A MAGAZINE OF
Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
124 TREMONT STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, & CO.,
Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the article.
Aunt Judy J. W. Palmer 76
Borneo and Rajah Brooke G. Reynolds 667 Bundle of Bones, A Charles J. Sprague 60
Case of George Dedlow, The 1 Childhood; a Study F. B. Perkins 385 Chimney Corner for 1866, The, VII., VIII., IX. Mrs. H. B. Stowe 85, 197, 338
Darwinian Theory, The Charles J. Sprague 415 Distinguished Character, A 315
Englishman in Normandy, An Goldwin Smith 64
Fall of Austria, The C. C. Hazewell 746 Farmer Hill's Diary Mrs. A. M. Diaz 397 Five Hundred Years Ago J. H. A. Bone 545 Friedrich Rueckert Bayard Taylor 33
Great Doctor, The, I., II. Alice Cary 12, 174 Griffith Gaunt; or, Jealousy. VIII., IX., X., XI., XII. Charles Reade 94, 204, 323, 492, 606 Gurowski Robert Carter 625
How my New Acquaintances Spin Dr. B. G. Wilder 129
Incidents of the Portland Fire 356 Indian Medicine John Mason Browne 113 Invalidism Miss C. P. Hawes 599 Italian Rain-Storm, An Mary Cowden Clarke 356
Johnson Party, The E. P. Whipple 374
Katharine Morne. I., II. Author of "Herman" 559, 697
Life Assurance 308 London Forty Years Ago John Neal 224
Maniac's Confession, A 170 My Heathen at Home J. W. Palmer 728 My Little Boy Mrs. M. L. Moody 361
Norman Conquest, The C. C. Hazewell 461 Novels of George Eliot, The Henry James, Jr. 479
Passages from Hawthorne's Note-Books. VII., VIII., IX., X., XI, XII. 40, 189, 288, 450, 536, 682 Physical History of the Valley of the Amazons. I., II. Louis Agassiz 49, 159 Pierpont, John John Neal 650 President and his Accomplices, The E. P. Whipple 634 Progress of Prussia, The C. C. Hazewell 578
Reconstruction Frederick Douglass 761 Retreat from Lenoir's, and the Siege of Knoxville. H. S. Burrage 21 Rhoda Ruth Harper 521
Scarabaei ed Altri W. J. Stillman 435 Singing-School Romance, The H. H. Weld 740 Surgeon's Assistant, The Caroline Chesebro 257
Through Broadway H. T. Tuckerman 717
University Reform F. H. Hedge 296 Usurpation, The George S. Boutwell 506
Various Aspects of the Woman Question F. Sheldon 425
What did she see with? Miss E. Stuart Phelps 146 Woman's Work in the Middle Ages Mrs. R. C. Waterston 274
Year in Montana, A Edward B. Nealley 236 Yesterday Mrs. H. Prescott Spofford 367
Autumn Song Forceythe Willson 746
Bobolinks, The C. P. Cranch 321
Death of Slavery, The W. C. Bryant 120
Friend, A C. P. Cranch 739
Her Pilgrimage H. B. Sargent 396
Late Champlain H. T. Tuckerman 365
Miantowona T. B. Aldrich 446 Miner, The James Russell Lowell 158 My Farm: a Fable Bayard Taylor 187 My Garden R. W. Emerson 665
On Translating the Divina Commedia H. W. Longfellow 11, 273, 544
Protoneiron H. B. Sargent 576
Released Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney 32
Song Sparrow, The A. West 599 Sword of Bolivar, The J. T. Trowbridge 713
To J. B. J. R. Lowell 47
Voice, The Forceythe Willson 307
Marshall's Portrait of Abraham Lincoln 643
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Aldrich's Poems 250 American Annual Cyclopaedia, The 646
Bancroft's History of the United States 765 Barry Cornwall's Memoir of Charles Lamb 771 Beecher's Royal Truths 645 Browne's American Family in Germany 771
Carpenter's Six Months at the White House 644
Ecce Homo 122 Eichendorff's Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing 256 Eros, etc. 255 Evangeline, Maud Muller, Vision of Sir Launfal, and Flower-de-Luce, Illustrated 770
Field's History of the Atlantic Telegraph 647 Fifteen Days 128 Fisher's Life of Benjamin Silliman 126
Gilmore's Four Years in the Saddle 382
Harrington's Inside: a Chronicle of Secession 645
Laugel's United States during the War, and Goldwin Smith's Address on the Civil War in America 252
Marcy's Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border 255 Miss Ildrewe's Language of Flowers 646 Moens's English Travellers and Italian Brigands, and Abbott's Prison Life in the South 518
Porter's Giant Cities of Bashan, and Syria's Holy Places 125
Reade's Griffith Gaunt 767 Reed's Hospital Life in the Army of the Potomac 253
Saxe's Masquerade and other Poems 123 Simpson's History of the Gypsies 254
Wheaton's Elements of International Law 513 Whipple's Character and Characteristic Men 772 Wilkie Collins's Armadale 381
RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS 383, 648
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XVIII—JULY, 1866.—NO. CV.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
THE CASE OF GEORGE DEDLOW.
The following notes of my own case have been declined on various pretexts by every medical journal to which I have offered them. There was, perhaps, some reason in this, because many of the medical facts which they record are not altogether new, and because the psychical deductions to which they have led me are not in themselves of medical interest. I ought to add, that a good deal of what is here related is not of any scientific value whatsoever; but as one or two people on whose judgment I rely have advised me to print my narrative with all the personal details, rather than in the dry shape in which, as a psychological statement, I shall publish it elsewhere, I have yielded to their views. I suspect, however, that the very character of my record will, in the eyes of some of my readers, tend to lessen the value of the metaphysical discoveries which it sets forth.
* * * * *
I am the son of a physician, still in large practice, in the village of Abington, Scofield County, Indiana. Expecting to act as his future partner, I studied medicine in his office, and in 1859 and 1860 attended lectures at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. My second course should have been in the following year, but the outbreak of the Rebellion so crippled my father's means that I was forced to abandon my intention. The demand for army surgeons at this time became very great; and although not a graduate, I found no difficulty in getting the place of Assistant-Surgeon to the Tenth Indiana Volunteers. In the subsequent Western campaigns this organization suffered so severely, that, before the term of its service was over, it was merged in the Twenty-First Indiana Volunteers; and I, as an extra surgeon, ranked by the medical officers of the latter regiment, was transferred to the Fifteenth Indiana Cavalry. Like many physicians, I had contracted a strong taste for army life, and, disliking cavalry service, sought and obtained the position of First-Lieutenant in the Seventy-Ninth Indiana Volunteers,—an infantry regiment of excellent character.
On the day after I assumed command of my company, which had no captain, we were sent to garrison a part of a line of block-houses stretching along the Cumberland River below Nashville, then occupied by a portion of the command of General Rosecrans.
The life we led while on this duty was tedious, and at the same time dangerous in the extreme. Food was scarce and bad, the water horrible, and we had no cavalry to forage for us. If, as infantry, we attempted to levy supplies upon the scattered farms around us, the population seemed suddenly to double, and in the shape of guerillas "potted" us industriously from behind distant trees, rocks, or hasty earthworks. Under these various and unpleasant influences, combined with a fair infusion of malaria, our men rapidly lost health and spirits. Unfortunately, no proper medical supplies had been forwarded with our small force (two companies), and, as the fall advanced, the want of quinine and stimulants became a serious annoyance. Moreover, our rations were running low; we had been three weeks without a new supply; and our commanding officer, Major Terrill, began to be uneasy as to the safety of his men. About this time it was supposed that a train with rations would be due from the post twenty miles to the north of us; yet it was quite possible that it would bring us food, but no medicines, which were what we most needed. The command was too small to detach any part of it, and the Major therefore resolved to send an officer alone to the post above us, where the rest of the Seventy-Ninth lay, and whence they could easily forward quinine and stimulants by the train, if it had not left, or, if it had, by a small cavalry escort.
It so happened, to my cost, as it turned out, that I was the only officer fit to make the journey, and I was accordingly ordered to proceed to Block House No. 3, and make the required arrangements. I started alone just after dusk the next night, and during the darkness succeeded in getting within three miles of my destination. At this time I found that I had lost my way, and, although aware of the danger of my act, was forced to turn aside and ask at a log-cabin for directions. The house contained a dried-up old woman, and four white-headed, half-naked children. The woman was either stone-deaf, or pretended to be so; but at all events she gave me no satisfaction, and I remounted and rode away. On coming to the end of a lane, into which I had turned to seek the cabin, I found to my surprise that the bars had been put up during my brief parley. They were too high to leap, and I therefore dismounted to pull them down. As I touched the top rail, I heard a rifle, and at the same instant felt a blow on both arms, which fell helpless. I staggered to my horse and tried to mount; but, as I could use neither arm, the effort was vain, and I therefore stood still, awaiting my fate. I am only conscious that I saw about me several Graybacks, for I must have fallen fainting almost immediately.
