FAMOUS ADVENTURES AND PRISON ESCAPES OF THE CIVIL WAR
NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1893, by
THE CENTURY CO.
WAR DIARY OF A UNION WOMAN IN THE SOUTH 1
THE LOCOMOTIVE CHASE IN GEORGIA 83
A ROMANCE OF MORGAN'S ROUGH-RIDERS 116
COLONEL ROSE'S TUNNEL AT LIBBY PRISON 184
A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL OUT OF DIXIE 243
ESCAPE OF GENERAL BRECKINRIDGE 298
QUESTIONING A PRISONER Frontispiece
THE LOCOMOTIVE CHASE 85
GENERAL JOHN H. MORGAN 117
MAP OF THE MORGAN RAID 118
THE FARMER FROM CALFKILLER CREEK 123
GENERAL DUKE TESTS THE PIES 125
HOSPITALITIES OF THE FARM 131
LOOKING FOR THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE VAN 137
CORRIDOR AND CELLS IN THE OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY—CAPTAIN HINES'S CELL 161
EXTERIOR OF THE PRISON—EXIT FROM TUNNEL 163
WITHIN THE WOODEN GATE 167
OVER THE PRISON WALL 171
"HURRY UP, MAJOR!" 175
CAPTAIN HINES OBJECTS 178
COLONEL THOMAS E. ROSE 185
A CORNER OF LIBBY PRISON 187
LIBBY PRISON IN 1865 189
MAJOR A.G. HAMILTON 191
LIBBY PRISON IN 1884 197
FIGHTING THE RATS 230
SECTION OF INTERIOR OF LIBBY PRISON AND TUNNEL 233
GROUND-PLAN OF LIBBY PRISON AND SURROUNDINGS 235
LIEUTENANTS E.E. SILL AND A.T. LAMSON 255
WE ARRIVE AT HEADEN'S 263
THE ESCAPE OF HEADEN 271
GREENVILLE JAIL 277
PINK BISHOP AT THE STILL 283
ARRIVAL HOME OF THE BAPTIST MINISTER 285
SURPRISED AT MRS. KITCHEN'S 291
THE MEETING WITH THE SECOND OHIO HEAVY ARTILLERY 295
SAND AS A DEFENSE AGAINST MOSQUITOS 307
SEARCHING FOR TURTLES' EGGS 310
THROUGH A SHALLOW LAGOON 313
EXCHANGING THE BOAT FOR THE SLOOP 315
OVER A CORAL-REEF 325
A ROUGH NIGHT IN THE GULF STREAM 331
FAMOUS ADVENTURES AND PRISON ESCAPES OF THE CIVIL WAR
WAR DIARY OF A UNION WOMAN IN THE SOUTH
EDITED BY G.W. CABLE
The following diary was originally written in lead-pencil and in a book the leaves of which were too soft to take ink legibly. I have it direct from the hands of its writer, a lady whom I have had the honor to know for nearly thirty years. For good reasons the author's name is omitted, and the initials of people and the names of places are sometimes fictitiously given. Many of the persons mentioned were my own acquaintances and friends. When, some twenty years afterward, she first resolved to publish it, she brought me a clear, complete copy in ink. It had cost much trouble, she said; for much of the pencil writing had been made under such disadvantages and was so faint that at times she could decipher it only under direct sunlight. She had succeeded, however, in making a copy, verbatim except for occasional improvement in the grammatical form of a sentence, or now and then the omission, for brevity's sake, of something unessential. The narrative has since been severely abridged to bring it within magazine limits.
In reading this diary one is much charmed with its constant understatement of romantic and perilous incidents and conditions. But the original penciled pages show that, even in copying, the strong bent of the writer to be brief has often led to the exclusion of facts that enhance the interest of exciting situations, and sometimes the omission robs her own heroism of due emphasis. I have restored one example of this in a foot-note following the perilous voyage down the Mississippi.
New Orleans, Dec. 1, 1860.—I understand it now. Keeping journals is for those who cannot, or dare not, speak out. So I shall set up a journal, being only a rather lonely young girl in a very small and hated minority. On my return here in November, after a foreign voyage and absence of many months, I found myself behind in knowledge of the political conflict, but heard the dread sounds of disunion and war muttered in threatening tones. Surely no native-born woman loves her country better than I love America. The blood of one of its Revolutionary patriots flows in my veins, and it is the Union for which he pledged his "life, fortune, and sacred honor" that I love, not any divided or special section of it. So I have been reading attentively and seeking light from foreigners and natives on all questions at issue. Living from birth in slave countries, both foreign and American, and passing through one slave insurrection in early childhood, the saddest and also the pleasantest features of slavery have been familiar. If the South goes to war for slavery, slavery is doomed in this country. To say so is like opposing one drop to a roaring torrent.
Sunday, Dec. ——, 1860.—In this season for peace I had hoped for a lull in the excitement, yet this day has been full of bitterness. "Come, G.," said Mrs. —— at breakfast, "leave your church for to-day and come with us to hear Dr. —— on the situation. He will convince you." "It is good to be convinced," I said; "I will go." The church was crowded to suffocation with the elite of New Orleans. The preacher's text was, "Shall we have fellowship with the stool of iniquity which frameth mischief as a law?" ... The sermon was over at last, and then followed a prayer.... Forever blessed be the fathers of the Episcopal Church for giving us a fixed liturgy! When we met at dinner Mrs. F. exclaimed, "Now, G., you heard him prove from the Bible that slavery is right and that therefore secession is. Were you not convinced?" I said, "I was so busy thinking how completely it proved too that Brigham Young is right about polygamy that it quite weakened the force of the argument for me." This raised a laugh, and covered my retreat.
Jan. 26, 1861.—The solemn boom of cannon to-day announced that the convention have passed the ordinance of secession. We must take a reef in our patriotism and narrow it down to State limits. Mine still sticks out all around the borders of the State. It will be bad if New Orleans should secede from Louisiana and set up for herself. Then indeed I would be "cabined, cribbed, confined." The faces in the house are jubilant to-day. Why is it so easy for them and not for me to "ring out the old, ring in the new"? I am out of place.
Jan. 28, Monday.—Sunday has now got to be a day of special excitement. The gentlemen save all the sensational papers to regale us with at the late Sunday breakfast. Rob opened the battle yesterday morning by saying to me in his most aggressive manner, "G., I believe these are your sentiments"; and then he read aloud an article from the "Journal des Debats" expressing in rather contemptuous terms the fact that France will follow the policy of non-intervention. When I answered, "Well, what do you expect? This is not their quarrel," he raved at me, ending by a declaration that he would willingly pay my passage to foreign parts if I would like to go. "Rob," said his father, "keep cool; don't let that threat excite you. Cotton is king. Just wait till they feel the pinch a little; their tone will change." I went to Trinity Church. Some Union people who are not Episcopalians go there now because the pastor has not so much chance to rail at the Lord when things are not going to suit. But yesterday was a marked Sunday. The usual prayer for the President and Congress was changed to the "governor and people of this commonwealth and their representatives in convention assembled."
The city was very lively and noisy this evening with rockets and lights in honor of secession. Mrs. F., in common with the neighbors, illuminated. We walked out to see the houses of others gleaming amid the dark shrubbery like a fairy scene. The perfect stillness added to the effect, while the moon rose slowly with calm splendor. We hastened home to dress for a soiree but on the stairs Edith said, "G., first come and help me dress Phoebe and Chloe [the negro servants]. There is a ball to-night in aristocratic colored society. This is Chloe's first introduction to New Orleans circles, and Henry Judson, Phoebe's husband, gave five dollars for a ticket for her." Chloe is a recent purchase from Georgia. We superintended their very stylish toilets, and Edith said, "G., run into your room, please, and write a pass for Henry. Put Mr. D.'s name to it." "Why, Henry is free," I said. "That makes no difference; all colored people must have a pass if out late. They choose a master for protection, and always carry his pass. Henry chose Mr. D., but he's lost the pass he had."
THE VOLUNTEERS—FORT SUMTER
Feb. 24, 1861.—The toil of the week is ended. Nearly a month has passed since I wrote here. Events have crowded upon one another. On the 4th the cannon boomed in honor of Jefferson Davis's election, and day before yesterday Washington's birthday was made the occasion of another grand display and illumination, in honor of the birth of a new nation and the breaking of that Union which he labored to cement. We drove to the race-course to see the review of troops. A flag was presented to the Washington Artillery by ladies. Senator Judah Benjamin made an impassioned speech. The banner was orange satin on one side, crimson silk on the other, the pelican and brood embroidered in pale green and gold. Silver crossed cannon surmounted it, orange-colored fringe surrounded it, and crimson tassels drooped from it. It was a brilliant, unreal scene; with military bands clashing triumphant music, elegant vehicles, high-stepping horses, and lovely women richly appareled.
Wedding-cards have been pouring in till the contagion has reached us; Edith will be married next Thursday. The wedding-dress is being fashioned, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen have arrived. Edith has requested me to be special mistress of ceremonies on Thursday evening, and I have told this terrible little rebel, who talks nothing but blood and thunder, yet faints at the sight of a worm, that if I fill that office no one shall mention war or politics during the whole evening, on pain of expulsion.
