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Robert E. Lee Portrait
We were conversing one evening on
the probability of an agreement having already been made between the
belligerents for the exchange of officers, and I congratulated him on his
prospect of going home.
" The anticipation gives me
scarcely less pain than pleasure," he remarked, seriously. "I see you growing
paler and thinner every week, and feel that you are ill. I can not bear the
thought of going away and leaving you to winter here in this rugged land."
" Do you find it so unbearable
then ?" I asked, smiling.
" Too attractive to me
altogether! But I think of the coming months with their rude storms too rude for
a tender one like you. It is plain to me that this climate does not agree with
you, even at this season, Margy."
It is my mother land, and ought
to be kind to her offspring."
"It has been fatal to your
family, and should not be trusted further. How could I make you believe me not
entirely selfish in wishing you to return to Florida ?"
" By demanding when I ever have
found you selfish."
A clear, sharp glance penetrated
the heart veil and discovered what image had stolen into my " Temple of
"Margy," he said, drawing nearer
and taking an unresisting hand, " recall those cruel nerds, and let me fold you
to my heart once more not as when I fought with the Angel of Death for you and
conquered. I must, darling, I must. There, you are mine now, all mine say not
unwillingly. Lean your head upon my breast ; no storm shall ever realize it
there. I will be father, brother, husband all in one. Why do you shrink so from
that last word, Margy ? Whisper once you love me."
"Better than my own life."
"And will marry me? Oh, Margy!"
" How can I ? Don't urge me, my
best friend !"
, " Cruel ! cruel !"
"If you knew how deeply it pains
me to give you pain you would not call me cruel, Colonel Hamilton. Pity me, but
do not call me cold or cruel."
" No, darling, I will not.
Forgive me ! it is alone who am cruel. I know not what I say.
Is there no way, no way, I can
hope to win you ?" " None you would accept."
" Try me ! Impose any obligation
you please, save renunciation of principle."
" Will you lay down arms ?"
"I have lain down one for my
country; if I find myself to protect you with the other I shall have none left
for the service. Nay, don't look so sad. I am only jesting. You are mine,
darling, and may make your own terms. I will never give you up again!"
We were engaged that evening
tacitly, if not by verbal promise.
know it will be a mystery to many
how a loyal woman can marry a rebel. It is a mystery to myself inexplicable,
sad, but sweet as any mystery of love. I am ready to cry, peccavi! misericorde!
Am perfectly sincere when I say to Colonel Hamilton, " Would you had lost both
hands in a better cause!" and can not help indulging a hope of seeing him draw a
sword with his left hand but whole heart for the Union yet.
DAYS WITH MOSBY.
I WAS up at reveille. Orders to
inspect the camp of dismounted cavalry near
Harper's Ferry had been in my pocket two days,
awaiting an escort through the fifty miles of guerrilla infested country which
lay between me and that distant post. This was the day for the regular train,
and a thousand wagons were expected to leave Sheridan's head quarters, on Cedar
Creek, at daylight, with a brigade of infantry as guard, and a troop of cavalry
as out riders.
An hour's ride of eight miles
along a picketed line across the valley brought me to the famous "Valley Pike,"
and near the head quarters of the army. Torbert was there, and I awaited his
detailed instructions. Unavoidable delay ensued. Dispatches were to be sent, and
they were not yet ready. An hour passed, and, meantime, the industrious wagon
train was lightly and rapidly rolling away down the pike. The last wagon passed
out of sight, and the rear guard closed up behind it before I was ready to
start. No other train was to go for four days. I must overtake this one or give
up my journey. At length, accompanied by a single orderly, and my colored
servant, George Washington, a contraband, commonly called " Wash," I started in
pursuit of the train.
As I had nearly passed Newtown I
overtook a small party apparently of the rear guard of the train, who were
lighting their pipes and buying cakes and apples at a small grocery on the right
of the pike, and who seemed to be in charge of a non-commissioned officer.
