Civil War Overview
Civil War 1861
Civil War 1862
Civil War 1863
Civil War 1864
Civil War 1865
Civil War Battles
Robert E. Lee
Civil War Medicine
Civil War Links
Civil War Art
Republic of Texas
Civil War Gifts
Robert E. Lee Portrait
RACHEL GREENOUGH'S BOOK.
SUNSET on the East River—and a
lovelier stretch of sky never gladdened the eye of beauty-seeking artist! A
merry little music-box of an April shower was dimpling the turbid tides like the
dance of invisible fairies, and the shining sheets of rain, sweeping away to
wreathe themselves about the arch of a shadowy rainbow, whose solemn splendor
gleamed athwart the heavens, were transformed into so many tiny kaleidoscopes,
as the level sun streamed triumphantly over the spires of the great city.
Involuntarily the passengers all thronged to the rough wooden guards of the
uncouth little ferry-boat—the rudest laborer of them all felt a sudden thrill at
his heart as the conqueror sun threw down his golden lance across the long line
of tremulous waves: if he hadn't, he would have been an iron man indeed! When
Nature speaks in some intonations all her children recognize her language and
bow before it!
Rachel Greenough leaned over the
guards gazing earnestly at the bright sky, her lips apart, and a flush upon her
generally colorless cheek. She was not a beauty, reader, our Rachel: if you had
passed her in the streets you would not have cared to look twice. She was merely
a nice-looking girl, rather pale, with black hair growing low on her forehead,
and gray, thoughtful eyes. But the stalwart young man at her side firmly
believed there was no sweeter or truer face in all the wide world; and he ought
to know, for hadn't he known her ever since they sat side by side on the wooden
benches of the old red school-house under the hill? Hadn't he dwelt all his life
within sight of the Old Poplar Farm which Rachel's father used to own?
"Isn't this a splendid shower,
Rachel! How delicious the air is!" Rachel turned her large eyes wistfully up
into his face.
"Don't it remind you of the April
rains that used to patter on the brook, where the wild honey-suckles and the
hazel bushes grew, Charles? Oh, how I long to escape from the whirl and tumult
here, and feel the sweet country winds upon my brow!"
"So do I, Rachel," he answered;
"you can't imagine how beautiful it looks at the old farm—the violets are all
blue upon the southern slopes, and the borders where you planted the crocuses
look as if they were edged with gold!"
"I wish I could see them!"
murmured Rachel, with clasped hands.
"Then, dearest," urged the young
man, eagerly, "why not accept my offer at once? Why need you stay here, working
brain and health away, when I would so gladly toil for both? Rachel, you know
how warm a welcome my mother would give you at the old homestead. Be my wife
now, and the roses of the spring-time will be brighter to me than ever blossomed
"Not yet—the time is not yet,
Charles," she said, in a low voice, but one which was too decided to admit of
appeal. "My mission is still unaccomplished."
"Rachel," said the young man, "I
won't deny that your language is beyond my comprehension. You always were too
good and wise for me, darling; but I'll wait your own time, even if it should be
a hundred years!"
She put her little hand in his,
with a confiding gesture that made his manly heart leap with gratified pride.
"I don't wonder you are tired of
the city, Rachel," he went on, talking rapidly to veil his pleased
embarrassment; "for even I, who have only been here a week, feel as if I were
lost in its whirlpool. And you have lived here—let me see—"
"Ten years," said Rachel,
quietly. "See, Charles, the boat has stopped: we are at the New York pier. And
"And when shall I see you again?"
"I don't know, dearest—in
Heaven's own good time. Until then, good-by!"
Charles Harford stood on the
crowded pier, heedless of hurrying passengers and shouting cartmen—stood, firm
and immovable as a post, his eyes shaded from the level sunshine with one hand,
watching the slender little figure in gray dress and simple straw bonnet until
it had disappeared in the swaying crowd. And then he turned slowly away, feeling
as if he would give uncounted worlds to be a boy again, with a boy's privilege
of "crying out" his grief!
The April shower had tinkled out
its brief tune, and floated away, through the golden archway of sunset, to
sprinkle other lands with baptismal dew. On the narrow panes of the little city
window the lingering drops yet sparkled like stray diamonds, and all along the
western horizon great ridges of luminous cloud-pearl lay heaped in fantastic
piles and drifts. How it had rained! and what a faint, sweet odor there was in
the moist atmosphere!—a smell of springing grass, and swelling leaf-buds, and
moss-patches, sending up aromatic incense through layers of brown, fallen
leaves. Even in the city street old Abel Greenough felt its undefined charm, and
stretched his gray head out of the window, like a captive who looks through
prison bars, and vainly yearns for his native land.