When I awoke, I was lying in the cabin near by, upon a pile of rubbish. Ten or twelve guerillas were gathered about the fire, apparently drawing lots for my watch, boots, hat, etc. I now made an effort to find out how far I was hurt. I discovered that I could use the left forearm and hand pretty well, and with this hand I felt the right limb all over until I touched the wound. The ball had passed from left to right through the left biceps, and directly through the right arm just below the shoulder, emerging behind. The right hand and forearm were cold and perfectly insensible. I pinched them as well as I could, to test the amount of sensation remaining; but the hand might as well have been that of a dead man. I began to understand that the nerves had been wounded, and that the part was utterly powerless. By this time my friends had pretty well divided the spoils, and, rising together, went out. The old woman then came to me and said, "Reckon you'd best git up. Theyuns is agoin' to take you away." To this I only answered, "Water, water." I had a grim sense of amusement on finding that the old woman was not deaf, for she went out, and presently came back with a gourdful, which I eagerly drank. An hour later the Graybacks returned, and, finding that I was too weak to walk, carried me out, and laid me on the bottom of a common cart, with which they set off on a trot. The jolting was horrible, but within an hour I began to have in my dead right hand a strange burning, which was rather a relief to me. It increased as the sun rose and the day grew warm, until I felt as if the hand was caught and pinched in a red-hot vice. Then in my agony I begged my guard for water to wet it with, but for some reason they desired silence, and at every noise threatened me with a revolver. At length the pain became absolutely unendurable, and I grew what it is the fashion to call demoralized. I screamed, cried, and yelled in my torture, until, as I suppose, my captors became alarmed, and, stopping, gave me a handkerchief,—my own, I fancy,—and a canteen of water, with which I wetted the hand, to my unspeakable relief.
It is unnecessary to detail the events by which, finally, I found myself in one of the Rebel hospitals near Atlanta. Here, for the first time, my wounds were properly cleansed and dressed by a Dr. Oliver Wilson, who treated me throughout with great kindness. I told him I had been a doctor; which, perhaps, may have been in part the cause of the unusual tenderness with which I was managed. The left arm was now quite easy; although, as will be seen, it never entirely healed. The right arm was worse than ever,—the humerus broken, the nerves wounded, and the hand only alive to pain. I use this phrase because it is connected in my mind with a visit from a local visitor,—I am not sure he was a preacher,—who used to go daily through the wards, and talk to us, or write our letters. One morning he stopped at my bed, when this little talk occurred.
"How are you, Lieutenant?"
"O," said I, "as usual. All right, but this hand, which is dead except to pain."
"Ah," said he, "such and thus will the wicked be,—such will you be if you die in your sins: you will go where only pain can be felt. For all eternity, all of you will be as that hand,—knowing pain only."
I suppose I was very weak, but somehow I felt a sudden and chilling horror of possible universal pain, and suddenly fainted. When I awoke, the hand was worse, if that could be. It was red, shining, aching, burning, and, as it seemed to me, perpetually rasped with hot files. When the doctor came, I begged for morphia. He said gravely: "We have none. You know you don't allow it to pass the lines."
I turned to the wall, and wetted the hand again, my sole relief. In about an hour, Dr. Wilson came back with two aids, and explained to me that the bone was so broken as to make it hopeless to save it, and that, besides, amputation offered some chance of arresting the pain. I had thought of this before, but the anguish I felt—I cannot say endured—was so awful, that I made no more of losing the limb than of parting with a tooth on account of toothache. Accordingly, brief preparations were made, which I watched with a sort of eagerness such as must forever be inexplicable to any one who has not passed six weeks of torture like that which I had suffered.
I had but one pang before the operation. As I arranged myself on the left side, so as to make it convenient for the operator to use the knife, I asked: "Who is to give me the ether?" "We have none," said the person questioned. I set my teeth, and said no more.
I need not describe the operation. The pain felt was severe; but it was insignificant as compared to that of any other minute of the past six weeks. The limb was removed very near to the shoulder-joint. As the second incision was made, I felt a strange lightning of pain play through the limb, defining every minutest fibril of nerve. This was followed by instant, unspeakable relief, and before the flaps were brought together I was sound asleep. I have only a recollection that I said, pointing to the arm which lay on the floor: "There is the pain, and here am I. How queer!" Then I slept,—slept the sleep of the just, or, better, of the painless. From this time forward, I was free from neuralgia; but at a subsequent period I saw a number of cases similar to mine in a hospital in Philadelphia.
It is no part of my plan to detail my weary months of monotonous prison life in the South. In the early part of August, 1863, I was exchanged, and, after the usual thirty days' furlough, returned to my regiment a captain.
On the 19th of September, 1863, occurred the battle of Chickamauga, in which my regiment took a conspicuous part. The close of our own share in this contest is, as it were, burnt into my memory with every least detail. It was about six P. M., when we found ourselves in line, under cover of a long, thin row of scrubby trees, beyond which lay a gentle slope, from which, again, rose a hill rather more abrupt, and crowned with an earthwork. We received orders to cross this space, and take the fort in front, while a brigade on our right was to make a like movement on its flank.
Just before we emerged into the open ground, we noticed what, I think, was common in many fights,—that the enemy had begun to bowl round-shot at us, probably from failure of shell. We passed across the valley in good order, although the men fell rapidly all along the line. As we climbed the hill, our pace slackened, and the fire grew heavier. At this moment a battery opened on our left,—the shots crossing our heads obliquely. It is this moment which is so printed on my recollection. I can see now, as if through a window, the gray smoke, lit with red flashes,—the long, wavering line,—the sky blue above,—the trodden furrows, blotted with blue blouses. Then it was as if the window closed, and I knew and saw no more. No other scene in my life is thus scarred, if I may say so, into my memory. I have a fancy that the horrible shock which suddenly fell upon me must have had something to do with thus intensifying the momentary image then before my eyes.
When I awakened, I was lying under a tree somewhere at the rear. The ground was covered with wounded, and the doctors were busy at an operating-table, improvised from two barrels and a plank. At length two of them who were examining the wounded about me came up to where I lay. A hospital steward raised my head, and poured down some brandy and water, while another cut loose my pantaloons. The doctors exchanged looks, and walked away. I asked the steward where I was hit.
"Both thighs," said he; "the Doc's won't do nothing."
"No use?" said I.
"Not much," said he.
"Not much means none at all," I answered.
When he had gone, I set myself to thinking about a good many things which I had better have thought of before, but which in no way concern the history of my case. A half-hour went by. I had no pain, and did not get weaker. At last, I cannot explain why, I began to look about me. At first, things appeared a little hazy; but I remember one which thrilled me a little, even then.
A tall, blond-bearded major walked up to a doctor near me, saying, "When you've a little leisure, just take a look at my side."
"Do it now," said the doctor.
The officer exposed his left hip. "Ball went in here, and out here."
The Doctor looked up at him with a curious air,—half pity, half amazement. "If you've got any message, you'd best send it by me."
"Why, you don't say its serious?" was the reply.
"Serious! Why, you're shot through the stomach. You won't live over the day."
Then the man did what struck me as a very odd thing. "Anybody got a pipe?" Some one gave him a pipe. He filled it deliberately, struck a light with a flint, and sat down against a tree near to me. Presently the doctor came over to him, and asked what he could do for him.
"Send me a drink of Bourbon."
As the doctor left him, he called him back. "It's a little rough, Doc, isn't it?"
No more passed, and I saw this man no longer, for another set of doctors were handling my legs, for the first time causing pain. A moment after, a steward put a towel over my mouth, and I smelt the familiar odor of chloroform, which I was glad enough to breathe. In a moment the trees began to move around from left to right,—then faster and faster; then a universal grayness came before me, and I recall nothing further until I awoke to consciousness in a hospital-tent. I got hold of my own identity in a moment or two, and was suddenly aware of a sharp cramp in my left leg. I tried to get at it to rub it with my single arm, but, finding myself too weak, hailed an attendant. "Just rub my left calf," said I, "if you please."
"Calf?" said he, "you ain't none, pardner. It's took off."
"I know better," said I. "I have pain in both legs."
"Wall, I never!" said he. "You ain't got nary leg."
As I did not believe him, he threw off the covers, and, to my horror, showed me that I had suffered amputation of both thighs, very high up.
"That will do," said I, faintly.
A month later, to the amazement of every one, I was so well as to be moved from the crowded hospital at Chattanooga to Nashville, where I filled one of the ten thousand beds of that vast metropolis of hospitals. Of the sufferings which then began I shall presently speak. It will be best just now to detail the final misfortune which here fell upon me. Hospital No. 2, in which I lay, was inconveniently crowded with severely wounded officers. After my third week, an epidemic of hospital gangrene broke out in my ward. In three days it attacked twenty persons. Then an inspector came out, and we were transferred at once to the open air, and placed in tents. Strangely enough, the wound in my remaining arm, which still suppurated, was seized with gangrene. The usual remedy, bromine, was used locally, but the main artery opened, was tied, bled again and again, and at last, as a final resort, the remaining arm was amputated at the shoulder-joint. Against all chances I recovered, to find myself a useless torso, more like some strange larval creature than anything of human shape. Of my anguish and horror of myself I dare not speak. I have dictated these pages, not to shock my readers, but to possess them with facts in regard to the relation of the mind to the body; and I hasten, therefore, to such portions of my case as best illustrate these views.
In January, 1864, I was forwarded to Philadelphia, in order to enter what was then known as the Stump Hospital, South Street. This favor was obtained through the influence of my father's friend, the late Governor Anderson, who has always manifested an interest in my case, for which I am deeply grateful. It was thought, at the time, that Mr. Palmer, the leg-maker, might be able to adapt some form of arm to my left shoulder, as on that side there remained five inches of the arm bone, which I could move to a moderate extent. The hope proved illusory, as the stump was always too tender to bear any pressure. The hospital referred to was in charge of several surgeons while I was an inmate, and was at all times a clean and pleasant home. It was filled with men who had lost one arm or leg, or one of each, as happened now and then. I saw one man who had lost both legs, and one who had parted with both arms; but none, like myself, stripped of every limb. There were collected in this place hundreds of these cases, which gave to it, with reason enough, the not very pleasing title of Stump-Hospital.
I spent here three and a half months, before my transfer to the United States Army Hospital for nervous diseases. Every morning I was carried out in an arm-chair, and placed in the library, where some one was always ready to write or read for me, or to fill my pipe. The doctors lent me medical books; the ladies brought me luxuries, and fed me; and, save that I was helpless to a degree which was humiliating, I was as comfortable as kindness could make me.
