Battle of Ezra Church


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 17, 1864

During the Civil War, Americans relied on Harper's Weekly as their primary source of news on the war. These newspapers contained detailed accounts of the battle, and insightful analyses of both the war and the politics of the day. Today, they make for incredible reading.

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Ezra Church

Battle of Ezra Church

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[SEPTEMBER 17, 1864.


(Previous Page) tered the war as Colonel of the Twenty-second Indiana Volunteers. In March, 1862, while yet a Colonel, he was given a Major-General's command, taking an important part in the spring campaign in the Missouri Department, which culminated in the battle at Pea Ridge. He commanded a portion of General BUELL'S army in the Kentucky campaign against General BRAGG, early in 1863 he occupied Shelbyville, Tennessee. In General GRANT'S Western campaign he took an active and prominent part; and in the late advance on Atlanta he deserves an honorable mention. When General PALMER resigned he assumed the command of the Fourteenth Corps, and it was in the exercise of this command that he fought the late decisive battle of Jonesborough.


WE give on our first page this week an illustration of one of those brave actions which have conferred distinction and honor upon our private soldiers, but which have most frequently passed with only an occasional record. At the battle of Ezra Church HARRY DAVIS, a soldier belonging to the Forty-sixth Ohio regiment, advanced far to the front under the fire of rebel batteries, and reaching over the breast-works of the enemy, grasped the colors of the Thirtieth Tennessee from the hands of the rebel standard-bearer and brought them off as a trophy. Two weeks ago we gave the portrait of Captain DE GRESS, who had distinguished himself by a gallant action ; and we deem it proper that the private soldier also should receive the merit due to his bravery.


A FRIEND and I were strolling down The gay and crowded street,

When with a pale and sad-eyed one It was our chance to meet.

My friend had bowed to ladies fair,

Who passed and were forgot; He bowed to her, and on his cheek

I saw a crimson spot.

And yet it was no flush of shame

Upon his cheek that burned;
His look was soon as sad as hers:

To look at her I turned.

Her years they might have been two score, Her step was sad and slow;

Not weariness—but just that pace

At which all mourners go.

Though poor, around her yet there was That nameless grace, which says, Even to careless passers by,

"I have seen better days."

" Tell me," said I, "why you, who wear A soldier's name and sword,

Changed color as she passed us by---Passed us without a word."

His eyes flashed flame. "My blood," he said, "It near to madness stirs

To meet that sad, that patient one, And think what wrongs are hers.

" Two years ago—alas, how changed!----A fond, proud wife was she,

And mother, too, of three fair sons---Three fairer could not be.

"Her noble husband to his flag And to his country true,   "

Was foully slain, at midnight, by A cruel traitor crew.

" Slain, not in open, manly fight ;

But on his own hearth-stone She saw his life-blood ebb away,

And heard his dying groan.

" She heard the troopers' curses deep Re-echo. through the hall ; She saw the lurid flames spread fast,

She saw the roof-tree fall.

"When morning came, half crazed she stood There desolate and lone,

Gazing with tearless eye upon

A mass of whitened bone ;

"All that was left of him whose love Had made her life so sweet

Now mingled with the ashes of Her home now at her feet."

"But where were they, her noble boys, In this her hour of woe?"

" Ah! they had sought the battle-field Ere fell this fearful blow.

" Two were with Grant when Vicksburg fell.' " The other, where was he ?"

" Another flag above him waved

At Richmond, under Lee.

" And him she mourns as worse than dead, For in this deadly strife

He battles on the side of those

Who took his father's life.

"Bright-eyed, glad-hearted, once she dwelt In lovely Tennessee ;

Slow-paced, sad-eyed, sad-hearted now, She's here a Refugee."


"MONEY! More money? Mrs. Wilde, I am perfectly astonished !"

"It isn't for myself, Eugene," faltered the timid little wife, flushing up to the roots of her hair ; " but the ladies in the church are trying to make up a little sum for the poor soldiers in hospital, and—"

" Twen-ty-five dol-lars!" slowly enunciated Mr. Wilde, as if every syllable were a hundred-pound weight hurled at his defenseless partner. "For the soldiers! Do I pay taxes, Mrs. Wilde, or do I not ? Are my resources drawn upon by the Government, every day in the year, or are they not, for this very object ? I am not made of gold, Mrs. Wilde, what-ever you may think ; I assure you that it is only by the practice of the most rigid economy that I am able at the year's end to bring my expenses within my annual income. Besides, I very cordially disapprove of these outside charities. It's Government's business to provide for the sick soldiers ; I can't afford to pay the debts of the whole War Department ; and what's more, I won't!"