"Come, father, tea's ready!" said
his bustling little better-half, who, with one eye on the clock and one on the
singing tea-kettle, had spread the round claw-legged table, setting forth the
cups and saucers of brilliant "flowing blue" ware, and elaborately disposing the
rarity of the season—a tumbler of tapering crimson radishes, immersed to their
necks in clear cold water—in the centre of the small feast. "I hear Rachel's
footstep on the stairs; and here's your big cushioned chair, all ready for you.
And I've bought the nicest radishes, and—why, father, what's the matter?"
Mrs. Greenough's cheerful,
chirping tones had changed to an accent of grieved surprise as her eye fell on
her husband's face.
"Oh, wife, wife!" groaned forth
Abel, limping to his chair with rheumatism-cramped limbs, "it does seem as if I
couldn't live, nohow, in this shut-up hole. I don't mind it so much in the
but when it comes to be this time
o' year I feel as though I was perishin' for a breath of the winds that used to
blow from the old pine woods under the Poplar Farm!"
Rachel's soft step, as she came
into the room, with a fresh color in her cheeks and lips, interrupted him; but
as she went up to give him his usual kiss of greeting he resumed:
"What's the use of all your book-learnin',
and your pen-and-ink work, daughter? It can't give me back the old meadows and
pasture land that was my father's afore me! I know you provide our daily bread
for us, and you are a good, dutiful child, but what's the use? Livin' ain't
livin' in this cooped-up swarm of houses, and a body might as well starve to
death as pine to death! Why didn't you marry Charles Harford when you had a
chance, and leave the poverty-stricken old folks to take care of themselves?"
Rachel pressed her cool lips on
her father's burning brow. "Father, you are tired. You will feel better
And the old man, softened by
those gentle tones, clasped his arms about his daughter's neck with a torrent of
repentant words and tender apologies.
"Late that night Rachel sat at
her writing, the shaded gaslight throwing its little circle of brilliance down
upon the flying point of the busy pen, which had been her companion for so long.
"Rachel, dear, it's nearly
midnight!" said the old lady, who was nodding in her chair, having long since
laid aside the silver-bowed spectacles, and the blue woolen "knittin'-work"
which had borne her company during the earlier part of the evening.
"I know it, mother, but I must
work some time yet. Don't sit up for me!"
"Child, what are you so busy
"Mother," said Rachel, leaving
her work to come and kneel down by the old lady's side, her head resting on the
lap that had been her refuge in so many childish troubles, "I am writing a book,
and it is nearly completed!"
"A book? dear me, child; won't it
take you forever?"
"Not quite," said Rachel,
smiling; "but I particularly wish it to be a secret for the present."
"Well, then, I won't breathe a
word—not even to father. But don't work yourself to death, darling!"
Rachel kissed the withered
forehead, and went back with renewed vigor to her toil.
A year had passed away, more than
a year, and the May days were growing longer and sweeter, when Rachel came home
one evening earlier than usual.
"Father, would not you like to
take a long ride to-morrow, with mother and me?"
"A ride?" repeated the old man,
"a ride into the country? Oh yes,
let us go! I believe a sight of the green grass would do my old eyes more good
than all the rose-water in the world!"
The next day came, and as the
carriage rolled through fragrant country roads, where the banks on either side
were sprinkled with butter-cups, and the gnarled old apple-trees shook their
coronals of pink blossoms overhead, Abel Greenough's heart stirred with the glad
feelings he had known as a boy, long, long ago!
"Rachel, this is something like
living! But isn't this the Waynesborough road we are turning into? Do you mean
to visit the Old Poplar Farm?"
"Would you like to see it again,
"Would I like it, daughter?"
repeated Abel, almost reproachfully.
Rachel leaned over to clasp the
old man's tremulous hand.
"Dear father, you shall see it!"
There it lay in the mellow
noonday sunshine, the stately poplars rearing their tapering spires, as of old,
in front of the portico, and the grove of dark cedars still casting cloistral
shadows on the velvet grass at the north of the house. The coral honeysuckle
waved its clusters of bloom around the porch-pillars, as if not a day had
elapsed since Mr. Greenough passed out beneath them with a breaking heart; and
the brown-breasted robins, darting in and out of the patriarchal cherry-trees,
eyed the new-comers shyly, as if uncertain whether they were friends or foes.
