Part 9 out of 10
me a much better view,--and I suppose I was a little careless; at any
rate, while loading the next time I felt a sharp little pain on my arm.
I jumped back into the ditch. My sleeve was torn between my arm and
body. I took off my coat--there was hardly more than a scratch; the ball
had grazed the inside of my arm about an inch below the armpit and had
drawn some blood.
We skirmished all day, neither side advancing. The battalion had no
losses. At night the Federals withdrew to their side of the river. While
going back to camp our men kept up a perfect babel of talk concerning
their first day's experience in the battalion of sharp-shooters. They
were to undergo other experiences--experiences which would cause them to
hold their tongues.
"He was a man, take him all in all,
I shall not see his like again"--SHAKESPEARE.
The time came for A.P. Hill to follow on after Longstreet We broke camp
on the 15th, and marched day after day through Culpeper; Chester Gap,
Front Royal and Berryville. On the 25th of June we forded the Potomac
for the last time, crossing below Shepherdstown at the ford by which we
had advanced nine months before in our hurried march from Harper's Ferry
to Sharpsburg. We passed once more through Sharpsburg, and advanced to a
village called Funkstown, in the edge of Pennsylvania, where our
division rested for three days.
On the 29th, Sergeant Rhodes and I went foraging. At some small
farmhouses far off in the hills we found provisions to sell at cheap
prices. Our Confederate money was received with less unwillingness than
we might have expected, We got onions, cheese, and bread--rye-bread.
Rhodes was carrying a tin bucket; he wanted milk. Coming back toward
camp at sunset, we met in a lane two fine cows--a boy driving them home
from pasture. We halted. Rhodes ordered the boy to milk the cows; the
boy replied that he could not milk. "Well, I can," said Rhodes. I held
the sergeant's gun, and he soon drew his bucket full. Meantime, I was
talking with the boy.
"When did you see your brother last?" I asked.
"About two months ago," said he.
"Is he the only brother you have?"
"How does he like the army?"
"He liked it at first; Father tried to keep him from going, but he
"And he doesn't like it now?"
"No, sir; that he don't. He hated to go back, but he had to."
"Say, young man," said Rhodes; "have you got a brother in the Yankee
"Then I don't pay you a cent for this milk."
I thought that the boy was greatly surprised to know that Rhodes had
intended to pay.
* * * * *
On the last day of the month we moved again; the morning of July 1st
found us marching eastward on the Cashtown road. The heat was great,
although the sun was not high. The march was rapid and unobstructed, as
though A.P. Hill was soon to have work to do. Heth's division led the
corps. We descended from a range of high hills, having in our front an
extensive region dotted over with farmhouses and with fertile fields
interspersed with groves. The march continued; steadily eastward went
At nine o'clock the spasmodic patter of rifles was heard in front. We
were halted. Haskell's battalion filed to the right, deployed, and the
column marched on, with the sharp-shooters moving as skirmishers
parallel with the brigade.
The firing in front increased. The battalion flanked to the right and
went forward in line to the top of a hill overlooking a large low plain
to the south. We halted in position, occupying a most formidable
defensive line. In our rear, half a mile, the division, and perhaps
other divisions, went by into battle, and left us on the hill,
protecting their flank and rear.
Cavalry were visible in our front. They moved over the plain in many
small groups, but throughout the day did not venture within range of our
rifles. A great engagement seemed in progress at our rear and left. We
could see the smoke of burning houses and see shells burst in the air,
and could hear the shouts of our men as they advanced from one position
to another, driving the enemy.
A little before sunset Captain Haskell came to me and handed me a folded
paper. "Find General Pender," he said, "and give him this note. I fear
the battalion has been forgotten here, and I am asking for orders. Be
back as quickly as you can."
My way was over the battlefield. I passed between houses yet burning.
Dead and wounded lay intermingled, Federals and Confederates. In one
place behind a stone fence there were many blue corpses. The ambulances
and infirmary men were busy. In a road I saw side by side a Confederate
and a Federal. The Confederate was on his back; his jacket was open; his
shirt showed a great red splotch right on his breast. Death must have
At the Seminary I found at last our line. It had been much farther
forward, but had been withdrawn to the hill. General Pender was yet on
his horse. I handed him the note. He read it, and said, without looking
at me, "Tell the Captain to bring his men in."
I ran down the line to find Company H. In a few minutes I saw Lieutenant
Barnwell and the men. Larkin of Company H, colour-bearer of the
regiment, had fallen; Corporal Jones was dead; many men were wounded.
The brigade had fought well; it had charged the enemy behind a stone
fence and routed them, and had pursued them through the streets of the
town and taken many prisoners. Butler and Williams had gone into a house
foraging, and in the cellar had taken a whole company commanded by a
lieutenant. Other tales there were to tell. Albert Youmans had gone
entirely through the town, followed by straggling men, and had reached
the top of Cemetery Hill, and had seen a confused mass of men in utter
disorganization, and had waved his hat and shouted to the men behind him
to come on; but Major Alston had already ordered the pursuit stopped.
The flag of the First had waved in the streets of the town before that
of any other regiment. The commander of the Federals, General Reynolds,
had been killed. Archer's brigade of Heth's division had in the early
hours of the battle advanced too far, and many of the brigade had
All this and more I heard in the few minutes which I dared to give. I
hurried back to the battalion, running to make up lost time. It was not
yet thoroughly dark as I made my way for the second time over the bloody
field. I passed again between the Confederate and the Federal whom I had
seen lying side by side. Our man was sitting in the road, and
When I reached the battalion all ears were open for news. When I told
about seeing the supposed dead man alive again and eating hardtack,
Charley Wilson shouted, "And he got it out of that Yankee's haversack!"
For a while that night the battalion lay behind the brigade. At ten
o'clock Captain Haskell called me. He was sitting alone. He made me
sit by him.
"Jones," said he, "Company A will not move to-night, but the other
companies will relieve the skirmishers at daybreak."
"I wish Company A could go, too," said I.
"Company A has done a little extra duty to-day; it will be held in
"But what extra duty has Company A done, Captain?"
"It has sent one man on special service," said he; "you may say that it
was not a great duty; but it was something, and rules must be observed.
Of course, if your company happened to be of average number and either
of the others was very small, I should take Company A instead. But it
does not so happen; so the work you have done to-day gives Company A a
rest--if rest it can be called."
"But why not take the whole battalion?"
"Only two companies are needed. The losses of the brigade to-day have
been so great that two companies can cover our front. Lee attacks
again," he continued sadly; "he has fought but one defensive battle."
"But you must allow, Captain," said I, "that Chancellorsville was a
great victory--and to-day's battle also."
"Chancellorsville was indeed a great victory," said he; "but the enemy
is as strong as ever. I cannot suggest anything against
Chancellorsville, except that I think that we should not have stopped on
Sunday morning after taking the second line of intrenchments. General
Lee heard of Sedgwick's movement just at the wrong time I dare say.
Should he not have pressed Hooker into the river before giving attention
 Captain Haskell is wrong here. Hooker's new position was impregnable
to any attack the Confederates were then able to make. Hooker himself,
as well as his army, wished for the Confederates to attack. Lee's march
against Sedgwick, at this juncture, was the right movement. See the
Comte de Paris, _in loc_. [ED.]
"Then you believe in attacking," said I.
"True; I do under such circumstances. The trouble with us has been that
we attack resisting troops, and when we defeat them we refuse to trouble
them any more: we let them get away. Yet, as you say, Chancellorsville
was a great victory; anything that would have sent Hooker's army back
over the river, even without a battle, would have been success. But
speaking from a military view, I dare say it was a false movement to
divide our forces as we did there. We succeeded because our opponents
allowed us to succeed. It was in Hooker's power on Saturday to crush
either Jackson or McLaws. Yet, as you suggest, General Lee was compelled
to take great risks; no matter what he should do, his position seemed
well-nigh desperate, and he succeeded by the narrowest margin. Even on
Sunday morning, before the action began, if General Lee had only known
the exact condition below us at Fredericksburg, I dare say Hooker would
in the end have claimed a victory, for General Lee would not have
assaulted Hooker's works."
"But would he not have overcome Sedgwick?" I asked.
"Pardon me. After Hooker's defeat Lee could afford to march against
Sedgwick, but not before. I think he would have retreated. We had
enormous good fortune. It was as great as at the first Manassas, when
Beauregard, finding himself flanked by McDowell, won the battle by the
steady conduct of a few regiments who held the enemy until Johnston's
men came up. Of course I am not making any comparison between Generals
Lee and Beauregard. But Manassas and Chancellorsville are past, and
observe, sir, what a loss we have had to-day. I dare say the enemy's
loss is heavier, but he can stand losses here, and we cannot; another
day or two like to-day, and we are ruined. To beat back a corps of the
enemy for a mile or so until it occupies a stronger position than
before, is not--you will agree with, me--the defensive warfare which,
the Confederacy began. What can General Lee do to-morrow but attack? He
will attack, and I trust we shall defeat Meade's army; but we cannot
destroy it, and it will be filled up again long before we can get any
reenforcement. Indeed, Jones, I do not see how we can be reenforced at
all--so far from our base, and the enemy so powerful to prevent it."
"Cannot General Lee await an attack?"
