Part 7 out of 10
mind satisfied, if it be possible."
"What are they fighting about?"
"Do you recall the manner in which the United States came into
"Yes, I think so," said I.
"The colonies rebelled against Great Britain and won their independence
in war," said I.
"Well; what then?"
"The colonies sent delegates to a convention, and the delegates framed a
"Well; what then?"
"The colonies agreed to abide by the constitution."
"That is to say, the Colonies, or States, ratified the action of the
constitutional convention?" he asked.
"Yes; that is what I mean," said I.
"Then do you think the States created the general government? Think a
little before you answer."
"Why should I think? It seems plain enough."
"Yet I will present an alternative. Did the States create the Federal
government, or did the people of the whole United States, acting as a
body-politic, create it?"
"Your alternative seems contradictory," said I.
"In what respect?"
"It makes the United States exist before the United States came into
existence," said I.
"Then what would your answer be?"
"The people of each colony, or each State rather, sent delegates. The
delegates, representing the respective States, framed the constitution.
The people, if I mistake not, ratified the constitution, each State
voting separately. Therefore I think that the United States government
is a creature of the States and not of the people as a body-politic; for
there could have been no such body-politic."
"Jones, my dear fellow, you are a constitutional lawyer; you ought never
to have entered military service."
"Besides," said I, "Rhode Island and North Carolina refused for a time
to enter into the agreement."
"And suppose they had refused finally. Would, the other States have
compelled them to come in?" he asked.
"I cannot say as to that," said I.
"Do you think they would have had the moral right to coerce them?"
"The question is too hard for me to answer, Doctor; I cannot very well
see what ought to have been done."
"The two States would have had some rights?"
"What rights would the United States have had over the two States?"
"I do not think the Federal government would have had any; but the
people would have had some claim--what, I cannot say. I do not think
that Rhode Island had the moral right to endanger the new republic by
refusing to enter it. But there may have been something peculiar in
Rhode Island's situation; I do not remember. I should say that the
question should have been settled by compromise. Rhode Island's
objections should have been considered and removed. A forced agreement
would be no agreement."
"When the States formed the government, did they surrender all their
"I think not."
"What rights did they retain?"
"They retained everything they did not surrender."
"Well, then, what did they surrender? Did they become provinces? Did
they surrender the right of resistance to usurpation?"
"I think not."
"Would you think that the States had formed a partnership for the
general good of all?"
"Of course, Doctor; but I am not quite sure that the word 'partnership'
is the correct term."
"Shall we call it a league? A compact? A federation? A confederacy?"
"I should prefer the word 'union' to any of those," I said. "The title
of the republic means a union."
"What is the difference between a union and a confederacy?"
"I don't know that there is any great difference; but the word 'union'
seems to me to imply greater permanence."
"You think, then, that the United States must exist always?"
"I think that our fathers believed that they were acting for all
time--so far as they could," said I; "but, of course, there were
differences, even among the framers of the constitution."
"Suppose that at some time a State or several States should believe that
their interests were being destroyed and that injustice was being done."
"The several branches of government should prevent that," said I.
"But suppose they knew that all the branches of the government were
united in perpetrating this injustice."
"Then I do not know what such States ought to do," said I.
"Suppose Congress was against them; that the majority in Congress had
been elected by their opponents; that the President and the judges were
all against them."
"The will of the majority should rule," said I.
"Even in cases where not only life and liberty but honour itself must be
given up or defended?"
"Then I don't know what they ought to do," I repeated.
"Ought they to endure tamely?"
"No; but what their recourse would be I cannot justly see; it seems
that the constitution should have provided some remedy."
"You believe in the right to revolt against tyranny?"
"Well, suppose your State and other States, her neighbours, should
conclude that there was no remedy against injustice except in
withdrawing from the partnership, or union."
"I should say that would be a very serious step to take, perhaps a
dangerous step, perhaps a wrong step," said I. "But I am no judge of
such things. It seems to me that my mind is almost blank concerning
"Yes? Well, suppose, however, that your State should take that step, in
the hope that she would be allowed to withdraw in peace; would her
citizens be bound by her action?"
"Of course. South Carolina, you say, has withdrawn; that being the case,
every citizen of the State is bound by her act, as long as he remains
"South Carolina has withdrawn, but her hope for a peaceable withdrawal
is met by United States armies trying to force her back into the Union.
Under these circumstances, what is the duty of a citizen of South
"I should say that so long as he remains a citizen of the State, he must
obey the State. He must obey the State, or get out of it."
"And if he gets out of it, must he join the armies that are invading his
State and killing his neighbours and kinsmen?"
"I think no man would do that."
"But every one who leaves his State goes over to the enemies of his
State, at least in a measure, for he deprives his State of his help, and
influences others to do as he has done. Do you think that South Carolina
should allow any of her citizens to leave her in this crisis?"
"No; that would be suicidal. Every one unwilling to bear arms would thus
be allowed to go."
"And a premium would be put upon desertion?"
"In a certain sense--yes."
"Can a State's duty conflict with the duty of her citizens?"
"That is a hard question, Doctor; if I should be compelled to reply, I
should say no."
"Then if it is South Carolina's duty to call you into military service,
is it not your duty to serve?"
"Yes; but have you shown that it is her duty to make me serve?"
"That brings up the question whether it is a citizen's duty to serve his
country in a wrong cause, and you have already said that a man should
obey her laws or else renounce his citizenship."
"Yes, Doctor, that seems the only alternative."
"Then you are going to serve again, or get out of the country?"
"You are putting it very strongly, Doctor; can there be no exception to
"The only exception to the rule is that the alternative does not exist
in time of war. The Confederate States have called into military service
all males between eighteen and forty-five. You could not leave the
country--excuse me for saying it; I speak in an impersonal sense--even
if you should wish to leave it. Every man is held subject to military
service; as you have already said, the State would commit suicide if she
renounced the population from which she gets her soldiers. But, in any
case, what would you do if you were not forced into service?"
"I am helpless," I said gloomily.
"No; I don't want you to look at it in that way; you are not helpless.
What I have already suggested will relieve you. We can attach, you to
any company that you may choose, with the condition that as soon as your
friends are found you are to be handed over to them--I mean, of course,
handed over to your original company. It seems to me that such a course
is not merely the best thing to do, but the only thing to do."
"Doctor," said I, "you and your friends are placing me under very heavy
obligations. You have done much yourself, and your friends show me
kindness. Perhaps I could do no better than to ask you to act for me. I
know the delicacy of your offer. Another man might have refused to
discuss or explain; he had the power to simply order me back into
"No," said he; "I am not so sure that any such power could have been
exercised. To order you back into the ranks is not a surgeon's duty to
his patient. There seems to be nothing whatever in the army regulations
applying to such a case as yours. You have been kept here without
authority, except the general authority which empowers the surgeon to
help the wounded. But I have no control over you whatever. If you
choose, nobody would prevent you from leaving this hospital. I cannot
make a report of your case on any form furnished me. It was this
difficulty, in your case, that made me beg the brigade adjutant to visit
you; while the matter is irregular, it is, however, known at brigade
headquarters, so that it is in as good a shape as we know how to put it.
I cannot order you back into the ranks; you would not know what to do
with yourself; what I suggest will relieve you from any danger hereafter
of being supposed a deserter; we keep trace of you and can prove that
you are still in the service and are obeying authority."
"That settles it!" I exclaimed; "I had not thought of the possibility of
being charged with desertion."
"To tell you the truth, no more had I until this moment. We must get
authority from General Hill in this matter, in order to protect you
fully. At this very minute no doubt your orderly-sergeant and the
adjutant of your regiment are reporting you absent without leave. I must
quit you for a while."
* * * * *
What had seemed strangest to me was the lack of desire, on my part, to
find my company. I had tried, from the first moment of the proposition
to join Company H, to analyze this reluctance in regard to my original
company, and had at last confessed to myself that it was due to
exaggerated sensitiveness. Who were the men of my company? should I
recognize them? No; they would know me, but I should not know them. This
thought had been strong in holding me back from yielding to the doctor's
views; I had an almost morbid dread of being considered a curiosity. So,
I did not want to go back to my company; and as for going into Captain
Haskell's company, I considered that project but a temporary
expedient--my people would soon be found and I should be forced back
where I belonged and be pointed out forever as a freak. So I wanted to
keep out of Company H and out of every other company; I wanted to go
away--to do something--anything--no matter what, if it would only keep
me from being advertised and gazed upon.
