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Robert E. Lee Portrait
Page) To the front, Doctor;" and the brave fellow tried hard to stand
firm and speak boldly as he saluted the
"To the front! What! a man in
your condition? Why, Sir, you can't march half a mile; you haven't the strength
to carry yourself, let alone your knapsack, musket, and equipments. You must be
"But, Doctor, my division are in
the fight"—here he grasped the wheel of an ambulance to support himself—"and I
have a young brother in my company. I must go."
"But I am your surgeon, and I
forbid you. You have every symptom of typhoid fever; a little overexertion will
"Well, Doctor, if I must die, I
would rather die in the field than in an ambulance."
The Doctor saw it was useless to
debate the point, and the soldier went as he desired. On the evening of the next
day it fell to my lot to bury him where he fell, his right arm blown off at the
elbow, and his forehead pierced by a Minie ball. His name we could never learn;
we only knew that he belonged to the Third Division of the Sixth Corps, and that
mark we placed at the head of his grave.
Shortly after 5 o'clock the bugle
sounded "Fall in." At once drivers of ambulances sprang to their seats, and the
rank and file to their feet from the road-side where they had been reclining,
all alike covered with dust. But little cared they for the graces of the toilet;
the bugle called "Forward," and they stepped out gladly to their work. A march
of something less than an hour brought us to a ravine, in which we were drawn up
by brigades, about a quarter of a mile in the rear of the centre of the Federal
line of battle. Here we stacked arms and at down in our places.
Here again the brave, indomitable
temper of our boys found expression in a variety of ways. Some of the surgeons
found it almost impossible to prevent the men in the ambulances getting out and
taking their places in the ranks. Some who were in even worse condition than the
soldier already mentioned insisted, in spite of the protestations of surgeons,
officers, and comrades, that they would run no more risk in the field than in
the hospital-train; and I saw three men whom the surgeon was obliged to place in
an ambulance by force, and then put over them a guard with loaded muskets, so
determined were they to go with their comrades into the fight.
Our rest in the ravine was by no
means undisturbed. The enemy having observed our advance over the hill shot and
shell very soon began to fly about us thick and fast, battering far and near
like swiftly-driven hail. Right in the midst of the storm this exhibition of
soldierly coolness met my observation. Some twenty-five feet from the right of
our regimental line of muskets ran a little creek bordered on either side by
large trees. A fallen tree served as a bridge or crossing. One of the drivers of
the Ambulance Corps was stooping on this log washing his hands. A spent-shell
came ripping through the trees behind him and buried itself just deep enough in
the log to make it stick. He turned about and with the heel of his boot kicked
the shell into the water, saying, "Now, old screech-owl, bust if you want to."
And burst it did; but a second or two after blowing one end of the log into
splinters and completely deluging the driver, upon which, dropping himself
astride the remainder of the bridge, he surveyed himself coolly and exclaimed,
"Well, I came here to wash my hands; but hang me if I expected a shower-bath in
such an out-of-the-way place as this!"
The firing at the front
continued, and the rebel compliments in the form of shells still dropped
occasionally around us. At half past six the bugle sounded again "Fall in."
Instantly every man grasped his weapon and took his position. The Second
Division—but one division, the Third, had as yet been in the fight—moved off
first. Our appearance on the hill was the signal for a terrific fire from the
rebels; some of their heaviest guns were opened upon us; shell after shell came
"singing its devilish song through the air;" but the column kept straight on,
facing the storm with unshrinking front. Presently we came to what is called a
"Virginia fence," and so known all over the North. Over this we had to climb. A
sergeant in my company while getting over fell through. Picking himself up he
turned to a comrade and said, "Do you know why I am like the President?" The
comrade apparently had no disposition for joking; but the soldier forced the
answer as he took his position: "I'll tell you," said he; "it's because I'm a
rail-splitter." We laughed, and just then, not two yards behind me, a solid shot
plowed its way through our ranks and the joking sergeant with three of his
companions were killed almost instantly. The sergeant, with his joke lying
nettlesome on his lips, was literally torn in two!
