The Rat Hole Squadron

 

This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination

Slavery

Site Search

Civil War Links

 

Civil War Art

Revolutionary War

Mexican War

Republic of Texas

Indians

Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait


Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 14, 1861

This WEB site contains online readable versions of the original Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These original documents contain a wealth of incredible content to help you develop a more full understanding of the important issues of the war. We hope you enjoy studying these priceless documents.

 

(Scroll Down to see entire page, or Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest.)

 

Slave Map

Georgia Slave Map

Description of Slave Map

Contrabands

Contrabands

Civil War Balloon

Professor Lowe's Balloon

Urbanna

Urbanna, Virginia

Benham and Nelson

General Benham and General Nelson

Rat Hole Squadron

Rat Hole Squadron

Beaufort

Beaufort

Beaufort, South Carolina

Stone Fleet

The Stone Fleet

Tybee Island

Tybee Island, Georgia

Fort Pickens

Interior of Fort Pickens

Rebel Cartoons

Rebel Cartoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[DECEMBER 14, 1861.

798

IN CHARLESTON, DECEMBER,
1860.

" I WISH you'd stop playing that tune, Grace. Just now it's in very bad taste, to say the least of it."

The musician looked at her uncle with a funny expression of mirth, willfulness, and malice in her exceedingly pretty face, and said, her fingers saucily rattling over the keys and repeating the chorus of "The Star-Spangled Banner :"

"Why, it's a good tune. You fought for it in 1812."

" Yes ; but things are very different now. Then we were one united people, and an insolent, arrogant, fanatical section had not attempted—" I spare the reader the rest of the sentence : the fulminations of a sun-burned, sincere, bald-headed, kindly-natured, simple-hearted, but inveterately prejudiced South Carolinian of sixty would be productive but of weariness of spirit and waste of space; the imagination may easily supply them.

His niece meanwhile changed her tune to "Yankee Doodle."

"That's worse!" he said, irritated; "for of all the sniveling, nasal, singsong, whining, Yankee, Puritan—" Speech suppressed for previously given reasons. "Play ' Dixie' or the 'Marseillaise;' they're the tunes for our people now."

"That's so!" assented a tall, fair-haired young man, attired in a military uniform of coarse homespun gray, scantily trimmed with red wonted, who entered the room, his clanking steel scabbard trailing at his heels ; "you hear 'em every whar."

" Except over at Moultrie," added his cousin.

" Except over at Moultrie," he admitted, " and they won't be played tharr long !"—speaking with a burr which proclaimed him from the up country.

"No, indeed !" echoed the old gentleman ; " the honor and dignity of South Carolina demands that, after solemnly voting herself out of the Union, she shall resume all the privileges of a sovereign State, taking immediate possession of her property in forts, arsenals, post-offices, public—" Suppression as before, in tenderness to the reader.

"I'll tell the officers so at Captain F-'s party," said the young lady, when her uncle had temporarily exhausted his eloquence.

"I wish you wouldn't go there," he answered, pettishly; "F- is a Yankee, and I don't like him. All these absurd preparations at the fort are attributed to him, to D-, and their cowardly distrust of our people. Major Anderson, now, is a Southerner and a gentleman—understands us—we shall have no trouble with him."

" Sis is half abolitionist, I reckon, since she came back from France and England," said the young volunteer, with a look of mingled shyness, admiration, and distrust at the brilliant beauty of his cousin.

"I'm not!" she exclaimed, with a flash of Carolinian instinct, for to Southern ears the epithet applied to her always sounds like a taunt ; " but the soldiers are only doing their duty, and if you're going to attack and murder that brave little garrison for that, I think it's a wicked and cowardly business—there !"

More platitudes on the part of the old gentleman. "Grace," he inquired, presently, " have you accepted for this evening ?"

"Yes, uncle!"

" Who goes with you?"

" Eva, and Clare, and the Doctor—and you, if you like."

