Milton conducted the platoon to the road by an open field most of the way, and the soil afforded a better footing for the horses.
"What does all that mean, Lieutenant?" asked Win, as they came to a little hill which gave them a view of the road for a considerable distance. "There is a company of cavalry coming down the road at a headlong gallop!"
"Probably the first platoon of our company," replied Deck.
At the same moment Sergeant Fronklyn and Sandy Lyon rode furiously across the field, and halted in front of them, having just returned from their mission to the mansion of Colonel Halliburn.
"Confederate cavalry!" shouted Fronklyn, when he was a considerable distance from the column.
"Battalion—halt!" shouted Deck in his loudest tones.
"It is a small platoon, and perhaps it is a part of the enemy Lieutenant Belthorpe engaged at Breedings. The men look as though they were running away from a force behind them."
"How many of them are there, Fronklyn?" asked Deck hurriedly.
"Not more than thirty, if as many as that," answered the sergeant.
"Life!" called the lieutenant. "Select ten men, and guard the prisoners," he added.
The sergeant took the men from the rear of the column, and Deck ordered the rest of the platoon to march at a gallop. The officer rode at a pace the other horses could not equal, and reached the road far in advance of his command. He wanted a few minutes to examine the situation; but the enemy were within fifty rods of him. At a glance he counted six fours, which made twenty-four men besides the officer.
By the time the lieutenant had made his momentary survey of the approaching force, his platoon reached the road, Win Milton with them. The company's baggage-train had arrived, and had halted about twenty rods to the south of the place where Fronklyn had thrown down the fence when he saw the command were coming. The wagons were guarded by ten men, who had been taken from both companies at Columbia; for Major Lyon had learned there that several counties were overrun with guerillas and foragers, the latter sent out from General Zollicoffer's Confederate force at Mill Springs.
The baggage-guard had been ordered up by Fronklyn, and they were approaching as Deck dashed into the road. If a dozen war-elephants had waddled into the road instead of Deck's command, they could hardly have created more surprise than this force of United States cavalry. The officer in command of the force promptly ordered a halt when he was within twenty rods of his enemy, for he could not help recognizing the uniform of the loyal army.
The young lieutenant had reined in his horse and come to a halt as soon as he reached the road, where he had a full view of the coming detachment. Milton joined him as the men dashed into the road, with Life, who had detailed Corporal Tilford, with the ten men, to guard the prisoners. Deck, profiting by the solemn injunctions of his father when his promotion went into effect, struggled to keep cool and self-possessed. His first impulse was to charge the approaching enemy; and he would have done so if the Confederates had not halted, and given him time to look over his surroundings.
As he took in the situation, he was perfectly satisfied that he could easily defeat the enemy, and the only fear he had was that the detachment would escape. His force was now nearly double that of the Confederates in numbers, and would be more than that if he called in the guard of his prisoners.
"Do you know that force, Win?" he asked as the guide rode up to him.
"I do. They wear the blue and the gray, and they are Tennessee cavalry," replied Milton. "Fronklyn was right."
Deck had a field-glass slung over his shoulder, and he directed it to a point beyond the enemy; for he wished to ascertain if Tom Belthorpe's platoon was in pursuit; but the road was too crooked to enable him to see any distance, for it was bordered in places by walnut forests.
"I don't quite understand this thing," said Deck, musing, as he strained his vision to discover another force at the north. "Captain Gordon was with the detachment that went to Breedings; and if he defeated the Confederates, as he must have done, I don't see how he happened to permit them to escape, for he had better horses than the men in front of us ride, and the captain and Lieutenant Belthorpe are wide-awake officers."
"But both of them are strangers in these counties, while the Tennesseeans are probably well acquainted with the country. Zollicoffer has to feed his army on the supplies gathered from the region around him, and his foragers have learned the geography of this part of the State. At any rate, his officers can obtain plenty of guides," replied Milton; "and this one had a better knowledge of the roads and the paths across the country."