Such had been my thoughts; but now, when Dr. Frost had brought before me
the probability of my being already reported absent without leave, and
the consequent possibility of being charged with desertion, I decided at
once that I should go with Captain Haskell. Whatever I might once have
been, and whatever I might yet become, I was not and never should be
When I next saw Dr. Frost I asked him when I should be strong enough for
"You are fit for duty now," said he; "that is, you are strong enough to
march in case the army should move. I do not intend, however, to let you
go at once, unless there should be a movement; in that case I could not
well keep you any longer."
I replied that if I was strong enough to do duty, I did not wish to
delay. To this he responded that he would ask Captain Haskell to enroll
me in his company at once, but to consider me on the sick list for a few
days, in order that I might accustom myself gradually to new conditions.
"In strange eyes
Have made me not a stranger; to the mind
Which is itself, no changes bring surprise;
Nor is it hard to make, nor hard to find
A country with--ay, or without mankind."--BYRON.
In the afternoon of the day in which occurred the conversation recounted
above, I was advised by the doctor to take a short walk.
From a hill just in rear of the hospital tents I could see northward and
toward the east long lines of earthworks with tents and cannon, and rows
of stacked muskets and all the appliances of war. The sight was new and
strange. I had never before seen at one time more than a battalion of
soldiers; now here was an army into which I had been suddenly thrust as
a part of it, without experience of any sort and without knowledge of
anybody in it except two or three persons whom, three days before, I had
never heard of. The worthiness of the cause for which this great army
had been created to fight, was not entirely clear to me; it is true that
I appreciated the fact that in former days, before my misfortune had
deprived me of data upon which to reason, I had decided my duty as to
that cause; yet it now appealed to me so little, that I was conscious of
struggling to rise above indifference. I reproached myself for lack of
patriotism. I had read the morning's _Dispatch_ and had been shocked at
the relation of some harrowing details of pillage and barbarity on the
part of the Yankees; yet I felt nothing of individual anger against the
wretches when I condemned such conduct, and my judgment told me that my
passionless indignation ought to be hot. But this peculiarity seemed so
unimportant in comparison with the greater one which marked me, that it
gave me no concern.
In an open space near by, many soldiers were drilling. The drum and the
fife could be heard in all directions. Wagons were coming and going. A
line of unarmed men, a thousand, I guessed, marched by, going somewhere.
They had no uniform; I supposed they were recruits. A group of mounted
men attracted me; I had little doubt that here was some general with his
staff. Flags were everywhere--red flags, with diagonal crosses marked
A man came toward me. His clothing was somewhat like my own. I started
to go away, but he spoke up, "Hold on, my friend!"
He was of low stature,--a thick-set man, brown bearded.
When he was nearer, he asked, "Do you know where Gregg's brigade is?"
"No; I do not," said I; "but you can find out down there at the hospital
tents, I suppose."
"I was told that the brigade is on the line somewhere about here," said
"I will go with you to the tent," said I.
"I belong to the First," he said, "I've been absent for some days on
duty, and am just getting back to my company. Who is in charge of the
"Dr. Frost," said I.
"Oh, Frank?" said he; "I'll call on him, then. He was our
By this speech I knew that he was one of Captain Haskell's men, and I
looked at him more closely; he had a very pleasant face. I wanted to ask
him about Company H, but feared to say anything, lest he should
afterward, when I joined the company, recognize me and be curious.
However, I knew that my face, bound up as my head was, would hardly
become familiar to him in a short time, and I risked saying that I
understood that Dr. Frost had been orderly-sergeant in some company
"Yes; Company H," said he.
"That must be a good company, as it turns out surgeons."
"Yes, and it turns out adjutants and adjutant-generals," said he.
"You like your company?"
"Yes, and I like its captain. I suppose every man likes his own company;
I should hate to be in any other. Have you been sick?"
"Yes," said I; "my head received an injury, but I am better now."
"You couldn't be under better care," said he.
When we had reached the tent, Dr. Frost was not to be seen.
"I'll wait and see him," said the man; "he is not far off, I reckon, and
I know that the brigade must be close by. What regiment do you
The question was torture. What I should have said I do not know; to my
intense relief, and before the man had seen my hesitation, he cried,
"There he is now," and went up to the doctor; they shook hands. I
besought the doctor, with a look, not to betray me; he understood,
The man, whom Dr. Frost had called Bellot, asked, "Where is the
"Three-quarters of a mile northwest," said the doctor, and Bellot soon
"I'm a little sorry that he saw you," said the doctor; "for you and he
are going to be good friends. If he remembers meeting you here to-day,
he may be curious when he sees you in Company H; but we'll hope for
"I hope to be very greatly changed in appearance before he sees me
again," said I, looking down on my garments, which were very ragged,
and seemed to have been soaked in muddy water, and thinking of my
strange unshaven face and bandaged head; "I must become indebted to you
for something besides your professional skill, Doctor."
"With great pleasure, Jones; you shall have everything you want, if I
can get it for you. I've seen Captain Haskell; he says that he will not
come again, but he bids you be easy; he will make your first service as
light as possible and will ... wait! I wonder if you have forgotten
"I know nothing about military drill," I said, "and never did know
anything about it."
"You will be convinced, shortly, that you did," said he; "you may have
lost it mentally, but your muscles haven't forgotten. In three days
under old John Wilson, I'll bet you are ready for every manoeuvre. Just
get you started on 'Load in nine times load,' and you'll do eight of 'em
"If I do, I shall be willing to confess to anything," said I.
"Here, now; stand there--so! Now--_Right_--FACE!"
I did not budge, but stood stiff.
"When I say 'Right--Face,' you do _so_," said he.
I imitated the surgeon.
"FRONT!--that's right--_Left_--FACE! That's good--FRONT!--all right; now
right heel so--FACE! Ah! you've lost that; well, never mind; it will all
come back. I tell you what, I've drilled old Company H many a day."
I really began to believe that Surgeon Frost had an affection for me,
though, of course, his affection was based on a sense of proprietorship
acquired through discovery, so to speak.
After supper he said: "You are strong enough to go with me to Company H.
Well drive over in an ambulance."
From points on the road we saw long lines of camp-fires. On the crest
of a hill, the doctor pointed to the east, where the clouds were aglow
with light. "McClellan's army," said he.
"Whose army?" I asked.
"McClellan's; the Yankee army under McClellan."
"Oh, yes! I read the name in the paper to-day," said I.
"He has a hundred and fifty thousand men," said he.
"And their camp-fires make all that light?"
"Yes--and I suppose ours look that way to them."
Captain Haskell's company was without shelter, except such, as the men
had improvised, as the doctor said; here and there could be seen a
blanket or piece of canvas stretched on a pole, and, underneath, a bed
of straw large enough for a man. Brush arbours abounded. The Captain
himself had no tent; we found him sitting with his back to a tree near
which was his little fly stretched over his sleeping-place. Several
officers were around him. He shook the doctor's hand, but said nothing
to me. The officers left us.
"I have brought Jones over, Captain," said the surgeon, "that you may
tell him personally of your good intentions in regard to his first
service with you. He wishes to be enrolled."
"If Private Jones--" began the Captain.
"My name is Berwick--Jones Berwick," I said.
"There's another strange notion," said the doctor; "you've got the cart
before the horse."
"No, Doctor," I insisted earnestly; "my name is Jones Berwick."
"We have it 'B. Jones,'" said the doctor; "and I am certain it is
written that way in your diary. If you are Private Berwick instead of
Private Jones, no wonder that nobody claims you."
"I know that my surname is Berwick, but I know nothing of Private
Berwick," said I.
"Well," said Captain Haskell, "if you have got your name reversed, that
is a small matter which will straighten itself out when you recover your
memory. What I was going to say is, that you may be received into my
company as a recruit, as it were, but to be returned to your original
company whenever we learn what company that is. We will continue,
through brigade headquarters, to try to find out what regiment you are
from--and under both of your names. While you are with me I shall
cheerfully do for you all that I can to favour your condition. You will
be expected, however, to do a man's full duty; I can stand no shirking."
The Captain's tone was far different from that he had used toward me in
the tent; his voice was stern and his manner frigid.
"We will take the best care of you that we can," he continued, "and will
keep to ourselves the peculiar circumstances of your case; for I can
well understand, although you have said nothing about it, sir, that you
do not wish confidences."
His tone and manner were again those of our first interview.
"Captain," I said, "I know nothing of military life."
"So we take you as a new man," said he, adopting anew his official
voice, "and we shall not expect more of you than of an ordinary recruit;
we shall teach you. If you enroll with me, I shall at once make a
requisition for your arms and accoutrements, your knapsack, uniform, and
everything else necessary for you. You may remain in the hospital until
your equipment is ready for you. Report to me day after to-morrow at
noon, and I will receive you into my company. Now, Frank, excuse me; it
is time for prayers."
