Part 4 out of 5
her; but her manner of seeking it is to the last degree childish, and
unworthy of a country that has had so much experience. That place which
she seeks can never long be denied to any European nation which is
really strong, and modern strength does not consist merely in great
fleets and armies, to be employed in attacking the weak, and in
promoting a system of intervention in the affairs of foreign countries.
Such, however, is not the opinion of Spanish statesmen, if they are to
be judged by their actions. No sooner did Spain begin to feel her
strength, than she determined to make other countries feel it, in a very
disagreeable fashion. She directed her attention to Italy, and nothing
but a salutary dread of Napoleon III prevented her from becoming the
champion of all the tyrants and abuses of that country. It was at one
time supposed that she meant to revive her pretensions to territorial
rule in the Italian Peninsula, and to contend for the restoration of the
state of things which there ended with the ending of the
Austro-Burgundian rule of the Spanish Empire in 1700; and though it
would have been preposterous to have thought such pretensions possible
in the case of any other country,--as preposterous as it would be to
suppose England capable of thinking of the restoration of her power over
the United States,--yet it was perfectly reasonable to believe that
Spain would revive claims that were barred by the lapse of one hundred
and fifty years. No statute of limitations is known to her, and what she
has held once she thinks herself entitled to reclaim on any day through
all time. Weakness may prevent her from enforcing her title, but that
title never becomes weak. What is ridiculous in the eyes of the
statesmen of Paris and London is eminently commonplace in those of the
statesmen of Madrid, who are the most industrious of builders,
_Chateaux en Espagne_ employing their energies. Although it is more
than two centuries since Portugal threw off the Spanish yoke, they have
never yet given up the hope in Spain of adding that spirited little
kingdom to the Peninsular monarchy. They would absorb it, as so many
other kingdoms have been absorbed by the power that has issued its
decrees from Madrid and Valladolid. The attack made by Spain on Morocco
was a silly affair, and was resolved upon only to convince the world
that Spain could make war abroad, a point in which the world felt but
small interest, as at that time it was not thought that the Spaniards
would seriously endeavor to regain their old American possessions. That
what had been lost through one class of errors would be sought through
resort to another class of errors, it entered not the minds of men to
conceive. They would as soon have thought of Spain making a demand on
Holland, with the view of restoring in that country the rule that was
lost there in the days of Alva and Parma, as of her entering upon a war
for a second conquest of Mexico. Nor would they have been astonished by
the breaking out of such a war, had it not been for the breaking down of
the American Republic. America's calamity was Spain's opportunity. She
had been successful in her crusade against the modern Moors, because bad
government had unfitted those Mussulmans to make effectual resistance to
her well-led and well-appointed armies, which were supported by
well-equipped ships. Then, flushed with victory, and beholding America
in convulsions, she resolved to direct her energies against Mexico,
where, unfortunately, bad government had done its work even more
perfectly than it had been done in Morocco. The Spaniards are a brave
and a spirited people, but their conduct in St. Domingo and their attack
on Mexico cannot be cited as evidence of their bravery and spirit. They
never would have dared to move against the Mexicans, if our condition
had remained what it was but eighteen months ago; and yet they had just
as good cause to assail them in the summer of 1860 as they now have in
the winter of 1862. All the grounds of complaint that they have against
Mexico were in existence then,--but we heard of no modern Spanish Armada
at that time, and might then as rationally have expected to see a French
fleet in the St. Lawrence as a Spanish fleet in the Mexican Gulf. The
American sword was then sharp, and the American shield broad, and so
Spain stayed her chivalrous hand. Her conduct is as bad as was our own,
when we "picked a quarrel" with Mexico, and bestowed upon her weak back
the blows we should have visited on the stout shoulders of England. Our
Mexican contest was the effect of our fear of a stronger adversary. We
had brought the Oregon question to such a point that it was difficult to
avoid war with Great Britain. The West had been cheated by the cry for
"the whole of Oregon," and the men who had got up that cry were afraid
to face the people whom they had deceived by the light of common day;
and so we had the Mexican War improvised, to distract public attention
from the lame and impotent manner in which we had settled the Oregon
question. Having kissed the Briton's boot, it became necessary to soothe
our exasperated feelings by applying our own boot to the person of the
Aztec. The man having been too much for us, we were bound to give the
boy a sound beating, and that beating he received. True, we had cause of
quarrel with Mexico, which we had long overlooked, and which had seldom
moved us to anger, and never to the point of falling foul, until we had
become excessively angry both with the English and ourselves; and
equally true is it that Spain has some reason to make Mexico feel the
weight of her arm, now that it has become strong again,--but, imitating
our prudence, she has chosen her own time for calling Mexico to account.
All chivalrous nations are partial to this form of shabbiness; and
though we are told that honor is the distinction of a monarchy, we see
that under the Spanish monarchy its requirements can be dispensed with
when a gain can be secured by walking in the path of dishonor.
But though the policy of Spain is base toward Mexico, it has the merit
of being perfectly intelligible, which is generally the case with things
of the kind. Much fault has been found with Spain by our Unionists
because she has exhibited some partiality for the Secessionists, and
apparently is ready to go as far as England means to go in helping them
to the full enjoyment of independence and national life. It has been
pointed out, that it was the South, not the North, which favored the
"acquisition" of Cuba by force, fraud, or falsehood, according to
circumstances; that the men who met at Ostend, and proclaimed that Cuba
must be ours, were Democrats, not Republicans; and that the buccaneers
who used to fit out expeditions for the redemption of the "faithful"
island from Spanish rule were Southrons, while other Southrons refused
to convict those buccaneers who were tried at New Orleans, and elsewhere
in Secessia, of being guilty of crimes against the laws of America and
of nations. And it is asked, with looks of wonder, "How can Spain be so
blind to her interests, and so regardless of insults that ordinarily
disturb even the mildest of nations, as to sympathize with and aid her
enemies, men who, if successful in their present purpose, would be sure
to attack Cuba, to help themselves to Mexico, and to become masters of
all the Spanish-American countries on this continent?" Pertinent to the
matter as this question is, Spain has an answer to give that would be
very much to the point. "True," she might say, "it was the South that
sent land pirates to Cuba, and it was a Federal Government that was
dominated by Southrons that used to insult us semiannually by insisting
that we should part with Cuba, though we should as soon have thought of
selling Cadiz. But it was the American Government, which spoke in the
name of the whole American nation, that made the demand for Cuba, and
which protected the pirates. Had you made war on us to obtain possession
of Cuba, as you would have done but for the occurrence of your civil
troubles, that war would have been waged by the United States, and not
by the South and by the Democratic party. It would have been the work of
you all, of Republicans as well as Democrats, of Yankees as well as
Southrons, of Abolitionists as well as Slaveholders. There would have
come soldiers from your Southern States, to tear from the Spanish
monarchy its most valuable foreign possession; but whence would have
come the men who would have manned your fleets, that would have acted
with your armies, protecting their landing, and thus alone making Cuba's
conquest possible? They would have been Northern men, New-Englanders and
New-Yorkers, perhaps descendants of some of the very men who helped to
conquer a portion of the island a century ago. It was _American_
strength that we feared, not the strength of the _North_ or that of
the _South_, for neither of which do we care. Who would have
furnished the capital to pay the expenses of the war? Who but the rich
men of the North? Money is the sinew of all war, foreign and civil, and
not a little of that Northern capital which we have seen so lavishly
poured out in aid of the Union would have been subscribed in aid of a
project to bring the curse of disunion upon our country. You know this
to be the fact, and we challenge you as truthful men to deny it, that
for many years it has been a favorite idea with some of your statesmen,
and not of leaders of the Democratic party only, to stave off the
troubles that were rapidly growing out of the slavery question, by
having recourse to a 'distraction' based on the acquisition of Cuba. You
know, or ought to know, that the very man who is now at the head of the
Southern Confederacy was advised, at the North, in 1853, to pursue such
a course with regard to Cuba, he being then the most influential member
of the Pierce administration, as should 'distract' American attention
from slavery as a local matter; and that he thought this Northern advice
good, and would have given the administration's support to the project
it involved, and probably with success, and to our great loss and
disgrace, when a new turn was given to your strange politics by the
movement in behalf of the repeal of the Missouri compromise, a movement
that has brought safety to us, and loss and disgrace upon yourselves. We
admit that your cause is the cause of law, of order, and of
constitutional freedom; but why should we desire the triumph of the
cause of law, of order, and of constitutional freedom in the United
States, when that triumph would be but preliminary to a triumph over our
own country? Had your internal peace been continued for ten years
longer, your free population would have reached to forty millions, and
your wealth would have grown at a greater rate than your population. You
would have been able to give law to America, and you would, under one
plausible pretext or another, have taken possession of all the European
colonies of the Occident. Nothing short of a European alliance could
have prevented your becoming supreme from the region of eternal snows to
the regions of eternal bloom; and such an alliance it would have been
difficult to form, as there are nations in Europe that would have been
as ready to back you in your day of strength as they are now both ready
and anxious to back your enemy in this your hour of weakness. In plain
words, it is for our interest that you should fall; and as your fall can
be best promoted through the success of the Secessionists, therefore do
we give them our moral support, and sympathize with them in their
struggle to establish their national freedom on the basis of everlasting
slavery. Why should we not sympathize with them, and even aid, at an
early day, in raising the blockade of their ports? Are they not doing
our work? As to their seizure of Spanish-American countries, it would be
long before they could attempt an extension of their dominion; and by
reestablishing our rule over Mexico we shall be in condition to bridle
them for fifty years to come, even if they should remain united. But it
is not at all probable that they would continue united. What Mexico has
been, that the Southern Confederacy would be. The revolutions, the
_pronunciamientos_, the murders, and the robberies which it is our
intention to banish from Mexico, would take up their abode in the
Southern Confederacy, in which Secession would do its perfect work. Such
things are the natural fruits of the Secession tree, which is as
poisonous as the upas and as productive as the palm. _You_ we shall
have no occasion to fear, as, once cut down, Europe would never again
permit you to endanger the integrity of the possessions of any of her
countries in the West."
Such might be the language of Spain in reply to the remonstrances of our
Unionists, and although it embodies nothing but the intensest
selfishness, it would not be the worse diplomatic expression on that
account. When was diplomacy otherwise than sordid in its nature? When
was it the custom with nations to "spare the humble and subdue the
proud"? Never. The Romans said that such was their practice, but every
page of their bloody history gives the lie to the poetical boast. It is
the humble who are subdued, and the proud who are spared. Good
Samaritans are rare characters among men, but who ever heard of a Good
Samaritan among nations? The custom of nations is far worse than was the
conduct of those persons who would not relieve the man who had fallen
among thieves. They simply abstained from doing good, while nations
unite their powers to annoy and annihilate the distressed. There is, it
is probable, an understanding existing between France, England, and
Spain to aid the Southern Confederacy at an early day, and when we shall
have become sufficiently reduced to admit of their giving such aid
without hazard to themselves, they being little inclined to engage in
In one respect the reconquest of Mexico by Spain would prove beneficial
to us. If the Southern Confederacy should be established through the
action of foreign powers, it would be for our interest that Mexico
should have a strong government ruling over a united people. If the
anarchical condition of Mexico should be continued, that country would
afford a fine field for the energy and enterprise of all the lawless
spirits of the South, who could be precipitated upon it to the great
gain of their countrymen; and England, in pursuance of her great
Christian principle of creating markets for cotton and cottons, would
encourage the Confederates to enter Mexico. But if Mexico should be
converted into an orderly country, and have an army capable of treating
buccaneers as the Spanish army treated Lopez and his followers, it would
be no place for the discharged soldiers of Davis and Stephens. They
would have to stay at home, and they would make of that home a hell. The
welfare of the North would be promoted by the misery of the Southrons,
who ought to be made to pay the full penalty of their extraordinary
crime. Without provocation, and making of that want of provocation an
absolute boast, they have brought war upon their country, and are
endeavoring to spread its flames over the world. The misery they have
wrought is incalculable, and no narrative of it, let it be as minute and
as detailed as it could be made, will ever furnish a full picture of it.
It would be but the merest justice, that men who make war in the spirit
of wantonness be compelled to drink off the red cup they have filled, to
the very lees. Such would probably be their doom, should they prevail.
The least successful thing to them would be success.
It is not certain, however, that the revival of Spanish power is to be
lasting in its nature; and if Spain should fall as suddenly as she has
risen, the way to Mexico would be open to the Southrons, who might then
and there add so tremendously to the dominions of King Cotton as to make
him even more powerful than ever he has been in the imagination of his
votaries,--and they have ranked him only one step below the Devil.