Not a patch of moss more upon the low-eaved roof—not a grayer stain on the
antique well-sweep, so clearly outlined against the dazzling sky—they might
almost have quitted it yesterday.
"But, Rachel," said the old man,
uneasily, "why is no one stirring about the place? Why does it look so
"Mr. Jennings sold it a few days
since, father, and it has been vacated, ready for the new occupants."
"And where are they, daughter?"
he questioned, as he stood on the sunshiny porch looking wistfully about him.
"Here, dearest father!" said
Rachel, throwing her arms about his neck. "We are the owners of the dear old
Farm once more. I bought it, and paid for it yesterday. Will you take it as a
gift from your own little Rachel?"
"But where—but how—?" stammered
the bewildered old man.
"Father, it is for this that I
have been toiling during the last eleven years. My work is done at last—tell me
that you approve it!"
But ere Abel Greenough could
answer a tall figure darted from the wall of cedars, and Charles Harford caught
Rachel in his arms.
"Mysterious little riddle! And I
should never have known this had not Jennings accidentally revealed the name of
the anonymous purchaser of the Old Poplar Farm! But, Rachel, am I right in
concluding that the mission you have so often spoken of is at length fulfilled?
Rachel, is the time come when I may claim you as my little wife?"
Nobody could ever assert
distinctly just what Rachel answered to this appeal, but it certainly wasn't
"No." For when the purple-and-gold-winged butterflies swarmed in early June
around the snowy blooms of the great white rose-tree under
the southern windows, every bud
was gathered to deck the dark braids of a quiet bride whose dress of
moonlight-colored silk was scarcely more spotless than her heart.
Old Abel Greenough was in his
glory that night, welcoming once more to his home the friends and neighbors he
had known long ago, and never weary of telling how it was that he had come back
"Charles," he said, as the
handsome young bridegroom came to tell Rachel that the clergyman was waiting,
and to arrange one last moss-rose bud in her hair, "I should almost grudge my
little one to any one else than you. Take her, my boy, and if she makes half as
good a wife as she has been a daughter, you've got a treasure worth all the
diamond-mines of Peru!"
And so Rachel Greenough was
married at last under the peaceful roof of the Old Poplar Farmhouse.
THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
WE continue our series of
THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, from sketches by our
artist, Mr. A. R. Waud. On
page 532 we give a general view of
Mr. Waud writes: "From the top of
the old Harrison Mansion a good view can be obtained of the opposite shore, from
whose thickly-wooded banks peeped till recently the old Ruffin House, now
destroyed by the Union troops, in retaliation for the attack made from that
locality on our camp. The river is, as usual, lively with shipping of all kinds,
large and small; around the clock, near the middle of the picture, the craft
belonging to the
Sanitary Commission is clustered, taking off
the sick. On the right is the dock, formed by about twenty barges, for the
distribution of forage. Here there is always an army of wagons waiting to be
served; and on the barges numerous tents of all conceivable shapes are raised
for the convenience of the wharfmen and contrabands. In the foreground the tents
of the principal hospital of the army appear pitched in what was once the garden
of the Harrison Mansion.
Harrison's Landing [of which we give an
illustration on page 533],
winds through a soft, oozy marsh, covered with rank and luxuriant grass and
inhabited by snakes, one of which bit a soldier last week so severely that he
died. It makes a feature in the landscape quite picturesque, and renders the
right of our line impregnable.
"Kimmidge's Creek [which we
illustrate on page 533]
forms the defense of the extreme left, and is as impassable as the creek on the
right. It is a savage-looking hollow, filled with felled and burned trees, dense
shrubbery, marsh and water—all commanded by the gun-boats on the James; as also
is Heron Creek, on the right wing.
"Much as certain people at the
North may affect to despise mud digging, it does not detract from the
comforts—such as they are—of camp to know that the spade and shovel have made
the position impregnable.
"This sketch will readily explain
why the rebels have not found it in their hearts yet to attack M'Clellan.
Frowning forts rising in embrazured tiers above the deep rifle-pits behind solid
abattis, mounted with heavy guns, and defended by the Army of the Potomac—these
are not the things which the Chivalry care to butt their heads against."