"I fear that he cannot, Jones; the enemy would grow stronger every day,
while we should become weaker. The enemy would not attack until we
should begin to retreat; then they would embarrass our retreat and
endeavour to bring us to battle."
"Then you would advise immediate retreat?"
"My friend, we must risk a battle. But even if we gain it, we shall be
losers. The campaign was false from the start. Is it not absurd for a
small army of a weak nation to invade a great nation in the face of more
powerful armies? If we had arms which the Federals could not match, we
should find it easy to conquer a peace on this field. But their
equipment is superior to ours. The campaign is wrong. If inactivity
could not have been tolerated, we should have reenforced General Bragg
and regained our own country instead of running our heads against this
wall up here. But, do you not agree with, me that inactivity would have
been best? Hooker's army would not have stirred this summer until too
late for any important campaign. The year would have closed with
Virginia secure and with great recuperation to all our eastern states.
Our army would have been swelled by the return of our wounded and sick,
without any losses to offset our increase. As it is, our losses are
going to be difficult if not impossible to make up. I fear that Lee's
army will never be as strong hereafter as it is to-night."
"But would not a great victory here give us peace?"
"I fear not; we cannot gain such a victory as would do that. Look at the
victories of this war. They have been claimed by both aides--many of
them. The defeated recover very quickly. Except Fort Donelson, where has
there been a great victory?"
"The Chickahominy," said I.
"Gaines's Mill was a victory; but we lost more men than the Federals,
and McClellan escaped us."
"Pope claimed a victory for the first day, and his army escaped on the
second day. True, it was beaten, but it is over yonder now on
"Yes; that was a victory, and Burnside should not have been allowed to
get away. Do you remember a story in the camp to the effect that Jackson
was strongly in favour of a night attack upon the Federals huddled up
on our side of the river?"
"Yes, Captain. I heard of it after I returned from the hospital. You
know I was not in the battle."
"I remember. Well, the rumour was true. General Jackson wished to throw
his corps upon the enemy the night after the battle; the men were to
wear strips of white cloth, around their arms so that they might
recognize each other."
"And you believe the attack would have succeeded?"
"Beyond all question, Jones. We should have driven the Federals into the
river. We lost there our greatest opportunity."
"And you think we could have done the same thing to Hooker's army?"
"True--or nearly so; but we allowed Hooker as well as Burnside to get
away. I have sometimes thought that General Lee is too merciful, and
that he is restrained because we are killing our own people. If
Burnside's men had been of a foreign nation, I think Lee might have
listened more willingly to Jackson. The feeling may have been balanced
in our favour at Sharpsburg. If McClellan had been killing Frenchmen, I
dare say he would have had more fight in him on the 18th of September.
After all that we read in the newspapers, Jones, about the vandalism
practised in this war, yet this war is, I dare say, the least inhumane
that ever was waged. I don't think our men hate the men on the
"I don't," said I.
"Be that as it may; whether we are too merciful or too unfortunate as to
opportunity, the fact remains that armies are not destroyed; they get
away; when we gain a field, it is only the moral effect that remains
with us. War is different from the old wars. The only thorough defeats
are surrenders. It would take days for Lee's army to shoot down Meade's
at long range, even if Meade should stand and do nothing. We may defeat
Meade,--I don't see why we should not,--but in less than a week we
should be compelled to fight him again, and we should be weaker and he
would be stronger than before."
"I have often-wondered," said I, "how the ancients destroyed whole
"Conditions allowed them to do it." said the captain. "In Caesar's wars,
for instance, men fought hand to hand, physical strength and endurance
were the qualities that prevailed. The men became exhausted backing away
or slinging away at each other. In such a condition a regiment of
cavalry is turned loose on a broad plain against a division unable to
flee, and one horseman puts a company to death; all he has to do is to
cut and thrust."
"A victory should at least enable us to hold our ground until we could
get reenforcements," I said.
"True; but we should get one man and the enemy would get twenty."
"We could retire after victory," I said.
"Can you believe that General Lee would do that? I do not know that he
is responsible for this offensive campaign, but we all know that he is
quicker to fight than to retreat. It is astonishing to me that his
reputation is that of a defensive general. I dare say his wonderful
ability as an engineer accounts for it."
"If we should gain a victory here, would not England or France recognize
"Would it not require a succession of great victories for that? Ever
since Lincoln's proclamation there has been no sound hope of European
recognition. There was one hope, but that was soon gone."
"What was it, Captain?"
"The hope that the Confederacy would meet Lincoln's order by
emancipating the slaves gradually."
"Was that seriously thought of?"
"Yes; there was much discussion of it, but privately in the main. We do
not know what took place in Congress, but it has leaked out that there
was a strong party there in favour of it. Whether any vote was ever had
I do not know; I dare say those in favour of the measure found they were
not strong enough, and thought best not to press it."
"What effect would such a course have had?"
"I can say only what I think. I believe that England would have
recognized us. The North, too, would have been disarmed, in a measure.
In fact, the great bugaboo that brought on the war would have been laid
at rest. The North would have been eager to conciliate the South, and it
would have become possible to reconstruct the Union with clear
definitions of the sovereignty of the States."
"I remember your telling me long ago that you would favour a gradual
"Yes; our form of slavery is not bad, it is true, Jones; in fact, there
is great justification for it. It is too universal, however. It does not
give enough opportunity for a slave to develop, and to make a future for
himself. Still, we have some grand men among the slaves. Many of them
would suffer death for the interest of their masters' families. Then,
too, we have in the South a type unknown in the rest of the world since
feudalism: we have in Virginia, in South Carolina, in Louisiana,
reproductions of the old nobility. The world is richer for such men. The
general condition of the slaves is good. We know that the negro is an
inferior race. We have done him no injustice by giving him a small share
in a civilization which his kings could never know. He was a slave at
home; he is less a slave here. He has been contented. Witness his
docility, his kindness even, to our wives and children while his masters
are at war, seemingly to perpetuate his bonds. Such conduct deserves
recognition. I would say that a system of rewards should be planned by
which a worthy negro, ambitious to become free, could by meritorious
conduct achieve his freedom. But this act of Lincoln's is monstrous. It
is good for nobody. A race of slaves, suddenly become free, is a race of
infants with the physical force of men. What would become of them?
Suppose the North should succeed. Suppose the Confederate armies
disbanded, and the States back in the Union or held as territories. Has
anybody the least idea that the whites of the South would tolerate the
new dignity of their former slaves? The condition would be but the
beginning of race hatred that would grow into active hostility, and
would never end. The whites would band together and punish negro
offences more severely than ever. The negroes could not combine. The
result would be cruelty to the black man; his condition would be far
worse than before. Even supposing that Northern armies should
indefinitely occupy all our territory; even supposing that our own
people should be driven out and our lands given to the slaves--what
would become of them? We know their character. They look not one day
ahead. There would be famine, riot, pestilence, anarchy. And the worst
men of the race would hold the rest in terror. Immorality would be at a
premium, sir. The race would lose what it had gained. But, on the other
hand, put into practice a plan for gradual freedom based on good
conduct; you would see whites and blacks living in peace. The negro
would begin to improve, and the white people would help him. It would
not be long before the ideal of the negro would be individual freedom,
not race freedom, as it is the white man's ideal now. There would be
great striving throughout the negro race, which would be affected
thereby from first to last of them. Yes, I believe that if we had so
done we should have been recognized. England does not believe in sudden
emancipation. She provides for the freeing of the slaves throughout her
dominions, but gradually carries her plans into effect, and she pays the
owners. I sometimes think that American Revolution was a mistake for the
Southern colonies, for South Carolina especially."
"A mistake, Captain? That is a new idea to me."
"We certainly had not the reason to rebel that Massachusetts had. Our
best people--and we had many of them--were closely allied to the best of
the English, more closely than to Massachusetts. Our trade with the
mother country was profitable, and our products were favoured by
bounties. We had no connection, with the French and Indian wars which
had given rise to so much trouble between Great Britain and New England.
But our people thought it would be base to desert the cause of
Massachusetts. I dare say this thought was the main reason that caused
South Carolina to throw in her lot with that of our Northern colonies.
See what we get for it. We renounce our profitable commerce with
England, and we help our sister colonies; just so soon as their
profitable commerce with us is threatened by our withdrawal, they
maintain it by putting us to death. It is their nature, sir. They live
by trade. If they continue to increase in power, they will hold the West
in commercial subjection--and the isles of the sea, if they can ever
reach to them. Death has no such terrors to them as loss of trade."
"But could the Revolution have succeeded without the South?"
"Certainly not. The South really bore the brunt of the war. New England
suffered very little. New York suffered; so did Pennsylvania and New
Jersey, but nothing in comparison with South Carolina, which was in
reality no more than a conquered province for years, and yet held
faithful to the cause of the colonies. And it was the eventual success
of the Southern arms that caused the surrender of Cornwallis. The North
is very ungrateful to us."
"With Great Britain and America under one government, we should have
been a very powerful nation," said I, musingly.
"And this war never would have been possible. Our slaves would have been
freed wisely, and we should have been paid for them. England and
America could have controlled the world in peace; but here we are,
diligently engaged in killing one another."
"Captain, I think our men are in bettor spirits than ever before."
"That is very true, Jones. They are full of hope and courage. I have
hope also, but I see no quick ending to this war."
"I don't believe this army can be defeated," said I.