March 10, 1861.—The excitement in this house has risen to fever-heat during the past week. The four gentlemen have each a different plan for saving the country, and now that the bridal bouquets have faded, the three ladies have again turned to public affairs; Lincoln's inauguration and the story of the disguise in which he traveled to Washington is a never-ending source of gossip. The family board being the common forum, each gentleman as he appears first unloads his pockets of papers from all the Southern States, and then his overflowing heart to his eager female listeners, who in turn relate, inquire, sympathize, or cheer. If I dare express a doubt that the path to victory will be a flowery one, eyes flash, cheeks burn, and tongues clatter, till all are checked up suddenly by a warning for "Order, order!" from the amiable lady presiding. Thus we swallow politics with every meal. We take a mouthful and read a telegram, one eye on table, the other on the paper. One must be made of cool stuff to keep calm and collected, but I say but little. This war fever has banished small talk. Through all the black servants move about quietly, never seeming to notice that this is all about them.
"How can you speak so plainly before them?" I say.
"Why, what matter? They know that we shall keep the whip-handle."
April 13, 1861.—More than a month has passed since the last date here. This afternoon I was seated on the floor covered with loveliest flowers, arranging a floral offering for the fair, when the gentlemen arrived and with papers bearing news of the fall of Fort Sumter, which, at her request, I read to Mrs. F.
April 20.—The last few days have glided away in a halo of beauty. But nobody has time or will to enjoy it. War, war! is the one idea. The children play only with toy cannons and soldiers; the oldest inhabitant goes by every day with his rifle to practice; the public squares are full of companies drilling, and are now the fashionable resorts. We have been told that it is best for women to learn how to shoot too, so as to protect themselves when the men have all gone to battle. Every evening after dinner we adjourn to the back lot and fire at a target with pistols. Yesterday I dined at Uncle Ralph's. Some members of the bar were present, and were jubilant about their brand-new Confederacy. It would soon be the grandest government ever known. Uncle Ralph said solemnly, "No, gentlemen; the day we seceded the star of our glory set." The words sunk into my mind like a knell, and made me wonder at the mind that could recognize that and yet adhere to the doctrine of secession.
In the evening I attended a farewell gathering at a friend's whose brothers are to leave this week for Richmond. There was music. No minor chord was permitted.
April 25.—Yesterday I went with Cousin E. to have her picture taken. The picture-galleries are doing a thriving business. Many companies are ordered off to take possession of Fort Pickens (Florida), and all seem to be leaving sweethearts behind them. The crowd was in high spirits; they don't dream that any destinies will be spoiled. When I got home Edith was reading from the daily paper of the dismissal of Miss G. from her place as teacher for expressing abolition sentiments, and that she would be ordered to leave the city. Soon a lady came with a paper setting forth that she has established a "company"—we are nothing if not military—for making lint and getting stores of linen to supply the hospitals.
My name went down. If it hadn't, my spirit would have been wounded as with sharp spears before night. Next came a little girl with a subscription paper to get a flag for a certain company. The little girls, especially the pretty ones, are kept busy trotting around with subscription lists. Latest of all came little Guy, Mr. F.'s youngest clerk, the pet of the firm as well as of his home, a mere boy of sixteen. Such senseless sacrifices seem a sin. He chattered brightly, but lingered about, saying good-by. He got through it bravely until Edith's husband incautiously said, "You didn't kiss your little sweetheart," as he always called Ellie, who had been allowed to sit up. He turned and suddenly broke into agonizing sobs and then ran down the steps.
May 10.—I am tired and ashamed of myself. Last week I attended a meeting of the lint society to hand in the small contribution of linen I had been able to gather. We scraped lint till it was dark. A paper was shown, entitled the "Volunteer's Friend," started by the girls of the high school, and I was asked to help the girls with it. I positively declined. To-day I was pressed into service to make red flannel cartridge-bags for ten-inch columbiads. I basted while Mrs. S. sewed, and I felt ashamed to think that I had not the moral courage to say, "I don't approve of your war and won't help you, particularly in the murderous part of it."
May 27.—This has been a scenic Sabbath. Various companies about to depart for Virginia occupied the prominent churches to have their flags consecrated. The streets were resonant with the clangor of drums and trumpets. E. and myself went to Christ Church because the Washington Artillery were to be there.
June 13.—To-day has been appointed a Fast Day. I spent the morning writing a letter on which I put my first Confederate postage-stamp. It is of a brown color and has a large 5 in the center. To-morrow must be devoted to all my foreign correspondents before the expected blockade cuts us off.
June 29.—I attended a fine luncheon yesterday at one of the public schools. A lady remarked to a school official that the cost of provisions in the Confederacy was getting very high, butter, especially, being scarce and costly. "Never fear, my dear madam," he replied. "Texas alone can furnish butter enough to supply the whole Confederacy; we'll soon be getting it from there." It's just as well to have this sublime confidence.
July 15.—The quiet of midsummer reigns, but ripples of excitement break around us as the papers tell of skirmishes and attacks here and there in Virginia. "Rich Mountain" and "Carrick's Ford" were the last. "You see," said Mrs. D. at breakfast to-day, "my prophecy is coming true that Virginia will be the seat of war." "Indeed," I burst out, forgetting my resolution not to argue, "you may think yourselves lucky if this war turns out to have any seat in particular."
So far, no one especially connected with me has gone to fight. How glad I am for his mother's sake that Rob's lameness will keep him at home. Mr. F., Mr. S., and Uncle Ralph are beyond the age for active service, and Edith says Mr. D. can't go now. She is very enthusiastic about other people's husbands being enrolled, and regrets that her Alex is not strong enough to defend his country and his rights.
July 22.—What a day! I feel like one who has been out in a high wind, and cannot get my breath. The newsboys are still shouting with their extras, "Battle of Bull's Run! List of the killed! Battle of Manassas! List of the wounded!" Tender-hearted Mrs. F. was sobbing so she could not serve the tea; but nobody cared for tea. "O G.!" she said, "three thousand of our own, dear Southern boys are lying out there." "My dear Fannie," spoke Mr. F., "they are heroes now. They died in a glorious cause, and it is not in vain. This will end it. The sacrifice had to be made, but those killed have gained immortal names." Then Rob rushed in with a new extra, reading of the spoils captured, and grief was forgotten. Words cannot paint the excitement. Rob capered about and cheered; Edith danced around ringing the dinner-bell and shouting, "Victory!" Mrs. F. waved a small Confederate flag, while she wiped her eyes, and Mr. D. hastened to the piano and in his most brilliant style struck up "Dixie," followed by "My Maryland" and the "Bonnie Blue Flag."
"Do not look so gloomy, G.," whispered Mr. S. "You should be happy to-night; for, as Mr. F. says, now we shall have peace."
"And is that the way you think of the men of your own blood and race?" I replied. But an utter scorn came over me and choked me, and I walked out of the room. What proof is there in this dark hour that they are not right? Only the emphatic answer of my own soul. To-morrow I will pack my trunk and accept the invitation to visit at Uncle Ralph's country house.
Sept. 25.—When I opened the door of Mrs. F.'s room on my return, the rattle of two sewing-machines and a blaze of color met me.
"Ah, G., you are just in time to help us; these are coats for Jeff Thompson's men. All the cloth in the city is exhausted; these flannel-lined oil-cloth table-covers are all we could obtain to make overcoats for Thompson's poor boys. They will be very warm and serviceable."
"Serviceable—yes! The Federal army will fly when they see those coats! I only wish I could be with the regiment when these are shared around." Yet I helped make them.
Seriously, I wonder if any soldiers will ever wear these remarkable coats—the most bewildering combination of brilliant, intense reds, greens, yellows, and blues in big flowers meandering over as vivid grounds; and as no table-cover was large enough to make a coat, the sleeves of each were of a different color and pattern. However, the coats were duly finished. Then we set to work on gray pantaloons, and I have just carried a bundle to an ardent young lady who wishes to assist. A slight gloom is settling down, and the inmates here are not quite so cheerfully confident as in July.
A BELEAGUERED CITY
Oct. 22.—When I came to breakfast this morning Rob was capering over another victory—Ball's Bluff. He would read me, "We pitched the Yankees over the bluff," and ask me in the next breath to go to the theater this evening. I turned on the poor fellow. "Don't tell me about your victories. You vowed by all your idols that the blockade would be raised by October 1, and I notice the ships are still serenely anchored below the city."
"G., you are just as pertinacious yourself in championing your opinions. What sustains you when nobody agrees with you?"
Oct. 28.—When I dropped in at Uncle Ralph's last evening to welcome them back, the whole family were busy at a great center-table copying sequestration acts for the Confederate Government. The property of all Northerners and Unionists is to be sequestrated, and Uncle Ralph can hardly get the work done fast enough. My aunt apologized for the rooms looking chilly; she feared to put the carpets down, as the city might be taken and burned by the Federals. "We are living as much packed up as possible. A signal has been agreed upon, and the instant the army approaches we shall be off to the country again."