BALLOON AT WORK.
page 541 we illustrate the
departure of one of the Army Balloons, on board a river steamer, on a reconnoissance toward Richmond. The unwieldy mass sways gently on the breeze,
and presents a very remarkable appearance as it moves up the river.
BURNING OF RUFFIN'S HOUSE.
We illustrate this affair on
540, from a sketch by an officer of the Mahaska. On 31st July the rebels opened
fire upon our transports and camps at Harrison's Landing, from field batteries
on the opposite side of the river. The Tribune correspondent thus describes the
The river opposite the landing is
narrower than at any other part opposite the ground on which our troops are
encamped, being only little more than half a mile wide. More than three shots
could not have been fired when I awoke, jumped on the floor, and looked through
the open front of my tent across the river. Directly opposite there was to be
seen the rapid flashes of the rebel guns, while overhead and on all sides came
one continuous stream of shot and shell, hissing and whizzing in the most lively
manner, occasionally lighting up our whole camp, and giving the enemy a "fair
show" at us.
I had a good chance of observing
the position of the rebel batteries, which were three in number, one being
directly opposite the mail-boat landing, another about a mile further up, and
the third opposite our lower forage wharf. I should think each battery consisted
of about ten guns, all of which were 6 and 12 pounders. They were worked well
and had the range nearly exact, but more than three-fourths of their shells did
The whole of our gun-boats except
one were away up the river some miles above the head-quarters of
General McClellan. The flag-ship Wachusett was
the nearest boat to us in that direction; the beat that was below was the
Cimerone, which was the first that came up and engaged the battery opposite the
mail dock. In splendid style she poured her broadsides into the secesh. Soon
after the Wachusett joined the fray, and her monster guns sent their blazing
contents into the cowardly foe that never attacks us except by stealth or
surprise. Now the gallant men of the First Connecticut Artillery (Colonel
Tyler's siege train) arrived from their encampment, more than half a mile away.
There was only a guard left over the guns, the men being encamped the above
distance from them, and in a few seconds the 32-pounders and the splendid
Whitworths blazed away at the rebels, producing an electric effect, and in a few
rounds completely silenced the rascals, who ran for their lives miles away out
On the following day two
regiments of regulars from
General F. J. Porter's corps, crossed the river
under cover of the guns of the Mahaska. As there was no landing-place it took
them a long time to effect a landing. Squads of the enemy's horse
were seen riding along the river
banks some time previous, and great excitement was manifested while our troops
were crossing. A landing was effected by the two regiments at six o'clock, and
in a short time after dense clouds of smoke were seen issuing from the houses of
the secesh, which were about one mile from the banks of the river. Ten
houses—among others that of the Hon. Edmund Ruffin—were burned down by our
troops. They landed under the protection of our gun-boats. Cheers rent the air
as the fire was observed breaking out on the other side. When all was consumed
our men returned.
page 536 we give illustrations
of the new iron-clad frigates Ironsides, now building at Philadelphia; the
Roanoke, which is being converted into an iron-clad vessel at the
Navy-yard, Brooklyn; and the Whitney Battery,
which has just been completed at the foot of Eleventh Street, in this city. The
following descriptions will add to the value of the illustrations:
This splendid craft was launched
from the yard of William Crump, Philadelphia, on the 9th ult. She is the first
iron-clad vessel ever built at Philadelphia, and never was there any thing
occurred at Philadelphia in ship-launching, since the launch of the
Pennsylvania, to excite so much public interest as that which attended the
gliding of the Ironsides into her native element. She is the first iron-plated
sea-going war-steamer of large size built by the United States Government, and
is constructed from plans and specifications presented to the Navy Department
last September by Merrick & Sons, of Philadelphia, who are the sole contractors
with the Government. They in turn contracted with Crump & Sons; also with the
Bristol Forge and Bronen & Co., of Pittsburg, for the 4 1/2-inch plating,
reserving to themselves the construction of the machinery and the general
arrangement of the several parts. The contract is dated October 15, and the
vessel it to be ready for steam July 15. Chief Engineer W. W. Wood, of the navy,
superintended the machinery and plating, and Naval Constructor Henry Hoover, the
hull. She is 240 feet long, 58 feet 6 inches wide, and 25 feet deep, being 3250
tons, and having a berth, gun, and spar deck, the latter being shot-proof. Her
frames are of white oak, filled in solid and calked, and the average thickness
of her sides is twenty inches. The iron plating commences at a point four feet
below her water-line, and extends to her spar-deck. The machinery consists of
