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Robert E. Lee
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Robert E. Lee Portrait
IN the far off Polar seas,
Far beyond the Hebrides,
Where the icebergs, towering
high, Seem to pierce the wintry sky, And the fur-clad Esquimaux Glide in sledges
o'er the snow, Dwells St. Nick, a merry wight, Patron saint of Christmas night.
Solid walls of massive ice,
Bearing many a quaint device, Flanked by graceful turrets twain, Clear as
clearest porcelain, Rearing at a lofty height
Christ's pure cross in simple
white, Carven with surpassing art From an iceberg's crystal heart.
Here St. Nick, in royal state,
Dwells until December late
Clips the days at either end,
And the nights each way extend;
Then with his attendant sprites Scours the earth on wintry nights, Bringing back
in well-filled hands Children's gifts from many lands.
Here are whistles, tops, and
toys, Meant to gladden little boys ;
Skates and sleds that soon will
glide O'er the ice or steep hill-side. Here are dolls with flaxen curls, Sure to
charm the little girls; Christmas books, with pictures gay, For this welcome
In the court the reindeer wait;
Filled the sledge with costly freight. As the first faint shadow falls
Promptly from his icy halls
Steps St. Nick, and grasps the
rein : Straight his coursers scour the plain, And afar, in measured time,
Sounds the. sleigh-bells' silver
Like an arrow from the bow Speed
the reindeer o'er the snow. Onward ! Now the loaded sleigh Skirts the shores of
Hudson's Bay. Onward, till the stunted tree Gains a loftier majesty,
And the curling smoke-wreaths
rise Under less inclement skies.
Built upon a hill-side steep
Lies a city wrapt in sleep.
Up and down the lonely street
Sleepy watchmen pace their beat. Little heeds them Santa Claus; Not for him are
human laws. With a leap he leaves the ground, Scales the chimney at a bound.
Five small stockings hang below,
Five small stockings in a row.
From his pocket blithe St. Nick
Fills the waiting stockings quick
: Some with sweetmeats, some with toys, Gifts for girls, and gifts for boys ;
Mounts the chimney like a bird, And the bells are once more heard.
Santa Claus ! Good Christmas
Saint, In whose heart no selfish taint Findeth place, some homes there be Where
no stockings wait for thee—Homes where sad young faces wear Painful marks of
Want and Care, And the Christmas morning brings No fair hope of better things.
Can you not some crumbs bestow On
these children steeped in woe; Steal a single look of care
Which their sad young faces wear;
From your overflowing store
Give to them whose hearts are
sore? No sad eyes should greet the morn When the infant Christ was born.
GENERAL WARREN'S RAID.
ONE of the most successful
General LEE'S communications was that
undertaken recently by General WARREN in his raid on the Weldon Railroad, which
we illustrate on pages 836
The Fifth Corps, accompanied by MOTT'S Division of the Second and GREGG'S
Cavalry, made up the expeditionary force which
set out December 7, having been previously withdrawn from the lines around
Petersburg and massed near the Avery House. In the midst of a driving rain,
which continued all day and the next night, WARREN moved rapidly down the
Jerusalem Road to the Nottaway River, which he crossed by means of a pontoon at
Freeman's Bridge. The next day, leaving a cavalry guard at the crossing, and
protected on his flanks by cavalry, he continued his march through Sussex Court
House, east of the railroad, toward Nottoway Bridge. This point was covered by
the enemy's cavalry, which was steadily driven back. The bridge was reached at
noon and destroyed. It was 200 feet long, and spanned the Nottoway River. The
raiding column was now secure against any attack from Petersburg, and completely
annihilated the railroad south of the bridge for a distance of eight miles. The
track was lifted up, ties and rails together, as shown in one of our sketches,
and heaped in piles and burned. The bonfire, in the darkness of the night,
presented a brilliant spectacle. The rain had ceased, and it was now bitter
cold, and this fact did not diminish the zest of the
soldiers for making bonfires.
Jarret's Depot was burned early in the morning of the 9th, and the work of
destruction continued thence southward. During the day two bridges each 60 feet
long were burned, and at night WARREN had reached Bellfield Station, near the
Meherrin River. Twenty miles of the railroad had been completely destroyed, and
no opposition had been encountered. A reconnoissance toward Hicksford on the
river having developed the fact that the enemy was strongly posted at that
point, with considerable artillery, WARREN turned northward on the 10th. On the
return the town of Sussex Court House was burned in retaliation for the murder
of several of our soldiers by the enemy at that point. A large number of
contrabands accompanied the returning column.
