Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Carla Kruger and the Online Distributed
[Illustration: FRANK SAVING THE BOAT]
THE GUN-BOAT SERIES.
FRANK ON A GUN-BOAT
AUTHOR OF "THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES," "THE GO-AHEAD SERIES," ETC.
IN THE NAVY.
LEARNING THE ROPES.
SQUARING THE YARDS.
A MIDNIGHT ALARM.
A DISCOMFITED REBEL.
FRANK'S FIRST EXPLOIT.
ON A GUN-BOAT.
THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE LINES.
A UNION FAMILY.
A SPUNKY REBEL.
FRANK A PRISONER.
THE FAITHFUL NEGRO.
CHASED BY BLOOD-HOUNDS.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
THE SCENE AT THE PLANTATION.
FRANK ON A GUN-BOAT.
In the Navy.
"Well, Frank, did you bring home the evening's paper?" inquired Mrs.
Nelson, as her son entered the room where she was sitting.
"Yes, ma'am. Here it is!" answered Frank, producing it. "But there is
no news in it. The Army of the Potomac has not moved yet. I don't see
what makes them wait so long. Why don't McClellan go to work and thrash
"You must remember that the rebels have about as many men as we have,"
answered his mother. "Perhaps, if McClellan should undertake to 'thrash'
the rebels, as you say, he would get whipped himself"
"That makes no difference," answered Frank. "If I was in his place, and
the rebels _should_ whip me, it wouldn't do any good, for I'd renew the
battle every day, as long as I had a man left."
It was toward the close of the first year of the war, during the "masterly
inactivity" of the Army of the Potomac. For almost eight months McClellan
had been lying idle in his encampment, holding in check that splendid
army, which, with one blow, could have crushed out the rebellion, and
allowing the rebels ample time to encircle their capital with
fortifications, before which the blood of loyal men was to be poured out
like water. The people of the North were growing impatient; and "On to
Richmond!" was the cry from every part of the land.
From the time Fort Sumter had fallen, Frank had been deeply interested in
what as going on. The insults which had been heaped upon the flag under
which his grandfather had fought and died, made the blood boil in his
veins, and he often wished that he could enlist with the brave defenders
of his country. He grew more excited each day, as the struggle went on,
and the news of a triumph or defeat would fire his spirit, and he longed
to be standing side by side with the soldiers of the Union, that he might
share in their triumphs, or assist in retrieving their disasters.
He was left almost alone now, for many of the boys of his acquaintance had
shouldered their muskets and gone off with the others; and that very day
he had met Harry Butler, who had enlisted as a private, wearing the
uniform of a lieutenant, which he had won by his bravery at Fort Donelson.
He had never said one word to his mother about enlisting, for he was an
only son, and he dreaded to ask her permission. But that mother's quick
eye easily read what was going on in her son's mind. She had Puritan blood
in her veins; her ancestors had fought in the war of the Revolution, and
she had resolved that, if Frank wished to go, she would give her full
consent. A mother's heart alone can tell the struggle it had cost her to
come to this determination.
"I've got a letter from Archie, also," said Frank.
His mother took it from his hand, and read as follows:
Portland, _March_ 18, 1862.
I am about to tell you something which you will call strange news.
Father has at last given his consent to my going to war, provided
you will go too. He says that if I go, I must have you with me, to
take care of me, and keep me straight. I suppose he thinks I will
never go if I am obliged to wait for you, for he says your mother
will not consent to your going. You can ask her, any way. You know
you always wanted to have a hand in putting down this rebellion.
If we go at all, I think the best plan is to enter the navy. It is a
much better branch of the service than the army--the discipline is
better; there are no long marches to endure; and, wherever you go,
your house goes with you.
Now, be sure and do your best, for now is our chance, if ever.
Please write immediately, for I am afraid father will change his
Yours, in haste, Archibald Winters.
When Mrs. Nelson had read the letter, she handed it back to her son
without saying a word.
"Well, mother, what do you think of it?" inquired Frank.
"The matter rests entirely with you, my son," answered Mrs. Nelson,
dropping her sewing into her lap. "Do just as you think best."
"Do you say I may go?" inquired Frank, joyfully.
"Certainly. You have my full consent to go, if you wish to."
"Oh, mother," exclaimed Frank, springing up and throwing his arms around
her neck, "I wish I had known, long ago, that you were willing to have me
"Where are you going, Frank?" inquired Julia, who had a vague suspicion of
what was going on.
"I'm off to the war," answered her brother. "I am going into the navy with
"Oh, Frank," she exclaimed, bursting into tears, "you must not go. There's
enough in the army without you. You will certainly get shot."
"I'll never be shot in the back," said Frank; "you may rely on that. But
you don't suppose that every one who goes to war gets shot, do you? I may
be one of the lucky ones; so don't cry any more."
But Julia could not control her feelings. The thought that her brother was
to be exposed to the slightest danger was terrible; and Frank, seeing that
it would do no good to talk to her, left the room, and went into his
study, where he wrote to Archie, stating that he would start for Portland
the next day. He spent the forenoon in wandering about the house and
orchard, taking a long and lingering look at each familiar object. He
locked the museum, and gave the key to Julia, who was close at his side
wherever he went. Even Brave seemed to have an idea of what was going on,
for he followed his master about, and would look into his face and whine,
as though he was well aware that they were about to be separated.
Immediately after dinner, the carriage which was to convey Frank and his
baggage to the Julia Burton drew up before the door. The parting time had
come. "Good-by, mother," said Frank, as he stood at the door, ready to go.
"Good-by, my son," said Mrs. Nelson, straining him to her bosom, and
struggling hard to keep back a sob. "We may never see you again, but I
hope I shall never hear that you shrunk from your duty."
Frank could not reply--his breast was too full for utterance: and hastily
kissing his sister, and shaking Hannah's hand, he hurried down the walk
toward the gate. He had not gone far before Brave came bounding after him.
"Go back, old fellow," said Frank, caressing the faithful animal; "you
can't go with me this time. It will be a long while before you and I will
go anywhere together again. Go back, sir."
Brave understood his master perfectly; and he turned and trotted toward
the house, looking back now and then, and whining, as if urging his master
to allow him to go too. Frank did not stop to look back, but sprang into
the carriage, and the driver closed the door after him, and mounted to his
seat and drove off. He had scarcely time to get his baggage on board the
steamer before she moved off into the stream. And Frank was glad it was
so, for the longer he remained in sight of the village, the harder grew
the struggle to leave it. But, at length, every familiar object was left
behind, and being surrounded by new scenes, Frank gradually recovered his
In two days he arrived at Portland, and as he was getting off the cars, he
was seized by Archie, who had come to the depot to meet him.
"I'm glad to see you," said the latter; "it is lucky that you wrote just
as you did, for father has said a dozen times that I can't go. But I guess
he will not refuse me, now that you are here."
"I hope not," said Frank; "we can go as well as any one else. If every one
was to stay at home, we shouldn't have any army at all."
"That's just what I told father; but he didn't seem to see it. He says
there are some who ought to go, for they are of no earthly use here; but
he thinks that boys like you and me ought to stay at home until we know
enough to take care of ourselves."
But Mr. Winters did not raise many objections when he found that Frank had
obtained his mother's consent; and, on the next day but one after Frank's
arrival, he accompanied the boys on board the receiving-ship, where they
were speedily examined and sworn in. Each was then supplied with a bag
and hammock, and two suits of clothes; and, when they were rigged out in
their blue shirts and wide pants, they made fine-looking sailors. At Mr.
Winters' request they were granted permission to remain on shore until a
raft of men was ready to be sent away. The boys were allowed to do pretty
much as they pleased while they remained, for, as they were to leave so
soon, Mr. Winters could not find it in his heart to raise any objections
to the plans they proposed for their amusement. Besides, he knew that
Archie was in good hands, for Frank was a boy of excellent habits, and
possessed sufficient moral courage to say _no_, when tempted to do
wrong; and, as he had great influence over his cousin, Mr. Winters knew
their conduct would be such as he could approve.
At length, one morning, when they went on board the receiving-ship to
report as usual, they were ordered to present themselves at the depot at
two o'clock that afternoon, with their bags and hammocks, in readiness to
take the train for the West. The boys were a good deal disappointed when
they heard this, for the idea of serving out their year on the Mississippi
River was not an agreeable one. They had hoped to be ordered to the coast.
But, as Archie remarked, it was "too late to back out," and they were
obliged to submit. When Archie came to bid farewell to his parents, he
found it to be a much more difficult task than he had expected. The tears
would come to his eyes, in spite of himself, as he embraced his mother;
and, as soon as he could disengage himself from her arms, he seized his
bag and hammock, and rushed out of the house to conceal his emotion. When
they reached the depot, they found that the draft to which they belonged
numbered nearly two hundred men, some of whom were old sailors, while
others, like themselves, were entirely unacquainted with the life they
were about to lead.
The journey to Cairo--which was then the naval depot of the Western
rivers--was a long and tedious one. They were treated with the greatest
kindness by the officers who accompanied them, and at almost every station
the people would flock around the cars with baskets of provisions, which
were freely distributed.
Early on the fifth morning they reached their destination, and were
immediately marched on board a small steamer which lay alongside of the
naval wharf-boat, and carried to the receiving-ship, which lay anchored in
the middle of the river.
Learning the Ropes.
As they came on board the receiving-ship they were all drawn up in a line,
the roll was called, and they were divided off into messes. The mess to
which Frank and his cousin belonged was called "Number Twenty-five." As
they were about to be dismissed, the officer who had called the roll said
"You will be cook of this mess."
