Soldier's Story - First Time Under Fire

 

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, November 21, 1863

We have brought our passion for old newspapers to this WEB site by posting our entire collection of Harper's Weekly to this site. You can browse this collection, and gain new perspective on the war. The papers include pictures and reports created by the people who watched the events happen.

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

 

Russian Ball

Russian Ball

Marching Song

Marching Song

Droop Mountain

Battle of Droop Mountain

Rebels

Rebel Guerrillas

East Tennessee

War in East Tennessee

Rush Street Bridge

Rush Street Bridge Accident

Under Fire

First Time Under Fire

Soldier's Story - Gettysburg

Tennessee

War in Tennessee

Blood Hounds

Hunting Men with Blood Hounds

Dancing

Ballroom Dancing

 

 

William Hammond

William Hammond

Baldness Cure

Illinois Central

Illinois Central Railroad

         
 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[NOVEMBER 21, 1863.

746

THE GREAT RUSSIAN BALL.

ON pages 737, 744, and 745 we publish illustrations of the event of last week, THE GREAT RUSSIAN BALL AT THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC. It was undoubtedly the greatest ball ever given in this country, without excepting the ball to the Prince of Wales. Whether it was a success or not appears to be a matter of some uncertainty. We condense from the Herald report the following account of the decorations of

THE BALL-ROOM.

Inside the door a pleasant change in the Academy was perceptible at the very first step. Instead of the ordinary barrenness of the vestibule, it had the comfortable coziness of furniture about it; and, instead of the usual bare floor, the foot fell softly on a carpet; and as you turned to the right, delivered your ticket, and passed up stairs, a heavy cloth of the rich Magenta color softened your footfall at every step of the way, and when you landed in the upper lobby it was there also, giving, in the brilliant light, a warm, rich glow to the whole place.

You were here at the door of the foyer, where the lady leaves her cloak, and where the gentleman leaves the lady, while he passes down to the end of this lobby and deposits his overcoat, cap, etc. No cap-money to pay—no charges by the hair-dresser—no charges at all. Returned to the foyer, the gentleman glances in on that scene of very orderly confusion and noisy quiet, and mentally helps the lady to get ready. More help is not necessary, as there is plenty there, and help with needle and thread, too, in case of accidents. Art is every where, and in all parts of life, and, just as men and women go to Italy to commune with the spirits of antiquity in their master-pieces, so women come and wait all night to put a stitch here and there, and feel amply repaid by the opportunity to study the dresses.

From the foyer you descend not as you came, but down the stairs at the other side, up the south stairs, and down the north. Not much of an idea that, one might say; and yet, simple as the idea was, it was a very considerable contribution to order and ease. But we go down the stairs still On our soft Magenta-colored cloth; we turn to the left, and we stand on carpet, and are in the lobby.

Down the lobby, to the left, two elegant little retiring rooms were thrown open, and further down was fitted up a quiet little temple for the especial delectation of those addicted to "the cup that cheers but not inebriates," whether the said cup be filled with a decoction of the Arabian berry or the Chinese shrub. This is one of those excellent ideas that need only to be suggested; and in future no ball will be perfect without this very agreeable feature. It would be impossible to overpraise the quiet taste with which this little place was arranged, or the excellence with which its object was carried out by Delmonico.

We enter at the central door between two bronze men at arms who bear flambeaus, and each of whom holds up his flambeau bravely, and looks resolute, as if he meant to see it out. We pass down the two or three steps that are there, and we are on the floor, and within that rich circle of softened light drawn by the line of the boxes. To the right and left are places of exit, marked by very beautiful vases of flowers, and in front, shutting out all the paraphernalia of the theatre, and softening the abrupt break that the circle of the auditorium necessarily makes, as it reaches the line of the stage, was an immense hall, closed in at the further end by a facade, beyond which was seen, as from an interior, a delicate landscape. Above and at either side this hall was tapestried in white, the white tapestry appearing to fall in graceful folds and to terminate at the floor in golden fringe. On either side, at the centre, were suspended shields, which bore the heraldic devices respectively of Russia and the United States.

Seen from the hall we have described, the auditorium of the Academy presented the most fresh and brilliant appearance. All the white had been repainted, all the gold regilt, and the panel, on the front of the galleries that sustain the boxes, which were formerly of a dingy red, had been recolored in delicate green. A continuous drop, painted in festoons of flowers, masked the whole amphitheatre, and below the spaces between the pillars in the family circle were festooned in reality; and at the centre of each of these spaces were hung mammoth baskets of flowers, with gracefully drooping tendrils, etc.