Great preparations are being made for defense. At several other places where I called the women were almost hysterical. They seemed to look forward to being blown up with shot and shell, finished with cold steel, or whisked off to some Northern prison. When I got home Edith and Mr. D. had just returned also.
"Alex," said Edith, "I was up at your orange-lots to-day, and the sour oranges are dropping to the ground, while they cannot get lemons for our sick soldiers."
"That's my kind, considerate wife," replied Mr. D.
"Why didn't I think of that before? Jim shall fill some barrels to-morrow and take them to the hospitals as a present from you."
Nov. 10.—Surely this year will ever be memorable to me for its perfection of natural beauty. Never was sunshine such pure gold, or moonlight such transparent silver. The beautiful custom prevalent here of decking the graves with flowers on All Saints' day was well fulfilled, so profuse and rich were the blossoms. On All-hallow eve Mrs. S. and myself visited a large cemetery. The chrysanthemums lay like great masses of snow and flame and gold in every garden we passed, and were piled on every costly tomb and lowly grave. The battle of Manassas robed many of our women in mourning, and some of those who had no graves to deck were weeping silently as they walked through the scented avenues.
A few days ago Mrs. E. arrived here. She is a widow, of Natchez, a friend of Mrs. F.'s, and is traveling home with the dead body of her eldest son, killed at Manassas. She stopped two days waiting for a boat, and begged me to share her room and read her to sleep, saying she couldn't be alone since he was killed; she feared her mind would give way. So I read all the comforting chapters to be found till she dropped into forgetfulness, but the recollection of those weeping mothers in the cemetery banished sleep for me.
Nov. 26.—The lingering summer is passing into those misty autumn days I love so well, when there is gold and fire above and around us. But the glory of the natural and the gloom of the moral world agree not well together. This morning Mrs. F. came to my room in dire distress. "You see," she said, "cold weather is coming on fast, and our poor fellows are lying out at night with nothing to cover them. There is a wail for blankets, but there is not a blanket in town. I have gathered up all the spare bed-clothing, and now want every available rug or table-cover in the house. Can't I have yours, G.? We must make these small sacrifices of comfort and elegance, you know, to secure independence and freedom."
"Very well," I said, denuding the table. "This may do for a drummer boy."
Dec. 26, 1861.—The foul weather cleared off bright and cool in time for Christmas. There is a midwinter lull in the movement of troops. In the evening we went to the grand bazaar in the St. Louis Hotel, got up to clothe the soldiers. This bazaar has furnished the gayest, most fashionable war-work yet, and has kept social circles in a flutter of pleasant, heroic excitement all through December. Everything beautiful or rare garnered in the homes of the rich was given for exhibition, and in some cases for raffle and sale. There were many fine paintings, statues, bronzes, engravings, gems, laces—in fact, heirlooms and bric-a-brac of all sorts. There were many lovely creole girls present, in exquisite toilets, passing to and fro through the decorated rooms, listening to the band clash out the Anvil Chorus.
Jan. 2, 1862.—I am glad enough to bid '61 good-by. Most miserable year of my life! What ages of thought and experience have I not lived in it!
The city authorities have been searching houses for firearms. It is a good way to get more guns, and the homes of those men suspected of being Unionists were searched first. Of course they went to Dr. B.'s. He met them with his own delightful courtesy. "Wish to search for arms? Certainly, gentlemen." He conducted them all through the house with smiling readiness, and after what seemed a very thorough search bowed them politely out. His gun was all the time safely reposing between the canvas folds of a cot-bed which leaned folded up together against the wall, in the very room where they had ransacked the closets. Queerly, the rebel families have been the ones most anxious to conceal all weapons. They have dug graves quietly at night in the back yards, and carefully wrapping the weapons, buried them out of sight. Every man seems to think he will have some private fighting to do to protect his family.
Friday, Jan. 24, 1862. (On Steamboat W., Mississippi River.)—With a changed name I open you once more, my journal. It was a sad time to wed, when one knew not how long the expected conscription would spare the bridegroom. The women-folk knew how to sympathize with a girl expected to prepare for her wedding in three days, in a blockaded city, and about to go far from any base of supplies. They all rallied round me with tokens of love and consideration, and sewed, shopped, mended, and packed, as if sewing soldier clothes. And they decked the whole house and the church with flowers. Music breathed, wine sparkled, friends came and went. It seemed a dream, and comes up now again out of the afternoon sunshine where I sit on deck. The steamboat slowly plows its way through lumps of floating ice,—a novel sight to me,—and I look forward wondering whether the new people I shall meet will be as fierce about the war as those in New Orleans. That past is to be all forgotten and forgiven; I understood thus the kindly acts that sought to brighten the threshold of a new life.
Feb. 15. (Village of X.)—We reached Arkansas Landing at nightfall. Mr. Y., the planter who owns the landing, took us right up to his residence. He ushered me into a large room where a couple of candles gave a dim light, and close to them, and sewing as if on a race with Time, sat Mrs. Y. and a little negro girl, who was so black and sat so stiff and straight she looked like an ebony image. This was a large plantation; the Y.'s knew H. very well, and were very kind and cordial in their welcome and congratulations. Mrs. Y. apologized for continuing her work; the war had pushed them this year in getting the negroes clothed, and she had to sew by dim candles, as they could obtain no more oil. She asked if there were any new fashions in New Orleans.
Next morning we drove over to our home in this village. It is the county-seat, and was, till now, a good place for the practice of H.'s profession. It lies on the edge of a lovely lake. The adjacent planters count their slaves by the hundreds. Some of them live with a good deal of magnificence, using service of plate, having smoking-rooms for the gentlemen built off the house, and entertaining with great hospitality. The Baptists, Episcopalians, and Methodists hold services on alternate Sundays in the court-house. All the planters and many others near the lake shore keep a boat at their landing, and a raft for crossing vehicles and horses. It seemed very piquant at first, this taking our boat to go visiting, and on moonlight nights it was charming. The woods around are lovelier than those in Louisiana, though one misses the moaning of the pines. There is fine fishing and hunting, but these cotton estates are not so pleasant to visit as sugar plantations.
But nothing else has been so delightful as, one morning, my first sight of snow and a wonderful new, white world.
Feb. 27.—The people here have hardly felt the war yet. There are but two classes. The planters and the professional men form one; the very poor villagers the other. There is no middle class. Ducks and partridges, squirrels and fish, are to be had. H. has bought me a nice pony, and cantering along the shore of the lake in the sunset is a panacea for mental worry.
HOW IT WAS IN ARKANSAS
March 11, 1862.—The serpent has entered our Eden. The rancor and excitement of New Orleans have invaded this place. If an incautious word betrays any want of sympathy with popular plans, one is "traitorous," "ungrateful," "crazy." If one remains silent and controlled, then one is "phlegmatic," "cool-blooded," "unpatriotic." Cool-blooded! Heavens! if they only knew. It is very painful to see lovable and intelligent women rave till the blood mounts to face and brain. The immediate cause of this access of war fever has been the battle of Pea Ridge. They scout the idea that Price and Van Dorn have been completely worsted. Those who brought the news were speedily told what they ought to say. "No, it is only a serious check; they must have more men sent forward at once. This country must do its duty." So the women say another company must be raised.
We were guests at a dinner-party yesterday. Mrs. A. was very talkative. "Now, ladies, you must all join in with a vim and help equip another company."
"Mrs. L.," she said, turning to me, "are you not going to send your husband? Now use a young bride's influence and persuade him; he would be elected one of the officers." "Mrs. A.," I replied, longing to spring up and throttle her, "the Bible says, 'When a man hath married a new wife, he shall not go to war for one year, but remain at home and cheer up his wife.'"
"Well, H.," I questioned, as we walked home after crossing the lake, "can you stand the pressure, or shall you be forced into volunteering?" "Indeed," he replied, "I will not be bullied into enlisting by women, or by men. I will sooner take my chance of conscription and feel honest about it. You know my attachments, my interests are here; these are my people. I could never fight against them; but my judgment disapproves their course, and the result will inevitably be against us."
This morning the only Irishman left in the village presented himself to H. He has been our wood-sawyer, gardener, and factotum, but having joined the new company, his time recently has been taken up with drilling. H. and Mr. R. feel that an extensive vegetable garden must be prepared while he is here to assist, or we shall be short of food, and they sent for him yesterday.
"So, Mike, you are really going to be a soldier?"
"Yes, sor; but faith, Mr. L., I don't see the use of me going to shtop a bullet when sure an' I'm willin' for it to go where it plazes."
March 18, 1862.—There has been unusual gaiety in this little village the past few days. The ladies from the surrounding plantations went to work to get up a festival to equip the new company. As Annie and myself are both brides recently from the city, requisition was made upon us for engravings, costumes, music, garlands, and so forth. Annie's heart was in the work; not so with me. Nevertheless, my pretty things were captured, and shone with just as good a grace last evening as if willingly lent. The ball was a merry one. One of the songs sung was "Nellie Gray," in which the most distressing feature of slavery is bewailed so pitifully. To sing this at a festival for raising money to clothe soldiers fighting to perpetuate that very thing was strange.