"Sir?" said Archie, in surprise.
"You will be cook of this mess," repeated the officer, in a louder tone.
"But what is the matter with you? Are you hard of hearing?"
"No, sir; but I can't cook."
"Never mind; you can try. You may go below, lads."
The men did as they were ordered, and our heroes seated themselves on one
of the broadside guns, and Archie said:
"I'm in a nice fix, ain't I? I don't know any more about cooking than a
hog does about gunpowder."
"I will assist you all I can," said Frank; "but I wonder what we shall
have for dinner? I hope it will be something good, for I'm as hungry as a
At this moment the whistle of the boatswain's mate sounded through the
ship, and that personage passed them and called out, in a low voice:
"Mess cook Number Twenty-five!"
"He means me, don't he?" inquired Archie, turning to his cousin.
"I don't know, I'm sure. Ask him."
"Mess cook Number Twenty-five," again shouted the mate.
"Here I am," said Archie.
"Well, you ought to be somewhere else," said the mate, sharply. "Why don't
you go and draw your rations?"
"I don't know where I should go," answered Archie.
"Then fly around and find out;" and the mate turned on his heel and
"Now, that's provoking," exclaimed Archie. "Why couldn't he tell a fellow
where to go? I'll tell that officer that I didn't ship for a cook; I
shipped to fight. I wish I was at home again."
But regrets were worse than useless, and Archie began to look around to
find some one who could tell him where to go to draw his rations. At
length he met one of the men who belonged to his mess, whose name was
Simpson, who told him that he must go to the paymaster's store-room, and
offered to show him the way; and, as he saw that Archie was entirely
unacquainted with life on shipboard, Simpson told him to come to him
whenever he wanted any advice.
As Archie entered the store-room, the paymaster's steward, a boy about his
own age, who was serving out the provisions, after inquiring the number of
his mess, said:
"It's lucky that you came in just as you did, for I have sent the
master-at-arms after you. If you don't attend to your business better than
this, I shall have you put on the black-list for a week or two."
Now, Archie had never been accustomed to being "ordered about by any boy
of his size," as he afterward remarked, and he felt very much like making
an angry reply. But he knew it would only get him into trouble, and,
choking down his wrath, he answered:
"If any one will tell me what my duty is, I shall be glad to do it."
"You haven't been in the navy a great while, have you?" inquired the
steward, with a laugh.
"No; this is my first attempt at learning to be a sailor."
"Well, all I have got to say," continued the steward, "is, that you will
soon be sorry that you ever made the attempt."
"I am sorry now," said Archie; "and if I ever get home again, you'll never
catch me in another scrape like this. I don't like the idea of having
everybody order me around, and talk to me as though I was a dog."
"No reflections," said the steward sharply. "Better keep a civil tongue in
your head. But now to business. In the first place, here are your dishes,"
and he handed Archie a number of tin pots and plates, a large pan, and a
"What shall I do with these?" asked Archie.
"Why, eat out of them, to be sure," answered the steward; "what else would
you do with them? I shall hold you responsible for them," he continued;
"and if any of them are lost, they will be charged to your account. Now go
and put them away in your mess-chest, which you will find on the
berth-deck, and then come back, and I will give you your rations."
Archie accordingly picked up his dishes, and started--he knew not whither,
for he had no idea to which part of the vessel he should go in order to
find the berth-deck. But he had often boasted that he would have no
difficulty in getting along in the world while he had a tongue in his
head; so he made inquiries of the first man he met, who told him to go up
to the captain, who was always ready to send the executive officer to show
landlubbers over the ship. If there was any joke in this, Archie was too
angry to notice it, and he was about to make a suitable rejoinder, when a
voice close behind him said:
"Now, shipmate, what's the use of being so hard on the boy?"
Archie turned, and found Simpson at his side.
"The youngster hain't been to sea as long as you and I have," continued
the latter. "If we were ashore, he would stand a better chance of gettin'
along than you nor me."
"Then, shiver his tim'ers, why didn't he stay ashore, where he belongs?"
asked the man, gruffly.
"Oh, he's got the right stuff in him, and will soon learn the ropes,"
answered Simpson. "Come, now, my little marlinspike," he continued,
turning to Archie, "follow in my wake, and I'll show you where our
mess-chest is;" and the kind-hearted sailor led the way to the berth-deck,
and showed Archie the mess-chest, which had "No. 25" painted on it. Archie
put all his dishes into it, with the exception of the mess-kettle and two
plates, which, according to Simpson's directions, he took back to the
store-room, to put his rations in. The steward then gave him a large piece
of salt beef, some coffee, sugar, butter, and sea-biscuit.
"Is this all we have to eat?" inquired Archie, as he picked up his rations
and followed Simpson back to his mess-chest.
"All!" repeated Simpson; "yes, my hearty, and you may thank your lucky
stars that you have got even this. You'll have to live on worse grub nor
this afore your year is out. But I see you don't like the berth of cook,
so I'll take it off your hands. Give me the key of the chist."
Archie accordingly handed it over, and then went in search of his cousin,
whom he found perched upon a coil of rope, engaged in writing a letter.
"Well," exclaimed the latter, as Archie came up, "how do you get along?"
"I don't get along at all," said Archie; "I tell you, we've got ourselves
in a fix. What do you suppose we are going to have for dinner?"
"I don't know," answered Frank. "Well, we will have a chunk of salt beef,
coffee without any milk, butter strong enough to go alone, and crackers so
hard that you couldn't break them with an ax. I tell you, the navy is
"Well, it can't be helped," said his cousin. "We are in for it. But we'll
soon get accustomed to the food; we are seeing the worst of our year now."
"I certainly hope so," said Archie; "but I know I can stand it if any one
else can; and when I fairly get started, I won't ask favors of any one."
Frank made no reply, but went on with his letter, and Archie leaned on one
of the guns and gazed listlessly into the water. At length they were
interrupted by the boatswain's whistle, blown three times in succession,
long and loud.
"What's the matter now, I wonder," said Frank, as the sailors commenced
running about the ship in all directions.
"I know," answered Archie, as he saw Simpson dive into the cook's galley
and reappear bearing the mess-kettle, filled with steaming coffee, in one
hand, and a large pan, containing the salt beef, in the other--"dinner is
The cousins walked aft to their mess-chest, and found the berth-deck
filled with men, who were sitting around the chests, brandishing their
sheath-knives over plates fall of salt beef and "hard-tack."
Coming directly from home, where they had been accustomed to luxurious
living, our young sailors thought they could not relish this hard fare
but, as they had eaten no breakfast, they were very hungry, and the food
tasted much better than they had expected.
When dinner was ended, Simpson began to gather up the dishes belonging to
his mess, preparatory in washing them. Frank and Archie offered their
assistance, and Simpson directed the former to take the mess-kettle and go
up to the galley after some hot water. When he was returning, he saw a man
stealing around the deck, holding something behind him that looked very
much like a bundle of rope, and keeping a close watch on every one he met.
Frank did not know what to make of this, and stepping up to the
boatswain's mate, he inquired:
"What is that man doing with that bundle of rope behind him?"
"That ain't a bundle of rope, you landlubber," replied the mate; "that's a
"Well, what is he doing with it?"
"The best way for you to learn would be for you to spill some of that
water you have got in your kettle on the deck."
Frank, without stopping to think, tipped up his kettle, and turned out
some of the water; and the man, who had been watching his every movement,
sprang toward him and threw down the swab, exclaiming, "I've caught you,
my hearty; now you may log this bit of rope for awhile."
"What do you mean?" inquired Frank, amid a roar of laughter from every
sailor who had witnessed the performance. "What does he mean?" repeated
the mate; "why, he means that you have got to wipe up that water you have
spilt on deck, and carry that swab until you can catch some one else doing
the same thing."
For the benefit of the uninitiated, we will make an explanation. It often
happens on shipboard, especially receiving-ships, that the men become very
careless; and in carrying water, paint, or grease about the ship,
frequently spill some of it on deck. While this state of things continues,
it is impossible to keep a ship clean, and, in order to break up this
habit, the culprits are obliged to wipe up whatever they have spilled, and
then carry a swab about the deck until they can detect some one else
equally unfortunate. This is not a pleasant task; for, as soon as this
rule is put in force, the men become very careful, and the luckless
offender is sometimes obliged to walk the decks the entire day before he
can detect any one in the act of violating it.
Frank, of course, did not understand this, and the mate had got him into
the scrape for the purpose of getting the man who first had the swab, who
was a particular friend of his, out of his unpleasant position.
"Come, youngster, drop that mess-kettle and pick up that swab," commanded
Frank knew he had no alternative; so he set his mess-kettle on deck out of
the way, and picking up the swab, walked aft to the place where he had
"Hullo, there," exclaimed the latter, as Frank approached, "what's the
matter with you?"
Frank related the whole circumstance, and Simpson could scarcely restrain
"That bo'son's mate ought to be mast-headed for a whole week," he
exclaimed. "But I'll square yards with him some day. I'm sorry you have
got into this scrape, but it can't be helped. I've seen many a good
fellow, in my time, in the same fix. Now you must walk around the ship,
and if you see any one spill the least drop of water, or any thing else,
on deck, rush up and give him the swab. There are a good many landlubbers
on board, who don't know the rules, and you won't have any trouble in
catching them. Always be careful to keep the swab behind you, out of
Frank was a good deal mortified at being the victim of this novel mode of
punishment; but he consoled himself with the thought that he would soon
learn his duty, and be enabled to avoid all such scrapes. He walked about
the vessel for an hour, trailing the swab along the deck behind him; but
it seemed as though every one was particularly careful.