two horizontal direct-action steam-engines, with cylinders of 50 inches diameter
and 30 inches stroke, intended to make 85 revolutions per minute, and drive a
brass 4-bladed propeller of 13 feet diameter and 18 feet pitch. The boilers are
four in number (horizontal tubular), each 17 feet front, 11 feet deep, and 11
feet high, of a collective force of 1600 horses. The armament will consist of
Dahlgren guns on the gun-deck, and two
200-pounder Parrott guns on the spar-deck. The port-holes will be closed by iron
shutters five inches thick, worked from the inside. As this is a sea-going
steamer, intended to sail as well as steam, she will have three masts, and be
bark-rigged, her topmasts and yards being so arranged that in action they are
lowered, and leave simply the three lower masts in view. When in action all the
men on board are protected from shot or shell, and are below the spar-deck; the
commander only is above that deck, and he occupies a shot-proof iron look-out,
which rises above the spar-deck, and from which he can see all surrounding
objects, and by signals communicate with the officers below. Unlike the
Monitor and Galena, this vessel can carry a
large crew, sufficiently so to board and capture any vessel. Impenetrable to
shot and shell, she will seek close action, and by means of her iron prow sink,
or by her heavy guns capture her opponent. Her light draught of water, 16 feet,
will enable her to enter all our Southern harbors. Even Moultrie and
Sumter can be visited by her, and she may be
able to make an impression on those forts before they are repossessed by the
She is to be clothed amidships
with iron plates ranging from three and a half to four and a half inches thick,
which are to extend four feet below her water-line. She has also a couple of
turrets, similar, but more formidable, to that used on the Monitor, with a
powerful ram on her bow. The plates of the ram will be four and a half inches
thick and twenty feet long, thus giving her a wedge on her bow nine inches
thick. Each of the turrets will be twenty feet diameter inside, the plating of
which will consist of eleven courses of inch iron. Each plate for a turret is
nine feet in length by forty inches wide. Two courses of rivet holes are punched
in each, and they are all bent, cold, in a powerful hydraulic press. The bed
plate of the press is of a concave form, and the top block is of a convex form.
A plate to be bent is placed upon the concave bed plate of the press, and when
properly adjusted the pump forces up three rams under it, and the plate is
reduced to the proper curve against the top block. The pressure to which each
plate is submitted, to give it the proper curve, is three and a half million
pounds. By this method of bending the turret plates cold, there are perfect
uniformity and accuracy secured for the whole. The bending of the thick plates
for the ram and also for the sides of this frigate is quite a different and
difficult operation to perform compared with those of the gun towers. Each of
these plates has to be bent to the proper curve to suit its own particular place
on the vessel, and not only the broadside, but the edges also, must be bent to
suit the particular curves. All these plates are hammered iron, and are
furnished by several companies in Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
When they arrive they resemble huge straight iron slabs, varying in length from
eleven to twenty-two feet, and in breadth front twenty-two to twenty-four
inches, and their average thickness is four and a half inches. One of eleven and
a half feet in length weighs about four thousand two hundred and forty pounds;
one of twenty-two feet in length, for the ram, weighs over four tons. Such
masses of iron are difficult to move about, and the operations connected with
bending them are necessarily tedious and troublesome, and they require great
care and skill to conduct properly. Of course it is impossible to bend such
masses of iron cold; hence each plate is first heated to nearly a white heat its
a long furnace, shaped something like a baker's oven, with a movable arched
cover. The press for bending is quite different from the one used for the turret
page 537 we give a series of
illustrations representing the manufacture of the guns with which the Roanoke
and the new Monitors are to be armed, They are what are called Rodman guns,
having been first made by Captain Rodman, of the artillery, who afterward turned
traitor and is now in the rebel service. Their peculiarity consists in their
size, which is far greater than that of any other guns in existence. After being
cast, a stream of water is poured through the muzzle, coming out at the vent, so
that the gun is cooled from the inside, thus obviating flaws. There are being
cast of these guns at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, quite a large number, some
15-inch, some 20-inch, and we hear of some even larger in the bore. The 20-inch
guns will throw a solid ball weighing 1500 pounds, which would go through the
side of any vessel ever constructed, or batter down almost any wall. It is
intended to arm the new Monitors and all our coast fortifications with these