Review of the Army of the Potomac

 

This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination

Slavery

Site Search

Civil War Links

 

Civil War Art

Mexican War

Republic of Texas

Indians

Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait


Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 2, 1863

This site features all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers are full of incredible illustrations and news reports on the War, created within hours of the events depicted.

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

 

Working Cotton

Slaves Working Cotton

Ironclad Warfare

Ironclad Warfare

Shooting of Kimball

Shooting of Colonel Kimball

Suffolk

Suffolk, Virginia

Keokuk Sinking

Sinking of the "Keokuk"

Army Review

Review of the Army of the Potomac

Confiscation of Cotton

Yankee Doodle

Yankee Doodle Cartoon

Lincln on a Horse

Abraham Lincoln on Horseback

Defenses Around Charleston

Charleston Defenses

Attack on Fort Sumter

Attack of Fort Sumter

President Lincoln Reviews Troops

President Lincoln Reviews the Army of the Potomac

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[MAY 2, 1863.

282

REVIEW OF THE ARMY OF THE
POTOMAC.

ON 9th April the President reviewed the Army of the Potomac on the bank of the Rappahannock, where they have been so long encamped. We publish on pages 277, 280, and 281, two illustrations of the scene from sketches by Mr. A. R. Waud. The following account, from the Herald correspondence, will be read with interest:

The event of the season came off yesterday. The grand review, which the army has for days been looking forward to, and in which rival regiments were to vie with each other for distinction, has passed, and with it the "pomp" of war. The "glorious circumstance" awaits us, in our weary marches and days of toil yet to come; in the future apparently uninviting, but anticipated with dazzling visions. Great preparations had been made for the display, and for several days a large force was employed, with axes, picks, and shovels, leveling the fields. Ditches were filled, stumps and bushes removed, ridges cut down, and quagmires drained, until the Fitzhugh estate wore the appearance of a race track. Tall stakes, bearing the designs of the badges of the several corps, were planted in the positions to be occupied by the respective commands, and as the troops marched out upon the field the divisions wheeled into line as if by instinct, with no confusion, no noise, save the music of the bands, the tramp of the regiments, and the few brief orders of the officers.

Hours slipped by, and the dark blue masses on the plateau grew larger, the banners more numerous, the rattle of drums more bewildering. The artillery came out, and the great guns that thundered at the heights of Fredericksburg pointed their muzzles over toward the white tents in the hollows, and the little rifle cannon drew up by them briskly, as if proud of the work they did before Richmond, at Antietam, and over the pontoons down by the river. The columns were all in line, the men waited and grew impatient, and the battery horses, to amuse themselves in the cold, kicked each other's shins, and fiercely switched imaginary flies, and still the cortege did not appear. The wind swept across the open country, stinging the fingers of the soldiers, playing mad pranks with caps, tugging at the flags upon the tall bending staffs, as if impatient at the delay, and the troops began to fall out one by one to stir themselves into warmth, when suddenly a volume of smoke burst up from the right, followed by another, and then another, while the sullen boom of the guns rolled across to the left, and announced the commencement of the drama. The cavalcade was imposing. The President, mounted upon a large bay, took the lead, followed by a brilliant throng of generals, colonels, and officers of lesser rank, while the lancers, with their fluttering pennants, and a troop of orderlies, galloped after. Mrs. Lincoln, accompanied by the Attorney-General and Captain Candler, of General Hooker's staff, in a carriage drawn by four spanking bays, and escorted by a squad of lancers, viewed the display from an eminence; but Master Lincoln, with characteristic enterprise, booted and spurred, rode bravely at the side of the President, followed by his dashing little orderly. And hereby hangs a tale. When the war broke out a smooth-faced lad came down with the troops from Burlington, New Jersey, and with the rest went into the fights. General Kearney noticed him, and made him his bugler, and all through the struggles on the Peninsula kept him at the front of the division. General Kearney fell, but the bugler remained, and, under the new commander, thrived as before. Now he trumpets for General Sickles at the head of the corps, and sports his sword-belt and broad sergeant's stripes with the air of a veteran. A favorite among the officers, his lot is far from being commiserated, while his future can not but seem promising. Steps have already been taken for giving him an education, and an appointment to the military school is hinted by his friends. Yesterday he accompanied Master Lincoln as inseparably as his shadow, and after the review initiated him into the science of managing the lance. The boys are fast friends, and ramble around together like brothers. Will their future histories be ever connected?