Spanish revivals are so much like certain other revivals, that they are
apt to be followed by reaction, leaving the unduly excited subject in a
worse condition than ever. European affairs, too, may demand Spain's
attention, and require her to leave Mexico to take care of herself.
Europe is full of causes of war, occasion for waging which must soon
arise. The American war has tended to the promotion of peace in Europe,
but that cannot be much longer maintained. Let war break out in Europe,
and Spain would probably feel herself called upon to assume a principal
part in it, and then the Southern Confederacy would be at liberty to
spread slavery over the finest cotton country on earth, under the
patronage of England, which hates slavery, but worships its results. The
future of Mexico it lies in the power of the American Union to decide,
and our armies are contending as much for Mexican freedom as they are
for American nationality.
* * * * *
A RAFT THAT NO MAN MADE.
I am a soldier: but my tale, this time, is not of war.
The man of whom the Muse talked to the blind bard of old had grown wise
in wayfaring. He had seen such men and cities as the sun shines on, and
the great wonders of land and sea; and he had visited the farther
countries, whose indwellers, having been once at home in the green
fields and under the sky and roofs of the cheery earth, were now gone
forth and forward into a dim and shadowed land, from which they found no
backward path to these old haunts, and their old loves:--
[Greek: Eeri kai nephele kekalummenoi oude pot' autous
Eelios phaeuon kataderketai aktinessin.]
At the Charter-House I learned the story of the King of Ithaca, and read
it for something better than a task; and since, though I have never seen
so many cities as the much-wandering man, nor grown so wise, yet have
heard and seen and remembered, for myself, words and things from crowded
streets and fairs and shows and wave-washed quays and murmurous
market-places, in many lands; and for his [Greek: Kimmerion undron
demos],--his people wrapt in cloud and vapor, whom "no glad sun finds
with his beams,"--have been borne along a perilous path through thick
mists, among the crashing ice of the Upper Atlantic, as well as
sweltered upon a Southern sea, and have learned something of men and
something of God.
I was in Newfoundland, a lieutenant of Royal Engineers, in Major Gore's
time, and went about a good deal among the people, in surveying for
Government. One of my old friends there was Skipper Benjie Westham, of
Brigus, a shortish, stout, bald man, with a cheerful, honest face and a
kind voice; and he, mending a caplin-seine one day, told me this story,
which I will try to tell after him.
We were upon the high ground, beyond where the church stands now, and
Prudence, the fisherman's daughter, and Ralph Barrows, her husband, were
with Skipper Benjie when he began; and I had an hour by the watch to
spend. The neighborhood, all about, was still; the only men who were in
sight were so far off that we heard nothing from them; no wind was
stirring near us, and a slow sail could be seen outside. Everything was
right for listening and telling.
"I can tell 'ee what I sid[A] myself, Sir," said Skipper Benjie. "It
isn' like a story that's put down in books: it's on'y like what we
planters[B] tells of a winter's night or sech: but it's _feelun_,
mubbe, an' 'ee won't expect much off a man as couldn' never read,--not
so much as Bible or Prayer-Book, even."
[Footnote A: Saw.]
[Footnote B: Fishermen.]
Skipper Benjie looked just like what he was thought: a true-hearted,
healthy man, a good fisherman, and a good seaman. There was no need of
any one's saying it. So I only waited till he went on speaking.
"'T was one time I goed to th' Ice, Sir. I never goed but once, an' 't was
a'most the first v'yage ever was, ef 't wasn' the _very_ first; an'
't was the last for me, an' worse agen for the rest-part o' that crew,
that never goed no more! 'T was tarrible sad douns wi' they!"
This preface was accompanied by some preliminary handling of the
caplin-seine, also, to find out the broken places and get them about
him. Ralph and Prudence deftly helped him. Then, making his story wait,
after this opening, he took one hole to begin at in mending, chose his
seat, and drew the seine up to his knee. At the same time I got nearer
to the fellowship of the family by persuading the planter (who yielded
with a pleasant smile) to let me try my hand at the netting. Prudence
quietly took to herself a share of the work, and Ralph alone was
"They calls th' Ice a wicked place,--Sundays an' weekin days all alike;
an' to my seemun it's a cruel, bloody place, jes' so well,--but not all
thinks alike, surely.--Rafe, lad, mubbe 'ee'd ruther go down cove-ways,
an' overhaul the punt a bit."
Ralph, who perhaps had stood waiting for the very dismissal that he now
got, assented and left us three. Prudence, to be sure, looked after him
as if she would a good deal rather go with him than stay; but she
stayed, nevertheless, and worked at the seine. I interpreted to myself
Skipper Benjie's sending away of one of his hearers by supposing that
his son-in-law had often heard his tales; but the planter explained
"'Ee sees, Sir, I knocked off goun to th' Ice becase 't was sech a
tarrible cruel place, to my seemun. They swiles[C] be so knowun
like,--as knowun as a dog, in a manner, an' lovun to their own, like
Christens, a'most, more than bastes; an' they'm got red blood, for all
they lives most-partly in water; an' then I found 'em so friendly, when
I was wantun friends badly. But I s'pose the swile-fishery's needful;
an' I knows, in course, that even Christens' blood's got to be taken
sometimes, when it's bad blood, an' I wouldn' be childish about they
things: on'y,--ef it's me,--when I can live by fishun, I don' want to go
an' club an' shoot an' cut an' slash among poor harmless things that
'ould never harm man or 'oman, an' 'ould cry great tears down for
pity-sake, an' got a sound like a Christen: I 'ouldn' like to go
a-swilun for gain,--not after beun among 'em, way I was, anyways."
[Footnote C: Seals.]
This apology made it plain that Skipper Benjie was large-hearted enough,
or indulgent enough, not to seek to strain others, even his own family,
up to his own way in everything; and it might easily be thought that the
young fisherman had different feelings about sealing from those that the
planter's story was meant to bring out. All being ready, he began his
"I shipped wi' Skipper Isra'l Gooden, from Carbonear: the schooner was
the Baccaloue, wi' forty men, all told. 'T was of a Sunday morn'n 'e
'ould sail, twel'th day o' March, wi' another schooner in company,--the
Sparrow. There was a many of us wasn' too good, but we thowt wrong of
'e's takun the Lord's Day to 'e'sself.--Wull, Sir, afore I comed 'ome, I
was in a great desert country, an' floated on sea wi' a monstrous great
raft that no man never made, creakun an' crashun an' groanun an' tumblun
an' wastun an' goun to pieces, an' no man on her but me, an' full o'
"About a five hours out, 't was, we first sid the blink,[D] an' comed up
wi' th' Ice about off Cape Bonavis'. We fell in wi' it south, an' worked
up nothe along: but we didn' see swiles for two or three days yet; on'y
we was workun along; pokun the cakes of ice away, an' haulun through wi'
main strength sometimes, holdun on wi' bights o' ropes out o' the bow;
an' more times, agen, in clear water: sometimes mist all round us, 'ee
couldn' see the ship's len'th, sca'ce; an' more times snow, jes' so
thick; an' then a gale o' wind, mubbe, would a'most blow all the spars
out of her, seemunly.
[Footnote D: A dull glare on the horizon, from the immense
masses of ice.]
"We kep' sight o' th' other schooner, most-partly; an' when we didn'
keep it, we'd get it agen. So one night 't was a beautiful moonlight
night: I think I never sid a moon so bright as that moon was; an' such
lovely sights a body 'ouldn' think could be! Little islands, an' bigger,
agen, there was, on every hand, shinun so bright, wi' great,
awful-lookun shadows! an' then the sea all black, between! They did look
so beautiful as ef a body could go an' bide on 'em, in a manner; an' the
sky was jes' so blue, an' the stars all shinun out, an' the moon all so
bright! I never looked upon the like. An' so I stood in the bows; an' I
don' know ef I thowt o' God first, but I was thinkun o' my girl that I
was troth-plight wi' then, an' a many things, when all of a sudden we
comed upon the hardest ice we'd a-had; an' into it; an' then, wi' pokun
an' haulun, workun along. An' there was a cry goed up,--like the cry of
a babby, 't was, an' I thowt mubbe 't was a somethun had got upon one o'
they islands; but I said, agen, 'How could it?' an' one John Harris said
'e thowt 't was a bird. Then another man (Moffis 'e's name was) started
off wi' what they calls a gaff, ('t is somethun like a short boat-hook,)
over the bows, an' run; an' we sid un strike, an' strike, an' we hard it
go wump! wump! an' the cry goun up so tarrible feelun, seemed as ef 'e
was murderun some poor wild Inden child 'e'd a-found, (on'y mubbe 'e
wouldn' do so bad as that: but there've a-been tarrible bloody, cruel
work wi' Indens in my time,) an' then 'e comed back wi' a white-coat[E]
over 'e's shoulder; an' the poor thing wasn' dead, but cried an' soughed
like any poor little babby."
[Footnote E: A young seal.]
The young wife was very restless at this point, and, though she did not
look up, I saw her tears. The stout fisherman smoothed out the net a
little upon his knee, and drew it in closer, and heaved a great sigh: he
did not look at his hearers.
"When 'e throwed it down, it walloped, an' cried, an' soughed,--an' its
poor eyes blinded wi' blood! ('Ee sees, Sir," said the planter, by way
of excusing his tenderness, "they swiles were friends to I, after.)
Dear, oh, dear! I couldn' stand it; for 'e _might_ ha' killed un',
an' so 'e goes for a quart o' rum, for fetchun first swile, an' I went
an' put the poor thing out o' pain. I didn' want to look at they
beautiful islands no more, somehow. Bumby it comed on thick, an' then
"Nex' day swiles bawlun[F] every way, poor things! (I knowed their
voice, now,) but 't was blowun a gale o' wind, an' we under bare poles,
an' snow comun agen, so fast as ever it could come: but out the men
'ould go, all mad like, an' my watch goed, an' so I mus' go. (I didn'
think what I was goun to!) The skipper never said no; but to keep near
the schooner, an' fetch in first we could, close by; an' keep near the
[Footnote F: Technical word for the crying of the seals.]
"So we got abroad, an' the men that was wi' me jes' began to knock right
an' left: 't was heartless to see an' hear it. They laved two old uns
an' a young whelp to me, as they runned by. The mother did cry like a
Christen, in a manner, an' the big tears 'ould run down, an' they 'ould
both be so brave for the poor whelp that 'ould cuddle up an' cry; an the
mother looked this way an' that way, wi' big, pooty, black eyes, to see
what was the manun of it, when they'd never doned any harm in God's
world that 'E made, an' would n', even ef you killed 'em: on'y the poor
mother baste ketched my gaff, that I was goun to strike wi', betwixt her
teeth, an' I could n' get it away. 'T was n' like fishun! (I was
weak-hearted like: I s'pose 't was wi' what was comun that I did n'
know.) Then comed a hail, all of a sudden, from the schooner; (we had n'
been gone more 'n a five minutes, ef't was so much,--no, not more 'n a
three;) but I was glad to hear it come then, however: an' so every man
ran, one afore t' other. There the schooner was, tearun through all, an'
we runnun for dear life. I failed among the slob,[G] and got out agen.
'T was another man pushun agen me doned it. I could n' 'elp myself from
goun in, an' when I got out I was astarn of all, an' there was the
schooner carryun on, right through to clear water! So, hold of a bight
o' line, or anything! an' they swung up in over bows an' sides! an'
swash! she struck the water, an' was out o' sight in a minute, an' the
snow drivun as ef't would bury her, an' a man laved behind on a pan of
ice, an' the great black say two fathom ahead, an' the storm-wind blowun
'im into it!"
[Footnote G: Broken ice, between large cakes, or against the
The planter stopped speaking. We had all gone along so with the story,
that the stout seafarer, as he wrought the whole scene up about us,
seemed instinctively to lean back and brace his feet against the ground,
and clutch his net. The young woman looked up, this time; and the cold
snow-blast seemed to howl through that still summer's noon, and the
terrific ice-fields and hills to be crashing against the solid earth
that we sat upon, and all things round changed to the far-off stormy
ocean and boundless frozen wastes.
The planter began to speak again:--
"So I failed right down upon th' ice, sayun, 'Lard, help me! Lard, help
me!' an' crawlun away, wi' the snow in my face, (I was afeard, a'most,
to stand,) 'Lard, help me! Lard, help me!'
"'T was n' all hard ice, but many places lolly;[H] an once I goed right
down wi' my hand-wristes an' my armes in cold water, part-ways to the
bottom o' th' ocean; and a'most head-first into un, as I'd a-been in wi'
my legs afore: but, thanks be to God! 'E helped me out of un, but colder
an' wetter agen.