I amused myself, at this time, by noting in my mind all that I could learn from other limbless folk, and from myself, as to the peculiar feelings which were noticed in regard to lost members. I found that the great mass of men who had undergone amputations, for many months felt the usual consciousness that they still had the lost limb. It itched or pained, or was cramped, but never felt hot or cold. If they had painful sensations referred to it, the conviction of its existence continued unaltered for long periods; but where no pain was felt in it, then, by degrees, the sense of having that limb faded away entirely. I think we may to some extent explain this. The knowledge we possess of any part is made up of the numberless impressions from without which affect its sensitive surfaces, and which are transmitted through its nerves to the spinal nerve-cells, and through them, again, to the brain. We are thus kept endlessly informed as to the existence of parts, because the impressions which reach the brain are, by a law of our being, referred by us to the part from which they came. Now, when the part is cut off, the nerve-trunks which led to it and from it, remaining capable of being impressed by irritations, are made to convey to the brain from the stump impressions which are as usual referred by the brain to the lost parts, to which these nerve-threads belonged. In other words, the nerve is like a bell-wire. You may pull it at any part of its course, and thus ring the bell as well as if you pulled at the end of the wire; but, in any case, the intelligent servant will refer the pull to the front door, and obey it accordingly. The impressions made on the cut ends of the nerve, or on its sides, are due often to the changes in the stump during healing, and consequently cease as it heals, so that finally, in a very healthy stump, no such impressions arise; the brain ceases to correspond with the lost leg, and, as les absents ont toujours tort, it is no longer remembered or recognized. But in some cases, such as mine proved at last to my sorrow, the ends of the nerves undergo a curious alteration, and get to be enlarged and altered. This change, as I have seen in my practice of medicine, passes up the nerves towards the centres, and occasions a more or less constant irritation of the nerve-fibres, producing neuralgia, which is usually referred to that part of the lost limb to which the affected nerve belongs. This pain keeps the brain ever mindful of the missing part, and, imperfectly at least, preserves to the man a consciousness of possessing that which he has not.
Where the pains come and go, as they do in certain cases, the subjective sensations thus occasioned are very curious, since in such cases the man loses and gains, and loses and regains, the consciousness of the presence of lost parts, so that he will tell you, "Now I feel my thumb,—now I feel my little finger." I should also add, that nearly every person who has lost an arm above the elbow feels as though the lost member were bent at the elbow, and at times is vividly impressed with the notion that his fingers are strongly flexed.
Another set of cases present a peculiarity which I am at a loss to account for. Where the leg, for instance, has been lost, they feel as if the foot was present, but as though the leg were shortened. If the thigh has been taken off, there seems to them to be a foot at the knee; if the arm, a hand seems to be at the elbow, or attached to the stump itself.
As I have said, I was next sent to the United States Army Hospital for Injuries and Diseases of the Nervous System. Before leaving Nashville, I had begun to suffer the most acute pain in my left hand, especially the little finger; and so perfect was the idea which was thus kept up of the real presence of these missing parts, that I found it hard at times to believe them absent. Often, at night, I would try with one lost hand to grope for the other. As, however, I had no pain in the right arm, the sense of the existence of that limb gradually disappeared, as did that of my legs also.
Everything was done for my neuralgia which the doctors could think of; and at length, at my suggestion, I was removed to the above-named hospital. It was a pleasant, suburban, old-fashioned country-seat, its gardens surrounded by a circle of wooden, one-story wards, shaded by fine trees. There were some three hundred cases of epilepsy, paralysis, St. Vitus's dance, and wounds of nerves. On one side of me lay a poor fellow, a Dane, who had the same burning neuralgia with which I once suffered, and which I now learned was only too common. This man had become hysterical from pain. He carried a sponge in his pocket, and a bottle of water in one hand, with which he constantly wetted the burning hand. Every sound increased his torture, and he even poured water into his boots to keep himself from feeling too sensibly the rough friction of his soles when walking. Like him, I was greatly eased by having small doses of morphia injected under the skin of my shoulder, with a hollow needle, fitted to a syringe.
As I improved under the morphia treatment, I began to be disturbed by the horrible variety of suffering about me. One man walked sideways; there was one who could not smell; another was dumb from an explosion. In fact, every one had his own grotesquely painful peculiarity. Near me was a strange case of palsy of the muscles called rhomboids, whose office it is to hold down the shoulder-blades flat on the back during the motions of the arms, which, in themselves, were strong enough. When, however, he lifted these members, the shoulder-blades stood out from the back like wings, and got him the soubriquet of the Angel. In my ward were also the cases of fits, which very much annoyed me, as upon any great change in the weather it was common to have a dozen convulsions in view at once. Dr. Neek, one of our physicians, told me that on one occasion a hundred and fifty fits took place within thirty-six hours. On my complaining of these sights, whence I alone could not fly, I was placed in the paralytic and wound ward, which I found much more pleasant.
A month of skilful treatment eased me entirely of my aches, and I then began to experience certain curious feelings, upon which, having nothing to do and nothing to do anything with, I reflected a good deal. It was a good while before I could correctly explain to my own satisfaction the phenomena which at this time I was called upon to observe. By the various operations already described, I had lost about four fifths of my weight. As a consequence of this, I ate much less than usual, and could scarcely have consumed the ration of a soldier. I slept also but little; for, as sleep is the repose of the brain, made necessary by the waste of its tissues during thought and voluntary movement, and as this latter did not exist in my case, I needed only that rest which was necessary to repair such exhaustion of the nerve-centres as was induced by thinking and the automatic movements of the viscera.
I observed at this time also, that my heart, in place of beating as it once did seventy-eight in the minute, pulsated only forty-five times in this interval,—a fact to be easily explained by the perfect quiescence to which I was reduced, and the consequent absence of that healthy and constant stimulus to the muscles of the heart which exercise occasions.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, my physical health was good, which I confess surprised me, for this among other reasons. It is said that a burn of two thirds of the surface destroys life, because then all the excretory matters which this portion of the glands of the skin evolved are thrown upon the blood, and poison the man, just as happens in an animal whose skin the physiologist has varnished, so as in this way to destroy its function. Yet here was I, having lost at least a third of my skin, and apparently none the worse for it.
Still more remarkable, however, were the physical changes which I now began to perceive. I found to my horror that at times I was less conscious of myself, of my own existence, than used to be the case. This sensation was so novel, that at first it quite bewildered me. I felt like asking some one constantly if I were really George Dedlow or not; but, well aware how absurd I should seem after such a question, I refrained from speaking of my case, and strove more keenly to analyze my feelings. At times the conviction of my want of being myself was overwhelming, and most painful. It was, as well as I can describe it, a deficiency in the egoistic sentiment of individuality. About one half of the sensitive surface of my skin was gone, and thus much of relation to the outer world destroyed. As a consequence, a large part of the receptive central organs must be out of employ, and, like other idle things, degenerating rapidly. Moreover, all the great central ganglia, which give rise to movements in the limbs, were also eternally at rest. Thus one half of me was absent or functionally dead. This set me to thinking how much a man might lose and yet live. If I were unhappy enough to survive, I might part with my spleen at least, as many a dog has done, and grown fat afterwards. The other organs, with which we breathe and circulate the blood, would be essential; so also would the liver; but at least half of the intestines might be dispensed with, and of course all of the limbs. And as to the nervous system, the only parts really necessary to life are a few small ganglia. Were the rest absent or inactive, we should have a man reduced, as it were, to the lowest terms, and leading an almost vegetative existence. Would such a being, I asked myself, possess the sense of individuality in its usual completeness,—even if his organs of sensation remained, and he were capable of consciousness? Of course, without them, he could not have it any more than a dahlia, or a tulip. But with it—how then? I concluded that it would be at a minimum, and that, if utter loss of relation to the outer world were capable of destroying a man's consciousness of himself, the destruction of half of his sensitive surfaces might well occasion, in a less degree, a like result, and so diminish his sense of individual existence.
I thus reached the conclusion that a man is not his brain, or any one part of it, but all of his economy, and that to lose any part must lessen this sense of his own existence. I found but one person who properly appreciated this great truth. She was a New England lady, from Hartford,—an agent, I think, for some commission, perhaps the Sanitary. After I had told her my views and feelings, she said: "Yes, I comprehend. The fractional entities of vitality are embraced in the oneness of the unitary Ego. Life," she added, "is the garnered condensation of objective impressions; and, as the objective is the remote father of the subjective, so must individuality, which is but focused subjectivity, suffer and fade when the sensation lenses, by which the rays of impression are condensed, become destroyed." I am not quite clear that I fully understood her, but I think she appreciated my ideas, and I felt grateful for her kindly interest.
The strange want I have spoken of now haunted and perplexed me so constantly, that I became moody and wretched. While in this state, a man from a neighboring ward fell one morning into conversation with the chaplain, within earshot of my chair. Some of their words arrested my attention, and I turned my head to see and listen. The speaker, who wore a sergeant's chevron and carried one arm in a sling, was a tall, loosely made person, with a pale face, light eyes of a washed-out blue tint, and very sparse yellow whiskers. His mouth was weak, both lips being almost alike, so that the organ might have been turned upside down without affecting its expression. His forehead, however, was high and thinly covered with sandy hair. I should have said, as a phrenologist, Will feeble,—emotional, but not passionate,—likely to be enthusiast, or weakly bigot.
I caught enough of what passed to make me call to the sergeant when the chaplain left him.
"Good morning," said he. "How do you get on?"
"Not at all," I replied. "Where were you hit?"
"O, at Chancellorsville. I was shot in the shoulder. I have what the doctors call paralysis of the median nerve, but I guess Dr. Neek and the lightnin' battery will fix it in time. When my time's out I'll go back to Kearsage and try on the school-teaching again. I was a fool to leave it."