The artillery were quickly reviewed and passed off the field, when the President turned his attention to the infantry. The troops were drawn up in columns of divisions, and as the cortege rode down the front the banners dipped gracefully, the bands burst out with "Hail to the Chief," and the bugles sounded their flourish of greeting. The corps were reviewed separately, though all upon the same field, and while one was saluting and being saluted the others rested upon their arms, while the rear ranks sometimes fell out and danced fantastic jigs in the cold to the rattle of the drums in the distance. Guards were stationed around the field to restrain the throng of spectators, and officers, with scrolls in their hands, rode frantically about giving instructions; while General Patrick, as general officer of the day, calm, erect, and dignified as a Roman, moved from point to point superintending the movements of the troops, and here and there, by an order, easing the friction of the huge machine. From a knoll above the field the view was magnificent. Out upon a little swell of upland were crowded the President, the generals, and the staff, and over all the plain stretched the columns of the army. In the distance were the camps, the river, the spires of Fredericksburg, and the frowning batteries beyond; behind us, miles of mud-walled villages, long white-topped baggage wagons and cannon on the hills. Now and then the sun came out and lighted up the field with flashes that seemed almost supernatural. Then we caught glimpses of glorious things, visions of splendor, that vanished and seemed as a mirage. How the sunbeams danced on the rifles and bayonets, and lingered in the folds of the banners, will never be forgotten; how the shadows drifted over the plain and melted away with the music very few will fail to remember. Steadily the tide of veterans surged onward. The front was lost in the winding valleys leading to the quiet camps, and the rear still rested impatiently on the knoll; while the columns one by one continued to swing off from the latter, wind round before the President, and lose themselves in the distance. The afternoon wore on, and the regiments, like waves at sea, swept after each other as regularly as before, the drums kept up their furious rattle, and the sunbeams, playing hide and seek, lost themselves among the soldiery; spectators grew tired of the ceaseless tramp, the bugles and flutter of banners, and galloped home to their camps, and the President sat wearily upon his horse, waiting for the review to be ended.

At length the last regiment came up, dipped its colors and hammered its drums, vanished over the hill, and the cortege of generals and orderlies cantered leisurely back to head-quarters.

Notwithstanding the order directing the ladies in camp to change their base, great numbers of them remained, and in fanciful costumes appeared upon the field. Now and then we caught glimpses of crinoline and curls in the ambulances, and occasionally some fair equestrian dashed along the plain to the admiration of young officers and the envy of their less fortunate sisters. Artists were scattered about, pencil and port-folio in hand, sketching the beauties of the scene; newly-fledged poets sought inspiration of the muses and from the classic canteen, and the knights of the quill played round the edges of the eddy, here and there darting in to waylay an acquaintance or renew their assurances with a friend.

The appearance of the troops was remarkably good. Indeed, that they should look so well only forty-eight hours after the most terrible storm of the season is a wonder, and

excited no little comment on the part of spectators. Uniforms were clean, arms bright as new, equipments in splendid condition. Every thing was in the finest style, and our Chief Magistrate could not but have felt a thrill of pride as he looked over the sea of bayonets, the blue coats, and the determined faces.

ONE OF THREE.

"You!"

The little word should bristle round with exclamation points of scorn, and sarcasm, and wonder to sound as it fell from the lips of my sisters. And yet I had said little to provoke contempt. They had been talking, as girls will, about marriage: telling what their husbands must be—young, of course; handsome, of course; above all, rich, of course—and I had only said that if I ever married I should not care so much about my husband's being young, or handsome, or rich. Those things were good and pleasant, but I could do without them—what I should like would be to have him a hero; so strong, and fearless, and brave that I should know his courage and strength would never fail me, let fate tax them ever so much.

I had forgotten myself and my customary position in the household when I said this; but the looks and tones of my sisters recalled my wandering thoughts, and I subsided into painful blushes and embarrassed silence. Long sentences could not have revealed more fully how utterly absurd in their eyes was the idea of my ever choosing or rejecting a husband than did that scornful "You!"

