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Kincaid's Battery by George W. Cable

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while they lacerated each other like lion and tiger, and then dropped
away. The hunted _Hartford_ gave a staggering thrust and futile

So for an hour went the fight; ships charging, the _Tennessee_ crawling
ever after her one picked antagonist, the monitors' awful guns forever
pounding her iron back and sides. But at length her mail began to yield,
her best guns went silent, her smokestack was down, her steering-chains
were gone, Buchanan lay heavily wounded. Of Farragut's twenty-seven
hundred men more than a seventh had fallen, victims mainly of the bear
and her cubs, yet there she weltered, helpless. From her grim disjointed
casemate her valorous captain let down the Southern cross, the white
flag rose, and instantly, everywhere, God's thunder and man's alike
ceased, and the merciful heavens smiled white and blue again. But their
smile was on the flag of the Union, and mutely standing in each other's
embrace, with hearts as nearly right as they could know, Anna and
Miranda gazed on the victorious stars-and-stripes and wept.

What caused Anna to start and glance behind she did not know; but doing
so she stared an instant breathless and then, as she clutched Miranda
for support, moaned to the tall, wasted, sadly smiling, crutched figure
that moved closer--

"Oh, Hilary! Are you Hilary Kincaid?"



They kissed.

It looks strange written and printed, but she did not see how to hold
off when he made it so tenderly manful a matter of course after his
frank hand-shake with Miranda, and when there seemed so little time for

An ambulance drawn by the Callenders' horses had brought him and two or
three others down the West Side. A sail-boat had conveyed them from the
nearest beach. Here it was, now, in tow beside the steamboat as she
gathered headway toward Fort Powell. He was not so weak or broken but he
could point rapidly about with his crutches, the old light of command in
his eyes, while with recognized authority he spoke to the boat's master
and these companions.

He said things freely. There was not much down here to be secret about.
Mobile had not fallen. She would yet be fought for on land, furiously.
But the day was lost; as, incidentally, might be, at any moment, if not
shrewdly handled, this lonesome little boat.

Her captain moved to the pilot-house. Miranda and the junior officers
left Hilary with Anna. "Did you say 'the day,'" she softly asked, "or
'the bay'?"

"Both," he murmured, and with his two crutches in one hand directed her
eyes: to the fleet anchored midway off Morgan, Gaines, and Powell; to
the half-dozen gunboats on Mississippi Sound; to others still out in the
Gulf, behind Morgan, off Mobile Point; to the blue land force entrenched
behind Gaines, and to the dunes east of Morgan, where similar besiegers
would undoubtedly soon be landed.

"Yes ... Yes," she said to his few explanations. It was all so sadly

"A grand fort yet," he musingly called Morgan, "but it ought to be left
and blown to fare-you-well to-night before it's surroun--I wish my
cousin were there instead of in Gaines. 'Dolphe fights well, but he
knows when not to fight and that we've come, now, to where every man
we've got, and every gun, counts bigger than to knock out any two of the
enemy's. You know Fred's over yonder, don't you? and that Kincaid's
Battery, without their field-pieces, are just here in Powell behind her
heavy guns?... Yes, Victorine said you did; I saw her this morning, with
Constance." He paused, and then spoke lower:


She smiled up to him.

"Our love's not through all the fire, yet," he said, but her smile only
showed more glow.

"My soul's-mate, war-mate soldier-girl," he murmured on.


"If you stand true in what's before us now, before just you and me, now
and for weeks to come, I want your word for it right here that your
standing true shall not be for the sake of any vow you've ever made to
me, or for me, or with me, in the past, the blessed, blessed past. You

"I promise," she breathed. "What is it?"

"A thing that takes more courage than I've got."

"Then how will you do it?" she lightly asked.

"By borrowing all yours. May I?"

"You may. Is it to save--our battery?"

"Our battery, yes, against their will, with others, if I can persuade
the fort's commander. At low tide to-night when the shoals can be forded
to Cedar Point, I shall be"--his words grew hurried--the steamer was
touching the fort's pier--the sail-boat, which was to take Anna and
Miranda to where the ambulance and their own horses awaited them had
cast off her painter--"I shall be the last man out of Powell and shall
blow it up. Come, it may be we sha'n't meet again until I've"--he
smiled--"been court-martialed and degraded. If I am, we--"

"If you are," she murmured, "you may take me to the nearest church--or
the biggest--that day."