[Footnote H: Snow in water, not yet frozen, but looking like
the white ice.]
"In course I wanted to folly the schooner; so I runned up along, a
little ways from the edge, an' then I runned down along: but 't was all
great black ocean outside, an' she gone miles an' miles away; an' by two
hours' time, even ef she'd come to, itself, an' all clear weather, I
could n' never see her; an' ef she could come back, she could n' never
find me, more'n I could find any one o' they flakes o' snow. The
schooner was gone, an' I was laved out o' the world!
"Bumby, when I got on the big field agen, I stood up on my feet, an' I
sid that was my ship! She had n' e'er a sail, an' she had n' e'er a
spar, an' she had n' e'er a compass, an' she had n' e'er a helm, an' she
had n' no hold, an' she had n' no cabin. I could n' sail her, nor I
could n' steer her, nor I could n' anchor her, nor bring her to, but she
would go, wind or calm, an' she'd never come to port, but out in th'
ocean she'd go to pieces! I sid 't was so, an' I must take it, an' do my
best wi' it. 'T was jest a great, white, frozen raft, driftun bodily
away, wi' storm blowun over, an' current runnun under, an' snow comun
down so thick, an' a poor Christen laved all alone wi' it. 'T would
drift as long as anything was of it, an' 't was n' likely there'd be any
life in the poor man by time th' ice goed to nawthun; an' the swiles
'ould swim back agen up to the Nothe!
"I was th' only one, seemunly, to be cast out alive, an' wi' the dearest
maid in the world (so I thought) waitun for me. I s'pose 'ee might ha'
knowed somethun better, Sir; but I was n' larned, an' I ran so fast as
ever I could up the way I thowt home was, an' I groaned, an' groaned,
an' shook my handes, an' then I thowt, 'Mubbe I may be goun wrong way.'
So I groaned to the Lard to stop the snow. Then I on'y ran this way an'
that way, an' groaned for snow to knock off.[I] I knowed we was driftun
mubbe a twenty leagues a day, and anyways I wanted to be doun what I
could, keepun up over th' Ice so well as I could, Noofundland-ways, an'
I might come to somethun,--to a schooner or somethun; anyways I'd get up
so near as I could. So I looked for a lee. I s'pose 'ee'd ha' knowed
better what to do, Sir," said the planter, here again appealing to me,
and showing by his question that he understood me, in spite of my
[Footnote I: To stop.]
I had been so carried along with his story that I had felt as if I were
the man on the Ice, myself, and assured him, that, though I could get
along pretty well on land, _and could even do something at
netting_, I should have been very awkward in his place.
"Wull, Sir, I looked for a lee. ('T wouldn' ha' been so cold, to say
cold, ef it hadn' a-blowed so tarrible hard.) First step, I stumbled
upon somethun in the snow, seemed soft, like a body! Then I comed all
together, hopun an' fearun an' all together. Down I goed upon my knees
to un, an' I smoothed away the snow, all tremblun, an' there was a moan,
as ef 't was a-livun.
"'O Lard!' I said, 'who's this? Be this one of our men?'
"But how could it? So I scraped the snow away, but 't was easy to see 't
was smaller than a man. There wasn' no man on that dreadful place but
me! Wull, Sir, 't was a poor swile, wi' blood runnun all under; an' I
got my cuffs[J] an' sleeves all red wi' it. It looked like a
fellow-creatur's blood, a'most, an' I was a lost man, left to die away
out there in th' Ice, an' I said, 'Poor thing! poor thing!' an' I didn'
mind about the wind, or th' ice, or the schooner goun away from me afore
a gale, (I _wouldn'_ mind about 'em,) an' a poor lost Christen may
show a good turn to a hurt thing, ef 't was on'y a baste. So I smoothed
away the snow wi' my cuffs, an' I sid 't was a poor thing wi' her whelp
close by her, an' her tongue out, as ef she'd a-died fondlun an' lickun
it; an' a great puddle o' blood,--it looked tarrible heartless, when I
was so nigh to death, an' wasn' hungry. An' then I feeled a stick, an' I
thowt, 'It may be a help to me,' an' so I pulled un, an' it wouldn'
come, an' I found she was lyun on it; so I hauled agen, an', when it
comed, 't was my gaff the poor baste had got away from me, an' got it
under her, an' she was a-lyun on it. Some o' the men, when they was
runnun for dear life, must ha' struck 'em, out o' madness like, an'
laved 'em to die where they was. 'T was the whelp wasn' quite dead.
'Ee'll think 't was foolish, Sir, but it seemed as though they was
somethun to me, an' I'd a-lost the last friendly thing there was.
[Footnote J: Mittens.]
"I found a big hummock an' sheltered under it, standun on my feet, wi
nawthun to do but think, an' think, an' pray to God; an' so I doned. I
couldn' help feelun to God then, surely. Nawthun to do, an' no place to
go, tull snow cleared away; but jes' drift wi' the great Ice down from
the Nothe, away down over the say, a sixty mile a day, mubbe. I wasn' a
good Christen, an' I couldn' help a-thinkun o' home an' she I was
troth-plight wi', an' I doubled over myself an' groaned,--I couldn' help
it: but bumby it comed into me to say my prayers, an' it seemed as thof
she was askun me to pray, (an' she _was_ good, Sir, al'ays,) an' I
seemed all opened, somehow, an' I knowed how to pray."
While the words were coming tenderly from the weather-beaten fisherman,
I could not help being moved, and glanced over toward the daughter's
seat; but she was gone, and, turning round, I saw her going quietly,
almost stealthily, and very quickly, _toward the cove_.
The father gave no heed to her leaving, but went on with his tale:--
"Then the wind began to fall down, an' the snow knocked off altogether,
an' the sun comed out; an' I sid th' Ice, field-ice an' icebargs, an'
every one of 'em flashun up as ef they'd kendled up a bonfire, but no
sign of a schooner! no sign of a schooner! nor no sign o' man's douns,
but on'y ice, every way, high an' low, an' some places black water,
in-among; an' on'y the poor swiles bawlun all over, an' I standun
"While I was lookun out, I sid a great icebarg (they calls 'em) a
quarter of a mile away, or thereabouts, standun up,--one end a twenty
fathom out o' water, an' about a forty fathom across, wi' hills like,
an' houses,--an' then, jest as ef 'e was alive an' had tooked a notion
in 'e'sself, seemunly, all of a sudden 'e rared up, an' turned over an'
over, wi' a tarrible thunderun noise, an' comed right on, breakun
everything an' throwun up great seas: 't was frightsome for a lone body
away out among 'em! I stood an' looked at un, but then agen I thowt I
may jes' so well be goun to thick ice an' over Noofundland-ways a piece,
so well as I could. So I said my bit of a prayer, an' told Un I could n'
help myself; an' I made my confession how bad I'd been, an' I was sorry,
an' ef 'E'd be so pitiful an' forgive me; an' ef I mus' loss my life, ef
'E'd be so good as make me a good Christen first,--an' make _they_
happy, in course.
"So then I started; an' first I goed to where my gaff was, by the
mother-swile an' her whelp. There was swiles every two or three yards
a'most, old uns an' young uns, all round, everywhere; an' I feeled
shamed in a manner: but I got my gaff, an' cleaned un, an' then, in
God's name, I took the big swile, that was dead by its dead whelp, an'
hauled it away, where the t' other poor things could n' si' me, an' I
sculped[K] it, an' took the pelt;--for I thowt I'd wear un, now the poor
dead thing did n' want to make oose of un no more,--an' partly becase't
was sech a lovun thing. An' so I set out, walkun this way, for a spurt,
an' then t' other way, keepun up mostly a Nor-norwest, so well as I
could: sometimes away round th' open, an' more times round a lump of
ice, an' more times, agen, off from one an' on to another, every minute.
I did n' feel hungry, for I drinked fresh water off th' ice. No
schooner! no schooner!
[Footnote K: Skinned.]
"Bumby the sun was goun down:'t was slow work feelun my way along, an' I
did n' want to look about: but then agen I thowt God 'ad made it to be
sid; an' so I come to, an' turned all round, an' looked; an' surely it
seemed like another world, someway,'t was so beautiful,--yellow, an'
different sorts o' red, like the sky itself in a manner, an' flashun
like glass. So then it comed night: an' I thowt I should n' go to bed,
an' I may forget my prayers, an' so I'd, mubbe, best say 'em right away;
an' so I doned: 'Lighten our darkness,' and others we was oosed to say:
an' it comed into my mind the Lard said to Saint Peter, 'Why did n' 'ee
have faith?' when there was nawthun on the water for un to go on; an' I
had ice under foot,--'t was but frozen water, but't was frozen,--an' I
"I could n' help thinkun o' Brigus an' them I'd laved in it, an' then I
prayed for 'em; an' I could n' help cryun, a'most: but then I give over
agen, an' would n' think, ef I could help it; on'y tryun to say an odd
psalm, all through singun-psalms an' other, for I knowed a many of 'em
by singun wi' Patience, on'y now I cared more about 'em: I said that
'Sech as in ships an' brickle barks
Into the seas descend,
Their merchantun, through fearful floods,
To compass an' to end:
They men are force-put to behold
The Lard's works, what they be;
An' in the dreadful deep the same
Most marvellous they see.'
An' I said a many more, (I can't be accountable how many I said,) an'
same uns many times over: for I would keep on; an' 'ould sometimes sing
'em very loud in my poor way.
"A poor baste (a silver fox 'e was) comed an' looked at me; an' when I
turned round, he walked away a piece, an' then 'e comed back, an'
"So I found a high piece, wi' a wall of ice atop for shelter, ef it
comed on to blow; an' so I stood, an' said, an' sung, I knowed well I
was on'y driftun away.
"It was tarrible lonely in the night, when night comed: it's no use! 'T
was tarrible lonely: but I 'ouldn' think, ef I could help it; an' I
prayed a bit, an' kep' up my psalms, an' varses out o' the Bible, I'd
a-larned. I had n' a-prayed for sleep, but for wakun all night, an'
there I was, standun.
"The moon was out agen, so bright; an' all the hills of ice shinun up to
her; an' stars twinklun, so busy, all over; an' No'ther' Lights goun up
wi' a faint blaze, seemunly, from th' ice, an' meetun up aloft; an'
sometimes a great groanun, an' more times tarrible loud shriekun! There
was great white fields, an' great white hills, like countries, comun
down to be destroyed; an' some great bargs a-goun faster, an' tearun
through, breakun others to pieces; an' the groanun an' screechun,--ef
all the dead that ever was, wi' their white clothes---But no!" said the
stout fisherman, recalling himself from gazing, as he seemed to be, on
the far-off ghastly scene, in memory.
"No!--an' thank 'E's marcy, I'm sittun by my own room. 'E tooked me off:
but 't was a dreadful sight,--it's no use,--ef a body'd let 'e'sself
think! I sid a great black bear, an' hard un growl; an' 't was feelun,
like, to hear un so bold an' so stout, among all they dreadful things,
an' bumby the time 'ould come when 'e couldn' save 'e'sself, do what 'e
"An' more times 't was all still: on'y swiles bawlun, all over. Ef it
hadn' a-been for they poor swiles, how could I stan' it? Many's the one
I'd a-ketched, day-time, an' talked to un, an' patted un on the head, as
ef they'd a-been dogs by the door, like; an' they'd oose to shut their
eyes, an' draw their poor foolish faces together. It seemed
neighbor-like to have some live thing.
"So I kep' awake, sayun an' singun, an' it wasn' very cold; an'
so--first thing I knowed, I started, an' there I was lyun in a heap; an'
I must have been asleep, an' didn' know how 't was, nor how long I'd
a-been so: an' some sort o' baste started away, an' 'e must have waked
me up; I couldn' rightly see what 't was, wi' sleepiness: an' then I
hard a sound, sounded like breakers; an' that waked me fairly. 'T was
like a lee-shore; an' 't was a comfort to think o' land, ef 't was on'y
to be wrecked on itself: but I didn' go, an' I stood an' listened to un;
an' now an' agen I'd walk a piece, back an' forth, an' back an' forth;
an' so I passed a many, many longsome hours, seemunly, tull night goed
down tarrible slowly, an' it comed up day o' t' other side: an' there
wasn' no land; nawthun but great mountains meltun an' breakun up, an'
fields wastun away. I sid 't was a rollun barg made the noise like
breakers, throwun up great seas o' both sides of un; no sight nor sign
o' shore, nor ship, but dazun white,--enough to blind a body,--an' I
knowed 't was all floatun away, over the say. Then I said my prayers,
an' tooked a drink o' water, an' set out agen for Nor-norwest: 't was
all I could do. Sometimes snow, an' more times fair agen; but no sign o'
man's things, an' no sign o' land, on'y white ice an' black water; an'
ef a schooner wasn' into un a'ready, 't wasn' likely they woul', for we
was gettun furder an' furder away. Tired I was wi' goun, though I hadn'
walked more 'n a twenty or thirty mile, mubbe, an' it all comun down so
fast as I could go up, an' faster, an' never stoppun! 'T was a tarrible
long journey up over the driftun ice, at sea! So, then I went on a high
bit to wait tull all was done: I thowt 't would be last to melt, an'
mubbe, I thowt, 'e may capsize wi' me, when I didn' know (for I don' say
I was stout-hearted): an' I prayed Un to take care o' them I loved; an'
the tears comed. Then I felt somethun tryun to turn me round like, an'
it seemed as ef _she_ was doun it, somehow, an' she seemed to be
very nigh, somehow, an' I didn' look.