March 20, 1862.—A man professing to act by General Hindman's orders is going through the country impressing horses and mules. The overseer of a certain estate came to inquire of H. if he had not a legal right to protect the property from seizure. Mr. L. said yes, unless the agent could show some better credentials than his bare word. This answer soon spread about, and the overseer returned to report that it excited great indignation, especially among the company of new volunteers. H. was pronounced a traitor, and they declared that no one so untrue to the Confederacy should live there. When H. related the circumstance at dinner, his partner, Mr. R., became very angry, being ignorant of H.'s real opinions. He jumped up in a rage and marched away to the village thoroughfare. There he met a batch of the volunteers, and said, "We know what you have said of us, and I have come to tell you that you are liars, and you know where to find us."
Of course I expected a difficulty; but the evening passed, and we retired undisturbed. Not long afterward a series of indescribable sounds broke the stillness of the night, and the tramp of feet was heard outside the house. Mr. R. called out, "It's a serenade, H. Get up and bring out all the wine you have." Annie and I peeped through the parlor window, and lo! it was the company of volunteers and a diabolical band composed of bones and broken-winded brass instruments. They piped and clattered and whined for some time, and then swarmed in, while we ladies retreated and listened to the clink of glasses.
March 22.—H., Mr. R., and Mike have been very busy the last few days getting the acre of kitchen-garden plowed and planted. The stay-law has stopped all legal business, and they have welcomed this work. But to-day a thunderbolt fell in our household. Mr. R. came in and announced that he had agreed to join the company of volunteers. Annie's Confederate principles would not permit her to make much resistance, and she has been sewing and mending as fast as possible to get his clothes ready, stopping now and then to wipe her eyes. Poor Annie! She and Max have been married only a few months longer than we have; but a noble sense of duty animates and sustains her.
THE FIGHT FOR FOOD AND CLOTHING
April 1.—The last ten days have brought changes in the house. Max R. left with the company to be mustered in, leaving with us his weeping Annie. Hardly were her spirits somewhat composed when her brother arrived from Natchez to take her home. This morning he, Annie, and Reeney, the black handmaiden, posted off. Out of seven of us only H., myself, and Aunt Judy are left. The absence of Reeney will be not the least noted. She was as precious an imp as any Topsy ever was. Her tricks were endless and her innocence of them amazing. When sent out to bring in eggs she would take them from nests where hens were hatching, and embryo chickens would be served up at breakfast, while Reeney stood by grinning to see them opened; but when accused she was imperturbable. "Laws, Mis' L., I nebber done bin nigh dem hens. Mis' Annie, you can go count dem dere eggs." That when counted they were found minus the number she had brought had no effect on her stolid denial. H. has plenty to do finishing the garden all by himself, but the time rather drags for me.
April 13, 1862.—This morning I was sewing up a rent in H.'s garden coat, when Aunt Judy rushed in.
"Laws! Mis' L., here's Mr. Max and Mis' Annie done come back!" A buggy was coming up with Max, Annie, and Reeney.
"Well, is the war over?" I asked.
"Oh, I got sick!" replied our returned soldier, getting slowly out of the buggy.
He was very thin and pale, and explained that he took a severe cold almost at once, had a mild attack of pneumonia, and the surgeon got him his discharge as unfit for service. He succeeded in reaching Annie, and a few days of good care made him strong enough to travel back home.
"I suppose, H., you've heard that Island No. 10 is gone?"
Yes, we had heard that much, but Max had the particulars, and an exciting talk followed. At night H. said to me, "G., New Orleans will be the next to go, you'll see, and I want to get there first; this stagnation here will kill me."
April 28.—This evening has been very lovely, but full of a sad disappointment. H. invited me to drive. As we turned homeward he said:
"Well, my arrangements are completed. You can begin to pack your trunks to-morrow, and I shall have a talk with Max."
Mr. R. and Annie were sitting on the gallery as I ran up the steps.
"Heard the news?" they cried.
"No. What news?"
"New Orleans is taken! All the boats have been run up the river to save them. No more mails."
How little they knew what plans of ours this dashed away. But our disappointment is truly an infinitesimal drop in the great waves of triumph and despair surging to-night in thousands of hearts.
April 30.—The last two weeks have glided quietly away without incident except the arrival of new neighbors—Dr. Y., his wife, two children, and servants. That a professional man prospering in Vicksburg should come now to settle in this retired place looks queer. Max said:
"H., that man has come here to hide from the conscript officers. He has brought no end of provisions, and is here for the war. He has chosen well, for this county is so cleaned of men it won't pay to send the conscript officers here."
Our stores are diminishing and cannot be replenished from without; ingenuity and labor must evoke them. We have a fine garden in growth, plenty of chickens, and hives of bees to furnish honey in lieu of sugar. A good deal of salt meat has been stored in the smoke-house, and, with fish from the lake, we expect to keep the wolf from the door. The season for game is about over, but an occasional squirrel or duck comes to the larder, though the question of ammunition has to be considered. What we have may be all we can have, if the war lasts five years longer; and they say they are prepared to hold out till the crack of doom. Food, however, is not the only want. I never realized before the varied needs of civilization. Every day something is out. Last week but two bars of soap remained, so we began to save bones and ashes. Annie said: "Now if we only had some china-berry trees here, we shouldn't need any other grease. They are making splendid soap at Vicksburg with china-balls. They just put the berries into the lye and it eats them right up and makes a fine soap." I did long for some china-berries to make this experiment. H. had laid in what seemed a good supply of kerosene, but it is nearly gone, and we are down to two candles kept for an emergency. Annie brought a receipt from Natchez for making candles of rosin and wax, and with great forethought brought also the wick and rosin. So yesterday we tried making candles. We had no molds, but Annie said the latest style in Natchez was to make a waxen rope by dipping, then wrap it round a corn-cob. But H. cut smooth blocks of wood about four inches square, into which he set a polished cylinder about four inches high. The waxen ropes were coiled round the cylinder like a serpent, with the head raised about two inches; as the light burned down to the cylinder, more of the rope was unwound. To-day the vinegar was found to be all gone, and we have started to make some. For tyros we succeed pretty well.
DROWNED OUT AND STARVED OUT
May 9.—A great misfortune has come upon us all. For several days every one has been uneasy about the unusual rise of the Mississippi and about a rumor that the Federal forces had cut levees above to swamp the country. There is a slight levee back of the village, and H. went yesterday to examine it. It looked strong, and we hoped for the best. About dawn this morning a strange gurgle woke me. It had a pleasing, lulling effect. I could not fully rouse at first, but curiosity conquered at last, and I called H.
"Listen to that running water. What is it?"
He sprung up, listened a second, and shouted: "Max, get up! The water is on us!" They both rushed off to the lake for the skiff. The levee had not broken. The water was running clean over it and through the garden fence so rapidly that by the time I dressed and got outside Max was paddling the pirogue they had brought in among the pea-vines, gathering all the ripe peas left above the water. We had enjoyed one mess, and he vowed we should have another.
H. was busy nailing a raft together while he had a dry place to stand on. Annie and I, with Reeney, had to secure the chickens, and the back piazza was given up to them. By the time a hasty breakfast was eaten the water was in the kitchen. The stove and everything there had to be put up in the dining-room. Aunt Judy and Reeney had likewise to move into the house, their floor also being covered with water. The raft had to be floated to the storehouse and a platform built, on which everything was elevated. At evening we looked around and counted the cost. The garden was utterly gone. Last evening we had walked round the strawberry-beds that fringed the whole acre and tasted a few just ripe. The hives were swamped. Many of the chickens were drowned. Sancho had been sent to high ground, where he could get grass. In the village everything green was swept away. Yet we were better off than many others; for this house, being raised, we have escaped the water indoors. It just laves the edge of the galleries.
May 26.—During the past week we have lived somewhat like Venetians, with a boat at the front steps and a raft at the back. Sunday H. and I took skiff to church. The clergyman, who is also tutor at a planter's across the lake, preached to the few who had arrived in skiffs. We shall not try it again, it is so troublesome getting in and out at the court-house steps. The imprisonment is hard to endure. It threatened to make me really ill, so every evening H. lays a thick wrap in the pirogue, I sit on it, and we row off to the ridge of dry land running along the lake-shore and branching off to a strip of wood also out of water. Here we disembark and march up and down till dusk. A great deal of the wood got wet and had to be laid out to dry on the galleries, with clothing, and everything that must be dried. One's own trials are intensified by the worse suffering around that we can do nothing to relieve.
Max has a puppy named after General Price. The gentlemen had both gone up-town yesterday in the skiff when Annie and I heard little Price's despairing cries from under the house, and we got on the raft to find and save him. We wore light morning dresses and slippers, for shoes are becoming precious. Annie donned a Shaker and I a broad hat. We got the raft pushed out to the center of the grounds opposite the house, and could see Price clinging to a post; the next move must be to navigate the raft up to the side of the house and reach for Price. It sounds easy; but poke around with our poles as wildly or as scientifically as we might, the raft would not budge. The noonday sun was blazing right overhead, and the muddy water running all over slippered feet and dainty dresses. How long we stayed praying for rescue, yet wincing already at the laugh that would come with it, I shall never know. It seemed like a day before the welcome boat and the "Ha, ha!" of H. and Max were heard. The confinement tells severely on all the animal life about us. Half the chickens are dead and the other half sick.