"It cannot. It may suffer great losses, and be forced to
retreat,--indeed, I think that consequence a natural inference from the
situation,--- but it cannot be badly defeated; it cannot be
disorganized. It would take mouths to overcome it."
"Then you really believe that we shall retreat?"
"Yes; I believe we shall fight, and we shall fight hard, and have
losses, but the enemy will be very cautious of attack, and those of us
who are able to march shall see Virginia again."
"Those who are able to march? Could we leave our wounded here?"
"I was thinking only of the fallen. If ever the history of this war is
truly written, the greatest honours of all will be paid to the common
soldiers, men who, without a particle of interest in slaves, give their
lives for independence--- the independence of their States. Yet it is
useless to grieve in anticipation."
"A soldier's death should not be a thing to grieve over," said I; "at
least, so it seems to me. I think I should prefer death in battle to
death by disease."
"True; and death must come, sooner or later, to all of us.
"'On two days it steads not to run from the grave,
The appointed and the unappointed day;
On the first, neither balm nor physician can save,
Nor thee, on the second, the Universe slay.'"
"Who is that, Captain?"
"The Persian Omar Khayyam, followed by Emerson."
"How do you spell that Persian's name, Captain?"
"And you pronounce it Ki-yam?"
"That is the way I pronounced it; is it not correct?"
"I don't know. I never heard of him before, but the name seems not
unfamiliar. Is he living?"
"Oh, no; dead centuries since. Were you hoping to find one of your old
"Don't laugh, Captain. Somehow the name seems to carry me back
"Maybe you knew him in a previous existence."
"Don't laugh, Captain. It is not the words, but merely the name that
strikes me. You don't believe the words yourself."
"I do and I do not. I believe them in a sense."
"In what sense, Captain?"
"In the sense in which the poet taught. The religion of the East is
fatalism. A fatalist who endeavours to shun death is inconsistent."
"But you are not a fatalist."
"No, and yes. Another poet has said that divinity shapes the ends that
we rough-hew; I should reverse this and say that life is blocked out in
the large for us by powers over which we can have no control, but that
within certain limits we do the shaping of our own lives."
"A new and better version," said I; "to-morrow some shaping will be
done. What effect on the general result to nations and the world does
one battle, more or fewer, have?"
"Some events are counterbalanced by others, seemingly, and the result is
nothing; but every event is important to some life."
"Captain, Youmans says he got to the top of the hill over yonder, and
that we could have occupied it but that our men were recalled."
"It would have made little difference," said he. "The enemy would only
have intrenched farther off. I dare say they are digging at
Then he said, "Go back to your place, Jones, and never fail to do your
full duty. I am serious, because war is serious. The more we have to do,
the more must we nerve ourselves to do it. We must collect all our
energies, and each man must do the work of two. Impress the men strongly
with the necessity for courage and endurance."
The full moon was shining in high heaven. I bade the Captain good night.
* * * * *
On the morning of July 2d, Company A still lay behind the brigade, which
was in line a little to the south of the Seminary. The sun shone hot.
The skirmishers were busy in front. Artillery roared at our left and far
to our right. At times shells came over us. A caisson near by exploded.
In the afternoon a great battle was raging some two miles to our right.
Longstreet's corps had gone in.
At four o'clock I saw some litter-bearers moving to the rear. On the
litter was a body. The litter-bearers halted. A few men gathered around.
Then the men of Company H began to stir. Some of them approached the
litter. Who was it? I became anxious. The men came slowly back--one at a
I asked who it was that had been killed.
"Captain Haskell," they said.
My tongue failed me, as my pen does now. What! Captain Haskell? Our
Captain dead? Who had ever thought that he might be killed? I now knew
that I had considered him like Washington--invulnerable. He had passed
through so many dangers unhurt, had been exposed to so many deaths that
had refused to demand him, had so freely offered his life, had been so
calm and yet so valiant in battle, had been so worshipped by all the
left wing of the regiment and by the battalion, had been so wise in
council and so forceful in the field, had, in fine, been one of those we
instinctively feel are heroes immortal! And now he was dead? It could
not be! There must be some mistake!
But I looked, and I saw Lieutenant Barnwell in tears, and I saw Sergeant
Mackay in tears, and I saw Rhodes in tears--and I broke down utterly.
"From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night,
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fixed sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch."
As the sun was setting on that doleful day, Company A was ordered
forward to the skirmish-line. We deployed and marched down the hill in
front of the Seminary. Cemetery Height was crowned with cannon and
intrenched infantry. The wheat field on its slope was alive with
skirmishers whose shots dropped amongst us as we advanced. Down our hill
and into the hollow; there the fire increased and we lay flat on the
ground. Our skirmish-line was some two or three hundred yards in front
of us, in the wheat on the slope of the ascent. Twilight had come.
Just on my left a brigade advanced up the hill through the wheat; what
for, nobody knew and nobody will ever know. It was Ramseur's brigade
of Rodes's division.
 Ramseur's was the extreme right brigade of Ewell's corps, which at
the moment was making an attack upon Culp's Hill. [ED.]
Company A advanced and united to Company C's left. I was now the left
guide of the battalion. I saw no pickets at my left. I thought it likely
that the brigade advancing had taken the skirmishers into its ranks.
Ramseur's men continued to go forward up the hill through the wheat. We
could yet see them, but indistinctly. They began firing and shouting;
they charged the Federal army. What was expected of them? It seemed
absurd; perhaps it was a feint. The flashes of many rifles could be
seen. Suddenly the brigade came running back down, the hill,
helter-skelter, every man for himself. They passed us, and went back
toward the main lines on Seminary Ridge.
It was my duty to connect our left with the right of the pickets of the
next brigade. But I saw nobody. Ramseur had left no picket in these
parts. His men had gone, all of them, except those who had remained and
must remain in the wheat farther up the hill.
Where was the picket-line to which ours must connect? I made a circuit
to my left, a hundred yards or more; no pickets. I returned and passed
word down the line to the lieutenant in command of Company A that I
wanted to see him on the left. He came, and I explained the trouble. The
lieutenant did not know what to do. This gentleman was a valuable
officer in the line, but was out of place in the battalion. He asked me
what ought to be done. I replied that we must not fail to connect, else
there would be a gap in the line, and how wide a gap nobody could tell.
If I had known then what I know now, I should have told him to report
the condition to Colonel Perrin, who was in command of the brigade, but
I did otherwise; I told him that if he would remain on the left, I would
hunt for the picket-line. He consented.
I first went to the left very far, and then to the rear and searched a
long time, but found nobody. I returned to the left of Company A and
proposed to go forward through the wheat and hunt for our pickets. The
The word was passed down the line that I was going to the front. I moved
slowly up the hill through the wheat. There was a moon, over which
bunches of cloud passed rapidly. While the moon would be hidden I went
forward. When the cloud had passed, I stooped and looked. Here and there
in the wheat lay dead skirmishers, and guns, and many signs of battle.
The wheat had been trodden down.
Cautiously I moved on until I was a hundred yards in advance of the
battalion. I saw no picket. Here the wheat was standing, in most places
untrodden. I looked back down the hill; I could not see our own men. I
went forward again for forty yards. Now at my right I saw a fence, or
rather a line of bushes and briers which had grown up where a fence had
been in years past. This fence-row stretched straight up the hill toward
the cemetery. I went to it. It would serve my purpose thoroughly. In the
shelter of this friendly row of bushes I crept slowly up the hill. I was
now in front of Company A's right.
The moon shone out and then was hidden. I was two hundred yards in
advance of the battalion. I laid my gun on the ground and crawled along
the fence-row for fifty yards, at every instant pausing and looking. I
reached a denser and taller clump of bushes, and raised myself to my
full height. In front were black spots in the wheat--five paces apart---
The spots looked very black. Gray would look black in this wheat with
the moonlight on it. I turned my belt-buckle behind my back, lest the
metal should shine. The line of spots was directly in front of me, and
on both sides of the fence-row. The line seemed to stretch across the
front of the whole battalion. If that was our picket, why should there
be another in rear of it? They must be Yankees.
I looked at them for two minutes. They were still as death. The line was
perfect. If it was a Confederate line, there might be men nearer to
me,--officers, or men going and returning in its rear,--but the line
seemed straight and perfect. The spots did not seem tall enough for
standing men. No doubt they were sitting in the wheat with their guns in
their laps. I heard no word--not a sound except the noises coming from
the crest of the hill beyond them, where was the Federal line of battle.
I looked back. Seminary Ridge seemed very far. I crawled back to my gun,
picked it up, rose, and looked again toward the cemetery. I could no
longer see the spots. I walked back down the hill, moving off to my
right in order to strike the left of Company A. The battalion had
I reported. The lieutenant was chagrined. I told him that I felt almost
sure that the men I had seen were Yankees. What to do? We ought to have
sent a man back to the brigade, but we did not. Why we did not, I do not
know, unless it was that we felt it our duty to solve the difficulty
ourselves. The left of the battalion was unprotected; this would not do.
Something must be done.
I suggested that the left platoon of Company A extend intervals to ten
paces and cover more ground. The lieutenant approved. The left platoon
extended intervals to ten paces, moving silently from centre to left.
This filled perhaps sixty yards of the unknown gap. Still no pickets
could be seen. I made a semicircle far to my left and returned.