At each side two of the upper proscenium boxes were draped in Russian and American flags, and at the centre of the first tier was suspended a perfect model in miniature of the ship General Admiral, bearing at her mizzen the signs of the signal code which read "Welcome Russia."

Even before the doors were thrown open crowds had assembled outside, and these, immediately upon the opening of the doors. began to stream in incessantly, seriously, joyously; in earnest, in haste—in all possible moods, manners, and ways—ladies in silks end satins, of pink, pearl, white, blue, of all the possible varieties, following up the shade from indigo till it melted into white; silks of green, crimson, purple, and yellow; silks ornamented and silks plain. And silks were not all, for there were ladies in velvet, and ladies in lace—ladies in cloaks, in furs, in shawls. and in hoods—ladies in head-dresses, and ladies with their glorious little heads left alone with their own beautiful hair. Every lady had diamonds on.

THE DANCING.

The order of dancing was as follows:

The Herald reporter says:

Immediately after the Russians arrived the dance began. We call it a dance out of respect to conventional and popular prejudice. In truth it was a very wonderful and indescribable phantasmagoria of humanity. The frantic few struggling against the determined and desperate many. Had one chanced to know several persons present, it is remotely possible that he might have been able to pick them out, but in the absence of any such particular and personal knowledge, it was mere nonsense to suppose that there was any particular person there. It was mere mass and mere matter. As for a dance it was a mere sway of crude material, moved a little this way, a little that, but not a dance.

Alas! for the Russians. It is known, or should be, that these Sclavic heroes are not the very largest of the human race—that they are small men in fact—and what is to become of small men in such a jam? Early in the night—indeed, very soon after the dance began—we saw several of them in the embrace of grand nebulous masses of muslin and crinoline, whirled hither and thither as if in terrible torment, their eyes aglare, their hair blown out, and all their persons expressive of the most desperate energy, doubtless in the endeavor to escape. What became of them we can not tell.

THE TOILETS.

The World reporter made a careful survey of the ladies' toilets, and reports as follows:

Among the most beautiful and striking costumes was a superb white moire antique, with border of scarlet velvet, covered with black lace flounce. Ornaments, scarlet convolvulus, diamond dew-drops, and humming-bird of green and gold.

Another was of black velvet, with garniture of lace and diamonds, the lace forming a magnificent tunic, crossed up, with diamond spray head-dress to correspond. A very full dress of white illusion bouillonee was ornamented with a set of black lace, forming wide scarf, border, and bow, and ends upon the skirt. Garniture of pomegranate blossoms, composing half wreaths, and branches for the skirt and corsage.

A superb dress was of lavender velvet, with ornaments of point lace, diamonds, and ostrich feathers.

A crimson velvet dress was also very striking, with its garniture of point d'Angleterre, and silver wheat.

A charming dress consisted of blue tarletan, in wide puffs, with an upper skirt of white moire antique, bordered with black barbe lace; garniture of blue forget-me-nots and white roses.

A very striking costume consisted of white puffed illusion with a short dress of rose-colored silk, drawn up at intervals with slender lace barbes; coiffure of narrow rose-colored ribbon, laid like a barbe, and white camelias.

A rich white moire antique was trimmed with deep black chenille fringe upon the skirt, body, and sleeves. Diamond ornaments.

Another was very peculiar, with a trimming composed of wide bows and ends, edged with black velvet and lace. Head-dress of white queen roses and black lace barbes, with large green glistening bug among the roses.

A magnificent white satin dress was bordered with puffed illusion, and looped at intervals with bunches of lilies of the valley over black velvet.

The upper part of a much-admired black and white dress was composed of a black velvet tunic, and the lower part of the skirt of white moire antique, covered with alternating puffings and flounces of black lace, ornaments, roses, diamonds, and emeralds.

A robe of lavender moire antique was ornamented with immense medallions, which extended the entire length of the skirt, widening at the base, and studded with roses. A half wreath of the same flowers, and a superb set of diamonds completed the garniture.

A rich dress of gold-colored satin was completed by rich ornaments of black lace, a broad gold-comb in the hair, and a golden butterfly.

A mauve moire antique was trimmed across the sides with short volants of point lace, finished with dilar tassels; coiffure consisted of white barbes and crimson camelia, with diamond ornaments.

A bride was lovely in a dress of white corded silk, with an illusion over-dress, a white illusion veil, and ornaments of white narcisse.

Two beautiful sisters attracted attention in dresses of pink moire, with flounces of white point d'Angleterre and garniture of pink flush roses, showered with diamond powder.

A leading actress was also attired as usual in a rich robe of mauve satin, trimmed with a deep flounce of point applique, looped up with a bunch of white feathers and diamond cluster—cornelian set in violets, and diamond aigrette, ornamented her dark hair.

