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
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
page 445 we reproduce a sketch
by Mr. A. R. Waud, illustrating
THE BATTLE NEAR UPPERVILLE, Ashby's Gap in the
distance. The square inclosure is called the vineyard; on the right on the rise
is a stone-wall; against this a charge was made, the men returning to form again
a little to the left. On the extreme left five rebel regiments came out with
their large flags to charge our men before they could form, but the First and
Sixth regulars, sweeping round the hill, charged upon them while the band played
Captain Tidball and two of his
guns are in the fore-ground.
[Entered according to Act of
Congress, in the Year 1863, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court for the Southern District of New York.]
BY CHARLES READE, ESQ.
Printed from the Manuscript and
early Proof-sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."
"ON deck for your lives!" cried
Dodd, forgetting in that awful moment he was not the captain; and drove them all
up, Robarts included, and caught hold of Mrs. Beresford and Freddy at their
cabin door and half carried them with him. Just as they got on deck the third
wave, a high one, struck the ship and lifted her bodily up, canted her round,
and dashed her down again some yards to leeward, throwing them down on the hard
and streaming deck.
At this tremendous shock the ship
seemed a live thing shrieking and wailing, as well as quivering with the blow.
But one voice dissented loudly
from the general dismay. "All right, men," cried Dodd, firm and trumpet-like.
"She is broadside on now. Captain Robarts, look alive, Sir! Speak to the men!
don't go to sleep!"
Robarts was in a lethargy of
fear. At this appeal he started into a fury of ephemeral courage: "Stick to the
ship," he yelled; "there is no danger if you stick to the ship," and with this
snatched a life-buoy, and hurled himself into the sea.
Dodd caught up the trumpet that
fell from his hand, and roared, "I command this ship. Officers come round me!
Men to your quarters! Come, bear a hand here, and fire a gun! That will show us
where we are, and let the Frenchmen know."
The carronade was fired, and its
momentary flash revealed that the ship was ashore in a little bay; the land
abeam was low and some eighty yards off; but there was something black and
rugged nearer the ship's stern.
Their situation was awful. To
windward huge black waves rose like tremendous ruins and came rolling, fringed
with devouring fire; and each wave, as it charged them, curled up to an
incredible height and dashed down on the doomed ship—solid to crush, liquid to
drown—with a ponderous stroke that made the poor souls stagger; and sent a sheet
of water so clean over her that part fell to leeward, and only part came down on
deck, foretaste of a watery death; and each of these fearful blows drove the
groaning, trembling vessel farther on the sand, bumping her along as if she had
been but a skiff.
Now it was men showed their inner
Seeing Death so near on one hand,
and a chance of escape on the other, seven men proved unable to resist the two
great passions of Fear and Hope on a scale so gigantic, and side by side.
Bayliss, a midshipman, and five sailors, stole the only available boat and
She was swamped in a moment.
Many of the crew got to the rum,
and stupefied themselves to their destruction.
Others rallied round their old
captain, and recovered their native courage at the brave and hopeful bearing he
wore over a heart full of anguish. He worked like a horse, encouraging,
commanding, doing; he loaded a carronade with 1 lb. of powder, and a coil of
rope, with an iron bar attached to a cable, and shot the rope and bar ashore.
A gun was now fired from the
guard-house, whose light Robarts had taken for a ship. But, no light being shown
any nearer on the coast, and the ship expected every minute to go to pieces,
Dodd asked if any one would try to swim ashore with a line, made fast to a
hawser on board.
A sailor offered to go if any
other man would risk his life along with him. Instantly Fullalove stripped, and
"Two is enough on such a
desperate errand," said Dodd, with a groan.
But now emulation was up, and
neither Briton, Yankee, nor negro, would give way: a line was made fast to the
sailor's waist, and he was lowered to leeward; his venturesome rivals followed.
The sea swallowed those three heroes like crumbs: and small was the hope of life
The three heroes, being
first-rate swimmers and divers, and going with the tide, soon neared the shore
on the ship's lee quarter; but a sight of it was enough: to attempt to land on
that rock, with such a sea on, was to get their skulls smashed like egg-shells
in a moment. They had to coast it, looking out for a soft place.
They found one; and tried to
land; but so irresistible was the suction of the retiring wave, that, whenever
they got foot on the sand and tried to run, they were wrenched out to sea again,
and pounded black and blue and breathless by the'curling breaker they met coming
After a score of vain efforts,
the negro, throwing himself on his back, went in with a high wave, and, on
touching the sand, turned, dug all his ten claws into it, clenched his teeth,
and scrambled like a cat at a wall: having more power in his toes than the
Europeans, and luckily getting one hand on a firm stone, his prodigious strength
just enabled him to stick fast while the wave went back; and then, seizing the
moment, he tore himself ashore, but bleeding and bruised all over, and with a
tooth actually broken by clenching in the convulsive struggle.