After this we entered a thick
wood, upon the other side of which we could see our line of battle. The firing
had abated considerably, the cannonading almost entirely. We were halted, and
the order "Rest" was given. A division—the Second of the Fifth Corps, I
think—which had been all day in the field, but had been relieved by the Third
Division of our corps, were going to the rear, taking many of their wounded with
them. One man, who was supported by two comrades, had had his lower jaw taken
off, and as he moved along held up in his hand the bloody bone, misshapen and
splintered, with fine teeth still remaining in it. Another, lying upon a
stretcher, had lost both feet by a solid shot. The bleeding stumps had not yet
been dressed, and the stretcher was covered with the blood of the dying hero.
Yet, for all this, amidst the roar of musketry, and with the pain his wounds
must have caused, he was singing in a clear voice, with enough of the Irish
accent to make the strain musical:
"The Star-Spangled Banner, oh
long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the
home of the brave."
While I was yet looking after the
footless soldier, a little drummer-boy attracted my attention by saying, in a
childish voice, as he held up his left arm from which the hand had been severed,
while he held his drum with the other:
"Will you do as much as that for
"Yes, my little fellow, if I
"Well, I'd do more," and he held
up his right hand; "but then I would have no hands at all to work for mother,
and father was killed at Antietam."
I should suppose, from the little
fellow's appearance, he was not over twelve or thirteen years of age; he was a
young hero, but a thorough one—a child worthy of the Republic, worthy of its
inspirations, worthy of the Future in which, maybe, he shall sit crowned with
Hardly had my notice been
withdrawn from the drummer-boy when Corporal S— turned toward me, and exclaimed,
"Look there!" I looked in the direction indicated, and beheld a sight at once so
horrible and sublime that it will ever form a living picture in my memory. A
strong, stalwart fellow, with the cheverons of a sergeant on his arm, ragged and
torn, was limping slowly toward us. The shoe on his right foot was covered with
blood, and a large rent in his pantaloons, just above the knee, from which the
blood was also trickling, solved the question of the location of his wound. He
was hatless, his hair was disordered, his face and hands were begrimed with
smoke and powder, and he looked altogether maniac-like and exhausted. But he had
his colors with him! His regiment, or the greater part of it, had been either
killed or captured; he had lost his colors once, and was afterward captured
himself. He watched his opportunity, killed the rebel who held his flag, and
escaped with it safely into our lines. Ought not the name of one so brave as he
to be chiseled in monumental marble, that the ages as they go may read it and
Night came at last—the next day
passed—and the evening of the fourth settled down upon us, bringing to some of
us a most disagreeable duty. Shortly after dark, as I was about to lie down in
my blanket for a nap, I was directed to take charge of a squad of men and report
to a superior officer for orders. Obeying, I was soon after ordered to proceed
to the wood immediately in our front and there commence to bury the dead—to bury
indiscriminately both the enemy's and our own; to do all in my power to obtain
information likely to lead to the identification of the bodies, and to remain
out until midnight. We procured a lantern, armed the men with shovels and picks,
and started out.
Gaining the edge of the wood
after wading some distance through a deep marsh, I lighted my lantern, and its
first ray fell upon the bloated face of a rebel lieutenant. Either he had died
systematically or some friend had placed him in the position in which we found
him, for he was lying flat on his back with his arms folded closely across his
breast, and his lips tightly compressed. But, nicely as he lay, he must be
buried. At the edge of the wood we found a soft strip of land—elsewhere it was a
rocky soil—and here we determined the rebel should have his last resting-place.
The men found a piece of candle in the dead man's haversack, lighted it, and
went to work upon the grave. Meanwhile I passed into the woods to discover other
bodies. I found three of our men, but, as far as I went, could see no more of
the enemy's dead. I came back; the men had finished the grave. We procured two
rails, placed one under the shoulders and the other under the legs, just below
the knees, and thus the body of the rebel was laid away in the ground to await
the day of reckoning, in whose glare all of us must stand.
