In the Petersburg Trenches

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 6, 1864

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers give a unique view of the war, created by the people who lived it. It is full of stories and illustrations created by correspondents deployed to the front lines. They lived with the Soldiers, and experienced the war first hand.

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

 

Poetry

Poetry

Peace Movement

Peace Movement

Rousseau Expedition

Rousseau Expedition

Sherman March Atlanta

Sherman's March on Atlanta

Petersburg Trenches

Stuart

General J.E.B. Stuart

Stuart Death

Death of JEB Stuart

Penny Shortage

Penny Shortage

Marietta Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Peterburg Siege

Trenches at the Siege of Petersburg

Cavalry Raid

Cavalry Raid

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[AUGUST 6, 1864.

502

(Previous Page) more than two thousand souls, yet ranks as the sixth town in Georgia in regard to size. It was settled before Atlanta. Prior to the war Marietta College was one of the two or three prosperous institutions of the South. It exists now only in name. The town is almost entirely deserted by its inhabitants.

Turning now to the next page, we have an illustration of the gallant action performed, June 15, by General HARROW'S division of LOGAN'S corps. In the morning General LOGAN received orders to move this division to the left, to divert the enemy's attention from the right, where an assault was to be made. It advanced at about 1 o'clock, with WILLIAMS brigade on the left, WALCOT'S holding the centre and OLLIVER'S on the right and in reserve. General MORGAN L. SMITH kept within supporting distance. A position was carried by the division and several prisoners captured. It is to the action of Colonel WALCOT'S brigade that the illustration especially refers. He, in the most gallant manner, advanced on the enemy's position, and returned- with 300 prisoners, Generals LOGAN and HARRow both grasping his hand in congratulation. A story is told of a captain who, rushing past the enemy's rifle-pits, was fired at so closely that the enemy's powder burned his face. This doughty captain, it is said, took several prisoners.

Below, on the same page, is a distant view of Atlanta, as seen from the signal station in front of the position held by the Army of the Tennessee July 7. In the fore-ground, at the right of Lieutenant EDGE, the signal officer, sits General OSTERHAUS ; and standing, still further to the right, are generals HOOKER and LOGAN.

RETURN OF A RAIDING PARTY.

ON page 508 we give an illustration representing the return of KAUTZ'S cavalry from the raid against the Weldon and Danville roads. General KAUTZ ranks among the first of our cavalry officers, and it is in a raid especially that his excellent leadership is illustrated. He was associated with WILSON in the raid to which allusion is here particularly made ; his accurate knowledge of the country enabled him, however, to reach BUTLER'S line before WILSON. Both men and horses returned in a state of great exhaustion ; the troops were without coats—blankets had been left behind—and in many cases even hats and caps were absent, their places being supplied by turbans, female head-gear, or whatever came to hand. Some had lost their horses, and rode mules ; others, still worse off, had to lead their tired beasts. And thus ragged and weary, and presenting the most grotesque appearance, the column straggled in from the great raid.

IN THE TRENCHES.

WE continue this week, on pages 504 and 505, our. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SIEGE OF PETERSBURG, of which the artist gives a description as follows :

The army, although no longer marching and fighting day by day, is by no means idle; earth works, of much heavier construction than the temporary rifle-pits thrown up on the march from Culpepper, keep the spade and pick in constant requisition. The enemy's position, in most instances, commands ours, giving them the advantage in the constantly renewed artillery firing along the front, and superior protection for their men from the fire of sharp-shooters.

