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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 20, 1863

This site features an online archive of our extensive collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. Harper's was the most popular illustrated newspaper of the day, and today it serves as an incredible resource for developing a more fundamental understanding of the important people and events of the war.

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

 

Cincinnati

The "Cincinnati"

Negro Troops

Negro Troops

Siege Port Hudson

Siege Port Hudson

Chicago Canal

Chicago Canal Convention

Capture of Jackson Mississippi

Puebla

Puebla

Fernando Wood

Fernando Wood Cartoon

 

Alexandria

Alexandria, Louisiana

Simmesport

Simmesport, Louisiana

Battle of Jackson

Battle of Jackson Mississippi

Champion's Hill

The Battle of Champion's Hill

Black River Bridge

Battle of Black River Bridge

Puebla, Mexico

Battle of Puebla, Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE 20, 1863.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

391

hem! — their friends; and not by Hindoos." She added, charmingly, "This shows me my first words on coming here ought to have been to offer my warmest thanks to the brave men who have defended me and my child:" and swept them so queenly a courtesy, that the men's hats and caps flew off in an instant. "Mr. Black," said she, turning with a voice of honey to Vespasian, but aiming obliquely at Fullalove's heart, "would you oblige me by kicking that dog a little; he is always smelling what does not belong to him; why it is blood; oh!" and she turned pale in a moment.

Sharpe thought some excuse necessary. "You see, ma'am, we haven't had time to clean the decks since."

"It is the blood of men; of the poor fellows who have defended us so nobly!" faltered the lady, trembling visibly.

"Well, ma'am," said Sharpe, still half apologetically, "you know a ship can't fight all day long without an accident or two." He added with nautical simplicity, and love of cleanliness, "However, the deck will be cleaned, and holy-stoned, to-morrow, long before you turn out."

Mrs. Beresford was too much overcome to explain how much deeper her emotion was than a dislike to stained floors. She turned faint, and on getting the better of that, went down to her cabin crying. Thence issued a royal order that the wounded were to have wine and every luxury they could fancy, without limit or stint; at her expense.

The next day a deep gloom reigned in the ship; the crew were ranged in their Sunday clothes, and bare-headed; a grating was rigged; Sharpe read the burial-service; and the dead, each man sewed up in his hammock with a 32-pound shot, glided off the grating into the sea with a sullen plunge; while their shipmates cried so, that the tears dripped on the deck.

With these regrets for the slain, too violent to last, were mingled a gloomy fear that Death had a heavier blow in store. The surgeon's report of Captain Dodd was most alarming; he had become delirious about midnight; and so continued.

Sharpe commanded the ship; and the rough sailors stepped like cats over that part of the deck, beneath which their unconscious captain lay. If two men met on the quarter-deck, a look of anxious, but not hopeful, inquiry, was sure to pass between them.

Among the constant inquirers was Ramgolam. The grave Hindoo often waylaid the surgeon at the captain's door, to get the first intelligence. This marked sympathy with a hero in extremity was hardly expected from a sage, who at the first note of war's trumpet had vanished in a meal-bag. However, it went down to his credit. One person, however, took a dark view of this innocent circumstance. But then that hostile critic was Vespasian, a rival in matters of tint. He exploded in one of those droll rages darkeys seem liable to: "Massa cunnel," said he, "what for dat yar nigger always prowling about the capn's door? What for he ask so many stupid questions? Dat ole fox arter no good; him heart so black as um skin: dam old niggar!"

Fullalove suggested slyly that a person with a dark skin might have a grateful heart: and the colonel, who dealt little in innuendo, said, "Come, don't you be so hard on jet; you ebony!"

"Bery well, gemmen," replied Vespasian, ceremoniously, and with seeming acquiescence. Then, with sudden ire, "Because Goramighty make you white, you tink you bery wise without any more trouble. Dat ar niggar am an abommable egotisk."

"Pray what does that mean?" inquired Kenealy, innocently.

"What him mean? what him mean? Yah! yah!"

"Yes. What does it mean?"

"What him mean? Yah! What, dinn't you hear Missy Besford miscall him an abommable egotisk?"

