Fires in Wilderness Battle


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 4, 1864

This site features an online archive of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. The papers come from our extensive private collection of original Civil War documents. We have made them available online to facilitate your study and research of the Civil War.

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General Sherman

Army Morale

General Kautz's Raid

Sedgwick Death

Sedgwick's Death and Last Words

Wilderness Fires

Fires in the Battle of the Wilderness

Dug Gap

Battle of Dug Gap

Albemarle Sound

Battle of Albemarle Sound

Joseph Howard

Joseph Howard


Wilderness Battle


Jeff Davis Cartoon

Jeff Davis Cartoon







[JUNE 4, 1864.


(Previous Page) eral view of the battle field in front of the Landrum House, the breast works on the right being our advanced line the day before, and those on the left the rebel line, which was a very powerful one. Our troops were massed along under its cover, having turned it on its defenders, except at the head of the valley, where they still held one side and we the other. This was the scene of the most deadly struggle that this campaign has seen.

Another picture, on page 360, presents a scene which has been very common since the opening of the present campaign, namely, a Dull Day in Camp. The time at which this sketch was taken was six o'clock in the evening. Mr. WAUD'S sketch of the capture of rebel prisoners by a charge of General WRIGHT'S Corps shows how like a drove of frightened cattle they were driven into our lines by our gallant veterans. The prisoners, 1200 in all, came along pell-mell, anxious to get out of the range of their compatriots firing on our troops. If this charge had been made earlier in the afternoon it is probable that even greater success would have resulted from it.

Of another illustration on page 357 Mr. WAUD, who furnishes these sketches, says: " The fires in the woods, caused by the explosion of shells, and the fires made for cooking, spreading around, caused some terrible suffering. It is not supposed that many lives were lost in this horrible manner ; but there were some poor fellows, whose wounds had disabled them, who perished in that dreadful flame. Some were carried off by the ambulance corps, others in blankets suspended to four muskets, and more by the aid of sticks, muskets, or even by crawling. The fire advanced on all sides through the tall grass, and, taking the dry pines, raged up to their tops."


" You wanted to hear about the warning? Very well, then ; toss me that bundle, please, and hold this zephyr while I wind, and I'll tell you all about it."

Aunt Hepzie had come over to take tea with my mother, and the two were sitting, in cheerful state, before the parlor fire ; aunty was arrayed in her pontificals, her best alpaca gown and silk apron, with a stiff cap, which always came in a box and went in a box, and during the interregnum towered sublimely upon its owner's head.

"Is there any thing of interest in the village?" asked mother. Aunt Hepzie was from the village. We were suburbans.

"No, nothin' partikelar that I know of," replied my aunt, conscientiously, at the same time adjusting her knitting sheath. " I think our church is in an awful condition."

"Why do you ? I thought they had seemed very united the last year," remarked mother.

"United! Oh dear yes, Deacon Hall he say we're all froze together. Oh, he talked beautiful about it 't the last Confrence meetin'. Said he wondered the storms that come down on Sodom and Gomorrer didn't visit us. Oh, it's o' the Lord's mercy that we ain't consumed, every one on us !" and aunty gave a deep sigh.

" Why as to that, it's of God's mercy we have all our blessings, isn't it Hephzibah?" replied mother, with some energy. She never relished aunty's at-tacks upon times and people ; and she went on, " As for thinking that we are in any danger of the fate of Sodom, I don't ; I don't even think we are particularly deserving of it. No doubt we have all great reason to be humble on account of our sins; but what's the use of saying that we live in the worst age, and among the worst people? It's no such thing ! For my part, I'm thankful my. lines have fallen in such pleasant places."

" Well, Susan, I'm glad ef you can take such a cheerful view on't ! but that warn't the way Deacon Hall talked. An' speakin' o' him reminds me; they do say 't Clarissy Hall's reely goin' to be married. They berried Miss Squire Jones's cake tins this mornin'. Borryin' them cake tins allers means a weddin' ; right off too. An' that makes me think" —aunty was fairly under way now. I knew there would be no intermission until tea time.