Take the sketch of MARTIN'S BATTERY ; frowning over it, at close range, are the enemy's fortifications, an important salient being prominent, back of which may be seen part of still another line of works, designed to make the first untenable if, in spite of abattis and chevaux de frise, we should capture them. At this part of the lines—on the Fifth Corps—although the cannon keep up a desultory fire, by common   consent among the men on both sides sharp-shooting has been abandoned, and the pickets live amicably near each other, outside the fortified lines; ours even taking their shelter-tents with them for protection against the sun. The line of battle lies close on both sides, in the complicated system of trenches called rifle-pits, which generally consist of two main lines of embankment close together—one in front, the other behind the men--and any quantity of traverses, as shelters against cross-fire are called. Across these works the men stretch their tents and blankets, like an awning, in picturesque confusion, keeping as cool as the torrid climate—aggravated in the pits by the glare from the white sandy soil—and the rebel mortar shells will let them. Against the latter rifle-pits are no protection, and the soldiers burrow into the earth places known as gopher holes, into which they dive with astonishing rapidity when a shell is observed by the look-out coming his way. Some of the rifle-pits are covered with boughs, forming a continuous arbor, and giving increased protection against the sun.

The officers' quarters, where exposed to danger from the rebel fire, are often made shell-proof, although the Whitworth bolt occasionally penetrates an immense thickness of earth.

After leaving General WARREN'S front there is no longer any security against being hit, the sharp-shooters keeping a bright look-out on both sides, firing at every one who shows himself, and constantly skimming bullets at random, which often take effect upon people unseen by the shooter. These have all sorts of devices to protect themselves from fire, and at the same time make their own shots tell. All night the firing is kept up with increased vindictiveness, for the purpose of driving in the working parties, who come out in the darkness to dig new works—parallels and other approaches to the rebel lines. The rebels work also in improving and adding to their defenses.

It was hard at one time for the army to get sufficient water, but they have dotted the country with wells, and have now a plentiful supply. Some of the wells, after reaching a vein of water, are filled in again around barrels placed one on top of another up to the surface. This is the best plan, but as

barrels are scarce all can not procure them, so others dig out a large excavation, with a flight of steps leading down to the water. In fact there is a score of different methods in use.

The drawing of a battery of mortars and light twelves represents a salient on the line of the Eighteenth Corps, which is a source of great annoyance to the rebels. Lieutenant JACKSON constantly drops his shells among their men, as he jocosely remarks, " to prevent the Johnnies sleeping too sound." They do not fail to return the compliment with shells and the bullets of the sharp-shooters. The mortars are fired without the gunner seeing the spot he aims at. With the aid of the frame-work round the piece, marked in divers places with the positions of points upon the rebel line, and a piece of string leading from a bayonet stuck in the sandbags on the parapet down to the frame, he directs the fire of the piece ; and as the shell is visible as it leaves the smoke till it falls into the doomed spot, it is very interesting to watch the practice.

A BOWL OF BREAD AND MILK.

PROSPEROUS ! Yes ; I have been prosperous. They call me a merchant prince I believe, and you'll hardly find a stronger, or a more respected, or a wealthier firm than that of Berryl & Bullion. If you'd like to know what started me in life, and made me first book-keeper and so on up to junior partner, and now head of the firm, I'll tell you. A bowl of bread and milk. It's a fact. A bowl of bread and milk and a girl-baby.

I was born in a quaint little country place, in Greene county, New York, not far from the Hudson, and where you could see the purple peaks of the Catskills, with snow at the very top nearly all the year round—as though, I used to think, old Winter made his habitation there, and kept his favorite temperature for himself while the other seasons had their way with the earth below. It was a pretty place, and we had a church, and a school-house, and a store, and one doctor who could not have afforded to live in such a healthy place if he had not already made his fortune in New York. Our home was a farm-house some miles away from the village, and lonely enough in the winter time, when bad roads and deep snows kept us away from church some-times for weeks together. But it was beautiful in summer, when the golden corn stood in the fields, and the little orchard was bright with fruit and blossoms, and the great grape - vine shaded the whole porch ; and even at the coldest and loneliest we were never unhappy. We were all and all to each other—father and mother, and I and brother Will—and lived a life of our own, partly in books and partly in dreamland, which we knew well enough no one else would comprehend. We had a library, such as it was ; the books were mostly old, and had covers of calico which mother had sewed on them to hide the disreputable broken leather and tarnished gilding ; and they were nearly all romances, save a History of England, a Mythology with long crooked s's, and some books of poetry.