Fearful that the Confederate commander would avail himself of his knowledge, and thus elude him, Deck sent Life with ten men into the field on the left, and Fronklyn with the same number into that on the right. The enemy did not seem to like this movement, though it weakened the force in front of him about one-half. The officer arranged his men so that they extended entirely across the road, and then in a voice that might have been heard half a mile, he ordered a charge.
A SMART SKIRMISH IN THE ROAD
The Confederate troopers set up a yell loud and fierce enough to intimidate all the old ladies in the State if they could have heard it; but the Riverlawn Cavalry had heard it before, and its effect was to kindle the wrath of the members of the platoon.
"Unsling your carbines, Life! Unsling your carbines, Fronklyn!" shouted Deck, as the flanking parties dashed into the two fields.
The men had fought hand to hand with the Texan Rangers; and they were roused to the highest pitch of enthusiasm when they found themselves again in front of a regular force of troopers, instead of Home Guards or guerillas. With their sabres in hand they rushed upon the foe with all the speed to which they could spur their horses. The men were fresh; for they had fought no engagement that day, and their work had been easier than the regular marching.
On the other hand, the enemy had perhaps fought with the first platoon, and had been running their horses till the animals were nearly exhausted. But they received the charge like brave men, and stood up to the work. Deck had advanced on the right of his men for the reason that the officer in command of the enemy was on the left of his troopers; for he desired to meet him. He had drawn his sabre; and possibly the remembrance of his meeting on the field with the lieutenant of the Texan Rangers had something to do with his choice of a position.
The squads in charge of Life and Fronklyn had each put in a volley from their carbines as soon as they were abreast of the Confederates, where they could fire diagonally at the enemy so as not to imperil their friends; and two of them had dropped out of their saddles, and doubtless others were wounded. Deck shouted words of encouragement to his soldiers, and almost instantly the conflict became furious. The Confederates fought like demons, and two of the loyal force were seen to drop from their saddles by the men on the flanks.
But the firing ceased as soon as both parties were mingled in the fight; for the two sergeants feared that their bullets might hit the wrong men. At this point the Confederate commander rushed upon the young lieutenant, who was ready for him, though he had not opened the duel. Both of them were skilled swordsmen, and for a minute at least they parried each other's cuts and thrusts. Life realized that his protege, as he regarded him, was in imminent peril; for his antagonist was a heavier and taller man, and the longer reach of his right arm was in his favor.
Deck was hard pressed, and neither officer could even glance at his men, lest he should be caught off his guard. But Deck was still self-possessed, and perhaps the excellent advice of his father saved his life. Life Knox was not afraid of anything, but he trembled for the safety of his lieutenant. He sought a position where he could put a bullet through the brain of the brave Confederate, though he felt that it would be mean to do so. Fortunately for him the sergeant could find no such position.
Ceph, the name of Deck's noble steed, which had been abbreviated from Bucephalus, seemed to Life, whose attention was fixed upon his officer, restive and uneasy: but his rider did not bring him into a leaping posture, as he had done on a former occasion, and had been charged by his superiors with reckless daring; but the charger suddenly stood up on his hind feet, as though he intended to attempt the leap over the Confederate officer's horse on his own responsibility.
But the other steed was too tall for him, and his rider reined him in. At the moment when he was elevated above the head of his opponent, Deck seized his opportunity to deliver a blow upon the head of his foe with his sabre. It struck him on the side of the head, above the ear, cleaving his skull, and he dropped from his horse like a lump of lead. Life was happily relieved at the result of this furious conflict.
He had not been idle during the affair; for he had sent two of his men to remove the fence at the side of the road, and Fronklyn had done the same on the other side. The moment the enemy's brave leader had fallen from his horse, the sergeant ordered his men into the road, leading the way himself, and the other sergeant on the left had followed his example.
"Squad—attention!" shouted the orderly sergeant, after he had formed the troopers in two ranks. "Forward—march!"
He led the charge himself; and they delivered a volley of blows and thrusts, as occasion served them, which ended the strife in less than another moment. Several of the Confederates cried "Quarter!" and not another blow was struck after the word was heard.
"Who is in command of this company now?" asked Deck, as he and his men moved out of the tangle to the sides of the road.