"No, no!" he called as she moved away, and again, with a darkening brow,
"no, no!"

But, "Yes, yes," she brightly insisted as she rejoined Miranda. "Yes!"

For the horses' sake the ladies went that afternoon only to "Frascati,"
lower limit of the Shell Road, where, in a small hour of the night Anna
heard the sudden boom and long rumble that told the end of Fort Powell
and salvation of its garrison.

That Gaines held out a few days, Morgan a few weeks, are heroic facts of
history, which, with a much too academic shrug, it calls "magnifique,
mais--!" Their splendid armament and all their priceless men fell into
their besiegers' hands. Irby, haughtily declining the strictly formal
courtesies of Fred Greenleaf, went to prison in New Orleans. What a New
Orleans! The mailed clutch on her throat (to speak as she felt) had
grown less ferocious, but everywhere the Unionist civilian--the once
brow-beaten and still loathed "Northern sympathizer," with grudges to
pay and losses to recoup and re-recoup--was in petty authority.
Confiscation was swallowing up not industrial and commercial properties
merely, but private homes; espionage peeped round every street corner
and into every back window, and "A. Ward's" ante-bellum jest, that "a
white man was as good as a nigger as long as he behaved himself," was a
jest no more. Miss Flora Valcour, that ever faithful and daring
Southerner, was believed by all the city's socially best to be
living--barely living--under "the infamous Greenleaf's" year-long threat
of Ship Island for having helped Anna Callender to escape to Mobile.
Hence her haunted look and pathetic loss of bloom. Now, however, with
him away and with General Canby ruling in place of Banks, she and her
dear fragile old grandmother could breathe a little.

They breathed much. We need not repeat that the younger was a gifted
borrower. She did other things equally well; resumed a sagacious
activity, a two-sided tact, and got Irby paroled. On the anniversary of
the day Hilary had played brick-mason a city paper (Unionist) joyfully
proclaimed the long-delayed confiscation of Kincaid's Foundry and of
Callender House, and announced that "the infamous Kincaid" himself had
been stripped of his commission by a "rebel" court-martial. Irby
promptly brought the sheet to the Valcours' lodgings, but Flora was out.
When she came in, before she could lay off her pretty hat:--

"You've heard it!" cried the excited grandam. "But why so dead-alive?
Once more the luck is yours! Play your knave! play Irby! He's just been
here! He will return! He will propose this evening if you allow him! Let
him do it! Let him! Mobile may fall any day! If you dilly-dally till
those accursed Callenders get back, asking, for instance, for their--ha,
ha!--their totally evaporated chest of plate--gr-r-r! Take him! He has
just shown me his uncle's will--as he calls it: a staring forgery, but
you, h-you won't mind _that_, and the 'ladies' man'--ah, the 'ladies'
man,' once you are his cousin, he'll never let on. Take Irby! he is, as
you say, a nincompoop"--she had dropped into English--"and seldom
sober, _mais_ take him! 't is the las' call of the auctioneer, yo'
fav-oreet auctioneer--with the pointed ears and the forked black tail."

Flora replied from a mirror with her back turned: "I'll thing ab-out it.
And maybee--yes! Ezpecially if you would do uz that one favor, lazd
thing when you are going to bed the night we are married. Yez, if you
would--ahem!--juz' blow yo' gas without turning it?"

That evening, when the accepted Irby, more nearly happy than ever before
in his life, said good-night to his love they did not kiss. At the first
stir of proffer Flora drew back with a shudder that reddened his brow.
But when he demanded, "Why not?" her radiant shake of the head was
purely bewitching as she replied, "No, I haven' fall' that low yet."

When after a day or so he pressed for immediate marriage and was coyly
referred to Madame, the old lady affectionately--though
reluctantly--consented. With a condition: If the North should win the
war his inheritance would be "confiz-_cate_'" and there would be nothing
to begin life on but the poor child's burned down home behind Mobile,
unless, for mutual protection, nothing else,--except "one dollar and
other valuable considerations,"--he should preconvey the Brodnax estate
to the poor child, who, at least, had never been "foun' out" to have
done anything to subject property of hers to confiscation.