"D'ye know that Squire Jones's nephew had come up from New York to spend the summer?"

"No. We hadn't heard of it. What nephew?" asked mother.

"Why, young Farley. You remember his mother ; she 't was Lecty Jones. She married a Far-ley, an' they went off down country some wheres to live, an' this is her son."

"Ah yes, I remember his mother perfectly. Well, this will be very pleasant for Mrs. Jones."

"Pleasant for the girls, you'd better say! Master hand he is for the girls, they tell me, and I shouldn't wonder. Come up here for his health indeed ! ' Don't believe a word of it. I see him to meetin' 'long o' Miss Jones, an' he looked well 'nough, 'cordin' to my way o' thinkin'. All pink and white. Well, I know one thing! Ef I was a girl I wouldn't speak to him with all his airs. The upstart !" and aunty made an emphatic pause. There was a silence broken only by the clicking of two sets of knitting-needles. I had a book, reading with my eyes and hearing with my ears, quite conscious that the present subject was supposed to have bearings upon myself.

" I tell you," began Aunt Hepzie again, sturdily, "girls better be pretty careful. City beaus is mighty onsartain—mighty onsartain," and she repeated the words to render them still more impressive. " All they care for country girls is to kite about an' hey a good time with 'em here, an' when they gel back to the city they don't think no more about 'em 'n they do about last year's robins—not a whit more ; so, Loizy"—here she sent a shot from her black eyes over her spectacles at me—" so now you may take warnin'."

"Thank you, aunty, but I don't think it will be needed. Pink and white people aren't just my style, you know," I said.

Just out of the city there was a grand old place with bay-windows and balconies, fountains and

flowers. That was the Farley place. Up on the hill there was a brown house with low roof and vine-covered porch. That was our house. Philip Farley's father owned ships on sea and blocks on shore. Mine had gone to sleep years ago under the tangle of wild brier and golden-rod up in the church-yard.

Six feet tall and broad-shouldered, with blue eyes, light hair, and a beard golden and silken like embroidery floss—that's Philip.

You see how little and dark I am ; and my hair, did you ever see it down ? Look at me then when I take the combs out. Black as night, and nearly covers me, you see. "Vain of it," you say? A trifle, perhaps. Why not? I know it's beautiful. If I were pretty myself I'd own it all the same ; but I'm not, you know. Wasn't it odd that a great mass of sunshine like Philip should fancy a little dusky bit of shadow like me ? But he did, and I knew it, of course. A woman always knows, I suppose. And I don't mind now telling you that I liked him from the first. In fact we were in love ; I use the expression under protest, because it's the briefest way of putting it.

You know there is a class of our country people who, for some reason or other, are inimical toward their city brethren. You can easily imagine that my Aunt Hepzie was one of these. It was a few days after her tea-drinking at our house that she was bustling about one bright morning in her tidy kitchen, and that kitchen, by-the-by, you should see. From silver spoon down to brass kettle, every thing shines. It would be a work of supererogation to introduce mirrors into that house, when one may see one's face in every thing. But, as I said, Aunt Hepzie was in the kitchen when she heard a "skrimping noise," as she reported to me subsequently, with a vigor of diction peculiarly her own, and turning, she was aware of a figure standing in the doorway.

" Mrs. Sinclair, I think," said the stranger, with a bow.

" Yes, that is my name," replied auntie, more concise than suave. " What did he want to come to the back door for?" she thought.

" And mine is Farley," said the young man ; " I think you used to know my mother, Mrs. Sinclair; and I hope you'll let me come and see you some-times for old acquaintance's sake."

" I'd be very glad to see you, I'm sure," said aunty, a little less stiffly—the chivalrous bearing of the visitor was not lost upon the hostess.

"My aunt sent over this basket of roots from her garden. Perhaps you will allow me to set them for you in your border," he said.

" Oh, I'm much obleeged ! Won't you just come in and sit down a minute ?"