Meanwhile Archie, who had learned the particulars of the case from
Simpson, was acting as a sort of scout, hoping to be of some assistance to
his cousin. But he looked and waited in vain for some one to violate the
rule, and finally he resolved to make use of a little strategy in
Discovering a man coming out of the galley with a pail of water, Archie
walked rapidly down the deck, and jostled him with sufficient force to
empty half the contents of his pail on the deck. Archie did not, of
course, stop to apologize, but hurried on, and before the man could look
up to see who had caused the mischief, he had disappeared Frank, who had
been watching his cousin's motions, immediately stepped up and dropped the
swab before the man, and walked away, laughing in his sleeve, when he
thought how cleverly his release had been accomplished.
When the hour of bedtime arrived, the boys were instructed how to get into
their hammocks, and laughed at for tumbling out on the opposite side. But,
after a few attempts, they succeeded in gaining the center of their
suspended beds, and were soon in a sound sleep.
Squaring the Yards.
By degrees the boys became accustomed to their new situation, and began to
feel much more contented. The only thing that troubled them was the food
they received. It consisted, for the most part, of salt pork and beef, and
hard crackers, with now and then a little flour and dried apples. Simpson,
who had been in the navy nearly all his life, and had become well
acquainted with its rules and regulations, asserted that they did not
receive half their allowance, and promised that, if he could detect the
paymaster's steward in the act of cheating them, he would pay him back in
his own coin. Now Blinks, for that was the steward's name, was a notorious
cheat; he never gave the men their full rations. On the contrary, he often
boasted that he cleared not less than a hundred pounds of provisions every
day. He was the caterer of the steerage mess, and many a pound of flour
and apples, which should have been given to the men, found its way to his
table, in the shape of pies and puddings. Blinks always rose early, and as
soon as he was dressed, the steerage steward, every morning, brought to
his room a lunch, consisting of coffee and apple-pie. He was very fond of
pies, and had several made every day. Every time the men passed the
galley, they saw long rows of them set out to cool. Many a midnight
plundering expedition had been planned against the galley, but without
success. The door and windows were securely fastened at sundown, and all
attempts to effect an entrance were unavailing. It was also useless to
attempt to bribe the cook, for Blinks, who was a strict accountant, always
knew how many pies were made every day, and if any of them were missing,
the cook was sure to suffer. One evening, while Frank and Simpson were
engaged in washing up the supper-dishes, the latter inquired:
"Would you like one of those pies we saw in the galley to-day?"
"Yes," answered Frank; "they looked very tempting."
"Well," said Simpson, lowering his voice to a whisper, "we'll have some of
"How will we get them?" inquired Frank.
"Why, we'll steal them. We can't beg or buy them. Besides, the stuff they
are made of rightfully belongs to us. I don't care a snap for the pies, but
I don't want to see that rascally steward growing fat off our grub."
"I'm in for it," answered Frank, who had long wanted an opportunity to
revenge himself on Blinks.
"Will that cousin of yours lend us a hand?" inquired Simpson.
"Yes, without any coaxing. He does not like the steward any better than I
do. But I'd like to know how we are going to work to get at the pies? The
doors and windows are all fastened."
"We will pry up the galley, so that one of us can crawl under it. I've
put a handspike where I can find it in a moment. We shall have no trouble
As soon as the dishes were washed and stowed away in the mess-chest, Frank
went to find his cousin, who was always ready for any mischief of that
kind, and readily agreed to the proposal. When bedtime came, the three
slung their hammocks together, and, to all appearances, were soon fast
asleep. At nine o'clock the ship's corporal put out all the berth-deck
lights, which left the place shrouded in darkness. As soon as he had gone
forward again, Simpson raised himself on his elbow, and whispered:
"Turn out, lads. Now's our time."
The boys crept noiselessly out of their hammocks, and followed the sailor,
who led the way directly to the galley, which was, in fact, a small house,
about ten feet square, built on the deck, to which it was insecurely
fastened. Simpson found his handspike without any difficulty, and placing
one end of it under the galley, easily raised it from the deck, while
Archie threw himself on his hands and knees, and crawled in under it. It
was as dark as pitch inside the galley, but he knew exactly where the pies
were kept, and had no difficulty in finding them. He handed three of them
to his cousin, and then crawled out again, and the galley was lowered to
its place. After stowing the pies safely away in their mess-chest, they
again sought their hammocks. The next morning, when the steward entered
the galley to prepare the usual lunch for Blinks, he was surprised, and a
good deal terrified, to find that some of the pies were missing. He
immediately went on deck, and reported it to Blinks, who furiously asked:
"Where have they gone to, you rascal?"
"I don't know, sir, I'm sure," answered the steward, while visions of
double-irons danced before his eyes. "There were eight pies in the galley
when I locked it up last night."
"I don't believe it, you scoundrel. You sold the pies, and think that, by
telling me they are missing, you can make me believe that they were
"I have never done any thing of the kind since I have been your steward,
Mr. Blinks," said the man, with some spirit. "I have always been as
careful of your interests as I would be of my own. Did you ever detect me
in a mean or a dishonest act?"
"No; but I have often caught the cook stealing things. I'll report you to
the executive officer, and have you punished. Go below."
The man sullenly withdrew, and Blinks hurried to the executive officer's
room and reported the affair.
"Are you sure the steward stole the pies, Mr. Blinks?" inquired the
officer; "perhaps some one broke into the galley. It would be well for you
to go down and see, before punishing the steward."
Blinks hurried below, and commenced a thorough examination of the locks
and window-fastenings, but all to no purpose; and he was still more
surprised when the steward affirmed that he had found all the doors and
windows closed, just as he had left them. This was also reported to the
executive officer, who advised Blinks to say nothing about the affair, but
to set a watch over the galley, and, if possible, discover the offender.
Blinks resolved to act upon this suggestion; and, the following evening,
he posted a sentry over lite galley, with instructions to arrest any one
who might be discovered prowling around. After fastening the doors and
windows himself, he put the keys in his pocket and walked away.
At half-past nine o'clock our young sailors and Simpson were again on
hand. After a careful reconnoissance, the sentry was discovered fast
asleep at his post. They immediately set to work as before--the galley was
raised up, and three more pies secured. It was all done in a moment, and
the sentinel was not awakened; and as they retreated to their hammocks,
they could scarcely refrain from laughing outright, when they thought how
nicely the trick was performed.
The next morning Blinks opened the galley at an early hour, and was
surprised and enraged to find that some of his pies were again missing. He
carefully examined every nook and corner of the galley, but failed to
discover a place where any one could effect an entrance.
For four nights more, in succession, Frank and his accomplices visited the
galley, each time taking pies enough to last them a whole day; and Blinks,
in the mean time, was making unavailing efforts to discover the offenders.
On the fifth night, Archie, who was the one that always went into the
galley, was much longer than usual in finding the pies. At length he
"I say, Simpson!"
"Ay, ay, my hearty; what is it?"
"I can't find but one pie."
"You can't, hey?" said Simpson; "I smell a rat. Bring the pie out here."
Archie accordingly handed it out, saying, as he did so--
"I'm hungry as blazes; I believe I'll eat a piece of that pie to-night."
"Not in a hurry," said Simpson, as they began to crawl back toward their
hammocks; "not in a hurry; I've been in such scrapes as this before, and
can't be fooled easy."
"What do you mean?" inquired Frank.
"Why, I mean that this pie was made on purpose for us," said Simpson; "it
has got some kind of medicine in it that will make a fellow sick. If we
should eat it, they would not be long in finding out who stole the pies."
"I'll tell you what to do with it," said Frank, suddenly; "let's give it
to Jenkins, the boatswain's mate; he's a mean fellow, and I shouldn't be
sorry to see him sick.'
"That's just what I was going to do with it," said Simpson. "Now, you go
back to your hammocks, and I'll carry him the pie."
"As Simpson had taken particular notice of the place where Jenkins was in
the habit of slinging his hammock, he had no difficulty whatever in
"I say, shipmate," he whispered, shaking the mate by the shoulder.
"What do you want?" he growled.
"Wake up," said Simpson; "I've got a nice pie for you; do you want it?"
"Of course I do," answered the mate, taking it from Simpson's hand. "But
who are you?" he inquired, for it was so dark that he could not have
recognized the features of his most intimate friend.
"I'm Jack Smith," answered Simpson; "but I can't stop to talk with you,
for some one may discover me;" and before Jenkins could detain him, he had
slipped off quietly in the darkness.
It was as Simpson had said--the pie had made "on purpose for them." When
Blinks saw that it was impossible to discover the guilty party, he ordered
his steward to make a nice large pie, into which he put two doses of
jalap. It was his intention to make the offender sick; and he told the
doctor what he had done, and requested him to keep an eye on all who came
to him for medicine.
The next morning Jenkins was not heard blowing his whistle, but was seen
moving slowly about the ship, with a pale, woe-begone countenance; and as
soon as the doctor appeared, he made application to go on the "sick-list."
"What's the matter with you?" inquired the doctor.