I told the men to dig a grave a
little farther on for three. They went at it, while I proceeded to examine the
bodies I had discovered. The first was that of a corporal belonging to the First
Division of the Fifth Corps. His right hand was placed close to his mouth, and
tightly clenched; a torn cartridge lay at his side, the end which he had bitten
off so tightly held in his teeth that it was impossible to withdraw it. His
pocket had been cut out, his shoes and stockings stripped off, and nothing
whatever was to be found on his person by which to identify him except the corps
mark on his cap.
About two feet from him lay a
private, hatless, and stripped of shoes and stockings also. His pockets had not
been removed. I examined them, and found in his pantaloons a golden locket, with
the picture of a fair young woman therein, and in his breast coat-pocket a
daguerreotype of the same person, with a card on which was a lady's address. I
have since ascertained it was that of his wife.
The third body was that of a
first lieutenant of artillery; and how he came there in the woods was a mystery
we could not solve. No battery was placed within five hundred yards of that
position, either right or left. But be that as it may, there the body was,
stripped of every thing in the shape of insignia except one shoulder-strap,
which hung by one end only. His little finger had evidently been cut off, as the
print of a large seal-ring could yet be seen upon it; and it is certain the
wound was not caused either by a Minie ball or a fragment of shell.
At length the grave was ready,
the three were buried, and again we passed on. As best we could we were making
our way in the dim light of the lantern, when suddenly I tripped, and extending
my arms in self-protection, my left hand came in contact with the cold forehead
of a corpse. My feet rested on another body, and my lantern was out. I felt for
a match. I had none. But presently some of the men came up; the lantern was
relighted, and the glare revealed a sight which I pray God my eyes may never
look upon again. The body upon which my hand had fallen was that of a corporal;
both legs were blown completely off. That over which I had stumbled was the body
of a private with one arm severed, not entirely off, at the shoulder. Two trees
of perhaps four inches diameter had been splintered, one about eight feet the
other five feet from the ground, and had fallen right where the bodies lay.
Within a circle of twenty feet from these trees I counted seventeen bodies, all,
alas! with blue jackets on. I had hoped among so many to find some of the
How we buried these seventeen
bodies you would
not care to know. The lantern
gone out, the candle which the men had procured lasted but a little time; but
the moon had risen and the pale rays it cast through the trees aided us in our
task, though they added much to the ghostliness of the terrible scene over which
We found one body, that of a
young, light-haired boy, not over nineteen at the furthest, whose forehead was
pierced by a ball; in his left hand he firmly grasped his rammer; his right hand
or its forefinger was in the watch-pocket of his pantaloons. We examined this
pocket and found in it a small silver shield with his name, company, and
regiment engraved upon it. We took possession of this memento, and fortunately
finding a fragment of a cracker-box, marked upon it in pencil, by moonlight, the
inscription found on the shield. We buried him with two of his comrades, one of
whom belonged to the Fifth Corps, and placed the rude board at the head of his
grave in the hope that it would some day enable some pilgrim-friend to find the
body. Since that day the shield has been sent to the soldier's father; its
inscription was, "S. L. Caldwell, Company D, 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers."
It was half an hour after
midnight when we came into camp, and half an hour after that, lying with our
faces to the stars, dreams enfolded us, and we were as though no battle horrors
had ever pained and no battle dangers had ever menaced us.
IN sight of the starry sky,
In sound of the rushing sea,
With a beating heart and a tender
Did my own true love kiss me.
Under the solemn sky,
Close to the throbbing sea,
With words of love, and vows of
Did my own true love kiss me.
I gaze on the same bright sky,
I hear the same rippling sea,
But never again on earth, or in
Will my own true love kiss me.
True are the holy stars,
True is the restless sea,
True are the thoughts of my heart
But my love is false to me!