The men gathered around us. Captain Haskell held a prayer-book in his
hand. A most distinguished-looking officer, whose name the doctor told
me was Lieutenant Barnwell, stood near with a torch. Some of the men
heard the prayer kneeling; others stood with bowed heads.
The Captain began to read:--
"O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just
works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world
cannot give; that our hearts may be set to do Thy commandments, and
also that by Thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may
pass our time in rest and quietness, through the merits of Jesus Christ
"O Lord, our heavenly Father, by whose almighty power we have been
preserved this day; by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and
dangers of this night, for the love of Thy only Son, our Saviour,
"O Lord, our heavenly father, the high and mighty Ruler of the Universe,
who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth, most
heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favour to behold and bless Thy servant
the President of the Confederate States, and all others in authority;
and so replenish them with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit that they may
always incline to Thy will, and walk in Thy way. Endue them plenteously
with heavenly gifts, grant them in health, and prosperity long to live;
and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech Thee
for all sorts and conditions of men; that Thou wouldst be pleased to
make Thy ways known unto them, Thy saving health to all nations. More
especially we pray for Thy holy church universal, that it may be so
guided and governed by Thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call
themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the
faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of
life. Finally, we commend to Thy fatherly goodness all who are in any
ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate, that it may
please Thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several
necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy
issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Christ's
While this impressive scene had lasted I stood in the darkness outside
of the group of men, fearing to be closely observed.
Here was a man whom one could surely trust; he was strong and he was
good. I began to feel glad that I was to be under him instead of
another. I was lucky. But for Dr. Frost and Captain Haskell, I should be
without a friend in the world. Another surgeon might have sent me to the
general hospital, whence I should have been remanded to duty; and
failing to know my regiment, I should have been apprehended as a
deserter. At the best, even if other people had recognized the nature of
my trouble, I should have been subjected then and always to the vulgar
curiosity which I so greatly dreaded. Here in Company H nobody would
know me except as an ordinary recruit.
The men of Company H scattered. I walked up to the Captain and said,
"Captain Haskell, I shall be proud to serve under you."
"Jones," said he, "we will not conclude this matter until Dr. Frost
sends you to me. It is possible that you will find your own company at
any day, or you may decide to serve elsewhere, even if you do not find
it. You are not under my orders until you come to me."
As we were returning to the hospital, the doctor asked me seriously,
"You insist that your name is Jones Berwick?"
"Yes, Doctor; my surname is Berwick, and my first name is Jones. How did
you get my name reversed?"
"On the diary taken from your pocket your name is written 'B. Jones,'"
"Will you let me see the diary?"
"I will give it to you as soon as we get to our camp. I ought to have
done so before."
The diary that the doctor gave me--I have it yet--is a small blank book
for the pocket, with date headings for the year 1862. Only a very few
dates in this book are filled with writing. On the fly-leaf is "B.
Jones," and nothing more, the leaf below the name having been all torn
away. The writing begins on May 23d, and ends with May 27th. The writing
has been done with a pencil. I copy below all that the book contains:--
"FRIDAY, May 23, 1862.
"Arrived after furlough. Drilled A.M. and P.M. Weather clear."
* * * * *
"SATURDAY, May 24, 1862.
"On camp guard. Letters from home. Showers. Marched at night."
"SUNDAY, May 25, 1862.
"Marched all day. Bivouacked in woods at night."
* * * * *
"MONDAY, May 26, 1862.
"Marched but a few miles. Weather bad. Day very hot. Heavy rain at
* * * * *
"TUESDAY, May 27, 1862.
"Rain. Heard a battle ahead. Marched past Branch's brigade, that had
* * * * *
Each page in the book is divided into three sections.
After reading and rereading the writing again and again, I said to the
surgeon, "Doctor, I find it almost impossible to believe that I ever
wrote this. It looks like my writing, but I am certain that I could not
have written B. Jones as my name."
The Doctor smiled and handed me a pencil. "Now," said he, "take this
paper and write at my dictation."
He then read slowly the note under May 27th: "Rain. Heard a battle
ahead. Marched past Branch's brigade, that had been fighting."
"Now let us compare them," said he.
The handwriting in the book was similar to that on the paper.
"Well," said Dr. Frost, "do you still think your name is Jones Berwick?"
"I know it," I said; "that is one of the things that I do know."
"And if your handwriting had not resembled that of the book, what would
you have said?"
"That the book was never mine, of course."
"Yet that would have been no proof at all," said the doctor. "Many cases
have been known of patients whose handwriting had changed completely.
The truth is, that I did not expect to see you write as you did
"My name is Jones Berwick," was my reply.
"Strange!" said he; "I would bet a golden guinea that your name is
Berwick Jones. Some people cannot remember their names at all--any part
of their names. Others see blue for red. Others do this and do that;
there seems to be no limit to the vagaries of the mind. I'd rather risk
that signature which you made before you were hurt."
"My name is Jones Berwick, Doctor. This signature cannot be trusted. It
is full of suspicion. Don't you see that all the lower part of the leaf
has been torn off? What was it torn off for? Why, of course, to destroy
the name of the regiment to which the owner belonged! B. Jones is common
enough; Jones Berwick is not so common. I found it, or else it got into
my pocket by mistake. No wonder that a man named Jones is not
"But, Jones, how can you account for the writing, which is identical?
Even if we say that the signature is wrong, still we cannot account for
the rest unless you wrote it. It is very romantic, and all that, to say
that somebody imitated your handwriting in the body of the book, but it
is very far-fetched. Find some other theory."
"But see how few dates are filled!" I exclaimed.
"Yet the writing itself accounts for that. On May twenty-third you
began. You tell us that you had just returned from home, where you had
been on furlough. You left your former diary, if you had kept one, at
home. You end on May twenty-seventh, just a few days ago."
"My name is Jones Berwick," I said.
"By the by, let me see that book a moment."
I handed it to him.
"No; no imprint, or else it has been torn out," he said; "I wanted to
see who printed it."
"What would that have shown?"
"Well, I expected to find that it was printed in Richmond, or perhaps
Charleston; it would have proved nothing, however."
"My name is Jones Berwick, Doctor."
"Well, so be it! We must please the children. I shall make inquiries for
the regiment and company from which Jones Berwick is missing. Now do you
go to bed and go to sleep."
* * * * *
The next morning I borrowed the doctor's shaving appliances.
The last feeble vestige of doubt now vanished forever. The face I saw in
the glass was not my face. It was the face of a man at least ten years
older. Needless to describe it, if I could.
After I had completed the labour,--a perilous and painful duty,--I made
a different appearance, and felt better, not only on account of the
physical change, but also, I suppose, because my mind was now settled
upon myself as a volunteer soldier.
Dr. Frost had told me that the two Bellots were coming to see me;
Captain Haskell had asked them to make the acquaintance of a man who
would probably join their company. I begged the doctor to give them no
hint of the truth. He replied that it would be difficult to keep them in
the dark, for they wouldn't see why a man, already wearing uniform,
should offer himself as a member of Company H.
"I think we'd better take them into our conspiracy," said he.
To this I made strong objection. I would take no such risk, "If I had
any money," I said, "I should certainly buy other clothing."
"Well, does the wind sit there?" said he; "you have money; lots of it."
"There was money in your pocket when you were brought to me; besides,
the government gives a bounty of fifty dollars to every volunteer. Your
bounty will purchase clothing, if you are determined to squander your
estate. Captain Haskell would be able to secure you what you want; your
bounty is good for it."
"But I have no right to the bounty," said I.
"Fact!" said he; "you see how I fell into the trap? I was thinking, for
the moment, from your standpoint, and you turned the tables on me. Yes;
you have already received the bounty; maybe you haven't yet spent it,
though. I'll look up the contents of your pockets; I hope nothing's
He rummaged in a chest and brought out a knife and a pencil, as well as
a leather purse, which proved to contain thirty dollars in Confederate
notes, a ten-dollar note of the bank of Hamburg, South Carolina, and
more than four dollars in silver.
"I did not know you were so rich," said Dr. Frost; "now what do you want
to do with all that?"
"I want a suit of old clothes," I said.
"Because I shall soon be compelled to throw it away."
"Not at all," said he; "you can pack it up and leave it; if we march, it
will be taken care of. Get some cheap, cool, summer stuff; I know what
to do. How you held on to that silver so long is a mystery."