And the young man crossed the kitchen, flinging his broad-brimmed straw-hat upon the white table, tossing back his curls, and then seizing upon the dozing cat :

" Wake up here, puss, and see your friends !" he said, holding the astonished quadruped at arms-length by the nape of her neck. "And, by-the-by, Mrs. Sinclair, how is your dog Beppo ? I heard that some rascallion had broken the old fellow's leg for him."

" Yes, indeed !" said Aunt Hepzie, and she went on to detail the abuses of her favorite.

What the heel was to Achilles, what the joint of the harness was to the Israelitish king, her dog and cat were to my good aunt. This bow, drawn at a venture, had sent its shaft to the vulnerable point; and by the time Beppo's leg had been bandaged by the visitor Aunt Hepzie's animosity had vanished.

" Won't you sit down an' take a bit o' dinner with an old woman ?" she asked, when they came back to the kitchen.

" Indeed I will, if you'll let me : privately, Mrs. Sinclair"—and his face assumed a confidential expression—" I hoped you'd ask me, because I've heard every where of your wonderful butter, and I want to taste it."

" Oh, bless your soul, my butter ain't nothin' to brag of! When you go home though, you remind me an' I'll send 'long a ball on't to Miss Jones. Your aunt she's allers talkin' about my butter."

And so Aunt Hepzie, fairly conquered by good-nature, laid down her arms, and was no more to be ranked among belligerent powers. And so, I sup-pose, she forgot her "warning;" but not so I. There was not one of all those summer afternoons when Philip and I sat reading together on the porch, not an hour of all those remembered hours when we went floating down the river, when I for one moment forgot. Neither did I forget my mother's story of her beautiful young sister : " Lucy, aged eighteen," the head-stone said, whose heart a noble lover had held and treasured, until, one day, there came a gay suitor from the city and stole the prize, and afterward trampled upon it. I remembered it all, and I said to myself many times in the day that it was only for a little while—only for those summer days, and then I was sure things could easily be made to fall back into the old line again.

It was May when Aunt Hepzie came to tea. It was September when Philip and I stood, one evening, upon the porch. The woodbine was crimson, and away down the west the day was burning it-self out behind golden bars. We had been riding up on the hills to see the sun set.

" Good-night," I said, my hand upon the latch of the door.

" Stop a moment, Lou !"

And I turned, startled a little at the quick, peremptory tone.

" Your servant, Sir," and I made a mock obeisance.

Philip stood pulling the leaves from the vine, and his face was very white. I think mine was white too, when he said :

" Do you know I'm going back to-morrow, Lou ?" "Back where?" Of course I knew, but I had lies plenty in my right hand that night.

" Home. Back to New York, and God knows where then—into the army, perhaps," speaking quickly.

" Well, it has been a very pleasant summer," I

said, carelessly enough. And then no one spoke, and it was very still, only I could bear the rushing of the brook in the glen.

" Is that all you have to say to me before I go, Lou?" he asked.

"I never bid my friends good-by. It isn't pleas-ant. Of course I wish you a delightful journey," I replied, coolly. "I don't recollect that I've any thing more to say."

" Well, I have, then, to say to you." And he pulled a handful of crimson leaves, and flung them, a shower of flame, upon my black habit. "Lou! you must know it--I love you. I will not bid you good-by for long. You must tell me when I am to come back and claim my wife."

0 rank is good, and gold is fair,

And rich and poor mate ill,"'

I hummed from a ballad we had read that very day.

" Lou, how provoking you are ! But why don't you go on ?

"'But love has never known a law

Beyond his own sweet will.' "

"Because mine is common-sense, and yours is poetry. The latter is wretchedly out of place in this everyday world of ours, but common-sense, fortunately, is coin current the world over."

" And do common-sense and poetry never go together, I wonder ? But seriously, Lou, you must list% to me."

" And seriously, Philip, this is folly. You will blush for it to -morrow. Besides, begging your pardon, the old play of the city lover and the rustic lassie is becoming stale. If you please, we'll not have it acted over again at my expense."