"Yes," said Fullalove, winking to Kenealy; "but we don't know what it means. Do you, Sir?"

"Iss, Sar. Dat ar expression he signify a darned old cuss dat says to dis child, 'My lord Vespasium, take benevolence on your insidious slave, and invest me in a bread bag,' instead of fighting for de ladies like a freenindependum citizen. Now you two go fast asleep, dis child he shut one eye and open de oder bery wide open on dat ar niggar." And with this mysterious threat he stalked away.

His contempt for a black skin, his ebullitions of unexpected ire, his turgid pomposity, and love of long terms, may make the reader smile; but they could hardly amuse his friends just then: every thing that touched upon Dodd was too serious now. The surgeon sat up with him nearly all night: in the day time these two friends sat for hours in his cabin, watching sadly, and silently moistening his burning brow and his parched lips.

At length, one afternoon, there came a crisis, which took an unfavorable turn. Then the surgeon, speaking confidentially to these two stanch friends, inquired if they had asked themselves what should be done with the body? "Why I ask," said he, "we are in a very hot latitude; and, if you wish to convey it to Barkington, the measures ought to be taken in time: in fact, within an hour or two after death."

The poor friends were shocked and sickened by this horrible piece of foresight. But Colonel Kenealy said, with tears in his eyes, that his old friend should never be buried like a kitten.

"Then you had better ask Sharpe to give me an order for a barrel of spirits," said the surgeon.

"Yes, yes, for two if you like. Oh don't die, Dodd, my poor old fellow. How shall I ever face his wife—I remember her, the loveliest girl

you ever saw—with such a tale as this? She will think it a cruel thing I should come out of it without a scratch, and a ten times better man to be dead: and so it is; it is cruel, it is unjust, it is monstrous; him to be lying there, and we muffs to be sitting croaking over him and watching for his last breath like three cursed old ravens." And the stout colonel groaned aloud.

When the surgeon left them they fell naturally upon another topic: the pledge they had given Dodd about the £14,000. They ascertained it was upon him: next his skin: but it seemed as unnecessary as it was repugnant to remove it from his living person. They agreed, however, that instantly on his decease they would take possession of it, note the particulars, seal it up, and carry it to Mrs. Dodd, with such comfort as they could hope to give her by relating the gallant act in which his precious life was lost.

At nine P.M. the surgeon took his place by Dodd's bedside; and the pair, whom one thing after another had drawn so close together, retired to Kenealy's cabin.

Many a merry chat they had had there: and many a gasconade; being rival hunters: but now they were together for physical companionship in sorrow, rather than for conversation. They smoked their cigars in moody silence; and at midnight shook hands with a sigh, and parted. That sigh meant to say that in the morning all would be over.

They turned in: but, ere either of them was asleep, suddenly the captain's cabin seemed to fill with roars and shrieks of wild beasts, that made the whole ship ring in the silent night; the savage cries were answered on deck by shouts of dismay and many pattering feet making for the companion ladder: but the nearest persons to the cabin, and the first to reach it, were Kenealy and Fullalove, who burst in, the former with a drawn sword, the latter with a revolver, both in their night gowns; and there saw a sight that took their breath away.

The surgeon was not there: and two black men, one with a knife, and one with his bare claws, were fighting, and struggling, and trampling all over the cabin at once, and the dying man sitting up in his cot, pale, and glaring at them.

HAXA BELL.

SOMETIMES I take from the post-office a scanty news-sheet sent from New England to Illinois. It brings me the tansy and sweet-brier flavor of life in the rough little town where lives its sender, my cousin. This cousin (he is much my senior) once baited me for a winter's entrapment among his hills by impressive declamation concerning "school-keepin' which'll 'ford ye prime pay in grit, patience —Job's kind—squints at human nature, cider, girls, and dough-nuts." I was then a college-boy, vacation-free, and in a freak of adventure gulped the bait. When through with my winter's work I tucked it away among my experience-records, labeled quantum sufficit.

And this is how I come to know my cousin, and why he sends me the paper, and I read it, particularly the death and marriage record, and so write what is coming; for last night I read this:

"In Bleakbnrn, on the 6th inst., Haxa Bell, aged 20."