"Well," said I, "you're better off than I."
"Yes," he answered, "in more ways than one. I belong to the New Church. It's a great comfort for a plain man like me, when he's weary and sick, to be able to turn away from earthly things, and hold converse daily with the great and good who have left the world. We have a circle in Coates Street. If it wa'n't for the comfort I get there, I should have wished myself dead many a time. I ain't got kith or kin on earth; but this matters little, when one can talk to them daily, and know that they are in the spheres above us."
"It must be a great comfort," I replied, "if only one could believe it."
"Believe!" he repeated, "how can you help it? Do you suppose anything dies?"
"No," I said. "The soul does not, I am sure; and as to matter, it merely changes form."
"But why then," said he, "should not the dead soul talk to the living. In space, no doubt, exist all forms of matter, merely in finer, more ethereal being. You can't suppose a naked soul moving about without a bodily garment. No creed teaches that, and if its new clothing be of like substance to ours, only of ethereal fineness,—a more delicate recrystallization about the eternal spiritual nucleus,—must not it then possess powers as much more delicate and refined as is the new material in which it is reclad?"
"Not very clear," I answered; "but after all, the thing should be susceptible of some form of proof to our present senses."
"And so it is," said he. "Come to-morrow with me, and you shall see and hear for yourself."
"I will," said I, "if the doctor will lend me the ambulance."
It was so arranged, as the surgeon in charge was kind enough, as usual, to oblige me with the loan of his wagon, and two orderlies to lift my useless trunk.
On the day following, I found myself, with my new comrade, in a house in Coates Street, where a "circle" was in the daily habit of meeting. So soon as I had been comfortably deposited in an arm-chair, beside a large pine-table, the rest of those assembled seated themselves, and for some time preserved an unbroken silence. During this pause I scrutinized the persons present. Next to me, on my right, sat a flabby man, with ill-marked, baggy features, and injected eyes. He was, as I learned afterwards, an eclectic doctor, who had tried his hand at medicine and several of its quackish variations, finally settling down on eclecticism, which I believe professes to be to scientific medicine what vegetarianism is to common sense, every-day dietetics. Next to him sat a female,—authoress, I think, of two somewhat feeble novels, and much pleasanter to look at than her books. She was, I thought, a good deal excited at the prospect of spiritual revelations. Her neighbor was a pallid, care-worn girl, with very red lips, and large brown eyes of great beauty. She was, as I learned afterwards, a magnetic patient of the doctor, and had deserted her husband, a master mechanic, to follow this new light. The others were, like myself, strangers brought hither by mere curiosity. One of them was a lady in deep black, closely veiled. Beyond her, and opposite to me, sat the sergeant, and next to him, the medium, a man named Blake. He was well dressed, and wore a good deal of jewelry, and had large, black side-whiskers,—a shrewd-visaged, large-nosed, full-lipped man, formed by nature to appreciate the pleasant things of sensual existence.
Before I had ended my survey, he turned to the lady in black, and asked if she wished to see any one in the spirit-world.
She said, "Yes," rather feebly.
"Is the spirit present?" he asked. Upon which two knocks were heard in affirmation.
"Ah!" said the medium, "the name is—it is the name of a child. It is a male child. It is Albert,—no, Alfred!"
"Great Heaven!" said the lady. "My child! my boy!"
On this the medium arose, and became strangely convulsed. "I see," he said, "I see—a fair-haired boy. I see blue eyes,—I see above you, beyond you—" at the same time pointing fixedly over her head.
She turned with a wild start "Where,—whereabouts?"
"A blue-eyed boy," he continued, "over your head. He cries,—he says, Mamma, mamma!"
The effect of this on the woman was unpleasant. She stared about her for a moment, and, exclaiming, "I come,—I am coming, Alfy!" fell in hysterics on the floor.
Two or three persons raised her, and aided her into an adjoining room; but the rest remained at the table, as though well accustomed to like scenes.
After this, several of the strangers were called upon to write the names of the dead with whom they wished to communicate. The names were spelled out by the agency of affirmative knocks when the correct letters were touched by the applicant, who was furnished with an alphabet card upon which he tapped the letters in turn, the medium, meanwhile, scanning his face very keenly. With some, the names were readily made out. With one, a stolid personage of disbelieving type, every attempt failed, until at last the spirits signified by knocks that he was a disturbing agency, and that while he remained all our efforts would fail. Upon this some of the company proposed that he should leave, of which invitation he took advantage with a sceptical sneer at the whole performance.
As he left us, the sergeant leaned over and whispered to the medium, who next addressed himself to me, "Sister Euphemia," he said, indicating the lady with large eyes, "will act as your medium. I am unable to do more. These things exhaust my nervous system."
"Sister Euphemia," said the doctor, "will aid us. Think, if you please, sir, of a spirit, and she will endeavor to summon it to our circle."
Upon this, a wild idea came into my head. I answered, "I am thinking as you directed me to do."
The medium sat with her arms folded, looking steadily at the centre of the table. For a few moments there was silence. Then a series of irregular knocks began. "Are you present?" said the medium.
The affirmative raps were twice given.
"I should think," said the doctor, "that there were two spirits present."
His words sent a thrill through my heart.
"Are there two?" he questioned.
A double rap.
"Yes, two," said the medium. "Will it please the spirits to make us conscious of their names in this world?"
A single knock. "No."
"Will it please them to say how they are called in the world of spirits?"
Again came the irregular raps,—3, 4, 8, 6; then a pause, and 3, 4, 8, 7.
"I think," said the authoress, "they must be numbers. Will the spirits," she said, "be good enough to aid us? Shall we use the alphabet?"
"Yes," was rapped very quickly.
"Are these numbers?"
"I will write them," she added, and, doing so, took up the card and tapped the letters. The spelling was pretty rapid, and ran thus as she tapped in turn, first the letters, and last the numbers she had already set down:—
"UNITED STATES ARMY MEDICAL MUSEUM, NOS. 3486, 3487."
The medium looked up with a puzzled expression.
"Good gracious!" said I, "they are my legs! my legs!"
What followed, I ask no one to believe except those who, like myself, have communed with the beings of another sphere. Suddenly I felt a strange return of my self-consciousness. I was re-individualized, so to speak. A strange wonder filled me, and, to the amazement of every one, I arose, and, staggering a little, walked across the room on limbs invisible to them or me. It was no wonder I staggered, for, as I briefly reflected, my legs had been nine months in the strongest alcohol. At this instant all my new friends crowded around me in astonishment. Presently, however, I felt myself sinking slowly. My legs were going, and in a moment I was resting feebly on my two stumps upon the floor. It was too much. All that was left of me fainted and rolled over senseless.
I have little to add. I am now at home in the West, surrounded by every form of kindness, and every possible comfort; but, alas! I have so little surety of being myself, that I doubt my own honesty in drawing my pension, and feel absolved from gratitude to those who are kind to a being who is uncertain of being enough himself to be conscientiously responsible. It is needless to add, that I am not a happy fraction of a man; and that I am eager for the day when I shall rejoin the lost members of my corporeal family in another and a happier world.
ON TRANSLATING THE DIVINA COMMEDIA.
I enter, and see thee in the gloom Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine! And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine. The air is filled with some unknown perfume; The congregation of the dead make room For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine; Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb. From the confessionals I hear arise Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies, And lamentations from the crypts below; And then a voice celestial that begins With the pathetic words, "Although your sins As scarlet be," and ends with "as the snow."
THE GREAT DOCTOR.
A STORY IN TWO PARTS.
"Hello! hello! which way now, Mrs. Walker? It'll rain afore you git there, if you've got fur to go. Hadn't you better stop an' come in till this thunder-shower passes over?"
"Well, no, I reckon not, Mr. Bowen. I'm in a good deal of a hurry. I've been sent for over to John's." And rubbing one finger up and down the horn of her saddle, for she was on horseback, Mrs. Walker added, "Johnny's sick, Mr. Bowen, an' purty bad, I'm afeard." Then she tucked up her skirts, and, gathering up the rein, that had dropped on the neck of her horse, she inquired in a more cheerful tone, "How's all the folks,—Miss Bowen, an' Jinney, an' all?"
By this time the thunder began to growl, and the wind to whirl clouds of dust along the road.
"You'd better hitch your critter under the wood-shed, an' come in a bit. My woman'll be glad to see you, an' Jinney too,—there she is now, at the winder. I'll warrant nobody goes along the big road without her seein' 'em." Mr. Bowen had left the broad kitchen-porch from which he had hallooed to the old woman, and was now walking down the gravelled path, that, between its borders of four-o'clocks and other common flowers, led from the front door to the front gate. "We're all purty well, I'm obleeged to you," he said, as, reaching the gate, he leaned over it, and turned his cold gray eyes upon the neat legs of the horse, rather than the anxious face of the rider.
"I'm glad to hear you're well," Mrs. Walker said; "it a'most seems to me that, if I had Johnny the way he was last week, I wouldn't complain about anything. We think too much of our little hardships, Mr. Bowen,—a good deal too much!" And Mrs. Walker looked at the clouds, perhaps in the hope that their blackness would frighten the tears away from her eyes. John was her own boy,—forty years old, to be sure, but still a boy to her,—and he was very sick.
"Well, I don't know," Mr. Bowen said, opening the mouth of the horse and looking in it; "we all have our troubles, an' if it ain't one thing it's another. Now if John wasn't sick, I s'pose you'd be frettin' about somethin' else; you mustn't think you're particularly sot apart in your afflictions, any how. This rain that's getherin' is goin' to spile a couple of acres of grass for me, don't you see?"
Mrs. Walker was hurt. Her neighbor had not given her the sympathy she expected; he had not said anything about John one way nor another; had not inquired whether there was anything he could do, nor what the doctor said, nor asked any of those questions that express a kindly solicitude.