Captain Haskell was not there. He would have sent ten men to the left
until something was found. He would have filled the interval, even had
it required the whole battalion to stretch to twenty steps apart, at
least until he could report to Colonel Perrin, or General Pender.
Lieutenant Sharpe, in command of the battalion, was far to the
right--perhaps four hundred yards from us. We should have sent word to
him down the line, but we did not do it. The night was growing. How wide
was the gap? Why did not the pickets on the other side of this gap
search for us? If the enemy knew our condition, a brigade or more might
creep through the gap; still the lieutenant did not propose anything.
At last I said that although the picket-line in front looked like a
Yankee line, it was yet possible that it was ours, and that I thought I
could get nearer to it than I had been before, and speak to the men
without great danger. Truth is, that I had begun to fear sarcasm. What
if, to-morrow morning, we should see a line of gray pickets in our
front? Should I ever hear the last of it?
Again the lieutenant approved. He would have approved of anything. He
was a brave officer. I verily believe that if I had proposed an advance
of Company A up the hill, he would have approved, and would have led
The company stood still, and I started again. I reached the place where
I had been before, and crawled on a few yards farther. Again the thought
came that there would have been some communicating between that line and
ours if that were Confederate. If they were our men, we had been in
their rear for three hours. Impossible to suppose that nobody in that
time should have come back to the rear. Clearly it was a Federal line,
and I was in its front. Then it occurred to me that it was possible they
had a man or two in the fence-row between me and their line. There could
be no need for that, yet the idea made me shiver. At every yard of my
progress I raised my head, and the black spots were larger--and not less
black. They were very silent and very motionless--the sombre
night-picture of skirmishers on extreme duty; whoever they were, they
felt strongly the presence of the enemy.
Ten yards in front, and ten feet to the right, I saw a post--a
gate-post, I supposed. There was no gate. This fence-row, along which I
was crawling, indicated a fence rotted down or removed. There had once
been a gate hanging to that post and closing against another post now
concealed by the bushes of the fence-row. I would crawl to that post out
there, and speak to the men in front. They would suppose that I was in
the fence-row, and, if they fired, would shoot into the bushes, while I
should be safe behind the post--such was my thought.
I reached the post. It was a hewn post of large size--post-oak, I
thought. I lay down behind it; I raised my head and looked. The black
spots were very near--perhaps thirty or forty yards in front. The line
stretched on to my right. I could not now see toward the left--through
It was not necessary to speak very loud.
I asked, "Whose picket is that?"
My voice sounded strangely tremulous.
There was no answer.
If they were Confederates, I was in their rear, and there would be no
sense in their refusal to reply; some one would have said, "Come up and
see!" or something. There was no movement. I could see that the black
spots had become large objects; the moon was shining.
I must ask again.
I remember that at that moment I thought of our Captain--dead that day.
I spoke again, "Gentlemen, is that the picket of Ramseur's brigade?"
Again I spoke, "Gentlemen, is that Ramseur's North Carolina brigade?"
Not a word.
It now seemed folly for me to remain. Who were these men? Certainly
Federals. I was in imminent danger of being captured. Two or three men
might rush forward and seize me before I could get to my feet. Yet,
would not a line of our men out here be silent? They would be very near
the enemy and would be very silent. But they would send a man back to
make me stop talking. They were Yankees; but why did they not say
something? or do something? Perhaps they were in doubt about me. I was
so near their lines they could hardly believe me a Confederate. I half
decided to slip away at once.
But I wished some conclusion to the matter. I wanted to satisfy the
lieutenant and myself also.
Again I spoke, "Will you please tell me what brigade that is?"
A voice replied, "Our brigade!"
This reply, in my opinion, was distinctly Confederate. I had heard it
frequently. It was an old thing. Often, when waiting for troops to pass,
you would ask, "What regiment is that?" and some-would-be wag would
say, "Our regiment."
I rose to my feet behind the post, but dropped again as quickly. Before
I had stood erect the thought came that possibly the Yankees also had
this old by-word. Then another thought--had the Yankees selected one man
to reply to me? Had all but one been ordered to preserve silence, and
was this one an expert chosen to entrap me? A man perhaps who knew
something of the sayings in the Southern army?
Now, in an effort to bring things to a pass, I shouted loud, "What army
do you belong to?"
Another voice shouted loud, "What army do you belong to?"
I had emphasized the word "army." He had emphasized the word "you."
Perhaps they thought I might be one of their own men, sent out in front
and trying to return; but if that were the case, why did they not bid me
come in? If they thought me a Confederate, very likely they thought I
was trying to desert, and feeling my way through fear of falling into
the hands of the wrong people.
I replied at once, "I am a rebel."
What it was that influenced me to use the word I do not know, unless it
was that I thought that if they were our men I was safe, being in their
rear, and that if they were Yankees they would at once accept the
challenge. I wanted to end the matter.
A dozen voices shouted, "We are for the Union!" and half a dozen rifles
They must have fired into the fence-row. I heard no bullet--but then, no
bullet can be heard at such a nearness.
I kept my post--flat on my face. It would not be best for me to rise and
run. Perhaps I could get off by doing so, but I could manage better. I
would remain quiet until they should think I had gone. Then I would
Two or three minutes passed. I was making up my mind to start. Suddenly
a gruff voice spoke. It was near me. It was in the fence-row. A Yankee
had crept toward me. He said, at an ordinary pitch, but very gruffly,
"Who _are_ you, anyhow?"
If he is yet alive, these lines may inform him that I was Jones. It was
my time to be silent. I feared that he would continue to come, but the
next instant I knew that he was in doubt as to how many I was, and I
I heard nothing more. No doubt he had given it up--had gone back and
reported that the enemy had disappeared from the immediate front.
Five minutes more, and I had picked up my gun and was walking back to
our line. I struck it in front of Company C, whose men had been warned
that I was out, but who now had to be restrained from firing on me. They
had heard the voices up the hill, and bullets had whistled over them,
and they had thought me a prisoner, so when they saw a man coming toward
them they were itching to shoot.
We remained all night as we were, with a gap in the skirmish-line at the
left of Pender's division.
"Each volley tells that thousands cease to breathe;
Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc,
Red Battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock."
The morning came--the morning of Friday, the 3d of July. Just as the sun
was rising in our faces the Federal skirmishers advanced. Down the hill
they came at the run. Lieutenant Sharpe ordered a countercharge, and the
battalion rushed to meet the enemy. We were almost intermixed with them
before they ran. And now our lieutenant of Company A showed his mettle.
He sprang before his company, sword in his left hand and revolver in the
other, and led the fight, rushing right up the hill, and, when near
enough, firing every barrel of his pistol. We took a few prisoners. Both
lines settled back to their first positions.
We had lost some men. A detail of infirmary people came from the rear to
carry off the wounded. Hutto had been shot badly. As four men lifted the
stretcher, one of them was killed, and Hutto rolled heavily to the
ground. Another of the litter bearers was shot, leaving but two; they
raised their stretcher in the air and moved it about violently. The
Yankees ceased firing.
The day had begun well, but we knew there was long and deadly work
ahead. We began to make protection. Low piles of rails, covered with
wheat-straw and earth dug up by bare hands, soon appeared along the
line. The protection was slight, yet by lying flat our bodies could not
be seen. On their side the Yankee skirmishers also had worked, and were
now behind low heaps of rails and earth. Practice-shooting began, and
was kept up without intermission for hour after hour.
We lay in the broiling sun. Orders came down the line for the men to be
sparing with water.
From my pit I could look back and see the cupola of the Seminary--could
see through the cupola from one window to the other. The Seminary was
General Lee's headquarters.
To our right and front was a large brick barn--the Bliss barn. Captain
Haskell had been killed by a bullet fired from this barn. It was five
hundred yards from the pits of Company A.
The Bliss barn was held by the Yankees. The skirmishers beyond the right
of the battalion charged and took it. A regiment advanced from the
Federal side, drove our men off, and occupied the barn. They began to
enfilade the pits of Company A. All the while, we were engaged in front.
A shot from the barn killed Sergeant Rhodes. Orders came down the line
for me to take his place at the right of the company.
Since the day before, I had thought that I had one friend in Company
A--Rhodes. Now Rhodes was dead.
We fired at the men who showed themselves at the barn--right oblique
five hundred yards.
We fired at the skirmishers behind the rail piles in front--two hundred
A man in a pit opposite mine hit my cartridge-box. I could see him
loading. His hand was in the air. I saw him as low as his shoulder. I
took good aim. A question arose in my mind--and again I thought of the
Captain: Am I angry with that man? Do I feel any hatred of him? And the
answer came: No; I am fighting for life and liberty; I hate nobody. I
fired, and saw the man no more.
Our men far to the right retook the barn. Again the enemy recovered it.
Cartridges were running low. Some brave men ran back to the line of
battle for more cartridges. The skirmishing was incessant. Our losses
were serious. We had fought constantly from sunrise until past midday,
and there was no sign of an ending.
At one o'clock a shell from our rear flew far above us, and then the
devil broke loose. More than a hundred guns joined in, and the air was
full of sounds. The Bliss barn was in flames. The Federal batteries
answering doubled the din and made the valley and its slopes a hell of
hideous noises. All of the enemy's missiles went far over our heads; we
were much nearer to the Federal artillery than to our own. Some of our
shells, perhaps from defective powder, fell amongst us; some would burst
in mid air, and the fragments would hurtle down. The skirmishing
ceased--in an ocean one drop more is naught.