This transfer Irby, with silent reservations, quietly executed, and the
day, hour and place, the cathedral, were named. A keen social flutter
ensued and presently the wedding came off--stop! That is not all.
Instantly upon the close of the ceremony the bride had to be more lifted
than led to her carriage and so to her room and couch, whence she sent
loving messages to the bridegroom that she would surely be well enough
to see him next day. But he had no such fortune, and here claims record
a fact even more wonderful than Anna's presentiment as to Hilary that
morning in Mobile Bay. The day after his wedding Irby found his parole
revoked and himself, with others, back in prison and invited to take the
oath and go free--stand up in the war-worn gray and forswear it--or stay
where they were to the war's end. Every man of them took it--when the
war was over; but until then? not one. Not even the bridegroom robbed of
his bride. Every week or so she came and saw him, among his fellows, and
bade him hold out! stand fast! It roused their great admiration, but not
their wonder. The wonder was in a fact of which they knew nothing: That
the night before her marriage Flora had specifically, minutely
prophesied this whole matter to her grandmother, whose only response was
that same marveling note of nearly four years earlier--

"You are a genius!"



In March, 'Sixty-five, the Confederacy lay dying. While yet in Virginia
and the Carolinas, at Mobile and elsewhere her armies daily, nightly
strove on, bled on, a stricken quiet and great languor had come over
her, a quiet with which the quiet ending of this tale is only in
reverent keeping.

On Mobile's eastern side Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, her last
defenses, were fighting forty thousand besiegers. Kincaid's Battery was
there, and there was heavy artillery, of course, but this time the
"ladies' men"--still so called--had field-guns, though but three. They
could barely man that number. One was a unit of the original six lost
"for them, not by them," at Vicksburg, and lately recovered.

Would there were time for its story! The boys had been sent up the state
to reinforce Forrest. Having one evening silenced an opposing battery,
and stealing over in the night and bringing off its best gun, they had
slept about "her" till dawn, but then had laughed, hurrahed, danced, and
wept round her and fallen upon her black neck and kissed her big lips on
finding her no other than their own old "Roaring Betsy." She might have
had a gentler welcome had not her lads just learned that while they
slept _the_ "ladies' man" had arrived from Mobile with a bit of news
glorious alike for him and them.

The same word reached New Orleans about the same date. Flora, returning
from a call on Irby, brought it to her grandmother. In the middle of
their sitting-room, with the worst done-for look yet, standing behind a
frail chair whose back she gripped with both hands, she meditatively

"All privieuse statement' ab-out that court-martial on the 'vacuation of
Ford Powell are prim-ature. It has, with highez' approval, _acquit_'
every one concern' in it." She raised the light chair to the limit of
her reach and brought it down on another with a force that shivered
both. Madame rushed for a door, but--"Stay!" amiably said the maiden.
"Pick up the pieces--for me--eh? I'll have to pick up the pieces of you
some day--soon--I hope--mm?"

She took a book to a window seat, adding as she went, "Victorine. You've
not heard ab-out that, neither? She's biccome an orphan. Hmm! Also--the
little beggar!--she's--married. Yes. To Charles Valcour. My God! I wish
I was a man."

[Illustration: Music "Um, hmm, hmm, hmm, Mm, hmm, hmm, hmm--"]

"_Leave the room!_"

But these were closed incidents when those befell which two or three
final pages linger to recount. The siege of Spanish Fort was the war's
last great battle. From March twenty-sixth to April the eighth it was
deadly, implacable; the defense hot, defiant, audacious. On the night of
the eighth the fort's few hundred cannoneers spiked their heavy guns
and, taking their light ones along, left it. They had fought fully
aware that Richmond was already lost, and on the next day, a Sabbath,
as Kincaid's Battery trundled through the town while forty thousand
women and children--with the Callenders and little Steve--wept, its boys
knew their own going meant Mobile had fallen, though they knew not that
in that very hour the obscure name of Appomattox was being made forever
great in history.

"I reached Meridian," writes their general, "refitted the ...field
batteries and made ready to march across (country) and join General
Joseph E. Johnston in Carolina. The tidings of Lee's surrender soon
came.... But ...the little army of Mobile remained steadfastly together,
and in perfect order and discipline awaited the final issue of events."