It is four years since I taught there, and Haxa was the eldest girl in school. She had such a bleak time of it in life, and doubtless left behind such cold scarcity of friends, I have thought it would be a kind thing to heap a little mound for her, warm from this pitying retrospect which I throw over it for green turf, and bright with the starry hopes I would plant there for June's sweet blue-eyed grass.

We go to see fretted, harassed creatures in the stenched circle of the menagerie—the worn tiger, the demented lion—and go feelingless away to forget the forlorn craving of eye, the begging droop of body. In the street every day we pass caged, nipped souls, who blink or stonily stare from parched eyes, and we rarely take note. But at least one such soul I have noted and remembered. The same would you have done, though young, thoughtless, proud as I. If some dumb animal writhed up its head in your path and moaned for food, and you had none to give, a pity deep as the creature's need would etch the action on your memory. Haxa Bell—it is with tender soberness I say it—asked me, in the masked beseeching I came at last to recognize, to bless her life. There! I see the mocking leer of gay companions at such words —words of old vintage smack, forsooth, too thick with meaning for jovial youth. Begone! No jeers! I'll tell the truth that I dived early to find.

Of the thirty indigenous woolen bundles found by me, in a rough and rosy snarl of chilled limbs over a green wood fire, on that raw December morning when I first entered my twelve-by-twelve educational kingdom, I saw none that called for any softening of heart on the part of the master. All were well-jointed specimens, well fed, warmly clad, tough as the rocks, and bubbling out mischievous fun as those same rocks bubbled merry streams.

The seethe and simmer of school-room study was well ageing when the door opened for tardy comers whose snow-bedraggled clothes told of a long walk and snow-drift struggles. They were two, Haxa Bell and her little brother Wip. She placed the boy on a low bench by the fire, and then herself chose a seat without stopping for the stove's warmth. She folded a thin red shawl somewhat closer about her at the wind's keen thrust from a sheathing crack in the wall, put her reader and speller on the desk before her, and sat waiting and looking at me. I assigned her lessons with finger pointing to the page over which she drooped, but with eye scanning close a face older in its lines than her stunted form warranted. Seemingly to prevent any mistaken estimate of her knowledge, she said, in reply to my question concerning her

classes, "I'm nothin' quick, Suh, at my book; mebbe ye'd put me with Betty Jones, but she's higher'n me. I reads with Wip."

I further studied my late comers in leisure moments that day. "Umph! poverty sprouts, usual town-beggars necessary to keep home-charity alive," I thought, and glanced from the shrunken look of the girl to the less nipped boy by the fire. "So far he has fared better than she; some of childhood's juice left in him yet, thanks to her, no doubt." Then I looked at the girl again. Hair coarse and crisp crept low on a forehead wanly discolored like a dying moon in the morning west; eyes mongrel gray, retreating in parrying glances, till from compassion one's own stopped the pursuit and left them concealed in their bleared burrows; bloodless cheeks, and lips gnarled and withered by pain, as you may see the torrent-rasped forks of tree-roots, violet-forsaken by dried water-courses. I detected nothing uncommon, one of the ordinary weeds of humanity fated to soil unusually sterile. She did not even excite my interest by any noteworthy diligence; indeed, was rather listless, watching Wip braid his tippet fringe, eying the gusty whirls of snow at the window, or staring vacantly at the movements of classes. The cold torpor of her manner was disturbed that day but by a single action. A sudden broadside of the mountain wind stoutly shook our crazy little house, and loosened the stove-pipe from its wire supports. The soot sifted out, and no large boys being present to aid me, I was about to reach my hands up to refit the joint. She started up with the words, "Master, yer hands are white!" and before I understood her movement, was standing in my chair and had forced the blackened parts together. In some confusion of mind I saw her wipe from her own hands the stains mine had escaped, and resume her seat.

