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Page) remain and share his fate. He brings confused rumors confirming
Dan Byrne's representations. A roving band of defeated Tennesseeans will, in all
probability, pass by the homestead. There remains only the hope that their haste
may prove greater than their inclination for mischief and desire for wreaking
vengeance upon the isolated home of a known loyalist, or that Dan's services,
wounds, and mutilation may purchase his uncle's safety, of which he himself is
not too sanguine.
Slowly and heavily the night
draws on, as, in an upper room, the four inmates of the house wait and listen.
Mattresses are placed between the windows, the fire-arms stand loaded and ready,
and Harry, with a pale, resolute face, is temporarily relieving Dan in the task
of casting bullets. The two old soldiers converse together earnestly. Dan,
perturbed and expectant, walks to and fro, or seating himself, assumes a
calmness which any transient sound discomposes.
" If it comes to the worst we kin
clear out down the slope at the back of the house," says Brodnax; "for I reckon
they won't risk their necks in attacking us that side. Then there's the cave not
two rods off"—alluding to one of those natural excavations, popularly known in
Western vernacular as "sink-holes,'' which undermine all this portion of
Kentucky— "would hold a hundred of us easy."
"I've thought of that," Byrne
rejoins, and there's a ladder handy to its mouth. But, mind, I intend to fight
this place just as long as I kin hold it."
" Sartain !" replied his comrade,
who in ceasing to combat the other's resolution seemed to have adopted his
readiness, if not his eagerness, for the expected fight; "have you left the flag
" It's thar still. I wish there
was a moon that they could see it."
"Well, I don't care so much about
that ; if they take it for the 'Stars and Bars' it's no matter. You won't open
the ball unless they begin it, I reckon ?"
"No!" answered Jasper Byrne,
relapsing into silence, in which the party retained for perhaps ten minutes,
listening to the stormy music of the wind in the forest.
" Come to the door; we shall have
plenty of time to fix it and get back," suggests Brodnax. And the two men
descend the stairs, unfasten the door, and look out from the shelter of the
little piazza into the night and the wild landscape.
Another pause, and a long one.
Then through the blustering and soughing of the wind, the dashing of the leaves,
and now the patter of the angry rain, a sound, at first faint and distant,
rising and falling, a dull, hollow murmur. Anon only the wind and rain. Then the
murmur, increasing or lessening with the atmospheric tumult and the windings of
the road. Presently an unmistakable sound, resolving itself into the scrambling,
disorderly approach of a body of men.
"At last!" The two old soldiers
draw back into the house, and are about to close and barricade the door when Dan
Byrne stands before them.
"Let me go out, uncle !" he says;
"I shall be of more use there than within." His request is granted without a
word, and in another minute he stands outside with the door bolted and barred
The tramp grows louder and
louder, the murmur swells into voices ; lights, torches, and musket-barrels
flash through the wet foliage. In another minute the approaching body,
imperfectly seen in the darkness, emerges from the black covert of the woods and
comes toward the house. It may comprise between twenty and thirty men, some of
them wounded, half of them weaponless. Ragged, dirty, shoeless, savage, weary,
and intoxicated, defeat is written in their demeanor and aspect.
Dan Byrne watches them narrowly.
Espying his figure by the lights they carry, some of them set up a shout,
half-inquiry, half-menace. He advances and confronts them, and is at once
recognized by certain of the group.
"What now, boys?" he asks, as
they crowd about him with inquiries as to how he came there.
"We've been whipped by the
Lincolnites, -'em, and they're after us !" is the cry, blended with demands for
liquor and refreshment, which the more unruly spirits are about to enforce by a
rush toward the house, when Dan raises his voice in vigorous remonstrance :
" Boys !" he cries, "you know me
as your comrade, and that I lost this arm in fighting for Southern Rights, and
that I wouldn't have cared if it had ben my life. Now, I ask you in return jes'
to keep right straight on, without touchin' this house. It belongs to my uncle,
and he's an old man, and I don't want him troubled. His only son got killed on
our side in the skrimmage up to Edmondson's, and he wants to be let alone."
There was a confused clamor of
voices, some in approval, some in dissent. Then a voice shouted, "We've heard of
him ! he's a d—d Unionist and Yankee, and has got their - flag flying ! Let's
have it down, boys !" A partial hurrah followed.
"I know you, Mat Green," said Dan
Byrne, bitterly, in the direction of the last speaker; "the biggest coward in
the regiment ! Come here, and for all I've got but one arm I'll whip you, and do
it easy !"
Some of the Tennesseeans set up a
laugh at this, and for a moment the young Kentuckian thought he had prevailed.