He found some natives dancing
about in violent agitation with a rope, but afraid to go in and help him; and no
wonder, not being sea-gulls. By the light of their lanterns he saw Fullalove
washing in and out like a log. He seized one end of the rope, dashed in and
grabbed his friend, and they were hauled ashore together, both breathless, and
The negro looked round for the
sailor, but could not see him. Soon, however, there was a cry from some more
natives about fifty yards off, and lanterns held up; away he dashed with the
rope, just in time to see Jack make a last gallant attempt to land. It ended in
his being flung up like a straw into the air on the very crest of a wave fifteen
feet high, and out to sea with his arms whirling, and a death shriek which was
echoed by every woman within hearing.
In dashed Vespasian with the
rope, and gripped the drowning man's long hair with his teeth: then jerked the
rope, and they were both pulled ashore with infinite difficulty. The
good-natured Frenchmen gave them all three lots of vivats and brandy and pats on
the back: and carried the line for them to a flag-staff on the rocks nearer the
stern of the ship.
The ship began to show the first
signs of breaking up: hammered to death by the sea, she discharged the oakum
from her opening seams, and her decks began to gape and grin fore and aft.
Corpses of drunken sailors drowned between decks now floated up amidships, and
washed and rolled about among the survivors' feet. These, seeing no hope, went
about making up all quarrels, and shaking hands in token of a Christian end. One
or two came to Dodd with their hands out.
"Avast, ye lubbers!" said he,
angrily; "do you think I have time for nonsense? Folksel ahoy! axes, and cut
away the weather shrouds!"
It was done: the foremast went by
the board directly, and fell to leeward: a few blows of the axe from Dodd's own
hand sent the mainmast after it.
The Agra rose a streak; and the
next wave carried her a little further inshore.
And now the man in charge of the
hawser reported with joy that there was a strain on it.
This gave those on board a hope
of life. Dodd bustled and had the hawser carefully payed out by two men, while
he himself secured the other end in the mizzen top: he had left that mast
standing on purpose.
There was no fog here; but great
heavy black clouds flying about with amazing swiftness extinguished the moon at
intervals: at others she glimmered through a dull mist in which she was veiled,
and gave the poor souls on the Agra a dim peep of the frail and narrow bridge
they must pass to live. A thing like a black snake went down from the mizzen
top, bellying toward the yawning sea, and soon lost to sight: it was seen rising
again among some lanterns on the rock ashore: but what became of it in the
middle? The darkness seemed to cut it in two; the sea to swallow it. Yet, to get
from a ship going to pieces under them, the sailors precipitated themselves
eagerly on that black thread bellying to the sea and flickering in the wind.
They went down it, one after another, and anxious eyes straining after them saw
them no more: but this was seen, that scarce one in three emerged into the
Then Dodd got an axe, and stood
in the top, and threatened to brain the first man who attempted to go on the
"We must make it taut first,"
said he; "bear a hand here with a tackle."
Even while this was being done,
the other rope, whose end he had fired ashore, was seen moving to windward. The
natives, it seems, had found it, half buried in sand.
Dodd unlashed the end from the
bulwarks and carried it into the top, and made it fast: and soon there were two
black snakes dipping shoreward and waving in the air side by side.
The sailors scrambled for a
place, and some of them were lost by their own rashness. Kenealy waited coolly:
and went by himself.
Finally, Dodd was left in the
ship with Mr. Sharpe and the women, and little Murphy, and Ramgolam, whom
Robarts had liberated to show his contempt of Dodd.
He now advised Mrs. Beresford to
be lashed to Sharpe and himself, and venture the passage; but she screamed and
clung to him, and said "I dare not, oh I dare not."
"Then I must lash you to a spar,"
said he, "for she can't last much longer." He ordered Sharpe ashore. Sharpe
shook hands with him; and went on the rope with tears in his eyes.
Dodd went hard to work, lashed
Mrs. Beresford to a piece of broken waterbutt: filled Fred's pockets with corks
and sewed them up (you never caught Dodd without a needle; only, unlike the
women's, it was always kept threaded). Mrs. Beresford threw her arms round his
neck and kissed him wildly: a way women have in mortal peril: it is but their
homage to courage. "All right!" said Dodd, interpreting it as an appeal to his
protection, and affecting cheerfulness. "We'll get ashore together on the poop
awning, or somehow; never you fear. I'd give a thousand pounds to know when
At this moment, with a report
like a cannon,
the lower decks burst fore and
aft: another still louder, and the Agra's back broke. She parted amidships with
a fearful yawn, and the waves went toppling and curling clean through her.