I believe as the winter passed on I tried to be kinder to Haxa, and this out of simple pity at her slow progress. I never inquired concerning her home affairs, but in my hearing remarks were dropped about a dead mother, drunken father, younger brother and sister, cold, rags, and hunger. So for all these ills I would fain have given the weak antidote of a new idea, a new hope or emotion. I did not believe the child was wholly numb to her situation. She was only hopeless and passive. And as hope lifts many a wretch from sloughs that are old habitats I wished it to aid her. Had she given more promise of improvement, more signs of mental germination, I should never have dropped such frequent kind words. But a stolidity so permanent was too painful to see in any human being.

One mid-winter's night of clear moon and spicular air, the snow crisp with cold, and the temperature stinging every nerve into acute but pleasurable sensations, my cousin's family and myself drove home from a temperance lecture in the village. We had passed the school-house, the strip of level on the river, the bit of gaunt grove, and our load began to creak up the long hill while the sleigh-bells settled themselves to a slower jangle and more unequal jerks of sound, when I vacated the sleigh with a leap and the words, "The hill is long, I'll walk up." The cause of this movement was the sudden view I got of a little figure dragging a load of scraggy fagots through a field that bordered the road—I recognized Haxa Bell. She was not far off, and had halted under the lee of a scathed pine pollard. I knew she lived just ahead, half-way up the hill, and gallantry would as soon have let me pass unaided the daintiest lady alive. I went to her. She looked up startled by my voice: "Haxa, the deep snow makes this hard for you!" and I took a strong hold of the rope which she now hastily began to pull.

"Yis, Suh, and I've missed the old track. Ye'r right kind, master, but ye needn't 'a come. Nobody ever helped me afore."

We were in the road now. She looked up the hill and said, "They've gained on ye; ye'd best leave me and run on."

She looked pleased at my answer. "No, I'll help you up the hill. They will wait for me at the top."

At school Haxa never spoke to me but when occasion required. Now she seemed anxious to show her sense of my kindness by talk of some sort. She began immediately.

"Father's bad to-night, and couldn't go for wood, and we're clean out or I'd a waited till mornin'. The children has colds, too, and mebbe'll need a fire to-night."

I looked down upon her, straining her thin arm in its hold upon the load, and something of my deep compassion must have saturated my voice when I said, "It's a hard life you lead, Haxa; I wish things might take a better turn."

Her mouth twisted out a sigh. "But I'm used to't. Mebbe father'll do better bimeby, and Wip is growin' big—he'll help a lot. The neighbors say he's smart, and I guess he'll come to more'n me in the world." The sister's hopes and meagre dreams were all for the boy Wip.

"I've missed you lately at school, Haxa," I said. She looked up with a broken, fleeting expression, a shattered smile which I did not expect to produce.

"Have ye, Suh? The baby's ben sick, but I'll try an' come soon."

My cousin had reached the summit of the hill and was waiting for me. I hurried on to the shanty whose comfortless air manifested a pressing need of the fuel Haxa had procured. I took her chill hand, "Good-night, Haxa!"

"Good-night, master!"

What had I done? Was this poor, forlorn soul so unaccustomed to kind words that her affections sprung up like hepaticas in the snow if it did but thaw? I am generally on my guard. I know how like the prepared negative-plates of the photographer lie many waiting hearts, and I take care to reflect no rays. The more shame to him who plays with hearts heaven-dowered with sweet buds that by their very nature open to fragrant blossoms at the first fancied call.

The last day of my school approached. On the night before I covered the coals in the cracked,

rheumatic stove, locked the door, put the key on the entry shelf, and stood for a moment on the door-step to stealthily forecatch the spirit of freedom that blew at me from out the south. My winter's work had been marrow-destroying drudgery. I determined to wash my hands of such forever. A thaw of several days had seamed the river's ice, now a roughened pavement that stretched through the valley, under the bridge, and past the school-house. The snow was sunken and discolored. The winter looked wan. Sky and wind were very indeterminate, moody, out of sorts. Finally, it decided to rain again. Fringes of mist netted my face like cobwebs as I picked my way through the slush to my cousin's. A slip-shod, debilitated drizzle set in at nightfall, and I heard its peevish murmur on the roof through the night.