Eustace Wilde was standing in front of a garnet-clear coal-fire, on the hearth-rug, buttoning up his gloves for the daily down-town jaunt that opened his day's business, a handsome, stylish-looking man, with a silky black mustache and a portly figure at-tired in garments that fitted him as only Broadway suits can fit; while Maggie, his wife, sat before the coffee urn in a pretty morning dress of buff gingham, with deep linen cuffs, and a little white collar tied with maize-colored ribbon. She had a very sweet face, shadowed with heavy brown hair and bright hazel eyes, in whose translucent depths there lurked just a gleam of piquant fire; but somehow there was a weary, care-worn look about the delicately-moulded features, a tired droop of the lashes, Ind a dark ring under the eyes that made one intinctively remember patient Martha of old, "burdened with many cares."

She took up her little porte-monnaie with a disappointed face to replace it in the pocket of her ,lack silk apron.

" What shall I tell the Committee, Eustace ?"

" Tell them, Mrs. Wilde," said her husband, dogmatically, " that at the present scale of prices economy is the chief duty of us all. The soldiers will, I have no doubt, be cared for by the proper authorities. Imust decline to subscribe. You observe, my dear," he added, glancing at a bank-note that lay on the shining damask table-cloth, " that I have already placed housekeeping funds for the week at your disposal. I must beg of you to use proper discretion in its expenditure."

" Five dollars is not enough, Eustace," said Mrs. Wilde, with a stolid courage born of desperation. "Not e-nough?"

Maggie raised her eyebrows a little impatiently.

"If you think, Eustace, that five dollars will pay the butcher, settle the baker's account and the ice-man's bill, and then leave enough for daily marketing expenses, I should like to have you remain at home and take charge of the finances yourself—that's all!"

"My dear, you must purchase cheaper articles."

" But, Eustace, you know how fastidious you are about your meals."

" That has nothing to do with the question," said Mr. Wilde, a little shortly. " We must economize, my dear—we must, indeed."

Maggie Wilde colored, and bit her lip. Economize !—when she had sat through all the sunshiny hours of yesterday over a weary work-basket mending little dresses, and darning tiny socks, and re-trimming her own bonnet to save unnecessary expenditure. Economize !---when she wore her old shawl, and made over her old dresses, and heard the children's lessons, to dispense with a governess's salary T. Poor Maggie ! It was rather hard to be accused of extravagance under these circumstances. A quick answer trembled on her lip, but she forced back the angry words, and answered in a subdued tone:

" Indeed, I try not to be extravagant, Eustace."

"But you must be, my dear, or else where in the name of common sense does all the money go ? I never spend any thing."

" Don't you ?"

"Never, my dear—never. Depend upon it the escape valve is somewhere in the housekeeping. It would be much better to devote your energies to domestic economy than to running about collecting money for the soldiers—very much better, Maggie. And, moreover, I can not very well let you have any more this morning; my funds are running decidedly low."

" You had fifty dollars in that pocket-book the day before yesterday," said Maggie, quietly, " and I have used but ten of it."

"Ten? you must have had more than ten." "Not a cent," said Maggie, firmly.

"The coal bill. I paid the coal bill out of it, and that was twenty, you remember, Mrs. Wilde," said Eustace, triumphantly.

" Then where are the other twenty dollars?" Mr. Wilde twisted himself a little, as though his pearl-colored over-coat were rather a tight fit.

"Business, my dear ; you can't be expected to understand any thing about business matters."

"But what particular business?" persisted his wife.

" Maggie," said Mr. Wilde, solemnly, " this isn't to the purpose at all. A woman's mind isn't adapted to comprehend business relations; she should confine herself to the one grand point, economy. Reduce your expenses; bring every thing within the narrowest possible outlay. I think it would be a very good plan, my dear, to keep a little account of your daily disbursements, and I could glance over it every night, and check oft any little items that struck me as clearly superfluous."

Maggie's dark eyes began to sparkle ominously ; she played nervously with the golden circle of her wedding-ring.

"You would find no items of that description, Mr. Wilde."

" You think not, I have no doubt; but women

seldom understand the nicer distinctions of economy, and—"

But Mrs. Maggie rose quietly to her feet, and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind her with a good deal of vehemence. The slender thread of her patience had been strained to its utmost tension, and had snapped asunder at last.

She sat down, and—of course—cried heartily.

" And I was so sure of that money for the poor soldiers," she thought, between the bright drops. " It seems so little for us to give them, when they are doing and enduring so much for us ! I can not brook this—I must not ! Eustace has harped quite long enough on this particular string—it must be put an end to ! There is some difference between pinching parsimony and judicious economy. 0 Maggie Wilde ! if woman's wit don't help you out of this perplexity you deserve to sink into a mere household drudge, whose idols shall be gold, silver, and copper !"