The days drag slowly. We have to depend mainly on books to relieve the tedium, for we have no piano; none of us like cards; we are very poor chess-players, and the chess-set is incomplete. When we gather round the one lamp—we dare not light any more—each one exchanges the gems of thought or mirthful ideas he finds. Frequently the gnats and the mosquitos are so bad we cannot read at all. This evening, till a strong breeze blew them away, they were intolerable. Aunt Judy goes about in a dignified silence, too full for words, only asking two or three times, "W'at I done tole you fum de fust?" The food is a trial. This evening the snaky candles lighted the glass and silver on the supper-table with a pale gleam, and disclosed a frugal supper indeed—tea without milk (for all the cows are gone), honey, and bread. A faint ray twinkled on the water swishing against the house and stretching away into the dark woods. It looked like civilization and barbarism met together. Just as we sat down to it, some one passing in a boat shouted that Confederates and Federals were fighting at Vicksburg.
Monday, June 2.—On last Friday morning, just three weeks from the day the water rose, signs of its falling began. Yesterday the ground appeared, and a hard rain coming down at the same time washed off much of the unwholesome debris. To-day is fine, and we went out without a boat for a long walk.
June 13.—Since the water ran off, we have, of course, been attacked by swamp fever. H. succumbed first, then Annie, Max next, and then I. Luckily, the new Dr. Y. had brought quinine with him, and we took heroic doses. Such fever never burned in my veins before or sapped strength so rapidly, though probably the want of good food was a factor. The two or three other professional men have left. Dr. Y. alone remains. The roads now being dry enough, H. and Max started on horseback, in different directions, to make an exhaustive search for food supplies. H. got back this evening with no supplies.
June 15.—Max got back to-day. He started right off again to cross the lake and interview the planters on that side, for they had not suffered from overflow.
June 16.—Max got back this morning. H. and he were in the parlor talking and examining maps together till dinner-time. When that was over they laid the matter before us. To buy provisions had proved impossible. The planters across the lake had decided to issue rations of corn-meal and pease to the villagers whose men had all gone to war, but they utterly refused to sell anything. "They told me," said Max, "'We will not see your family starve, Mr. R.; but with such numbers of slaves and the village poor to feed, we can spare nothing for sale.'" "Well, of course," said H., "we do not purpose to stay here and live on charity rations. We must leave the place at all hazards. We have studied out every route and made inquiries everywhere we went. We shall have to go down the Mississippi in an open boat as far as Fetler's Landing (on the eastern bank). There we can cross by land and put the boat into Steele's Bayou, pass thence to the Yazoo River, from there to Chickasaw Bayou, into McNutt's Lake, and land near my uncle's in Warren County."
June 20.—As soon as our intended departure was announced, we were besieged by requests for all sorts of things wanted in every family—pins, matches, gunpowder, and ink. One of the last cases H. and Max had before the stay-law stopped legal business was the settlement of an estate that included a country store. The heirs had paid in chattels of the store. These had remained packed in the office. The main contents of the cases were hardware; but we found treasure indeed—a keg of powder, a case of matches, a paper of pins, a bottle of ink. Red ink is now made out of pokeberries. Pins are made by capping thorns with sealing-wax, or using them as nature made them. These were articles money could not get for us. We would give our friends a few matches to save for the hour of tribulation. The paper of pins we divided evenly, and filled a bank-box each with the matches. H. filled a tight tin case apiece with powder for Max and himself and sold the rest, as we could not carry any more on such a trip. Those who did not hear of this in time offered fabulous prices afterward for a single pound. But money has not its old attractions. Our preparations were delayed by Aunt Judy falling sick of swamp fever.
Friday, June 27.—As soon as the cook was up again, we resumed preparations. We put all the clothing in order, and had it nicely done up with the last of the soap and starch. "I wonder," said Annie, "when I shall ever have nicely starched clothes after these? They had no starch in Natchez or Vicksburg when I was there." We are now furbishing up dresses suitable for such rough summer travel. While we sat at work yesterday, the quiet of the clear, calm noon was broken by a low, continuous roar like distant thunder. To-day we are told it was probably cannon at Vicksburg. This is a great distance, I think, to have heard it—over a hundred miles.
H. and Max have bought a large yawl and are busy on the lake-bank repairing it and fitting it with lockers. Aunt Judy's master has been notified when to send for her; a home for the cat Jeff has been engaged; Price is dead, and Sancho sold. Nearly all the furniture is disposed of, except things valued from association, which will be packed in H.'s office and left with some one likely to stay through the war. It is hardest to leave the books.
Tuesday, July 8.—We start to-morrow. Packing the trunks was a problem. Annie and I are allowed one large trunk apiece, the gentlemen a smaller one each, and we a light carpet-sack apiece for toilet articles. I arrived with six trunks and leave with one! We went over everything carefully twice, rejecting, trying to off the bonds of custom and get down to primitive needs. At last we made a judicious selection. Everything old or worn was left; everything merely ornamental, except good lace, which was light. Gossamer evening dresses were all left. I calculated on taking two or three books that would bear the most reading if we were again shut up where none could be had, and so, of course, took Shakspere first. Here I was interrupted to go and pay a farewell visit, and when we returned Max had packed and nailed the cases of books to be left. Chance thus limited my choice to those that happened to be in my room—"Paradise Lost," the "Arabian Nights," a volume of Macaulay's History I was reading, and my prayer-book. To-day the provisions for the trip were cooked: the last of the flour was made into large loaves of bread; a ham and several dozen eggs were boiled; the few chickens that have survived the overflow were fried; the last of the coffee was parched and ground; and the modicum of the tea was well corked up. Our friends across the lake added a jar of butter and two of preserves. H. rode off to X. after dinner to conclude some business there, and I sat down before a table to tie bundles of things to be left. The sunset glowed and faded, and the quiet evening came on calm and starry. I sat by the window till evening deepened into night, and as the moon rose I still looked a reluctant farewell to the lovely lake and the grand woods, till the sound of H.'s horse at the gate broke the spell.
HOMELESS AND SHELTERLESS
Thursday, July 10. (—— Plantation.)—Yesterday about four o'clock we walked to the lake and embarked. Provisions and utensils were packed in the lockers, and a large trunk was stowed at each end. The blankets and cushions were placed against one of them, and Annie and I sat on them Turkish fashion. Near the center the two smaller trunks made a place for Reeney. Max and H. were to take turns at the rudder and oars. The last word was a fervent God-speed from Mr. E., who is left in charge of all our affairs. We believe him to be a Union man, but have never spoken of it to him. We were gloomy enough crossing the lake, for it was evident the heavily laden boat would be difficult to manage. Last night we stayed at this plantation, and from the window of my room I see the men unloading the boat to place it on the cart, which a team of oxen will haul to the river. These hospitable people are kindness itself, till you mention the war.
Saturday, July 12. (Under a cotton-shed on the bank of the Mississippi River.)—Thursday was a lovely day, and the sight of the broad river exhilarating. The negroes launched and reloaded the boat, and when we had paid them and spoken good-by to them we felt we were really off. Every one had said that if we kept in the current the boat would almost go of itself, but in fact the current seemed to throw it about, and hard pulling was necessary. The heat of the sun was very severe, and it proved impossible to use an umbrella or any kind of shade, as it made steering more difficult. Snags and floating timbers were very troublesome. Twice we hurried up to the bank out of the way of passing gunboats, but they took no notice of us. When we got thirsty, it was found that Max had set the jug of water in the shade of a tree and left it there. We must dip up the river water or go without. When it got too dark to travel safely we disembarked. Reeney gathered wood, made a fire and some tea, and we had a good supper. We then divided, H. and I remaining to watch the boat, Max and Annie on shore. She hung up a mosquito-bar to the trees and went to bed comfortably. In the boat the mosquitos were horrible, but I fell asleep and slept till voices on the bank woke me. Annie was wandering disconsolate round her bed, and when I asked the trouble, said, "Oh, I can't sleep there! I found a toad and a lizard in the bed." When dropping off again, H. woke me to say he was very sick; he thought it was from drinking the river water. With difficulty I got a trunk opened to find some medicine. While doing so a gunboat loomed up vast and gloomy, and we gave each other a good fright. Our voices doubtless reached her, for instantly every one of her lights disappeared and she ran for a few minutes along the opposite bank. We momently expected a shell as a feeler.