" Stop, Lou !" and he spoke sternly this time, "this is too much for a man to bear. Can't you be in earnest ?"

" I am in earnest."

" Tell me, then," and he took a step nearer me, speaking fiercely. His black figure shut out all the glowing sky. " Tell me, child, do you love me?" "No."

He stood still an instant, then his hand touched mine, and then I was straining my eyes through the darkness where he was disappearing among the trees. I went in and closed the door behind me. I had done my duty, I thought.

And next morning, of all that bright happy summer there remained only a handful of red leaves, broken off, and drying upon the floor of the porch.

And I? Of course I was very miserable. I never stopped to think ; only sometimes in the night, up in my little room, with the stars looking at me through the one dormer window. Daytimes there were things enough to keep off thought.

The morning Philip went away we sat at break-fast and I heard the whistle of the train. Some-thing hard came into my throat. I thought, "He is gone, and he was more to me than all the world." I said, " Isn't it nearly time to begin house-cleaning, mother?"

" I was thinking of that last night. It's past the middle of the month," and mother threw a searching glance across to my face. " Saul among the prophets," her countenance said. I had never been notable—the contrary rather. I cared more for my books.

" Then why not begin to-day?" I asked, adding enthusiastically, " I like house-cleaning !"

Mother looked incredulous, and more than in-credulous looked Aunt Hepzie when she came in, two hours afterward, and found the parlor carpet up, the books down, and half the chairs inverted, their sword-like legs bristling at each other in the most belligerent manner.

"Mercy to me, Loizy, ef you ain't a cleanin' house!" and aunty raised both hands in consternation.

" Certainly; and why not, aunty?"

"Why not, indeed! Pretty time for you to be askin' that question ; but better late 'n no time." My want of domesticity had been a great trial to my affectionate kin, and to none a greater than to Aunt Hepzie.

"'Spose you knew 't Philip Farley had gone off this morning ?" and aunty excavated a seat for her-self among the books in the great chair.

"I knew he was intending to go soon," I replied, unconcernedly, as I mounted a table and began taking down curtains.

" Yes, he's gone. He come over to bid me good-by, an' I do declare't I reely pitied the fellow ; he acted so sorter down in the mouth. Somethin' gone wrong now, I tell you. He stood there on my doorstone, an' sez I to him, `I hope you'll be here again next summer, Mr. Philip ;' and he said, `I don't know when I shall ever come again, Aunt Hepzie.' Then I laughed, an' told him most likely he wouldn't never want to come and see us. `You'll forget all about us when you get along with your grand city folks,' sez I ; an' to my dyin' day I shall remember how he looked when he said, `We don't forget so easily, my good friend; but I wish to Heaven I could forget the last three months, although they have been the happiest of my life.' An' then he never said another word, only he shook hands with me and went out o' the yard ; and if you can b'leve it, I just sat down an' cried. I did hate to hey him go ; he's ben so chipper round 'mong our folks this summer. Lawful heart, Loizy ! what hey ye done ? Smashed yer fingers all to nothin' ? Can't ye handle a hammer better 'n that, child?"

"Never mind, it's nothing," I said. I had crushed my finger, and the blood was streaming. The pain was a relief. I sat down, in medics res, to bind up the wound.

" That's right, dear ; do it straight up in the blood. Better 'n any salve that is to cure a hurt," said Aunt Hepzie.

" Thank you, aunty; I'll try your recipe." It was more than a finger wound that I bound up in its own fresh blood that morning.

" Where's your mother ?"

" In the garden, I think."

" Well, I've brought her over a bundle o' valerian. She was tellin' on me that she was troubled to sleep o' nights. Hain't ye minded, Loizy, how pale your mother's ben a gettin' lately ?"

"No; I hadn't noticed." And I cursed my blindness when I saw upon her face that night the same look which, years before, my father's had worn.

That winter she died. It was New-Year's morning when, all along the country side, women stood out upon their door-steps, silent, listening, counting, while the bell tolled the years of my mother's life. During the storm and the darkness of that winter night her spirit had gone out and up, and the heavens had received her out of my sight. I was alone. A few weeks, and my solitary, aimless life became intolerable. Small as I am, I am strong of body and iron of nerve. You know there are places where such women are needed to-day, and in a month I was a hospital nurse.