The doctor wrote a note to somebody in Richmond, and before the Bellots
came in the late afternoon I was prepared for them. The elder Bellot had
already seen me, but in my civilian's garb he did not seem to recognize
me. The younger Bellot was a handsome man, fully six feet, with a slight
stoop; I never saw more kindly eyes or a better face; he, too, wore a
full beard. His name was Louis, yet his brother called him Joe. I took a
liking to both Dave and Joe.
The talk was almost entirely about the war. I learned that the regiment
was the first ever formed in the South. It had been a State regiment
before the Confederate States had existed--that is to say, it had been
organized by South Carolina alone, before any other State had seceded;
it had seen service on the islands near Charleston.
A great deal of the talk was worse than Greek to me. Dave Bellot,
especially, gave me credit for knowing a thousand things of which I was
utterly ignorant, and I was on thorns all the time.
"Yes," says he; "you know all about Charleston, I reckon."
"No," I said; "I know very little about it. I've been there, but I am
not familiar with the city."
"Well, you know Sullivan's Island and Fort Moultrie."
Now, by some odd chance, I did remember the name of Moultrie, and I
"Well," said he, "the First, or part of it, went under the guns of
Sumter on the morning of January ninth, just an hour after the Cadets
had fired on the _Star of the West_; we thought Sumter would sink us,
but she didn't say a word."
I was silent, through fear of self-betrayal. Why it was that these men
had not asked me about my home, was puzzling me. Momentarily I expected
either of them to blurt out, "Where are you from?" and I had no answer
ready. Afterward I learned that I was already known as an Aiken man, in
default of better,--the doctor having considerately relieved me from
"After the bombardment, the First was transferred to the Confederate
service. It had enlisted for six months, and its time expired in June.
It was in Virginia then. It was paid up and discharged, and at once
reorganized under the same field-officers."
I did not very well know what a field-officer is.
"Who is the colonel?" I asked.
"Colonel Hamilton," said he; "or Old Headquarters, as I called him once
in his own hearing. We were at Suffolk in winter quarters, and it was
the day for general inspection of the camp. We had scoured our tin
plates and had made up our bunks and washed up generally, and every man
was ready; but we got tired of waiting. I had my back to the door, and
I said to Josey, 'Sergeant, I wonder when Old Headquarters will be
here.' You never were so scared in your life as I was when I heard a
loud voice at the door say, 'Headquarters are here now, sir!' and the
colonel walked in."
I attempted appropriate laughter, and asked, "Where is Suffolk?"
"Down near Norfolk. General Gregg was our first colonel. He was in the
Mexican war, and is a fine officer; deaf as a door-post, though. He
commands our brigade now."
"Where did you go from Suffolk?"
"Where is that?" I asked.
"North Carolina. You remember, when Burnside took Roanoke Island it was
thought that he would advance to take the Weldon and Wilmington
railroad; we were sent to Goldsborough, and were brigaded with some
tar-heel regiments under Anderson. Then Anderson and the lot of us were
sent to Fredericksburg. We were not put under Gregg again until we
"How many regiments are in the brigade?"
"Five,--the First, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Orr's Rifles."
"All from South Carolina?"
"From Fredericksburg we marched down here," observed Joe.
"Yes," said Dave; "and not more than a week ago. We came very near
getting into it at Hanover, where Branch got torn up so."
"Where is Hanover?" I asked.
"About twenty miles north," he replied, "I thought we were sure to get
into that fight, but we were too late for it."
The Bellots were very willing to give me all information. They
especially sounded the praises of their young Captain, and declared
that I was fortunate in joining their company instead of some others
which they could name.
Not a word was spoken concerning my prior experience. I flattered myself
with the belief that they thought me a raw recruit influenced by some
acquaintanceship with Dr. Frost.
Before they left, Joe Bellot said a word privately to his brother, and
then turned to me. "By the way," said he, "do you know anybody in
"Not a soul except Captain Haskell," I replied. "I am simply relying on
Dr. Frost; I am going to join some company, and I rely on his judgment
more than on my own."
"Well, we'll see you through," said he. "Join our mess until you can do
I replied, with true thankfulness, that I should be glad to accept his
"Did you see the morning papers?" asked the elder Bellot. I was walking
a short way with the brothers as they returned to their camp. "No,"
"It contains a terrible account of the Yankees' method of warfare."
"What are they doing?" I asked.
"Inciting the slaves to insurrection and organizing them into regiments
of Federal soldiers. Butler, in command at New Orleans, has several
regiments of negroes; and Colonel Adams, in command of one of our
brigades in Tennessee, has reported that the Yankees in that State are
enticing the negroes away from their owners and putting arms into
"That is very barbarous," said I. My ignorance kept me from saying more.
The language he had used puzzled me; I did not know at the time that New
Orleans was in the hands of the Federals, and his saying that Butler had
regiments of negroes seemed queer.
"The people who sold us their slaves helped John Brown's insurrection,"
A sudden recollection came, and I was about to speak, but Bellot
continued. The last thing I could remember clearly was the reading of
Brown's deeds at Harper's Ferry!
"They claim that they are fighting against the principle of secession,
and they have split Virginia into two States. In my opinion, they are
fighting for pure selfishness--or, rather, impure selfishness: they know
that they live on the trade of the South, and that they cannot make as
much money if they let us go to ourselves."
"Yes," said Louis; "the war is all in the interest of trade. Of course
there are a few men in the North, whose motives may be good mistakenly,
but the mass of the people are blindly following the counsels of those
who counsel for self-interest. If the moneyed men, the manufacturers,
and the great merchants of the North thought for one moment that they
would lose some of their dollars by the war, the war would end. What
care they for us? They care only for themselves. They plunge the whole
country into mourning simply in order to keep control of the trade of
Up to this time I had known nothing of the creation of West Virginia by
the enemy, and I thought it discreet to be silent, mentally vowing that
I should at once read the history of events since 1859. So I sought Dr.
Frost, and begged him to help me get books or papers which would give me
the information I needed; for otherwise, I told him, I should be unable
to talk with any consistency or method.
"Let me see," he said; "there is, of course, no one book in print that
would give you just what you want. We might get files of newspapers--but
that would be too voluminous reading and too redundant. You ought to
have something concise--some outline; and where to get it I can't tell
you." Then, as the thought struck him, he cried, "I'll tell you; we'll
make it! You write while I dictate."
A LESSON IN HISTORY
"So that, from point to point, now have you heard
The fundamental reasons of this war;
Whose great decision hath much blood let forth,
And more thirsts after."--SHAKESPEARE.
The doctor brought me a small pocket memorandum-book, thinking that I
would require many notes.
"Now," said he, "where shall we begin? You remember October fifty-nine?"
"Eighteenth; the papers contained an account of John Brown's seizure of
"And you know nothing of the termination of the Brown episode?"
I took brief notes as he unfolded the history of the war.
In the course of his story he spoke of the National Democratic
Convention which was held in Charleston. I remembered the building of
which he spoke--the South Carolina Institute Hall--and interrupted him
to tell him so."
"Maybe your home is in Charleston."
"I don't think so, Doctor; I remember being in Charleston, but I don't
remember my home."
He brought out a map and told me the dates of all the important actions
and the names of the officers who had commanded or fought in them in
'61 and '62, both in Virginia and the West.
* * * * *
"So we have come down to date, Doctor?" I said.
"Yes; but I think that now I ought to go back and tell you something
about your own command."
"There was more fighting while these Richmond movements were in
progress. Where is Fredericksburg? Here," looking at the map.
"A Yankee army was there under McDowell, the man who commanded at the
battle of Manassas. We had a small army facing McDowell. You were in
that army; it was under General Anderson--Tredegar Anderson we call him,
to distinguish him from other Andersons; he is president of the Tredegar
Iron Works, here in Richmond. Well, you were facing McDowell. Now, look
here at the map. McClellan stretched his right wing as far as
Mechanicsville--here, almost north of Richmond; and you were between
McClellan and McDowell. So Anderson had to get out. Don't you remember
the hot march?"
"Not at all; I don't think I was there."
"I thought I'd catch you napping. I think that when you recover your
memory it will be from some little thing that strikes you in an
unguarded moment. Your mind, when consciously active, fortifies itself
against your forgotten past, and it may be in a moment of weakness that
things will return to you; I shouldn't wonder if a dream proves to be
the beginning. However, some men have such great strength of will that
they can do almost anything. If ever you get the smallest clew, you
ought then and there to determine that you will never let it go. Your
friends may find you any day, but it is strange they have not yet done
it They surely must be classing you among the killed."
[Illustration: A Lesson In History] [Map of Chesapeake Bay and
"Do you think that my friends could help me by telling me the past?
Would my memory return if I should find them?"