"Leftenant Logan," replied a wounded trooper who had a sabre-cut on the side of his face which was bleeding profusely.
"The fall of Captain Letcher leaves me in command," said this officer, approaching the young lieutenant.
"Do you surrender, Lieutenant Logan?" asked Deck, as he surveyed the fine form and handsome face of the officer, who appeared to be not more than a year or two older than the victor.
"I have no alternative; we are outnumbered, and surrounded by your force," replied the Confederate lieutenant solemnly and sadly.
"I sympathize with you, Lieutenant, though I was compelled to do my duty," replied Deck; and even while he gloried in the success of his command, he was sincerely sorry for the misfortune of the officer, whom he had seen in the road fighting bravely for the cause in this particular field, which was lost from the beginning. "But it is no disgrace or dishonor to you or your brave soldiers to be beaten by double your number."
"I thank you, Lieutenant; and I only regret that we are obliged to be enemies," returned the officer very courteously. "Am I at liberty to attend to my wounded now?"
"Certainly, sir; and I hope your loss is not so great as it appears to be at this moment," answered Deck.
After an action as hotly contested as this skirmish had been, it was surprising how few had been killed outright. Only two of the Riverlawns had fallen never to rise again; but six of the twenty-two Confederates who had gone into the action were past human aid. Four of the blue, and nine of gray, had been disabled by wounds more or less severe, while hardly a single man on either side had escaped without being slightly wounded.
"Have you a surgeon in your detachment, Lieutenant Logan?"
"I have not. He was left with the other platoon near Breedings; but I hope you have one."
"I have not. Ours is with the main body," replied Deck; and the Confederate officer returned to his men.
"Who are the killed in our platoon, Life?" said Deck, when the sergeant came to the lieutenant for further orders.
"I don't like to say so, Leftenant; but your cousin, Orly Lyon, is one of them."
"Poor fellow!" exclaimed Deck. "I am sorry he has finished his campaign so soon; but I am glad he did not die among the enemies of the Union."
"But he fought like a hero in the action, for I was near him when he fell under the sabre of the lieutenant yonder," added Sergeant Sluder.
"Who was the other man killed, Life?" asked Deck.
"Barron, another of the new recruits."
"I am sorry to lose him, for he was a very promising soldier, though he had not been sufficiently drilled. Bury the dead in the field on the right," said Deck as he started for the baggage-wagons, where the wounded had been carried.
Life had detailed a burial party, and Logan had done the same for the men he had lost. Shovels and picks had been supplied to both from one of the wagons. Having attended to this duty, the orderly sergeant was sent to the field to ascertain the condition of the prisoners in charge of Corporal Tilford. They still sat upon their horses, with the right hand made fast at the crupper-strap, and doubtless were anxiously awaiting the result of the skirmish in the road.
"How goes it, Sergeant Knox?" asked Captain Coonly when Life came within speaking distance of him.
"All right," replied the big Kentuckian.
"Haven't the regulars of the Confederate army licked you?"
"Not much; but they have been licked out of their boots, with the third part of them killed or badly wounded. You have no show for gittin' out of this scrape yet."
Tilford reported that the prisoners had not made any trouble; for they all declared that the Riverlawns would be beaten, and they were waiting to be set at liberty. The sentinels over them guarded them very closely, and afforded them no opportunity to make a demonstration, even if they had been disposed to do so; for the soldiers with loaded carbines in their hands, and with orders to shoot any one who did not obey orders, or who attempted to escape, was a fact patent to them all. Life was satisfied with his inspection, and hastened back to the wagons.
When he reached the road, he met two well-dressed gentlemen coming out of the field on the left, from the direction of Colonel Halliburn's house. Both of them were mounted, and were provided with saddle-bags. He was a native of Kentucky, and he promptly recognized them as doctors.
"Mornin', gentlemen," said he, riding towards them. "I reckon you uns be doctors?"
"You are not far from right, soldier," replied the elder of the two.
"Be you Secesh or Union?" demanded Life, as though he had the right to put the question.