There were works by Miss Porter and Mrs. Radcliffe ; novels in nine volumes, which followed a lovely heroine and a too susceptible young noble-man along a course of true love which certainly ran any thing but smoothly. Separated them apparently forever at least a dozen times, and at the end of the ninth volume always reunited and married them,

"The Horrors of Okendale Castle," " The Children of the Abbey," "Camilla," " Pamela," "Thaddeus of Warsaw," and goodness knows what besides. We read them all, and cried over them together, and rejoiced at the joyful consummation, and absolutely went to the weddings, so vividly were they brought before us by the pages over which we pored.

We sat up all night once to be made quite sure that Elfrida Rosabell would ultimately discover that the young Sir Godfrey was not a villain, and had honorable intentions ; and neighbor Boggs, of the mill, sent over next morning to inquire whether any one was " sick or dead to our house, cause he seen a light late as three o'clock a night in the sottin'-room windy."

After that we closed the shutters early.

When we were not reading generally around the supper-table we used to talk of what we'd do when we were rich. We spent a good many fortunes in imagination, but the reality was a good way off yet, for both ends could only just be made to meet every year, and there never was a dollar to spare for any thing. Only my mother's indefatigable thread and needle kept us respectable for Sundays. On week days we worked on the farm in any thing. Our ground was poor, and there was not a great deal of it. Besides, father was not brought up a farmer, and never had what the neighborhood called luck. Old Farmer Pratt used to say he had "far too much book-larnin' to grow potatoes," and perhaps he was tight. There were men who could just read who made money with fewer acres, and father who, to the astonishment of all, "knew Latin," could just feed and clothe his little family. But he did that, and was thankful. I was sixteen before I heard the story of his past life. How ambitious he had been, and how he had failed while less talented men arose above him, and how, at thirty, he had said to my mother : "Alice, I meant to be a great man for your sake, and a rich one. I can only be a poor farmer now ; will you have me as I am ?" And she who had loved him all along said " Yes." And so for years they had led this peaceful life of daily toil and nightly reading, varied only by church-going on the Sabbath, or some neighboring apple-paring, or corn-husking, or quilting ; and though their boys were grown up they were two lovers still.

But you know the serpent made his way into Eden, and ever since there has always been some evil thing ready to creep in where people are good and happy. Satan came to us in the shape of a middle-aged man, with black whiskers, in difficulties.

He owed some one something, and had probably done some rascally thing or other ; for he was very much afraid of being seen, and hid at our house for weeks together during one autumn.

He represented himself as a persecuted angel, and was sheltered and sympathized with, and made much of, as though he were one in reality. At last he asked a particular favor of his old friend and college chum—only a signature—a mere form; but it would start him in life again, and those fellows insisted on it. The signature was given ; and six months from that time my father found him-self a ruined man. Almost every thing was gone : the house—the farm—only a little corner where a neglected cabin stood on a little triangular patch of ground—some bits of furniture, and our books, too old to be of value to others, remained to us. My mother bore it bravely ; but one bitter day—bitter alike in its winter cold and in what it brought to us—my father lay dead upon the door-stone. Coming home in the gray twilight he dropped there without a word or groan. The doctor said, "It was his heart ;" and my mother answered, sobbing, " Yes, his heart was broken." They buried him in the old church-yard when the snow lay piled on the stones and quite hid the mounds above which they arose. And we three envied him ; we longed so to lie down beside him. The world seemed a great desert, for he had been all to us.

For days we did little but weep together over the fire in our little cabin. But one morning I started up. "I am a man!" I cried. " Shall I be idle while we all starve? Mother, I'll go to New York, and begin to work in earnest."

" You alone in New York !" The great fear that was in the thought drove my mother's tears away.

"I am seventeen," I said, "and I am tall, and look two or three years more than my age."

"Yes, your father was proud of your being so well grown," said my mother, and she wept again. But I sat down beside her, and told her of my plans, and of my secret. Will was old enough to do all that could be done about the little place, and I had written a book !

" A book!" Astonishment swept every other feeling from my mother's mind for the moment. "You write a book, my child! but it can not he worth reading."

" You shall read it," I said; and I brought it from the hiding-place where it had rested in my trunk, and laid it in her lap.