"After a bit, I got up to look out where most swiles was, for company,
while I was livun: an' the first look struck me a'most like a bullet!
There I sid a sail! _'T was_ a sail, an' 't was like heaven openun,
an' God settun her down there. About three mile away she was, to
nothe'ard, in th' Ice.
"I could ha' sid, at first look, what schooner't was; but I did n' want
to look hard at her. I kep' my peace, a spurt, an' then I runned an'
bawled out, 'Glory be to God!' an' then I stopped, an' made proper
thanks to Un. An' there she was, same as ef I'd a-walked off from her an
hour ago! It felt so long as ef I'd been livun years, an' they would n'
know me, sca'ce. Somehow I did n' think I could come up wi' her.
"I started, in the name o' God, wi' all my might, an' went, an'
went,--'t was a five mile, wi' goun round,--an' got her, thank God! 'T
was n' the Baccaloue, (I sid that long before,) 't was t' other
schooner, the Sparrow, repairun damages they 'd got day before. So that
kep' 'em there, an' I'd a-been took from one an' brought to t' other.
"I could n' do a hand's turn tull we got into the Bay agen,--I was so
clear beat out. The Sparrow kep' her men, an' fotch home about
thirty-eight hundred swiles, an' a poor man off th' Ice: but they, poor
fellows, that I went out wi', never comed no more; an' I never went
"I kep' the skin o' the poor baste, Sir: that's 'e on my cap."
When the planter had fairly finished his tale, it was a little while
before I could teach my eyes to see the things about me in their places.
The slow-going sail, outside, I at first saw as the schooner that
brought away the lost man from the Ice; the green of the earth would
not, at first, show itself through the white with which the fancy
covered it; and at first I could not quite feel that the ground was fast
under my feet. I even mistook one of my own men (the sight of whom was
to warn me that I was wanted elsewhere) for one of the crew of the
schooner Sparrow of a generation ago.
I got the tale and its scene gathered away, presently, inside my mind,
and shook myself into a present association with surrounding things, and
took my leave. I went away the more gratified that I had a chance of
lifting my cap to a matron, dark-haired and comely, (who, I was sure, at
a glance, had once been the maiden of Benjie Westham's "troth-plight,")
and receiving a handsome curtsy in return.
* * * * *
FREMONT'S HUNDRED DAYS IN MISSOURI.
THE FORCED MARCH TO SPRINGFIELD.
_Bolivar, October 26th_. Zagonyi's success has roused the
enthusiasm of the army. The old stagers took it coolly, but the green
hands revealed their excitement by preparing for instant battle. Pistols
were oiled and reloaded, and swords sharpened. We did all this a month
ago, before leaving St. Louis. We then expected a battle, and went forth
with the shadow and the sunshine of that expectation upon our hearts;
but up to this time we have not seen a shot fired in earnest. Now the
blast of war blows in our ears, and we instinctively "stiffen the sinews
and summon up the blood."
Captain H., the young chevalier of the staff, whom we have named _Le
Beau Capitaine_, went this morning to St. Louis with intelligence of
the victory. He has ninety miles to ride before midnight, to catch
Under the influence of the excitement which prevailed, we were on
horseback this morning long before it was necessary, when the General
sent us word that the staff might go forward, and he would overtake us.
The gay and brilliant cavalcade which marched out of Jefferson City is
destroyed,--the maimed and bleeding Guard is reposing a few miles south
of Bolivar,--the detachment which was left at head-quarters has gone on
to join the main body,--and the staff, broken into small parties,
straggles along the road. A more beautiful day never delighted the
earth. The atmosphere is warm, the sky cloudless, and the distance is
filled with a soft dreamy haze, which veils, but does not conceal, the
purple hills and golden forests.
A few miles south of our last night's camp we came out upon a large
prairie, called the Twenty-Five Mile Prairie. It is an undulating plain,
seven miles wide and twenty-five long. It was the intention to
concentrate the army here. A more favorable position for reviewing and
manoeuvring a large force cannot be found. But the plan has been
changed. We must hasten to Springfield, lest the Rebels seize the
place, capture White and our wounded, and throw a cloud over Zagonyi's
Passing from the prairie, we entered a broad belt of timber, and soon
reached a fine stream. We drew rein at a farmhouse on the top of the
river-bank, where we found a pleasant Union family. The farmer came out,
and, thinking Colonel Eaton was the General, offered him two superb
apples, large enough for foot-balls. He was disappointed to find his
mistake, and to be compelled to withdraw the proffered gift. Sigel
encamped here last night;, and the _debris_ of his camp-fires
checker the hill-side and the flats along the margin of the creek. After
waiting an hour, the General not coming up, Colonel Eaton and myself set
out alone over a road which was crowded with Sigel's wagons. Everything
bears witness to the extraordinary energy and efficiency of that
officer. This morning he started before day, and he will be in
Springfield by noon to-morrow. His train is made up of materials which
would drive most generals to despair. There are mule-teams, and
ox-teams, and in some cases horses, mules, and oxen hitched together.
There are army-wagons, box-wagons, lumber-wagons, hay-racks, buggies,
carriages,--in fact, every kind of animal and every description of
vehicle which could be found in the country. Most of our
division-commanders would have refused to leave camp with such a train;
but Sigel has made it answer his purpose, and here he is, fifty miles in
advance of any other officer, tearing after Price.
We were jogging painfully over the incumbered road, and through clouds
of dust, when an officer rode up in great haste, and asked for Dr. C.,
who was needed at the camp of the Guards. By reason of the broken order
in which the staff rode to-day, he could not be found. For two mortal
hours unlucky aides-de-camp dashed to the front and the rear, and
scoured the country for five miles upon the flanks, visiting the
farm-houses in search of the missing surgeon. At last he was found, and
hurried on to the relief of the Guard. At this moment the General came
up, and, to our astonishment, Zagonyi was riding beside him, bearing
upon his trim person no mark of yesterday's fatigue and danger. The
Major fell behind, and rode into Bolivar with me. On the way we met
Lieutenant Maythenyi of the Guard.
Our camp is on the farm of a member of the State legislature who is now
serving under Price. His white cottage and well-ordered farm-buildings
are surrounded by rich meadows, bearing frequent groups of noble trees;
the fences are in good condition, and the whole place wears an air of
thrift and prosperity which must be foreign to Missouri even in her best
_Springfield, October 28th_. Few of those who endured the labor of
yesterday will forget the march into Springfield. At midnight of
Saturday, the Sharp-shooters were sent on in wagons, and at two in the
morning the Benton Cadets started, with orders to march that day to
Springfield, thirty miles. Their departure broke the repose of the camp.
To add to the confusion, a report was spread that the General intended
to start at daybreak, and that we must have breakfast at four o'clock
and be ready for the saddle at six. This programme was carried out. Long
before day our servants called us; fires were lighted, and breakfast
eaten by starlight. Before dawn the wagons were packed and horses
saddled. But the General had no intention of going so early; the report
had its origin in the uneasy brain of some officer who probably thought
the General ought to leave at daybreak. Some of the old heads paid no
attention to the report, or did not hear it, and they were deep in the
pleasures of the morning nap while we poor fellows were shivering over
Colonel Wyman reported himself at Bolivar, having marched from Rolla and
beaten the Rebels in three engagements. The General set out at nine
o'clock for our thirty-mile ride. The black horse fell into his usual
scrambling gait, and we pounded along uneasily after him. As we passed
through Bolivar, the inhabitants came into the streets and greeted us
with cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs,--a degree of interest which
is not often exhibited. Fording a small stream, we came into Wyman's
camp, and thence upon a long, rolling prairie. An hour's ride brought us
to the place where the Guard encamped the night before. The troops had
left, but the wounded officers were still in a neighboring house,
waiting for our ambulances. Those who were able to walk came out to see
the General. He received them with marked kindness. At times like this,
he has a simple grace and poetry of expression and a tenderness of
manner which are very winning. He spoke a few words to each of the brave
fellows, which brought smiles to their faces and tears into their eyes.
Next came our turn, and we were soon listening to the incidents of the
fearful fray. None of them are severely wounded, except Kennedy, and he
will probably lose an arm. We saw them all placed in the ambulances, and
then fell in behind the black pacer.
A short distance farther on, a very amusing scene occurred. The road in
front was nearly filled by a middle-aged woman, fat enough to have been
the original of some of the pictures which are displayed over the booths
at a county fair.
"Are you Gin'ral Freemount?" she shouted, her loud voice husky with
"Yes," replied the General in a low tone, somewhat abashed at the
formidable obstruction in his path, and occupied in restraining the
black pacer, who was as much frightened at the huge woman as he could
have been at a park of artillery.
"Waal, you're the man I want to see. I'm a widder. I wus born in Old
Kentuck, and am a Union, and allers wus a Union, and will be a Union to
the eend, clear grit."
She said this with startling earnestness and velocity of utterance, and
paused, the veins in her face swollen almost to bursting. The black
pacer bounded from one side of the road to the other, throwing the whole
party into confusion.
The General raised his cap and asked,--
"What is the matter, my good woman?"
"Matter, Gin'ral! Ther's enough the matter. I've allers gi'n the sogers
all they wanted. I gi'n 'em turkeys and chickens and eggs and butter and
bread. And I never charged 'em anything for it. They tuk all my corn,
and I never said nuthing. I allers treated 'em well, for I'm Union, and
so wus my man, who died more nor six yeah ago."
She again paused, evidently for no reason except to escape a stroke of
"But tell me what you want now. I will see to it that you have justice,"
interrupted the General.
"You see, Gin'ral, last night some sogers come and tuk my
ox-chains,--two on 'em,--all I've got,--and I can't buy no more in these
war-times. I can't do any work without them chains; they'd 'a' better uv
tuk my teams with 'em, too."
"How much were your ox-chains worth," said the General, laughing.
"Waal now," answered the fat one, moderating her tone, "they're wuth a
good deal jes' now. The war has made such things dreffle deah. The big
one wus the best I ever see; bought it last yeah, up at Hinman's store
in Bolivar; that chain was wuth--waal now--Ho, Jim! ho, Dick! come
y'ere! Gin'ral Freemount wants to know how much them ox-chains wus
A lazy negro and a lazier white man, the latter whittling a piece of
cedar, walked slowly from the house to the road, and, leaning against
the fence, began in drawling tones to discuss the value of the
ox-chains, how much they cost, how much it would take to buy new ones in
these times. One thought "may-be four dollars wud do," but the other was
sure they could not be bought for less than five. There was no promise
of a decision, and the black pacer was floundering about in a perfect
agony of fear. At last the General drew out a gold eagle and gave it to
the woman, asking,--
"Is that enough?"
She took the money with a ludicrous expression of joy and astonishment
at the rare sight, but exclaimed,--
"Lor' bless me! it's too much, Gin'ral! I don't want more nor my rights.
It's too much."
But the General spurred by her, and we followed, leaving the "Union"
shouting after us, "It's too much! It's more nor I expected!" She must
have received an impression of the simplicity and promptitude of the
quartermaster's department which the experience of those who have had
more to do with it will hardly sustain.