Only for a moment : in another he found himself hustled to and fro, half in
drunken sport, half in earnest, and heard four or five of the party, who had
ascended the piazza, beating on the door and clamoring for admission and speech
with the inmates. Very soon, in
reply, an upper window was raised behind the planking, and the strong stern
voice of old Jasper Byrne demanded the cause of the tumult.
" Give us some whisky !" " Let us
in !" "Haul down that - - flag !" These and more confused outcries were the
answers of the crowd in front of the house, while the men immediately below
continued their clamor.
" Go to him who sent you hither,
the father of all evil !" said the Kentuckian; "not one of ye
shall set foot over my threshold
while I have power to prevent it, pack of rebels that ye are!" "Beat down the
door !" " Set fire to the house !" And the blows of musket-butts began to rain
on the portal, mingled with execrations and bloody threats. Dan Byrne meanwhile
strove furiously with those about him; but his struggles were useless, his voice
unheard amidst the uproar.
"Hear use once more," his uncle
shouted ; and the tumult slackened, the besiegers probably anticipating some
capitulation involving compliance with their demands. " You have murdered my
boy, now clear out before I am tempted to revenge his death upon ye !"
Almost as he spoke a pistol-shot
was fired at him, followed by the irregular explosion of half a dozen muskets in
the same direction. The sharp crack of a rifle answered this—another—and two of
the foremost of the cluster in front fell to the ground, mortally wounded.
Then uprose a wild shout of rage
and desire for vengeance, scarcely uttered before two simultaneous and equally
fatal discharges sent their leaden messengers of death through the heart or
brain of others; and scatter as their comrades might, in temporary panic from
that group which afforded so certain an aim to the practiced marksmen within,
yet a fifth and a sixth victim was added to the list before they gained cover in
which to gnash their teeth and concert measures of reprisal. Even there,
wherever the gleam of a torch or lantern indicated their presence, so sure did a
bullet follow them, not always unsuccessfully.
"We might drive 'em off," said
Dave Brodnax, grim with smoke and gunpowder, yet with the light of battle
illuminating his rough features, "if it weren't for the villains below ; they'll
be up to mischief before long, I reckon. S'pose we go down and give 'em a shot
or two by way of a scare ?"
Jasper Byrne assented. "They're
creeping round among the thickets, I know by their silence," said he, after a
glance outward ; "we shall have 'em trying the door and windows directly. What's
that ?" He paused abruptly in his speech and listened as to a distant sound.
"Only the rain," suggested
Brodnax, whose sense of hearing was not so acute as that of his companions. The
storm had increased and the rain now descended in torrents.
"I wish that was all," answered
Byrne ; "that's on our side, but I reckon those who are coming won't be so. Do
you hear any thing, girl ?"
"I hear a sound in the distance,
but can not distinguish what it is," Harry replied. Steadfast and resolute as
the two men, she had kept her word in loading their rifles for them throughout
the attack, not even blenching when a chance bullet cut its way between the
stout oak planks and through her black fell of hair—the only shot which had
penetrated the apartment.
"It's horses and men coming this
way," pronounced her father; "we shall soon know what for. Harry, you're dressed
and ready, if we have to run for it ? Now, Dave, down stairs with you, and let's
at 'em agin !" And, bearing the arms and ammunition, the three noiselessly
descended the staircase.
The sound of voices heard through
the wind and rain on the other side of the door at once confirmed Jasper Byrne's
suspicions. The besiegers had reinforced the party sheltered by the piazza, and
while some explored the sides and rear of the premises, in the hope of effecting
an entrance, the majority were audibly engaged in tearing up the adjacent rails
and planking and piling it against the door, evidently with the intention of
setting it on fire, for without such appliances the dampened wood-work had
refused to ignite.
Just as the inmates of the house
stood listening to the devilish intentions avowed within a few feet of them, the
accents changed into surprise and indignation, a sudden fall was heard, as of a
man stricken to the ground, followed by the kicking asunder of the materials of
the intended bonfire, and Dan Byrne's voice, crying,
"You shall kill me first ! Come
on, all of you, cowards that you are, and see if I can't use this bowie to some
effect, maimed as I am ! Come on,
I say !"
A storm of invectives, of
threats, and orders to stand aside answered the challenge. " Not while I live !"
the young Kentuckian rejoined, in tones well-nigh as savage as those about him.
His uncle looked anxiously, first into the face of his old comrade, then at his
"They'll butcher the lad in five
minutes, the blood-thirsty hounds! They will, I know, unless we help him. He
brought it on us ; but he knew no better, and he's gwine to die for us. Dave !