Jenkins then explained how he had been suddenly taken very ill during the
night, and was afraid he was going to die. The doctor, who knew in a
moment that it was the effect of the medicine contained in the pie,
"Why, you're just the man Mr. Blinks has been wanting to see for the last
week. Orderly, ask Mr. Blinks if he will have the kindness to come here a
The orderly disappeared, and Jenkins stood, looking the very picture of
despair, too sick to know or care what was going on.
"Mr. Blinks, I've found your man," said the doctor, when the paymaster's
steward made his appearance.
"Well, my fine fellow," said Blinks, turning to the mate, and smiling
grimly, "how do you feel by this time? Very pleasant morning, isn't it! I
knew I'd catch you, you scoundrel," he exclaimed, suddenly changing his
tune; "I'll teach you to steal my pies!"
"I--I--don't know what you mean, sir!" said the mate, in surprise.
"Don't talk to me, you villain," said Blinks savagely; "didn't you eat a
pie last night?"
"Yes, sir," answered Jenkins, hesitatingly, "but"--
"I knew you did, you rascal."
"But the pie was given to me, sir," said the mate.
"Oh, that story won't do at all. I'll fix you. Go below."
In a short, time the mate, who was so weak that he was scarcely able to
stand alone, was summoned before the captain, who gave him a severe
reprimand, and disrated him. He came down on deck, looking very forlorn
indeed; and as he passed by Simpson, who, with Frank and Archie, was
standing in the starboard gangway, the former exclaimed:
"That's what I call squaring the yards; I'm even with him now."
As soon as Jenkins had recovered from the effects of the physic, he began
to make efforts to find Jack Smith. One day he approached Simpson who was
seated on a coil of rope, spinning one of his forecastle yarns to Frank
and Archie, and said:
"Shipmate, do you know any one aboard here named Jack Smith?"
"No," answered Simpson, with the utmost gravity, "I don't know any one who
goes by that name."
"Well, there _is_ a chap here by that name," said Jenkins, "and I wish
I could find him. He got me into a bad scrape."
But, it is needless to say, he never found Jack Smith.
A Midnight Alarm.
On the afternoon of the following day, as Frank and his cousin were
walking up and down the deck, talking over old times, Simpson hurriedly
approached them, exclaiming,
"Boys, do you want to leave this ship?"
"Yes," answered Frank; "we're tired of staying here."
"Well, it's all right, then. I volunteered to go, and I had both your
names put down. The executive officer says if you want to go, just get
your donnage and go for'ard."
"Where are we to go?" inquired Archie.
"On board of the Illinois," answered Simpson. "She is a magazine-ship, and
is lying half-way between here and Mound City. No work at all to do, I'm
"Then we'll go, of course," said Frank; "for we don't want to lose you."
They immediately got down their hammocks and bags, and went forward, where
they found the executive officer standing on the forecastle, waiting for
"Well, lads, do you volunteer to go on the Illinois?" he asked.
"Jump down into that dingy, then," said the officer, pointing to a small
boat that lay alongside.
The boys did as they were ordered, and just as they had finished storing
away their bags and hammocks under the thwarts, a man dressed in the
uniform of a sailor sprang down into the boat, exclaiming:
"Man your oars, lads, and shove off--you've a long pull before you."
Archie took one of the oars, Frank the other; Simpson stowed himself away
in the bow of the boat, and the sailor took his seat at the helm.
The cousins were both good oarsmen, and they made the little boat dance
over the water like a duck. It was full five miles to the place where the
Illinois lay, and they soon found that it was indeed "a long, hard pull."
The current was very strong, and it reminded the boys of many a tough
struggle they had had around the head of Strawberry Island, in the
In about two hours they reached the Illinois, and, as they sprang on
board, their baggage was seized by willing hands, and carried to the
cabin, which had been stripped of nearly all its furniture, and presented,
altogether, a desolate appearance. After a few moments' conversation with
one of their new messmates, they learned that there were only fifteen men
on board the vessel, including one sergeant and two corporals. These were
the only officers; and they were, in fact, no officers at all, for they
were all rated, on the books of the receiving-ship, as "landsmen."
They soon discovered that there was no discipline among the crew--there
could not be under the circumstances. Each stood a two-hour watch, at
night, and assisted in pumping out the ship, morning and evening. With the
exception of these duties, there was no work to be done on board the
vessel. The remainder of the day was spent as suited them best. Some
passed the time in hunting and nailing, some in reading, and some lounged
about the decks, from morning until night.
Frank and Archie were very much pleased with their new situation. There
was no boatswain's mate to trouble them, and they were in no danger of
rendering themselves liable to punishment for some unintentional offense.
After stowing away their bags and hammocks, they amused themselves in
strolling about the boat, until a neat-looking little sailor stepped up,
and informed them that supper was ready. They followed him into the cabin,
and took their seats at the table, with the rest, and one of the sailors,
who went by the name of Woods, exclaimed:
"Now, boys, pitch in, help yourselves, for if you don't, you won't be
helped at all. Every one that comes here has to learn to take care of
"You will not find us at all bashful," answered Frank, and he began
helping himself most bountifully to every thing on the table.
It did not take them long to become acquainted, and the boys found that
their new shipmates were much better educated than the majority of the
sailors they had met. They were a good-natured, jovial set of fellows, and
the meal-hour passed away quickly and pleasantly.
Immediately after supper the corporal ordered all hands below to pump out
the ship. In a quarter of an hour this was accomplished, and as they were
ascending to the boiler-deck. Woods remarked:
"I wish I was back in Wisconsin again for a little while."
"Are you tired of the navy?" inquired Frank.
"Oh, no!" answered Woods; "but I should like to see my friends again, and
try my hand at quail-shooting."
"Are you fond of hunting?"
"Yes, indeed; I spend all my spare time in the woods, when I am at home."
This was the very man, of all others, that Frank would have chosen for a
companion, and he informed Woods that he also was very fond of rural
sports. They seated themselves on the boiler door railing, and each
related some of his hunting and fishing adventures, and, finally, Woods
proposed that they should go over the river into Kentucky, on the
following morning, on a squirrel hunt. Frank, of course, readily agreed to
this. He immediately started in search of his cousin and Simpson, and
informed them of the proposed excursion. When he returned to the place
where he had left Woods, he found him with a musket on his shoulder, and a
cartridge-box buckled about his waist, pacing up and down the deck.
"I'm on watch, you see," he said, as Frank came up, "You will go on at
midnight; so you had better go and turn in. If we go hunting to-morrow, we
must start by four o'clock at least, for we have a good way to walk before
we reach the hunting-ground. Good night." And Woods, settling his musket
more firmly on his shoulder, continued his beat, while Frank sought his
About midnight he was awakened by a hand laid on his shoulder, when,
starting up, he found one of the corporals standing beside his hammock
holding a lantern in his hand.
"Is your name Nelson?" he inquired.
Frank answered in the affirmative, and the corporal continued:
"Roll out, then, for it is time for you to go on watch. But be careful
when you come out, or you'll be shot."
"Shot!" exclaimed Frank. "Who'll shoot me? Are there any rebels around
"Yes, plenty of them. There are some out on the bank now. I was walking
with Woods, when I happened to look up, and saw two men, with their
muskets pointed straight at us; but we got out ofthe way before they had
time to shoot. Hurry up, now, but don't expose yourself," and the corporal
hurried aft, hiding his lantern under his coat of the went.
What Frank's feelings were, we will not attempt to say. He was not a
coward, for we once saw him alone in the forest, standing face to face
with a wounded wild-cat, with no weapon in his hands but an ax; but
fighting a wild-cat and a rebel sharp-shooter were two widely different
things. He had never heard the whistle of a hostile bullet, nor had he
ever seen a rebel; and it is not to be wondered at, if his feelings were
not of the most enviable nature. But he was not one to shrink from his
duty because it was dangerous; and he drew on his clothes as quickly as
possible, and seizing a musket and cartridge-box that stood in a rack
close by the cabin door, he hurried aft, where he found Woods concealed
behind the port wheel-house, and the corporal behind a chicken-coop. They
both held their guns in readiness, and were peering into the woods, as if
trying to pierce the thick darkness that enshrouded them. The Illinois was
tied up close to the bank, which, as the water in the river was low, was
about thirty feet in hight; and as the moon was shining very brightly, a
person hidden in the bushes could distinctly see every thing on deck.
"Keep close there," said Woods, as Frank came up. "The corporal says he
saw some guerrillas on the bank."
Frank accordingly concealed himself behind a stanchion, and his hand
trembled considerably as he cocked his musket and brought it to his
shoulder. They remained in this position for nearly a quarter of an hour,
when, suddenly, something stirred in the bushes.
"There they are," whispered the corporal, drawing himself entirely out of
sight, behind the chicken-coop. "Look out, they'll shoot in a moment."
Frank kept a close watch on the bushes, and presently discovered a white
object moving about among them.
"I see something, boys," he said; "but it don't look to me like a man."
"Yes, it is a man," exclaimed the corporal, excitedly. "Shoot him."
In obedience to the order, Frank raised his gun to his shoulder, and an
ounce ball and a couple of buckshot went crashing through the bushes. The
commotion increased for a moment, and then ceased, and something that
sounded very much like a groan issued from the woods.
"By gracious, you hit one of them," exclaimed the corporal. "That was a
good shot. We'll teach these rebs that it isn't healthy to go prowling
about here at night."
Frank hastily reloaded his musket, and they waited, impatiently, for
nearly an hour, for the other guerrilla to show himself, but the woods
remained as silent as death.
"I guess that shot finished them," said the corporal; "so I will go and
turn in. Keep a good look-out," he added, turning to Frank, "and don't
expose yourself too much."
