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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These newspapers serve as an incredible research resource for the serious student of the Civil War. These papers are full of incredible illustrations and stories made by the people who saw it all happen.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

Sharpsburg

Sharpsburg

Emancipation Proclamation Discusssion

 Emancipation Proclamation Article

Lincoln Suspends Writ of Habeas Corpus

Southwest

War in the Southwest

Battle of Antietam Map

Map of the Battle of Antietam

Jackson

Jackson, Tennessee

shepherdstown

Shepherdstown

Louisville Evacuation

Louisville Evacuation

Antietam

Maryland Battery at Antietam

Antietam Dead and Wounded

The Dead and Wounded at Antietam

Louisville

Louisville

Antietam Battlefield

Antietam Battlefield

Lincoln Cartoon

Lincoln Cartoon

Antietam Battle

Antietam Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER 11, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

647

moonlight, which had whispered to her in the awful calm.

"I saw the end as the end must be," she said to herself, "on Thursday night. I have been wrong ever since."

When she and her companion met that morning she reiterated her complaint of suffering from the toothache; she repeated her refusal to allow Mrs. Wragge to procure a remedy; she left the house after breakfast, in the direction of the chemist's shop, exactly as she had left it on the morning before.

This time she entered the shop without an instant's hesitation.

"I have got an attack of toothache," she said abruptly to an elderly man who stood behind the counter.

"May I look at the tooth, Miss?"

"There is no necessity to look. It is a hollow tooth. I think I have caught cold in it."

The chemist recommended various remedies which were in vogue fifteen years since. She declined purchasing any of them.

" I have always found Laudanum relieve the pain better than any thing else," she said, trifling with the bottles on the counter, and looking at them while she spoke, instead of looking at the chemist. "Let me have some Laudanum."

"Certainly, Miss. Excuse my asking the question—it is only a matter of form. You are staying at Aldborough, I think?"

"Yes. I am Miss Bygrave, of North Shingles."

The chemist bowed; and, turning to his shelves, filled an ordinary half-ounce bottle with laudanum immediately. In ascertaining his customer's name and address beforehand the owner of the shop had taken a precaution which was natural to a careful man, but which was by no means universal, under similar circumstances, in the state of the law at that time.

"Shall I put you up a little cotton-wool with the laudanum?" he asked, after he had placed a label on the bottle, and had written a word on it in large letters.

"If you please. What have you just written on the bottle?" She put the question sharply, with something of distrust as well as curiosity in her manner.

The chemist answered the question by turning the label toward her. She saw written on it, in large letters—POISON.

"I like to be on the safe side, Miss," said the old man, smiling. " Very worthy people in other respects are often sadly careless where poisons are concerned."

She began trifling again with the bottles on the counter, and put another question, with an ill-concealed anxiety to hear the answer.

"Is there danger," she asked, "in such a little drop of laudanum as that?"

"There is Death in it, Miss," replied the chemist, quietly.

"Death to a child, or to a person in delicate health?"

"Death to the strongest man in England, let him be who he may."

With that answer the chemist sealed up the bottle in its wrapping of white paper, and handed the laudanum to Magdalen across the counter. She laughed as she took it from him and paid for it.

"There will be no fear of accidents at North Shingles," she said. "I shall keep the bottle locked up in my dressing-case. If it doesn't relieve the pain, I must come to you again and try some other remedy. Good-morning."

"Good-morning, Miss."

She went straight back to the house without once looking up—without noticing any one who passed her. She brushed by Mrs. Wragge in the passage as she might have brushed by a piece of furniture. She ascended the stairs, and caught her foot twice in her dress from sheer inattention to the common precaution of holding it up. The trivial daily interests of life had lost their hold on her already.

In the privacy of her own room she took the bottle from its wrapping, and threw the paper and the cotton-wool into the fire-place. At the moment when she did this there was a knock at the door. She hid the little bottle, and looked up impatiently. Mrs. Wragge came into the room.

"Have you got something for your toothache, my dear?"

"Yes."

"Can I do any thing to help you?"

"No"

Mrs. Wragge still lingered uneasily near the door. Her manner showed plainly that she had something more to say.

"What is it?" asked Magdalen, sharply.

"Don't be angry," said Mrs. Wragge. "I'm not settled in my mind about the captain. He's a great writer—and he hasn't written. He's as quick as lightning—and he hasn't come back. Here's Saturday, and no signs of him. Has he run away, do you think? Has any thing happened to him?"

"I should think not. Go down stairs; I'll come and speak to you about it directly."

As soon as she was alone again Magdalen rose front her chair, advanced toward a cupboard in the room which locked, and paused for a moment, with her hand on the key, in doubt. Mrs. Wragge's appearance had disturbed the whole current of her thoughts. Mrs. Wragge's last question, trifling as it was, had checked her on the verge of the precipice—had roused the old vain hope in her once more of release by accident.