Dave ! what shall I do ? Think of Harry, if they prove too many for us !"
" Open the door, father !" the
girl replied ; " save Dan if you can ! We're in God's hands, and in Him lies our
safety !" And, intent on her cousin's rescue, she rushed to the door and began
undoing its fastenings.
Jasper Byrne laid his hand on her
arm. " Leave it to us," said he. "Do you go up stairs. Wait and see what
happens; and if the time comes, and there's nothing left for it, mind my last
word and .fly—you know how."
Snatching up a gun, the girl
obeyed him without a word. Then with bowie-knives between their teeth, and
revolvers in hand, the two old soldiers unshot the fastenings of the door.
They were just in time. The
Tennesseeans, infuriated by the opposition of their late comrade, had attacked
and beaten him to his knee, in which position he still defended himself
desperately, having already slain one and wounded two men. As the door
opened—which it did so suddenly as to be entirely unanticipated by the
besiegers—a cry was raised to brain him, to trample him to death. Quick as the
utterance he was snatched from beneath the uplifted musket-butts and dragged
into the house by the strong arm of his uncle, while Brodnax attempted, but in
vain, to close and refasten the door. The lumber piled against it had fallen
With yells of rage and exultation
the Tennesseeans rushed forward to improve their fancied opportunity. They were
met by so deadly and rapid a discharge of revolvers that seven of their number
bit the dust, and the rest wavered and might have recoiled but for those in the
rear pressing on them. So on they came tumultuously, thirsting for blood and
howling like so many fiends. Then the portal and passage became the scene of a
conflict I want words to do justice to.
Steadfastly, sternly, and
desperately, fighting inch by inch, did the three Kentuckians—for Dan Byrne soon
sprang to his feet and repaid his deliverance by as effectual use of sword and
pistol as ever one-armed man achieved—contest the ground, rendered slippery with
the blood of the fallen. The narrow passage was sulphureous with smoke, resonant
with oath and death-shriek, ghastly with human suffering. Inch by inch the brave
defenders of hearth and home are borne backward, wounded but undaunted, to the
foot of the staircase, from the upper portion of which has more than once come
sudden destruction to the enemy in the shape of a musket-shot. The three are
overmatched by numbers, and fight apparently with no hope but that of selling
their lives as clearly as possible-
When a tumult arises without, the
tramp of horses' feet, cries of alarm, a volley of musket-shots, and, clear
above the storm which has concealed the approach of the new-comers, a ringing
cheer for the Union, blended with, "Down with the seceshers !" who find
themselves suddenly attacked in the rear by the troop of loyal Kentuckians from
which they had fled in defeat and disgrace only that morning.
* * * * *
It were needless to protract our
story by the relation of the particulars of the conflict. It was short, sharp,
and bloody, terminating in the capture of the majority of the rebels, the
dispersion and flight of the remainder. When Captain Maurice Byrne returned from
the pursuit, wiping his ensanguined sword upon his horse's mane, it was to
congratulate those whom his timely arrival had rescued from death, and to
embrace her whom he loved dearer than life itself, and, in due time, to receive
at once the reward of his love and loyalty.
THE MISSISSIPPI EXPEDITION.
page 72 we publish, from a
sketch by our Western correspondent, Mr. Alexander Simplot, a view of the
departure from Cairo of the advance of the
great Mississippi expedition, under
McClernand. The World correspondent writes :
The expedition consists of a
brigade, consisting of about 6000 men, under General McClernand, which was
embarked on board transport steamers on Thursday and Friday, and ferried over to
a point on the river seven miles below. It is called, from the name of an old
Indian fort, Fort Jefferson, and is situated on the eastern shore of the
Mississippi, at Mayfield creek, five mile below
Fort Holt. Leaving the execrably
muddy levee of Cairo on the fast little steamer, the Rob Roy, we followed the
gun-boat Lexington on Saturday, and found the encampment at Fort Jefferson a
very picturesque and convenient place, nearly opposite
Norfolk. After noon guns
were heard from the direction of
Flag-Officer Foote, with Colonel
Webster, proceeded immediately to the scene of probable action. Two of the
gun-boats had escorted the transports to the rendezvous, and it was supposed
some engagement was transpiring. The Lexington kept on beyond the encampment,
and disappeared behind a point three miles below. After waiting for some hours
the three gun-boats- Essex, St. Louis, Lexington, the transport Alerk Scott, and
a small tugboat—were seen coming up the river. The results of the expedition
were soon made known. During the morning a rebel steamer had approached within
sight of General McClernand's lines. Some of our pickets had discerned her
approach and given the alarm. The gun-boats were at once cast off, but being
rather slow, and a rising fog temporarily obscuring the rebel steamer, they
could not overhaul her. The chase was continued to within two miles of Columbus,
when the Grampus held up, with a view of enticing our boats under the guns of
the batteries. Twenty or thirty shots were fired at her, but with uncertain
effect. The gun-boats turned up stream, leaving the Confederates in their
strong-hold. The smoke of our steamers might have been seen on the previous day
from Columbus, and this reconnoissance was but a natural disposition on their
part to discover what was the meaning of the movement down the river. The
officers at Columbus had doubtless heard of the projected expedition to
Nashville. This pushing down of troops five miles nearer their lines was enough
to give them the cue for an advance.