Our road was filled with teams belonging to Sigel's train, and the dust
was very oppressive. At length it became so distressing to our animals
that the General permitted us to separate from him and break up into
small parties. I made the rest of the journey in company with Colonel
Eaton. Our road lay through the most picturesque region we had seen. The
Ozark Mountains filled the southern horizon, and ranges of hills swept
along our flanks. The broad prairies, covered with tall grass waving and
rustling in the light breeze, were succeeded by patches of woods,
through which the road passed, winding among picturesque hills covered
with golden forests and inlaid with the silver of swift-running crystal
As we came near the town, we saw many evidences of the rapid march Sigel
had made. We passed large numbers of stragglers. Some were limping
along, weary and foot-sore, others were lying by the road-side, and
every farmhouse was filled with exhausted men. A mile or two from
Springfield we overtook the Cadets. They had marched thirty miles since
morning, and had halted beside a brook to wash themselves. As we
approached, Colonel Marshall dressed the ranks, the colors were flung
out, the music struck up, and the Cadets marched into Springfield in as
good order as if they had just left camp.
It was a gala-day in Springfield. The Stars and Stripes were flying from
windows and house-tops, and ladies and children, with little flags in
their hands, stood on the door-steps to welcome us. This is the
prettiest town I have found in Missouri, and we can see the remains of
former thrift and comfort worthy a village in the Valley of the
Merrimack or Genesee. It has suffered severely from the war. From its
position it is the key to Southern Missouri, and all decisive battles
for the possession of that region must be fought near Springfield. This
is the third Union army which has been here, and the Confederate armies
have already occupied the place twice. When the Federals came, the
leading Secessionists fled; and when the Rebels came, the most prominent
Union men ran away. Thus by the working of events the town has lost its
chief citizens, and their residences are either deserted or have been
sacked. War's dreary record is written upon the dismantled houses, the
wasted gardens, the empty storehouses, and the deserted taverns. The
market, which stood in the centre of the _Plaza_, was last night
fired by a crazy old man, well known here, and previously thought to be
harmless: it now stands a black ruin, a type of the desolation which
broods over the once happy and prosperous town.
Near the market is a substantial brick edifice, newly built,--the county
courthouse. It is used as a hospital, and we were told that the dead
Guardsmen were lying in the basement. Colonel Eaton and myself
dismounted, and entered a long, narrow room in which lay sixteen ghastly
figures in open coffins of unpainted pine, ranged along the walls. All
were shot to death except one. They seemed to have died easily, and many
wore smiles upon their faces. Death had come so suddenly that the color
still lingered in their boyish cheeks, giving them the appearance of
wax-figures. Near the door was the manly form of the sergeant of the
first company, who, while on the march, rode immediately in front of the
General. We all knew him well. He was a model soldier: his dress always
neat, his horse well groomed, the trappings clean, and his
sabre-scabbard bright. He lay as calm and placid as if asleep; and a
small blue mark between his nose and left eye told the story of his
death. Opposite him was a terrible spectacle,--the bruised, mangled, and
distorted shape of a bright-eyed lad belonging to the Kentucky company.
I had often remarked his arch, mirthful, Irish-like face; and the
evening the Guard left camp he brought me a letter to send to his
mother, and talked of the fun he was going to have at Springfield. His
body was found seven miles from the battle-field, stripped naked. There
was neither bullet--nor sabre-wound upon him, but his skull had been
beaten in by a score of blows. The cowards had taken him prisoner,
carried him with them in their flight, and then robbed and murdered him.
After leaving the hospital we met Major White, whom we supposed to be a
prisoner. He is quite ill from the effects of exposure and anxiety. With
his little band of twenty-four men he held the town, protecting and
caring for the wounded, until Sigel came in yesterday noon.
Head-quarters were established at the residence of Colonel Phelps, the
member of Congress from this district, and our tents are now grouped in
front and at the sides of the house. The wagons did not come up until
midnight, and we were compelled to forage for our supper and lodging. A
widow lady who lives near gave some half-dozen officers an excellent
meal, and Major White and myself slept on the floor of her sitting-room.
This afternoon the Guardsmen were buried with solemn ceremony. We placed
the sixteen in one huge grave. Upon a grassy hill-side, and beneath the
shade of tall trees, the brave boys sleep in the soil they have hallowed
by their valor.
We are so far in advance that there is some solicitude lest we may be
attacked before the other divisions come up. Sigel has no more than five
thousand men, and the addition of our little column makes the whole
force here less than six thousand. Asboth is two days' march behind.
McKinstry is on the Pomme-de-Terre, seventy miles north, and Pope is
about the same distance. Hunter--we do not know precisely where he is,
but we suppose him to be south of the Osage, and that he will come by
the Buffalo road: he has not reported for some time. Price is at Neosho,
fifty-four miles to the southwest. Should he advance rapidly, it will
need energetic marching to bring up our reinforcements. Price and
McCulloch have joined, and there are rumors that Hardee has reached
their camp with ten thousand men. The best information we can get places
the enemy's force at thirty thousand men and thirty-two pieces of
artillery. Deserters are numerous. I have interrogated a number of them
to-day, and they all say they came away because Price was retreating,
and they did not wish to be taken so far from their homes. They also say
that the time for which his men are enlisted expires in the middle of
November, and if he does not fight, his army will dissolve.
_Springfield, October 30th_. Asboth brought in his division this
morning, and soon after Lane came at the head of his brigade. It was a
motley procession, made up of the desperate fighters of the Kansas
borders and about two hundred negroes. The contrabands were mounted and
armed, and rode through the streets rolling about in their saddles with
their shiny faces on a broad grin.
The disposition to be made of fugitive slaves is a subject which every
day presents itself. The camps and even head-quarters are filled with
runaways. Several negroes came from St. Louis as servants of
staff-officers, and these men have become a sort of Vigilance Committee
to secure the freedom of the slaves in our neighborhood. The new-comers
are employed to do the work about camp, and we find them very
useful,--and they serve us with a zeal which is born of their
long-baffled love of liberty. The officers of the regular army here have
little sympathy with this practical Abolitionism; but it is very
different with the volunteers and the rank and file of the army at
large. The men do not talk much about it; it is not likely that they
think very profoundly upon the social and legal questions involved; they
are Abolitionists by the inexorable logic of their situation. However
ignorant or thoughtless they may be, they know that they are here at the
peril of their lives, facing a stern, vigilant, and relentless foe. To
subdue this foe, to cripple and destroy him, is not only their duty, but
the purpose to which the instinct of self-preservation concentrates all
their energies. Is it to be supposed that men who, like the soldiers of
the Guard, last week pursued Rebellion into the very valley and shadow
of death, will be solicitous to protect the system which incited their
enemies to that fearful struggle, and hurried their comrades to early
graves? What laws or proclamations can control men stimulated by such
memories? The stern decrees of fact prescribe the conditions upon which
this war must be waged. An attempt to give back the negroes who ask our
protection would demoralize the army; an order to assist in such
rendition would be resented as an insult. Fortunately, no such attempt
will be made. So long as General Fremont is in command of this
department, no person, white or black, will be taken out of our lines
into slavery. The flag we follow will be in truth what the nation has
proudly called it, a symbol of freedom to all.
The other day a farmer of the neighborhood came into our quarters,
seeking a runaway slave. It happened that the fugitive had been employed
as a servant by Colonel Owen Lovejoy. Some one told the man to apply to
the Colonel, and he entered the tent of that officer and said,--
"Colonel, I am told you have got my boy Ben, who has run away from me."
"Your boy?" exclaimed the Colonel; "I do not know that I have any boy of
"Yes, there he is," insisted the master, pointing to a negro who was
approaching. "I want you to deliver him to me: you have no right to him;
he is my slave."
"Your slave?" shouted Colonel Lovejoy, springing to his feet. "That man
is my servant. By his own consent he is in my service, and I pay him for
his labor, which it is his right to sell and mine to buy. Do you dare
come here and claim the person of my servant? He is entitled to my
protection, and shall have it. I advise you to leave this camp
The farmer was astounded at the cool way in which the Colonel turned the
tables upon him, and set his claim to the negro, by reason of having
hired him, above the one which he had as the negro's master. He left
hastily, and we afterwards learned that his brother and two sons were in
the Rebel army.
As an instance of the peculiar manner in which some of the fugitive
slaves address our sympathies, I may mention the case of Lanzy, one of
my servants. He came to my tent the morning after I arrived here,
ragged, hungry, foot-sore, and weary. Upon inquiry, I have found his
story to be true. He is nearly white, and is the son of his master,
whose residence is a few miles west of here, but who is now a captain
under Price,--a fact which does not predispose me to the rendition of
Lanzy, should he be pursued. He is married, after the fashion in which
slaves are usually married, and has two children. But his wife and of
course her children belong to a widow lady, whose estate adjoins his
master's farm, and several months ago, by reason of the unsettled
condition of the country, Lanzy's wife and little children were sold and
taken down to the Red River. Fearing the approach of the Federal forces,
last week the Rebel captain sent instructions to have Lanzy and his
other slaves removed into Arkansas. This purpose was discovered, and
Lanzy and a very old negro, whom he calls uncle, fled at night. For
several days they wandered through the forests, and at last succeeded in
reaching Springfield. How can a man establish a stronger claim to the
sympathy and protection of a stranger than that which tyranny,
misfortune, and misery have given to this poor negro upon me? Bereft of
wife and children, whose love was the sunshine of his dark and dreary
life, threatened with instant exile from which there was no hope of
escape,--what was there of which imagination can conceive that could
increase the load of evil which pressed upon this unhappy man? Is it
strange that he fled from his hard fate, as the hare flies from the
His case is by no means extraordinary. Go to any one of the dusky
figures loitering around yonder fire, and you will hear a moving story
of oppression and sorrow. Every slave who runs breathless into our lines
and claims the soldier's protection, not only appeals to him as a
soldier struggling with a deadly foe, but addresses every generous
instinct of his manhood. Mighty forces born of man's sympathy for man
are at work in this war, and will continue their work, whether we oppose
or yield to them.
Yesterday fifty-three Delaware Indians came from Kansas to serve under
the General. Years ago he made friends of the Delawares, when travelling
through their country upon his first journey of exploration; and hearing
that he was on the war-path, the tribe have sent their best young
warriors to join him. They are descendants of the famous tribe which
once dwelt on the Delaware River, and belonged to the confederacy of the
Six Nations, for more than two centuries the most powerful Indian
community in America. Their ancient prowess remains. The Delawares are
feared all over the Plains, and their war-parties have often penetrated
beyond the Rocky Mountains, carrying terror through all the Indian
tribes. These men are fine specimens of their race,--tall, lightly
formed, and agile. They ride little shaggy ponies, rough enough to look
at, but very hardy and active; and they are armed with the old American
rifle, the traditional weapon which Cooper places in the hands of his
red heroes. They are led by the chief of their tribe, Fall-Leaf, a
dignified personage, past the noon of life, but showing in his erect
form and dark eye that the fires of manhood burn with undiminished vigor.
_Springfield, November 1st._ It is certain that Price left Neosho
on Monday and is moving towards us. He probably heard how small the
force was with which the General arrived here, and thinks that he can
overwhelm us before the other divisions come up. We have had some fear
of this ourselves, and all the dispositions have been made for a
stubborn defence in case we are attacked. The last two nights we have
slept on our arms, with our horses saddled and baggage packed. Now all
danger is past: a part of Pope's division came in this morning, and
McKinstry is close at hand. He has marched nearly seventy miles in three
days. The evidence that Price is advancing is conclusive. Our scouts
have reported that he was moving, and numerous deserters have confirmed
these reports; but we have other evidence of the most undoubted
reliability. During the last two days, hundreds of men, women, and
children have come into our lines,--Union people who fled at the
approach of the Rebels. I have talked with a number of these fugitives
who reside southwest from here, and they all represent the roads to be
filled with vast numbers of men and teams going towards Wilson's Creek.
They give the most exaggerated estimates of the number of the enemy,
placing them at from fifty thousand to one hundred and twenty-five
thousand men; but the scouts and deserters say that the whole force does
not exceed thirty-two thousand, and of these a large number are poorly
armed and quite undisciplined. Hunter has not come up, nor has he been
heard from directly, but there is a report that yesterday he had not
left the Osage: if this be true, he will not be here in time for the
The Rebel generals must now make their choice between permitting
themselves to be cut off from their base of operations and sources of
supply and reinforcement, and attempting to reach Forsyth, in which case
they will have to give us battle. The movement from Neosho leaves no
doubt that they intend to fight. It is said by the deserters that Price
would be willing to avoid an engagement, but he is forced to offer
battle by the necessities of his position, the discontent of his
followers, the approaching expiration of their term of enlistment, and
the importunities of McCulloch, who declares he will not make another
We are now perfectly prepared. Hunter's delay leaves us with only
twenty-two thousand men, seventy pieces of artillery, and about four
thousand cavalry. In view of our superiority as respects armament,
discipline, and ordnance, we are more than a match for our opponent. We
sleep to-night in constant expectation of an attack: two guns will be
fired as a signal that the enemy are at hand.