"Divide the question, and each can answer for himself," replied the one who had spoken before. "I am opposed to making Kentucky the battleground of this war; and if I fought on either side, it would be with the Confederates."
"Be you of the same mind?" asked Life, turning to the other.
"I am sorry to differ from my friend, Dr. McNairy; but I am a Union man," answered the younger doctor, though he appeared to be at least forty years old. "But what has happened here?" he continued, surveying the surroundings, especially the work of the burial parties.
"There's been a bit of a scrimmage between your friends here and them as runs with t'other doctor; but you are both wanted right now," replied Life.
At this moment Mr. Milton arrived at the spot, and had apparently recognized the two gentlemen as they rode across the field. He saluted them both, calling them by name.
"I've told these doctors what we want of them," added the sergeant.
"But what about this battle, Mr. Milton?" inquired Dr. McNairy, the elder one, who appeared to be about sixty years old.
Milton gave a very brief account of the action, and mentioned that Mr. Halliburn's mansion had been ransacked by the prisoners whom he pointed out in the field.
"Why didn't you hang them?" demanded Dr. Barlow, the young doctor.
"The military officer in command of the detachment here managed the business, and I had nothing to do with the matter; though I would have strung up Coonly if I had had my way, for hanging would do him good. But the lieutenant said that one outrage did not mend another," replied Milton impatiently; for he was anxious to have the wounded cared for.
"The lieutenant is a sensible man," added Dr. McNairy.
"Now, Dr. Barlow, your coming is most opportune; and I hope you will attend to the wounded of the Union force, and that Dr. McNairy will do the same for the Confederates," added Milton.
"It is a mere accident that we happen to be here, for we have been over to perform an operation on the wife of General Macklin; but I am glad to be able to serve the Union wounded, and I am quite willing to do the same for the Confederates."
"I will take care of the Confederates," added Dr. McNairy.
"Now, Sergeant Knox, if you will conduct Dr. McNairy to the Confederates, I will take Dr. Barlow to the Union wounded."
"I'll do that; but tell the leftenant there is a cavalry force comin' down the road, and I reckon it's the first platoon of our company."
Both of them departed on their missions, accompanied by the doctors.
THE BATTLE AT THE BREEDINGS FORT
Dr. McNairy was introduced to Lieutenant Logan, and the surgeon began his work at once. Both of the professional gentlemen had their instruments with them, for they had performed an operation that forenoon. Life remained but a moment after he had done his errand, and hastened to a point where he could obtain a better view of the approaching cavalry force. His supposition that it was the first platoon of the first company proved to be correct, and he awaited its arrival.
The column was moving leisurely, for there was no occasion for haste; and it appeared later that the men had not been idle during the forenoon. Captain Gordon and Lieutenant Belthorpe were riding at the head of the platoon, and as they came to a turn in the road the scene of the late action came into view; and both of the officers were greatly surprised, for neither of them had supposed that Deck would have anything to do but guard and hurry on the baggage-wagons.
"What does all that mean?" asked the captain, as he opened his eyes very wide to take in the gathering in the road and the fields beside it of men and horses.
"It looks as though Lieutenant Lyon had been doing something there; but I will warrant that Deck has done his duty like a man, whatever he has been at," replied Tom Belthorpe, who had an abundant admiration for the young officer.
"I hope he has not been reckless, as I am afraid he is inclined to be when things get warm around him," returned the captain.
"There comes Sergeant Knox; and things must be quiet in the camp, or he would not have left Deck for a moment," added the lieutenant.
Life had ridden forward to inform the captain what had transpired in the road and at the mansion of Mr. Halliburn; for he believed the officers would be anxious to solve what was now a mystery to them.
"What's going on here, Sergeant?" demanded the captain as soon as Life came within speaking-distance of him.
"We uns have had a bit of a scrimmage here with Confed'rit cavalry," replied the sergeant as he reined in his steed, and saluted the captain.
"A skirmish?" said the captain.
"Well, yes; and it was a rayther lively bout till the enemy surrendered."