"I am sorry about your hay," she answered, "but I must be going."
"Don't want to hurry you; but if you will go, the sooner the better. That thunder-cloud is certain to bust in a few minutes." And Mr. Bowen turned toward the house.
"Wait a minute, Mrs. Walker," called a young voice, full of kindness; "here's my umberell. It'll save your bonnet, any how; and it's a real purty one. But didn't I hear you say somebody was sick over to your son's house?"
"Yes, darlin'," answered the old woman as she took the umbrella; "it's Johnny himself; he's right bad, they say. I just got word about an hour ago, and left everything, and started off. They think he's got the small-pox."
Jenny Bowen, the young girl who had brought the umbrella, looked terribly frightened. "They won't let me go over, you know," she said, nodding her head toward the house, "not if it's really small-pox!" And then, with the hope at which the young are so quick to catch, she added, "May be it isn't small-pox. I haven't heard of a case anywhere about. I don't believe it is." And then she told Mrs. Walker not to fret about home. "I will go," she said, "and milk the cow, and look after things. Don't think one thought about it." And then she asked if the rest of them at John Walker's were well.
"If it's Hobert you want to know about," the grandmother said, smiling faintly, "he's well; but, darlin', you'd better not think about him: they'll be ag'in it, in there!" and she nodded toward the house as Jenny had done before her.
The face of the young girl flushed,—not with confusion, but with self-asserting and defiant brightness that seemed to say, "Let them do their worst." The thunder rattled sharper and nearer, bursting right upon the flash of the lightning, and then came the rain. But it proved not one of those bright, brief dashes that leave the world sparkling, but settled toward sunset into a slow, dull drizzle.
Jenny had her milking, and all the other evening chores, done betimes, and with an alertness and cheerfulness in excess of her usual manner, that might have indicated an unusual favor to be asked. She had made her evening toilet; that is, she had combed her hair, tied on a pair of calf-skin shoes, and a blue checked apron, newly washed and ironed; when she said, looking toward a faint light in the west, and as though the thought had just occurred to her, "It's going to break away, I see. Don't you think, mother, I had better just run over to Mrs. Walker's, and milk her cow for her?"
"Go to Miss Walker's!" repeated the mother, as though she were as much outraged as astonished. She was seated in the door, patching, by the waning light, an old pair of mud-spattered trousers, her own dress being very old-fashioned, coarse, and scanty,—so scant, in fact, as to reveal the angles of her form with ungraceful definiteness, especially the knees, that were almost suggestive of a skeleton, and now, as she put herself in position, as it were, stood up with inordinate prominence. Her hands were big in the joints, ragged in the nails, and marred all over with the cuts, burns, and scratches of indiscriminate and incessant toil. But her face was, perhaps, the most sadly divested of all womanly charm. It had, in the first place, the deep yellow, lifeless appearance of an old bruise, and was expressive of pain, irritation, and fanatical anxiety.
"Go to Miss Walker's!" she said again, seeing that Jenny was taking down from its peg in the kitchen-wall a woollen cloak that had been hers since she was a little girl, and her mother's before her.
"Yes, mother. You know John Walker is very sick, and Mrs. Walker has been sent for over there. She's very down-hearted about him. He's dangerous, they think; and I thought may be I'd come round that way as I come home, and ask how he was. Don't you think I'd better?"
"I think you had better stay at home and tend to your own business. You'll spile your clothes, and do no good that I can see by traipsin' out in such a storm."
"Why, you would think it was bad for one of our cows to go without milking," Jenny said, "and I suppose Mrs. Walker's cow is a good deal like ours, and she is giving a pailful of milk now."
"How do you know so much about Miss Walker's cow? If you paid more attention to things at home, and less to other folks, you'd be more dutiful."
"That's true, mother, but would I be any better?"
"Not in your own eyes, child; but you're so much wiser than your father and me, that words are throwed away on you."
"I promised Mrs. Walker that I would milk for her to-night," Jenny said, hesitating, and dropping her eyes.
"O yes, you've always got some excuse! What did you make a promise for, that you knowed your father wouldn't approve of? Take your things right off now, and peel the potaters, and sift the meal for mush in the morning; an' if Miss Walker's cow must be milked, what's to hender that Hobe, the great lazy strapper, shouldn't go and milk her?"
"You forget how much he has to do at home now; and one pair of hands can't do everything, even if they are Hobert Walker's!"
Jenny had spoken with much spirit and some bitterness; and the bright defiant flush, before noticed, came into her face, as she untied the cloak and proceeded to sift the meal and peel the potatoes for breakfast. She did her work quietly, but with a determination in every movement that indicated a will not easily overruled.
It was nearly dark, and the rain still persistently falling, when she turned the potato-peelings into the pig-trough that stood only a few yards from the door, and, returning, put the cloak about her shoulders, tied it deliberately, turned the hood over her head, and, without another word, walked straight out into the rain.
"Well, I must say! Well, I must say!" cried the mother, in exasperated astonishment. "What on airth is that girl a-comin' to?" And, resting her elbows on her knees, she leaned her yellow face in her hands, and gathered out of her hard, embittered heart such consolation as she could.
Jenny, meantime, tucked up her petticoats, and, having left a field or two between her and the homestead, tripped lightly along, debating with herself whether or not she should carry out her will to the full, and return by the way of Mr. John Walker's,—a question she need hardly have raised, if unexpected events had not interfered with her predeterminations. At Mrs. Walker's gate she stopped and pulled half a dozen roses from the bush that was almost lying on the ground with its burden,—they seemed, somehow, brighter than the roses at home,—and, with them swinging in her hand, had wellnigh gained the door, before she perceived that it was standing open. She hesitated an instant,—perhaps some crazy wanderer or drunken person might have entered the house,—when brisk steps, coming up the path that led from the milking-yard, arrested her attention, and, looking that way, she recognized through the darkness young Hobert Walker, with the full pail in his hand.
"O Jenny," he said, setting down the pail, "we are in such trouble at home! The doctor says father is better, but I don't think so, and I ain't satisfied with what is being done for him. Besides, I had such a strange dream,—I thought I met you, Jenny, alone, in the night, and you had six red roses in your hand,—let me see how many have you." He had come close to her, and he now took the roses and counted them. There were six, sure enough. "Humph!" he said, and went on. "Six red roses, I thought; and while I looked at them they turned white as snow; and then it seemed to me it was a shroud you had in your hand, and not roses at all; and you, seeing how I was frightened, said to me, 'What if it should turn out to be my wedding-dress?' And while we talked, your father came between us, and led you away by a great chain that he put round your neck. But you think all this foolish, I see." And, as if he feared the apprehension he had confessed involved some surrender of manhood, he cast down his eyes, and awaited her reply in confusion. She had too much tact to have noticed this at any time; but in view of the serious circumstances in which he then stood, she could not for the life of her have turned any feeling of his into a jest, however unwarranted she might have felt it to be.
"My grandmother was a great believer in dreams," she said, sympathetically; "but she always thought they went by contraries; and, if she was right, why, yours bodes ever so much good. But come, Hobert, let us go into the house: it's raining harder."
"How stupid of me, Jenny, not to remember that you were being drowned, almost! You must try to excuse me: I am really hardly myself to-night."
"Excuse you, Hobert! As if you could ever do anything I should not think was just right!" And she laughed the little musical laugh that had been ringing in his ears so long, and skipped before him into the house.
He followed her with better heart; and, as she strained and put away the milk, and swept the hearth, and set the house in order, he pleased himself with fancies of a home of which she would be always the charming mistress.
And who, that saw the sweet domestic cheer she diffused through the house with her harmless little gossip about this and that, and the artfully artless kindnesses to him she mingled with all, could have blamed him? He was given to melancholy and to musing; his cheek was sometimes pale, and his step languid; and he saw, all too often, troublesome phantoms coming to meet him. This disposition in another would have incited the keenest ridicule in the mind of Jenny Bowen, but in Hobert it was well enough; nay, more, it was actually fascinating, and she would not have had him otherwise. These characteristics—for her sake we will not say weaknesses—constantly suggested to her how much she could be to him,—she who was so strong in all ways,—in health, in hope, and in enthusiasm. And for him it was joy enough to look upon her full bright cheek, to see her compact little figure before him; but to touch her dimpled shoulder, to feel one tress of her hair against his face, was ecstasy; and her voice,—the tenderest trill of the wood-dove was not half so delicious! But who shall define the mystery of love? They were lovers; and when we have said that, is there anything more to be said? Their love had not, however, up to the time of which we write, found utterance in words. Hobert was the son of a poor man, and Jenny was prospectively rich, and the faces of her parents were set as flints against the poor young man. But Jenny had said in her heart more than once that she would marry him; and if the old folks had known this, they might as well have held their peace. Hobert did not dream that she had talked thus to her heart, and, with his constitutional timidity, he feared she would never say anything of the kind. Then, too, his conscientiousness stood in his way. Should he presume to take her to his poor house, even if she would come? No, no, he must not think of it; he must work and wait, and defer hope. This hour so opportune was also most inopportune,—such sorrow at home! He would not speak to-night,—O no, not to-night! And yet he could bear up against everything else, if she only cared for him! Such were his resolves, as she passed to and fro before him, trifling away the time with pretence of adjusting this thing and that; but at last expedients failed, and reaching for her cloak, which hung almost above him as he sat against the wall, she said it was time to go. As frostwork disappears in the sunshine, so his brave resolutions vanished when her arm reached across his shoulder, and the ribbon that tied her beads fluttered against his cheek. With a motion quite involuntary, he snatched her hand. "No, Jenny, not yet,—not quite yet!" he said.
"And why not?" demanded Jenny; for could any woman, however innocent, or rustic, be without her little coquetries? And she added, in a tone that contradicted her words, "I am sure I should not have come if I had known you were coming!"