At dawn next morning we made coffee and a hasty breakfast, fixed up as well as we could in our sylvan dressing-rooms, and pushed on; for it is settled that traveling between eleven and two will have to be given up unless we want to be roasted alive. H. grew worse. He suffered terribly, and the rest of us as much to see him pulling in such a state of exhaustion. Max would not trust either of us to steer. About eleven we reached the landing of a plantation. Max walked up to the house and returned with the owner, an old gentleman living alone with his slaves. The housekeeper, a young colored girl, could not be surpassed in her graceful efforts to make us comfortable and anticipate every want. I was so anxious about H. that I remember nothing except that the cold drinking-water taken from a cistern beneath the building, into which only the winter rains were allowed to fall, was like an elixir. They offered luscious peaches that, with such water, were nectar and ambrosia to our parched lips. At night the housekeeper said she was sorry they had no mosquito-bars ready, and hoped the mosquitos would not be thick, but they came out in legions. I knew that on sleep that night depended recovery or illness for H., and all possibility of proceeding next day. So I sat up fanning away mosquitos that he might sleep, toppling over now and then on the pillows till roused by his stirring. I contrived to keep this up till, as the chill before dawn came, they abated and I got a short sleep. Then, with the aid of cold water, a fresh toilet, and a good breakfast, I braced up for another day's baking in the boat.
If I had been well and strong as usual, the discomforts of such a journey would not have seemed so much to me; but I was still weak from the effects of the fever, and annoyed by a worrying toothache which there had been no dentist to rid me of in our village.
Having paid and dismissed the boat's watchman, we started and traveled till eleven to-day, when we stopped at this cotton-shed. When our dais was spread and lunch laid out in the cool breeze, it seemed a blessed spot. A good many negroes came offering chickens and milk in exchange for tobacco, which we had not. We bought some milk with money.
A United States transport just now steamed by, and the men on the guards cheered and waved to us. We all replied but Annie. Even Max was surprised into an answering cheer, and I waved my handkerchief with a very full heart as the dear old flag we had not seen for so long floated by; but Annie turned her back.
Sunday, July 13. (Under a tree on the east bank of the Mississippi)—Late on Saturday evening we reached a plantation whose owner invited us to spend the night at his house. What a delightful thing is courtesy! The first tone of our host's welcome indicated the true gentleman. We never leave the oars with the watchman; Max takes these, Annie and I each take a band-box, H. takes my carpet-sack, and Reeney brings up the rear with Annie's. It is a funny procession. Mr. B.'s family were absent, and as we sat on the gallery talking, it needed only a few minutes to show this was a "Union man." His home was elegant and tasteful, but even here there was neither tea nor coffee.
About eleven we stopped here in this shady place. While eating lunch the negroes again came imploring for tobacco. Soon an invitation came from the house for us to come and rest. We gratefully accepted, but found their idea of rest for warm, tired travelers was to sit in the parlor on stiff chairs while the whole family trooped in, cool and clean in fresh toilets, to stare and question. We soon returned to the trees; however, they kindly offered corn-meal pound-cake and beer, which were excellent.
Eight gunboats and one transport have passed us. Getting out of their way has been troublesome. Our gentlemen's hands are badly blistered.
Tuesday, July 15.—Sunday night about ten we reached the place where, according to our map, Steele's Bayou comes nearest to the Mississippi, and where the landing should be; but when we climbed the steep bank there was no sign of habitation. Max walked off into the woods on a search, and was gone so long we feared he had lost his way. He could find no road. H. suggested shouting, and both began. At last a distant halloo replied, and by cries the answerer was guided to us. A negro came forward and said that was the right place, his master kept the landing, and he would watch the boat for five dollars. He showed the road, and said his master's house was one mile off and another house two miles. We mistook, and went to the one two miles off. At one o'clock we reached Mr. Fetler's, who was pleasant, and said we should have the best he had. The bed into whose grateful softness I sank was piled with mattresses to within two or three feet of the ceiling; and, with no step-ladder, getting in and out was a problem. This morning we noticed the high-water mark, four feet above the lower floor. Mrs. Fetler said they had lived up-stairs several weeks.
FRIGHTS AND PERILS IN STEELE'S BAYOU
Wednesday, July 16. (Under a tree on the bank of Steele's Bayou.)—Early this morning our boat was taken out of the Mississippi and put on Mr. Fetler's ox-cart. After breakfast we followed on foot. The walk in the woods was so delightful that all were disappointed when a silvery gleam through the trees showed the bayou sweeping along, full to the banks, with dense forest trees almost meeting over it. The boat was launched, calked, and reloaded, and we were off again. Toward noon the sound of distant cannon began to echo around, probably from Vicksburg again. About the same time we began to encounter rafts. To get around them required us to push through brush so thick that we had to lie down in the boat. The banks were steep and the land on each side a bog. About one o'clock we reached this clear space with dry shelving banks, and disembarked to eat lunch. To our surprise a neatly dressed woman came tripping down the declivity, bringing a basket. She said she lived above and had seen our boat. Her husband was in the army, and we were the first white people she had talked to for a long while. She offered some corn-meal pound-cake and beer, and as she climbed back told us to "look out for the rapids." H. is putting the boat in order for our start, and says she is waving good-by from the bluff above.
Thursday, July 17. (On a raft in Steele's Bayou.)—Yesterday we went on nicely awhile, and at afternoon came to a strange region of rafts, extending about three miles, on which persons were living. Many saluted us, saying they had run away from Vicksburg at the first attempt of the fleet to shell it. On one of these rafts, about twelve feet square, bagging had been hung up to form three sides of a tent. A bed was in one corner, and on a low chair, with her provisions in jars and boxes grouped round her, sat an old woman feeding a lot of chickens.
[Footnote 1: More likely twelve yards.—G.W.C.]
Having moonlight, we had intended to travel till late. But about ten o'clock, the boat beginning to go with great speed, H., who was steering, called to Max:
"Don't row so fast; we may run against something."
"I'm hardly pulling at all."
"Then we're in what she called the rapids!"
The stream seemed indeed to slope downward, and in a minute a dark line was visible ahead. Max tried to turn, but could not, and in a second more we dashed against this immense raft, only saved from breaking up by the men's quickness. We got out upon it and ate supper. Then, as the boat was leaking and the current swinging it against the raft, H. and Max thought it safer to watch all night, but told us to go to sleep. It was a strange spot to sleep in—a raft in the middle of a boiling stream, with a wilderness stretching on either side. The moon made ghostly shadows, and showed H., sitting still as a ghost, in the stern of the boat, while mingled with the gurgle of the water round the raft beneath was the boom of cannon in the air, solemnly breaking the silence of night. It drizzled now and then, and the mosquitos swarmed over us. My fan and umbrella had been knocked overboard, so I had no weapon against them. Fatigue, however, overcomes everything, and I contrived to sleep.
H. roused us at dawn. Reeney found lightwood enough on the raft to make a good fire for coffee, which never tasted better. Then all hands assisted in unloading; a rope was fastened to the boat, Max got in, H. held the rope on the raft, and, by much pulling and pushing, it was forced through a narrow passage to the farther side. Here it had to be calked, and while that was being done we improvised a dressing-room in the shadow of our big trunks. During the trip I had to keep the time, therefore properly to secure belt and watch was always an anxious part of my toilet. The boat is now repacked, and while Annie and Reeney are washing cups I have scribbled, wishing much that mine were the hand of an artist.
Friday morn, July 18. (House of Colonel K., on Yazoo River.)—After leaving the raft yesterday all went well till noon, when we came to a narrow place where an immense tree lay clear across the stream. It seemed the insurmountable obstacle at last. We sat despairing what to do, when a man appeared beside us in a pirogue. So sudden, so silent was his arrival that we were thrilled with surprise. He said if we had a hatchet he could help us. His fairy bark floated in among the branches like a bubble, and he soon chopped a path for us, and was delighted to get some matches in return. He said the cannon we heard yesterday were in an engagement with the ram Arkansas, which ran out of the Yazoo that morning. We did not stop for dinner to-day, but ate a hasty lunch in the boat, after which nothing but a small piece of bread was left. About two we reached the forks, one of which ran to the Yazoo, the other to the Old River. Max said the right fork was our road; H. said the left, that there was an error in Max's map; but Max steered into the right fork. After pulling about three miles he admitted his mistake and turned back; but I shall never forget Old River. It was the vision of a drowned world, an illimitable waste of dead waters, stretching into a great, silent, desolate forest.
Just as we turned into the right way, down came the rain so hard and fast we had to stop on the bank. It defied trees or umbrellas, and nearly took away the breath. The boat began to fill, and all five of us had to bail as fast as possible for the half-hour the sheet of water was pouring down. As it abated a cold breeze sprang up that, striking our clothes, chilled us to the bone. All were shivering and blue—no, I was green. Before leaving Mr. Fetler's Wednesday morning I had donned a dark-green calico. I wiped my face with a handkerchief out of my pocket, and face and hands were all dyed a deep green. When Annie turned round and looked at me she screamed, and I realized how I looked; but she was not much better, for of all dejected things wet feathers are the worst, and the plumes in her hat were painful.
About five we reached Colonel K.'s house, right where Steele's Bayou empties into the Yazoo. We had both to be fairly dragged out of the boat, so cramped and weighted were we by wet skirts. The family were absent, and the house was headquarters for a squad of Confederate cavalry, which was also absent. The old colored housekeeper received us kindly, and lighted fires in our rooms to dry the clothing. My trunk had got cracked on top, and all the clothing to be got at was wet. H. had dropped his in the river while lifting it out, and his clothes were wet. A spoonful of brandy apiece was left in the little flask, and I felt that mine saved me from being ill. Warm blankets and the brandy revived us, and by supper-time we got into some dry clothes.