How haughtily the red arch of her lips curved ! —how defiantly the brown eyes glittered through their moisture ! Beware, Mr. Eustace Wilde—your wife will be a match for you yet, although you rejoice in a beaver hat and a mustache, and the superb consciousness of manhood, whim she—is no-thing but a woman !

"Bridget," said Mrs. Wilde, coming into the kitchen where her Milesian cook was chopping spices for some elaborate made-dish wherein the heart of Eustace Wilde delighted, " will you lend me your old bonnet and cloak to-morrow ?"

Bridget stared in open-mouthed amazement.

" Sure, ma'am, and why would ye be after want-in' 'em ? They're not dacent for the likes o' you."

"Never Mind; I wish to borrow them for a particular reason, and your old brown dress also, if you will lend it."

"You're welcome as flowers in May, ma'am," said honest, puzzled Bridget ; " but it's a queer fit they'll be for you, darned, an' patched, an' faded."

But Mrs. Wilde only laughed.

The rain was pattering drearily against the breakfast-room window the next morning as Eustace Wilde sauntered slowly in, but Maggie's chair was empty.

"Where's your mistress, Mary?" he asked the waitress.

" She's breakfastin' with the childer, Sir. Master Charlie's got the toothache, and won't be quiet without his mamma stays."

" Maggie spoils those children," thought Mr. Wilde, shrugging his shoulders. Breakfast was rather a dismal meal without his wife's bright face opposite to him, and he did not linger long over it.

" A bleak day," he soliloquized as he opened his umbrella and strode forth into the rain and wind. " It's a good thing the stages run only a block off."

He took his seat, unfolding the morning paper, all unconscious of the shabbily-dressed woman, veiled and wrapped in a coarse brown cloak, who entered the stage at the next corner. Nor did he observe that she descended at the same street where he pulled the check-string to alight.

As he entered the covered stairway leading to his office, in a massive marble building, a bluff-looking man advanced to meet hint.

" Look here, Wilde, I've been waiting here these fifteen minutes, and I'm in a deuce of a hurry too."

"I am a little behind time this morning," said Eustace, shaking the rain-drops in a dingy shower from his umbrella. "Come up to the office, Hall."

"I can't; I haven't a minute to stay. I just. came round to see if you could pay that little bill."

" What bill ?"

"Why, your share of the supper at D—'s, and the ride afterward."

" Oh ! yes---yes. Well, how much is it?" "Only a trifle--eight dollars."

Mr. Wilde leisurely opened his pocket-book and placed one or two bills in his companion's hand.

"That's right, I believe. A very unpleasant day. Good-morning, Hall!"

He ran briskly up the long flight of stairs, two steps at a time, while the shabby woman, who had been standing just outside the threshold during this colloquy, as if waiting for somebody, came into the vestibule to escape the driving rain.

" Give us a box of your very nicest cigars—tiptop !" bawled Jemmy Stokes, the office-boy, diving into the tobacco-store next door. " Quick ! our boss is in a hurry. Ten dollars? that ain't much for a good article. I say, you might give me one for myself; I always get Mr. Wilde's cigars here."

" Take it, then, and get along with yourself," said the man of smoke. "What can I do for you, mem ?"

" A penny-worth of Scotch snuff;" that was all the shabby woman in the faded brown cloak want-ed. But even through the dingy veil her eyes sparkled—she must have been very fond of Scotch snuff!

The big bell of the City Hall was booming the first iron strokes of twelve as Mr. Wilde stood once more in the vestibule preparing to open his umbrella.

" Going to dinner, Martin ?" he asked, as an-other legal luminary rattled down the stairs.

" Well, I suppose it's about time to think of such a thing," returned Mr. Martin.

" They have some capital turtle soup round the corner," said Wilde. " Come round with me, and try it, will you ?"

Mr. Martin would certainly; he was not in the habit of declining such invitations, and the two set forth in high spirits. While close behind them glided the woman in brown !

The waiter looked a little surprised as the shabby apparition crept in and took her seat at one end of the long table where Eustace Wilde and his friend, Mr. Martin, had snugly established themselves; but waiters in a down-town restaurant soon cease to be surprised at any thing, and he came briskly forward to take her order.

" Cup o' tea, m'm—yes, m'm. Dry toast and sandwich—right off, m'm !"

Rather an abstemious meal compared with the dainty fare in which her neighbors were indulging —turtle soup, with flakes of unctuous green fat

floating on the surface, roasted woodcocks, garnished with rich amber jelly, a bottle of rose-r, d claret to finish off with, and a basket of black Hamburg grapes, arranged with superb late peach-es.