Two very full dresses of white illusion, trimmed with a profusion of ruches, were beautiful, with scarlet empress sashes embroidered with gold, and bunches of white hyacinth and scarlet primrose.

A dress of rose-colored moire antique was elegantly trimmed with point applique, brought up in squares upon the skirt, the spaces occupied with bunches of white and crimson roses.

A beautiful blonde wore a dress of dark maroon velvet, with an immense white lace wreath. Her fair hair was simply ornamented with a bow and long ends of narrow velvet, the color of her dress. and a splendid white Moselle rose high up over the ear; diamond ornaments.

A rich dress of white corded silk was ornamented with puffings of illusion over bands of rose-colored silk, surmounted by silk rosettes. Empress scarf of rose-colored silk crossed low down upon the back of the skirt, with aide bow and ends, and bunches of roses with white narcisse completed the costume.

The empress scarf is a novelty, and was strikingly exhibited in rich crimson velvet, edged with full illusion ruches upon a magnificent dress of white moire antique head-dress of crimson cactus and white blossoms.

Nearly all the jewels were diamonds. We have never seen so magnificent a display except upon the occasion of the Prince of Wales' ball.

THE SUPPER.

The Herald reporter says:

A covered passage, which had been erected in a few hours, led from the Academy of Music to Irving Hall, where Delmonico had prepared the supper. This passage way was most beautifully decorated. Flags were hung from the ceiling, while the sides were draped in white muslin dotted with golden stars; flowers were profusely piled about, and rich carpets covered the floors. The steps ascending into the Hall were also richly carpeted. The entrance was beautifully decorated. Statues, lights, and flowers were here arranged in the most tasteful manner, while through the opened doors was seen the beautiful Hall brilliantly lighted and resplendent with banners, escutcheons, and devices. Festoons were hung around the gallery. On the walls were shields bearing the arms of Russia; also on each side of the Hall were placed two broad Union shields. The effect produced was really magnificent, and redounds to the credit of Mr. Harrison, the proprietor of Irving Hall, under whose direction these decorations were made. At all times the place is beautiful; it is spacious and highly ornamented with frescoes; but as arranged last night it was resplendent.

The coup d'oeil from the gallery was most effective. Long tables reached around the whole of the immense Hall. These tables, under the charge of Delmonico, were set in the most attractive manner. Fruits, rare at this season, were in abundance, while the bright crystals and bouquets were distributed about in the most elegant and tasteful manner. On the table fronting the entrance were placed the "pieces montees," or grand works in confectionery. In temples of fame were to be seen Alexander II. and President Lincoln. On pedestals of variegated sugars were the statues of Peter the Great and our immortal Washington. There were designs for fountains, arches of triumph, the rotunda of Athens, cornucopias of plenty, devices rare and ingenious, all sweetly worked out. In fact, the table was a triumphant proof of the ability of our great caterer, and excelled all previous displays of the kind. As for the qualities of the viands and the wines it is needless to say a word of praise. The name of Delmonico is a guaratee for excellence in those departments.

Throughout the evening the supper rooms were thronged, and presented the most animated, most brilliant appearance.

The beautiful toilets of the ladies, the glitter of their diamonds, the gay uniforms of the officers, all blended into a harmonious ensemble, which but added to the magnificent appearance of the Hall. Above the laughter of the guests and the loud popping of the Widow Clicquot Champagne were heard the strains of music, the odor of flowers and of the pates also mingled; and we must assert that if the Academy, with its waltzes, its quadrilles and polkas, attracted the guests, Irving Hall, with its splendid table and rich wines, was no less patronized. The covered passage-way was constantly crowded, and we observed that more than a necessary amount of care was taken by many, very many persons, to repeat their visits to the Hall. We suppose its brilliant appearance was the attraction.

The bill of fare read as follows:

"SOIRE RUSSE."
LE 5 NOVEMBER, 1863.

MENU.

HORS D'OEUVRES.

Huitres a la poulette: Huitres en marinade: Bonchees

de gibier: Canapes de filets d'ortolans:

Snit-mitch a la Russe.

GROS PIECES.

Saumons au beurre de Montpellier:

Filets de boeuf a la Mazarin:

Galantine de cochon de lait garni de hatelets:

Jambons de Westphalie a la moderne.

Truites a la Regence:

Pates de canvas back ducks:

Pates de gibier sur socles:

Galantines de diodes aux truffes.

ENTREES.

Salades de volaille a la Russe:

Cotelettes de pigeons en Macedoine:

Chaudfroid de filets de fausans:

Pain de gibier a la royale:

Terrines de nerac de pluviers.