I could never understand why they did not like me. I was neither the oldest nor the youngest. One would have thought that to one or other of them I should have been the chosen friend, but neither fraternized with me. Edith, my magnificent elder sister, passed me haughtily by, and made friends instead with Mabel, who was by four years her junior. I suppose it was because I was not of their kind. They looked as my mother had done when she won my father's heart—regal blondes already, though Mabel was only fifteen. Tall and lithe, with the slender hands and feet, the small, proudly poised head, and classic face tinct with scorn, which had been the characteristics of the beautiful Lindsays for many a generation.

I, on the other hand, was my father's child—all Hunter. My figure was short and a little stout. My face was kindly, but dark and irregular. My hands and feet were not delicate, and I had—they were always telling me so—no pride, no style, no air. My mother, even, beyond the tender instinct of motherhood, which would have made her care for me in sickness, or weep for me if I had died, had no especial fondness for me. I have noticed that very handsome women seldom do have for daughters who in nowise inherit their own charms. My father should have stood by me, for I was a feminine likeness of himself, but he too swam with the current. He adored my mother, and loved with most tenderness those of his children who were most like her.

I ought, knowing all this, to have been very miserable; but I certainly was not. To be sure my heart was hungry. I longed with a silent pain to be dear, very dear, to some one in the world. It was hard to feel, as I often did, that if I died or went away it would make no especial difference to any one—there would be no one to miss me. So I just tried not to think of it; and with competence and health, buoyant animal spirits and a clear conscience, there is a great deal of joy in life which a young creature of seventeen, who is not morbid or sullen, can not fail of finding.

I was a little humiliated sometimes, as I had been just now, at some new proof of the slight estimation in which I was held; but on the whole I think I was not less happy or less cheerful than my sisters.

Just as they were sneering at me, with that quiet, lady-like contempt which expresses itself in look and accent rather than words, a neighbor came in —a friend as old as our oldest memories—Frank Gresham. He was twenty-one, just through college, and we all thought he loved Edith. With only two years between their ages they had been close friends always. He fully realized Edith's ideal—was young, rich, handsome, all that she required, in fact. I liked him too, for I thought he had the elements of a hero deep down in his nature, gay and careless as it was on the surface. I remembered childish perils in which his courage had protected us. I had seen his eyes flash, his face kindle, when we read in our school-days such sentences as Pompey's—"It is necessary for me to go—it is not necessary for me to live." For the strong, true manhood of which I believed him capable, I liked him and looked up to him; though I never had the audacity to think of any vain rivalry with Edith. I could be content to have him for a brother.

My sisters both turned to greet him as he came in, and Mabel, with the freedom of speech which no one ever seemed to consider out of place in her, our youngest, told him what I had said—making it sound a little more ridiculous and sentimental, perhaps, than was quite kind or just. He and I had been great friends in our romping boy and girl days; but he had been so absorbed in Edith that he had not noticed me much of late. He turned to me now, however, with a warm, kindly smile in which sarcasm had no part. He said, earnestly,

"I like you for that, Maud. Keep to your creed. True courage is the noblest thing in the world. Never marry a man who can not be your hero as well as your lover."

Then he turned to Edith and asked her, a little anxiously,

"You have heard of the President's call for three hundred thousand volunteers, have you not? Of course you must have guessed what I should think my duty?"

"Not to go?" and her fair cheek flushed, and her voice trembled a little.

"Surely to go."

"But if you should die!" and some very becoming tears just dimmed her blue eyes, and weighed down her drooping golden lashes.

Oh, how well I knew it, that brave look that had kindled his eyes in boyhood when noble deeds were talked of! It swept over his face now, glorifying his handsome features with heroic resolve. It shone resolutely in his earnest glance. His voice rang clear and strong. He quoted the old words, even,

"'It is necessary for me to go—it is not necessary for me to live.' I could never die in a better cause."

"But I—" and there Edith stopped, blushing painfully; for, tender and constant as had been his attentions for two months back, he had never yet asked her to love him. He made amends now. Taking her hand he led her into the next room, where our father and mother were, and Mabel and I followed them. He went straight up to our parents, and said, in firm tones,

"I have enlisted for the war. I go to-morrow. I love Edith. Have I your leave to ask her if she loves me, and to win her for my betrothed bride, if I can?"