"Did they surrender?" asked the commander of the company; for it was not the habit of the Southern troopers to yield, and he had been fighting with a portion of the same company that forenoon.
"They couldn't help theirselves; we outnumbered 'em, and they had to give in or be cut to pieces."
"How is Lieutenant Lyon?" inquired the captain with no little anxiety in his tones and his expression.
"I reckon he's got a sword-cut on the arm; but he's right side up, and don't say nothin' about it."
"What were the losses?"
"We had two killed and four wounded."
"Who were the killed?"
"Orly Lyon and Barron."
"Both new recruits, and one of them is the nephew of Major Lyon."
"The enemy lost six killed, and nine wounded; and the captain in command was in the fust lot, brought down by Leftenant Lyon in a hand-to-hand squabble at the side of the road. Deck fit like a mad rooster. His hoss stood up straight, and gin his rider a chance to git in the cut that finished the officer."
"Lieutenant Lyon was reckless, wasn't he, Sergeant?" asked the captain.
"Not a bit on't! He was as cool as a frozen cowcumber; but he hit hard when his hoss stood up endways," replied Life. "We cleaned out a gang of gorillas afore we had this scrimmage in the road."
"Another affair? Did you have a hard fight with them?"
"No fight at all," answered the tall Kentuckian, with a slight chuckle. "Deck bagged 'em like a flock of wild turkeys in a trap-pen."
"We will hear about that another time," said Captain Gordon as the head of the column arrived at the scene of the fight. "Who are those over on our right?"
"The fust ones is the Confed'rits burin' their dead. The next lot is the doctor fixin' up the enemy's wounded. The surgeon is a Secesh, and we picked up two on 'em as they come across lots from an operation on some woman. T'other is over with our men, and he's a Union man."
"Where is Lieutenant Lyon?"
"I left him over by the baggage-wagons, lookin' out for the wounded. We shall git there in a minute or two."
"What are those men on our left, in the field?" asked the captain as they came to a point where the prisoners could be seen, still in charge of Corporal Tilford.
"Them's the prisoners tooken over at the mansion of Mr. Halliburn, half a mile from here," replied Life, as they approached the location of the wounded Union soldiers.
Dr. Barlow had informed Deck of the coming of the first platoon, and he had mounted his horse to go out and meet them. He was ready to come into the presence of the captain of the company; for he felt that he had done his duty faithfully, and also that he had conducted himself with prudence and discretion.
"What in the world have you been doing over here, Lieutenant Lyon?" asked Captain Gordon, as he rode forward, and grasped the hand of the young officer. "You seem to have been busy here from what Sergeant Knox has told me."
"We haven't had any time to spare, Captain; for in half an hour after we parted events began to thicken upon us, and we have been kept busy ever since," replied Deck.
"I will hear your report later, for my men are tired, and need their dinner. It seems to be all quiet about here now, and we must take a rest here."
"I have ordered our cooks to make coffee, and it will be ready to serve out very soon," replied Deck, as he pointed to the fires in the field behind the temporary hospital; and near them the horses of the troopers and the mules that drew the wagons were eating their oats off the grass. "We shall feed our men on herring and hardtack with the coffee."
Lieutenant Belthorpe ordered his men to picket their horses and feed them; and in another hour the soldiers and their beasts had all been fed. Seated on the grass with his two lieutenants, the captain listened to the report of Deck on the events of the forenoon. When he came to his encounter with Captain Letcher, both of his auditors were intensely interested, though he told his story very modestly.
"I suppose you caused Ceph to stand up on end when you found yourself in a tight place?" suggested Tom Belthorpe.
"I did not," answered Deck very emphatically. "Ceph knows more than some men; but he became restive and uneasy after the captain and I had pegged away at each other for some time, and he stood up of his own accord. I had to hold on with all my might with my left hand; but my horse did not try to leap over the other animal, for he was even taller than Ceph. When I saw the captain's head below mine, I used the opportunity, and made the cut that finished the affair. I was not reckless, as I was once accused of being, but wrongly, Captain Gordon. I have made it a business of mine to-day to keep cool, and not let my impulses run away with me; and I think I succeeded very well."