In estimating the value of
General WARREN'S raid it must be remembered that LEE had previously contrived to
convey a large amount of supplies to his army by means of the Boydton plank
road, which connected the Southside Railroad with the point where the Weldon had
been interrupted. He had also nearly completed a branch railroad from Stony
Creek Station to the Southside Road. The portion of the railroad destroyed by
WARREN is south of Stony Creek Station, and until the road is repaired LEE is
entirely cut off from eastern North Carolina, and from the portion of Virginia
east of the Weldon Road. This raid will be of great service to General GRANT ;
its work was done in three days, and it was effected with the loss of less than
one hundred men. The great success of the expedition was due to General WARREN'S
skill, and to his personal superintendence at every point. The Fifth Corps
covered itself with glory, and especially General CRAWFORD'S Division, which had
CAPTURE OF THE " ARMSTRONG."
WE give on page 837 an
illustration of the chase and capture of the blockade-runner Armstrong by our
gun-boats. She was captured 4th instant, eighty miles off Wilmington, by the
steamers R. R. Cuyler, Mackinaw, and Gettysburg, after an exciting chase of
eight hours, during which nearly one hundred shot and shell were fired, one of
the shells striking her on the starboard quarter, then bursting and setting her
on fire. The fire was extinguished before any serious damage was done. The
Armstrong is very fast, and averages fourteen miles per hour. She is an iron
side wheel steamer of 700 tons burden. She was on her first trip from
Wilmington, and was laden with cotton.
STORY IN NINE CHAPTERS.
IT was late that night when the
little steamer came to her moorings. Twice she got aground, with the prospect of
waiting for the returning tide ; but "All hands forward!" and she slid over the
shoals in triumph. Vainly we urged Robert to disregard the call, and avoid the
misty night air by remaining in the cabin. He could not be prevailed upon while
ladies were assisting to lighten the boat. The consequence was an increased
hoarseness next morning, accompanied with great weariness and weakness.
Neither of us went to breakfast ;
for, with broken rest and solicitude, I was almost as much exhausted as my
Colonel Hamilton came at ten to
give Robert another taste of the pine woods" Perhaps the last," he said and was
surprised to find him so ill.
"But you'll be all right again in
a day or two," he said, encouragingly. "Every convalescent has ' pull-backs,' to
teach him prudence perhaps."
" Or patience," my brother
responded, in a tone in which grief and gentleness were pain fully apparent.
" Some of us have need to be
taught that, my dear fellow, but not you. I had never strength to endure
suffering, physical or mental, for a moment without murmuring."
Colonel Hamilton's voice was
ahnost as soft as my brother's.
" I shall come to you again
directly after dinner," he said, as he turned to leave the room. " Your sister
will need a siesta."
"I have been trying to prevail
upon her to take either rest or a ride this morning," Robert said.
" My carriage is at the door, and
I would gladly accompany her to another of my flower-gardens. Possibly we might
discover the brace-let lost on that other very unfortunate excursion," he added,
turning to me.
It is true I had lost the
bracelet with which I encircled my bouquet ; but never having mentioned the
circumstance it puzzled me to under-stand how the Colonel should have learned
the fact. There was not a ray of intelligence in the glance which met my look of
inquiry, only a quiet waiting for a decision of the question of the ride.
"I am too fatigued to ride this
morning, but the siesta is a temptation to which I will yield willingly."
Robert and I dined together in
the full enjoyment of dressing-gown and slippers. He was more comfortable than
in the morning, and spoke with comparative ease, though the cherry-like glow of
his cheeks mocked the fainter bloom of health. While we were lingering over our
coffee the Colonel came to fulfill his promise.
" Guiltless of cigar," my brother
said, smiling him a welcome, and motioning him to be seated at the same time.
" Guiltless of coffee and bananas
also," he re-turned, nodding significantly at our dessert.
" So much the better. These
by the last boat from Key West,
and are very fine."
Jimmy was ordered to bring an
extra cup and plate. I played hostess until a second cup of coffee was offered
and declined, then retired.
A long, unbroken slumber, a sweet
consequent of the last night's nervous wakefulness, ensued. The last thing I
heard was the low, indistinct I sound of the gentlemen's voices in the adjoining
1 apartment. When I awoke the sun was far down in the west. Listening, I heard
no sound from. my brother's room, and wondered whether he had not gone below. A
few minutes sufficed for my toilet ; then raising the latch softly, I entered,
and found him sleeping upon the sofa, the Colonel still sitting beside him, and
holding his hand as tenderly as a woman.