"No; they could give you no help whatever until you should first find
one thing as a starting-point. Find but one little thing, and then they
can show you how everything else is to be associated with that. Without
their help you would have a hard time in collecting things--putting them
together; they would be separate and distinct in your mind; if you
remember but one isolated circumstance, it would be next to impossible
to reconstruct. Well, let's go on and finish; we are nearly at the end,
or at the beginning, for you. Where was I?
"Anderson retreated from Fredericksburg. When was that?"
"The twenty-fourth of May or twenty-fifth--say the night of the
"We had a brigade here, at Hanover Court-House--Branch's brigade. While
you were retreating, and when you were very near Hanover, McClellan
threw a column on Branch, and used him very severely. You were not in
the fight exactly, but were in hearing of it, and saw some of Branch's
men after the fight. That is how we know what brigade you belong to,
although it will not claim you. You know that you are from South
Carolina, and your buttons prove it; and your diary shows that you were
near Branch's brigade while it was in the fight; and the only South
Carolina brigade in the whole of Lee's army that had any connection with
Branch, is Gregg's. Do you see?"
"I see," said I, "what is the date of that battle?"
"May 27th; your diary tells you that."
"You continued to retreat to Richmond. So did Branch. The division you
are in is A.P. Hill's. It is called the Light division. Branch's brigade
is in it."
"Yes, sir; now let me see if I can call the organization of the army
down to the company."
"Yes; Army of Northern Virginia."
"What is General Lee's full name?"
"Robert E.--Robert Edward Lee, of Virginia; son of Light-Horse Harry Lee
of Revolution times."
"Thank you, sir; Lee's army--A.P. Hill's division--Gregg's brigade--what
is General Gregg's name?"
"Gregg's brigade--First South Carolina, Colonel Hamilton--"
"How did you know that?"
"Bellot told me; what is Colonel Hamilton's name?"
"D.H.--Daniel, I believe."
"Company H, Captain Haskell--"
"William Thompson Haskell."
"Thank you, sir; any use to write the lieutenants?"
"Well, Doctor, that brings us to date."
"Now read what you have written," he said.
I read my notes aloud, expanding the abbreviations I had made. My
interest and absorption had been so intense that I could easily have
called over in chronological order the principal events he had
"Now," asked Dr. Frost, "do you believe that you can fill in the details
from what you can remember of what I said?"
"Yes, sir," said I; "try me."
He asked some questions, and I replied to them.
My memory astonished him. "I must say, Jones, that you have a
phenomenally good and a miraculously bad memory. You'll do," he said.
His account of the fight of the ironclads had interested me.
"What has become of the _Merrimac?_" I asked him.
"We had to destroy her. When Yorktown was evacuated, Norfolk had to
follow suit. The Federal fleet is now in James River, some halfway down
below Richmond. A blockade has been declared by Lincoln against all the
ports of the South. We are exceedingly weak on the water."
BEFORE THE GREAT BATTLE
"And so your follies fight against yourself.
Fear, and be slain; no worse can come; to fight--
And fight and die, is death destroying death;
Where fearing dying, pays death servile breath."
On June 7,1862, I reported for duty to Captain Haskell. Dr. Frost had
offered to send me over, but I preferred to go alone, and, as my
strength seemed good, I made my way afoot, and with all my possessions
in my pockets.
The Captain was ready for me. My name was recorded on the roll of
Company H, Orderly-sergeant George Mackay writing Jones, B., in its
A soldier's outfit was given to me at once, a requisition having been
made before my coming. I joined the mess of the Bellots. Besides the
brothers Bellot, the mess had other men with whom I formed gradually
some of the ties of friendship; they were Sergeant Josey, Corporal
Veitch, Privates Bail, Bee, Bell, Benton, and Box, in this alphabetical
succession of names my own name being no real exception, although
Captain Haskell had insisted upon the name written in the diary.
And now my duties at once began. I must relearn a soldier's drill in the
manual and in everything. The company drilled four hours a day, and the
regiment had one hour's battalion drill, besides dress-parade; there was
roll-call in the company morning and night.
Nominally a raw recruit, I was handed over to Sergeant John Wilson, who
put me singly through the exercises without arms for about four hours
on my first day's duty, which was the third day of my enlistment, or
perhaps I should say re-enlistment. The sergeant seemed greatly pleased
with my progress, and told me that he should at once promote me to be
the right guide of his awkward squad.
On the next day, therefore, I found myself drilling with three other
recruits who had been members of the company for a week or more. That
night Orderly-sergeant Mackay, who seemed to have received me into his
good graces, told me that Wilson had said that that new man Jones beat
everything that he had seen before; that learning to drill was to Jones
"as easy as fallin' off a log." I remembered Dr. Frost's prediction.
The third day I drilled with the awkward squad again; but in the
afternoon my gun was put into my hands, and for an extra half-hour I was
exercised in the manual of arms. But my first attempts proved very
unfortunate. Sergeant Wilson scolded, stormed, and almost swore at me.
He placed my gun at the _carry_, and called repeated attention to the
exact description of the position, contained in the language of Hardee:
"The piece in the right hand, the barrel nearly vertical, and resting in
the hollow of the shoulder; the guard to the front, the arm hanging
nearly at its full length near the body; the thumb and forefinger
embracing the guard, the remaining fingers closed together, and grasping
the swell of the stock just under the cock, which rests on the little
finger." I simply could not execute the _shoulder_, or _carry_, with any
precision, although the positions of _support, right-shoulder-shift,
present,_ and all the rest, gave me no trouble after they were reached;
reaching them, from the _shoulder_ was the great trouble.
Wilson ended by ordering me off and reporting me to the Captain.
Captain Haskell sent for me. He said kindly, "Jones, Sergeant Wilson
gives a bad report of you."
"I do the best I can, Captain."
"The sergeant seems to think that you are obstinate on some peculiar
point that he did not make me fully understand. He gives you great
praise for learning the facings and the steps, but says you will not
learn the manual."
"I don't understand my awkwardness, Captain. There is something wrong
"You find the manual difficult?"
"Not only difficult, but absurd," said I; "it makes me nervous."
"And the facings and steps were not difficult?"
"Not at all; they seemed easy and natural."
"Take your gun and come with me," said the Captain; "I think I have a
clew to the situation."
Behind the Captain's simple quarters was an open space. He made me take
position. He also took position, with a rifle at his side.
"Now, look," said he; "see this position, which I assume to be the
_shoulder_ natural to you."
His gun was at his left side, the barrel to the front, the palm of his
left hand under the butt.
"Now," said he, "this is the _shoulder_ of the heavy infantry manual. I
think you were drilled once in a company which had this _shoulder_. It
may not have been in your recent regiment that you were so drilled, for
this _shoulder_ obtained in all the militia companies of Carolina before
the war. Many regiments still hold to it. Follow my motions
The Captain's right hand grasped the piece at the small of the stock;
his left arm was thrown across his breast, the cock resting on the
forearm; his right hand fell quickly to his side.
I imitated him. I felt no nervousness, and told him so.
"I thought so," said he; "now, just remember that all the other
positions in the manual are unchanged. It is only the _shoulder_, or
_carry_, as we sometimes call it, that has been changed. You will like
the new drill."
He began to put me through the exercises, and although I had difficulty,
yet I had some success.
"Now report to Sergeant Wilson again," said the Captain.
I told the sergeant that I thought I could now do better; that I had
been confused by the light infantry _carry_, never having seen drill
except from the heavy infantry _shoulder_. Wilson kept me at work for
almost an hour, and expressed satisfaction with my progress. Under his
training I was soon able to drill with the company.
Louis Bellot asked me, one night, if I should not like to see Richmond.
He had got permission to go into town on the next day. The Captain
readily granted me leave of absence for twenty-four hours, and Bellot
and I spent the day in rambling over the town. We saw the State House,
and the Confederate Congress in session, and wandered down to the river
and took a long look at the Libby Prison.
The First had been in bivouac behind the main lines of Lee's left, but
now the regiment took position in the front, the lines having been
extended still farther to the left. A battery at our right--some
distance away--would throw a few shells over at the Yankees, and their
guns would reply; beyond this almost daily artillery practice, nothing
One morning, about ten o'clock, Captain Haskell ordered me to get my
arms and follow him. He at once set out toward the front, Corporal
Veitch being with him. The Captain was unarmed, except for his sword. He
led us through our pickets and straight on toward the river. The slope
of the hill was covered with sedge, and there were clumps of pine bushes
which hid us from any casual view from either flank; and as for the
river swamp in our front, unless a man had been on its hither edge, we
were perfectly screened. I observed that, as we approached the swamp,
the Captain advanced more stealthily, keeping in the thickest and
tallest of the bushes. Veitch and I followed in his footsteps, bending
over and slipping along from bush to bush in imitation of our leader.