"Life thinks so too," added the captain.
"I have not said a word to him about it. I have kept my affairs closely in my own head."
"You managed the guerillas admirably, and bagged them very skilfully," said his superior approvingly.
"I think it was largely a matter of luck and chance that I gathered them in without losing a man, or even having a fight," added Deck. "The ruffians were all busy ransacking the mansion in search of the money; and if they had found it, I learned from Mr. Milton that it would have given them over two hundred dollars apiece. I got in without disturbing them, and they did not suspect the presence of my platoon till the bugler sounded the call for my men. Then they were surrounded, and the carbines were pointed at every window, with half a dozen aimed up the staircase. It was easy enough then to bring the affair to a conclusion."
"What are you going to do with your prisoners, Lieutenant?" asked Captain Gordon.
"I turn them over to my superior officer, of course; for I have ceased to be in command now. Mr. Milton informed me that there is a Union Home Guard at Millersville that might take charge of the guerillas," replied Deck, glad to be rid of this responsibility.
"Who is this Mr. Milton?" asked the commander; and Deck told him all he knew about him, and especially that he had been very useful to him as a guide.
"Where is he now?" inquired the captain, as they continued to eat the dinner of hardtack and herring, washed down with hot coffee.
"There he is near the hospital; he has just sat down to lunch with the sergeants," replied Deck, pointing to the group.
"Ask him to join us, Lieutenant," said the captain.
Deck obeyed; and Milton immediately responded to the summons. The lieutenant apologized to him for his want of attention, for he had been very busy every moment of the time. He was introduced to the commander and Lieutenant Belthorpe; and the former thanked him warmly for the service he had rendered, and invited him to join them in the simple repast before them. He freely answered all the questions put to him. He declared that Millersville contained a majority of loyal people, many of whom had enlisted in the Kentucky regiments, while others had formed a Union Home Guard, and were ready to fight to keep the State in the Union.
"I judge that your time has not been wasted this forenoon," said Deck.
"It has not, indeed," replied the commander of the company; and he proceeded to detail his experience with the enemy at Breedings.
He found on his arrival at that place that the marauders were a foraging-party of regular Confederate cavalry, and not guerillas. It consisted of at least a platoon, or half a company. They were coming across the field from the Millersville Road. As soon as they discovered the Riverlawn force, the enemy retreated, as the captain understood it; but they were only hastening to a small fortification of earthworks thrown up by the Confederate Home Guards of the place, who were in the majority in that locality, although there were several rich planters in the district who were Union men.
The fort had been armed with two rusty iron cannons, which had been used for salutes in the time when the Fourth of July had been generally celebrated. But it was not large enough to hold all the cavalrymen, and the second platoon of twenty-five men had been sent to a hill on the other side of the road. The commander sent Lieutenant Belthorpe to attack them there, while he gave his attention to the enemy in the fort.
The two guns, loaded with home-made grape-shot, were discharged; but the gunners were utterly ignorant of the art of handling the pieces, and the scattering bullets all went over the heads of the loyal cavalrymen. The captain did not give them time to repeat the experiment, for he ordered his lieutenant to charge over the earthwork before they had time to load again. The fort had been constructed in a very rude manner, without the help of an engineer; and it was only a sort of windrow of earth, as hay is raked up in a field, and the mounted men had no difficulty in riding over it.
The Confederates had dismounted, turning their horses into a field. This was a fatal mistake on the part of their officer. His men were huddled together with the Home Guards in the small space; and though they fought bravely, they were soon ridden down, and totally defeated. Many of them had been killed or disabled, and the Home Guards had run away as soon as the horses began to ride them down. The officer called for quarter, and surrendered. He and his men were paroled at once.
At the hill Lieutenant Belthorpe had vigorously attacked the second platoon, and soon drove them from their ground. When the victory was won at the fort, Captain Gordon re-enforced Belthorpe with twenty men while the paroling was in process; and the enemy seeing that they were outnumbered more than before, when they were driven from the hill, gave up the fight, and fled at the best speed of their horses by the way they had come. The lieutenant in command pursued them as far as the road, when the recall was sounded near the fort, and they returned to the little village. Captain Letcher was in command of the platoon, and he had continued to retreat, believing that his pursuers were still following him.