"Why not?" she said. "Why may something not have happened to one of them?"

She placed the laudanum in the cupboard, locked it, and put the key in her pocket. "Time enough still," she thought, "before Monday. I'll wait till the captain comes back."

After some consultation down stairs it was

agreed that the servant should sit up that night in expectation of her master's return. The day passed quietly, without events of any kind. Magdalen dreamed away the hours over a book. A weary patience of expectation was all she felt now—the poignant torment of thought was dulled and blunted at last. She passed the day and the evening in the parlor, vaguely conscious of a strange feeling of aversion to going back to her own room. As the night advanced, as the noises ceased indoors and out, her restlessness began to return. She endeavored to quiet herself by reading. Books failed to fix her attention. The newspaper was lying in a corner of the room: she tried the newspaper next.

She looked mechanically at the headings of the articles; she listlessly turned over page after page, until her wandering attention was arrested by the narrative of an execution in a distant part of England. There was nothing to strike her in the story of the crime, and yet she read it. It was a common, horribly-common, act of bloodshed—the murder of a woman in farm-service by a man in the same employment who was jealous of her. He had been convicted on no extraordinary evidence; he had been hanged under no unusual circumstances. He had made his confession, when he knew there was no hope for him, like other criminals of his class; and the newspaper had printed it at the end of the article, in these terms:

I kept company with the deceased for a year or thereabouts. I said I would marry her when I had money enough. She said I had money enough now. We had a quarrel. She refused to walk out with me any more; she wouldn't draw me my beer; she took up with my fellow-servant, David Crouch. I went to her on the Saturday and said I would marry her as soon as we could be asked in church, if she would give up Crouch. She laughed at me. She turned me out of the wash-house, and the rest of them saw her turn me out. I was not easy in my mind. I went and sat on a gate—the gate on the meadow they call Pettit's Piece. I thought I would shoot her. I went and fetched my gun and loaded it. I went out into Pettit's Piece again. I was hard put to it to make up my mind. I thought I would try my luck—I mean try whether to kill her or not—by throwing up the Spud of the plow into the air. I said to myself, if it falls flat, I'll spare her; if it falls point in the earth, I'll kill her. I took a good swing with it and shied it up. It fell point in the earth. I went and shot her. It was a bad job, but I did it. I did it, as they said I did it at the trial. I hope the Lord will have mercy on me. I wish my mother to have my old clothes. I have no more to say.

In the happier days of her life Magdalen would have passed over the narrative of the execution, and the printed confession which accompanied it, unread—the subject would have failed to attract her. She read the horrible story now—read it with an interest unintelligible to herself. Her attention, which had wandered over higher and better things, followed every sentence of the murderer's hideously direct confession from beginning to end. If the man or the woman had been known to her—if the place had been familiar to her memory—she could hardly have followed the narrative more closely, or have felt a more distinct impression of it left on her mind. She laid down the paper, wondering at herself; she took it up once more and tried to read some other portion of the contents. The effort was useless; her attention wandered again. She threw the paper away and went out into the garden. The night was dark, the stars were few and faint. She could just sec the gravel walk—she could just pace it backward and forward between the house-door and the gate.

The confession in the newspaper had taken a fearful hold on her mind. As she paced the walk the black night opened over the sea, and showed her the murderer in the field hurling the Spud of the plow into the air. She ran, shuddering, back to the house. The murderer followed her into the parlor. She seized the candle and went up into her room. The vision of her own distempered fancy followed her to the place where the laudanum was hidden, and vanished there.

It was midnight, and there was no sign yet of the captain's return.

She took from the writing-case the long letter which she had written to Norah, and slowly read it through. The letter quieted her. When she reached the blank space left at the end she hurriedly turned back and began it over again.

One o'clock struck from the church clock, and still the captain never appeared.

She read the letter for the second time: she turned back obstinately, despairingly, and began it for the third time. As she once more reached the last page she looked at her watch. It was a quarter to two. She had just put the watch back in the belt of her dress when there came to her—far off in the stillness of the morning—a sound of wheels.

She dropped the letter, and clasped her cold hands in her lap and listened. The sound came on, faster and faster, nearer and nearer — the trivial sound to all other cars; the sound of Doom to hers. It passed the side of the house; it traveled a little further on; it stopped. She heard a loud knocking—then the opening of a window—then voices—then a long silence—then the wheels again, coming back—then the opening of the door below, and the sound of the captain's voice in the passage.

She could endure it no longer. She opened her door a little way and called to him.

He ran up stairs instantly, astonished that she was not in bed. She spoke to him through the narrow opening of the door, keeping herself hidden behind it, for she was afraid to let him see her face.