The river bottom, which we reached very shortly, was covered with a
dense forest of large trees and undergrowth. Soon we came to water, into
which the Captain waded at once, Veitch behind him and I following
Veitch. Captain Haskell had not said a word to me concerning the purpose
of our movements, nor do I now know what he intended, if it was not
merely to learn the position of the Yankee pickets.
We went on, the water at last reaching to my waist. Now the Captain
signalled us to stop. He went forward some ten yards and stood behind a
tree. He looked long in his front, bending his body this way and that;
then he beckoned to us to come. The undergrowth here was less thick, the
trees larger. I could see nothing, in any direction, except trees and
muddy water. The Captain went on again for a few paces, and stopped with
a jerk. After a little he beckoned to us again. Veitch and I waded
slowly on. Before we reached Captain Haskell, he motioned to us to get
From my tree I looked out, first in one direction and then in another.
There was nothing--nothing except water and woods. But the Captain was
still peering from behind his tree, and I could now see that his whole
attention was fixed on something. Veitch, also, at my right, was silent
and alert and rigid, so that I felt, rather than saw, that there was
something in front of us, and I kept my eyes intent upon a narrow aisle
just beyond me. All at once a man in dark-blue dress passed across the
opening; I knew instantly that he was a Yankee, although I had never
seen one in my life, and instinctively felt the hammer of my rifle, but
he was gone. Now, looking more closely, I could see glimpses of other
blue men behind trees or in the bushes; I saw three of them. They were
about sixty yards from us; I supposed they were part of their
picket-line. I had a peculiar itching to take aim at one of them, and
consulted the Captain with my eyes, but he frowned.
Doubtless, they had not seen us. They were on the farther side of the
Chickahominy, with a flowing stream and a wide pool stretching in their
front, and were not very watchful. We remained stiff in our places for
four or five minutes; then the Captain moved slowly backward and gave us
a sign to follow.
This little adventure gave me great pleasure, inasmuch as it made me
feel that the Captain was favourable to me.
* * * * *
On the evening of the 25th of June we were ordered to cook three days'
rations. The pronunciation of this word puzzled me no little. Everybody
said rash-ons, while I, though I had never before had occasion to use
the word, had thought of it as rations. I think I called it rations once
or twice before I got straight. I remembered Dr. Frost's advice to hold
fast any slightest clew, and felt that possibly this word might, in the
future, prove a beginning.
The troops knew that the order meant a march, perhaps a battle. For a
day or two past an indefinite rumour of some movement on the part of
Jackson's command had circulated among the men. Nobody seemed to know
where Jackson was; this, in itself, probably gave occasion for the talk.
From what I could hear, it seemed to be thought generally that Jackson
was marching on Washington, but some of the most serious of the men
believed exactly the contrary; they believed that Jackson was very near
to Lee's army.
The night of the 25th was exceedingly warm. After all was ready for the
march, I lay on my blanket and tried vainly to sleep. Joe Bellot was
lying not more than three feet from me, and I knew that he, too, was
awake, though he did not speak or move. Busy, and sometimes confused,
thoughts went through my mind. I doubted not that I should soon see
actual war, and I was far from certain that I could stand it. I had
never fired a shot at a man; no man had ever fired at me. I fully
appreciated the fact of the difference between other men and me;
perhaps I exaggerated my peculiarity. I had heard and had read that most
men in battle are able from motives of pride to do their duty; but I was
certainly not like most men. I was greatly troubled. The other men had
homes to fight for, and that they would fight well I did not doubt at
all; but I was called on to fight for an idea alone--for the abstraction
called State rights. Yet I, too, surely had a home in an unknown
somewhere, and these men were fighting for my home as well as theirs; if
I could not fight for a home of my own, I could fight for the homes of
my friends. My home, too, was a Southern home, vague, it is true, but as
real as theirs, and Southern homes were in danger from the invaders. I
_must_ fight for Southern homes--for _my_ home; but could I stand up
with my comrades in the peril of battle? Few men are cowards, but was I
not one of a few? perhaps unique even?
Of pride I had enough--I knew that. I knew that if I could but retain my
presence of mind I could support a timid physical nature by the
resources of reason in favour of my dignity; but, then, what is courage
if it is not presence of mind in the midst of danger? If my mind fail, I
shall have no courage: this is to think in a circle. I felt that I
should prefer death to cowardice--the thought gave me momentary comfort.
But do not all cowards feel just that way before the trial comes? A
coward must be the most wretched of men--not a man, an outcast from men.
And then, to kill men--was that preferable to being killed? I doubted it
and--perhaps it is strange to say it--the doubt comforted me. To be
killed was no worse than to kill.
Then I thought of General Lee; what force could it be that sustained
_him_ at this moment? If not now, at least shortly, he would give orders
which must result in the death of thousands; it was enough to craze a
general. How could he, reputed so good, give such orders? Could any
success atone for so much disaster? What could be in the mind of General
Lee to make him consent to such sacrifice? It must be that he feels
forced; he cannot do it willingly. Would it not be preferable to give up
the contest--to yield everything, rather than plunge the people of two
nations into despair and horror over so many wasted lives? For so many
stricken homes? For widows, orphans, poverty, ruin? What is it that
sustains General Lee? It is, it must be, that he is a mere soldier and
simply obeys orders. Orders from whom? President Davis. Then President
Davis is responsible for all this? On him falls the burden? No. What
then? The country.
And what is this thing that we call the country? Land? People? What is
land? I have no land. I have no people, so far as I know. But, supposing
that I have people and land--what is the country for which we fight?
Will the enemy take our people, and take our land, if we do not beat
them back? Yes, they will reduce our people to subjection. I shall
become a dependant upon them. I shall be constrained in my liberties;
part of my labour will go to them against my will. My property, if I
have any, will be taken from me in some way--perhaps confiscated, if not
wholly, at least in a measure, by laws of the conquerors. I shall not
But am I now free? If we drive back the enemy, shall I be free? Yes, I
shall be free, rightly free, free to aid the country, and to got aid
from the country, I shall be part of the country and can enjoy my will,
because I will to be part of my country and to help build up her
greatness and sustain and improve her institutions.
Institutions? What is an institution? We say government is an
institution. What is a government? Is it a body of men? No. What is it,
then? Something formed by the people for their supposed good, a growth,
a development--a development of what? Is it material? No, it is moral;
it is _soul_--then I thought I could see what is meant by the country
and by her institutions. The country is the spirit of the nation--and it
is deathless. It is not doomed to subjection; take the land--enslave the
people--and yet will that spirit live and act and have a body. Let our
enemies prevail over our armies; let them destroy; yet shall all that is
good in our institution be preserved even by our enemies; for a true
idea is imperishable and nothing can decay but the false.
Then why fight? Because the true must always war against the false. The
false and the true are enemies. But why kill the body in order to
spread, or even to maintain, the truth? Will the truth be better or
stronger by that?
Perhaps--yet no. War is evil and not good, and it is only by good that
evil can be overcome. But if our enemies come upon us, must we not
fight? The country wishes peace. Our enemies bring war. Must we submit?
We cannot submit. Submission to disgrace is repugnant to the spirit of
the nation; death is better than submission. But killing, is it not
crime? Is crime better than submission? No; submission is better than
crime But is not submission also a crime? At least it is an infringement
of the law of the nation's spirit. Then crime must be opposed by crime?
To avoid the crime of submission we must commit the crime of killing? It
seems so--but why? But why? Ah! yes; I think I see; it is because the
spirit of the nation is not equal to the spirit of the world. The
world-idea forbids killing and forbids submission, and demands life and
freedom for all; the spirit of the nation is not so unselfish; the
spirit of the nation exalts so-called patriotism; the world-spirit
raises high the principle of philanthropy universal. The country has not
developed the world-idea, and will not, except feebly; but she will at
last, and will be loyal to the spirit of the world. Then, unless I am
sustained by a greater power, I cannot go contrary to the spirit of the
South. I must kill and must be killed.
But can I stand the day of battle? Have I not argued myself into a less
readiness to kill? Will these thoughts or fancies--coming to me I know
not whence, and bringing to me a mental disturbance incomprehensible and
unique--comfort me in the hour of danger? Will not my conscience force
me to be a coward? Yet cowardice is worse than death.
I could not sleep; I was farther from sleep than ever. I rose, and
walked through long lines of sleeping men--men who on the morrow might
be still more soundly sleeping.
