Chapter 13

 

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THE SCOUTS OF STONEWALL

THE STORY OF THE GREAT VALLEY CAMPAIGN

by JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER 

 XIII.    THE SULLEN RETREAT

 Harry, like the rest of the army, slept soundly through the rest of the night and they rose to a brilliant first day of June.  The scouts said that the whole force of Fremont was not far behind, while the army of Shields was marching on a parallel line east of the Massanuttons, and ready at the first chance to form a junction with Fremont.

Youth seeks youth and Harry and Dalton found a little time to talk with St. Clair and Langdon.

"We've broken their ring and passed through," said Langdon, "but as sure as we live we'll all be fighting again in a day.  If the Yankees follow too hard Old Jack will turn and fight 'em.  Now, why haven't the Yankees got sense enough to let us alone and go home?"

"They'll never do it," said Dalton gravely.  "We've got to recognize that fact.  I'm never going to say another word about the Yankees not being willing to fight."

"They're too darned willing," said Happy Tom.  "That's the trouble."

"I woke up just about the dawn," said Dalton.  "Everybody was asleep, but the general, and I saw him praying."

"Then it means fighting and lots of it," said St. Clair.  "I'm going to make the best use I can of this little bit of rest, as I don't expect another chance for at least a month.  Stonewall Jackson thinks that one hour a day for play keeps Jack from being a dull boy."

"Just look at our colonels, will you?" said Happy Tom.  "They're believers in what Arthur says."

Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire were sitting in a corner of a rail fence opposite each other, and their bent gray heads nearly touched.  But their eyes were on a small board between them and now and then they moved carved figures back and forth.

"They're playing chess," whispered Happy Tom.  "They found the board and set of men in the captured baggage, and this is their first chance to use them."

"They can't possibly finish a game," said Harry.

"No," said Tom, "they can't, and it's just as well.  Why anybody wants to play chess is more than I can understand.  I'd rather watch a four-mile race between two turtles.  It's a lot swifter and more thrilling."

"It takes intelligence to play chess, Happy," said St. Clair.

"And time, too," rejoined Happy.  "If a thing consumes a lifetime anyway, what's the use of intelligence?"

A bugle sounded.  The two colonels raised their gray heads and gave the chess men and the board to an orderly.  The four boys returned to their horses, and in a few minutes Jackson's army was once more on the march, the Acadian band near the head of the column playing as joyously as if it had never lost a member in battle.  The mountains and the valley between were bathed in light once more.  The heavy dark green foliage on the slopes of the Massanuttons rested the eye and the green fields of the valley were cheering.

"I don't believe I'd ever forget this valley if I lived to be a thousand," said Harry.  "I've marched up and down it so much and every second of the time was so full of excitement."

"Here's one day of peace, or at least it looks so," said Dalton.

But Jackson beckoned to Harry, bade him ride to the rear and report if there was any sign of the enemy.  They had learned to obey quickly and Harry galloped back by the side of the marching army.  Even now the men were irrepressible and he was saluted with the old familiar cries:

"Hey, Johnny Reb, come back!  You're going toward the Yankees, not away from 'em."

"Let him go ahead, Bill.  He's goin' to tell the Yankees to stop or he'll hurt 'em."

"That ain't the way to ride a hoss, bub.  Don't set up so straight in the saddle."

Harry paid no attention to this disregard of his dignity as an officer. He had long since become used to it, and, if they enjoyed it, he was glad to furnish the excuse.  He reached the rear guard of scouts and skirmishers, and, turning his horse, kept with them for a while, but they saw nothing.  Sherburne, with a detachment of the cavalry was there, and Ashby, who commanded all the horse, often appeared.

"Fremont's army is not many miles behind," said Sherburne.  "If we were to ride a mile or two toward it we could see its dust.  But the Yanks are tired and they can't march fast.  I wish I knew how far up the Luray Shields and his army are.  We've got to look out for that junction of Shields and Fremont."

"We'll pass the Gap before they can make the junction," said Harry confidently.

"How's Old Jack looking?"

"Same as ever."

"That is, like a human sphinx.  Well, you can never tell from his face what he's thinking, but you can be sure that he's thinking something worth while."

"You think then I can report to him that the pursuit will not catch up to-day?"

"I'm sure of it.  I've talked with Ashby also about it and he says they're yet too far back.  Harry, what day is this?"

Harry smiled at the sudden question, but he understood how Sherburne, amid almost continuous battle, had lost sight of time.