Cannetons a la rouennaise:

Bordures d'escalopes de homards:

Aspics de filets de soles a la Victoria:

Timbales a la renaissance:

Becassines a la Geoffroy.

ROTIS.

Cailles aux feuilles de vigne:   Becasses bardees:

Faisans piques:   Grouses.

ENTREMETS, SUCRES ET DESSERT.

Savarins au Marasquin:   Biscuits Moscovites:

Gateaux de mille-feuilles: Babas glaces au rhum:

Charlottes Siberienne: Charlottes New Yorkaises.

Meringues panachees et Vanillees.

Gelees Macedoine au vin de Champagne:

Gelees d'antzick Orientales:

Gelees de poires a la marechale:

Gelees au madere.

Pains d'abricots a la Beresina:

Blanc manger rubanes au chocolat:

Bavarois aux fraises:

Biscuits glaces a la rose.

Gateaux assortis:   Petit-fours:   Compotes:   Fruits

PIECES MONTERS ET GLACES.

Pierre le Grand:   Washington:

Alexander II.      Lincoln:

Le berceau des palmiers:   La rotonde d'Athene:

La fontaine moderne:   L'ermitage Russe:

L'arc de triomphe:   Cornes jumelles d'abondance:

Sultans a la parisienne: Le pavilion des aigles.

L'aigle Americain: Le casque sur socte: Pouding

Nesselrode:   La lionne.

Colombus:   Corbeille jardiniere:   Les Dauphins:

Diane:   Madeleines: Mousses aux amandes:

Bombes spongade: Ceylaus an cafe: Vanille:

Chocolat: Citrons et Fraises.

Etc.,   Etc.,   Etc.,   Etc.

The World reporter gives the following account of the edibles:

These viands and ornamental pieces did not appear in their native state; their presence was connected with combinations of jellies, sugar roses, winged doves, and pyramidal canopies. For a slice of boned turkey you had to throttle an eagle, pluck a flower, raze some evergreens, or remove an abutment or turret of congealed maple. Carving was thus dispensed with, and the spoon superseded the knife. As the ovation and ball is one which may leave its traces on centuries to come, we give, for the sake of history, an account of the principal edibles used, viz.:

Twelve thousand oysters—10,000 poulette and 2000 pickled.

Twelve monster salmon—30 lbs. each.

Twelve hundred game birds.

Two hundred and fifty turkeys.

Four hundred chickens.

One thousand pounds of tenderloin.

One hundred pyramids of pastry.

One thousand large loaves.

Three thousand five hundred bottles of wine.

FIRST TIME UNDER FIRE.

WHEN the President ordered the army to be filled up by recruiting, drafting, or otherwise, and the peaceful moneyed men of the North were roused to protect their persons by draining their pockets, I was moved by love of country, of adventure, and three hundred dollars, to offer myself as a recruit in the — Cavalry Regiment. So, under the protection of a strong body of infantry to preserve us from guerrillas, and to keep us from yielding to a natural temptation to display our patriotism by going home and again sacrificing our liberty on the altar of our country for a second three hundred dollars, I and fifty others were first jolted forty miles on a cattle car, then marched twenty-five miles to corps head-quarters, then fifteen across country to our brigade-commander, and then back again near the place whence we started to the camp of the regiment. After accompanying on foot the movements of our mounted troops for the next three weeks, it suddenly occurred to some member of the general's staff that we might perhaps be more efficient on horseback; and so we were transported back on the cars to the Cavalry Depot at Washington to be provided with horses. As we were all stout, active young fellows, we only lost in these various movements fifteen men from disease, desertion, and capture by guerrillas, and only five or six others got disheartened, and escaped home on our passage through the city; so in three weeks more thirty of us, well mounted, armed, and equipped, rejoined our command, and were reported fit for duty.

About a fortnight after our thus fairly joining the regiment the squadron to which I belonged was called in from picket, and marched rapidly to where the regiment was engaged with the enemy. As we drew near the firing became sharper and sharper, and suddenly the captain commanding formed us in line, and carried us forward on a trot. The rapidity of the movement, the jingling of the accoutrements, the pressure of the horses and men on each side of me caused a sensation of excitement

rather pleasant than otherwise, and I began to feel very brave and warlike.

"What is it?" asked I of the old soldier beside me. "Are we going to charge them right off?"

I shall never forget the look of contemptuous wonder with which he looked at me as be replied:

"I've been jest two years in this here regiment, and you're the first man I ever met who thought he was going a-charging without drawing sabres, We're a-going to be shot at, young feller. That's all for the present."