"Has any thing gone wrong?" she asked.

" Make your mind easy," he answered. "Nothing has gone wrong."

"Is no accident likely to happen between this and Monday?"

"None whatever. The marriage is a certainty."

"A certainty?"

"Yes."

"Good-night."

She put her hand out through the door. He

took it with some little surprise: it was not often in his experience that she gave him her hand of her own accord.

"You have sat up too long," he said, as he felt the clasp of her cold fingers. "I am afraid you will have a bad night—I'm afraid you will not sleep."

She softly closed the door.

"I shall sleep," she said, "sounder than you think for."

It was past two o'clock when she shut herself up alone in her room. Her chair stood in its customary place by the toilet-table. She sat down for a few minutes thoughtfully—then opened her letter to Norah, and turned to the end, where the blank space was left. The last lines written above the space ran thus:

I have laid my whole heart bare to you; I have hidden nothing. It has come to this. The end I have toiled for at such terrible cost to myself, is an end which I must reach, or die. It is wickedness, madness, what you will —but it is so. There are now two journeys before me to choose between. If I can marry him—the journey to the church. If the profanation of myself is more than I can bear—the journey to the grave!

Under that last sentence she wrote these lines.

My choice is made. If the cruel law will let you, lay me with my father and mother in the church-yard at home.

Farewell, my love! Be always innocent; be always happy. If Frank ever asks about me, say I died forgiving him. Don't grieve long for me, Norah—I am not worth it.

She sealed the letter and addressed it to her sister. The tears gathered in her eyes as she laid it on the table. She waited until her sight was clear again, and then took the bank-notes once more from the little bag in her bosom. After wrapping them in a sheet of note-paper, she wrote Captain Wragge's name on the inclosure, and added these words below it: "Lock the door of my room, and leave me till my sister comes. The money I promised you is in this. You are not to blame; it is my fault, and mine only. If you have any friendly remembrance of me. be kind to your wife for my sake."

After placing the inclosure by the letter to Norah, she rose and looked round the room. Some few little things in it were not in their places. She set them in order, and drew the curtains on either side at the head of her bed. Her own dress was the next object of her scrutiny. It was all as neat, as pure, as prettily arranged as ever. Nothing about her was disordered but her hair. Some tresses had fallen loose on one side of her head; she carefully put them back in their places, with the help of her glass. "How pale I look!" she thought, with a faint smile. "Shall I be paler still when they find me in the morning?"

She went straight to the place where the laudanum was hidden and took it out. The bottle was so small that it lay easily in the palm of her hand. She let it remain there for a little while, and stood looking at it.

"DEATH!" she said. "In this drop of brown drink—DEATH!"

As the words passed her lips an agony of unutterable horror seized on her in an instant. She crossed the room unsteadily, with a maddening confusion in her head, with a suffocating anguish at her heart. She caught at the table to support herself. The faint clink of the bottle, as it fell harmlessly from her loosened grasp and rolled against some porcelain object on the table, struck through her brain like the stroke of a knife. The sound of her own voice, sunk to a whisper—her voice only uttering that one word, Death—rushed in her ears like the rushing of a wind. She dragged herself to the bedside, and rested her head against it, sitting on the floor. "Oh, my life! my life!" she thought; "what is my life worth that I cling to it like this?"

An interval passed, and she felt her strength returning. She raised herself on her knees and hid her face on the bed. She tried to pray—to pray to be forgiven for seeking the refuge of death. Frantic words burst from her lips—words which would have risen to cries if she had not stifled them in the bed-clothes. She started to her feet; despair strengthened her with a headlong fury against herself. In one moment she was back at the table; in another the poison was once more in her hand.

She removed the cork and lifted the bottle to her mouth.

At the first cold touch of the glass on her lips her strong young life leaped up in her leaping blood, and fought with the whole frenzy of its loathing against the close terror of Death. Every active power in the exuberant vital force that was in her rose in revolt against the destruction which her own will would fain have wreaked on her own life. She paused: for the second time she paused in spite of herself. There, in the glorious perfection of her youth and health—there, trembling on the verge of human existence, she stood, with the kiss of the Destroyer close at her lips, and Nature, faithful to its sacred trust, fighting for the salvation of her to the last.

No word passed her lips. Her cheeks flushed deep, her breath came thick and fast. With the poison still in her hand, with the sense that she might faint in another moment, she made for the window and threw back the curtain that covered it.