Hear it, O changeful sky!
Hear it, O moving sea!
Ye are true to your own eternal
But my love is false to me.
Why should the moonlit sky,
Why should the moaning sea,
Recall the empty dream of the
When my love is false to me?
Pierce to his soul, O stars!
Thrill to his heart, O sea!
It may be, smit with a sudden
My love will come back to me!
THE brain makes ghosts both
sleeping and waking. A man was lying in troubled sleep when a phantom, with the
cold hand of a corpse, seized his right arm. Awaking in horror, he found upon
his arm still the impression of the cold hand of the corpse, and it was only
after reflecting that he found the terrible apparition to be due to the
deadening of his own left hand in a frosty night, which had subsequently grasped
his right arm. This was a real ghost of the brain, which the awakening of the
senses and the understanding explained. M. Gratiolet narrates a dream of his own
which is singularly illustrative of how the brain makes ghosts in sleep. Many
years ago, when occupied in studying the organization of the brain, he prepared
a great number both of human and animal brains. He carefully stripped off the
membranes, and placed the brains in alcohol. Such were his daily occupations,
when one night he thought that he had taken out his own brain from his own
skull. He stripped it of its membranes. He put it into alcohol, and then he
fancied he took his brain out of the alcohol and replaced it in his skull. But,
contracted by the action of the spirit, it was much reduced in size, and did not
at all fill up the skull. He felt it shuffling about in his head. This feeling
threw him into such a great perplexity that he awoke with a start, as if from
M. Gratiolet, every time he
prepared the brain of a man, must have felt that his own brain resembled it.
This impression awakening in a brain imperfectly asleep, while neither the
senses nor the judgment were active, the physiologist carried on an operation in
his sleep which probably had often occurred to his fancy when at his work, and
which had then been summarily dismissed very frequently. A pursuit which had at
last become one of routine, and the association of himself with his study,
explain the bizarre and ghastly dream of M. Gratiolet. A sensation from the
gripe of a cold hand, misinterpreted by the imagination acting without the aid
of the discerning faculties, accounts for the ghastly vision of the other
Every one is conscious of a
perpetual series of pictures, sometimes stationary, sometimes fleeting,
generally shifting; yet occasionally fixed in his mind. Sleep is the period in
which the nerves derive their nourishment from the blood. The picturing nerves,
like those of the senses, are generally inactive in their functions at feeding
times; and thoroughly healthy nervous systems dream very little or not at all.
Dreams betoken troubled brains. The brain of a woman who had lost a portion of
her cranium used to swell up and protrude when she was dreaming, and then
contract and become tranquil again when she was sleeping soundly.
The wakeful senses, the active
judgment, and the will even of the strongest and soundest minds, are not always
able to control the false and perverse
impressions of the nerves. I knew
once a commander in the navy whose left eye was shot clean out by a bullet in a
naval action in the beginning of this century, and whom, forty years afterward,
it was impossible to convince that he did not see all sorts of strange objects
with his lost eye. "It is not impossible," he would quietly say; "I know it too
well." Every body has known men who suffered rheumatism in legs long lost and
replaced by wooden ones.
A nervous, dreamy, imaginative
lad was walking one day with some comrades among rank grass. The place was noted
for adders, and the youths talked about them. Instantly this lad felt something
enter the leg of his pantaloons and twist itself with the swiftness of lightning
round his thigh. He stopped terrified, and a careful examination proved that the
adder was a creature of his imagination. The vividness of the fancy of this
youth made his waking senses and his discerning faculties of no more use to him
for the moment than if they had been asleep.
This condition of the brain is
called by the savans hallucination. Mueller, the physiologist, and Goethe, the
poet, have both described hallucinations to which they were subject, and which
they compared in conversation together. The rarest case, says Mueller, is that
of an individual who, while perfectly healthy in body and mind, has the faculty,
on closing his eyes, of seeing really the objects he wishes to see. History
cites only a very few instances of this phenomenon. Carden and Goethe were
examples of it.