It was while they so waited that Kincaid's Battery learned of the
destruction, by fire, of Callender House, but took comfort in agreeing
that now, at last, come or fail what might, the three sweetest women
that ever lived would live up-town.

One lovely May morning a Federal despatch-boat--yes, the one we
know--sped down Mobile Bay with many gray-uniformed men aboard, mostly
of the ranks and unaccoutred, but some of them officers still belted for
their unsurrendered swords. Many lads showed the red artillery trim and
wore jauntily on their battered caps K.B. separated by crossed cannon.
"Roaring Betsy" had howled her last forever. Her sergeant, Valcour, was
there, with his small fond bride, both equally unruffled by any
misgiving that they would not pull through this still inviting world

Mandeville was present, his gilt braid a trifle more gilt than any one
else's. Constance and little Steve--who later became president of the
Cotton Exchange--were with him. Also Miranda. Out forward yonder on the
upper deck, beside tall Hilary Kincaid, stood Anna. Greenleaf eyed them
from the pilot-house, where he had retired to withhold the awkward
reminder inseparable from his blue livery. In Hilary's fingers was a
writing which he and Anna had just read together. In reference to it he
was saying that while the South had fallen to the bottom depths of
poverty the North had been growing rich, and that New Orleans, for
instance, was chock full of Yankees--oh, yes, I'm afraid that's what he
called them--Yankees, with greenbacks in every pocket, eager to set up
any gray soldier who knew how to make, be or do anything mutually
profitable. Moved by Fred Greenleaf, who could furnish funds but
preferred, himself, never to be anything but a soldier, the enterprising
husband of the once deported but now ever so happily married
schoolmistress who--

"Yes, I know," said Anna--

Well, for a trifle, at its confiscation sale, this man had bought
Kincaid's Foundry, which now stood waiting for Hilary to manage, control
and in the end recover to his exclusive ownership on the way to larger
things. What gave the subject an intense tenderness of unsordid interest
was that it meant for the pair--what so many thousands of paroled heroes
and the women they loved and who loved them were hourly finding out
--that they were not such beggars, after all, but they might even there
and then name their wedding day, which then and there they named.

"Let Adolphe and Flora keep the old estate and be as happy on it, and
in it, as Heaven will let them; they've got each other to be happy with.
The world still wants cotton, and if they'll stand for the old South's
cotton we'll stand for a new South and iron; iron and a new South, Nan,
my Nannie; a new and better South and even a new and better New Orl--see
where we are! Right yonder the _Tennessee_--"

"Yes," interrupted Anna, "let's put that behind us--henceforth, as the
boat is doing now."

The steamer turned westward into Grant's Pass. To southward lay Morgan
and Gaines, floating the ensign of a saved Union. Close here on the
right lay the ruins of Fort Powell. From the lower deck the boys,
pressing to the starboard guards to see, singly or in pairs smiled up to
Hilary's smile. Among them was Sam Gibbs, secretly bearing home the
battery's colors wrapped round him next his scarred and cross-scarred
body. And so, farewell Mobile. Hour by hour through the beautiful blue
day, island after island, darkling green or glistering white, rose into
view, drifted by between the steamer and the blue Gulf and sunk into the
deep; Petit Bois, Horn Island, Ship Island, Cat Island. Now past Round
Island, up Lake Borgne and through the Rigolets they swept into
Pontchartrain, and near the day's close saw the tide-low, sombre but
blessed shore beyond which a scant half-hour's railway ride lay the city
they called home.

Across the waters westward, where the lake's margin, black-rimmed with
cypresses, lapsed into a watery horizon, and the sun was going down in
melancholy splendor, ran unseen that northbound railway by which four
years earlier they had set off for the war with ranks full and stately,
with music in the air and with thousands waving them on. Now not a note,
not a drum-tap, not a boast nor a jest illumined their return. In the
last quarter-hour aboard, when every one was on the lower deck about the
forward gangway, Hilary and Anna, having chanced to step up upon a coil
of rope, found it easier, in the unconscious press, to stay there than
to move on, and in keeping with his long habit as a leader he fell into
a lively talk with those nearest him,--Sam and Charlie close in front,
Bartleson and Mandeville just at his back,--to lighten the general
heaviness. At every word his listeners multiplied, and presently, in a
quiet but insistent tone, came calls for a "speech" and the "ladies'