BEFORE THE BATTLE OF MILL SPRINGS
Captain Gordon had related the history of the affair at Breedings, and Deck had learned from Lieutenant Logan considerably more that was not within the knowledge of the commander. As they finished their simple dinner, they discovered a gentleman, attended by a couple of men who looked like mechanics, the latter with muskets on their shoulders, and all of them mounted on fine horses, approaching the camp. The two surgeons had finished dressing the wounds of the injured, and had mounted their horses to depart. The soldiers, the prisoners, and the horses had all been fed, and it seemed to be time for the next movement.
"That is Colonel Halliburn coming," said Milton.
"Is his title simply an honorary one, or is he a military man?" inquired the captain.
"He has been the leading man in the militia for thirty years, though he has never been in active service," replied Milton. "He is past the military age now."
The gentleman was introduced to the party, and he gave Deck the most cordial thanks for the service rendered to his brother.
"How is Miss Grace, Colonel?" asked Win.
"She is well and happy now, though she is much concerned about her guardian, and would have returned to him if I had permitted her to do so; but I am going over to my brother's now, and I shall persuade him and his wife to come to my house, for it is not safe for them to be alone there. I have brought a couple of my men with me; and if we can do anything to assist you here, we are at your service."
"Thank you, sir; we have defeated the enemy on all sides, and we are ready to move on now to join the other company of our squadron," replied the captain. "The next question that we have to settle is the disposition of our wounded, some of whom are not in condition to be moved."
"My house is at your service for this purpose. I have twenty-five men who belong to the Home Guard of Millersville residing in my village; and I have called them out since Miss Morgan came to my house, and they will be able to defend us from any ordinary enemies, so that your men will be safe there," said the colonel.
"I thank you with all my heart," answered Captain Gordon. "I shall avail myself of your kind offer."
"I am the captain of the Home Guards, and Dr. Barlow is the surgeon; and we will attend to the removal of the men. I will look after the matter as soon as I return from my brother's. Mr. Milton and the doctor will remain here till I come."
"I am under very great obligations to you, Colonel Halliburn," added the captain, "and I hope I shall be able to render you any service in a time of need which you may require."
The commander of the company paroled the Confederate prisoners, and permitted them to retire with their horses. They carried their wounded with them on stretchers or on horseback, and marched up the road to join the rest of their company. The bugle sounded, and the first company of the Riverlawns formed in the road. It was only about six miles to Millersville, and the captain decided to march the guerilla prisoners to that town. They were placed between the two platoons, with a guard on the flank; but the fun had all gone out of them, and they were as submissive as whipped puppies. The column marched, and in about two hours arrived at their next destination.
They found a company of about fifty Home Guards, armed with muskets, but without uniforms, drawn up to receive them; for the news of the skirmish had reached the place, and a considerable body of citizens were in attendance as spectators.
"I am Lieutenant Ripley, commanding in the absence of Captain Halliburn the Home Guards, all loyal men, and we give you a Kentucky welcome," said the officer of the Guards, saluting the captain. "What can we do for you?"
"You can take these guerilla prisoners off our hands, for they are a nuisance to us," replied Captain Gordon with a smile.
"Do you wish us to hang them to those trees yonder?" asked the lieutenant.
"I do not ask you to do anything of the kind, though it might do them good to hang them; but we don't treat prisoners in that way, even if they are guerillas," replied the commander with considerable energy. "You can confine them in some building, or let them go; but you must not kill, starve, or ill-treat them, for Union soldiers don't do such things."
It was nearly sundown, and the captain decided to bivouac for the night. The camp was laid out in a field, and the tents were pitched. A supper was cooked for the men, though the commissioned officers were invited to a private house; but they declined the invitations to sleep away from the company, though they ate the supper provided for them in the house of a Union magnate, and repeated again the story of the day's events. The commander inquired particularly for the news from the seat of war in this quarter.