"I heard someone say it was the first of June," he replied.

"No later than that?  Why, it seemed to me that it must be nearly autumn. Do you know, Harry, that on this very day, two years ago, I was up there in those mountains to the west with a jolly camping party.  I was just a boy then, and now here I am an old man."

"About twenty-three, I should say."

"A good guess, but anyway I've been through enough to make me feel sixty. I promise you, Harry, that if ever I get through this war alive I'll shoot the man who tries to start another.  Look at the fields!  How fine and green they are!  Think of all that good land being torn up by the hoofs of cavalry and the wheels of cannon!"

"If you are going to be sentimental I'll leave you," said Harry, and the action followed the word.  He rode away, because he was afraid he would grow sentimental himself.

The army continued its peaceful march up the valley and most of the night that followed.  Harry was allowed to obtain a few hours sleep in the latter part of the night in one of the captured wagons.  It was a covered wagon and he selected it because he noticed that the night, even if it was the first of June, was growing chill.  But he had no time to be particular about the rest.  He did not undress--he had not undressed in days--but lying between two sacks of meal with his head on a third sack he sank into a profound slumber.

When Harry awoke he felt that the wagon was moving.  He also heard the patter of rain on his canvas roof.  It was dusky in there, but he saw in front of him the broad back of the teamster who sat on the cross seat and drove.

"Hello!" exclaimed Harry, sitting up.  "What's happened?"

A broad red face was turned to him, and a voice issuing from a slit almost all the way across its breadth replied:

"Well, if little old Rip Van Winkle hasn't waked up at last!  Why, you've slept nigh on to four hours, and nobody in Stonewall Jackson's army is ever expected to sleep more'n three and that's gospel truth, as shore's my name is Sam Martin."

"But, Sam, you don't tell me what's happened!"

"It's as simple as A, B, C.  We're movin' ag'in, and that fine June day yestiddy that we liked so much is gone forever.  The second o' June ain't one little bit like the first o' June.  It's cold and it's wet.  Can't you hear the rain peltin' on the canvas?  Besides, the Yanks are comin' up, too.  I done heard the boomin' o' cannon off there toward the rear."

"Oh, why wasn't I called!  Here I am sleeping away, and the enemy is already in touch with us!"

"Don't you worry any 'bout that, sonny.  Don't you be so anxious to git into a fight, 'cause you'll have plenty of chances when you can't keep out o' it.  'Sides, Gin'ral Jackson ain't been expectin' you.  We're up near the head o' the line an' 'bout an hour ago when we was startin' a whiskered man on a little sorrel hoss rid up an' said: 'Which o' my staff have you got in there?  I remember 'signin' one to you last night.' I bows very low an' I says: 'Gin'ral Jackson, I don't know his name. He was too sleepy to give it, but he's a real young fellow, nice an' quiet.  He ain't give no trouble at all.  He's been sleepin' so hard I think he has pounded his ear clean through one o' them bags o' meal.' Gin'ral Jackson laughs low an' just a little, and then he takes a peek into the wagon.  'Why, it's young Harry Kenton!' he says.  'Let him sleep on till he wakes.  He deserves it!'  Then he lets fall the canvas an' he ups an' rides away.  An' if I was in your place, young Mr. Kenton, I'd feel mighty proud to have Stonewall Jackson say that I deserved more rest."

"I am proud, but I've got to go now.  I don't know where I'll find my horse."

"I know, an' what's more I'll tell.  An orderly came back with him saddled an' bridled an' he's hitched to this here wagon o' mine. Good-bye, Mr. Kenton, I'm sorry you're goin' 'cause you've been a nice, pleasant boarder, sayin' nothin' an' givin' no trouble."

Harry thanked him, and then in an instant was out of the wagon and on his horse.  It required only a few minutes to overtake Jackson and his staff, who were riding soberly along in the rain.  He noticed with relief that he was not the last to join the chief.  Two or three others came up later.  Jackson nodded pleasantly to them all as they came.

But the morning was gloomy in the extreme.  Harry was glad to shelter himself with the heavy cavalry cloak from the cold rain.  All the skies were covered with sullen clouds, and the troops trudged silently on in deep mud.  Now and then a wind off the mountains threshed the rain sharply into their faces.  From the rear came the deep, sullen mutter which Harry so readily recognized as the sound of the big guns.  Sam Martin was right.  The enemy was most decidedly "in touch."