To see Edith his wife had been, I knew, the dream of both their hearts—but to have her wait for him for years, while her proud beauty should fade, and then to have him come back crippled and helpless, or not come back at all, that would be sadly different. And yet, on the other hand, the war might be short—he might return covered with glory, and the wife of Frank Gresham might have cause for loftier pride than times of peace could ever have justified. There was no time for hesitation. They read each other's eyes a moment, and then said, with one accord,

"Ask Edith."

He turned to her then, trust and homage in his face such as men seldom give to women, and of which—Heaven help us!—not half of us are worthy; and looking at her, with his soul in his eyes, he asked,

"What does Edith say? She knows how I love her."

What she said was not much, but she looked uncommonly charming. She let her hand lie in his, and then nestled close to him, with a sudden, fond motion. He led her away silently out of doors; it was a brilliant summer day, and no one knew what he said to her then, out of the depths of his full, true heart—what vows were interchanged, what fond words spoken. I was glad and proud, with an utterly unselfish rejoicing. The union seemed to me so suitable. I had always nearly worshiped that stately blonde beauty of Edith's. She seemed to me like one of the fair women the old Norse heroes loved, and were so ready to die for; and I thought she would be a fit crown and reward for the deeds of valor I expected from this knight of to-day.

All that afternoon they were together. At night they were with the rest of us for a while, and then they went out under the summer moon, and passed their last hours alone. The next morning the final parting came. Then Edith provoked me a little. She sobbed, and implored him to give it all up and stay with her; declared it would kill her to part with him, calling him back time after time; and at the very last never giving him a single smile or a word of parting cheer.

"Could you not have kept your lamentations till after he was gone?" I asked her, sharply; for I had seen tears in his eyes, and it is a bad omen when a soldier goes away with wet eyes, and the one he loves best does not say, "God speed you!"

My acidity proved an excellent restorative. She put aside her bewailing to tell me that "Much I knew about it. If any one should ever love me, it would be time enough for me to decide then how I ought to part with him." Then she went off again into a paroxysm of sighs and tears, mingled with a great many adjectives about her brave, gallant, devoted, noble, loving Frank, until I was glad to escape from the scene, and ran out of doors, and along the path which led from our house to the Greshams', with, I believe, some vague idea of going to see how his mother bore it, and trying to comfort her. When I was half-way there I met Frank coming back.

"I was returning on purpose to try and see you, Maud," he said, as he met me. "I am very uneasy about Edith; and I want you to promise to write me and let me know how she is. She is so delicate, and this parting seems to overcome her so much. I fear she may write to me cheerfully, for my own sake, when she is really suffering; and I want to know the exact truth. Will you send it to me?"

It seemed to me that he must be seeing a reflection of his own unselfish courage in the shallow mirror of Edith's nature; but I wondered how, after the scene of the morning, he could have a single fear of her ever suppressing her own grief, being silent about her own sufferings, for his sake. I did not tell him this thought, of course. I promised him that if his Edith should be ill, or seriously depressed—if I saw her losing the strength of her physique, the brightness of her beauty — I would write to him. If any thing should be the matter, he might depend upon me; but I thought to myself that the chances of his hearing from me were not many. Still my promise seemed to comfort him, and he went away at last quite cheerfully.

No matter for the months that came after that. Suffice it that I had no occasion to write to Frank. I am sure Edith liked him very much. The feeling she called love might have sufficed very well for the needs of an ordinary man and an ordinary life. It was not her fault if she had not an intense nature. She gave him her best, and we do not refuse to look with pleased eyes at an artificial pond in our pleasure-ground, sparkling in the sunshine, because it is not as deep as the sea. Who shall say that a rebounding, elastic, gutta-perchaish temperament is not a blessing? At any rate, Edith found her account in having such a one. She wore the ring Frank gave her, she wrote to him, she went quite often to see his mother; and when any brave deed of Captain Gresham's was talked of, she smiled at his praises, as well she

might, with a serene pride. But her color did not fade, or her appetite fail. She displayed her customary solicitude about her winter bonnet, and made some excellent bargains in silk dresses after hearing a shrewd financier predict the rise in exchange. Altogether, I saw no symptoms which made it my duty to write to Frank.