Just then the squad of cavalry returned; they were only a dozen, but they made much uproar, being in great excitement. Some of them were known to Max and H., who learned from them that a gunboat was coming to shell them out of this house. Then ensued a clatter such as twelve men surely never made before—rattling about the halls and galleries in heavy boots and spurs, feeding horses, calling for supper, clanking swords, buckling and unbuckling belts and pistols. At last supper was despatched, and they mounted and were gone like the wind. We had a quiet supper and a good night's rest in spite of the expected shells, and did not wake till ten to-day to realize we were not killed. About eleven breakfast was furnished. Now we are waiting till the rest of our things are dried to start on our last day of travel by water.
Sunday, July 20.—A little way down the Yazoo on Friday we ran into McNutt's Lake, thence into Chickasaw Bayou, and at dark landed at Mrs. C.'s farm, the nearest neighbors of H.'s uncle. The house was full of Confederate sick, friends from Vicksburg, and while we ate supper all present poured out the story of the shelling and all that was to be done at Vicksburg. Then our stuff was taken from the boat, and we finally abandoned the stanch little craft that had carried us for over one hundred and twenty-five miles in a trip occupying nine days. The luggage in a wagon, and ourselves packed in a buggy, were driven for four or five miles, over the roughest road I ever traveled, to the farm of Mr. B., H.'s uncle, where we arrived at midnight and hastened to hide in bed the utter exhaustion of mind and body. Yesterday we were too tired to think, or to do anything but eat peaches.
WILD TIMES IN MISSISSIPPI
This morning there was a most painful scene. Annie's father came into Vicksburg, ten miles from here, and learned of our arrival from Mrs. C.'s messenger. He sent out a carriage to bring Annie and Max to town that they might go home with him, and with it came a letter for me from friends on the Jackson Railroad, written many weeks before. They had heard that our village home was under water, and invited us to visit them. The letter had been sent to Annie's people to forward, and thus had reached us. This decided H., as the place was near New Orleans, to go there and wait the chance of getting into that city. Max, when he heard this from H., lost all self-control and cried like a baby. He stalked about the garden in the most tragic manner, exclaiming:
"Oh! my soul's brother from youth up is a traitor! A traitor to his country!"
Then H. got angry and said, "Max, don't be a fool."
"Who has done this?" bawled Max. "You felt with the South at first; who has changed you?"
"Of course I feel for the South now, and nobody has changed me but the logic of events, though the twenty-negro law has intensified my opinions. I can't see why I, who have no slaves, must go to fight for them, while every man who has twenty may stay at home."
I also tried to reason with Max and pour oil on his wound. "Max, what interest has a man like you, without slaves, in a war for slavery? Even if you had them, they would not be your best property. That lies in your country and its resources. Nearly all the world has given up slavery; why can't the South do the same and end the struggle. It has shown you what the South needs, and if all went to work with united hands the South would soon be the greatest country on earth. You have no right to call H. a traitor; it is we who are the true patriots and lovers of the South."
This had to come, but it has upset us both. H. is deeply attached to Max, and I can't bear to see a cloud between them. Max, with Annie and Reeney, drove off an hour ago, Annie so glad at the prospect of again seeing her mother that nothing could cloud her day. And so the close companionship of six months, and of dangers, trials, and pleasures shared together, is over.
Oak Ridge, July 26, Saturday.—It was not till Wednesday that H. could get into Vicksburg, ten miles distant, for a passport, without which we could not go on the cars. We started Thursday morning. I had to ride seven miles on a hard-trotting horse to the nearest station. The day was burning at white heat. When the station was reached my hair was down, my hat on my neck, and my feelings were indescribable.
On the train one seemed to be right in the stream of war, among officers, soldiers, sick men and cripples, adieus, tears, laughter, constant chatter, and, strangest of all, sentinels posted at the locked car doors demanding passports. There was no train south from Jackson that day, so we put up at the Bowman House. The excitement was indescribable. All the world appeared to be traveling through Jackson. People were besieging the two hotels, offering enormous prices for the privilege of sleeping anywhere under a roof. There were many refugees from New Orleans, among them some acquaintances of mine. The peculiar styles of [women's] dress necessitated by the exigencies of war gave the crowd a very striking appearance. In single suits I saw sleeves of one color, the waist of another, the skirt of another; scarlet jackets and gray skirts; black waists and blue skirts; black skirts and gray waists; the trimming chiefly gold braid and buttons, to give a military air. The gray and gold uniforms of the officers, glittering between, made up a carnival of color. Every moment we saw strange meetings and partings of people from all over the South. Conditions of time, space, locality, and estate were all loosened; everybody seemed floating he knew not whither, but determined to be jolly, and keep up an excitement. At supper we had tough steak, heavy, dirty-looking bread, Confederate coffee. The coffee was made of either parched rye or corn-meal, or of sweet potatoes cut in small cubes and roasted. This was the favorite. When flavored with "coffee essence," sweetened with sorghum, and tinctured with chalky milk, it made a curious beverage which, after tasting, I preferred not to drink. Every one else was drinking it, and an acquaintance said, "Oh, you'll get bravely over that. I used to be a Jewess about pork, but now we just kill a hog and eat it, and kill another and do the same. It's all we have."
Friday morning we took the down train for the station near my friend's house. At every station we had to go through the examination of passes, as if in a foreign country.
The conscript camp was at Brookhaven, and every man had been ordered to report there or to be treated as a deserter. At every station I shivered mentally, expecting H. to be dragged off. Brookhaven was also the station for dinner. I choked mine down, feeling the sword hanging over me by a single hair. At sunset we reached our station. The landlady was pouring tea when we took our seats, and I expected a treat, but when I tasted it was sassafras tea, the very odor of which sickens me. There was a general surprise when I asked to exchange it for a glass of water; every one was drinking it as if it were nectar. This morning we drove out here.
My friend's little nest is calm in contrast to the tumult not far off. Yet the trials of war are here too. Having no matches, they keep fire, carefully covering it at night, for Mr. G. has no powder, and cannot flash the gun into combustibles as some do. One day they had to go with the children to the village, and the servant let the fire go out. When they returned at nightfall, wet and hungry, there was neither fire nor food. Mr. G. had to saddle the tired mule and ride three miles for a pan of coals, and blow them, all the way back, to keep them alight. Crockery has gradually been broken and tin cups rusted out, and a visitor told me they had made tumblers out of clear glass bottles by cutting them smooth with a heated wire, and that they had nothing else to drink from.
Aug. 11.—We cannot get to New Orleans. A special passport must be shown, and we are told that to apply for it would render H. very likely to be conscripted. I begged him not to try; and as we hear that active hostilities have ceased at Vicksburg, he left me this morning to return to his uncle's and see what the prospects are there. I shall be in misery about conscription till he returns.
Sunday, Sept. 7. (Vicksburg, Washington Hotel.)—H. did not return for three weeks. An epidemic disease broke out in his uncle's family and two children died. He stayed to assist them in their trouble. Tuesday evening he returned for me, and we reached Vicksburg yesterday. It was my first sight of the "Gibraltar of the South." Looking at it from a slight elevation suggests the idea that the fragments left from world-building had tumbled into a confused mass of hills, hollows, hillocks, banks, ditches, and ravines, and that the houses had rained down afterward. Over all there was dust impossible to conceive. The bombardment has done little injury. People have returned and resumed business. A gentleman asked H. if he knew of a nice girl for sale. I asked if he did not think it impolitic to buy slaves now.
"Oh, not young ones. Old ones might run off when the enemy's lines approach ours, but with young ones there is no danger."
We had not been many hours in town before a position was offered to H. which seemed providential. The chief of a certain department was in ill health and wanted a deputy. It secures him from conscription, requires no oath, and pays a good salary. A mountain seemed lifted off my heart.
Thursday, Sept. 18. (Thanksgiving Day.)—We stayed three days at the Washington Hotel; then a friend of H.'s called and told him to come to his house till he could find a home. Boarding-houses have all been broken up, and the army has occupied the few houses that were for rent. To-day H. secured a vacant room for two weeks in the only boarding-house.
Oak Haven, Oct. 3.—To get a house in V. proved impossible, so we agreed to part for a time till H. could find one. A friend recommended this quiet farm, six miles from —— [a station on the Jackson Railroad]. On last Saturday H. came with me as far as Jackson and put me on the other train for the station.
On my way hither a lady, whom I judged to be a Confederate "blockade-runner," told me of the tricks resorted to to get things out of New Orleans, including this: A very large doll was emptied of its bran, filled with quinine, and elaborately dressed. When the owner's trunk was opened, she declared with tears that the doll was for a poor crippled girl, and it was passed.