Dalton handed Harry some cold food and he ate it in the saddle.  Jackson rode on saying nothing, his head bowed a little, his gaze far away. The officers of his staff were also silent.  Jackson after a while reined his horse out of the road, and his staff, of course, followed.  The troops filed past and Jackson said:

"We will soon pass the Gap in the Massanuttons, and Shields cannot come out there ahead of us.  That danger is left behind."

"What of the junction between Shields and Fremont, General?" asked one of the older officers.

Jackson cast one glance at the somber heavens.

"Providence favors us," he said.  "The south fork of the Shenandoah flows between Fremont and Shields.  It is swollen already by the rains and the rushing torrents from the mountains, and if I read the skies right we're going to have other long and heavy rains.  They can't ford the Shenandoah and they can't stop to bridge it.  It will be a long time before they can bring a united force against us."

But while he spoke the mutter of the guns grew louder.  Jackson listened attentively a long time, and then sent several of his staff officers to the rear with orders to the cavalry, the Invincibles under Talbot, and one other regiment to hold the enemy off at all costs.  As Harry galloped back the mutter of the cannon grew into thunder.  There was also the sharper crash of rifle fire.  Presently he saw the flash of the firing and numerous spires of smoke rising.

His own message was to the Invincibles and he delivered the brief note to Colonel Talbot, who read it quickly and then tore it up.

"Stay with us a while, Harry," he said, "and you can then report more fully to the general what is going on.  They crowd us hard.  Look how their sharpshooters are swarming in the woods and fields yonder."

An orchard to the left of the road and only a short distance away was filled with the Union riflemen.  Running from tree to tree and along the fences they sent bullets straight into the ranks of the Invincibles. Four guns were turned and swept the orchard with shell, but the wary sharpshooters darted to another point, and again came the hail of bullets.  Colonel Talbot bade his weary men turn, but at the moment, Sherburne, with a troop of cavalry, swept down on the riflemen and sent them flying.  Harry saw Colonel Talbot's lips moving, and he knew that he was murmuring thanks because Sherburne had come so opportunely.

"We're not having an easy time," he said to Harry.  "They press us hard. We drive them back for a time, and they come again.  They have field guns, too, and they are handled with great skill.  If I do not mistake greatly, they are under the charge of Carrington, who, you remember, fought us at that fort in the valley before Bull Run, John Carrington, old John Carrington, my classmate at West Point, a man who wouldn't hurt a fly, but who is the most deadly artillery officer in the world."

Harry remembered that famous duel of the guns in the hills and Colonel Talbot's admiration of his opponent, Carrington.  Now he could see it shining in his eyes as strongly as ever.

"Why are you so sure, colonel, that it's Carrington?" he asked.

"Because nobody else could handle those field guns as he does.  He brings 'em up, sends the shot and shell upon us, then hitches up like lightning, is away before we can charge, and in a minute or two is firing into our line elsewhere.  Trust Carrington for such work, and I'm glad he hasn't been killed.  John's the dearest soul in the world, as gentle as a woman. Down!  Down! all of you!  There are the muzzles of his guns in the bushes again!"

Colonel Talbot's order was so sharp and convincing that most of the Invincibles mechanically threw themselves upon their faces, just as four field pieces crashed and the shell and shrapnel flew over their heads. That rapid order had saved them, but the officers on horseback were not so lucky.  A captain was killed, Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire was grazed on the shoulder, and the horse of Colonel Talbot was killed under him.

But Colonel Talbot, alert and agile, despite his years, sprang clear of the falling horse and said emphatically to his second in command, Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire:

"The last doubt is gone!  It's Carrington as sure as we live!"

Then he gave a quick order to his men to rise and fire with the rifles, but the woods protected the gunners, and, when Sherburne with his cavalry charged into the forest, Carrington and his guns were gone.

Colonel Talbot procured another horse, and the Invincibles, sore of body and mind, resumed their slow and sullen retreat.  Harry left them and rode further along the front of the rear guard.  Under the somber skies and in the dripping rain there was a long line of flashing rifles and the flaming of big guns at intervals.

Fremont was pushing the pursuit and pushing it hard.  Harry recognized anew the surpassing skill of Jackson in keeping his enemies separated by mountains and streams, while his own concentrated force marched on. He felt that Fremont would hold Jackson in battle if he could until the other Northern armies came up, and he felt also that Jackson would lead Fremont beyond a junction with the others and then turn.  Yet these Northern men were certainly annoying.  They did not seem to mind defeats. Here they were fighting as hard as ever, pursuing and not pursued.