I walked down the line of Company A. Peacock was lying dead with his hat
over his face. The wounded--those disabled--were unrelieved. The men
were prostrate in their pits, powder-stained, haggard, battle-worn, and
stern. Still shrieked the shells overhead, and yet roared the guns to
front and rear--a pandemonium of sight and sound reserved from the
foundation of the world for the valley of Gettysburg. The bleeding sun
went out in smoke. The smell of burning powder filled the land. Before
us and behind us bursting caissons added to the hellish magnificence of
this awful picture,--in its background a school of theology, and in its
foreground the peaceful city of the dead.
For more than an hour the hundreds of hostile guns shook earth and sky;
then there was silence and stillness. But the stillness was but brief.
Out from our rear and right now marched the Confederate infantry on to
We of the skirmishers felt that our line was doomed. I saw men stand,
regardless of exposure, and curse the day. For more than eighteen hours
we had been near the Federal lines. We had no hope. We knew that our
line, marching out for attack, could not even reach the enemy. Before
it could come within charging distance it would be beaten to pieces by
artillery. The men looked at the advancing line and said one to another,
"Lee has made a mistake."
The line came on. It was descending the slope of Seminary Ridge.
The Federal batteries began to work upon the line. Into the valley and
up the hill it came, with all the cannon in our front and right,--and
far to the right,--pumping death into its ranks.
I gave it up. I thought of Captain Haskell, and of his words concerning
General Lee's inclination to attack. I was no military man; I knew
nothing of scientific war, but I was sure that time had knelled the doom
of our poor line--condemned to attack behind stone fences the flower of
the Army of the Potomac protected by two hundred guns. It was simply
insane. It was not war, neither was it magnificent; it was too absurd
to be grand.
Great gaps were made in the line. It came on and passed over the
skirmishers. The left of the line passed over us just beyond the spot
where Rhodes lay dead. I could see down our line. It was already in
tatters. Writers of the South and of the North have all described
Pickett's charge as gallant, and have said that his line came on like
troops on dress-parade. It was gallant enough--too gallant; but there
was no dress-parade. Our officers and men on Seminary Ridge were looking
at Pickett's division from its rear; the blue men were looking upon it
from its front; from neither position could the alignment be seen; to
them it looked straight and fine; but that line passed by me so that I
looked along it, and I know that it was swayed and bent long before it
fired a shot. As it passed over us, it was scattered--many men thirty,
forty, even fifty yards in front of other men. No shame to Pickett's men
for this. The charge should not be distinguished for mere gallantry, but
for something far superior--endurance. From right and front and left, a
semicircle of fire converged upon their ranks and strewed the ground
with their dead. For half a mile they advanced under an iron tempest
such as Confederate troops never saw elsewhere than at Gettysburg--- a
tempest in which no army on earth could live.
I was hoping that the line would break and run before it came under the
fire of infantry; but it did not break. It was ragged, because the gaps
could not be filled as fast as they were made; but the fragments kept on
up the hill, uniting as they went.
And the line disappears in smoke, which tells us, as well as the sound,
that the Federal infantry and ours have at last joined their battle.
Here and there we see a real battle-flag violently shaking; the thunder
of the cannon no more is heard; the smoke recedes, and our men--those
that are left, but not the line--still go forward.
Pickett has reached the hostile infantry. On his left and right swarm
out against his flanks the army of the enemy, while in his front still
stand the stone bulwarks over which but few of his men live to pass.
Yet the fight still rages. The Federal skirmishers everywhere have long
ago withdrawn, so that we can stand and move and watch the struggle for
the graves. In a narrow circle on the hill, where a few trees stand,
smoke builds up and eddies. Up there death and fate are working as they
never worked. Lines of infantry from either flank move toward the
whirlpool. They close upon the smoke.
Now we see a few men dropping back out of the smoke and running
half-bent down the hill. Their numbers increase. All who have the
hardihood to run try to escape, but many remain and become prisoners.
A brigade or two of the enemy advance from their works on their right
and endeavour to intercept the fugitives. A brigade of Confederates
advances on our left, but stops in the wheat. The battle of
Gettysburg is over.
"Prepare you, generals:
The enemy comes on in gallant show;
Their bloody sign of battle is hung out,
And something to be done immediately."
On the night of the 4th the retreat began, Pender's division leading.
Rain fell in torrents. Rations were not to be had. The slow retreat
continued on the next day and the next. At Hagerstown we formed line
The sharp-shooters were in front. The Federal skirmishers advanced
against us. We held our own, but lost some men.
The rain kept on. We were in a field of wheat, behind rifle-pits made of
fence-rails. We rubbed the ears of wheat in our hands, and ate the grain
uncooked. The regiment sent out foraging parties, but with little
success. There was great suffering from hunger.
For three days and nights we were on the line at Hagerstown, skirmishing
every day. Captain Shooter of the First now commanded the battalion. We
were told that the Potomac was at a high stage, and that we must wait
until a pontoon bridge could be laid.
At ten o'clock on the night of the 13th the sharp-shooters received
orders to hold their line at all hazards until dawn; then to retire. The
division was withdrawing and depended upon us to prevent the advance of
the enemy. Rain fell all night. We were wet to the skin and almost
exhausted through hunger, fatigue, and watching.
At daylight we were back at the breastworks. Everybody had gone. We
followed after the troops. The rain ceased, but the mud was deep; the
army had passed over it before us. We marched some ten miles. After
sunrise we could hear a few shots, now and then, behind us. We supposed
that the enemy's advance was firing on our stragglers as they would try
to get away. The march was very difficult, because of the mud and mainly
because of our exhaustion.
We reached the top of a high hill overlooking the Potomac a mile away.
It must have been after ten o'clock. On the Virginia hills we could see
a great host of men, and long lines of artillery and wagons--some filing
slowly away to the south, others standing in well-ordered ranks. On some
prominent hills batteries had been planted. It was a great sight. The
sun was shining on this display. Lee's army had effected a crossing.
On the Maryland side the road descending was full of troops. At the
river was a dense mass of wagons, and brigade upon brigade with stacked
arms, the division resting and waiting for its turn to cross; for there
was but one bridge, over which a stream of men was yet passing, and it
would take hours for all to cross.
We were halted on the hill. A moment was sufficient for the men to
decide that the halt would be a long one. Down everybody dropped on the
ground, to rest and sleep.
The next thing I knew I was wide awake, with rifles cracking all around
me. I sprang to nay feet. Somebody, just in my rear, fired, with his gun
at my left ear; for weeks I was deaf in that ear. Men on horses were
amongst us--blue men with drawn sabres and with pistols which they were
firing. Our men were scattering, not in flight, but to deploy.
A horseman was coming at me straight--twenty yards from me. He was
standing in his stirrups and had his sword uplifted. I aimed and fired.
He still came on, but for a moment only. He doubled up and went
headforemost to the ground.
The battalion had deployed. But few, if any, of the horsemen who had
ridden into us had got away; but they were only the advance squadron.
More were coming. Our line was some two hundred and fifty yards long,
covering the road. We advanced. It would not do to allow the enemy to
see, over the crest of the hill, our compacted troops at the head of the
bridge. The numbers of the Federals constantly increased. They
outflanked us on our right. They dismounted and deployed as skirmishers.
They advanced, and the fighting began.
Company A was in an open ground covered with, dewberry vines, and the
berries were ripe. We ate dewberries and loaded and fired. I never saw
so many dewberries or any so good. Bullets whizzed over us and amongst
us, but the men ate berries. I had on a white straw hat that I had
swapped for with one of the men; where he had got it, I don't know. My
hat was a target. I took it off.
The enemy continued to extend his line beyond our right. From the
division below, the first regiment was sent back to help us. The
regiment deployed on our right and began firing. The enemy still
increased, and other regiments were sent back to us, until we had a
skirmish-line more than a mile long, and had a reserve force ready to
strengthen any weak part of the line.
The Federals broke through our line at the left, but the line was
reestablished. They got around our right and a few of them got into our
rear. One of them rode up to Peagler of Company H, an unarmed infirmary
man; he brandished his sword and ordered Peagler to surrender. Peagler
picked up a fence-rail and struck the rider from his horse.
Company H of the First, only about fifteen men, were in a house, firing
from the windows. Suddenly they saw the enemy on both their flanks and
rapidly gaining their rear. A rush was made from the house, and the
company barely escaped, losing a few men wounded, who, however,
General Pettigrew was killed. The fight kept growing. It had already
lasted three hours and threatened to continue.
At length, we were forced back by the constantly increasing numbers of
the Federals. As we readied the top of the hill again, we could see that
the bridge was clear. All the wagons and troops were on the south side
of the river. On the bridge were only a few straggling men
And now came our turn. We retreated down the hill. At once its crest was
occupied by the Federal skirmishers, and at once they began busily to
pop away at us. I ran along, holding my white hat in my hand.
We reached lower ground, and our batteries in Virginia began to throw
shells over our heads to keep back the enemy. The battalion flanked to
the right, struck the bridge, and rushed headlong across, with Yankee
bullets splashing the water to the right and left; meanwhile our
batteries continued to throw shells over our heads, and Federal guns,
now unlimbered on the Maryland side, were answering with spirit.