"No," he gaily replied, "oh, no, boys!" But his words went on and became
something much like what they craved. As he ceased came the silent,
ungreeted landing. Promptly followed the dingy train's short run up the
shore of the New Canal, and then its stop athwart St. Charles Street,
under no roof, amid no throng, without one huzza or cry of welcome, and
the prompt dispersal of the outwardly burdenless wanderers, in small
knots afoot, up-town, down-town, many of them trying to say over again
those last words from the chief hero of their four years' trial by fire.
The effort was but effort, no full text has come down; but their drift
seems to have been that, though disarmed, unliveried, and disbanded,
they could remain true soldiers: That the perfect soldier loves peace,
loathes war: That no man can be such who cannot, whether alone or among
thousands of his fellows, strive, suffer and wait with magnanimous
patience, stake life and fortune, and, in extremity, fight like a
whirlwind, for the victories of peace: That every setting sun will rise
again _if it is a true sun:_ That good-night was not good-by: and that,
as for their old nickname, no one can ever be a whole true ladies' man
whose _aim_ is not at some title far above and beyond it--which last he
said not of himself, but in behalf and by request of the mother of the
guns they had gone out with and of the furled but unsullied banner they
had brought home.



* * * * *



12mo, $1.50

"The scene of the American War of North and South is different ground
from the old Creole life that Mr. Cable has painted so deliciously, but
the touch of the true artist is equally manifest in the careful
selection of material, and in the due subordination of the events of
that terrible struggle to the progress of a love-story that is
altogether delightful."--_The London Literary World._

"In all the stories of war there have been few descriptions of its
dangers and destruction, its contrasted demoralizing and inspiring
influences equal to these."--_San Francisco Argonaut._

* * * * *



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"An atmosphere that only a great artist can produce."--_Literature

* * * * *


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"The most careful and thorough going study of the reconstruction period
in the South which has yet been offered in the world of fiction."--_The

"In many respects Mr. Cable's finest work."--_Boston Advertiser._


* * * * *



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"Such a book goes far towards establishing an epoch in fiction, and it
places it beyond a doubt that we have in Mr. Cable a novelist of
positive originality, and of the very first quality."--_The Boston

The Grandissimes. _With 12 full-page illustrations and 8 head and
tail pieces by Albert Herter, all reproduced in photogravure, and with
an original cover design by the same artist._

8vo, $2.50

* * * * *


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Cameo Edition with an etching by Percy Moran, $1.25

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character, and a marked originality."--_The New Orleans Picayune._

Old Creole Days. _With 8 full-page illustrations and 14 head and
tail pieces by Albert Herter, all reproduced in photogravure, and with
an original cover design by the same artist._

8vo, $2.50

* * * * *


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"There is so much delicacy, such a fine touch, that one is wholly
captivated by the handiwork until it is realized how much this is part
and parcel of this picture."

--_Brooklyn Eagle._


* * * * *



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"A noble, tender, beautiful tale."--Mrs. L.C. Moulton in _Boston

"Mr. Cable has never produced anything so delightful and so artistic as
'_Bonaventure._' The charm of the pastoral life of these unlearned,
unsuspicious people in rude homes far away from the stir of modern life
is as novel as it is indescribable"--_North American Review._

* * * * *


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* * * * *


Illustrated. 12mo, $2.00

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and unique social conditions these stories show!"--_Hartford Courant._

"They are tales whose interest and variety seem inexhaustible.--Mr.
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remarkable and delightful collection. In themselves they are memorably
charming."--_Boston Transcript._


* * * * *


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Ivory series edition, 16mo, 75c.

* * * * *



Square 12mo, $2.50

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will not find a competitor. Mr. Cable has given us an exceedingly
attractive piece of work."--_The Nation._

* * * * *


Together with the Freedman's Case in Equity and the Convict Lease
System. _Revised and Enlarged Edition._ With portrait.

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ignore."--_The Critic._

* * * * *


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* * * * *


Selections for School Reading. Edited by MARY E. BURT and LUCY L. CABLE.
[_The Scribner Series of School Reading_]. Illustrated. 12mo, _net_ 60c.

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