It was a day in November when a change came to our lives. I sat at a front window, ostensibly sewing, but really watching the Indian summer glories of the landscape. My eyes followed the swift wind tossing the dun gold mists over the hill-tops, and then came back again to rest upon the path by which Edith's lover went away. I saw his mother hurrying toward our house with quick, yet tottering footsteps. I knew when I saw her that something must have happened to Frank. He was her only son, and she a widow. I went out silently, and hurried down the path to meet her.

"I am so glad to see you first, Maud," she said, as I drew her weak arm through my young strong one. "My boy, my Frank, is ill, dying perhaps. It is some horrible malignant fever caught among the marshes. They sent me word, and I am to tell Edith. I fear for the effect of my news upon her. I shall start for Washington this afternoon. I must see my poor boy before he dies."

I too trembled for the effect of the news upon my sister. Surely that careless heart would be stirred to its depths at last, and whence was to come her strength to cope with bitter trouble; she who had but "fed on the roses, and lain in the lilies of life?" I told her the sad tidings myself, gently as I could; but when I saw her ready tears fall, and heard her weak self-compassionate exclamations, my heart hardened against her. I think Mrs. Gresham's did also, for she said, a little sternly:

"I must go home again at once. I have some preparations to make, and the next train leaves at three this afternoon, just four hours from now. If you are ready to go with me you can join me at the station."

I went home with the poor, heart-broken mother. Edith did not need me. There were enough others to soothe any sorrow of hers, and I could not let the one whose anguish was deepest go back alone. I was with her an hour, and then I went home. I expected, yes, I honestly did expect to see Edith busy with her preparations. I was not prepared to find my mother and both my sisters sitting calmly in the library, with no change in their accustomed pursuits, except that instead of embroidery Edith had a cambric handkerchief which she put now and then to her eyes. I was indignant, and I suppose my voice betrayed me.

"Why are you not getting ready, Edith?" I asked, sternly. "You will have none too much time."

My mother answered me.

"Edith is not going. We all counseled her not. If Frank were only wounded it would be different, but that horrible fever! She would be sure to take it, and it would be the merest throwing away of life. There are nurses there who can do a great deal more for him."

"Did you forbid Edith to go?"

"No, as I said, we advised her."

"Very well, if you did not forbid her, you must not forbid me. I am going. What she will not dare for her lover I will dare for my friend. Mrs. Gresham is old and feeble, and could not tend him night and day. As for me, I am young and strong; and I have self-confidence enough to believe I can do more and better for him than any hired nurse."

"I do not want you to throw away your life any more than Edith," my mother said, in a tone of expostulation.

I answered, bitterly,

"I have not waited until to-day to learn that my life is not of much value to any one besides myself. I am going, mother, and if I go without a God-speed from any of you I can not help it."

"You will not go without a blessing, my good, brave little girl."

It was my father's voice which spoke. He had come into the room unnoticed, and heard my words. I think he recognized the kinship of my spirit with his own, and his heart warmed to me in that hour, as perhaps it had never done in all the years before. He aided me in the few preparations I had to make, and at last he took me to the station, where I was to join Mrs. Gresham. My mother and my younger sister had parted with me with unwonted tenderness, perhaps they thought they should never see me again. Edith had been a little sullen, and her good-by kiss had no warmth in it. I suppose she had an uncomfortable feeling that I was taking the place she ought to fill, and disliked me for it, without the courage to assert her right to go in my stead.

"Poor Mrs. Gresham's face brightened a little when she saw me, but she only said,

"How is this, dear? It was Edith whom I expected."

"They were afraid for her to go. They thought she might take the fever; and I suppose she was a little afraid for herself."

"And you?"—Mrs. Gresham's blue eyes searched my face—" you were warranted fever-proof, I suppose?"

"I had no fear. My life is not worth so much that 1 should hesitate to risk it in a good cause."

I knew that she was glad to have me with her by the way her fingers closed over mine; but she did not say so, for just then my father, who had been looking after my trunk, came up for a last good-by. He held me a moment in his arms, and then he said,

"God keep you for me, my own child. If I have over seemed cold or neglectful to you, forgive me in this hour. I shall think of you and pray for you night and day till I see your face again."

Then the cars started, and after a minute I could no longer see him on the platform, looking with dim eyes after me. I was going to Frank—to death perhaps.

I can never remember much about that journey. We did not talk much, or eat, or sleep. I seemed


 

 

 

Site Copyright 2003-2013 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection, contact paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.