"'Tis far off;
And rather like a dream than an assurance
That my remembrance warrants."--SHAKESPEARE.
With the passage of the sharp-shooters into Virginia at Falling Waters,
the campaign was at an end. The pontoon bridge was cut. We marched a
mile from the river and halted; it was five o'clock. At night we
received two days' rations; I ate mine at one meal.
On the 15th the division moved to Bunker Hill. I gave out. Starvation
and a full meal had been too much for me. I suffered greatly, not from
fatigue, but from illness. I stepped out of ranks, went fifty yards into
the thicket, and lay down under a tree.
That the enemy was following was likely enough; I hardly cared. I shrank
from captivity, but I thought of death without fearing it.
My mind was in a peculiar attitude toward the war. We had heard of the
surrender of Vicksburg. Not even the shadow of demoralization had
touched Lee's army in consequence of Gettysburg; but now men talked
despairingly--with Vicksburg gone the war seemed hopeless.
Under the tree was peace. Company H had gone on. Company A had gone on.
What interest had they in me or I in them? I had fever.
The sounds of the troops marching on the road reached me in the thicket.
A few moments ago I was marching on the road. I was one of fifty
thousand; they have gone on.
Here, under this tree, I am one. But what one? I came I know not
whence; I go I know not whither. Let me go. What matter where? My
Captain has gone.
Perhaps I wander in mind. I have fever.
At one time I think I am going to die, and I long for death. The life I
live is too difficult.
And the South is hopeless. Better death than subjection. The Captain has
not died too soon.
What a strong, noble, far-seeing man! I shall never forget him. I shall
never see his like, I envy him. He has resolved all doubt; I am still
enchained to a fate that drags me on and on into ... into what? What
does the Captain think now? Does he see me lying here? Can he put
thoughts into my mind? Can he tell me who I am? What does he think now
of slavery? of State rights? of war?
He is at peace; he knows that peace is better. Yes, peace is better. He
is at peace. Would I also were at peace.
I slept, and when I awoke my strength had returned. I crept to the road,
fearing to see Federal troops. Neither Confederate nor Federal was in
sight. I tramped steadily southward and caught up at Bunker Hill.
* * * * *
By the 24th of July we had crossed the Blue Ridge and were approaching
During the months of August and September we were in camp near Orange
My distaste for the service became excessive, unaccountably, I should
have thought, but for the fact that my interest in life had so greatly
suffered because of the Captain's death.
My friend was gone. I wished for nothing definite. I had no purpose. To
fight for the South was my duty, and I felt it, but I had no relish for
fighting. Fighting was absurd.
The Captain had said, on the last night of his life, that he imagined
General Lee and perhaps General McClellan felt great reluctance in
giving orders that would result in the death of Americans at the hands
of Americans. I remembered that at Gettysburg, in the act of pulling the
trigger, I had found no hatred in me toward the man I was trying to
kill. I wondered if the men generally were without hate. I believed they
were; there might be exceptions.
We had lost General Pender at Gettysburg. We were now Wilcox's division.
We had camp guard and picket duty.
Since the Captain's death the battalion of sharp-shooters had been
dissolved, and I was back in Company H. The life was monotonous. Some
conscripts were received into each company. Many of the old men would
never return to us. Some were lying with two inches of earth above their
breasts; some were in the distant South on crutches they must
The spirit of the regiment was unbroken. The men were serious. Captain
Barnwell read prayers at night in the company.
I thought much but disconnectedly, and was given to solitude. I made an
object of myself. My condition appealed to my sympathy. Where had there
ever been such an experience? I thought of myself as Berwick, and pitied
him. I talked to him, mentally, calling him _you_.
Dr. Frost was beyond my reach. I wanted to talk to him. He had been
promoted, and was elsewhere.
At night I had dreams, and they were strange dreams. For many successive
nights I could see myself, and always I thought of the "me" that I saw
as a different person from the "me" that saw.
My health suffered greatly, but I did not report to the surgeon.
Somehow I began to feel for my unknown friends. They had long ago given
me up for dead.
Perhaps, however, some were still hoping against certainty. My mind was
filling with fancies concerning them--concerning her. How I ever began
to think of such, a possibility I could not know.
My fancies embraced everything. My family might be rich and powerful
and intelligent; it, might be humble, even being the strong likelihood
was that it was neither, but was of medium worth.
My fancy--it began in a dream--pictured the face of a woman, young and
sweet weeping for me. I wept for her and for myself. Who was she? Was
she all fancy?
Since I had been in Company H, I had never spoken to a woman except the
nurses in the hospitals. I had seen many women in Richmond and
elsewhere. No face of my recollection fitted with the face of my dream.
None seemed it's equal in sweetness and dignity.
I had written love letters at the dictation of one or two of the men. I
had read love stories. I felt as the men had seemed to feel, and as the
lovers in the stories had seemed to feel.
No one knew, since the Captain's death, even the short history of myself
that I knew. I grew morose. The men avoided me, all but one--Jerry
Butler. Somehow I found myself messing with him. He was a great forager,
and kept us both in food. The rations were almost regular, but the fat
bacon and mouldy meal turned my stomach. The other men were in good
health, and ate heartily of the coarse food given them. Butler had bacon
and meal to sell.
The men wondered what was the matter with me. Their wonder did not
exceed my own. Butler invited my confidence, but I could not decide to
say a word; one word would have made it necessary to tell him all I
knew. He would have thought me insane.
I did my duty mechanically, serving on camp guard and on picket
regularly, but feeling interest in nothing beyond my own inner self.
At times the battle of Manassas and the spot in the forest would recur
to me with great vividness and power. Where and what was my original
regiment? I pondered over the puzzle, and I had much time in which to
ponder. I remembered that Dr. Frost had told me that if ever I got the
smallest clew to my past, I must determine then and there to never
let it go.
Sometimes instants of seeming recollection would flash by and be gone
before I could define them. They left no result but doubt--sometimes
fear. Doubts of the righteousness of war beset me--not of this war, but
war. I had a vague notion that in some hazy past I had listened to
strong reasons against war. Were they from the Captain? No; he had been
against war, but he had fought for the South with relish--they did not
come from him. None the less--perhaps I ought to say therefore--did they
more strongly impress me, for I indistinctly knew that they came from
some one who not only gave precept but also lived example.
Who was he? I might not hope to know.
Added to these doubts concerning war, there were in my mind at times
strong desires for a better life--a life more mental. The men were good
men--serious, religious men. Nothing could be said against them; but I
felt that I was not entirely of them, that they had little thought
beyond their personal duties, which they were willing always to do
provided their officers clearly prescribed them, and their personal
attachments, in which I could have no part. Of course there were
I felt in some way that though the men avoided me, they yet had a
certain respect for me--for my evident suffering, I supposed. Yet an
incident occurred which showed me that their respect was not mere pity.
The death of our Captain had left a vacancy in Company H. A lieutenant
was to be elected by the men. The natural candidate was our highest
non-commissioned officer, who was favoured by the company's commander.
The officer in command did not, however, use influence upon the men to
secure votes. My preference for the position was Louis Bellot, who had
been dangerously wounded at Manassas, and who, we heard, would soon
return to the company. I took up his cause, and, without his knowledge,
secured enough votes to elect him.
* * * * *
On the 8th of October we advanced to the river. For me it was a
miserable march. My mind was in torture, and my strength was failing.
Doubts of the righteousness of war had changed to doubts of this war. It
was not reason that caused these doubts. Reason told me that the
invaders should be driven back. The South had not been guilty of
plunging the two countries into war; the South had tried to avert war.
The only serious question which my mind could raise upon the conduct of
the South was: Had we sufficiently tried to avert war? Had we done all
that we could? I did not know, and I doubted.
As we advanced, I looked upon long lines of infantry and cannon marching
on to battle, and I thought of all this immense preparation for
wholesale slaughter of our own countrymen with horror in my heart. Why
could not this war have been avoided? I did not know, but I felt that an
overwhelming responsibility attached somewhere, for it was not likely
that all possibilities of peace had been exhausted by our people.
As to the Yankees, I did not then think of them. Their crimes and their
responsibilities were their own. I had nothing to do with them; but I
was part of the South, and the Southern cause was mine, and upon me also
weighed the crime of unjust war if it were unjust upon our side.
The thought of the Captain gave me great relief. He had shown me the
cause of the South; he had died for it; it could not be wrong. I looked
in the faces of the officers and men around me and read patient
endurance for the right. I was comforted. I laughed at myself and said,
Berwick, you are getting morbid; you are bilious; go to the doctor and
get well of your fancies.
Then the thought of the Northern cause came to me. Do not the Federal
soldiers also think their cause just? If not, what sort of men are they?
They must believe they are right. And one side or the other must be
wrong. Which is it? They are millions, and we are millions. Millions of
men are joined together to perpetrate wrong while believing that they
are right? Can such a condition be?
Even supposing that most men are led in their beliefs by other men in
whose judgment they have confidence, are the leaders of either
No; if they are wrong, they are not wrong intentionally. Men may differ
conscientiously upon state policy, even upon ethics.
Then must I conclude that the North, believing itself right, is wrong in
warring upon the South? What is the North fighting for? For union and
for abolition of slavery; but primarily for union.
And is union wrong? Not necessarily wrong.