"I dare say not," replied Hobert, in a voice so sad and so tender withal, as to set the roses Jenny wore in her bosom trembling. "I dare say not, indeed. I would not presume to hope you would go a step out of your way to give me pleasure; only I was feeling so lonesome to-night, I thought may be—no, I didn't think anything; I certainly didn't hope anything. Well, no matter, I am ready to go." And he let go the hand he had been holding, and stood up.
It was Jenny's privilege to pout a little now, and to walk sullenly and silently home,—so torturing herself and her honest-hearted lover; but she was much too generous, much too noble, to do this. She would not for the world have grieved poor Hobert,—not then,—not when his heart was so sick and so weighed down with shadows; and she told him this with a simple earnestness that admitted of no doubt, concluding with, "I only wish, Hobert, I could say or do something to comfort you."
"Then you will stay? Just a moment, Jenny!" And the hand was in his again.
"Dear Jenny,—dear, dear Jenny!" She was sitting on his knee now; and the rain, with its pattering against the window, drowned their heart-beats; and the summer darkness threw over them its sacred veil.
"Shall I tell you, darling, of another dream I have had to-night—since I have been sitting here?" The fair cheek bent itself close to his to listen, and he went on. "I have been dreaming, Jenny, a very sweet dream; and this is what it was. You and I were living here, in this house, with grandmother; and she was your grandmother as well as mine; and I was farmer of the land, and you were mistress of the dairy; and the little room with windows toward the sunrise, and the pretty bureau, and bed with snow-white coverlet and pillows of down,—that was"—perhaps he meant to say "ours," but his courage failed him, and, with a charming awkwardness, he said, "yours, Jenny," and hurried on to speak of the door-yard flowers, and the garden with its beds of thyme and mint, its berry-bushes and hop-vines and bee-hives,—all of which were brighter and sweeter than were ever hives and bushes in any other garden; and when he had run through the catalogue of rustic delights, he said: "And now, Jenny, I want you to tell me the meaning of my dream; and yet I am afraid you will interpret it as your grandmother used to hers."
Jenny laughed gayly. "That is just what I will do, dear Hobert," she said; "for she used to say that only bad dreams went by contraries, and yours was the prettiest dream I ever heard."
The reply to this sweet interpretation was after the manner of all lovers since the world began. And so, forgetting the stern old folks at home,—forgetting everything but each other,—they sat for an hour at the very gate of heaven. How often Hobert called her his sweetheart, and his rosebud, and other fond names, we need not stop to enumerate: how often he said that for her sake he could brave the winter storm and the summer heat, that she should never know rough work nor sad days, but that she should be as tenderly protected, as daintily cared for, as any lady of them all,—how often he said all these things, we need not enumerate; nor need we say with what unquestioning trust, and deafness to all the suggestions of probability, Jenny believed. Does not love, in fact, always believe what it hopes? Who would do away with the blessed insanity that clothes the marriage day with such enchantment? Who would dare to do it?
No royal mantle could have been adjusted with tenderer and more reverent solicitude than was that night the coarse cloak about the shoulders of Jenny. The walk homeward was all too short; and whether the rain fell, or whether the moon were at her best, perhaps neither of them could have told until they were come within earshot of the Bowen homestead; then both suddenly stood still. Was it the arm of Jenny that trembled so? No, no! we must own the truth,—it was the arm through which hers was drawn. At her chamber window, peering out curiously and anxiously, was the yellow-white face of Mrs. Bowen; and, leaning over the gate, gazing up and down the road, the rain falling on his bent shoulders and gray head, was the father of Jenny,—angry and impatient, past doubt.
"Don't stand looking any longer, for mercy's sake!" called the querulous voice from the house. "You'll get your death of cold, and then what'll become of us all? Saddle your horse this minute, and ride over to John Walker's,—for there's where you'll find Jinny, the gad-about,—and bring her home at the tail of your critter. I'll see who is going to be mistress here!"
"She's had her own head too long a'ready, I'm afeard," replied the old man, turning from the gate, with intent, probably, to execute his wife's order.
Seeing this, and hearing this, Hobert, as we said, stood still and trembled, and could only ask, by a little pressure of the hand he held, what was to be said or done.
Jenny did not hesitate a moment. "I expected this or something worse," she said. "Don't mind, Hobert; so they don't see you, I don't care for the rest. You must not go one step farther: the lightning will betray us, you see. I will say I waited for the rain to slack, and the two storms will clear off about the same time, I dare say. There, good night!"—and she turned her cheek to him; for she was not one of those impossible maidens we read of in books, who don't know they are in love, until after the consent of parents is obtained, and blush themselves to ashes at the thought of a kiss. To love Hobert was to her the most natural and proper thing in the world, and she did not dream there was anything to blush for. It is probable, too, that his constitutional bashfulness and distrust of himself brought out her greater confidence and buoyancy.
"And how and where am I ever to see you again?" he asked, as he detained her, against her better judgment, if not against her will.
"Trust that to me,"—and she hurried away in time to meet and prevent her father from riding forth in search of her.
Of course there were fault-finding and quarrelling, accusations and protestations, hard demands and sullen pouting,—so that the home, at no time so attractive as we like to imagine the home of a young girl who has father and mother to provide for her and protect her, became to her like a prison-house. At the close of the first and second days after her meeting with Hobert, when the work was all faithfully done, she ventured to ask leave to go over to John Walker's and inquire how the sick man was; but so cold a refusal met her, that, on the evening of the third day, she sat down on the porch-side to while away the hour between working and sleeping, without having renewed her request.
The sun was down, and the first star began to show faintly above a strip of gray cloud in the west, when a voice, low and tender, called to her, "Come here, my child!" and looking up she saw Grandmother Walker sitting on her horse at the gate. She had in the saddle before her her youngest granddaughter, and on the bare back of the horse, behind her, a little grandson, both their young faces expressive of the sorrow at home. Jenny arose on the instant, betraying in every motion the interest and sympathy she felt, and was just stepping lightly from the porch to the ground, when a strong hand grasped her shoulder and turned her back. It was her father who had overtaken her. "Go into the house!" he said. "If the old woman has got any arrant at all, it's likely it's to your mother and me."
Nor was his heart melted in the least when he learned that his friend and neighbor was no more. He evinced surprise, and made some blunt and coarse inquiries, but that was the amount. "The widder is left purty destitute, I reckon," he said; and then he added, the Lord helped them that helped themselves, and we mustn't fly in the face of Providence. She had her son, strong and able-bodied; and of course he had no thoughts of encumbering himself with a family of his own,—young and poverty-struck as he was.
Mrs. Walker understood the insinuation; but her heart could not hold resentment just then. She must relieve her burdened soul by talking of "poor Johnny," even though it were to deaf ears. She must tell what a good boy he had been,—how kind to her and considerate of her, how manly, how generous, how self-forgetful. And then she must tell how hard he had worked, and how saving he had been in order to give his children a better chance in the world than he had had; and how, if he had lived another year, he would have paid off the mortgage, and been able to hold up his head amongst men.
After all the ploughing and sowing,—after all the preparation for the gathering in of the harvest,—it seemed very hard, she said, that Johnny must be called away, just as the shining ears began to appear. The circumstances of his death, too, seemed to her peculiarly afflictive. "We had all the doctors in the neighborhood," she said, "but none of them understood his case. At first they thought he had small-pox, and doctored him for that; and then they thought it was liver-complaint, and doctored him for that; and then it was bilious fever, and then it was typhus fever; and so it went on, and I really can't believe any of them understood anything about it. Their way seemed to be to do just what he didn't want done. In the first place, he was bled; and then he was blistered; and then he was bled again and blistered again, the fever all the time getting higher and higher; and when he wanted water, they said it would kill him, and gave him hot drinks till it seemed to me they would drive him mad; and sure enough, they did! The last word he ever said, to know what he was saying, was to ask me for a cup of cold water. I only wish I had given it to him; all the doctors in the world wouldn't prevent me now, if I only had him back. The fever seemed to be just devouring him: his tongue was as dry as sand, and his head as hot as fire. 'O mother!' says he, and there was such a look of beseeching in his eyes as I can never forget, 'may be I shall never want you to do anything more for me. Cold water! give me some cold water! If I don't have it, my senses will surely fly out of my head!' 'Yes, Johnny,' says I,—and I went and brought a tin bucketful, right out of the well, and set it on the table in his sight; for I thought it would do him good to see even more than he could drink; and then I brought a cup and dipped it up full. It was all dripping over, and he had raised himself on one elbow, and was leaning toward me, when the young doctor came in, and, stepping between us, took the cup out of my hand. All his strength seemed to go from poor Johnny at that, and he fell back on his pillow and never lifted his head any more. Still he kept begging in a feeble voice for the water. 'Just two or three drops,—just one drop!' he said. I couldn't bear it, and the doctor said I had better go out of the room, and so I did,—and the good Lord forgive me; for when I went back, after half an hour, he was clean crazy. He didn't know me, and he never knowed me any more."
"It's purty hard, Miss Walker," answered Mr. Bowen, "to accuse the doctors with the murder of your son. A purty hard charge, that, I call it! So John's dead! Well, I hope he is better off. Where are you goin' to bury him?"
And then Mrs. Walker said she didn't charge anybody with the murder of poor Johnny,—nobody meant to do him any harm, she knew that; but, after all, she wished she could only have had her own way with him from the first. And so she rode away,—her little bare-legged grandson, behind her, aggravating her distress by telling her that, when he got to be a man, he meant to do nothing all the days of his life but dig wells, and give water to whoever wanted it.