A special dispatch to the Chicago
Times, dated twelve miles from Columbus on the 16th, says an additional force,
General Grant and staff, left Cairo yesterday at 10 o'clock, and overtook M'Clernand's, Paine's, and Cook's columns during the afternoon.
The following order in relation
to the expedition has been issued by General Grant :
HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF
CAIRO, January 13, 1862.
GENERAL ORDER No. 3.
During the absence of the
expedition now starting, upon soil hitherto occupied almost solely by the rebel
army, and when it is a fair inference that every stranger is our enemy, the
following orders will be observed:
Troops in marching will be kept
in the ranks, company officers being held strictly accountable for all
stragglers from their companies. No firing will be allowed in camp or on the
march not strictly required in the performance of duty. While in camp, no
permits will be granted to officers or soldiers to leave their regimental
grounds, and all violations of this order must be promptly and summarily
Disrepute having been brought
upon our brave soldiers by the bad conduct of some of their numbers (showing, on
all occasions when marching through territory occupied by sympathizers with the
enemy, a total disregard of rights of citizens, and being guilty of wanton
destruction of private property), the general commanding desires and intends to
enforce a change in this respect. Interpreting confiscating acts by troops
themselves has a demoralizing effect, and weakens them in exact proportion to
the demoralization, and makes open and armed enemies of the many who, from
opposite treatment, would become friends, or at worst non-combatants. It is
ordered that the severest punishment be inflicted upon every soldier who is
guilty of taking or destroying private property, and any commissioned officer
guilty of like conduct, or of countenancing it, shall be deprived of his sword
and expelled from the camp, not to be permitted to return.
On the march cavalry
advance-guards will be well thrown out. Also flank-guards of cavalry or
infantry. When practicable, a regular guard of infantry will be required to see
that no teams, baggage, or disabled soldiers are left behind.
It will be the duty of company
commanders to see that rolls of their company are called immediately upon going
into camp each day, and every member accounted for.
By order, U. S. GRANT,
THE " PENSACOLA" AT SEA.
page 76 we illustrate the
STEAMER "PENSACOLA" PASSING THE REBEL BATTERIES on
the Potomac on her way to
sea. The Herald correspondent thus describes the passage:
Yesterday morning, 11th, the
Pensacola left Alexandria at half past seven o'clock, and immediately proceeded
down the river, escorted by the tug-boat Pusey. A large canal-boat, loaded with
hay to protect her machinery, was fastened on the starboard side of the
Pensacola. She had her top-gallant masts struck, so as to lighten her top hamper
as much as possible, which deprived her masts of that beautiful symmetry usually
exhibited by her tall and tapering spars, giving them a stumpy appearance. On
arriving at Fairfax beach, below the White House, she came to an anchor, to
await the time of her departure under cover of darkness.
I accompanied Captain Grumley, of
the Stepping Stones, on board the Pensacola. Every thing was prepared for the
expected conflict ; the deck was sanded, sponges, rammers, and handspikes
provided, and upon the carriage of each gun were a ten-seconds shell and a stand
At half past three o'clock we (on
board the Yankee) were roused up by the officer of the deck, who ordered all
hands to quarters, announcing that the Pensacola was coming down. There was no
piping nor calling to quarters, as it would have been heard on the Virginia
shore, but the men quietly turned out. Soon a black object was seen moving
toward us. The sky was overcast with clouds, which obscured the moon and stars,
and every thing was favorable for the business in hand. The Pensacola slowly
neared us, and passed within a few feet of our starboard side. Captain Morris,
hailing the Yankee, ordered a light to be hoisted. This was done on her only
mast. A colored light being run up within a few feet of the truck. All hands
were now at quarters. The strictest silence was enjoined, and every thing was in
readiness to weigh anchor, should that be necessary. The light served two
purposes. It guided the Pensacola in taking her bearings, while it deceived the
rebels, who no doubt took the Yankee for the Pensacola; and while the latter
vessel was slowly stealing past the batteries at Cockpit Point they were
awaiting her coming. A light is now seen gleaming from Cockpit Point. It is
answered front below, and so on from Freestone Point and intermediate places.