_Springfield, November 2d_. The catastrophe has come which we have
long dreaded, but for which we were in no degree prepared. This morning,
at about ten o'clock, while I was standing in front of my tent, chatting
with some friends, an officer in the uniform of a captain of the general
staff rode up, and asked the orderly to show him to the General. He went
into the house, and in a few moments came out and rode off. I soon
learned that he had brought an order from General Scott informing
General Fremont that he was temporarily relieved of his command, and
directing him to transfer it to Major-General Hunter and report himself
to the head-quarters of the army by letter. The order was originally
dated October 7th, but the date had been altered to October 24th, on
which day it left St. Louis,--the day the Guards started upon their
expedition, to Springfield.
This order, which, on the very eve of consummation, has defeated the
carefully matured plans upon which the General's fortunes and in so
large a measure the fortunes of the country depended,--which has
destroyed the results of three months of patient labor, transferring to
another the splendid army he has called together, organized, and
equipped, and giving to another the laurel wreath of victory which now
hangs ready to fall at the touch,--this order, which has disappointed so
many long-cherished hopes, was received by our magnanimous General
without a word of complaint. In his noble mind there was no doubt or
hesitation. He obeyed it promptly and implicitly. He at once directed
Colonel Eaton to issue the proper order transferring the command to
General Hunter, and having prepared a brief address to the soldiers,
full of pathos and patriotic devotion, he rode out accompanied by the
Delawares to examine the positions south of the village.
Hunter has not yet been heard from: three couriers have been sent after
him. General Pope is now in command here. It is understood, that, until
the Commanding General arrives, the army will stand upon the defensive,
and that no engagement will take place, unless it is attacked. General
Fremont and his staff will leave to-morrow for St. Louis.
This evening I rode through Sigel's and McKinstry's camps. The general
order and the farewell address had been read to the regiments, and the
camp-fires were surrounded by groups of excited soldiers, and cheers for
Fremont were heard on every side.
_November 3d, 8 P.M._ This morning it became apparent that the
departure of the General before the arrival of Hunter would endanger the
discipline of the army. Great numbers of officers have offered their
resignations, and it has required the constant and earnest efforts of
General Fremont to induce them to retain their positions. The slightest
encouragement upon his part of the discontent which prevails will
disorganize the divisions of Sigel and Asboth.
The attitude of the enemy is threatening, and it does not seem possible
to avoid a battle more than a few hours. Great numbers of people, flying
before Price, have come in to-day. A reconnaissance in the direction of
Springfield has been made, and the following report rendered by General
"HEAD-QUARTERS FOURTH DIVISION WESTERN DEPARTMENT.
"_Springfield, November 3d, 1861._
"To MAJOR-GENERAL J.C. FREMONT, _Commanding Western
"GENERAL:--The captain commanding the company of Major Wright's
battalion, which was sent out on a scouting party to Wilson's
Creek, has just sent in his report by a runner. He says, last
night the enemy's advanced guard, some two thousand strong,
camped at Wilson's Creek. Price's forces are at Terrill's Creek
on the Marionsville road, nine miles behind Wilson's Creek, and
McCulloch's forces are at Dug Springs.
"Both these forces were expected to concentrate at Wilson's
Creek to-night, and offer battle there.
"The scout depicts every road and path covered with moving
troops, estimating them at forty thousand men.
"Your obedient serv't,
"Act. Maj.-Gen'l Com'd'g 4th Div."
According to this report, the whole of Price's army is within twenty
miles of us, and probably nearer. Hunter has not been heard from,
and it is impossible to discover his whereabouts. This afternoon
General McKinstry designed to make a reconnaissance in force with
his whole division towards Wilson's Creek; but yielding to the
solicitations of the chief officers, and in view of the imminence of
battle, to-day General Fremont resumed the command, and ordered
McKinstry not to make his reconnoissance,--not wishing to bring on a
general engagement during the absence of Hunter.
All day long officers have visited General Fremont and urged him to
give battle, representing, that, if this opportunity were permitted
to pass, Price, after ascertaining our force, would retire, and it
would be impossible to catch him again. This evening one hundred and
ten officers called upon him in a body. They ranged themselves in
semicircular array in front of the house, and one of their number
presented an address to the General full of sympathy and respect,
and earnestly requesting him to lead them against the enemy. At the
close of the interview, the General said, that, under all the
circumstances, he felt it to be his duty not to decline the battle
which our foe offers us,--and that, if General Hunter did not arrive
before midnight, he would lead the army forward to-morrow morning at
daybreak; and that they might so inform their several commands. This
announcement was received with loud cheers. The staff-officers were
at once despatched with directions to the division and brigade
commanders to repair forthwith to head-quarters and receive their
orders. The Generals assembled at eight o'clock, and the following
order of battle was then published.
"HEAD-QUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT.
"_Springfield, November 3,1861_.
"The different divisions of the army shall be put in the
following order of battle.
"Act'g Maj.-Gen. Asboth, right wing.
" " McKinstry, centre.
" " Sigel, left.
" " Pope, reserve.
"General McKinstry's column to leave camp at six o'clock, and
proceed by the Fayetteville road to the upper end of the upper
cornfield on the left, where General Lyon made his first attack.
"General Sigel to start at six o'clock by Joakum's Mill, and
follow his old trail, except that he is to turn to the right
some two miles sooner, and proceed to the old stable on the
lower end of the lower cornfield.
"General Asboth to start at six and one-half o'clock, by the
Mount Vernon road, then by a prairie road to the right of the
ravine opposite the lower field.
"General Pope to start at seven o'clock by the Fayetteville
road, following General McKinstry's column.
"General Lane to join General Sigel's division. General Wyman to
join General Asboth's division.
"One regiment and two pieces of artillery of General Pope's
division to remain as a reserve in Springfield.
"The different divisions to come into their positions at the
same time, about eleven o'clock, at which hour a simultaneous
attack will be made.
"The baggage-trains to be packed and held in readiness at
Springfield. Each regiment to carry three two-horse wagons to
transport the wounded.
The General and staff, with the Body-Guard, Benton Cadets,
Sharp-shooters, and Delawares, will accompany McKinstry's column.
The news has spread like wildfire. As I galloped up the road this
evening, returning from McKinstry's quarters, every camp was astir. The
enthusiasm was unbounded. On every side the eager soldiers are preparing
for the conflict. They are packing wagons, sharpening sabres, grooming
horses, and cleaning muskets. The spirit of our men promises a brilliant
_Midnight_. At eleven o'clock General Hunter entered the Council of
Generals at head-quarters. General Fremont explained to him the
situation of affairs, the attitude of the enemy, and the dispositions
which had been made for the following day, and then gracefully resigned
the command into his hands. And thus our hopes are finally defeated, and
in the morning we turn our faces to the north. General Hunter will not
advance to-morrow, and the opportunity of catching Price will probably
be lost, for it is not likely the Rebel General will remain at Wilson's
Creek after he has learned that the whole Federal army is concentrated.
The news of the change has not yet reached the camps. As I sit here,
wearied with the excitement and labors of the day, the midnight
stillness is broken by the din of preparation, the shouting of
teamsters, the clang of the cavalry anvils, and the distant cheers of
the soldiers, still excited with the hope of to-morrow's victory.
The Body-Guard and Sharp-shooters return with us; and all the officers
of General Fremont's staff have received orders to accompany him.
_In camp, twenty-five miles north of Springfield, November 4th._ At
nine o'clock this morning we were in the saddle, and our little column
was in marching order. The Delawares led, then came our band, the
General and his staff followed, the Body-Guard came next, and the
Sharp-shooters in wagons brought up the rear. In this order we proceeded
through the village. The Benton Cadets were drawn up in line in front of
their camp, and saluted us as we passed, but none of the other regiments
were paraded. The band had been directed to play lively airs, and we
marched out to merry music. The troops did not seem to know that the
General was to leave; but when they heard the band, they ran out of
their camps and flocked into the streets: there was no order in their
coming; they came without arms, many of them without their coats and
bareheaded, and filled the road. The crowd was so dense that with
difficulty the General rode through the throng. The farewell was most
touching. There was little cheering, but an expression of sorrow on
every face. Some pressed forward to take his hand; others cried, "God
bless you, General!" "Your enemies are not in the camp!" "Come back and
lead us to battle; we will fight for you!" The General rode on perfectly
calm, a pleasant smile on his face, telling the men he was doing his
duty, and they must do theirs.
We travelled with great rapidity and circumspection; for there was some
reason to suppose that parties of the enemy had been thrown to the north
of Springfield, in which case we might have been interfered with.
_Sedalia, November 7th._ We are waiting for the train which is to
take us to St. Louis. Our journey here has been made very quickly.
Monday we marched twenty-five miles. Tuesday we started at dawn, and
made thirty miles, encamping twenty-five miles south of the Osage.
Wednesday we were in the saddle at six o'clock, crossed the Osage in the
afternoon, and halted ten miles north of that river, the day's journey
being thirty-five miles. We pitched our tents upon a high, flat prairie,
covered with long dry grass.
In the evening the Delawares signified, that, if the General would
consent to it, they would perform a war-dance. Permission was easily
obtained, and, after the Indian braves had finished their toilet, they
approached in formal procession, arrayed in all the glory and terror of
war-paint. A huge fire had been built. The inhabitants of our little
camp quickly gathered, officers, soldiers of the Guard, and
Sharp-shooters, negroes and teamsters. The Indians ranged themselves on
one side of the fire, and the rest of us completed the circle. The
dancing was done by some half-dozen young Indians, to the monotonous
beating of two small drums and a guttural accompaniment which the
dancers sang, the other Indians joining in the chorus. The performance
was divided into parts, and the whole was intended to express the
passions which war excites in the Indian nature,--the joy which they
feel at the prospect of a fight,--their contempt for their
enemies,--their frenzy at sight of the foe,--the conflict,--the
operations of tomahawking and scalping their opponents,--and, finally,
the triumph of victory. The performances occupied over two hours.
Fall-Leaf presided with an air of becoming gravity, smoking an enormous
stone pipe with a long reed stem.
After rendering thanks in proper form, Fall-Leaf was told, that, by way
of return for their civility, and in special honor of the Delawares, the
negroes would dance one of their national dances. Two agile darkies came
forward, and went through with a regular break-down, to the evident
entertainment of the red men. Afterwards an Irishman leaped into the
ring, and began an Irish hornpipe. He was the best dancer of all, and
his complicated steps and astonishing _tours-de-force_ completely
upset the gravity of the Indians, and they burst into loud laughter. It
was midnight before the camp was composed to its last night's sleep.
This morning we started an hour before day, and marched to this place,
twenty miles, by noon.
Thus ended the expedition of General Fremont to Springfield.
* * * * *
In bringing these papers to a close, the writer cannot refrain from
expressing his regret that circumstances have prevented him from making
that exposition of affairs in the Western Department which the country
has long expected. While he was in the field, General Fremont permitted
the attacks of his enemies to pass unheeded, because he held them
unworthy to be intruded upon more important occupations, and he would
not be diverted from the great objects he was pursuing; since his
recall, considerations affecting the public service, and the desire not
at this time to embarrass the Government with personal matters, have
sealed his lips. I will not now disregard his wishes by entering into
any detailed discussion of the charges which have been made against
him,--but I cannot lay down my pen without bearing voluntary testimony
to the fidelity, energy, and skill which he brought to his high office.
It will be hard for any one who was not a constant witness of his career
to appreciate the labor which he assumed and successfully performed.
From the first to the last hour of the day, there was no idle moment. No
time was given to pleasure,--none even to needed relaxation. Often, long
after the strength of his body was spent, the force of his will bound
him to exhausting toil. No religious zealot ever gave himself to his
devotions with more absorbing abandonment than General Fremont to his
hard, and, as it has proved, most thankless task. Time will verify the
statement, that, whether as respects thoroughness or economy, his
administration of affairs at the West will compare favorably with the
transactions of any other department of the Government, military or
civil, during the last nine months. Let it be contrasted with the most
conspicuous instance of the management of military affairs at the East.
The period between the President's Proclamation and the Battle of
Manassas was about equal in duration to the career of Fremont in the
West. The Federal Government had at command all the resources, in men,
material, and money, of powerful, wealthy, and populous communities.