This farm of Mr. W.'s is kept with about forty negroes. Mr. W., nearly sixty, is the only white man on it. He seems to have been wiser in the beginning than most others, and curtailed his cotton to make room for rye, rice, and corn. There is a large vegetable-garden and orchard; he has bought plenty of stock for beef and mutton, and laid in a large supply of sugar. He must also have plenty of ammunition, for a man is kept hunting and supplies the table with delicious wild turkeys and other game. There is abundance of milk and butter, hives for honey, and no end of pigs. Chickens seem to be kept like game in parks, for I never see any, but the hunter shoots them, and eggs are plentiful. We have chicken for breakfast, dinner, and supper, fried, stewed, broiled, and in soup, and there is a family of ten. Luckily I never tire of it. They make starch out of corn-meal by washing the meal repeatedly, pouring off the water, and drying the sediment. Truly the uses of corn in the Confederacy are varied. It makes coffee, beer, whisky, starch, cake, bread. The only privations here are the lack of coffee, tea, salt, matches, and good candles. Mr. W. is now having the dirt floor of his smoke-house dug up and boiling from it the salt that has dripped into it for years. To-day Mrs. W. made tea out of dried blackberry leaves, but no one liked it. The beds, made out of equal parts of cotton and corn-shucks, are the most elastic I ever slept in. The servants are dressed in gray homespun. Hester, the chambermaid, has a gray gown so pretty that I covet one like it. Mrs. W. is now arranging dyes for the thread to be woven into dresses for herself and the girls. Sometimes her hands are a curiosity.
[Footnote 2: On this plantation, and in this domestic circle, I myself afterward sojourned, and from them enlisted in the army. The initials are fictitious, but the description is perfect.—G.W.C.]
The school at the nearest town is broken up, and Mrs. W. says the children are growing up heathens. Mr. W. has offered me a liberal price to give the children lessons in English and French, and I have accepted transiently.
Oct. 28.—It is a month to-day since I came here. I only wish H. could share these benefits—the nourishing food, the pure aromatic air, the sound sleep away from the fevered life of Vicksburg. He sends me all the papers he can get hold of, and we both watch carefully the movements reported lest an army should get between us. The days are full of useful work, and in the lovely afternoons I take long walks with a big dog for company. The girls do not care for walking. In the evening Mr. W. begs me to read aloud all the war news. He is fond of the "Memphis Appeal," which has moved from town to town so much that they call it the "Moving Appeal." I sit in a low chair by the fire, as we have no other light to read by. Sometimes traveling soldiers stop here, but that is rare.
Oct. 31.—Mr. W. said last night the farmers felt uneasy about the "Emancipation Proclamation" to take effect in December. The slaves have found it out, though it had been carefully kept from them.
"Do yours know it?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. Finding it to be known elsewhere, I told it to mine with fair warning what to expect if they tried to run away. The hounds are not far off."
The need of clothing for their armies is worrying them too. I never saw Mrs. W. so excited as on last evening. She said the provost-marshal at the next town had ordered the women to knit so many pairs of socks.
"Just let him try to enforce it and they will cowhide him. He'll get none from me. I'll take care of my friends without an order from him."
"Well," said Mr. W., "if the South is defeated and the slaves set free, the Southern people will all become atheists; for the Bible justifies slavery and says it shall be perpetual."
"You mean, if the Lord does not agree with you, you'll repudiate him."
"Well, we'll feel it's no use to believe in anything."
At night the large sitting-room makes a striking picture. Mr. W., spare, erect, gray-headed, patriarchal, sits in his big chair by the odorous fire of pine logs and knots roaring up the vast fireplace. His driver brings to him the report of the day's picking and a basket of snowy cotton for the spinning. The hunter brings in the game. I sit on the other side to read. The great spinning-wheels stand at the other end of the room, and Mrs. W. and her black satellites, the elderly women with their heads in bright bandanas, are hard at work. Slender and auburn-haired, she steps back and forth out of shadow into shine following the thread with graceful movements. Some card the cotton, some reel it into hanks. Over all the firelight glances, now touching the golden curls of little John toddling about, now the brown heads of the girls stooping over their books, now the shadowy figure of little Jule, the girl whose duty it is to supply the fire with rich pine to keep up the vivid light. If they would only let the child sit down! But that is not allowed, and she gets sleepy and stumbles and knocks her head against the wall and then straightens up again. When that happens often it drives me off. Sometimes while I read the bright room fades and a vision rises of figures clad in gray and blue lying pale and stiff on the blood-sprinkled ground.
Nov. 15.—Yesterday a letter was handed me from H. Grant's army was moving, he wrote, steadily down the Mississippi Central, and might cut the road at Jackson. He has a house and will meet me in Jackson to-morrow.
Nov. 20. (Vicksburg.)—A fair morning for my journey back to Vicksburg. On the train was the gentleman who in New Orleans had told us we should have all the butter we wanted from Texas. On the cars, as elsewhere, the question of food alternated with news of the war.
When we ran into the Jackson station, H. was on the platform, and I gladly learned that we could go right on. A runaway negro, an old man, ashy-colored from fright and exhaustion, with his hands chained, was being dragged along by a common-looking man. Just as we started out of Jackson the conductor led in a young woman sobbing in a heartbroken manner. Her grief seemed so overpowering, and she was so young and helpless, that every one was interested. Her husband went into the army in the opening of the war, just after their marriage, and she had never heard from him since. After months of weary searching she learned he had been heard of at Jackson, and came full of hope, but found no clue. The sudden breaking down of her hope was terrible. The conductor placed her in care of a gentleman going her way and left her sobbing. At the next station the conductor came to ask her about her baggage. She raised her head to try and answer. "Don't cry so; you'll find him yet." She gave a start, jumped from her seat with arms flung out and eyes staring. "There he is now!" she cried. Her husband stood before her.
The gentleman beside her yielded his seat, and as hand grasped hand a hysterical gurgle gave place to a look like Heaven's peace. The low murmur of their talk began and when I looked around at the next station they had bought pies and were eating them together like happy children.
Midway between Jackson and Vicksburg we reached the station near where Annie's parents were staying. I looked out, and there stood Annie with a little sister on each side of her, brightly smiling at us. Max had written to H., but we had not seen them since our parting. There was only time for a word and the train flashed away.
We reached Vicksburg that night and went to H.'s room. Next morning the cook he had engaged arrived, and we moved into this house. Martha's ignorance keeps me busy, and H. is kept close at his office.
January 7, 1863.—I have had little to record here recently, for we have lived to ourselves, not visiting or visited. Every one H. knows is absent, and I know no one but the family we stayed with at first, and they are now absent. H. tells me of the added triumph since the repulse of Sherman in December, and the one paper published here shouts victory as much as its gradually diminishing size will allow. Paper is a serious want. There is a great demand for envelops in the office where H. is. He found and bought a lot of thick and smooth colored paper, cut a tin pattern, and we have whiled away some long evenings cutting envelops and making them up. I have put away a package of the best to look at when we are old. The books I brought from Arkansas have proved a treasure, but we can get no more. I went to the only book-store open; there were none but Mrs. Stowe's "Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands." The clerk said I could have that cheap, because he couldn't sell her books, so I got it and am reading it now. The monotony has only been broken by letters from friends here and there in the Confederacy. One of these letters tells of a Federal raid to their place, and says: "But the worst thing was, they would take every toothbrush in the house, because we can't buy any more; and one cavalryman put my sister's new bonnet on his horse, and said, 'Get up, Jack,' and her bonnet was gone."
February 25.—A long gap in my journal, because H. has been ill unto death with typhoid fever, and I nearly broke down from loss of sleep, there being no one to relieve me. I never understood before how terrible it was to be alone at night with a patient in delirium, and no one within call. To wake Martha was simply impossible. I got the best doctor here, but when convalescence began the question of food was a trial. I got with great difficulty two chickens. The doctor made the drug-store sell two of their six bottles of port; he said his patient's life depended on it. An egg is a rare and precious thing. Meanwhile the Federal fleet has been gathering, has anchored at the bend, and shells are thrown in at intervals.
March 20.—The slow shelling of Vicksburg goes on all the time, and we have grown indifferent. It does not at present interrupt or interfere with daily avocations, but I suspect they are only getting the range of different points; and when they have them all complete, showers of shot will rain on us all at once. Non-combatants have been ordered to leave or prepare accordingly. Those who are to stay are having caves built. Cave-digging has become a regular business; prices range from twenty to fifty dollars, according to size of cave. Two diggers worked at ours a week and charged thirty dollars. It is well made in the hill that slopes just in the rear of the house, and well propped with thick posts, as they all are. It has a shelf also, for holding a light or water. When we went in this evening and sat down, the earthy, suffocating feeling, as of a living tomb, was dreadful to me. I fear I shall risk death outside rather than melt in that dark furnace. The hills are so honeycombed with caves that the streets look like avenues in a cemetery. The hill called the Sky-parlor has become quite a fashionable resort for the few upper-circle families left here. Some officers are quartered there, and there is a band and a field-glass. Last evening we also climbed the hill to watch the shelling, but found the view not so good as on a quiet hill nearer home. Soon a lady began to talk to one of the officers: "It is such folly for them to waste their ammunition like that. How can they ever take a town that has such advantages for defense and protection as this? We'll just burrow into these hills and let them batter away as hard as they please."