Not one of your city hospitals was it; but a large building, with windows looking every way; with plenty of God's blue heaven above, and plenty of his fresh air wafted through it—a place to sleep, to rest, to grow strong, and, if God so willed, to die in.

A September day was nearing its close. Gold-en lights and violet shadows flecked the Virginia hills. How calm and still it was over there toward the sunset ! and yet, just beyond those hills, yesterday, a fierce battle had raged. All day long those weary hospital trains had brought us loads of wounded and dying; but now, with the twilight, tame a peaceful hush through all the wards. I stood still a moment by an open window. Those moments of rest were rare enough now. It was just a year that night since Philip went away. Did he re-member? I wondered. I couldn't help this won-der sometimes, though I had tried to put it all by.

" This way a moment, Miss Sinclair, if you're not busy!" It was Dr. Mills who spoke. "I want a steady hand," he continued, as I followed him down the room. " A bad case, very bad case! A young Captain, wounded yesterday, busy all day giving orders about his men, and now there must be an amputation ;" and we went on.

"What is it, Freddie ?" A little brown-haired drummer-boy put out his hand as I passed his cot.

" Are you too tired to write to my mother to-night, please?"

"No, my boy, I'll come back in half an hour;" and the next instant I stood by the side of the new patient. The assistant-surgeon was there. "Chloroform?" he asked. "No," said Dr. Mills; and then to me, "Are you strong enough to hold this arm ? The other is to be taken off."

I took my place, bracing against the wall. It was a slender hand, with fingers straight and round. I glanced toward the face ; a handkerchief was thrown over it, the impulse of a brave man, in his agony, to conceal the sari-things of pain.

" Take charge of this for a few days, will you?" and I started slightly as Dr. Mills handed me a pocket-photograph case. It was like the one Philip used to carry, and, as I took it, one red-leaf fluttered to the floor.

"Are we all ready?" asked Dr. Mills, and that instant a little red gleam from the open sleeve of the wounded man sent a sudden sickness all over me.

"Wait a moment, please," I begged.

My own coral bracelet ! There was no mistaking it, for the trinket was of curious carving, and quaint design; " a heathenish-looking thing," mother al-ways said—brought from abroad by a sea-faring relative. I had lost it more than a year before in one of my boat-rides with Philip Farley. I supposed it was at the bottom of the river ; I Lad never thought to find it here. I knew then whose hand I was holding through that fearful struggle; knew more, that, through those weary months, while I had been trying to forget, he, during all the turmoil and tumult of a soldier's life, had never forgotten.

Half an hour afterward I went back to my little drummer-boy. "Why, Miss Sinclair," he said, "how handsome you've grown I What makes you look so happy ?"

" I've found my best friend, Freddie.!" I said. The letter to his mother was a cheerful one that night.

You know the rest ; how, as soon as Philip was strong enough, we came home—a pleasant home to come to, wasn't it? But there's the tea-bell, and there's Philip coming up the walk. Oh, one thing more! Do you know Aunt Hepzie is coming to pay us a visit next month—coming to see the results of her "warning," I suppose!

May 12, 1864.


God never leaveth utterly

The world that He hath rounded; All human stress is by the sea Of Ills dear pity bounded.

Upon no Israel, to its ill,

The grip of Pharoah closes,

Beyond the liberating skill

Of some anointed Moses.


Beside us in all utmost straits Walk the delivering angels,

And on the wings of our black hates Ride His supreme evangels. In riotous glut of wrongs abhorred

A people's shame increases,

When 1o! some prophet draws his sword

And cleaves the lie in pieces.


0 leader of our sacred cause,

Twin sharer in our sadness, Defender of the trampled laws From perjured felon's madness—In all our press of mortal strife, Our weariness and weeping,

Our hearts thank God our country's life

Is in thine honest keeping !




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