"I talked your brother to sleep,"
he said, apologetically.
"He is no worse, I hope ?"
"Oh no ! only a little fatigued.
A day or two of rest will bring him up again, I think."
"I am afraid I slept longer than
you stipulated for. I am very much obliged to you for your care of my brother."
"You will accept nothing for
yourself then ?" " Nothing."
He was gone, and I sat down in
the seat he had just deserted, My brother slept still, though disturbedly.
Changes, like crowding thoughts, passed over his countenance so rapidly as to
alarm me. He whispered inarticulately at first ; then, his features calming down
to a smile, he utters d, distinctly, " Whatever happen, you promise then never
to lose sight of her:" and held his breath like One listening for a reply.
I answered—" Never !" thinking he
might be dreaming of home and Aunt Hannah.
" God bless you, my good friend
!" was his earnest response. So earnest it awoke him ! His eyes fastened upon me
inquiringly, and he said,
" I thought Hamilton was with me,
"He has just left you," I
replied. "I slept the whole afternoon, and he sat with you until I came."
"He is one of the kindest of men,
Margy !" " Every one appears to think so, Robert." " And why do you not like
"I accord to him noble qualities,
but noble qualities should. not blind one to radical defects."
" What are the faults you
discover in him ?" " The chief of all—disloyalty !"
The next morning we were aroused
by the stage-horn blowing vigorously for the Hillsboro ferry-man. It seemed to
say—" Hasten up ! I bring you news, great • news for the glorious cause." Every
one in Tampa knew the language of Jerry Dining's horn when it neared the river ;
and there was a general rush for the ferry.
"What next?" I asked myself, as
the shouts of the men and boys penetrated to the heart of the town. " Has Fort
Pickens so soon followed Sumter, or another cowardly Twiggs delivered the
arsenals and arms of another State into the hands of rebels and traitors ?"
Neither ; but the blood of
Massachusetts men had reddened the streets of Baltimore on the anniversary of
the battle of Lexington. For this, bonfires were lighted and the crowd huzzaed.
Robert was unable to go down to
breakfast, and I went alone. All was excitement and ebullition. Maryland had
shown herself worthy of a place in the Southern Constellation. Massachusetts and
the scoundrel Butler were on their way South ; South Carolina and the heroic
Maxey Gregg were on their way North ; there was fun ahead; one man to six was
all the South wanted !
God of heavens ! what an hour,
when the sons of patriots strike at their country's flag, and brothers delight
in brothers' blood ! Only a few looked grave that morning, as though civil war
were not so very fine a thing to be jubilant over after all.
Colonel Hamilton was not at
table, Mrs. Harris, who seldom left her room in the morning, was all animation,
and said she would go home on the next steamer, as no doubt her negroes would
hear about the war and run away if they got a chance. Miss Kittie forgot her
mirth, and spoke in a tone subdued and quiet.
We all met at dinner, when the
war-news was again the exciting theme. Robert and I remained silent until a lady
whom I disliked said, maliciously, I fancied : " We are going to have more
speeches at the Court-house to-night, Miss Miller, to rouse up the people. Will
you go and listen ?"
"Thank you, no, Madam! It is not
necessary to go abroad to hear treason nowadays."
Every eye at the table was upon
me, I felt certain. I looked only at Robert, who sat as undisturbed as though I
had simply said "No" to the offer of bread or butter.
"Who are to be the speakers?"
Miss Kittie asked, more in the tone of one who would break a disagreeable
silence than who cares for information.
" Madam Rumor is not
communicative on that point," she replied, gayly. "With strictest inquiry I
could only learn that our friend Colonel Hamilton here would improve the
occasion, and that the new preacher, whose secession view's have already been
somewhat elaborated, would not. How do you think the Colonel will construe your
remark, Miss Miller ?"
I was indignant, but managed to
smother both anger and contempt so as to reply haughtily and coolly :
"It is of no consequence to me,
Madam, how he construes it. If it suit him, he can accept it; if not, he is at
liberty to reject it."
The gentleman of whom we were
speaking sat obliquely opposite me. There was neither frown nor scowl on his
face, such as I often noticed
when he was displeased. On the
contrary, I thought he looked amused, and it annoyed me.
Miss Kittie and I went out on the
upper piazza after dinner, while the gentlemen were smoking below.