These are signal-lights announcing the approach of the Pensacola. The lights
occasionally vanish, to be resumed with increasing brilliancy. It is now four
o'clock, and not a shot has been fired. It is possible that the Pensacola will
be allowed to pass unmolested, the rebels still deceived by our ruse. At length
the cheat is discovered, but too late for the most formidable of the batteries
at Cockpit Point, that facing Mattawoman Creek and up the river. Stump Neck is
passed. There goes a flash, followed, after a few seconds, by the report of a
rifled field-piece from the battery facing downward. It is a signal that the
Pensacola has commenced to run the gauntlet. A long interval ensues, and we
begin to think the batteries lower down will not fire. Another flash is seen,
and after another long interval it is followed by three more in rapid succession
from the direction of Shipping Point. The Pensacola returns the fire, for a
bright flash is seen from the river, revealing the dark hull and rigging of the
gallant vessel ; or can it be that a shell from the enemy has struck her and
exploded? A light is seen below the batteries; it is from the Freeborn, as a
beacon to the Pensacola. The firing continues but slowly. There is a want of
vigor on the part of the rebels unusual with them. Battey after battery opens,
throwing their shells at long intervals, but the Pensacola does not reply.
Seventeen rounds are fired, when a more vivid gleam of yellow flame than any
seen before issues from Shipping Point. It is soon followed by a stunning roar.
It is the enemy's biggest gun. A long interval of silence is succeeded by one
more shot. It is now five minutes to five o'clock. The Pensacola has passed
The secret of the escape of the
Pensacola is thus revealed in a letter from one of her officers to the Herald:
The first shot and shell flew
through the rigging and around the lower mast-heads and lower yards. Observing
this, we knew that the hull of the good ship was safe; for unless we fired the
elevation of the enemy's guns could not be rectified. It was a severe trial for
officers and men to stand with guns trained upon their assailants and not
deliver a reply. There never was a ship in better trim for a conflict, and never
were men readier or better trained. for a light, or more deliberately governed
by officers. We all knew that Government did not wish the ship to be crippled in
the Potomac at any price, and we felt that she must be reserved for a
battle-ground where no shell would be thrown away in darkness.
GENERAL BURNSIDE'S EXPEDITION AT
WE illustrate on page 76
BURNSIDE EXPEDITION as it appeared off
Fort Monroe on the eve of its departure.
The Herald correspondent said:
Hampton Roads has only witnessed
one such spectacle as the one presented at present, and that was during the
latter portion of October, when General Sherman's Port Royal armada congregated
here. The scene presented by the numerous vessels composing this expedition is
very animating. During the evening of yesterday all the vessels were
illuminated, and the music of the numerous bands with the regiments on the
vessels was soul-stirring in the extreme. The calm, placid water and the bright
silvery moon added additional splendor to the occasion.
Long after retreat was beaten did
the soldiers of the Tenth Regiment New York Volunteers line the ramparts, and
cheer upon cheer resounded through the "stilly night." A sail in the harbor
under such auspices, on a bright moonlight night, with the thermometer at sixty
degrees, is a pleasure which can not very conveniently be indulged in north of
Our neighbors, the rebels, are of
course on the qui vive, and it must have been galling to them to listen to the
delightful strains of Gilmore's and other bands that are constantly performing
national airs on board of the vessels. The sound of the music is heard at
Sewell's point as plainly as it is at the fort, and already has a
rebel flag of
truce come up on a flimsy pretext to spy out the strength of the expedition,
RETURNED PRISONERS FROM
page 77 to an
illustration of the reception of some
Federal prisoners (who had been released
by the rebels) in the camp of their division at
Washington. The Herald
correspondent said :
Bull Run prisoners
belonging to the New York 1st regiment, numbering thirty-two, visited their
regiment, which is attached to
General Franklin's division, and met with a
cordial reception from their officers and companions in arms. The poor fellows
are staying in quarters here, and have not yet received their pay or a furlough,
and were invited to visit their comrades and partake of a bountiful feast. The
scene was a touching one, as the men who have languished five months in the
rebel prison grasped the hands of their more fortunate fellow-soldiers, and were
welcomed home. Many of the officers of the division were present, and in the
speeches made on the happy occasion allusions were made in a feeling manner to
the sufferings of those who endured captivity, and to the memory of those of the
regiment who died in their country's cause. The comfort of the returned
prisoners will be amply provided for in the camp.