Woods and the corporal then went into the cabin, and Frank was left to
himself. A feeling of loneliness he had never before experienced came over
him. At first he determined to go and call his cousin to come and stand
watch with him, so that he would have some one to talk with; but, on
second thought, he remembered that Archie was to come on watch at two
o'clock, and probably would not like to be disturbed. Besides, if he
called him, it would look as though he was a coward, and afraid to stand
his watch alone; so he gave up the idea, and remained in his place of
concealment. Once he thought he discovered the sheen of a musket among the
bushes; but it was only his imagination, and after waiting half an hour
without hearing any thing suspicious, he shouldered his gun, and commenced
pacing the deck, in full view of the woods. But he was not molested, and
when two o'clock came he saw a figure steal cautiously out of the cabin,
and creep along toward him, under cover of the wheel-house. As he
approached nearer, Frank recognized his cousin.
"Where are the rebs?" inquired the latter.
"The corporal said he saw two of them out there in the woods," answered
Frank, pointing to a thick clump of bushes that stood on the edge of the
bank; "and there was _something_ out there, and I shot at it. But I've been
on deck here, in plain sight, for the last hour, and haven't seen any
"I hope there are no rebs in there," said Archie; "but I'll keep dark for
awhile. I shipped to fight, but I don't like the idea of having a fellow
send a bullet into me when I can't see him," and he began to settle
himself into a comfortable position behind the chicken-coop.
"I don't think there is any danger," said Frank; "but perhaps it is well
to be careful at first. Be sure and call us when you come off watch," and
he shouldered his rifle and walked leisurely into the cabin.
A Discomfited Rebel.
Archie stood his watch without seeing or hearing any thing of the rebels,
and when he was relieved, at four o'clock, he aroused Simpson, Woods, and
his cousin, and after they had tied up their hammocks, and stowed them
away in the nettings, Woods went to the sergeant's room to obtain his
consent to their proposed excursion. This was easily accomplished, and
while they were filling their pockets with musket-cartridges, Frank
proposed that they should go out and see what it was that had occasioned
the alarm during the night; so they leaned their muskets up in one corner
of the cabin, and ran out on the bank, and there, weltering in his blood,
lay, not a rebel, but a white mule. He it was that, while feeding about in
the woods, had occasioned the disturbance in the bushes, and Frank's shot
had done its work. The two men with muskets had existence only in the
corporal's imagination. Simpson burst into a loud laugh.
"A nice set of fellows you are," he exclaimed. "I shouldn't want you
stationed at my gun in action."
"Why not?" inquired Frank.
"Why, because you can't tell the difference between a mule and a secesh."
Frank made no reply to this, for, although he was very much relieved to
find that it was a mule, and not a man, that he had killed, he was a good
deal mortified at first, for he expected to be made the laughing-stock of
his companions. But he consoled himself with the thought that he was not
to blame. The corporal had said that he had seen guerrillas in the woods,
and he had, as in duty bound, done his best to drive them away; besides,
he would not have fired his gun had he not been ordered to do so.
"It's no matter," said Simpson, who noticed that Frank looked a little
crest-fallen; "It was the corporal's fault."
"I know it," said Frank. "But that's poor consolation. I killed the mule,
and shall probably be laughed at for it."
"What's the odds?" asked Simpson. "I've seen many a better man than you
laughed at. But let us be going, for we have a long way to walk."
They accordingly retraced their steps to the vessel, and Woods awoke one
of the corporals, who had volunteered to row them over into Kentucky. The
dingy, which was kept fastened to the stern of the Illinois, was hauled
alongside, and, in a few moments, they reached the opposite shore. Our
four hunters sprang out, and, bidding the corporal good-by, shouldered
their muskets, and disappeared in the forest. Woods, who was well
acquainted with the "lay of the land," led the way. Just at sunrise they
reached a ridge covered with hickory and pecan-trees.
"Here we are," he exclaimed, as he leaned on his gun, and wiped his
forehead with his coat-sleeve. "There are plenty of squirrels around here.
But I'm hungry; we have plenty of time to eat some breakfast before we
They seated themselves under the branches of some small hickories, and
Simpson produced from a basket some salt pork, hard crackers, and a bottle
of cold coffee. Their long walk had given them good appetites, and the
meal, homely as it was, was eaten with a relish. After they had rested a
few moments, they started off in different directions, to commence the
hunt. As Frank walked slowly along, with his gun on his shoulder, he could
not help thinking of the many times he had been on such excursions about
his native village. What a change a year had made! The "Boys of Lawrence"
were no longer amateur sportsmen. They were scattered all over the
country, engaged in the work of sustaining the integrity of the best
government on earth. Would they ever all meet again? It was not at all
likely. Perhaps some had already been offered up on the altar of their
country; and if he should ever live to return home, there would be some
familiar faces missing. In short, Frank was homesick. Finding himself once
more in his favorite element had made him think of old times. He wandered
slowly along, recalling many a fishing frolic and boat-race he had engaged
in, until a loud chatter above his head roused him from his reverie. He
looked up just in time to see a large squirrel striving to hide himself
among the leaves on a tree that stood close by. Frank's gun was at his
shoulder in a moment, and taking a quick aim at the squirrel, he pulled
the trigger. But the old Springfield musket was not intended for fine
shooting; for, though the shot cut the leaves all around, the squirrel
escaped unhurt, and, running up to the topmost branch, again concealed
himself. While Frank was reloading, Archie came up, and stood leaning on
his gun, with rather a dejected air. "What's the matter with you?"
"I wish I was down to the river," answered Archie.
"What would you do there? go fishing?"
"No, but I'd sink this musket so deep that no one would ever find it
again. It don't shoot worth a row of pins. If I was standing twenty feet
from the side of a barn, I couldn't hit it, I wish I had my shot-gun
"So do I," answered Frank; "I would very soon bring down that squirrel.
I'm going to try him again;" and going around to the side of the tree
where the squirrel had taken refuge, he fired again, but with no better
success. The squirrel, not in the least injured, appeared amid a shower of
leaves, and speedily found a new hiding-place.
"It's no use, I tell you," said Archie; "you can't hit any thing with that
"It does look a little that way. But I must have that squirrel, if I have
to shoot all day. Haven't you got a load in your gun?"
"Yes; but I might as well have none. I can kill as many squirrels by
throwing the musket at them, as I can by shooting at them."
"Never mind, fire away--the ammunition doesn't cost us any thing."
"I know it; but another thing, this musket kicks like blazes. I had as
soon stand before it, as behind it. But I'll try him;" and Archie raised
his gun and blazed away. This time there was no mistake; the squirrel was
torn almost to pieces by the ball; and when the smoke cleared away, Frank
saw his cousin sitting on the ground, holding both hands to his nose,
which was bleeding profusely.
"You've killed the squirrel," he said.
"Yes," answered Archie; "but I hurt myself as much as I did him."
Frank was a good deal amused, and could scarcely refrain from laughing at
his cousin's misfortune. He tried to keep on a sober face, but the corners
of his mouth would draw themselves out into a smile, in spite of himself.
Archie noticed this, and exclaimed:
"Oh, it's a good joke, no doubt."
"If you would hold your gun firmly against your shoulder," said Frank, "it
wouldn't hurt half so bad. But hadn't we better go on?"
Archie raised himself slowly from the ground, and they moved off through
the woods. The squirrels were very plenty; but it required two or three,
and, sometimes, as many as half a dozen shots, to bring one down.
At length, after securing four squirrels, their shoulders became so lame
that they could scarcely raise their guns; so they concluded to give up
shooting, and start in search of Woods and Simpson, who had gone off
together. About noon they found them, sitting on the fence that ran
between the woods and a road. Simpson had three squirrels in his hand.
"We are waiting for you," he said, as Frank and Archie came up; "it's
about time to start for the boat."
"I'm hungry," said Frank; "why can't we go down to that house and hire
some one to cook our squirrels for us?"
"That's a good idea," said Woods; "come along;" and he sprang off the
fence, and led the way toward the house spoken of by Frank, which stood
about a quarter of a mile down the road, toward the river.
As they opened the gate that led into the yard, they noticed that a man,
who sat on the porch in front of the house, regarded them with a savage
scowl on his face.
"How cross that man looks!" said Archie, who, with his cousin, was a
little in advance of the others; "maybe he's a reb."
"How do you do, sir?" inquired Frank, as he approached the place where the
man was sitting.
"What do yees want here?" he growled, in reply.
"We came here to see if we couldn't hire some one to cook a good dinner
for us," answered Frank.
"No, ye can't," answered the man, gruffly; "get out o' here. I never did
nothin' for a Yank, an' I never will. I'd like to see yer all drove from
the country. Get out o' here, I tell yer," he shouted, seeing that the
sailors did not move, "or I'll let my dogs loose on yer!"
"Why, I really believe he is a reb," said Archie; "he's the first one I
ever saw. He looks just like any body else, don't he, boys?"
"If yees don't travel mighty sudden, I'll make a scatterin' among yer,"
said the man, between his clenched teeth; "I'll be dog-gone if I don't
shoot some o' yer;" and he reached for a long double-barrel shot-gun that
stood behind his chair.
"Avast, there, you old landlubber," exclaimed Simpson; "just drop that
shootin' iron, will you. We're four to your one, and you don't suppose that
we are going to stand still and be shot down, like turkeys on Thanksgivin'
morning, do you? No, sir, that would be like the handle of a jug, all on
one side. Shootin' is a game two can play at, you know. Come, put that
we'pon down;" and Simpson held his musket in the hollow of his arm, and
handled the lock in a very significant manner.