Nothing was asked which was not promptly and lavishly given. After three
months of earnest effort, assisted by the best military and civil talent
of the country, by the whole army organization, by scientific soldiers
and an accomplished and experienced staff, a column of thirty thousand
men, with thirty-four pieces of artillery and but four hundred cavalry,
was moved a distance of twenty-two miles. Though it had been in camp
several weeks, up to a few days before its departure it was without
brigade or division organization, and ignorant of any evolutions except
those of the battalion. It was sent forward without equipage, without a
sufficient commissariat or an adequate medical establishment. This armed
mob was led against an intrenched foe, and driven back in wild and
disgraceful defeat,--a defeat which has prolonged the war for a year,
called for a vast expenditure of men and treasure, and now to our
present burdens seems likely to add those of a foreign war. The authors
of this great disaster remain unpunished, and, except in the opinions of
the public, unblamed; while nearly all the officers who led the
ill-planned, ill-timed, and badly executed enterprise have received
distinguished promotions, such as the soldier never expects to obtain,
except as the reward of heroic and successful effort.
When General Fremont reached St. Louis, the Federal militia were
returning to their homes, and a confident foe pressed upon every salient
point of an extended and difficult defensive position. Drawing his
troops from a few sparsely settled and impoverished States, denied
expected and needed assistance in money and material from the General
Government, he overcame every obstacle, and at the end of eight weeks
led forth an army of thirty thousand men, with five thousand cavalry and
eighty-six pieces of artillery. Officers of high rank declared that this
force could not leave its encampments by reason of the lack of supplies
and transportation; but he conveyed them one hundred and ninety miles by
rail, marched them one hundred and thirty-five miles, crossing a broad
and rapid river in five days, and in three months from his assumption of
the command, and in one month after leaving St. Louis, placed them in
presence of the enemy,--not an incoherent mass, but a well-ordered and
compact army, upon whose valor, steadfastness, and discipline the fate
of the nation might safely have been pledged.
If General Fremont was not tried by the crowning test of the
soldier--the battle-field--it was not through fault of his. On the very
eve of battle he was removed. His army was arrested in its triumphal
progress, and compelled to a shameful retreat, abandoning the beautiful
region it had wrested from the foe, and deserting the loyal people who
trusted to its protection, and who, exiles from their homes, followed
its retreating files,--a mournful procession of broken-hearted men,
weeping women, and suffering children. With an unscrupulousness which
passes belief, the authors of this terrible disaster have denied the
presence of the enemy at Springfield. The miserable wretches, once
prosperous farmers upon the slopes of the Ozark Hills, who now wander
mendicants through the streets of St, Louis, or crouch around the
campfires of Holla and Sedalia, can tell whether Price was near
Springfield or not.
Forty-eight hours more must have given to General Fremont an engagement.
What the result would have been no one who was there doubted. A victory
such as the country has long desired and sorely needs,--a decisive,
complete, and overwhelming victory,--was as certain as it is possible
for the skill and valor of man to make certain any future event Now,
twenty thousand men are required to hold our long line of defence in
Missouri; then, five thousand at Springfield would have secured the
State of Missouri, and a column pushed into Arkansas would have turned
the enemy's position upon the Mississippi. In the same time and with the
same labor that the march to the rear was made, two States might have
been won, and the fate of the Rebellion in the Southwest decided.
While I am writing these concluding pages, the telegraph brings
information that another expedition has started for Springfield. Strong
columns are marching from Bolla, Sedalia, and Versailles, to do the work
which General Fremont stood ready to do last November. After three
months of experience and reflection, the enterprise which was denounced
as aimless, extravagant, and ill-judged, which was derided as a wild
hunt after an unreal foe, an exploration into desert regions, is now
repeated in face of the obstacles of difficult roads and an inclement
season, and when many of the objects of the expedition no longer
exist,--for, unhappily, the loyal inhabitants of those fertile uplands,
the fruitful farms and pleasant homes, are no longer there to receive
the protection of our armies. General Fremont's military conduct could
not have received more signal approval. The malignant criticisms of his
enemies could in no other manner have been so completely refuted.
Unmoved by the storm of calumny and detraction which raged around him,
he has calmly and silently awaited the unerring judgment, the triumphant
verdict, which he knew time and the ebb of the bad passions his success
excited would surely bring.
* * * * *
BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN, ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW.
_With the following Letter from the_ REVEREND HOMER WILBUR, A.M.
_To the Editors of the_ ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
Jaalam, 7th Feb., 1862.
Respected Friends,--If I know myself, and surely a man can hardly be
supposed to have overpassed the limit of fourscore years without
attaining to some proficiency in that most useful branch of learning,
(_e caelo descendit_, says the pagan poet,) I have no great smack
of that weakness which would press upon the publick attention any matter
pertaining to my private affairs. But since the following letter of Mr.
Sawin contains not only a direct allusion to myself, but that in
connection with a topick of interest to all those engaged in the publick
ministrations of the sanctuary, I may be pardoned for touching briefly
thereupon. Mr. Sawin was never a stated attendant upon my
preaching,--never, as I believe, even an occasional one, since the
erection of the new house (where we now worship) in 1845. He did,
indeed, for a time supply a not unacceptable bass in the choir, but,
whether on some umbrage (_omnibus hoc vitium est cantoribus_) taken
against the bass-viol, then, and till his decease in 1850, (_aet. 77_,)
under the charge of Mr. Asaph Perley, or, as was reported by
others, on account of an imminent subscription for a new bell, he
thenceforth, absented himself from all outward and visible communion.
Yet he seems to have preserved, (_alta mente repostum_,) as it
were, in the pickle of a mind soured by prejudice, a lasting
_scunner_, as he would call it, against our staid and decent form
of worship: for I would rather in that wise interpret his fling, than
suppose that any chance tares sown by my pulpit discourses should
survive so long, while good seed too often fails to root itself. I
humbly trust that I have no personal feeling in the matter; though I
know, that, if we sound any man deep enough, our lead shall bring up the
mud of human nature at last. The Bretons believe in an evil spirit which
they call _ar c'houskesik_, whose office it is to make the
congregation drowsy; and though I have never had reason to think that he
was specially busy among my flock, yet have I seen enough to make me
sometimes regret the hinged seats of the ancient meeting-house, whose
lively clatter, not unwillingly intensified by boys beyond eyeshot of
the tithing-man, served at intervals as a wholesome _reveil_. It is
true, I have numbered among my parishioners some whose gift of
somnolence rivalled that of the Cretan Rip van Winkle, Epimenides, and
who, nevertheless, complained not so much of the substance as of the
length of my (by them unheard) discourses. Happy Saint Anthony of Padua,
whose finny acolytes, however they might profit, could never murmur!
_Quare fremuerunt gentes?_ Who is he that can twice a week be
inspired, or has eloquence (_ut ita dicam_) always on tap? A good
man, and, next to David, a sacred poet, (himself, haply, not inexpert of
evil in this particular,) has said,--
"The worst speak something good: if all want sense,
God takes a text and preacheth patience."
There are one or two other points in Mr. Sawin's letter which I would
also briefly animadvert upon. And first concerning the claim he sets up
to a certain superiority of blood and lineage in the people of our
Southern States, now unhappily in rebellion against lawful authority and
their own better interests. There is a sort of opinions, anachronisms
and anachorisms, foreign both to the age and the country, that maintain
a feeble and buzzing existence, scarce to be called life, like winter
flies, which in mild weather crawl out from obscure nooks and crannies
to expatiate in the sun, and sometimes acquire vigour enough to disturb
with their enforced familiarity the studious hours of the scholar. One
of the most stupid and pertinacious of these is the theory that the
Southern States were settled by a class of emigrants from the Old World
socially superiour to those who founded the institutions of New England.
The Virginians especially lay claim to this generosity of lineage, which
were of no possible account, were it not for the fact that such
superstitions are sometimes not without their effect on the course of
human affairs. The early adventurers to Massachusetts at least paid
their passages; no felons were ever shipped thither; and though it be
true that many deboshed younger brothers of what are called good
families may have sought refuge in Virginia, it is equally certain that
a great part of the early deportations thither were the sweepings of the
London streets and the leavings of the London stews. On what the heralds
call the spindle side, some, at least, of the oldest Virginian families
are descended from matrons who were exported and sold for so many
hogsheads of tobacco the head. So notorious was this, that it became one
of the jokes of contemporary playwrights, not only that men bankrupt in
purse and character were "food for the Plantations," (and this before
the settlement of New England,) but also that any drab would suffice to
wive such pitiful adventurers. "Never choose a wife as if you were going
to Virginia," says Middleton in one of his comedies. The mule is apt to
forget all but the equine side of his pedigree. How early the
counterfeit nobility of the Old Dominion became a topick of ridicule in
the Mother Country may be learned from a play of Mrs. Behn's, founded on
the Rebellion of Bacon: for even these kennels of literature may yield a
fact or two to pay the raking. Mrs. Flirt, the keeper of a Virginia
ordinary, calls herself the daughter of a baronet "undone in the late
rebellion,"--her father having in truth been a tailor,--and three of the
Council, assuming to themselves an equal splendour of origin, are shown
to have been, one "a broken exciseman who came over a poor servant,"
another a tinker transported for theft, and the third "a common
pickpocket often flogged at the cart's-tail." The ancestry of South
Carolina will as little pass muster at the Herald's Visitation, though I
hold them to have been more reputable, inasmuch as many of them were
honest tradesmen and artisans, in some measure exiles for conscience'
sake, who would have smiled at the high-flying nonsense of their
descendants. Some of the more respectable were Jews. The absurdity of
supposing a population of eight millions all sprung from gentle loins in
the course of a century and a half is too manifest for confutation. The
aristocracy of the South, such as it is, has the shallowest of all
foundations, for it is only skin-deep,--the most odious of all, for,
while affecting to despise trade, it traces its origin to a successful
traffick in men, women, and children, and still draws its chief revenues
thence. And though, as Doctor Chamberlayne says in his _Present State
of England_, "to become a Merchant of Foreign Commerce, without
serving any Apprentisage, hath been allowed no disparagement to a
Gentleman born, especially to a younger Brother," yet I conceive that he
would hardly have made a like exception in favour of the particular
trade in question. Nor do I believe that such aristocracy as exists at
the South (for I hold, with Marius, _fortissimum quemque
generosissimum_) will be found an element of anything like persistent
strength in war,--thinking the saying of Lord Bacon (whom one quaintly
called _inductionis dominus et Verulamii_) as true as it is pithy,
that, "the more gentlemen, ever the lower books of subsidies." It is odd
enough as an historical precedent, that, while the fathers of New
England were laying deep in religion, education, and freedom the basis
of a polity which has substantially outlasted any then existing, the
first work of the founders of Virginia, as may be seen in Wingfield's
_Memorial_, was conspiracy and rebellion,--odder yet, as showing
the changes which are wrought by circumstance, that the first
insurrection in South Carolina was against the aristocratical scheme of
the Proprietary Government. I do not find that the cuticular aristocracy
of the South has added anything to the refinements of civilization
except the carrying of bowie-knives and the chewing of tobacco,--a
high-toned Southern gentleman being commonly not only _quadrumanous_,
I confess that the present letter of Mr. Sawin increases my doubts as to
the sincerity of the convictions which he professes, and I am inclined
to think that the triumph of the legitimate Government, sure sooner or
later to take place, will find him and a large majority of his
newly-adopted fellow-citizens (who hold with Daedalus, the primal
sitter-on-the-fence, that _medium tenere tutissimum_) original
Union men. The criticisms toward the close of his letter on certain of
our failings are worthy to be seriously perpended, for he is not, as I
think, without a spice of vulgar shrewdness. As to the good-nature in us
which he seems to gird at, while I would not consecrate a chapel, as
they have not scrupled to do in France, to _Notre Dame de la
Haine_, Our Lady of Hate, yet I cannot forget that the corruption of
good-nature is the generation of laxity of principle. Good-nature is our
national characteristick; and though it be, perhaps, nothing more than a
culpable weakness or cowardice, when it leads us to put up tamely with
manifold impositions and breaches of implied contracts, (as too
frequently in our publick conveyances,) it becomes a positive crime,
when it leads us to look unresentfully on peculation, and to regard
treason to the best Government that ever existed as something with which
a gentleman may shake hands without soiling his fingers. I do not think
the gallows-tree the most profitable member of our _Sylva_; but,
since it continues to be planted, I would fain see a Northern limb
ingrafted on it, that it may bear some other fruit than loyal
A relick has recently been discovered on the east bank of Bushy Brook in
North Jaalam, which I conceive to be an inscription in Runic characters
relating to the early expedition of the Northmen to this continent. I
shall make fuller investigations, and communicate the result in due
Your obedient servant,
HOMER WILBUR, A.M.
P.S. I inclose a year's subscription from Deacon Tinkham.