Harry, turning to the left, saw a numerous body of cavalry under Ashby, supported by guns also, and he joined them.  Ashby on his famous white horse was riding here and there, exposing himself again and again to the fire of the enemy, who was pressing close.  He nodded to Harry, whom he knew.

"You can report to General Jackson," he said, "that the enemy is continually attacking, but that we are continually beating him off."

Just as he spoke a trumpet sounded loud and clear in the edge of a wood only three or four hundred yards away.  There was a tremendous shout from many men, and then the thunder of hoofs.  A cavalry detachment, more than a thousand strong, rushed down upon them, and to right and left of the horse, regiments of infantry, supported by field batteries, charged also.

The movement was so sudden, so violent and so well-conceived that Ashby's troops were swept away, despite every effort of the leader, who galloped back and forth on his white horse begging them to stand.  So powerful was the rush that the cavalry were finally driven in retreat and with them the Invincibles.

Some of the troops, worn by battles and marches until the will weakened with the body, broke and ran up the road.  Harry heard behind him the triumphant shouts of their pursuers and he saw the Northern bayonets gleaming as they came on in masses.  Ashby was imploring his men to stand but they would not.  The columns pressing upon them were too heavy and they scarcely had strength enough left to fight.

More and yet more troops came into battle.  The Northern success for the time was undoubted.  The men in blue were driving in the Southern rear guard, and Ashby was unable to hold the road.

But the two colonels at last succeeded in drawing the Invincibles across the turnpike, where they knelt in good order and sent volley after volley into the pursuing ranks.  Fremont's men wavered and then stopped, and Ashby, upbraiding his horsemen and calling their attention to the resolute stand of the infantry, brought them into action again.  Infantry and cavalry then uniting, drove back the Northern vanguard, and, for the time being, the Southern rear guard was safe once more.

But the Invincibles and the cavalry were almost exhausted.  Harry found St. Clair wounded, not badly, but with enough loss of blood for Colonel Talbot to send him to one of the wagons.  He insisted that he was still fit to help hold the road, but Colonel Talbot ordered two of the soldiers to put him in the wagon and he was compelled to submit.

"We can't let you die now from loss of blood, you young fire-eater," said Colonel Talbot severely, "because you may be able to serve us better by getting killed later on."  St. Clair smiled wanly and with his formal South Carolina politeness said:

"Thanks, sir, it helps a lot when you're able to put it in such a satisfactory way."

Harry, who was unhurt, gave St. Clair a strong squeeze of the hand.

"You'll be up and with us again soon, Arthur," he said consolingly, and then he rode away to Ashby.

"You may tell General Jackson that we can hold them back," said the cavalry leader grimly.  "You have just seen for yourself."

"I have, sir," replied Harry, and he galloped away from the rear. But he soon met the general himself, drawn by the uncommonly heavy firing.  Harry told him what had happened, but the expression of Jackson's face did not change.

"A rather severe encounter," he said, "but Ashby can hold them."

All that day, nearly all that night and all the following day Harry passed between Jackson and Ashby or with them.  It was well for the Virginians that they were practically born on horseback and were trained to open air and the forests.  For thirty-six hours the cavalry were in the saddle almost without a break.  And so was Harry.  He had forgotten all about food and rest.  He was in a strange, excited mood.  He seemed to see everything through a red mist.  In all the thirty-six hours the crash of rifles or the thud of cannon ceased scarcely for a moment. It went on just the same in day or in night.  The Northern troops, although led by no such general as Stonewall Jackson, showed the splendid stuff of which they were made.  They were always eager to push hard and yet harder.

The Southern troops burnt the bridges over the creeks as they retreated, but the Northern men waded through the water and followed.  The clouds of cavalry were always in touch.  A skirmish was invariably proceeding at some point.  Toward evening of the second day's pursuit, they came to Mount Jackson, to which they had retreated once before, and there went into camp in a strong place.

But the privates themselves knew that they could not stay there long. They might turn and beat off Fremont's army, but then they would have to reckon with the second army under Shields and the yet heavier masses that McDowell was bringing up.  But Jackson himself gave no sign of discouragement.  He went cheerfully among the men, and saw that attention, as far as possible at such a time, was given to their needs.  Harry hunted up St. Clair and found him with a bandaged shoulder sitting in his wagon.  He was sore but cheerful.