Mr. Allen shook his head negatively. "I have a great respect for the officers at Fort Moultrie," he said, "with a few exceptions, and wish them (as they probably wish themselves) safely out of the false position in which a treacherous and imbecile government has placed them, but I can not visit Captain F—. You will do as you please. Only there was a little girl five years ago, who, before she went to Paris and London to finish her education and returned with French and English notions about her kinsfolk, wouldn't disobey them in any thing."

"Uncle," the girl remonstrated, "if you really don't wish me to go, I won't."

"No, no !" he said, good-naturedly, satisfied with having spoken, "go—go and enjoy yourself, only don't fall in love with any of the officers!"

Grace reddened so suddenly and deeply at this, that had not the old gentleman bustled to the window for the purpose of opening it and looking over the yellow water of Charleston harbor, he must have perceived it. As it was, he only drew in a deep inspiration of the mild, moist December morning, took his hat, told Grace to give him a match for his cigar, lit it, and strolled forth into the garden. His nephew remained. He had observed his cousin's discomposure.

" Gracie," he asked, bluntly," who's that United States captain who talked with you on board the Osiris, going down to the island yesterday?"

She told him, blushing deeper than before.

"Hum ! Then I think—" He commenced impetuously but broke off; faltering and confused by the sudden concentration of two big, black, and exceedingly indignant eyes upon his own.

"Mark, if you have any thing to say to me, say it ; but remember that I like to have my own way just as much as you do, and have an equal right to it !"

"Gracie, I'm jealous of that captain. I suspicioned him from the first !"

Grace laughed, tossed her curls, blushed again, and answered,

"Foolish fellow, what business is it of yours!" The tall volunteer pulled at his blond mustache and bit it vindictively.

"Look here," he said, awkwardly, yet with a certain earnestness and simplicity about his rustic features which seemed to refine them for the occasion, "I've ben troying to get your good-will for ever so long, Gracie, and I do think—"

" Then you oughtn't ! You're a very good fellow,

Mark, but we can't be any thing more to each other than cousins, as I have told you again and again, so don't say a word more about it. Recollect, too, I'm for the Union and Uncle Sam, and don't believe in secession. You ought to hate me for that!"

" Well, I can't help it, though I do think it mean to go back on us and side with the Yankees against old Carolina. But you'll know better when we have whipped 'em—that is, if they oblige us to do it."

"Mark, I hate to hear you talk so; it's as wicked as it is foolish, and I'll tell you why. When I was a girl here, in Charleston, I used to think South Carolina the greatest place in the world, and that time were the finest, and best, and bravest people, just as you do now. So when I went to France and England I talked and bragged like a perfect goose, and was very mad when they called me a Yankee, as they do all of us from this side of the water ; but I found they knew nothing about South Carolina (except in connection with slavery —I heard enough of that of course !), and cared as little. But every body understood that being an American meant something, and believed we were a great people, even if they didn't like us. And now here we are trying to pull down all this, and to ruin the country just because Mr. Lincoln is to be President !"

"Thar won't be any ruin, I reckon. The Yankees' are a no-fight people, and will back right squarr down when they see they've got to do it or fight."

" I don't believe it. Captain — says—" In her eagerness the girl forgot herself, the name escaping before she was aware of it. Mark Harding simultaneously gave vent to an expression of anger, which if not an oath was very like one.

" See hyar !" he said, striding up to her with a lowering brow, and looking into her conscious, confused, yet resolute face, "you've said enough now, if I hadn't ben on the right track before. Jest you tell Captain - if he wants you to 'ware of me-that's all!"

And he strode, rather melodramatically, from the room, his long sword clanking at his heels. The girl gazed after him at first defiantly, and then with a changed aspect leaned her head upon her hand and mused deeply. Presently her eyes followed the direction of her thoughts; she rose, walked to a window, and looked forth in the direction of Sullivan's Island.

II.

THAT evening—it was the twenty-sixth of December, 1860—the lights of a neat wooden villa not far from the walls of Fort Moultrie shone out brilliantly into the raw, moist evening, the shadows of graceful and manly forms flitted across the illuminated casements, and the sound of music, mirth, and laughter awoke the ordinary quiet echoes of the sandy island. Captain F— of the U. S. A.—the " Yankee" officer disparaged by Grace's uncle—in other word, a brave and loyal Vermonter, whose known hostility to the designs of the secessionists had incurred the honor of their hatred, was holding revel in honor of the Christmas time. I need not say that my heroine made one of the party.