I hed it on my min' las' time, when I to write ye started,
To tech the leadin' featurs o' my gittin' me convarted;
But, ez my letters hez to go clearn roun' by way o' Cuby,
'T wun't seem no staler now than then, by th' time it gits where you be.
You know up North, though sees an' things air plenty ez you please,
Ther' warn't nut one on 'em thet come jes' square with my idees:
I dessay they suit workin'-folks thet ain't noways pertic'lar,
But nut your Southun gen'leman thet keeps his perpendic'lar;
I don't blame nary man thet casts his lot along o' his folks,
But ef you cal'late to save _me_, 't must be with folks thet _is_ folks;
Cov'nants o' works go 'ginst my grain, but down here I've found out
The true fus'-fem'ly A 1 plan,--here's how it come about.
When I fus' sot up with Miss S., sez she to me, sez she,--
"Without you git religion, Sir, the thing can't never be;
Nut but wut I respeck," sez she, "your intellectle part,
But you wun't noways du for me athout a change o' heart:
Nothun religion works wal North, but it's ez soft ez spruce,
Compared to ourn, for keepin' sound," sez she, "upon the goose;
A day's experunce'd prove to ye, ez easy 'z pull a trigger,
It takes the Southun pint o' view to raise ten bales a nigger;
You'll fin' thet human natur, South, ain't wholesome more 'n skin-deep,
An' once't a darkie's took with it, he wun't be wuth his keep."
"How _shell_ I git it, Ma'am?" sez I. "Attend the nex' camp-meetin',"
Sez she, "an' it'll come to ye ez cheap ez onbleached sheetin'."
Wal, so I went along an' hearn most an impressive sarmon
About besprinklin' Afriky with fourth-proof dew o' Harmon:
He did n' put no weaknin' in, but gin it tu us hot,
'Z ef he an' Satan'd ben two bulls in one five-acre lot:
I don't purtend to foller him, but give ye jes' the heads;
For pulpit ellerkence, you know, 'most ollers kin' o' spreads.
Ham's seed wuz gin to us in chairge, an' shouldn't we be li'ble
In Kingdom Come, ef we kep' back their priv'lege in the Bible?
The cusses an' the promerses make one gret chain, an' ef
You snake one link out here, one there, how much on't ud be lef'?
All things wuz gin to man for's use, his sarvice, an' delight;
An' don't the Greek an' Hebrew words thet mean a Man mean White?
Ain't it belittlin' the Good Book in all its proudes' featurs
To think 't wuz wrote for black an' brown an' 'lasses-colored creaturs,
Thet could n' read it, ef they would, nor ain't by lor allowed to,
But ough' to take wut we think suits their naturs, an' be proud to?
Warn't it more prof'table to bring your raw materil thru
Where you can work it inta grace an' inta cotton, tu,
Than sendin' missionaries out where fevers might defeat 'em,
An' ef the butcher did n' call, their p'rishioners might eat 'em?
An' then, agin, wut airthly use? Nor 't warn't our fault, in so fur
Ez Yankee skippers would keep on a-totin' on 'em over.
'T improved the whites by savin' 'em from ary need o' workin',
An' kep' the blacks from bein' lost thru idleness an' shirkin';
We took to 'em ez nat'ral ez a barn-owl doos to mice,
An' hed our hull time on our hands to keep us out o' vice;
It made us feel ez pop'lar ez a hen doos with one chicken,
An' fill our place in Natur's scale by givin' 'em a lickin':
For why should Caesar git his dues more 'n Juno, Pomp, an' Cuffy?
It's justifyin' Ham to spare a nigger when he's stuffy.
Where'd their soles go tu, like to know, ef we should let 'em ketch
Freeknowledgism an' Fourierism an' Speritoolism an' sech?
When Satan sets himself to work to raise his very bes' muss,
He scatters roun' onscriptur'l views relatin' to Ones'mus.
You'd ough' to seen, though, how his face an' argymunce an' figgers
Drawed tears o' real conviction from a lot o' pen'tent niggers!
It warn't like Wilbur's meetin', where you're shet up in a pew,
Your dickeys sorrin' off your ears, an' bilin' to be thru;
Ther' wuz a tent clost by thet hed a kag o' sunthin' in it,
Where you could go, ef you wuz dry, an' damp ye in a minute;
Au' ef you did dror off a spell, ther' wuzn't no occasion
To lose the thread, because, ye see, he bellered like all Bashan.
It's dry work follerin' argymunce, an' so, 'twix' this an' thet,
I felt conviction weighin' down somehow inside my hat;
It growed an' growed like Jonah's gourd, a kin' o' whirlin' ketched me,
Ontil I fin'lly clean giv out an' owned up thet he'd fetched me;
An' when nine-tenths the perrish took to tumblin' roun' an' hollerin',
I did n' fin' no gret in th' way o' turnin' tu an' follerin'.
Soon ez Miss S. see thet, sez she, "_Thet_ 's wut I call wuth seein'!
_Thet_ 's actin' like a reas'nable an' intellectle bein'!"
An' so we fin'lly made it up, concluded to hitch hosses,
An' here I be 'n my ellermunt among creation's bosses;
Arter I'd drawed sech heaps o' blanks, Fortin at last hez sent a prize,
An' chose me for a shinin' light o' missionary enterprise.
This leads me to another pint on which I've changed my plan
O' thinkin' so 's 't I might become a straight-out Southun man.
Miss S. (her maiden name wuz Higgs, o' the fus' fem'ly here)
On her Ma's side 's all Juggernot, on Pa's all Cavileer,
An' sence I've merried into her an' stept into her shoes,
It ain't more 'n nateral thet I should modderfy my views:
I've ben a-readin' in Debow ontil I've fairly gut
So 'nlightened thet I'd full ez lives ha' ben a Dook ez nut;
An' when we've laid ye all out stiff, an' Jeff hez gut his crown,
An' comes to pick his nobles out, _wun't_ this child be in town!
We'll hev an Age o' Chivverlry surpassin' Mister Burke's,
Where every fem'ly is fus'-best an' nary white man works:
Our system's sech, the thing'll root ez easy ez a tater;
For while your lords in furrin parts ain't noways marked by natur',
Nor sot apart from ornery folks in featurs nor in figgers,
Ef ourn'll keep their faces washed, you'll know 'em from their niggers.
Ain't _sech_ things wuth secedin' for, an' gittin' red o' you
Thet waller in your low idees, an' will till all is blue?
Fact is, we _air_ a diff'rent race, an' I, for one, don't see,
Sech havin' ollers ben the case, how w' ever _did_ agree.
It's sunthin' thet you lab'rin'-folks up North hed ough' to think on,
Thet Higgses can't bemean themselves to rulin' by a Lincoln,--
Thet men, (an' guv'nors, tu,) thet hez sech Normal names ez Pickens,
Accustomed to no kin' o' work, 'thout 't is to givin' lickins,
Can't masure votes with folks thet git their livins from their farms
An' prob'ly think thet Law 's ez good ez hevin' coats o' arms.
Sence I've ben here, I've hired a chap to look about for me
To git me a transplantable an' thrifty fem'ly-tree,
An' he tells _me_ the Sawins is ez much o' Normal blood
Ez Pickens an' the rest on 'em, an' older 'n Noah's flood.
Your Normal schools wun't turn ye into Normals, for it's clear,
Ef eddykatin' done the thing, they'd be some skurcer here.
Pickenses, Boggses, Pettuses, Magoffins, Letchers, Polks,--
Where can you scare up names like them among your mudsill folks?
Ther' 's nothin' to compare with 'em, you'd fin', ef you should glance,
Among the tip-top femerlies in Englan', nor in France:
I've hearn from 'sponsible men whose word wuz full ez good's their note,
Men thet can run their face for drinks, an' keep a Sunday coat,
Thet they wuz all on 'em come down, an' come down pooty fur,
From folks thet, 'thout their crowns wuz on, ou'doors would n' never
Nor thet ther' warn't a Southun man but wut wuz _primy fashy_
O' the bes' blood in Europe, yis, an' Afriky an' Ashy:
Sech bein' the case, is 't likely we should bend like cotton-wickin',
Or set down under anythin' so low-lived ez a lickin'?
More 'n this,--hain't we the literatoor an' science, tu, by gorry?
Hain't we them intellectle twins, them giants, Simms an' Maury,
Each with full twice the ushle brains, like nothin' thet I know,
'Thout 't wuz a double-headed calf I see once to a show?
For all thet, I warn't jest at fast in favor o' seeedin';
I wuz for layin' low a spell to find out where't wuz leadin',
For hevin' South-Carliny try her hand at seprit-nationin',
She takin' resks an' findin' funds, an' we cooperationin',--
I mean a kin' o' hangin' roun' an' settin' on the fence,
Till Prov'dunce pinted how to jump an' save the most expense;
I reccollected thet 'ere mine o' lead to Shiraz Centre
Thet bust up Jabez Pettibone, an' didn't want to ventur'
'Fore I wuz sartin wut come out ud pay for wut went in,
For swappin' silver off for lead ain't the sure way to win;
(An', fact, it _doos_ look now ez though--but folks must live an' larn--
We should git lead, an' more 'n we want, out o' the Old Consarn;)
But when I see a man so wise an' honest ez Buchanan
A-lettin' us hev all the forts an' all the arms an' cannon,
Admittin' we wuz nat'lly right an' you wuz nat'lly wrong,
Coz you wuz lab'rin'-folks an' we wuz wut they call _bong-tong_,
An' coz there warn't no fight in ye more 'n in a mashed potater,
While two o' _us_ can't skurcely meet but wut we fight by natur',
An' th' ain't a bar-room here would pay for openin' on 't a night,
Without it giv the priverlege o' bein' shot at sight,
Which proves we're Natur's noblemen, with whom it don't surprise
The British aristoxy should feel boun' to sympathize,--
Seein' all this, an' seein', tu, the thing wuz strikin' roots
While Uncle Sam sot still in hopes thet some one 'd bring his boots,
I thought th' ole Union's hoops wuz off, an' let myself be sucked in
To rise a peg an' jine the crowd thet went for reconstructin',--
Thet is, to hev the pardnership under th' ole name continner
Jest ez it wuz, we drorrin' pay, you findin' bone an' sinner,--
On'y to put it in the bond, an' enter 't in the journals,
Thet you're the nat'ral rank an' file an' we the nat'ral kurnels.
Now this I thought a fees'ble plan, thet 'ud work smooth ez grease,
Suitin' the Nineteenth Century an' Upper Ten idees,
An' there I meant to stick, an' so did most o' th' leaders, tu,
Coz we all thought the chance wuz good o' puttin' on it thru;
But Jeff he hit upon a way o' helpin' on us forrard
By bein' unannermous,--a trick you ain't quite up to, Norrard.
A baldin hain't no more 'f a chance with them new apple-corers
Than folks's oppersition views aginst the Ringtail Roarers;
They'll take 'em out on him 'bout east,--one canter on a rail
Makes a man feel unannermous ez Jonah in the whale;
Or ef he's a slow-moulded cuss thet can't seem quite t' agree,
He gits the noose by tellergraph upon the nighes' tree:
Their mission-work with Afrikins hez put 'em up, thet's sartin,
To all the mos' across-lot ways o' preachin' an' convartin';
I'll bet my hat th' ain't nary priest, nor all on 'em together,
Thet cairs conviction to the min' like Reveren' Taranfeather;
Why, he sot up with me one night, an' labored to sech purpose,
Thet (ez an owl by daylight 'mongst a flock o' teazin' chirpers
Sees clearer 'n mud the wickedness o' eatin' little birds)
I see my error an' agreed to shen it arterwurds;
An' I should say, (to jedge our folks by facs in my possession,)
Thet three's Unannermous where one's a 'Riginal Secession;
So it's a thing you fellers North may safely bet your chink on,
Thet we're all water-proofed agin th' usurpin' reign o' Lincoln.
Jeff's _some_. He's gut another plan thet hez pertic'lar merits,
In givin' things a cherfle look an' stiffnin' loose-hung sperits;
For while your million papers, wut with lyin' an' discussin',
Keep folks's tempers all on eend a-fumin' an' a-fussin',
A-wondrin' this an' guessin' thet, an' dreadin', every night,
The breechin' o' the Univarse'll break afore it's light,
Our papers don't purtend to print on'y wut Guv'ment choose,
An' thet insures us all to git the very best o' noose:
Jeff hez it of all sorts an' kines, an' sarves it out ez wanted,
So's't every man gits wut he likes an' nobody ain't scanted;
Sometimes it's vict'ries, (they're 'bout all ther' is thet's cheap
Sometimes it's France an' England on the jump to interfere.