"Beg your pardon, m'm—you've got the wrong check—this 'ere's yourn !" ejaculated the waiter, as the woman in brown took up the check stamped " $6."

She laid it quietly down again : she had discovered all she wanted, and moved out of the restaurant as noiselessly as she had entered.

" It's very strange !" said Eustace Wilde, thought-fully.

" What's strange ?" inquired his friend, detaching a black-purple berry from the bunch of grapes on his plate.

" That woman who has just gone out in the faded cloak—did you observe what a delicate white hand she had ?"

" She didn't look like one of the white-handed kind," observed Martin, carelessly.

"No; and that's what struck me as being so singular."

And with that Mr Wilde dismissed the subject from his mind.

Meanwhile the little brown phantom sped swiftly down the next street, fluttered up the long flight of marble stairs, and tapped softly at the door of Eustace Wilde's snug office.

" Come in."

Jemmy Stokes was sitting on the corner of the table cutting his initials neatly on the green morocco cover—an operation which he called "keeping office." He looked up rather disdainfully.

" Is—is Mr. Wilde in ?"

" Gone to dinner," said Jemmy, laconically. " Be back in twenty minutes. Take care, ma'am —your wet dress '11 spoil Mr. Wilde's new office-chair. Take the old 'un, if you please!"

"The old one" was a handsome arm-chair whose green leather cushions were scarcely defaced; the "new one" was a superb affair of black walnut and crimson reps, with a movable desk attached to the arm.

"Is that style of chair very expensive ?" asked Maggie, meekly, motioning her head toward it.

" Guess it is !" returned Mr. Stokes, with laud-able pride. "Let me see; the bill's here some-where; it only came this morning. Oh ! here it is. Forty-five dollars that 'ere chair cost."

As the visitor made no comment Jemmy applied himself once more to the curl of the letter S on the morocco table-cover, secretly wondering what business that rusty female could have with the fashionable lawyer his master, while the penetrating eyes under the veil took in all the elegant little accessories of the luxurious office.

Click! click! came a pair of knuckles against the door. She started like a guilty thing, but it was only a half-grown boy, the very counterpart of Mr. James Stokes.

" Here's the books your boss ordered, and t1 s bill."

" Jus' you leave 'em," said Jemmy ; "Mr. Wilde 'll send the money round this afternoon. How much?"

" Twelve dollars fifty cents."

It was a handsome illustrated edition of a popular author, but the visitor dared not linger to look at it. Murmuring something about " calling again," she withdrew, much to Jemmy Stokes's relief. Nor

was she too precipitate in her movements; she turned into Broadway her cloak brushed against

Eustace Wilde's broadcloth garments.

She hailed a passing stage with one finger of the little white hand that was so incongruous to her rusty dress and misshapen bonnet.

" Quite enough for one clay," said the brown phantom to herself, as she stood on tip-toe to pay the fare. "I'll have a little settlement with my lord to-night that shall astonish him—rather !"

And she laughed until the dimples danced over her cheeks, all alone by herself in the stage, and careless of drenched skirts and driving rain.

She was sitting at her work-table, the brown hair shining like bands of satin, and the neat figure at-tired in a black silk dress trimmed with glistening bugles, when Eustace came in that night. The table was set in the middle of the room, forming a pretty picture with its pearly damask and gilded china, and the urn steamed merrily on the tray.

"This looks comfortable," said Eustace Wilde, throwing himself into an easy-chair ; " it's a dreary night outside."

" Is it?" said Maggie, innocently.

"My dear, you haven't any idea how dreary," said Mr. Wilde. "That's one of your feminine ad-vantages; we men are forced to battle with the world in all weathers!"

Mrs. Wilde took her seat at the tea-table with-out remark, but her lips twitched a little at the corners.

" Eustace," she said, when her husband had lighted his evening cigar, and was just taking up an uncut Harper, " I am ready for you to look over my day's housekeeping accounts."

"Ah, very right," said he, approvingly, glancing his eye down the column of petty items. " Bread —vegetables—starch—steaks—total, one dollar, sixty cents. Don't you think, my dear, that we might economize by Bridget's making our bread instead of buying it?"

" Perhaps so," said Mrs. Wilde, smiling. " And now, Eustace, suppose we make a little estimate of your day's expenses."

Mr. Wilde started at his wife, as if he thought her slightly demented.

"What for?"

" Oh, just to compare our ideas of economy." "Nonsense!"

" No nonsense at all."

" But I don't remember—I couldn't tell !"

"Perhaps I can assist your memory a little, Sir. For your share of the supper at. D—'s and the ride afterward, you paid eight dollars—a package of cigars, ten—a dinner of turtle soup, claret, etc., six. Your new office-chair—very splendid certainly —was forty-five—your illustrated edition of ----'a




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