She read it, and the verdict was a mother's.

"I never thought to take so much comfort again," she said. " I cried over that book all night. It's as good as one of Mrs. Radcliffe's, Harry."

After that she did not oppose my departure, but mended my clothes, and put on missing buttons, and packed up the little brown valise as a matter of course.

So it came to pass that one Monday morning I set forth, with my valise in my hand, to New York city to seek a publisher and make my fortune. Mother cried and kissed me, and dried her tears to make sure the gingerbread had been packed up, and promised not to cry again, and watched us out of sight, with the tears rolling down her face.

I say watched us, for Will went with me as far as the store, whence the stage started, and on the way took an oath that some way he would get a living for mother out of that corner lot. " I'll do it, Harry," he said, "or die ;" and his eyes shone as he spoke like two diamonds. We were not ashamed to embrace each other, or to cry a little, 1 and so we parted.

At that time a lumbering stage made the journey to New York; and a hard time of it we had that day, with bad roads and biting cold, and at dusk a sleety- rain, which shrouded the great city from my view as I entered it. That night I supped and slept ; it was enough for me. But the next morning came thoughts of my book and the publishers —that book which had been pronounced as good as Mrs. Radcliffe's."

Shall I ever forget the contemptuous " " We don't meddle with such affairs as that of yours here, young man !" of that first stout publisher in glass-es ; or the sneering, "Thank you, it wouldn't answer !" from the slender perfumed exquisite whose sanctum I penetrated? But they had not read " Angelica; or, Parted and Reconciled." They were brutal; they refused to recognize talent ; that was all. At last I found a gentleman (he had been to dinner, and had wine after it) who said, blandly, "Leave the manuscript, may young friend ; we will read it." And I went up to the Seventh Heaven forthwith. I shook his hand, and thanked him, and went back to where I put up.

I called in a week. Sir. Bullman was not in. A day or two later he neither remembered me nor my manuscript. He had not been. to dinner, and was not genial that day. There was a little clerk in the room—an old man with a kind face. He came forward and whispered something. "Ay," said Mr. Bullman, in reply; "it may be in the waste paper basket." And forthwith out came the basket, and I saw a red string I knew well, for it came from my mother's work-bag.

"Yours?" said Mr. Bullman.

" Yes, Sir, mine."

"Ah! Take it."

"Have you read it, Sir ?" I hazarded.

" Oh dear, no, , of course not."

That was all, it was enough. I went. In a kind of dizzy haze I staggered out into the street. I wanted to hide somewhere and cry, and forgot to notice the sign-boards as I went on. Consequently I soon lost myself, soon, also, found myself in a shabby, disreputable-looking part of the city, where there were lounging men in dirty finery, and tipsy women and barefooted children with gin-bottles in their bony hands. A youth of my own age stood at the door of a corner grocery, and to him I ad-dressed myself:

" Will you tell me the way to — Street ?"

It was very friendly of the boy to go with me a little way—to keep so close beside me, and pat me in such sociable fashion on my shoulder when we parted. The very thought of his kindness brought tears into my eyes. I put my hand in my pocket for my handkerchief to wipe them away. It was gone.. So was my purse, with every cent I possessed in it. I sat down on a step near by absolutely faint with terror.

To the country youth of seventeen the city seemed so wide and cruel. That great Broadway was to me " a stony-hearted step-mother."

It was after dark when I reached the place I called home for the time, and told my story to my landlady. She had sons of her own, but she had no pity on me. I went from her house that night, and left my brown portmanteau and the bits of clothes in it behind me, amidst her vixenish vows that " She'd not be cheated—not she—by any trumped-up story."

Do you know where I slept that night ? On a bench in the City Hall Park. And there was no breakfast ready in the morning at that hotel.

All day I tried for work—as shopman, as helper, any where where strong arms were needed ; no one wanted me. At noon, starved and weary, a baker brushing by me with his basket of warm loaves al-most made me faint. But I went on still asking at stores and factories, even at the doors of private dwellings, for work, and finding none. At seven, so anxious was I for food, that, seeing a load of wood at the door of a plain house, I asked for the job of sawing and splitting it. The woman shook her head.