At this appalling sound and
sight, the few creatures left on the poop cowered screaming and clinging at
Dodd's knees, and fought for a bit of him.
Yes, as a flood brings
incongruous animals together on some little isle, in brotherhood of fear
—creatures who never met before without one eating the other; and there they
cuddle—so the thief Ramgolam clung to the man he had tried to rob; the Hindoo
Ayah and the English maid hustled their mistress, the haughty Mrs, Beresford,
and were hustled by her, for a bit of this human pillar, and little Murphy and
Fred Beresford wriggled in at him where they could: and the poor goat crept into
the quivering mass trembling like an aspen, and not a butt left either in his
head or his heart. Dodd stood in the middle of these tremblers, a rock of
manhood: and when he was silent and they heard only the voice of the waves, they
despaired: and, whenever he spoke, they started at the astounding calmness of
his voice, and words: and life sounded possible.
"Come," said he, "this won't do
any longer. All hands into the mizzen top!"
He helped them all up, and stood
on the ratlines himself: and, if you will believe me, the poor goat wailed like
a child below. He found in that new terror and anguish a voice goat was never
heard to speak in before. But they had to leave him on deck: no help for it.
Dodd advised Mrs. Beresford once more to attempt the rope: she declined. "I dare
not! I dare not!" she cried, but she begged Dodd hard to go on it and save
It was a strong temptation: he
clutched the treasure in his bosom; and one sob burst from the strong man.
That sob was but the tax paid by
Nature; for Pride, Humanity, and Manhood stood stanch in spite of it. "No, No,
no, I can't:" said he: "I mustn't. Don't tempt me to leave you in this plight,
and be a cur! Live or die, I must be the last man on her. Here's something
coming out to us, the Lord in Heaven be praised!"
A bright light was seen moving
down the black line that held them to the shore; it descended slowly within a
foot of the billows, and lighting them up showed their fearful proximity to the
rope in mid passage: they had washed off many a poor fellow at that part.
"Look at that! Thank Heaven you
did not try it!" said Dodd, to Mrs. Beresford.
At this moment a higher wave than
usual swallowed up the light: there was a loud cry of dismay from the shore, and
a wail of despair from the ship.
No! not lost after all! The light
emerged: and mounted, and mounted toward the ship.
It came near, and showed the
black shiny body of Vespasian with very little on but a handkerchief and a
lantern, the former round his waist, and the latter lashed to his back: he
arrived with a "Yah! yah!" and showed his white teeth in a grin.
Mrs. Beresford clutched his
shoulder, and whimpered, "Oh, Mr. Black!"
"Iss, Missy, dis child bring good
news. Capn! Massah Fullalove send you his congratulations, and the compliments
of the season; and take the liberty to observe the tide am turn in twenty
The good news thus quaintly
announced, caused an outburst of joy from Dodd, and, sailor-like, he insisted on
all hands joining in a cheer. The shore re-echoed it directly. And this
encouraged the forlorn band still more; to hear other hearts beating for them so
near. Even the intervening waves could not quite annul the sustaining power of
At this moment came the first
faint streaks of welcome dawn, and revealed their situation more fully.
The vessel lay on the edge of a
sand bank. She was clean in two, the stern lying somewhat higher than the stem.
The sea rolled through her amidships six feet broad, frightful to look at; and
made a clean breach over her forward, all except the bowsprit, to the end of
which three poor sailors were now discovered to be clinging. The after-part of
the poop was out of water, and in a corner of it the goat crouched like a
rabbit: four dead bodies washed about beneath the party trembling in the mizzen
top, and one had got jammed in the wheel, face uppermost, and glared up at them,
gazing terror-stricken down.
No sign of the tide turning yet:
and much reason to fear it would turn too late for them, and the poor fellows
shivering on the bowsprit.
These fears were well founded.
A huge sea rolled in, and turned
the fore-part of the vessel half over, buried the bowsprit, and washed the men
off into the breakers.
Mrs. Beresford sank down, and
prayed, holding Vespasian by the knee.
Fortunately, as in that vessel
wrecked long syne on Melita, "the hind-part of the ship stuck fast and remained
But for how long?
Each wave now struck the ship's
weather quarter with a sound like a cannon fired in a church, and sent the water
clean into the mizzen top. It hit them like strokes of a whip. They were
drenched to the skin, chilled to the bone, and frozen to the heart with fear.
They made acquaintance that hour with Death. Ay, Death itself has no bitterness
that forlorn cluster did not feel: only the insensibility that ends that
bitterness was wanting.