Captain Haskell was standing alone, leaning against the parapet. I
approached. He spoke kindly, "Jones, you should be asleep."
"Captain," I said; "I have tried for hours to sleep, but cannot."
"Let us sit down," said he; "and we will talk it over by ourselves."
His tone was unofficial. The Captain, reserved in his conduct toward the
men, seldom spoke to one of them except concerning duties, yet he was
very sympathetic in personal matters, and in private talk was more
courteous and kind toward a private than toward an equal. I understood
well enough that it was through sympathy that he had invited me
"Captain," I said, "I fear."
"May I ask what it is that you fear?"
"I fear that I am a coward."
"Pardon me for doubting. Why should you suppose so?"
"I have never been tried, and I dread the test."
"But," said he; "you must have forgotten. You were in a close place when
you were hurt. No coward would have been where you were, if the truth
has been told."
"That was not I; I am now another man."
"Allow me again to ask what it is that you seem to dread."
"Proving a coward," I replied.
"You fear that you will fear?" said he.
"That is exactly it."
"Then, my friend, what you fear is not danger, but fear."
"I fear that danger will make me fear."
"I imagine, sir, that danger makes anybody fear--at least anybody who
has something more than the mere fearlessness of the brute that cannot
"Do you fear, too, Captain?"
The Captain hesitated, and I was abashed at my boldness. I knew that his
silence was rebuke.
"I will tell you how I feel, Jones, since you permit me to speak of
myself," he said at last; "I feel that life is valuable, and not to be
thrown away lightly. I want to live and not die; neither do I like the
thought of being maimed for life. Death and wounds are very distasteful
to me. I feel that my body is averse to exposing itself to pain; I fear
pain; I fear death, but I do not fear fear. I do not think the fear of
death is unmanly, for it is human. Those who do not fear death do not
love life. Please tell me if you love life."
"I do not know, Captain; I suppose I do."
"Do you fear death?"
"What I fear now is cowardice. I suppose that if I were indifferent to
death I should have no fear of being afraid."
"I am sure that you kept your presence of mind the other day, in the
swamp," said he.
"I don't think I had great fear."
"Yet you were in danger there."
"Very little, I think, Captain."
"No, sir; you were in danger. At any moment a bullet might have ended
"I did not realize the situation, then."
"Well, I must confess that you had the advantage of me, then," said he.
"What? You, Captain? You felt that you were in danger?"
"Yes, Jones; every moment I knew our danger."
"But you did not fear."
"May I ask if you do not regard fear as the feeling caused by a
knowledge of danger?"
"I know, Captain,--I don't know how I know it,--but I know that a man
may fear and yet do his duty; but there are other men, and I am afraid
that I am one of them, who fear and who fail in duty."
"I congratulate you, sir; I wish all our men would fear to fail in
duty," said he; "we should have an invincible army in such case. An army
consisting, without exception, of such men, could not be broken. It is
those who flee, those who fail in duty, that cause disorganization. The
touch of the elbow is good for the weak, I think, sir; but for the man
who will do his duty such dependence should not be taught. Good men,
instructed to depend on comrades will be demoralized when comrades
forsake them. Our method of battle ought to be changed. Our ranks should
be more open. Many reasons might be urged for that change, but the one
we are now considering is enough. The close line makes good men depend
on weak men; when the weak fail, the strong feel a loss which is not
really a loss but rather an advantage, if they could but see it so.
Every man in the army ought to be taught to do his whole duty regardless
of what others do. Those who cannot be so taught ought not to fight,
sir; there are other duties more suited to them."
"And I fear that my case is just such a one," I said.
"There is fear and fear," said he; "how would you like for me to test
"To test me?"
"Yes; I can make you a proposition that will test your courage." His
voice had become stern.
I hesitated. What was he going to do? I could not imagine. But I felt
that to reject his offer would be to accept fully the position into
which my fears were working to thrust me.
"Do it, Captain," said I; "make it. I want to be relieved of this
"No matter what danger you run? Is danger better than suspense
I reflected again. At last I brought up all my nerve and replied, "Yes,
Captain, danger is better than fear."
"Why did you hesitate? Was it through fear?"
"Yes," said I; "but not entirely through fear; I doubted that I had the
right to incur danger uselessly."
"And how did you settle that?"
"I settle that by trusting to you, Captain."
He laughed; then he said: "The test that I shall give you may depress
you, but I am sure that you are going to be as good a soldier as Company
H can boast of having. Lieutenant Rhett, only yesterday, remarked that
you were the best-drilled man in the company, and showed astonishment
that a raw recruit, in less than two weeks, should gain such a standing.
I thought it advisable to say to him that your education had included
some military training, and he was satisfied." The Captain had dropped
his official manner. "It is clear to me, Jones, that you are more nearly
a veteran than any of us. I know that you have been in danger and have
been wounded, and your uniform, which you were wearing then, showed
signs of the very hardest service. I have little doubt, sir, that you
have already seen battle more than once."
"But, Captain, all that may be true and yet do me no good at all. I am a
"Since you allow me to enter into your confidence,--which I
appreciate,--I beg to say that your fears are not unnatural; I think
every man in the company has them. And I dare say, as a friend, that you
feel fear more sensitively because you live in the subjective; you feel
thrown back on yourself. Confess that you are exclusive."
"I am forced to be so, Captain."
"The men would welcome your companionship, sir."
"Yes, sir; but it is as you say: I feel thrown back on myself."
"And I think--though, of course I would not pretend to say it
positively--that is why your fears are not unnatural, though peculiar; I
fancy that you heighten them by your self-concentration. The world and
objects in it divert other men, while your attention is upon your own
feelings. Pardon me for saying that you think of little except yourself.
This new old experience of battle and peril you apply without dilution
to your soul, and you wonder what the effect will be. The other men
think of other men, and of home, and of a thousand things. You will be
all right in battle. I predict that the excitement of battle will be
good for you, sir; it will force you out of yourself."
"I have tried lately to take more interest in the world of other men and
other things," I said.
"Yes; I was glad to see you playing marbles to-day. Shall I give you
"Yes, sir; if you please."
"I think, however, that you have already given proof that you do not
need it," said he.
"How so, Captain?"
"Why, we've been talking here for ten minutes since I proposed to test
you, and you have shown no suspense whatever in regard to it. Have you
lost interest in it?"
"Not at all, Captain; I have only been waiting your good time."
"And therein you have shown fortitude, which may differ from courage,
but I do not think it does. I am confident you will at once reject my
proposition. I don't know that I ought to make it; but, having begun,
I'll finish. What I propose is this: I will assign you some special duty
that will keep you out of battle--such as guarding the baggage, or other
duty in the rear."
I was silent. An instant more, and I felt hurt.
"Why do you hesitate?"
"Because I did not think--" I stopped in time.
"I know, I know," said he, hastily; "and you must pardon me; but did you
not urge me on?"
"I confess it, Captain; and you have done me good."
"Of course, Jones, you know that I did not expect you to accept my
offer, which, after all, was merely imaginary. Now, can you not see that
what you fear is men's opinions rather than danger? You are not
intimidated at the prospect of battle."
"I fear that I shall be," said I.
"And yet, when I propose to keep you out of battle, your indignation
seems no less natural to yourself than it does to me."
"Is not that in keeping with what I have said about my fears?"
"Oblige me by explaining."
"I fear to show you my fear. Do I not refuse your offer for the purpose
of concealing my fear?"
"And to conceal your imaginary fears, you accept the possibility--the
strong possibility--of death," said he, gravely.
"Yes," I replied; "I do now, while death seems far, but what I shall do
when it is near is not sure."
"You are very stubborn," said the Captain, in a stern voice, assuming
again the relation of an officer.
"I do not mean it that way, Captain."
"You have determined to consider yourself a coward, or at least to
cherish fear; and no suggestion I can make seems to touch you."
"I wish I could banish fear," said I.
"Well, sir, determine to do it. Instead of exerting your will to make
yourself miserable, use it for a better purpose."
"How can a man will? How can he know that his resolution will not weaken
in the time of trial?"
"It is by willing to do what comes next that a man can again will and
will more. Can you not determine that you will do what you are ordered
to do? Doubtless we shall march, to-morrow; have you not decided that
you will march with us?"
"I had not thought of so simple a thing. Of course, Captain, I expect
"And if the march brings us upon the battlefield, do you not know that
you will march to the battlefield?"
"I expect to go into battle, of course, Captain. If I did not, I should
have no fear of myself."
"Have as great fear of yourself as you wish. Do you intend to run away
when we get into battle?"
"I have no such intention; but when the time comes, I may not be able to
have any intention at all."