"I'll do it for my supper," I said, pleadingly. "A great, healthy young man like you oughtn't to need supper as bad as that," she said, and slammed the door in my face. Then I heard her call within, " Biddy, watch the cellar-door, there's a straggler outside." A thought of my mother and of home came over me. What would she have said could she have seen me then? How would her face have looked ? I was very glad she could not know what I endured. Poor though we had been, I had never guessed what cold and starvation could be before.

I left the door before which I had been standing and wandered on, wondering whether I could bring myself to beg for food. Death would have been preferable, but mother and Will—I had no right to leave them if God would let me stay. On either hand were stores and dwellings brightly lighted. Windows where dainty pastry, and jellies, and confectionery were set forth. Others still, where heaps of gold, and silver, and crisp bank-notes were spread on green baize; still others, through the white curtains of which I could see family groups gathered around bright fires or cozy tea-tables. All seemed happy save myself. It is always so when we are wretched.

On I went—I could stop at none of these bright places—and at last I turned down a side-street full of handsome old-fashioned houses, with low door-steps and windows on the first floor, which were on a level with the eye of a man standing in the street. This street was darker than the busy one from which I had turned. I walked on counting the doors, re-solving that at the third or the fourth I would begin to beg—failing to keep the promise I made myself every time. At last before me arose a dwelling larger than the rest. From the low window a light shone out, sending a warm gleam upon the frosty pavement. The curtain was looped back and I could see the room within. A great dining-table, covered with white damask, and at one end of it a little girl of seven, with long golden curls sweeping to her waist, and what looked like a bowl of bread and milk. Near her stood a servant-woman. It was a pretty picture. I thought I had never seen so lovely a child or such a pleasant room. Listening, I presently heard the servant's voice :

" Miss Rose, your pa and Ina won't be home for ever so long, and they said you were to eat your supper and go to bed. What is the matter ?"

" I want some jam," said the child, "and dolly. Dolly will be half-starved."

"Chany dolls don't get hungry, Miss Rose," said the girl.

" Mine does," said the child, '' and sleepy. Please bring her light-gown and cap, so that I can undress her where it is warm."

"What a queer child you are!" said the girl. "Well, I'll get the jam and your doll, and then you will go to bed, Miss Rose."

"Yes," replied the child ; and the girl left her. Then I perceived that a crack of the window had been left open—perhaps by accident, and perhaps because the room was overheated. I longed for a little of that pleasant warmth. I raised the sash farther from without, standing on a projecting stone ornament below. As I did so the frame made a creaking sound, and the child looked around, not fearfully, but with a bright, bold look that told she was not easily alarmed by trifles. Then a thought came into my mind. To beg of this child would not be so bitter a, humiliation. I thrust my head through the aperture and called to her by the name the servant had said.

"Miss Rose."

The child saw my face now, she heard my voice, and came down from her high seat. Half-way she paused, putting back her hair with her little hand, and looking at me wonderingly with her blue eyes.

" I don't know you," she said. " Who are you? What do you want ?"

"I am some one who is hungry," I said. "I want something to cat."

"Hungry?" She said. " You must have some-thing to eat right away ;" and then turned on her little toes and pattered to the table, whence she lifted the great china bowl of bread and milk with both baby hands. She set it upon the sill, and perching on It chair, to my utter astonishment, said, with an air of command, "Now open your mouth and I'll feed you."

She had been used to feeding and petting the kit-ten that purred upon the rug, and treated me in the saute way. I understood that at once ; but I obeyed. I opened my mouth; and I outside of the window, with elbows on the sill, she within, perched on the seat of a chair, that baby fed me with bread and milk. It amused her. She laughed merrily. Now and then she patted um on the head. For my own part I hardly knew whether 1 wondered most at myself or her.

The bowl was emptied not slowly; and then I caught the baby hands in mine and kissed them.

I shall never forget you," I said—" never cease to pray for you—never--"


 

 

  

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