"The doctor tells me, Harry, that I can take my place in the line in three more days," he said, "but I intend to make it two.  I fancy that we need all the men we can get now, and that I won't be driven back to this wagon."

"If I were as well fixed as you are, Arthur," said Langdon, who appeared at this moment on the other side of the wagon, "I'd stay where I was. But it's so long since I've been hauled that I'm afraid the luxury would overpower me.  Think of lying on your back and letting the world float peacefully by!  Did I say 'think of it'?  I was wrong.  It is unthinkable.  Now, Harry, what plans has Old Jack got for us?"

"I don't know."

"Well, he'll get us out of this.  We're sure of that.  But when?  That's the question."

The question remained without an answer.  Early the next morning they were on the march again under lowering skies.  The heavens from horizon to horizon were a sodden gray and began to drip rain.  Harry was sent again to the rear-guard, where Ashby's cavalry hung like a curtain, backed by the Invincibles and one or two other skeleton regiments.

Harry joined Sherburne and now the drip of the rain became a steady beat. Chilling winds from the mountains swept over them.  He had preserved through thick and thin, through battle and through march that big cavalry cloak, and now he buttoned it tightly around him.

He saw down the road puffs of smoke and heard the lashing fire of rifles, but it did not make his pulses beat any faster now.  He had grown so used to it that it seemed to be his normal life.  A bullet fired from a rifle of longer range than the others plumped into the mud at the feet of his horse, but he paid no attention to it.

He joined Sherburne, who was using his glasses, watching through the heavy, thick air the Northern advance.  The brilliant young cavalryman, while as bold and enduring as ever, had changed greatly in the last two or three weeks.  The fine uniform was stained and bedraggled.  Sherburne himself had lost more than twenty pounds and his face was lined and anxious far more than the face of a mere boy of twenty-three should have been.

"I think they'll press harder than ever," said Sherburne.

"Why?"

"The Shenandoah river, or rather the north fork of it, isn't far ahead. They'd like to coop us up against it and make us fight, while their army under Shields and all their other armies--God knows how many they have--are coming up."

"The river is bridged, isn't it?"

"Yes, but it takes a good while to get an army such as ours, loaded down with prisoners and spoil, across it, and if they rushed us just when we were starting over it, we'd have to turn and give battle.  Jupiter, how it rains!  Behold the beauties of war, Harry!"

The wind suddenly veered a little, and with it the rain came hard and fast.  It seemed to blow off the mountains in sheets and for a moment or two Harry was blinded.  The beat of the storm upon leaves and earth was so hard that the cracking of the rifles was dulled and deadened. Nevertheless the rifle fire went on, and as well as Harry could judge, without any decrease in violence.

"Hear the bugles now!" said Sherburne.  "Their scouts are warning them of the approach to the Shenandoah.  They'll be coming up in a minute or two in heavier force.  Ah, see, Ashby understands, too!  He's massing the men to hold them back!"

The rain still poured with all the violence of a deluge, but the Northern force, horse and cannon, pushed forward through the mud and opened with all their might.  Ashby's cavalry and the infantry in support replied. There was something grim and awful to Harry in this fight in the raging storm.  Now and then, he could not see the flame of the firing for the rain in his eyes.  By a singular chance a bullet cut the button of his cloak at the throat and the cloak flew open there.  In a minute he was soaked through and through with water, but he did not notice it.

The cavalry, the Invincibles and the other regiments were making a desperate stand in order that the army might cross the bridge of the Shenandoah.  Harry was seized with a sort of fury.  Why should these men try to keep them from getting across?  It was their right to escape. Presently he found himself firing with his pistols into the great pillar of fire and smoke and rain in front of him.  Mud splashed up by the horses struck him in the face now and then, and stung like gunpowder, but he began to shout with joy when he saw that Ashby was holding back the Northern vanguard.

Ahead of him the Southern army was already rumbling over the bridge, while the swollen and unfordable waters of the Shenandoah raced beneath it.  But the Northern brigades pressed hard.  Harry did not know whether the rain helped them or hurt them, but at any rate it was terribly uncomfortable.  It poured on them in sheets and sheets and the earth seemed to be a huge quagmire.  He wondered how the men were able to keep their ammunition dry enough to fire, but that they did was evident from the crash that went on without ceasing.

"In thinking of war before I really knew it," said Harry, "I never thought much of weather."