What is the South, fighting for? For State rights and for slavery; but
principally for State rights.
And is the doctrine of State rights wrong? Not necessarily wrong.
Then, may both North, and South be right?
The question startled me. I had heard that idea before. Where? Not in
the army, I was certain. I tried hard to remember, but had to confess
failure. The result of my thought was only the suggestion that both of
two seemingly opposite thoughts might possibly be true.
On that night I dreamed of my childhood. My dream took me to a city,
where I was at school under a teacher who was my friend, and at whose
house I now saw him. The man's face was so impressed upon my mind that
when I awoke I retained his features. All day of the 9th, while we were
crossing the Rapidan and continuing our march through Madison
Court-House and on through Culpeper, I thought of the face of my dream.
I thought of little else. Food was repugnant. I had fever, and was full
of fancies. I was surprised by the thought that I had twice already been
ill in the army. Once was at the time of the battle of Fredericksburg;
but when and where was the other? I did not know, yet I was sure that I
had been sick in the army before I joined Captain Haskell's company, and
before I ever saw Dr. Frost.
Long did I wonder over this, and not entirely without result. Suddenly I
connected the face of my dream with my forgotten illness. But that was
all. My old tutor was a doctor and had attended me. I felt sure of
Then I wondered if I could by any means find the Doctor's name. Some
name must be connected with the title. That he was Dr. Some-one I had no
doubt. I tried to make Dr. Frost's face fit the face of my dream, but it
would not fit. Besides, I knew that Dr. Frost had never been my teacher.
We had gone into bivouac about one o'clock, some two miles north of
Madison Court-House. This advance was over ground that was not
unfamiliar to me. The mountains in the distance and the hills near by,
the rivers and the roads, the villages and the general aspect of this
farming country, had been impressed upon my mind first when alone I
hurried forward to join Jackson's command on its famous march around
Pope; and, later, when we had returned from the Shenandoah Valley after
Sharpsburg, and more recently still, on our retreat from Pennsylvania.
What General Lee's purposes were now, caused much speculation in the
camp. It was evident that, if the bulk of the army had not as yet
uncovered Richmond, our part of it was very far to the left. We might be
advancing to the Valley, or we might be trying to get to Meade's rear,
just as Jackson had moved around Pope in sixty-two; another day might
show. The most of the men believed that we were on a flank march similar
to Jackson's, and some of them went so far as to say that both Ewell's
and Hills corps were now near Madison Court-House.
I felt but little interest in the talk of the men. My mind was upon
myself. I gave my comrades no encouragement to speak with me, but lay
apart, moody and feverish. Occasionally my thought, it is true, reverted
to the situation of the army, but only for a moment. Something was about
to be done; but if I could have controlled events, I would not have
known what to choose. One thing, however, began to loom clear through
the dim future: if we were working to get to Meade's rear, that general
was in far greater danger than he had been at Gettysburg. With Lee at
Manassas Junction, between Meade and Washington, the Army of the Potomac
would yield from starvation, or fight at utter disadvantage; and there
was no army to help near by, as McClellan's at Alexandria in sixty-two.
The night brought no movement.
"I stoop not to despair;
For I have battled with mine agony,
And made me wings wherewith to overfly
The narrow circus of my dungeon wall."--BYRON.
On the next day, the 10th, we marched through Culpeper. I recognized the
place; I had straggled through it on the road to Gettysburg. Again we
went into bivouac early.
That afternoon I again thought of Dr. Frost's advice to hold to any clew
I should ever get and work it out; I had a clew: I wondered how I could
make a step toward an end.
To recover a lost name seemed difficult. The doctor had said will was
required. My will was good. I began with the purpose of thinking all
names that I could recall. My list was limited. Naturally my mind went
over the roll of Company H, which, from having heard so often, I knew by
heart. Adams, Bell, Bellot, and so on; the work brought an idea. I
remembered hearing some one say that a forgotten name might be recovered
with the systematic use of the alphabet. I wondered why I had not
thought at once of this. I felt a great sense of relief. I now had a
purpose and a plan.
At once I began to go through the A-b's. The first name I could get was
Abbey; the next, Abbott, and so on, through all names built upon the
letter A. I knew nobody by such names. My lost name might be one of
these, but it did not seem to be, and I had nothing to rely upon except
the hope that the real name, when found, would kindle at its touch a
spark in my memory. Finally all the A's were exhausted--nothing.
Then I took up regularly and patiently the B's. They resulted in
nothing. I tried C, both hard and soft, thinking intently whether the
sound awoke any response in my brain.
I abandoned the soft C, but hard C did not sound impossible; I stored it
up for future examination.
Then I went through D and E, and so on down to G, which I separated into
two sounds, as I had already done with C, soft and hard. This
examination resulted in my putting hard G alongside of hard C.
H, I, and J were examined with like result--nothing.
The K was at once given a place with the preferred letters.
L, M, N, O were speedily rejected.
At P I halted long, and at last decided to hold it in reserve, but not
to give it equal rank with the others.
Q gave me little trouble. I ran down all possible names in Q-u, and
The remainder of the letters were examined and discarded.
In order of seniority I now had the following initial letters: C hard, G
hard, and K, with P a possibility.
It was now very late, but I could not sleep. My mind was active, though
I found to my surprise that it was more nearly calm than it had been for
days. I knew that I ought to sleep, but I seemed on track of discovery.
It had taken me hours of unremitting labour to get where I
was,--monotonous but interesting labour--and it would likely take me
hours more to advance a single step farther.
A sudden idea presented itself. What if the name was a very unusual
name, one, in fact, that I had never heard, or seen written, except as
the name of this Doctor? This thought included other thoughts--one was
the idea of a written name. I had been following but one line of
approach, while there were two,--sound and form. I had not considered
the written approach, but now I saw the importance of that process.
Another thought was, whether it would help me for the name to be not
merely unusual, but entirely unknown. I could not decide this question.
I saw reasons for and against. If it was an utterly unknown name, except
as applied to the Doctor, I might never recover it; I might continue to
roll names and names through my brain for years without result, if my
brain could bear such thought for so long. I pictured in fancy an old
man who had forgotten in time his own name, and had accepted another,
wasting, and having wasted, the years of his life in hunting a word
impossible and valueless. But I fought this fear and put it to sleep.
The uncommon name would cause me to reject all common names, perhaps at
first presentation; my attention would be concentrated on peculiar
sounds and forms. If my mind were now in condition to respond to the
name, I might get it very soon.
In debating this point, I suppose that I lost sight of my objective, for
I sank to sleep.
At daylight I was awake. My mind held fast the results of the night's
work. I wrote as follows:--
C G K.... P
Before we marched I had arranged in groups the names that impressed me.
I had C without any following.
For G, I had _Gayle_, or _Gail_.
For K, _Kame, Kames, Kean, Key, Kinney, Knight_.
For P, only _Payne_.
We marched. My head was full of my list of names. I knew them without
looking at what I had written.
All at once I dropped the C. I had failed to add to the bare
initial--nothing in my thought could follow that C.
Why had I held the C so long? There must be some reason. What was its
peculiarity? The question was to be solved before I would leave it. It
did not take long. I decided that I had been attracted to it simply
because its sound was identical with K. Then K loomed up large in my
mind and took enormous precedence.
The name Payne was given up.
But another, or rather similar, question arose in regard to Payne. If K
was so prominent, why had Payne influenced me? It took me an hour to
find the reason, but I found it, for I had determined to find it. It was
simple, after all--the attraction lay in the letters a-y-n-e. At once I
added to my K's the name Kayne, although the name evoked no interest.
Thinking of this name, I saw that Kane was much easier and added it to
my list, wondering why I had not thought of it before.
The process of exclusion continued. Why Kinney? And why Knight? The
peculiarity in Kinney seemed to be the two syllables; I did not drop the
name, but tried to sound each of my others as two syllables.
"What's that you say, Jones?"
It was Butler, marching by my side, that asked the question.
I stammered some reply. I had been saying aloud, "Gay-le, Ka-me, Ka-mes,
The march continued. I knew not whether we were passing through woods or
fields. My head was bent; my eyes looked on the ground, but saw it not.
My mouth was shut, but words rolled their sounds through my
ears--monotonous sounds with but one or two consonants and one or
Suddenly association asserted itself. I thought of Captain Haskell's
quotation from some Persian poet; what was the poet's name? I soon had
it--Khayyam--pronounced Ki-yam, I added Khayyam and Kiyam to my list. We
Why Knight? I did not know. My work seemed to revolve about K-h. I felt
greatly encouraged with Khayyam,--pronounced Ki-yam,--which had the K
sound, and in form had the h. But was there nothing more in Knight?
Nothing except the ultimate t and the long vowel, and the vowel I had
also in Ki-yam; the lines converged every way toward Ki, or toward
K-h-a-y, pronounced Ki.
Again I tried repeatedly, using the long sound of i: "Gi-le, Ki-me,
Ki-me, Ki-me, Ki-me," and kept on repeating Ki-me, involuntarily holding
to the unfamiliar sound.
For a long time I worked without any result, and I became greatly
puzzled. Then a help came. The name was that of a doctor. I repeated
over and over, "Doctor Gay-le, Doctor Ka-me, Doctor Ka-mes, Doctor
Kay-ne, Doctor Gi-le, Doctor Ki-me, Doctor Ki-mes, Doctor Ki-yam." The
last name sounded nearly right.