It is not worth while to dwell at length on the humiliations and privations to which Jenny was subjected,—the mention of one or two will indicate the nature of all. In the first place, the white heifer she had always called hers was sold, and the money tied up in a tow bag. Jenny would not want a cow for years to come. The piece of land that had always been known as "Jenny's Corner" was not thus denominated any more, and she was given to understand that it was only to be hers conditionally. There were obstacles put in the way of her going to meeting of a Sunday,—first one thing, then another; and, finally, the bureau was locked, and the best dress and brightest ribbon inside the drawers. The new side-saddle she had been promised was refused to her, unless she in turn would make a promise; and the long day's work was made to drag on into the night, lest she might find time to visit some neighbor, and lest that neighbor might be the Widow Walker. But what device of the enemy ever proved successful when matched against the simple sincerity of true love? It came about, in spite of all restraint and prohibition, that Jenny and Hobert met in their own times and ways; and so a year went by.
One night, late in the summer, when the katydids began to sing, Jenny waited longer than usual under the vine-covered beech that drooped its boughs low to the ground all round her,—now listening for the expected footstep, and now singing, very low, some little song to her heart, such as many a loving and trusting maiden had sung before her. What could keep Hobert? She knew it was not his will that kept him; and though her heart began to be heavy, she harbored therein no thought of reproach. By the movement of the shadow on the grass, she guessed that an hour beyond the one of appointment must have passed, when the far-away footfall set her so lately hushed pulses fluttering with delight. He was coming,—he was coming! And, no matter what had been wrong, all would be right now. She was holding wide the curtaining boughs long before he came near; and when they dropped, and her arms closed, it is not improbable that he was within them. It was the delight of meeting her that kept him still so long, Jenny thought; and she prattled lightly and gayly of this and of that, and, seeing that she won no answer, fell to tenderer tones, and imparted the little vexing secrets of her daily life, and the sweet hopes of her nightly dreams.
They were seated on a grassy knoll, the moonlight creeping tenderly about their feet, and the leaves of the drooping vines touching their heads like hands of pity, or of blessing. The water running over the pebbly bottom of the brook just made the silence sweet, and the evening dews shining on the red globes of the clover made the darkness lovely; but with all these enchantments of sight and sound about him,—nay, more, with the hand of Jenny, his own true-love, Jenny, folded in his,—Hobert was not happy.
"And so you think you love me!" he said at last, speaking so sadly, and clasping the hand he held with so faint a pressure, that Jenny would have been offended if she had not been the dear, trustful little creature she was.
There was, indeed, a slight reproach in her accent as she answered, "Think I love you, Hobert? No, I don't think anything about it,—I know."
"And I know I love you, Jenny," he replied. "I love you so well that I am going to leave you without asking you to marry me!"
For one moment Jenny was silent,—for one moment the world seemed unsteady beneath her,—then she stood up, and, taking the hand of her lover between her palms, gazed into his face with one long, earnest, steadfast gaze. "You have asked me already, Hobert," she said, "a thousand times, and I have consented as often. You may go away, but you will not leave me; for 'Whither thou goest I will go, where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried.'"
He drew her close to his bosom now, and kissed her with most passionate, but still saddest tenderness. "You know not, my darling," he said, "what you would sacrifice." Then he laid before her all her present advantages, all her bright prospects for the future,—her high chamber with its broad eastern windows, to be given up for the low dingy walls of a settler's cabin, her free girlhood for the hard struggles of a settler's wife! Sickness, perhaps,—certainly the lonesome nights and days of a home remote from neighbors, and the dreariness and hardship inseparable from the working out of better fortunes. But all these things, even though they should all come, were light in comparison with losing him!
Perhaps Hobert had desired and expected to hear her say this. At any rate, he did not insist on a reversal of her decision, as, with his arms about her, he proceeded to explain why he had come to her that night with so heavy a heart. The substance of all he related may be recapitulated in a few words. The land could not be paid for, and the homestead must be sold. He would not be selfish and forsake his mother, and his young brothers and sisters in their time of need. By careful management of the little that could be saved, he might buy in the West a better farm than that which was now to be given up; and there to build a cabin and plant a garden would be easy,—O, so easy!—with the smile of Jenny to light him home when the day's work was done.
In fact, the prospective hardships vanished away at the thought of her for his little housekeeper. It was such easy work for fancy to convert the work-days into holidays, and the thick wilderness into the shining village, where the schoolhouse stood open all the week, and the sweet bells called them to church of a Sunday; easy work for that deceitful elf to make the chimney-corner snug and warm, and to embellish it with his mother in her easy-chair. When they parted that night, each young heart was trembling with the sweetest secret it had ever held; and it was perhaps a fortnight thereafter that the same secret took wing, and flew wildly over the neighborhood.
John Walker's little farm was gone for good and all. The few sheep, and the cows, and the pig, and the fowls, together with the greater part of the household furniture, were scattered over the neighborhood; the smoke was gone from the chimney, and the windows were curtainless; and the grave of John, with a modest but decent headstone, and a rose-bush newly planted beside it, was left to the care of strangers. The last visits had been paid, and the last good-byes and good wishes exchanged; and the widow and her younger children were far on their journey,—Hobert remaining for a day or two to dispose of his smart young horse, as it was understood, and then follow on.
At this juncture, Mr. Bowen one morning opened the stair-door, as was his custom, soon after daybreak, and called harshly out, "Jinny! Jinny! its high time you was up!"
Five minutes having elapsed, and the young girl not having yet appeared, the call was repeated more harshly than before. "Come, Jinny, come! or I'll know what's the reason!"
She did not come; and five minutes more having passed, he mounted the stairs with a quick, resolute step, to know what was the reason. He came down faster, if possible, than he went up. "Mother, mother!" he cried, rushing toward Mrs. Bowen, who stood at the table sifting meal, his gray hair streaming wildly back, and his cheek blanched with amazement, "Jinny's run away!—run away, as sure as you're a livin' woman. Her piller hasn't been touched last night, and her chamber's desarted!"
And this was the secret that took wing and flew over the neighborhood.
THE RETREAT FROM LENOIR'S AND THE SIEGE OF KNOXVILLE.
Late in October, 1863, the Ninth Army Corps went into camp at Lenoir's Station, twenty-five miles southwest of Knoxville, East Tennessee. Since April, the corps had campaigned in Kentucky, had participated in the siege of Vicksburg, had accompanied Sherman into the interior of Mississippi in his pursuit of Johnston, had returned to Kentucky, and then, in conjunction with the Twenty-third Army Corps, marching over the mountains into East Tennessee, in a brief but brilliant campaign under its old leader and favorite, Burnside, had delivered the loyal people of that region from the miseries of Rebel rule, and had placed them once more under the protection of the old flag. But all this had not been done without loss. Many of our brave comrades, who, through a storm of leaden hail, had crossed the bridge at Antietam, and had faced death in a hundred forms on the heights of Fredericksburg, had fallen on these widely separated battle-fields in the valley of the Mississippi. Many, overborne by fatigue and exposure, had laid down their wasted bodies by the roadside and in hospitals, and had gently breathed their young lives away. Many more, from time to time, had been rendered unfit for active service; and the corps, now a mere skeleton, numbered less than three thousand men present for duty. Never did men need rest more than they; and never was an order more welcome than that which now declared the campaign ended, and authorized the construction of winter quarters.
The Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers—then in the First Brigade, First Division, Ninth Corps—was under the command of Major Draper,—Lieutenant-Colonel Goodell having been severely wounded at the battle of Blue Springs, October 10. The place selected for the winter quarters of the regiment was a young oak grove, nearly a quarter of a mile east of the village. The camp was laid out with unusual care. In order to secure uniformity throughout the regiment, the size of the log-houses—they were to be ten feet by six—was announced in orders from regimental head-quarters. The work of construction was at once commenced. Unfortunately, we were so far from our base of supplies—Camp Nelson, Kentucky—that nearly all our transportation was required by the Commissary Department for the conveyance of its stores. Consequently, the Quartermaster's Department was poorly supplied; and the only axes which could be obtained were those which our pioneers and company cooks had brought with them for their own use. These, however, were pressed into the service; and their merry ringing, as the men cheerfully engaged in the work, could be heard from early morning till evening. Small oaks, four and five inches in diameter, were chiefly used in building these houses. The logs were laid one above another, to the height of four feet, intersecting at the corners of the houses like the rails of a Virginia fence. The interstices were filled with mud. Shelter-tents, buttoned together to the size required, formed the roof, and afforded ample protection from the weather, except in very heavy rains. Each house had its fireplace, table, and bunk. On the 13th of November the houses were nearly completed; and as we sat by our cheerful fires that evening, and looked forward to the leisure and quiet of the winter before us, we thought ourselves the happiest of soldiers. Writing home at that time, I said that, unless something unforeseen should happen, we expected to remain at Lenoir's during the winter.
That something unforeseen was at hand; and our pleasant dreams were destined to fade away like an unsubstantial pageant, leaving not a rack behind. At four o'clock on the morning of the 14th I was roused from sleep by loud knocks on the new-made door. In the order which followed, "Be ready to march at daybreak," I recognized the familiar, but unwelcome voice of the Sergeant-Major. Throwing aside my blankets, and leaving the Captain dreamily wondering what could be the occasion of so unexpected an order, I hurried to the quarters of the men of Company D, and repeated to the Orderly Sergeant the instructions just received. The camp was soon astir. Lights flashed here and there through the trees. "Pack up! pack up!" passed from lip to lip. "Shall we take everything?" Yes, everything. The shelter-tents were stripped from the houses, knapsacks and trunks were packed. The wagon for the officers' baggage came, was hurriedly loaded, and driven away. A hasty breakfast followed. Then, forming our line, we stacked arms, and awaited further orders.