Goethe says: "When I close my
eyes and stoop my head, I figure to myself and see a flower in the middle of my
visual organ. This flower preserves only for an instant its first form. It soon
decomposes itself, and out of it issues other flowers, with colored and
sometimes green petals. They were not natural but fantastic flowers, yet regular
as the roses of the sculptor. I could not look fixedly at that creation, but it
remained as long as I liked without increasing or diminishing. In the same way
when I imagined a disk full of various colors, I saw continually issue from the
centre to the circumference new forms like those of the kaleidoscope."
Mueller talked this subject over
with Goethe in 1828. It was interesting to them both. "Knowing," says Mueller,
"that when I was calmly lying on my bed with my eyes shut, although not asleep,
I often saw figures which I could observe very well, he was very curious to
learn what I then felt. I told him that my will had no influence either upon the
production or upon the changes of these figures, and that I had never seen any
thing symmetrical or of the character of vegetation." Goethe could at will, on
the contrary, choose his theme, which transformed itself forthwith in a manner
apparently involuntary, but always obeying the laws of symmetry and harmony.
Mueller used to get rid of the figures which haunted him by turning his face to
the wall. Although he did not see them change place, they were still before him,
but they soon began to fade. Jean Paul recommended the observation of these
phantoms as a good plan for falling asleep.
These are hallucinations of sane
minds. The delusive sensations of flying and falling are known to many persons.
Young girls lying in bed between sleeping and waking, at the epoch of life when
their girlhood is passing into womanhood, are especially apt, like the religious
ecstatics, to fancy they are flying. And nearly every body is familiar with the
hallucinations of falling from personal experience. When lying in bed trying in
vain to fall asleep, or to warm the cold sheets, the patient feels as if sinking
through the floor, and stretches out his arms suddenly to save himself: yet
nothing has happened except the coincidence of a cold shiver with a complete
Physiologists and philosophers of
authority say we are all mad in our dreams; and, if the absence of the control
of reason is a true definition of insanity, there is no gainsaying the
proposition. But madness means something more. In dreams the faculties which
control the picturing or imagining powers are simply inactive; they are neither
absent nor incapable. Far from identifying sleeping dreams with madness, I feel
disposed to contend that voluntary and momentary hallucinations—seeing by the
blind, hearing by the deaf, sensations of smelling, touching, tasting things
which do not exist—are only signs of insanity when the faculties needful for
correcting the errors of sensation are diseased. Persons unaccustomed to railway
traveling are not insane, although for many minutes they often believe the train
is going backward, because they retain the power of correcting the hallucination
by watching the objects they are passing.
The senses are seeing, bearing,
smelling, touching, and tasting instruments. There are between these and the
seat of intelligence nerves performing the functions of carriers. Even after the
instruments have ceased to exist the carriers often continue to carry
messages—false messages. When a man has lost an eye, during the inflammatory
period of recovery the carriers convey horrible images of fiery figures. It is
the carriers who convey the pain of rheumatism from the lost limb.
A man who was recovering from
typhus fever believed he had two bodies, one of which was tossing in pain on an
uneasy bed, and the other lying sweetly on a delicious couch. I am not disposed
to ascribe this hallucination to the duality of the brain, but to a conflict
between the recollection of his sufferings and the experience of his recovery.
If the patient should have been permanently unable to overpower memory by
reality he would have been insane, like the maniacs who believe their legs to be
stalks of straw, or their bodies fragile as glass.
Pictures have produced
hallucinations. Leaving aside the eyes of Madonnas, cases in which the power of
religious ideas come into play, I may mention another instance of their effects
on a mind keenly sensitive to the beauties of the fine arts. A French
physiologist, while studying intensely an English engraving of Landseer's
Horse-shoeing, smelt horn burning, and fixed the idea in his mind for the moment
that the smell came from the foot of the horse in the engraving.