The house, a summer one, like most of its class, has long windows reaching to the floor, some of which are open for the better ventilation of the heated rooms. Now and then certain of the guests emerge from the ball-room on to the wooden piazza. Two of these, after lingering for some time, descend the shallow flight of steps to a neglected garden, horrent with the green spikes of the tropical-looking Spanish bayonet, and from thence saunter into and along the sandy road. They are male and female, the lady small and slight in figure, the gentleman wearing the uniform of a captain in the United States Army.

"Gracie," he says, tenderly arranging a shawl about her head and shoulders, and looking lovingly down into the big black eyes, " you mustn't ask why? Take my word for it and promise."

"Promise what ?"

" That whatever befalls me you will credit me with having loved you dearly ; that nothing shall make you distrust this ; that, so long as you have no reason to doubt my love, fidelity, and honor, you will be true to me, in the faith that some day you will become mine own dear wife!"

" George, you speak as though some danger were hanging over you ?"

" You know our position here !" And he shrugged his shoulders.

" Is that all? Is there any thing imminent ?"

"We think the Charlestonians are going to attack we. We are pretty sure of it, and have even some intimation of the time and plan resolved upon. And Ave shall do our duty."

The girl clung apprehensively to his arm. " It's very dreadful," she said, "for Americans to kill Americans; but—what's that?"

They had reached the picturesque cluster of palmetto-trees growing by the road-side, and known as "the Five Indians." Grace's exclamation was caused by a figure emerging from their shadow, striding into the road, and confronting them.

" Captain —," said Mark Harding, "I want the favor of just three words with you in private, if you can spare the time."

The Captain looked surprised, exchanged a few words with his companion, who, apprehensive and indignant, had uttered an exclamation of alarm at her cousin's appearance, and followed his example in stooping a little aside.

" Well, Sir?"

"Will you fight?"

Captain-slightly elevated his eyebrows at the inquiry, and responded:

" I am a soldier, Sir."

"When will you give me a meeting, then ?"

"If you have no objection to answering the question, I should like to know what cause of quarrel you have with me."

" You are a— Yankee, mud fond of my cousin Grace. Tharr!"

" A sufficient reason ! I suspect you ought to sympathize with me in the latter part of it. In   stead of doing so, you want to kill me, eh ?"

   "Unless you'll give her up right off !"

" I shall not submit to be dictated to by any body in such a matter, least of all by a person of your appearance and manners."

" Then you've got to fight. I'm bound to fix you to that, though I know you Yankees 'll talk yourselves out of any thing, if you only get a chance."

"I will fight you whenever you please except now. I suppose you don't want Miss Allen to be a looker-on ?"

"Will you meet me here to-night when the ball breaks up ? I'll wait for you."

" Without seconds ?"

"With or without 'em, just as you please. I can raise a friend if you want to bring one."

"You know that, as the challenged person, I have the right to the choice of weapons?" The young South Carolinian looked puzzled. Like most of his class he possessed very crude ideas as to the etiquette of the duello, connecting it indefinitely with the use of revolvers and bowie-knives. He assented, however.

" I name swords, then, and will endeavor to give you a lesson which may be of value to you as a soldier—as I see you are ambitious of becoming one."

Mark Harding, of the Marion Guard, Edgefield, South Carolina, had as little practical acquaintance with the use of the weapon which he wore so proudly in its clinking steel scabbard as he had with the harpoon or the integral calculus, but his pluck would have induced his acceptation of a proposition to be tied hand to hand with his opponent, then to walk over a precipice. So he bowed with as much dignity as he could muster, and would have strode away if Grace had not called to him imperatively.

" Well ?" he said, ungraciously.

" If you don't retract every word you have been saying—I know it's something quarrelsome—I'Il never speak to you again."