"Good morning, Sergeant. You had
better close up at once. The train is getting well ahead, and this is the
favorite beat of Mosby."
"All right, Sir," he replied with
a smile, and nodding to his men, they mounted at once and closed in behind me,
while quite to my surprise I noticed three more of the party whom I had not
before seen in front of me.
An instinct of danger at once
possessed me. I saw nothing to justify it, but I felt a presence of evil which I
could not shake off. The men were in Union blue complete, and wore on their caps
the well known Greek cross which distinguishes the gallant Sixth Corp. They were
young, intelligent, cleanly, and good looking soldiers, armed with revolvers and
Spencer's repeating carbine. I noticed the absence of sabres, but the presence
of the Sperncer, which is a comparatively new arm in our service, reassured me,
and I thought it impassible that the enemy could as yet be possessed of them.
We galloped on merrily, and just
as I was ready to laugh at my own feats, " Wash," who had been riding behind me
and had heard some remark made by the soldiers, brushed up to my side, and
whispered through his teeth chattering with fear,
" Massa, secesh sure ! Run like
de debbel !"
I turned to look back at these
words, and saw six carbines leveled at me at twenty paces distant, and the
Sergeant, who had watched every motion of the negro, came riding toward me with
revolver drawn and the sharp command, " Halt. Surrender !"
We had reached a low place where
the Opequan Creek crosses the pike, a mile from Newtown. The train was not a
quarter of a mile ahead, but out of sight for the moment over the west ridge.
High stone walls lined the pike
on either side, and a narrow bridge across the stream was in front of me and
already occupied by the three rascals who had acted as advance guard, who now
coolly turned round and presented carbines also from their point of view.
I remembered the military maxim,
a mounted man should never surrender until his horse is disabled, and hesitated
an instant considering what to do, and quite in doubt whether I was myself or
some other fellow whom I had read of as captured and hung by guerrillas ; but at
the repetition of the sharp command, aided by the somewhat disagreeable presence
of the revolver immediately in my face, I concluded I was undoubtedly the other
fellow, and surrendered accordingly.
I My sword and revolver were
taken at once by the Sergeant, who proved to be a rebel lieutenant in disguise,
and who remarked, laughing as he took them.
"We closed up, Captain, as you
directed; as this is a favorite beat of Mosby's, I hope our drill was
" All right, Sergeant. Every dog
has his day, and yours happens to come now. Possibly my turn may come tomorrow."
"Your turn to be hung," he
It was not long before I was
ushered into the presence of the great modern highwayman, John S. Mosby,
He stood a little apart from his
men, by the side of a splendid gray horse, with his right hand grasping the
bridle-rein, and resting on the pommel of his saddle a slight, medium sized man,
sharp of feature, quick of sight, lithe of limb, with a bronzed face of the
color and tension of whip cord. His hair is a yellow brown, with .full but light
beard and mustache of the same ; a straight Grecian nose, firm set expressive
mouth, large ears, deep gray eyes, high forehead, large well shaped head, and
his whole expression denoting energy, hard service, and love of whisky. He wore
top boots, and a civilian's over coat, black, lined with red, and beneath it the
complete gray uniform of a Confederate Lieutenant-Colonel, with its two stars on
the side of the standing collar, and the whole surmounted by the inevitable
slouched hat of the whole Southern race. His men were about half in blue and
half in butternut.
Mosby, after taking my horse and
quietly examining my papers, presently looked up with a peculiar gleam of
satisfaction on his face.
"Ah, Captain B--!
Inspector-General of--'s Cavalry! Good morning, Captain! Glad to see you, Sir !
Indeed there is but one man I would prefer to see this morning to yourself, and
that is your commander. Were you present, Sir, the other day at the hanging of
eight of my men as guerrillas at Front Royal?"
I answered him firmly, " I was
present, Sir; and, like you, have only to regret that it was not the commander
instead of his unfortunate men."