The man saw that the sailors were not to be intimidated, and not liking
the way Simpson eyed him, he leaned his gun up in the corner again, and
muttered something about Yankee mudsills and Abolitionists.
"Just clap a stopper on that jaw of yours, will you," said Simpson; "or,
shiver my timbers, if we don't try man-o'-war punishment on you. Now,
Frank," he continued, "you just jump up there, and shoot off the old
rascal's gun; and then keep an eye on him, and don't let him get out of
his chair; and the rest of us will look around and see what we can find in
the way of grub."
Frank sprang up the steps that led on to the porch, and fired both barrels
of the gun into the air, and then, drawing a chair to the other end of the
porch, coolly seated himself, and deposited his feet on the railing; while
the others went into the house, where they secured a pail of fresh milk
and a loaf of bread. From the house they went into the wood-shed, where
they found a quantity of sweet potatoes. They then returned to the place
where they had left Frank.
"Come on, now," said Woods; "we'll have a tip-top dinner, in spite of the
"Hold on," said Frank; "where are you going? I move we cook and eat our
dinner here. There's a stove in the house, and every thing handy."
The man was accordingly invited into his own house by the boys, and
requested to take a seat, and make himself perfectly at home, but to be
careful and not go out of doors. They deposited their muskets in one
corner of the room; and while Archie started a fire in the store, Frank
dressed the squirrels, and washed some of the sweet potatoes, and placed
them in the oven to bake. Woods drew the table out into the middle of the
room; and Simpson, after a diligent search, found the cupboard, and
commenced bringing out the dishes Frank superintended the cooking; and, in
half an hour, a splendid dinner was smoking on the table. When the meal
was finished, they shouldered their muskets, and Simpson said to the man:
"Now, sir, we're very much obliged to you for your kindness; but, before
we go, we want to give you a bit of advice. If you ever see any more
Yankee sailors out this way, don't try to bully them by talking treason to
them. If you do, just as likely as not you'll get hold of some who won't
treat you as well as we have. They might go to work and clean out your
shanty. Good day, sir;" and Simpson led the way toward the boat.
Frank's First Exploit.
During the three months following that Frank and Archie were attached to
the Illinois, they met with no adventure worthy of notice. They passed
nearly every day in the woods, and, after considerable practice, had
become splendid shots with their muskets; and as game was abundant, their
table was kept well supplied.
At length, the new magazine-boat, which had for some time been building at
Cairo, was towed alongside the Illinois, and a detachment of men from the
receiving-ship were set to work to transfer the ammunition. The crew of
the Illinois were not at all pleased with this, for they knew that the
easy life they had been leading was soon to be brought to an end.
When the ammunition had all been removed into the new boat, the steamer
Champion came alongside, and the Illinois was towed down to Columbus, where
she was to undergo repairs, and her crew was transferred to the
The day after they arrived on board, while Frank and his cousin were
seated on a coil of rope, as usual, talking over old times, and wondering
how George and Harry Butler liked the army, and why they had not written,
the boatswain's mate came along, and called out, in a loud voice:
"Here I am," said Archie.
"Well, go up on deck," said the mate; "the captain wants to see you."
"The captain wants to see me!" repeated Archie, in surprise.
"Yes; and you had better bear a hand, too, for the captain isn't the man
to wait long when he sends after any one."
Archie accordingly went on deck, trying all the while to think what he had
done that was wrong, and expecting a good blowing up for some
unintentional offense. Perhaps the captain had by some means learned who
it was that had made the descent on the cook's galley, and had called him
up for the purpose of punishing him.
Finding the captain on deck, talking with the executive officer, he very
politely remained out of hearing, holding his hat in his hand, and waited
for a chance to speak to him. At length the captain inquired:
"Hasn't Winters come up yet?"
"Yes, sir," answered Archie, stepping up with his best salute.
"Is this your writing?" inquired the captain, holding out to Archie a
letter addressed, in a splendid business hand, to James Winters, Esq.,
"Yes, sir," answered Archie; "that's a letter I wrote to my father."
"Well," continued the captain, "I have got a splendid position for you, as
second clerk in the fleet paymaster's office. Would you like to take it?"
"Yes, sir," answered Archie; "but--but"--
"But what?" inquired the captain.
"I don't like to be separated from my cousin. We shipped together, and I
should like to remain with him as long as possible."
"Oh, as to that," said the captain, "you can't expect to be together long;
there is no certainty that you will be ordered to the same ship. You might
as well separate one time as another. I think you had better accept this
"I should like to speak with my cousin before I decide, sir."
"Very well; look alive, and don't keep me waiting."
Archie touched his hat, and hurried below.
"What did he want with you?" inquired Frank, who was sitting with Simpson
on their mess-chest.
Archie told his story, and ended by saying:
"I don't believe I'll take it; for I don't want to leave you."
"You're foolish," said Simpson; for, as the captain said, you can't expect
to remain together a great while. To-morrow one of you may be ordered to a
vessel in the Cumberland River, and the other to the lower fleet. Better
take it; Frank can take care of himself."
"Yes" said Frank, "I should certainly take it, if I were in your place.
You'll be an officer then, you know."
"Yes, I shall be an officer," said Archie, contemptuously; "and if I meet
one of you anywhere, I mustn't associate with you at all. No sir; I'll go
and tell the captain I can't take it."
"But, hold on a minute," said Frank, as his cousin was about to move away;
"perhaps you may find that there is another good place, and then you can
"That's so," said Archie; "I did not think of that; I believe I'll take
it;" and he hurried on deck again.
"Well, what conclusion have you come to?" inquired the captain. "Will you
"Yes, sir, with many thanks for your kindness."
"What is your cousin's name?"
Archie told him, and the captain continued:
"I'll keep an eye open for him. I don't forget that I was young once
myself; and I know that a sailor's life is rather tough for one who is not
accustomed to it; and when I find a deserving young man, I like to help
him along. Mr. Tyler," he continued, turning to the officer of the deck;
"please send this young man over to the fleet paymaster's office in the
first boat that leaves the ship. You need not take your donnage," he said,
turning to Archie again; "if you suit the paymaster, you can come over for
it at any time."
"Very good, sir," answered Archie; and he went below again.
When the ten o'clock boat was called away, Archie, in obedience to the
captain's order, was sent over to the paymaster's office; and Frank was
left alone. He watched the boat until it reached the landing, and he saw
his cousin spring out. He then walked aft, and seated himself on the
mess-chest, and commenced writing a letter to his mother. While he was
thus engaged, he heard the order passed, in a loud voice: "All you men
that belonged to the Illinois, muster on the forecastle with your bags and
As Frank hastened to obey the order, he met Simpson, who exclaimed:
"We're off again, my hearty; and I'm glad of it. I don't like to lay
"Where are we going?" inquired Frank.
"I don't know for certain; but I suspect we are to be the crew of the
store-ship Milwaukee, now lying alongside the wharf-boat."
Simpson's surmise proved to be correct. The entire crew of the Illinois,
with the exception of Archie, was mustered around the capstan; and after
answering to their names, they were crowded into a cutter that lay
alongside, and, in a few moments, were landed on board the Milwaukee.
She had steam up; her stores were on board, and she was all ready to sail;
and the crew had scarcely time to stow away their bags and hammocks, when
the order was passed: "All hands stand by to get ship under way."
The gang-planks were quickly hauled in; the line with which she was made
fast to the wharf-boat was cast off, and the Milwaukee was soon steaming
down the river, and Cairo was rapidly receding from view.
The Milwaukee, which was now dignified by the name of "store-ship," was an
old river packet. She was loaded with clothing, provisions, and small
stores, with which she was to supply the fleet. It was not, of course,
intended that she should go into action; but, in order that she might be
able to defend herself against the guerrillas, which infested the river
between Cairo and Helena, she mounted a twelve-pound howitzer on her
boiler-deck, and was well supplied with muskets. Her destination was
They reached that place without any adventure, and, after supplying the
fleet with stores, started to return to Cairo. One pleasant afternoon, as
they were passing through Cypress Bend, the officer of the deck discovered
a man standing on the bank, waving a flag of truce. A bale of cotton lay
near him; and the man, as soon as he found that he had attracted their
attention, pointed to the cotton, and signified, by signs, that he wished
it carried up the river.
The Milwaukee was immediately turned toward the shore, and as soon as they
arrived within speaking distance, the captain called out:
"What do you want?"
"I would like to have you take this cotton to Cairo for me," answered the
"Are you a loyal citizen?" asked the captain.
"Yes, sir; and here is a permit from Admiral Porter to ship my cotton;"
and, as the man spoke, he held up a letter to the view of the captain.
"Bring her into the bank, Mr. Smith," said the captain, addressing the
pilot; "and, Mr. O'Brien," he continued, in a lower tone, turning to an
officer who stood near, "go down and stand by that howitzer. Perhaps there
is no treachery intended, but it is well to be on the safe side."