The volunteer muttered something to himself, turned on his heel, and was gone. None the less endeared to each other from what had occurred, and conversing earnestly, the lovers returned to Captain F—'s Christmas party.

III.

"You can't keep the appointment. It's to be done to-night, George."

"To-night?"

" Immediately. I'm free to tell you now that the hop was only a blind. The men will be in the boats in half an hour. All the cannon—there's only eleven of them pointing toward Sumter—are already spiked and the flag-staff cut down, so that they can never hoist any of their miserable Secession rags upon it in place of the dear old Stars and Stripes, which, please God, shall to-morrow defy them from the top of the strongest fort in the harbor. In another half hour the gun-carriages will be blazing; the Major and I have seen to it ourselves. You are wanted immediately. Let the blockhead wait, or defer his quarrel with you until they attack us, if they dare to do it. We have not a moment to lose."

IV.

ALL Charleston was frantic next morning with the news of the secret evacuation of Fort Moultrie by Major Anderson and his garrison. Then and throughout the weeks of excitement, of apprehension, of expectation, of chronic alarm, anger, and vainglory which marked that memorable time, perhaps the most exasperated man in the rebellious city was Mark Harding.

Three weeks afterward the columns of a New York newspaper contained the following paragraph in a letter from its Charleston correspondent :

"All private visits to Fort Sumter are strictly forbidden. For disobeying this order a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. -, and three young ladies were recently expelled from from Charleston. He lived at Sullivan's Island, and rowed to the fort in a pleasure-boat, spending an hour or two in the society of the officers, friends of the party. It is said that the reverend gentleman and ladies have proceeded to Washington."

V.

"AT last, dearest!"

" At last ! I feared I should never see you again."

" And I, too, for all the long, dreary weeks, and particularly at the close of them. It was really pretty artillery practice on both sides, I assure you. Do you know that that amiable cousin of yours was exceedingly energetic during the attack? I understand he wanted to head a storming party in a steamer or open boat, in which case we should have been obliged to have blown both him and his enterprising friends out of the water. I am glad the necessity wasn't forced upon us, for I shouldn't like to shed blood akin to that which flows in your veins, Grace. I have no doubts he was actuated by feelings of personal hostility toward one particular 'cowardly Yankee,' who disappointed him by not keeping a certain nocturnal appointment on Sullivan's Island."

"Foolish Mark ! he talked horridly about it, and made my life miserable, until I was almost glad when they sent me away."

"And your uncle, dearest? What did he say?"

"He was a member of the Vigilance Committee, and though very angry, seemed as wretched as myself. He loves me so, that I think he would like to be here too, if it weren't for deserting South Carolina, as he'd call it."

" I'm sorry he's not here to give you away, Grace !"

" George!"

"Dearest, you are all alone in the world now; I love you best of any thing in it. and claim you for that love's sake. I shall be ordered on duty in a fortnight-let me leave a wife behind to pray for me ! Our dear old Doctor is here, you know, and you owe him a job for getting him expatriated. I dare say Miss Eva and Clare will look very pretty as bridemaids !"

VI.

WE are in the debatable land between the two armies in Virginia, near the outskirts of the rebel camp. It is a calm, moonlight night in autumn, and the "sweet regent of the sky" sails aloft in unclouded splendor, silvering with her pure effulgence, or hiding in broad deep shadows, the hideous features of devastation which war has stamped upon the once beautiful landscape. The doorless, windowless, and dismantled farm-houses—the blackened remains of those which have been destroyed by fire—the fenceless and trampled gardens and fields, all scored with unaccustomed wheel-tracks and footprints of men and horses—the fetid water-pools in the highways—the deep wagon-ruts-the carcasses of steeds, which lie putrefying by the road-side, no longer intrude themselves upon the sickened attention, as during the garish day. Yet the scene is otherwise than peaceful. From the woody covert of a little copse bordering a field of maize, which has been trodden into a miry jungle of rotting corn-stalks, comes the scattering report of musketry, the sharp crack of the rifle, and the sudden, continuous snap of the revolver. One of those frequent, bloody, nameless skirmishes characterizing the present war is in progress, having originated in the surprisal and attack upon a posse of rebel troops by a daring little party of United States riflemen.