It still dripped in the morning. "There's a smart chance of your finding the river broken up and the meadows full this side of the bridge," said my cousin as I started for school. So I thought; and as the river now lay between me and the school-house it was possible my winter's work was even now finished. In passing Haxa's house I saw no stir but the sickly wriggle of a slender smoke-wreath from the chimney. Presently I came in sight of the meadows, the river, the bridge, and beyond, a little pile of blackened, huddled ruins, the charred bones, reeking with an ashy steam, of my old school-house! Good Yankee grit the decrepit shell evinced, if burn it must, to burn in spite of soaked timbers and falling rain. There was no stir about. The nearest houses were behind the hills, half a mile away. Evidently nobody had witnessed the death-struggle of the lonely, used-up idea-mill, the faithful, rough old friend of tow-heads innumerable. With much difficulty and some danger I slid, clambered, and jumped my way over the jostling ice cakes which crowded the meadows, clogged the road, and heaved hard against the bridge. With wet clothes and a bruise or two I reached the other side and the school-ground. I had been mistaken; the place was not wholly deserted. A bedraggled, sooty spectre crouched among the steaming brands—the visible genius of ruin. I pursued an eclectic course through the hissing, gasping ashes, and approached this embodiment of desolation.

"Haxa," said I, " what does this mean? Did you set it on fire?"

The spectre did not move, but answered, with the faintest shimmer of a smile:

"Most like ye'd think so, but I loved it too well. Oh, master! it should a stood it one more day."

"Yes, indeed; and so rainy too. How came you here?"

Then, still sitting there in the ashes, she told me. She could not sleep for fear the ice would break, and the river would flood the road, and keep her from school on the last day. So past midnight she got up and came down to see. The light of the burning house flared up through the fog, and when she reached the meadows the snaky flames were crawling over it all. She determined to get to it over the ice, and she did. She ventured inside the flames once, but cleared only one desk of its contents. Then she dried herself by the lessening fire, and afterward found a warm place to sit in the ashes.

"What do you keep so carefully wrapped under your shawl?" I asked.

She slowly unfolded the thin garment, safely shielding what was under from the rain. My port-folio, books, and maps, lay there; it was my desk she had visited!

"Nothin' else is saved, master."

I did not take up the things at once; I was too touched by her deed for me. I must have spoken tenderly—"Haxa, you kind girl, I have no words to thank you."

"No need, Suh. Ye know now that I've sensed yer kindness, an' leastwise ain't forgettin'."

We talked a little while. I gave her a book, and buttoned the rest of my saved property under my over-coat. Then I said,

"You'd better go home now, Haxa. If you wait perhaps you can not cross on the ice. I will go over the hill the other way to Mr. Bland's."

She slowly stood up, and put her hand heavily in the one I offered.

"Mebbe yell never come this way agin, master?"

"Very likely not. I shall remember you, Haxa."

"Folks is more like yerself down there, ain't they?" she asked, nodding southward.

"Perhaps so. Would you like to see them?"

Her eyelids were heavy; I could not see under them. The mouth was set now in a white, lifeless fixity. She muttered "It's no use," and said good-by without looking at me again. I watched her all the way across the ice, and out of sight. She never looked back.

Thank God that somewhere and sometime all hunger shall be satisfied, all craving met by perfect supply! At the last strange richness shall brim all voids, and God's kiss be the balmy benediction upon mated love.

THE GREAT CANAL CONVENTION.

ON page 385 we reproduce a sketch—kindly sent us from Chicago—representing the MONSTER TENT erected for the accommodation of the GREAT CANAL CONVENTION, which assembled in that city last week to consider the needs of the Northwest in the shape of big canals. The reporter of the Chicago Tribune, writing before the Convention met, thus described the tent:

The tent is now in thorough readiness for the purposes of the Convention, and it is believed will comfortably accommodate all who attend. It is octagonal in form, 260X80 feet in extent, and will seat about 4700 people The Speaker's platform, 32X40 in size, occupies the centre of the east wall, the tables for the press filling a raised platform immediately in front of the Speaker's, and accommodating eighty reporters. There are five rows of seats running north and south, so arranged as to bring all within good hearing distance of the stand.


 

 

 

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