Now the sea, you must know, was
literally strewed with things out of the Agra; masts, rigging, furniture,
tea-chests, bundles of canes, chairs, tables: but, of all this jetsom, Dodd's
eye had been for some little time fixed on one object: a live sailor drifting
ashore on a great
wooden case: it struck him after
a while that the man made very little way; and at last seemed to go up and down
in one place. By-and-by he saw him nearer and nearer, and recognized him. It was
one of the three washed off the bowsprit.
He cried joyfully: "The tide has
turned! here's Thompson coming out to sea."
Then there ensued a dialogue,
incredible to landsmen, between these two sailors, the captain of the ship and
the captain of the foretop; one perched on a stationary fragment of that vessel,
the other drifting on a piano-forte; and both bawling at one another across the
jaws of death.
"Going out with the tide, and be
d—d to me."
"What, can't ye swim?"
"Like a brass figure-head. It's
all over with poor Jack, Sir."
"All over? Don't tell me! Look
out now as you drift under our stern, and we'll lower you the four-inch hawser."
"Lord bless you, Sir; do, pray!"
cried Thompson, losing his recklessness with the chance of life.
By this time the shore was black
with people, and a boat was brought down to the beach, but to attempt to launch
it was to be sucked out to sea.
At present all eyes were fixed on
Thompson drifting to destruction.
Dodd cut the four-inch hawser,
and Vespasian, on deck, lowered it with a line, so that Thompson presently
drifted right athwart it: "All right, Sir!" said he, grasping it: and amidst
thundering acclamations was drawn to land full of salt-water and all but
insensible. The piano landed at Dunkirk, three weeks later.
In the bustle of this good and
smart action, the tide retired perceptibly.
By-and-by the sea struck lower
and with less weight.
At nine P.M. Dodd took his little
party down on deck again, being now the safest place; for the mast might go.
It was a sad scene: the deck was
now dry, and the dead bodies lay quiet round them, with glassy eyes: and,
grotesquely horrible, the long hair of two or three was stiff and crystallized
with the saltpetre in the ship.
Mrs. Beresford clung to Vespasian:
she held his bare black shoulder with one white and jeweled hand, and his wrist
with the other, tight. "Oh, Mr. Black," said she, "how brave you are! It is
incredible. Why you came back! I must feel a brave man with both my hands, or I
shall die. Your skin is nice and soft too. I shall never outlive this dreadful
And, now that the water was too
low to wash them off the hawser, several of the ship's company came back to the
ship to help the women down.
By noon the Agra's deck was
thirty feet from the sand. The rescued ones wanted to break their legs and
necks: but Dodd would not permit even that. He superintended the whole manoeuvre,
and lowered, first the dead, then the living, not omitting the poor goat, who
was motionless and limp with fright.
When they were all safe on the
sand, Dodd stood alone upon the poop a minute, cheered by all the sailors,
French and English, ashore: then slid down a rope and rejoined his companions.
To their infinite surprise, the
undaunted one was found to be sniveling.
"Oh dear, what is the matter?"
said Mrs. Beresford, tenderly.
"The poor Agra, ma'am! She was
such a beautiful sea-boat: and just look at her now! Never sail again: never!
never! She was a little crank in beating, I can't deny it: but how she did fly
with the wind abaft! She sank a pirate in the straits, and weathered a hurricane
off the Mauritius; and after all for a lubber to go and lay her bones ashore in
a fair wind: poor dear beauty."
He maundered thus, and kept
turning back to look at the wreck, till he happened to lay his hand on his
breast. He stopped in the middle of his ridiculous lament, wore a look of
self-reproach, and cast his eyes upward in heart-felt gratitude.
The companions of so many
A hospitable mayoress entertained
Mrs. Beresford and suite: and she took to her bed; for she fell seriously ill as
soon as ever she could do it with impunity.
Colonel Kenealy went off to
Paris: "I'll gain that any way by being wrecked," said he.
If there be a lover of quadrupeds
here, let him know that Billy's weakness proved his strength. Being brandied by
a good-natured French sailor, he winked his eye; being brandied greatly he
staggered up; and butted his benefactor, like a man.
Fullalove had dry clothes and a
blazing fire ready for Dodd at a little rude auberge: he sat over it and dried a
few bank-notes he had loose about him, and examined his greater treasure, his
children's. The pocket-book was much stained, but no harm whatever done to the
In the midst of this employment
the shadow of an enormous head was projected right upon his treasure.
Turning with a start he saw a
face at the window; one of those vile mugs which are found to perfection among
the canaille of the French nation; bloated, blear-eyed, grizzly, and wildbeast-like.
The ugly thing, on being confronted, passed slowly out of the sun, and Dodd
thought no more of it.
The owner of this sinister visage