Hotly the ground is contested, inch by inch, but the alarm has been communicated to the Union troops in the rear, and dreading the arrival of reinforcements, the rebels are compelled to retreat, half of their number having already bit the dust. The fight slackens until it is a mere duel between a few desperate men who resist ineffectually, apparently preferring death or captivity to flight.

One of these, a tall, muscular young fellow, with fair hair and blond mustaches, after defending himself with more fury than skill with a long cavalry sabre, finds it shivered in his grasp by the blow of a musket, and himself borne to the ground with a bayonet thrust through his sword-arm into his side.

" Don't kill him, Rob !" cries the officer in command of the Union party, as the soldier is about to repeat his thrust with fatal intent. "Yield yourself our prisoner, Sir, and your life shall be spared."

The officer chances to be bareheaded, his hat having been lost in the melee, and the moonlight strikes full upon his countenance. And Mark Harding, with an oath of recognition and hatred, despite his wounded sword-arm, draws his revolver and fires its two remaining charges at his preserver —fires and misses.

" Bayonet him!" is the cry, and a storm of execration and rage rises round the wounded Carolinian. It is with no small difficulty, and the promptest enforcement of his authority, both by voice and gesture, that the officer can save the justly-forfeited life of his intended murderer.

"You would have slain me," he said ; "now see how a Yankee will revenge himself on one who has no title to his mercy beyond his relationship to her who was Grace Allen ! You are our prisoner, but your hurt shall be seen to as soon as possible, and I will do all I can toward effecting your liberty by procuring your exchange for one of our men. Fight against us again, if you will; but remember the lesson of to-night. Boys, let us go back to the camp."

THE RAT-HOLE SQUADRON.

WE present our readers, on page 789, with a sketch of the fleet of OLD WHALERS, as seen by the brig Castillian, Nov. 21, in lat. 38° 53', long. 72° 40'. The fleet is comprised of old whalers, which have been purchased by the Government for the purpose of effectively blockading the Southern ports. By this means the rebels will be frustrated in their little excursions seaward. These ships once in place, no rebel Commissioners will find their way out upon the blue waters to be caught by our gallant naval officers.

Among this fleet is the old ship Cerea, whose history is well worthy of record here. She was formerly an armed store-strip belonging to the British navy. During the Revolutionary war she came over loaded with supplies for the British army. A storm coming on, she sought shelter in Long Island Sound. It became known to the Yankee fishermen that she was in their waters, and they determined to capture her. Accordingly they formed a company of nearly one hundred stout-hearted and hardy men, and put out into the Sound. Shortly after leaving New Bedford harbor they discovered the Britisher in the distance. All hands save an elderly man and three men and one boy went into the little fishing schooner's hold, all well armed. On the little craft stood until she reached the fishing-ground, where they threw out their lines and were soon engaged in catching fish. The store-ship altered her course and ran down toward the fisherman, and fired a gun, and the Yankee boys headed their vessel toward the ship. As soon as she came within hail they were ordered to come alongside, which they did after some murmuring. The fish which had been taken were transferred to the deck of the store-ship, and carried over to the other side of the vessel, away from the side where the schooner lay. Curiosity prompted the British sailors to crowd around the fishermen with their fish. In the mean time one of the boys took a fish and threw it out or one of the ports, and it striking the schooner's deck gave the signal for the men in the hold to come up. This was but the work of a moment, and before the Britisher could arm his crew or recover from the surprise his ship was a prize. The ship was taken into New Bedford, where she was discharged of her stores, and when the war was over she was converted into a whaler, and she has been employed in that business from that time to within a year past. She now goes to assist in sealing up one of the Southern ports. The Cerea was a very fast sailer, and has been ordinarily a very lucky ship. But now her sailing have are over, and she will find a white sandy bed on which to lie until broken up by the strong waves of old ocean.


 

 

site stats

 

Site Copyright 2003-2014 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection,

contact: paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.