"Does sound commonplace, but it cuts a mighty big figure I can tell you. If it hadn't rained so hard just before Waterloo Napoleon would have got up his big guns more easily, winning the battle, and perhaps changing the history of the world.  Confound it, look at that crowd pushing forward through the field to take us in the flank!"

"Western men, I think," said Harry.  "Here are two of our field guns, Sherburne!  Get 'em to throw some grape in there!"

It was lucky that the guns approached at that moment.  Their commander, as quick of eye as either Harry or Sherburne, unlimbered and swept back the western men who were seeking to turn their flank.  Then Sherburne, with a charge of his cavalry, sent them back further.  But at the call of Ashby's trumpet they turned quickly and galloped after Jackson's army, the main part of which had now passed the bridge.

"I suppose we'll burn the bridge after we cross it," said Harry.

"Of course."

"But how on earth can we set fire to it with this Noah's flood coming down?"

"I don't know.  They'll manage it somehow.  Look, Harry, see the flames bursting from the timbers now.  Gallop, men!  Gallop!  We may get our faces scorched in crossing the bridge, but when we're on the other side it won't be there for the Yankees!"

The Invincibles and the other infantry regiments all were advancing at the double quick, with the cavalry closing up the rear.  Behind them many bugles rang and through the dense rain they saw the Northern cavalry leaders swinging their sabers and cheering on their men, and they also saw behind them the heavy masses of infantry coming up.

Harry knew that it was touch-and-go.  The bulk of the army was across, and if necessary they must sacrifice Ashby's cavalry, but that sacrifice would be too great.  Harry had never seen Ashby and his gallant captains show more courage.  They fought off the enemy to the very last and then galloped for the bridge, under a shower of shell and grape and bullets. Ashby's own horse was killed under him, falling headlong in the mud, but in an instant somebody supplied him with a fresh one, upon which he leaped, and then they thundered over the burning bridge, Ashby and Sherburne the last two to begin the crossing.

Harry, who was just ahead of Ashby and Sherburne, felt as if the flames were licking at them.  With an involuntary motion he threw up his hands to protect his eyes from the heat, and he also had a horrible sensation lest the bridge, its supporting timbers burned through, should fall, sending them all into the rushing flood.

But the bridge yet held and Harry uttered a gasp of relief as the feet of his horse struck the deep mud on the other side.  They galloped on for two or three hundred yards, and then at the command of Ashby turned.

The bridge was a majestic sight, a roaring pyramid that shot forth clouds of smoke and sparks in myriads.

"How under the sun did we cross it?" Harry exclaimed.

"We crossed it, that's sure, because here we are," said Sherburne. "I confess myself that I don't know just how we did it, Harry, but it's quite certain that the enemy will never cross it.  The fire's too strong. Besides, they'd have our men to face."

Harry looked about, and saw several thousand men drawn up to dispute the passage, but the Northern troops recognizing its impossibility at that time, made no attempt.  Nevertheless their cannon sent shells curving over the stream, and the Southern cannon sent curving shells in reply. But the burning bridge roared louder and the pyramid of flame rose higher.  The rain, which had never ceased to pour in a deluge, merely seemed to feed it.

"Ah, she's about to go now," exclaimed Sherburne.

The bridge seemed to Harry to rear up before his eyes like a living thing, and then draw together a mass of burning timbers.  The next moment the whole went with a mighty crash into the river, and the blazing fragments floated swiftly away on the flood.  The deep and rapid Shenandoah flowed a barrier between the armies of Jackson and Fremont.

"A river can be very beautiful without a bridge, Harry, can't it?" said a voice beside him.

It was St. Clair, a heavy bandage over his left shoulder, but a smoking rifle in his right hand, nevertheless.

"I couldn't stand it any longer, Harry," he said.  "I had to get up and join the Invincibles, and you see I'm all right."

Harry was compelled to laugh at the sodden figure, from which the rain ran in streams.  But he admired St. Clair's spirit.

"It was by a hair's breadth, Arthur," he said.

"But we won across, just the same, and now I'm going back to that wagon to finish my cure.  I fancy that we'll now have a rest of six or eight hours, if General Jackson doesn't think so much time taken from war a mere frivolity."

The Southern army drew off slowly, but as soon as it was out of sight the tenacious Northern troops undertook to follow.  They attempted to build a bridge of boats, but the flood was so heavy that they were swept away. Then Fremont set men to work to rebuild the bridge, which they could do in twenty-four hours, but Jackson, meanwhile, was using every one of those precious hours.

 

 

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