There was something so cold-blooded in the idea and the way in which it was communicated that my enthusiasm was checked with a suddenness that caused me to shiver, and I asked no more questions until we were halted behind a thin belt of woods, on the other side of which active skirmishing was going on. Here I noticed the old soldiers get their carbines in readiness, and snapping of caps to clear the tube; and the consciousness of the deadly earnest in which the weapons were soon to be used turned me for the moment sick and solemn, and made me think simultaneously of home and of death. All the time there were curious sounds in the air above our heads, as if a constant succession of large and viciously-disposed night-beetles had mistaken us for lighted candles, and were whirring around us under that delusion; but seeing no notice taken of them by the others I was timid of alluding to the subject. At last, noticing the old soldier who before answered me dodge down quickly as one of these sounds was heard close above him, I ventured to inquire "what sort of bugs those were that made such a noise?" Indignation blended with scorn was visible in his countenance as he satisfied my curiosity:

"Bugs! Do you think that I am such a skeery old woman as to be twisting myself in my saddle 'cause a bug was flying at me? Them's pisen, them are! them's bullets!"

If he had told me they were 15-inch shell he couldn't have startled and astonished me more. Here I had been in imminent danger for ten minutes, and I had not known any thing about it. Instinctively I thought whether I could get out of the way without being detected and disgraced, and the same impulse attracted my eyes toward my Captain. There he sat as cool as a cucumber, reading a man a lecture as to the proper method of advancing his carbine, forcing two or three others to dress themselves more accurately upon the right sergeant, and all the while looking straight at me. There was no use in my trying to dodge away then. Presently a horse in front of me gave a half rear and dropped to the ground, and one or two men on foot came straggling through the wood from the front. Then there came slowly forth a mounted man leaning forward on his saddle, his hand pressed to his side, and red with blood. Then a squad of ten or fifteen burst through the branches, slinging their empty carbines, and rallying in a disorderly fashion upon our flank; and with a deadlier fury the whirr of the bullets swept above our line. "Steady there, men!" sang out the Captain. "Get your carbines ready, boys!" An old infantry soldier, who was my front rank man, turned round to me, and said, "I say, you take care to fire over my head, and don't blow my brains out with your shooting, d'ye hear?" I was in the act of promising to pay the most exact attention to his order, when I was startled by a burst of laughter behind me. That ubiquitous Captain was there listening. "Fire over your head, you goose," rejoined he. "I don't want him to bring down a star or a turkey-buzzard. You keep your fire, Dan, until I tell you to shoot, and don't let me see a man in the rear rank fire while I keep him standing there. Mind that now." While he was talking I could tell from the shouts that our men had repelled the rebel charge, and I was able to bear with composure the sight of a dead officer carried sadly past us by some of his men; but all at once along the whole enemy's line out poured a volley, the unseen weapons lightening up the closing night with a glare of fire whose length startled and amazed me. Horses fell on either side of me, and here and there a man's face would change, and he would slide from his saddle or draw his horse back from the line. It became perfectly dreadful sitting there inactive, waiting helplessly for death; and my hand half-consciously drawing upon my rein, my horse fell back about a foot from his place in line. At this instant the Captain cried out, "Attention, there!" and looking round, I saw his eyes fixed on me again. Again he cried, "Attention! Squadron into single rank, march!" and as I obeyed the order I saw our skirmishers slowly falling back through the wood and forming line upon our extreme left and in our rear. Then there was a pause. Presently I saw a movement among the trees, and could discern a mass of men clustering together just upon their edge. With a thrill, I knew that for the first time I saw the enemy; and every sensation was merged in a frantic desire to shoot, while every nerve within my body was shaking with excitement. Then the Captain's voice, steady and cheerful, sounded along the line, with some sympathetic power calming my shaking nerves and making every muscle as firm as iron, "Ready! Aim low! Front rank men, fire!" A blaze of light ran along our line, there was a deafening explosion, and a blinding smoke, through which I could hear the bullets of the enemy as they whistled past. I could see nothing, but I heard the voice of the Captain from my right command, "Rear rank men, fire!" and as our second volley belched forth, came the order, "Load and fire at will." And now it was pop! pop! pop! as fast as we could get the cartridges into our pieces, shouting and cheering as we did so, in answer to the rebel outcries. At length our cries met no response, I heard the officers command "Cease firing," the smoke swept away, and I found it was black night, through which I could just discern that I was one of about forty men, the remnant of the squadron; could hear a few slowly trotting back to the rear; could notice others on foot crossing the hill-top beyond, and perceive a mass of dead horses and one or two dead men still lying at my feet. (Next Page)

Picture

 

 

 

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.