"I don't understand a thing what
all this quarrel is about," she said, sadly. "If time South is in the wrong I
don't wish to know, for I am a Southerner. But I don't sec, any how, why
individuals need indulge in personal spite, like that impertinent old thing at
table. I can not help liking you just as well as though you had been born in my
grandfather Gadsden's State instead of my grandfather Harris's ; and I wish you
and your brother would go home with us to Mississippi."
"Brave for Miss Kittie Harris!"
exclaimed a voice before I had time to reply to her warm-hearted words, and
Colonel Hamilton stood near us, knocking the ashes from his cigar. " Those are
my sentiments, well expressed. We have too many haters on our side, and I have
no reason to doubt the feeling is most heartily reciprocated."
"I will answer for the North,
Sir," I returned, warmly. "The North feels no hatred against the South. She
loves our common country, and is simply determined to stand by it, and not
suffer it to be overthrown, even though compelled to crush As foes."
"You speak very warmly, Miss
"I speak as I feel, then. When
the troops of the United States can, if necessity require, march from Maine to
Texas, and from Texas to Maine again peaceably, I shall be able to speak more
calmly and coolly."
" A lady ought at all times to be
safe in speaking her sentiments freely and openly. But every cause has its
fanatics and its unprincipled men, who scruple at nothing in a crisis like this.
For your brother's sake, then, I beg you to be guarded, Miss Miller."
"Do not think, Sir, my brother
would seek safety by infidelity to his country. If he could be so base I would
He bowed and retired. Miss Kittie
and I were again alone, and fell to speculating on the probabilities of a
blockade, and whether Tampa was of sufficient importance to be put in the
catalogue of Southern ports. Chris had commenced the packing of their trunks,
that they might be ready at a minute's warning when the next steamer was
signaled. It was due the next day, and Kittie begged we would accompany them
down the Bay.
While we were talking about it,
and planning a correspondence, Robert came with a letter for me. There was an
unmistakable look of anxiety on his face, though masked with a smile.
"A letter for you from New York,
Margy. I was expecting one myself, but it did not come."
" I will read you mine, then, as
a sort of compensation," I said, soothingly. "It is from a mutual friend, and
gives account of a great demonstration at Union Square."
I began to read, and. when I came
to where I the battle-rent flag of Sumter was taken amidst deafening cheers to
the bronze statue and placed in the hand of the "Father of his Country" by the
very same man who had nailed it to the mast amidst the storm of rebel shot and
shell, my brother's feelings overcame him, and he wept like a child. Kittie's
eyes moistened also ; but it was not one of my moments of tenderness. Had I been
a man I would have made a speech then and there, for I felt strong enough for
Colonel Hamilton's carriage stood
at the door. It was not long before we heard his well-known step, firm and
equal, though soft as a woman's. He came, looked inquiringly from one to
another, as though suddenly checked in what he wished to say, and uncertain
whether he might not be an intruder.
"Read this," I said, holding out
the open let-ter by a sudden impulse, "and see how loyal men and women still
love their country."
He took it without a word, sat
down upon cue of the vacant seats, and read it carefully from beginning to end.
Once his hand passed over his eyes, as though they were misty; but when he
returned the letter without a single re-mark there was no trace of feeling
"I came to invite you for a short
drive this evening—' positively the last,' " he said, turning to Robert. "Arc
you able ? I think of leaving town to-morrow."
"To-morrow will be a very unlucky
day for us then," returned my brother.
" Don't go to-morrow, Colonel
Hamilton," interposed Kittie. "I want you all to go down the Bay with us. I
think you will be easier to say good-by there than here. Please stay just one
"I would gladly be persuaded,
Miss Kittie, but my letters to-day are imperative. I have never before felt
reluctance in leaving Tampa."
I brought my brother's palmetto
and dust-coat when he decided to ride, then went with Kittie to sit with her
mother until tea.
Early that night the citizens
began to gather around the Court-house. We heard loud cheering for Beauregard
and the Baltimore boys; cheering again for South Carolina and Maxey Gregg ; then
a vociferous call for Colonel Hamilton.
He was smoking on the lower
piazza, but at the call arose and walked leisurely toward the assembled crowd.
Not long after we heard his voice in earnest declamation, though unable to
distinguish what he said. That it was satisfactory, however, was clearly
demonstrated by the noisy shouts that succeeded, and the man steed publicly
committed to the cause I hated.
Robert felt the parting more than
I anticipated. I had never seen him so overcome sits c the day we left home. I
left him and the Colonel together, and ran away to Kittie's room,