"At what point in the action do you expect to weaken?"
"How can I have any expectation at all? I am simply untried, and fear
"You _can_ determine that you will act the man," said he. Then, kindly:
"I have no fears that you will do otherwise, but"--and here his voice
again became stern--"the determination will rid you of your present
fears. Exert your will, and this nightmare will go."
"Can a man will to do an unknown thing in the future?"
"_You_ can. You can drive away your present fear of yourself, at the
"How can I do it, Captain?"
"I shall give you one more test."
"Do anything you wish, Captain; only don't propose anything that would
confirm my fear."
"Look at me--now. I am going to count three--understand?"
"When I say 'three,' you will determine to continue in your present
state of mind--"
"No, no, Captain; I can't do that!"
"Why, you've been doing nothing else for the last hour, man! But allow
me to finish. You are going to determine to remain as you are, or you
will determine to conquer your fears. Now, reflect before I begin."
There was a pause.
"Ready!" said the Captain; "hold your teeth together. When I say three,
you act--and act for life or death--ONE--TWO--"
If he ever said three, I did not hear it; at the word "two" all my fears
"Well, my friend, how is it now?" he asked gently, even hesitatingly.
"Captain," said; "I am your grateful servant. I shall do my duty."
"I knew, sir, that your will was only sleeping; you must excuse me for
employing a disagreeable device in order to arouse it. If I may make a
suggestion, I would now beg, while you are in the vein, that you will
encourage henceforth, the companionship of the men."
"It will be a pleasure to do so, hereafter, Captain."
"And I am delighted with this little episode, sir," said he; "I am
sincerely glad that the thought of confiding in me presented itself to
your mind, since the result seems so wholesome."
"Good night, Captain," said I.
But he did not let me leave without thus having reasserted his character
as my commander.
"Go back and get all the sleep you can; you will have need for all your
physical strength to-morrow--and after."
I was almost happy.
IN THE GREAT BATTLE
"If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,
Thou'lt not believe thy deeds; but I'll report it."
It is said that a word may change a life. Actually? No, not of itself;
the life which is changed must be ready for the word, else we were
creatures dominated by our surroundings.
I had been a fragment,--a sort of moral flotsam cast up by an unknown
sea,--and I had found a rude harbour in Company H. If I touched a larger
world, it was only through the medium of the company in its relations to
that world. I had formed some attachments,--ties which have lasted
through life thus far, and will always last,--but these attachments were
immediate only, and, so far as I felt, were almost baseless; for not
directly could I see and feel what was felt by the men I loved. Outside
the narrow bounds of the company my world was all abstract. I fought for
that world, for it appealed to my reason; but it was with effort that I
called before my mind that world, which was a very present help to every
other man. The one great fact was war; the world was an ideal world
rather than a reality. And I frequently felt that, although the ideal
after all is the only reality, yet that reality to me must be lacking in
the varying quality of light, and the delicate degrees of sweetness and
truth which home and friends and all the material good of earth were
said to assume for charming their possessors. The day brought me into
contact with men; the night left me alone with myself. In my presence
men spoke of homes far away, of mothers, of sisters, of wives and
children. I could see how deep was the interest which moved them to
speak, and, in a measure, they had my sympathy; yet such interest was
mystery rather than fact, theoretical rather than practical. I could
fill these pages with pathetic and humorous sayings heard in the camps,
for my memory peculiarly exerted itself to retain--or rather, I should
say, spontaneously retained--what I saw and heard; saw and heard with
the least emotion, perhaps, ever experienced by a soldier. Absorbed in
reflections on what I heard, and in fancies of a world of which I knew
so little, it is not to be doubted that I constructed ideals far beyond
the humdrum reality of home life, impracticable ideals that tended only
to separate me more from other men. Their world was not my world; this I
knew full well, and I sometimes thought they knew it; for while no rude
treatment marked their intercourse with me, yet few sought me as a
friend. My weak attempts to become companionable had failed and had left
me more morose. But for the Captain and for Joe Bellot, I should have
Such had been my feelings before I had willed; now, in a degree,
everything was changed; indifference, at least, was gone, and although I
was yet subject to the strange experience which ruled my mind and
hindered it, yet I knew that I had large power over myself, and I hoped
that I should always determine to live the life of a healthy human
being, that I should be able to accept the relationships which, through
Company H, bound me to all men and all things, and that my interest
henceforth would be diversified--touching the world and what is in it
rather than myself alone. But this was mere hope; the only certain
change was in the banishment of my former indifference.
* * * * *
The morning of Thursday, the 26th of June, passed away, and we yet held
our place in the line. At two o'clock the long roll was heard in every
regiment. Our knapsacks had been piled, to be stored in Richmond.
"_Fall in, Company H! Fall in, men! Fall in promptly!"_ shouted
By fours we went to rear and left, then northward at a rapid stride.
Some of the men tried to jest, and failed.
At three o'clock we were crossing Meadow Bridge; we could see before us
and behind us long lines of infantry--Lee's left wing in motion.
Beyond the bridge the column filed right; A.P. Hill came riding back
along the line of the Light Division.
Suddenly, from over the hills a mile and more away, comes the roar of
cannon. We leave the road and march through fields and meadows; the
passing of the troops ahead has cleared the way; we go through gaps in
And now we hear the crash of small arms, and smoke is rising from our
left oblique. We are yet under the hill. We halt and wait. The noise of
battle grows. Sunset comes--we move. The next company on our right is
passing through a gap in a fence. A shell strikes the topmost rail at
the left and hurls it clear over their heads. Then I see men pale, and I
know that my own face is white.
Shells fly over us. We lie down on the slope of a hill which rises to
our left, and darkness grows, and the noises cease. No breaking of ranks
for rest or for water; the long night through we lie on our arms.
Morning comes; we have no water; the men eat their rations dry. At
sunrise the march is again begun, through fields and woods and down
country roads; we go southeast.
The Yankees have gone. At nine o'clock we halt; a field. Company C, the
right of the regiment; is thrown forward as skirmishers.
Again we march; again we halt, the brigade in line of battle. An orderly
comes to Captain Haskell.
"_Company H!_ ATTENTION!"
Every man is in his place--alert.
"_By the right flank_--MARCH!"
"_Company--as skirmishers--on the right file--take
I did not have very far to go. The company was deployed on the left of
Company C. Then we went forward in line for half a mile or more, through
woods and fields, the brigade following in line of battle.
About eleven o'clock we had before us an extensive piece of open
land--uncultivated, level, and dry. In the edge of the woods we had
halted, so that we might not get too far ahead of the brigade. From this
position we saw--some six hundred yards at our left oblique--a group of
horsemen ride out into the field, seemingly upon a road, or line, that
would intersect our line of advance. Our men were at once in place. The
distance was too great to tell the uniforms of the party of horsemen;
but, of course, they could be only Yankees.
Captain Haskell ordered Dave Bellot to step out of the line. The
horsemen had halted; they were a small party, not more than fifteen or
twenty. Captain Haskell ordered Bellot to take good aim at the most
eligible one of the group, and fire.
Bellot knelt on one knee, raised his sight, put his rifle to his
shoulder, and lowered it again. "Captain," said he, "I am afraid to
fire; they may be our men."
The Captain made no reply; he seemed to hesitate; then he put his
handkerchief on the point of his sword and walked forward. A horseman
advanced to meet him. Captain Haskell returned to Company H, and said,
"They are General Jackson and his staff."
Again we went forward. Prom the brow of a hill we could see tents--a
camp, a Yankee camp--on the next hill, and we could see a few men
running away from it. We reached the camp. It had been abandoned
hurriedly. Our men did not keep their lines perfectly; they were curious
to see what was in the tents. Suddenly the cracking of rifles was heard,
and the singing of bullets, and the voice of Captain Haskell commanding,
Each man found what shelter was nearest. I was behind a tent. The Yankee
skirmishers were just beyond a little valley, behind trees on the
opposite hill, about two hundred yards from us. I could see them looking
out from behind the trees and firing. I took good aim at one and pulled
the trigger; his bullet came back at me; I loaded and fired; I saw him
no more, but I could see the smoke shoot out from the side of the tree
and hear his bullet sing. I thought that I ought to have hit him; I saw
him again, and fired, and missed. Then I carefully considered the
distance, and concluded that it was greater than I had first thought. I
raised the sliding sight to three hundred yards, and fired again at the
man, whom I could now see distinctly. A man dropped or leaped from the
tree, and I saw him no more; neither did I see again the man behind
We had had losses. Veitch and Crawford had been shot fatally; other men
slightly. The sun was shining hot upon us. The brigade was behind us,