The mystery was soon solved. Longstreet, having cut loose from Bragg's army, which still remained in the vicinity of Chattanooga, had, by a forced march, struck the Tennessee River at Hough's Ferry, a few miles below Loudon. Already he had thrown a pontoon across the river, and was crossing with his entire command, except the cavalry under Wheeler, which he had sent by way of Marysville, with orders to seize the heights on the south bank of the Holston, opposite Knoxville. The whole movement was the commencement of a series of blunders on the part of the Rebel commanders in this department, which resulted at length in the utter overthrow of the Rebel army of the Tennessee. General Grant saw at once the mistake which the enemy had made, and ordered General Burnside to fall back to Knoxville and intrench, promising reinforcements speedily. Knoxville was Longstreet's objective. It was the key of East Tennessee. Should it again fall into the enemy's hands, we would be obliged to retire to Cumberland Gap. Lenoir's did not lie in Longstreet's path. If we remained there, he would push his columns past our right, and get between us and Knoxville. It was evident that the place must be abandoned; and there was need of haste. The mills and factories in the village were accordingly destroyed, and the wagon-train started north.
The morning had opened heavily with clouds, and, as the day advanced, the rain came down in torrents. A little before noon, our division, then under the command of General Ferrero, moved out of the woods; but, instead of taking the road to Knoxville, as we had anticipated, the column marched down the Loudon road. We were to watch the enemy, and, by holding him in check, secure the safety of our trains and material, then on the way to Knoxville.
A few miles from Lenoir's, while we were halting for rest, General Burnside passed us on his way to the front. Under his slouched hat there was a sterner face than there was wont to be. There is trouble ahead, said the men; but the cheers which rose from regiment after regiment, as with his staff and battle-flag he swept past us, told the confidence which all felt in "Old Burnie."
Chapin's brigade of White's command (Twenty-third Army Corps) was in the advance; and about four o'clock his skirmishers met those of the enemy, and drove them back a mile and a half. We followed through mud and rain. The country became hilly as we advanced, and our artillery was moved with difficulty. At dark we were in front of the enemy's position, having marched nearly fourteen miles. The rain had now ceased. Halting, we formed our lines in thick woods, and stacked our arms,—weary and wet, and not in the happiest of moods.
During the evening a circular was received, notifying us of an intended attack on the enemy's lines at nine o'clock, P. M., by the troops of White's command; but, with the exception of an occasional shot, the night was a quiet one.
The next morning, the usual reveille was omitted; and, at daybreak, noiselessly our lines were formed, and we marched out of the woods into the road. But it was not an advance. During the night General Ferrero had received orders to fall back to Lenoir's. Such, however, was the state of the roads, that it was almost impossible to move our artillery. At one time our whole regiment was detailed to assist Roemer's battery. Near Loudon we passed the Second Division of our corps, which during the night had moved down from Lenoir's, in order to be within supporting distance. But the enemy did not seem disposed to press us. We reached Lenoir's about noon. Sigfried, with the Second Division, followed later in the day. Our brigade (Morrison's) was now drawn up in line of battle on the Kingston road, as it was thought that the enemy, by not pressing our rear, intended a movement from that direction. And such was the fact. The enemy advanced against our position on this road, about four o'clock, and drove in our pickets. The Eighth Michigan was at once deployed as skirmishers. The Thirty-sixth Massachusetts and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania at the same time moved forward to support the skirmishers, and formed their line of battle in the woods, on the left of the road. Just at dusk, the enemy made a dash, and pressed our skirmishers back nearly to our line, but did not seem inclined to advance any further.
A portion of the Ninth Corps, under Colonel Hartranft, and a body of mounted infantry, were now sent towards Knoxville, with orders to seize and hold the junction of the road from Lenoir's with the Knoxville and Kingston road, near the village of Campbell's Station. The distance was only eight miles, but the progress of the column was much retarded. Such was still the condition of the roads that the artillery could be moved only with the greatest difficulty. Colonel Biddle dismounted some of his men, and hitched their horses to the guns. In order to lighten the caissons, some of the ammunition was removed from the boxes and destroyed; but as little as possible, for who could say it would not be needed on the morrow? Throughout the long night, officers and men faltered not in their efforts to help forward the batteries. In the light of subsequent events, it will be seen that they could not have performed any more important service. Colonel Hartranft that night displayed the same spirit and energy which he infused into his gallant Pennsylvanians at Fort Steadman, in the last agonies of the Rebellion, when, rolling back the fiercest assaults of the enemy, he gained the first real success in the trenches at Petersburg, and won for himself the double star of a Major-General.
Meanwhile, Morrison's brigade remained on the Kingston road in front of Lenoir's. The enemy, anticipating an evacuation of the place, made an attack on our lines about ten o'clock, P. M.; but a few shots on our part were sufficient to satisfy him that we still held the ground. Additional pickets, however, were sent out to extend the line held by the Eighth Michigan. The Thirty-sixth Massachusetts and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania still remained in line of battle in the woods. Neither officers nor men slept that night. It was bitter cold, and the usual fires were denied us, lest they should betray our weakness to the enemy. The men were ordered to put their canteens and tin cups in their haversacks, and remain quietly in their places, ready for any movement at a moment's notice. It was a long, tedious, fearful night; what would the morrow bring? It was Sunday night. The day had brought us no rest,—only weariness and anxiety. No one could speak to his fellow; and in the thick darkness, through the long, long night, we lay on our arms, waiting for the morning. Ah, how many hearts there were among us, which, overleaping the boundaries of States, found their way to Pennsylvanian and New England homes,—how many, which, on the morrow, among the hills of East Tennessee, were to pour out their young blood even unto death!
At length the morning came. It was cloudy as the day before. White's division of the Twenty-third Corps was now on the road to Knoxville; and, besides our own brigade, only Humphrey's brigade of our division remained at Lenoir's. About daybreak, as silently as possible, we withdrew from our position on the Kingston road, and, falling back through the village of Lenoir's, moved towards Knoxville, Humphrey's brigade covering the retreat. Everything which we could not take with us was destroyed. Even our baggage and books, which, for the want of transportation, had not been removed, were committed to the flames. The enemy at once discovered our retreat, but did not press us till within a mile or two of the village of Campbell's Station. Humphrey, however, held him in check, and we moved on to the point where the road from Lenoir's unites with the road from Kingston to Knoxville. It was evidently Longstreet's intention to cut off our retreat at this place. For this reason he had not pressed us at Lenoir's, the afternoon previous, but had moved the main body of his army to our right. But the mounted infantry, which had been sent to this point during the night, were able to hold him in check, on the Kingston road, till Hartranft came up.
On reaching the junction of the roads, we advanced into an open field on our left, and at once formed our line of battle in rear of a rail fence, our right resting near the Kingston road. The Eighth Michigan was on our left. The Forty-fifth Pennsylvania was deployed as skirmishers. The rest of our troops were now withdrawing to a new position back of the village of Campbell's Station; and we were left to cover the movement. Unfurling our colors, we awaited the advance of the enemy. There was an occasional shot fired in our front, and to our right; but it was soon evident that the Rebels were moving to our left, in order to gain the cover of the woods. Moving off by the left flank, therefore, we took a second position in an adjoining field. Finding now the enemy moving rapidly through the woods, and threatening our rear, we executed a left half-wheel; and, advancing on the double-quick to the rail fence which ran along the edge of the woods, we opened a heavy fire. From this position the enemy endeavored to force us. His fire was well directed, but the fence afforded us a slight protection. Lieutenant Fairbank and a few of the men were here wounded. For a while, we held the enemy in check, but at length the skirmishers of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, who were watching our right, discovered a body of Rebel infantry pushing towards our rear from the Kingston road. Colonel Morrison, our brigade commander, at once ordered the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts and Eighth Michigan to face about, and establish a new line, in rear of the rail fence on the opposite side of the field. We advanced on the double-quick; and, reaching the fence, our men with a shout poured a volley into the Rebel line of battle, which not only checked its advance, but drove it back in confusion. Meanwhile, the enemy in our rear moved up to the edge of the woods, which we had just left, and now opened a brisk fire. We at once crossed the fence in order to place it between us and his fire, and were about to devote our attention again to him, when orders came for us to withdraw,—it being no longer necessary to hold the junction of the roads, for all our troops and wagons had now passed. The enemy, too, was closing in upon us, and his fire was the hottest. We moved off in good order; but our loss in killed and wounded was quite heavy, considering the length of time we were under fire.
Among the killed was Lieutenant P. Marion Holmes of Charlestown, Mass., of whom it might well be said,
"He died as fathers wish their sons to die."
Lieutenant Holmes had been wounded at the battle of Blue Springs a little more than a month before, and had made the march from Lenoir's that morning with great difficulty. But he would not leave his men. On his breast he wore the badge of the Bunker Hill Club, on which was engraved the familiar line from Horace, which Warren quoted just before the battle of Bunker Hill,—"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." In the death of Lieutenant Holmes, the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts offered its costliest sacrifice. Frank, courteous, manly, brave, he had won all hearts, and his sudden removal from our companionship at that moment will ever remind us of the great price with which that morning's success was bought.
The enemy now manoeuvred to cut us off from the road, and pressed us so hard that we were obliged to oblique to the left. Moving on the double-quick, receiving an occasional volley, and barely escaping capture, we at length emerged from the woods on the outskirts of the little village of Campbell's Station. We were soon under cover of our artillery, which General Potter, under the direction of General Burnside, had placed in position on high ground just beyond the village. This village is situated between two low ranges of hills, which are nearly a mile apart. Across the intervening space, our infantry was drawn up in a single line of battle, Ferrero's division of the Ninth Corps held the right, White's division of the Twenty-third Corps held the centre, and Hartranft's division of the Ninth Corps held the left. Benjamin's, Buckley's, Getting's, and Van Schlein's batteries were on the right of the road. Roemer's battery was on the left. The Thirty-sixth Massachusetts supported Roemer.