As soon as the Milwaukee touched the bank, Frank and Simpson, with two
others, sprang ashore with a line, and, after making it fast to a tree,
returned on board, and commenced pushing out a plank, so that the cotton
could be easily rolled on, when, suddenly, several men rose from behind
the levee, and the quick discharge of their rifles sent the bullets around
those standing on the forecastle, like hailstones; and Simpson, who was
standing directly in front of Frank, uttered a sharp cry of pain, and sank
heavily to the deck. The next moment the guerrillas, with loud yells,
sprang down the bank in a body, intending to board the boat and capture
her. But they had not taken her so much by surprise as they had imagined,
for a shell from the howitzer exploded in their very midst, and one of the
rebels was killed, and three disabled. The others turned and hastily
retreated behind the levee. Frank took advantage of this, and lifting the
insensible form of his friend, retreated under cover, and laid him on a
mattress behind a pile of coal, where he would be safe from the bullets of
the guerrillas, which now began to come through the sides of the boat in
This was the first time Frank had ever been under fire, and he was
thoroughly frightened; but he knew that it was his duty to resist the
rebels, and to do them as much damage as possible; so, instead of looking
round for a safe place to hide, his first impulse was to run up on deck
after a gun. This he knew was a dangerous undertaking, for the vessel lay
close to the bank, the top of which was on a level with the boiler-deck;
and behind the levee, scarcely half a dozen rods distant, were the
guerrillas, who were ready to shoot the first man that appeared.
Nevertheless, Frank resolved to make the attempt, for he wanted to take
revenge on them for shooting Simpson. But, just as he was about to start
out, he heard the captain shout down through the trumpet which ran from
the pilot-house to the engine-room:
"Back her, strong! We must get away from the bank or they will pick us all
In obedience to the order, the engineers let on the steam, and a heavy
puffing told Frank that the powerful engines were doing their utmost to
break the line which held them to the bank. Here was another thing that
Frank knew he ought to do; he knew that he ought to cut that line, for it
would be an impossibility to break it. There was an ax handy, and a sudden
rush and a couple of lusty strokes would put the vessel out of danger.
But, at short intervals, he heard the bullets crashing through the side of
the boat, and he knew that the guerrillas were on the watch. If he made
the attempt he could scarcely hope to come back alive; and he thought of
his mother and Julia, how badly they would feel when they heard of his
death. But even where he stood he was in danger of being struck by the
bullets that were every moment coming through the vessel; and would not
his mother much rather hear that he fell while performing his duty, than
that he was shot while standing idly by, taking no part in the fight? He
did not wait to take a second thought, but seized the ax, and, with one
bound, reached the gangway that led out on to the forecastle. Here he
hesitated again, but it was only for a moment. Clutching his ax with a
firmer hold, and gathering all his strength for the trial, he sprang
forward, and a few rapid steps brought him to the capstan, to which the
line was made fast. He raised his ax, and one swift blow severed the line,
and the Milwaukee swung rapidly out from the bank Without waiting an
instant, Frank turned and retreated; but, instead of going back to the
place where he had left Simpson, he bounded up the steps that led to the
boiler-deck, and the next moment was safe behind a pile of baled clothing.
His sudden appearance had taken the rebels completely by surprise, and
before they could recover themselves, the line had been cut, and the young
hero was safe. But they had seen where he had taken refuge, and, with loud
yells of disappointment and rage, sent their bullets about his
hiding-place in a perfect shower. Frank, however, knowing that he was
safe, was not in the least alarmed. Waiting until the fire slackened a
little, he sprang up, and, snatching a musket and cartridge-box from the
rack which stood close by the door of the cabin, was back to his
hiding-place in a moment.
"Now," he soliloquized, "we are on more equal terms. Better keep close, or
I'll drop some of you."
In his cool, sober moments, Frank would have shuddered at the thought of
taking the life of a fellow-being; but he had seen Simpson shot down
before his eyes--perhaps killed; and is it to be wondered that he wished
to avenge his fall?
It was some time before Frank could get an opportunity to use his musket;
for if he exposed the smallest portion of his body, it was the signal for
his watchful enemies, who sent the bullets about him in unpleasant
proximity. In spite of his dangerous situation, he could not help thinking
that the rebels were very proficient in "Indian fighting," for, with all
his watchfulness, he could not get an opportunity to put in a shot. All he
could see of his enemies would be, first, a rifle thrust carefully over
the levee, then a very small portion of a head would appear, and the
bullet would come straight to the mark.
In the mean time the Milwaukee was working her way out into the stream,
and the rebels, finding that their fire was not returned, grew bolder by
degrees, and became less careful to conceal themselves. This was what
Frank wanted; but he reserved his fire until a tall rebel rose to his full
hight from behind the levee, fired his gun, and stood watching the effect
of the shot. Frank's musket was at his shoulder in an instant, his finger
pressed the trigger, and the rebel staggered for a moment, and disappeared
behind the levee.
"There," said Frank to himself, "that's what Simpson would call 'squaring
the yards.' I'm even with the rascals now."
The rebels answered the shot with load yells, and their bullets fell
thicker than ever; but the Milwaukee was almost out of range, and, in a
few moments, the firing ceased altogether.
On a Gun-boat.
When the Milwaukee was fairly out of range of the bullets of the
guerrillas, Frank put his gun back in the rack, and started in search of
the doctor's steward. He ran into the cabin without ceremony, and was
about to enter the steward's room, when he discovered a pair of
patent-leather boots, which he thought he recognized, sticking out from
under a mattress which lay on the cabin floor; and, upon examination, he
found that it concealed the steward, who was as pale as a sheet, and
shaking as though he had been seized with the ague.
"What do you want here?" he asked, in a trembling voice, as Frank raised
"Simpson is shot," answered Frank, "and I would like to have you come down
and see him."
"Do you suppose I am fool enough to go out on deck, and run the risk of
being shot? No, sir; I'll stay here, where I am safe;" and the steward
made an effort to draw his head under the mattress again.
"There's no danger now," said Frank; "the rebels have stopped firing.
Besides, we are out of"--
"Go away, and let me alone," whined the steward.
"I am not going to expose myself."
"You're a coward," exclaimed Frank, now fairly aroused "But I guess the
"Oh, don't," entreated the steward; "I haven't been here a minute. I
started to get a gun, to pay the rebels back in their own coin; but the
bullets came through the cabin so thick that I thought it best to retreat
to a safe place;" and the steward threw off the mattress, and arose,
tremblingly, to his feet.
"You went after a gun, did you?" inquired Frank, in a tone of voice which
showed that he did not believe the steward's story.
"Yes; and I would have given them fits, for I am a dead shot."
"Where did you put your gun when you found that you had to retreat?"
"I put it back in the rack again."
This was a likely story; for a person as badly frightened as was the
steward would not have stopped to put the gun back in its place; and, in
his heart, Frank despised the man who could be guilty of such a falsehood.
As they were about to go out on deck, the steward drew back, exclaiming:
"I don't hardly believe it is safe to go out there just yet. Let us wait a
"I shan't wait an instant," said Frank. "Simpson has been neglected too
long already. You can come down and attend to him, or not, just as you
please." So saying, he opened the cabin door, and walking rapidly out,
descended the stairs that led to the main deck.
The steward dreaded to follow; but he knew that, if he did not attend the
wounded sailor, he would be reported to the captain, who, although a
kind-hearted man, was a strict disciplinarian, and one who always took
particular pains to see that his crew was well provided for. He dared not
hesitate long; so, drawing in a long breath, he ran swiftly out on deck,
and disappeared down the stairs like a shot.
Frank found Simpson sitting upon the mattress where he had been lain, with
his elbows on his knees, and his head supported by his hands. As Frank
came up, he said, in a weak voice:
"I came very near losing the number of my mess, didn't I? The rascals shot
pretty close to me;" and he showed Frank an ugly-looking wound in the back
of his head, from which the blood was flowing profusely.
By this time the steward arrived. After examining the wound, he pronounced
it very severe, and one that would require constant attention.
Simpson was speedily conveyed to the sick bay, and every thing possible
done to make him comfortable. Although the Milwaukee was completely
riddled by the bullets of the guerrillas, he was the only one hurt. Frank
was excused from all duty, that he might act as Simpson's nurse; and he
scarcely left him for a moment during the two weeks of fever and delirium
that followed. By the time they reached Cairo, however, he was pronounced
out of danger.
Frank wanted very much to see his cousin; but the Milwaukee was anchored
out in the river, and no one was allowed to go ashore. One afternoon, as
he sat by his friend's hammock, reading aloud a letter from Harry Butler,
in which he gave a vivid description of a late battle in which his
regiment had participated, the orderly entered and informed him that the
captain wished to see him. He followed the orderly, and, as he entered the
cabin, the captain said:
"Please help yourself to a chair, Mr. Nelson; I shall be at liberty in a
moment. I should like to finish this letter before the mail-steamer sails.
You will excuse me, will you not?"
"Certainly, sir," answered Frank; and he seated himself, lost in wonder.
The captain had addressed him as _Mr._ Nelson, while heretofore he had
always been called, by the officers, Nelson, or Frank. What could it mean?
The captain had always treated him with the greatest kindness; but, since
the engagement with the guerrillas, all the officers had shown him more
consideration than ever. He had noticed the change, and wondered at it.
At length the captain, after hastily directing the letter he had written,
and giving it in charge of the orderly, took an official document from his
desk, saying, as he did so:
"I am greatly pleased, Mr. Nelson, to be able to give you this, for you
deserve it;" and after unfolding the letter, he gave it to Frank, who read
NAVY DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 18, 1862.