This answer seemed to please
Mosby, for he apparently expected a denial. He assumed a grim smile, and
directed Lieutenant Whiting to search me.
My gold hunting watch and chain,
several rings, a set of shirt studs and sleeve buttons, a Masonic pin, some
coins, and about three hundred dollars in greenbacks, with some letters and
pictures of the dear ones at home, and a small pocket Bible, were taken. My
cavalry boots, worth about fifteen dollars, were apprised at six hundred and
fifty in Confederate money ; my watch at three thousand dollars, and the other
articles in about the same proportion, including my poor servant " Wash," who
was put in and raffled for at two thousand dollars, so that my entire outfit
made quite a respectable prize.
" Wash" was very indignant that
he should be thought worth only two thousand dollars Confederate, and informed
them that be considered himself unappreciated, and that, among other
accomplishments, he could make the best milk punch of any man in the
When all this was concluded Mosby
took me a little one side, and returned to me the pocket Bible, the letters and
pictures, and the masonic pin, saying quietly as he did so, alluding to the
latter with a significant sign :
You may as well keep this. It may
be of use to you somewhere."
I thanked him warmly for his
kindness as I took his offered hand, and really began to think Mosby almost a
gentleman and a soldier, although he had just robbed me in the most approved
manner of modern highwaymen.
Immediate preparations were made
for the long road to Richmond and the Libey. A guard of fifteen men, in command
of Lieutenant Whiting, was detailed as our escort, and, accompanied by Mosby
himself, we started directly across the country, regardless of roads, in an
easterly direction toward the Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge.
We were now in company of nine
more of our men, who had been taken at different times, making eleven of our
party in all, besides the indignant contraband " Wash," whom it was also thought
prudent to send to the rear for safe keeping.
I had determined to escape if
even half an opportunity should present itself, and the boys were quick in
understanding my purpose, and intimating their readiness to risk their lives in
the attempt. One of them in particular, George W. M'Cauley, com
monly known as Mack, and another
one named Brown, afterward proved themselves heroes.
At Howettsville on the
Shenandoah, nine miles below Front Royal, we bivouacked for the night in an old
Our party of eleven were assigned
to one side of the lower floor of the school house, where we lay down side by
side with our heads to the wall and our feet nearly meeting the feet of the
guard, who lay in the same manner opposite us, with their heads to the other
wall, except three, who formed a relief guard for the sentry's post at the door.
Above the head of the guard along
the wall ran a low desk, on which each man of them stood his carbine and laid
his revolver before disposing himself to sleep.
A fire before the door dimly
lighted the room ; and the scene as they dropped gradually to sleep was warlike
in the extreme, and made Rembrandt picture on my memory which will never be
I had taken care to place myself
between M'Cauley and Brown, and the moment the rebels began to snore and the
sentry to nod over his pipe, we were in earnest and deep conversation.
M'Cauley proposed to unite our
party and make a simultaneous rush for the carbines, and take our chances of
stampeding the guard and escaping ; but on passing the whisper quietly along our
line, only three men were found willing to assent to it. As the odds were so
largely against us, it was in vain to urge the subject.
The march began at an early hour
the next morning, and the route ran directly up the Blue Ridge. We had emerged
from the forest and ascended about one third of the height of the mountain, when
the full valley became visible, spread out like a map before us, showing plainly
the lines of our army, its routes of supply, its foraging parties out, and my
own camp at Front Royal as distinctly as if we stood in one of its streets.
We now struck a wood path running
southward and parallel with the ridge of the mountains, along which we traveled
for hours, with this wonderful panorama of forest and river, mountain and plain
before us in all the gorgeous beauty of the early autumn.