The new day had risen. The broad, gray dawn flowed in on her over the quiet eastern sea. She saw the waters, heaving large and silent in the misty calm; she felt the fresh breath of the morning flutter cool on her face. Her strength returned; her mind cleared a little. At the sight of the sea her memory recalled the walk in the garden overnight, and the picture which her distempered fancy had painted on the black void. In thought, she saw the picture again—the murderer hurling the Spud of the plow into the air, and setting the life or death of the woman who had deserted him on the hazard of the falling point. The infection of that terrible superstition

seized on her mind as suddenly as the new day had burst on her view. The promise of release which she saw in it from the horror of her own hesitation roused the last energies of her despair. She resolved to end the struggle by setting her life or death on the hazard of a chance.

On what chance?

The sea showed it to her. Dimly distinguishable through the mist she saw a little fleet of coasting vessels slowly drifting toward the house, all following the same direction with the favoring set of the tide. In half an hour—perhaps in less —the fleet would have passed her window. The hands of her watch pointed to four o'clock. She seated herself close at the side of the window, with her back toward the quarter from which the vessels were drifting down on her—with the poison placed on the window-sill and the watch on her lap. For one half hour to come she determined to wait there and count the vessels as they went by. If, in that time, an even number passed her, the sign given should be a sign to live. If the uneven number prevailed, the end should be Death.

With that final resolution she rested her head against the window, and waited for the ships to pass.

The first came—high, dark, and near in the mist—gliding silently over the silent sea. An interval, and the second followed, with the third close after it. Another interval, longer and longer drawn out, and nothing passed. She looked at her watch. Twelve minutes, and three ships. Three.

The fourth came; slower than the rest, larger than the rest, farther off in the mist than the rest. The interval followed— a long interval once more. Then the next vessel passed—darkest and nearest of all. Five. The next uneven number—Five.

She looked at her watch again. Nineteen minutes, and five ships. Twenty minutes, twenty-one, two, three, and no sixth vessel. Twenty-four, and the sixth came by. Twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, and the next uneven number—the fatal Seven—glided into view. Two minutes to the end of the half hour. And seven ships.

Twenty-nine, and nothing followed in the wake of the seventh ship. The minute-hand of the watch moved on half-way to thirty, and still the white heaving sea was a misty blank. Without moving her head from the window she took the poison in one hand and raised the watch in the other. As the quick seconds counted each other out, her eyes, as quick as they, looked from the watch to the sea, from the sea to the watch —looked for the last time at the sea—and saw the EIGHTH ship.

Life! At the last moment, Life!

She never moved; she never spoke. The death of thought, the death of feeling, seemed to have come to her already. She put back the poison mechanically on the ledge of the window, and watched, as in a dream, the ship gliding smoothly on its silent way—gliding till it melted dimly into shadow—gliding till it was lost in the mist.

The strain on her mind relaxed when the Messenger of Life had passed from her sight.

"Providence?" she whispered, faintly to herself. "Or Chance?"

Her eyes closed and her head fell back. When the sense of life returned to her the morning sun was warm on her face—the blue heaven looked down on her—and the sea was a sea of gold.

She fell on her knees at the window and burst into tears.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Toward noon that day, the captain, waiting below stairs, and hearing no movement in Magdalen's room, felt uneasy at the long silence. He desired the new maid to follow him up stairs, and, pointing to the door, told her to go in softly, and see whether her mistress was awake.

The maid entered the room, remained there a moment, and came out again, closing the door gently.

"She looks beautiful, Sir," said the girl; "and she's sleeping as quietly as a new-born child."

THE WAR IN THE SOUTHWEST.

ON page 651 we publish several illustrations of JACKSON, TENNESSEE, and of SCENES ON THE RAILROAD between Columbus and Corinth, from sketches by our special artist. Mr. Alexander Simplot. Mr. Simplot writes:

    "CORINTH, September 19, 1862.

"I herewith send you a couple of sketches from Jackson, Tennessee. This place is the largest on the railroad front Columbus to Corinth, and is a fine town. Pretty dwellings embowered in trees meet the eye at almost every turn.

"Brigadier-General John A. Logan has command of the post, and is fortifying it very strongly.

"The enemy is known to have a great desire to repossess the town, and an attack from them is momentarily expected. All the streets entering into the city are barricaded with cotton bales, and, from appearance, are fully sufficient to oppose the ingress of a very large force.

"Near the depot is a cotton fort—a sketch of which I send you—for the protection of that portion of the town. It is amply provided with water reservoirs, in the shape of barrels sunk into the ground, to stand a long siege.

"An engineer on General Logan's staff has constructed an admirable railroad battery for the protection of the road from guerrilla raids. They have as yet had but one occasion to use it, and that was at Henderson, a few days since, where the woods were shelled sufficiently to make it too hot to hold the rebels. At every trestle-work or bridge along the road are stationed a few soldiers as guard, and it is to this we owe our security as we go dashing along at a headlong pace."


 

 

  

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