Sir: For your gallantry in the late action at Cypress Bend, on the
1st inst., you are hereby appointed an Acting Master's Mate in the
Navy of the United States, on temporary service. Report, without
delay, to Acting Rear-Admiral David D. Porter, for such duty as he
may assign you. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GIDEON WELLES, _Secretary of the Navy,_
Acting Master's Mate FRANK NELSON,
_S.S. Milwaukee, Mississippi Squadron._
"Well," said the captain, after Frank had read the letter over three
times, to make sure that he was not dreaming, and that he was really an
officer, "what do you think of it?"
"I hardly know what to think, sir," answered Frank. "It is an honor I did
"Very likely," said the captain, with a laugh; "but you deserve it. If it
hadn't been for you, we should all have been captured. I saw the whole of
the transaction from the pilot-house."
"It was my duty to do it, sir."
"It was a brave act, call it what else you will. Now go and give this to
the paymaster," continued the captain, handing Frank an order for the
settlement of his accounts, "and then go immediately and report to the
Frank left the captain, a good deal elated at his success; and when he
approached Simpson, the latter exclaimed:
"What is it, my hearty? Your promotion?"
"Yes," answered Frank; "read that;" and he handed his appointment to his
friend, who said:
"I knew you would get it. The captain isn't the man to let such a thing as
you did at Cypress Bend pass unnoticed. Give us your flipper, my boy; I'm
glad to see you an officer." And the brave fellow actually shed tears, as
he shook Frank's hand. "Now, when you are ordered to your ship," he
continued, "I wish you would speak a word for me. I am very well contented
here, but I had much rather sail with you."
Frank promised to do his best, and, after putting on his "shore togs," as
Simpson called them, and giving the captain's order to the paymaster, he
started off to report to the Admiral.
When he arrived on board the flag-ship, he was met by the officer of the
deck, who inquired his business.
"I wish to see the Admiral, sir" answered Frank; "I am ordered to report
The officer immediately led the way aft, and showed Frank a marine
standing at the door of the cabin, who took his name and disappeared. In a
moment he returned, and informed Frank that the Admiral was waiting to see
He entered the cabin, and handed his appointment to the Admiral, who,
after reading it, said:
"So, you are the young man that saved the Milwaukee, are you? Take a
In a few moments his orders to report, without delay, on board the
Ticonderoga, were ready; and as the Admiral handed them to him, he said:
"Now, young man, you will be on a ship where you will have a chance to
distinguish yourself. I shall expect to hear a good account of you."
"I shall always endeavor to do my duty, sir," answered Frank; and he made
his best bow and retired.
When he returned to the Milwaukee, his accounts had all been made out.
After the paymaster paid him up in full, Frank started for the nearest
clothing-store, and when he came out, he was changed into a fine-looking
He immediately directed his steps toward the naval wharf-boat, where he
found a lively little fellow, who seemed full of business, superintending
the loading of a vessel with provisions. It was Archie Winters; but it was
plain that he did not recognize his cousin in his new uniform, for Frank
stood close behind him, several moments, and Archie even brushed against
him, as he passed.
"Can you tell me, sir, where I can find Mr. Winters?" inquired Frank, at
"Yes, sir," answered Archie, promptly, looking his cousin full in the
face; "I'm the--why, Frank, how are you?" and he seized his cousin's hand,
and shook it heartily. "I've been on board the Milwaukee twice this
morning, but you were off somewhere. I heard you had a fight down the
river, with the rebels. But what are you doing? What boat are you ordered
"I am not doing any thing at present," answered Frank; "but I am ordered
to report on board the Ticonderoga."
"There she is," said Archie, pointing to a long, low, black vessel that
lay alongside of the wharf boat. "I am just putting provisions on board of
her. I'll come and see you as soon as I get my work done."
Frank went on board his vessel, where he was received by the officer of
the deck, who showed him the way into the cabin. After the captain had
indorsed his orders, he strolled leisurely about the ship, examining into
every thing, for as yet he knew nothing of gun-boat life.
The Ticonderoga was a queer-looking craft. She was not exactly a Monitor;
but she had a turret forward, and mounted two eleven-inch guns and four
twelve-pounder howitzers. She had a heavy iron ram on her bow, and the
turret was protected by three inches of iron, and the deck with two
inches. It did not seem possible that a cannon-ball could make any
impression on her thick armor.
The officers' quarters were all below decks; and, although it was then the
middle of winter, Frank found it rather uncomfortable in his bunk.
During the two weeks that elapsed before the ship was ready to sail, the
time was employed in getting every thing in order--in drilling at the
great guns, and with muskets and broad-swords.
Most of the crew were old seamen, who understood their duty; and by the
time their sailing orders came, every thing moved like clock-work.
In the mean time Frank had been assigned his station, which--being the
youngest officer on board the ship--was to command the magazine. He
learned very rapidly, and, as he was always attentive to his duties, he
grew in favor with both officers and men.
At length, one afternoon, the anchor was weighed, and the Ticonderoga
steamed down the river. Her orders were to report to the Admiral, who had
sailed from Cairo about a week previous. They found him at Arkansas Post,
where they arrived too late to take part in the fight. In a few days a
station was assigned to her in the Mississippi River; and the Ticonderoga
immediately set sail, in obedience to orders.
The Struggle Between the Lines.
One day, about two weeks after they came out of Arkansas River, the
Ticonderoga stopped at Smith's Landing to take on wood, as her supply of
coal had run short. The vessel was made fast to the bank, and, while the
seamen were bringing in the wood, the paymaster's steward called Frank's
attention to some cattle which were feeding on the bank, and remarked: "I
wish we could go out and shoot one of them." "So do I," said Frank; "I've
eaten salt pork until I am tired of it. Let's go and ask the captain."
"I'm agreed," said the steward.
The captain was walking on deck at the time and his permission was readily
obtained, for he himself had grown tired of ship's pork; Frank,
accompanied by the steward, and a seaman who was an expert butcher,
started out. They were armed with muskets, and, as they were all good
shots, and did not wish to kill more than enough to feed the ship's
company once, they took with them no ammunition besides what was in the
guns. At the place where the Ticonderoga was lying, the levee--an
embankment about six feet high, built to prevent the water from
overflowing--ran back into the woods about half a mile, then, making a
bend like a horse-shoe, came back to the river again, inclosing perhaps a
dozen acres of low, swampy land; and it was in this swamp that the cattle
were. They proved to be very wild; but, after a considerable run, Frank
succeeded in bringing down one, and the steward and seaman finally killed
another. The question now was, how to get the meat on board the vessel.
While they were debating on the matter, they were startled by the clatter
of horses' hoofs on the levee; and, instead of drawing back into the
bushes, out of sight, they very imprudently waited to see who the horsemen
were. Presently, a party of guerrillas, to their utter amazement--for they
had not dreamed that the rebels were so near them--galloped up.
The rebels discovered them at the same moment, and one of them exclaimed:
"I'll be dog-gone if thar ain't a Yank;" and, not knowing how many there
might be of the "Yanks," they very prudently drew up their horses. One of
them, however, who appeared to be the leader of the band, comprehended
their situation at a glance, and exclaimed:
"Throw down your arms, and you shall be treated like men!"
This brought them to their senses, and they turned and ran for their
lives. They had scarcely made a dozen steps before the bullets and
buckshot began to rattle about their ears; but the trees and bushes were
so thick that they escaped unhurt. Frank reached the vessel far in advance
of the others; as he came over the side, panting and excited, the captain,
who was still on deck, inquired:
"What's the matter, Mr. Nelson?"
"We ran foul of some guerrillas out there in the woods, sir," replied
"How many of them did you see?"
"They didn't give us much of a chance to judge of their numbers, sir; but
I should say that there were at least a dozen of them, and they were
coming this way. I shouldn't wonder if they intended to pick off some of
the men who are carrying in wood."
"Mr. Hurd," said the captain, turning to the executive officer, "take
thirty men, who are good shots, and go out there and keep those fellows
off. Mr. Nelson will go with you."
Frank accordingly ran below, and armed himself with a revolver and musket,
and buckled on a cartridge-box. When the men were ready, he led the way,
along the levee, so that, if the guerrillas were advancing, they would be
certain to meet them. But they saw no signs of them until they came within
sight of a barn which stood in the woods, about a mile from the river. The
rebels were gathered before it, as if in consultation, and greeted the
approach of the sailors with a scattering volley of musketry, which
whistled harmlessly over their heads, or plowed up the ground before them.
"Give 'em a shot, boys," said the executive officer, "and then scatter,
and let each man take to a tree and fight Indian fashion."
The sailors wheeled into line with all the promptness and regularity of
veteran troops; and before the smoke of their muskets cleared away, they
had disappeared, like a flock of young partridges. The rebels had also
treed, and the skirmish was continued for half an hour, without any damage
being done to either party.
This style of fighting did not suit Frank, and he began to urge the
executive officer to advance, and drive them from their position. But the
officer did not think it safe to attempt it; for, although he had seen but
a small number of the rebels, he did not know how many there might be
hidden away in the bushes.
"Well, then," said Frank, after thinking a moment, "I have another
proposition to make. If you will give me ten men, and engage the rebels
warmly in front, I'll go and get that fresh beef."
"Where did you leave it?" inquired the officer.
"In the woods, about three hundred yards to the left of where the rebels
"Very well; pick out your men, and go ahead."
Frank accordingly selected the boatswain's mate, an old, gray-headed man,
who had been in the navy from boyhood, as his first lieutenant, and
ordered him to call for volunteers.
If there is any thing a sailor admires, it is bravery in an officer. Every
one on board the Ticonderoga, from the captain down, was acquainted with
Frank's gallant behavior at Cypress Bend, although he himself had never