" This is a favorite promenade of
mine," said Mosby. " I love to see your people sending out their almost daily
raids after me. There comes one of them now almost toward us. If you please we
will step behind this point and see them pass. It may be the last sight you will
have of your old friends for some time," and, looking in the direction he
pointed, I saw a squadron of my own regiment coming directly toward us on a road
running under the foot of the mountain, and apparently on some foraging
expedition down the valley. They passed within a half mile of us, under the
mountain, while Mosby stood with folded arms on a rock above them.
Before noon we reached the road
running through Manassas Gap, which place was held by about one hundred of
Mosby's men, who signaled him as be approached, and here, much to my regret, the
great guerrilla left us, bidding me a kindly good-by.
We were hurried through the gap
and down the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, and by three o'clock reached
Chester Gap, after passing which we descend into the valley, and move rapidly
toward Sperryville on the direct line to Richmond.
Our guard was now reduced, as we
are far within the Confederate lines, to Lieutenant Whiting and three men, and
our party of eleven prisoners had seven horses among them. There was also a pack
horse carrying our forage, rations, and some blankets. To the saddle of this
pack horse are strapped two Spencer carbines, muzzle downward, with their
accoutrements complete, including two well filled cartridge boxes.
I called Mack's attention to this
fact as soon as the guard was reduced, and he needed no second hint to
comprehend its full significance at once. He soon after dismounted, and when it
came his turn to mount again, he selected, apparently by accident, the poorest
and most brokers down horse of the party, with which he appeared to find it very
difficult to keep up, and which he actually succeeded in some mysterious way in
He then dropped back to the
Lieutenant in charge and modestly asked to exchange his lame horse for the pack
horse, and being particularly winning in his address, his request was at once
granted with out a suspicion of its object, or a thought of the fatal carbines
on the pack saddle. I used some little skill in diverting the attention of the
Lieutenant while the pack was readjusted; and as the rain had begun to fall
freely no one of the guard was particularly alert.
I was presently gratified with
the sight of Mack riding ahead on the pack horse, with the two carbines still
strapped to the saddle, but loosened, and well concealed by his heavy poncho,
which he had spread as protection from the rain. These carbines are seven
shooters, and load from the breech by simply drawing out front the hollow stock
a spiral spring, and dropping in the seven cartridges, one after the other, and
then inserting the spring again behind them, which coils as it is pressed home,
and by its elasticity forces the cartridges forward, one at a time, into the
barrel at the successive movements of the lock.
I could see the movements of
Mack's right arm by the shape into which it threw the poncho, and while guiding
his horse with his left, looking the other way and chatting glibly with the
other boys, I saw him distinctly draw the springs from those carbines with his
right hand and hook them into the upper button hole of his coat to support them,
while he dropped in the cartridges one after another, trotting his horse at the
time to conceal the noise of their click, and finally forcing down the springs,
and looking round at me with a look of the finest heroism and triumph I have
I nodded approval, and fearing he
would precipitate matters, yet knowing that any instant might lead to discovery
and be too late, I rode carelessly across the road to Brown, who was on foot,
and, dismounting, asked him to tighten m girth, during which operation I told
him the position of affairs as
quietly as possible, and
requested him to get up gradually by the side of Mack, communicate with him,
and, at a signal from me, to seize one of the carbines and do his duty as a
soldier if he valued his liberty.
Brown was terribly frightened and
trembled like a leaf, but went immediately to his post, and I did not doubt
would do his duty well.
I rode up again to the side of
Lieutenant Whiting, and, like an echo from the past, came back to me my words of
yesterday, " Possibly my turn may come tomorrow."
I engaged him in conversation,
and, among other things, spoke of the prospect of sudden death as one always
present in our army life, and the tendency it had to either harden or ameliorate
the character according to the quality of the individual.
He expressed the opinion which
many hold that a brutal man is made more brutal by it, and a refined and
cultivated man is softened and made more refined by it.
We were on the immediate flank of
Early's army. His cavalry was all around us. The road was thickly inhabited. It
was almost night. We had passed a rebel picket but a mile back, and knew not how
near another one or their camps might be.
The three rebel guards were
riding in front of us and on our flanks, our party of prisoners was in the
centre, and I was by the side of Lieutenant Whiting, who acted as rear guard,
when we entered a small copse of willow which for a moment covered the road. The
hour was propitious. I gave the fatal signal and instantly threw myself from my
saddle upon the Lieutenant, grasping him around the arms and dragging him from
his horse, in the hope of securing his revolver, capturing him, and compelling
him to pilot us outside of the rebel lines. At the same instant Mack raised one
of the loaded carbines, and, in less time than I can write it, shot two of the
guard in front of him, killing them instantly; and then coolly turning in his
saddle, and seeing me struggling in the road with the Lieutenant, and the
chances of obtaining the revolver apparently against me, he raised the carbine
the third time ; and as I strained the now desperate rebel to my breast, with
his livid face over my left shoulder, he shot him as directly between the eyes
as he could have done if firing at a target at ten paces distance.
His hold relaxed, and his ghastly
corpse fell from my arms.
" Golly, Cap," said Mack, "I
could have killed five or six more of them as well as not."
Brown had only wounded his man in
the side, and allowed him to escape.
Our position was now perilous.
Not a man of us knew the country, except its most general out lines. The rebel
camps could not be far away ; the whole country would be alarmed in an hour ,
darkness was intervening; and I doubted not that, before sundown, even blood
hounds would be on our track. One half our party had already scattered, panic
stricken, at the first alarm, and every man for himself, scouring the country in
But five remained, including the
faithful Wash, who immediately showed his practical qualities by searching the
bodies of the slain, and recovering therefrom, among other things, my gold
hunting watch from the person of Lieutenant Whiting, and over eleven hundred
dollars in greenbacks, the proceeds, doubtless, of their various robberies of
" Not quite nuff," said Wash,
showing his ivories from ear to ear. "Dey vally dis nigger at two tousand
dollars. I tink I ought to git de money."
We instantly mounted the best
horses, and, well armed with carbine and revolver, struck directly for the
mountain on our right; but, knowing that would be the first place we should be
sought for, soon changed our direction to the south, and rode for hours directly
toward the enemy as rapidly as we could ride, and before complete darkness
intervened we had made thirty miles from the place of our escape ; and then
turning sharp up the mountain we rode as far as horses could climb, and,
abandoning them, pushed on on foot through the whole night to the very summit of
the Blue Ride, whence we could see the rebel camp fires, and view their entire
lines and position, just as daylight was breaking over the Valley.
The length of this weary day, and
the terrible pangs of hunger and thirst which we suffered on this barren
mountain, pertain to the more common experience of a soldier's life, and I need
not describe them here.
We had to go still further south
to avoid the scouts and pickets, and finally struck the Shenandoah twenty miles
to the rear of Early's entire army, and there built a raft, and floated by night
forty miles down that memorable stream, through his crafty pickets, until the
glorious old flag once more hailed us a welcome.
REBEL COLONEL MOSBY.
JOHN SINGLETON MOSBY, long
notorious as a rebel guerrilla, was born in Virginia in 1832. Little is
popularly known of his career before the war. In 1862 he was a Lieutenant in
LEE'S army, and for his services in harassing our troops encamped near
Fredericksburg met with General LEE'S approval and was promoted Major. In March,
1863, be captured General STOUGHTON at Fairfax Court House. He was wounded near
this same place in August of that year, and was unable previous to January,
1864, to resume his official duties. Last August he was again wounded and put
hors du combat for two months, after which he again appeared in a raid on the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, for which he was made Lieutenant-Colonel. December
10 he was given the full rank of Colonel. We give above an account, entitled "
Two Days with Mosby," which, as being substantially true, will prove very
interesting to our readers. This rebel Colonel has been the centre of a great
deal of fabulous romance during the war. He has been recently wounded again, and
so seriously that his friends, it is reported, despair of his recovery.