The face of my dream was yet easily called up--a swarthy face with
bright black eyes and a great brow. I repeated all the words again, and
at each name I brought my will to bear and tried to fit the face to the
name: "Doctor Gay-le, they do not fit; Doctor Ka-me, they do not fit;
Doctor Kay-ne; no; Doctor Gi-le; still less Doctor Ki-me, Doctor Ki-me,
The words riveted me. They did not satisfy me, yet they dominated all
other words. The strangeness of the name did not affect me; in fact, the
name was neither strange nor familiar; and just because the name did not
sound strange, I took courage and hope. I reasoned that such a name
ought to sound strange, and that it did not was cheering. I was on the
brink of something, I knew not what.
We stacked arms by the side of the road, and Ewell's corps marched by on
a road crossing ours; it took so long to go by that we were ordered
My brain was in a stir. I asked myself why I should attach so great
importance to the recovery of one man's name, and I answered that this
one name was the clew to my past life, and was the beginning of my
future life; the recovery of one name would mean all recovery; I had
resolved to never abandon the pursuit of this name, and I felt convinced
that I should find it, and soon. What was to result I would risk; months
before, I had not had the courage to wish to know my past, but now I
would welcome change. I was wretched, alone in the world, tired of life;
I would hazard the venture. Then, too, I knew that if my former
condition should prove unfortunate or shameful, I still had the chance
to escape it--by being silent, if not in any other way. Nothing could be
much worse than my present state.
That afternoon and night we were on picket, having been thrown forward a
mile from the bivouac of the division. There was now but one opinion
among the men, who were almost hilarious,--Lee's army was flanking
Meade, that is, Ewell and Hill, for Longstreet had been sent to Georgia
with his corps. But why were we making such short marches? Several
reasons were advanced for this. Wilson said we were getting as near as
possible first, "taking a running start," to use his words. Youmans
thought that General Lee wanted to save the army from straggling before
the day of battle. Mackay thought Ewell would make the long march, and
that we must wait on his movement. Wilson said that could not be so, as
Ewell had marched to our right.
Nobody had any other belief than that we were getting around Meade. We
were now almost at the very spot, within a few miles of it, from which
Jackson's rapid march to Pope's rear had begun, while Meade now occupied
Pope's former position. Could General Lee hope that Meade, with Pope's
example staring him in the face, would allow himself to be entrapped?
This question was discussed by the men.
Mackay thought that the movement of our army through the Valley last
June, when we went into Pennsylvania, would be the first thing Meade
Wilson answered this by saying that the season was too far advanced for
Meade to fear so great a movement; still, Wilson thought that General
Meade would hardly suppose that Lee would try to effect the very thing
he had once succeeded in; besides, he said, every general must provide
against every contingency, but it is clearly impossible to do so, and in
neglecting some things for others, he runs his risks and takes his
chances. Meade would not retreat until he knew that the flank movement
was in progress; to retreat in fear of having to retreat would be
nonsense; and if Meade waited only a few hours too long, it would be all
up with him; and that if he started too early, Lee might change his
tactics and follow the retreat.
On the picket-line my search was kept up. We were near the North Fork of
the Rappahannock. No enemy was on our side of the river, at least in our
front. Before nightfall we had no vedettes, for we overlooked the river,
and every man was a vedette, as it were. I lay in the line, trying to
take the first step leading to the reconstruction of my life.
"Doctor Ki-me, Doctor Ki-me, Doctor Ki-me."
The words clung to me obstinately. Every other name had been abandoned,
I asked not why; involuntarily all words with weaker power to hold me
had been dropped. Yet Ki-me, strong as it was, was imperfect. It did not
seem wrong, but deficient rather; something was needed to complete
it--what was that something?
Evening was drawing on. Again I thought of Khayyam, and I wondered why.
I vexed my brain to know why. Was it because Khayyam was a poet? No;
that could be no reason. Was it because he was a Persian? I could see no
connection there. Was it because of the peculiar spelling of the name?
It might be. What was the peculiarity? One of form, not sound. I must
think again of the written or printed name, not the sound only of
Then I tried "Doctor Khay-me," but failed.
I knew that I had said "Ki-me," and had not thought "Khay-me."
By an effort that made my head ache, I said "Doctor Ki-me," and
simultaneously reproduced "Doctor Khay-me" with letters before my brain.
It would not do.
Yet, though this double process had failed, I was not discouraged. I
thought of no other name. Everything else had been definitely abandoned.
Without reasoning upon it I knew that the name was right, and I knew,
as if by intuition, how to proceed to a conclusion. I tried again, and
knew beforehand that I should succeed.
This last time--for, as I say, I knew it would be the last--I did three
There was yet light. I was lying in my place in the line, on top of the
hill, a man five paces from me on either side. I wrote "Doctor Khayme."
I held the words before my eyes; I called the face of my dream before
me; I said to the face, "Doctor Ki-me."
"One of these men is genius to the other;
And so of these: which is the natural man,
And which the spirit? Who deciphers them?"
The Doctor was before me. I saw a woman by his side. She was his
daughter. I know her name--Lydia.
Where were they now? Where were they ever? Her face was full of
sweetness and dignity--yes, and care. It would have been the face of my
fancy, but for the look of care.
Unutterable yearning came upon me. I could not see the trees on the bank
of the river.
For an instant I had remained without motion, without breath. Now I felt
that I must move or die.
I rose and began to stamp my feet, which seemed asleep. Peculiar
physical sensations shot through my limbs. I felt drunk, and leaned on
my rifle. My hands were one upon the other upon the muzzle, my chin
resting on my hands, my eyes to the north star, seeing nothing.
Nothing? Yes; beyond that nothing I saw a vision--a vision of paradise.
The vision changed. I saw two men in gray running across a bare hill; a
shell burst over their heads; one threw up his hands violently, and
fell. The picture vanished.
Another picture was before me. The man--not the one who had fallen--was
making his painful way alone in the night; he went on and on until he
was swallowed by the darkness.
Again he appeared to me. He was sitting in a tent; an officer in blue
uniform was showing him a map. I could see the face of neither officer
nor man; both were in blue.
Farther back into the past, seemingly, this man was pushed. I saw him
standing on a shore, with Dr. Khayme and Lydia. I saw him sick in a
tent, and Dr. Khayme by him--yes, and Lydia.
Still further the scene shifts back. I see the man in blue helping
another man to walk. They go down into a wood and hide themselves in a
secret place. I can see the spot; I know it; it is the place I saw at
Manassas. The man helps his companion. The man breaks his gun. The
two go away.
So, after all, that gun at Manassas had never been mine; it had belonged
to this man.
Who was this man?
A soldier, evidently.
What was his name?
I did not know.
Why did he sometimes wear a blue uniform?
He must be a Confederate spy; of course he is a Confederate spy.
My memory refused to abandon this man. I had known that I should recover
the Doctor, and I had supposed that the Doctor's name would be the key
to unlock all the past, so that my memory would be suddenly complete and
continuous, but now I found the Doctor supplanted by a strange man whose
name even I did not know, and who acted mysteriously, sometimes seeming
to be a Confederate and at other times a Federal. I must exert my will
and get rid of this man: he disturbs me; he is not real, perhaps. I have
eaten nothing; I have fever; perhaps this man is a creation of my fever.
I will get rid of him.
I forced the Doctor to appear. This time he was sitting in an ambulance,
but not alone. The man was with him. I banished the picture, and
Another scene. The Doctor, and the man, and Willis lying hidden in a
straw stack. Ah! Willis! That name has come back.
Who is Willis?
I do not know; only Willis.
It is a mistake to be following up the man. Can I not recall the Doctor
without this disturbing shape? I try hard, and the Doctor's face flits
by and vanishes before I can even tell its outline.
I forced the Doctor to appear and reappear; but he would remain an
instant only and be gone; instead of him, this strange man persisted,
and contrary to my will.
My heart misgave me. Had I been following a delusion? Was there no Dr.
Khayme, after all, and worse than that, no Lydia? Her face was again
before me. That look of care--or worse than care, anxiety--could it be
mere fancy? No; the face was the face of my fancy, but the look was its
own. I recognized the face, but the expression was not due to my thought
or to my error; it was independent of me.
I saw the Doctor and Lydia and Willis and the Man! Always the Man!
Lydia, even, could not lay the ghost of the strange Man who sometimes
wore blue and sometimes gray.
Night fell. I was posted as a vedette near the river. There was nothing
in my front. The stars came out and the moon. I thought of the moon at
Chancellorsville, and of the moon at Gettysburg, and of my Captain,
lying in a soldier's grave in the far-off land of the enemy. My brain
was not clear. I had a buzzing in my ears. I doubted all reality. My
fancy bounded from this to that. My nerves were all unstrung. I felt
upon the boundary edge of heaven and hell. I knew enough to craze me
should I learn no more. I watched the moon; it took the form of Lydia's
face; a tree became the strange Man who would not forsake me.
Who was the Man? He gave no clew to his identity. He was mysterious.
His acts were irregular. He must be imaginary only. The others are real.
I know the Doctor and his name. I know Lydia and her name. I know Willis
and his name. The Man's face and name are unknown; yet does he come
unbidden and uppermost and always.
I made an effort to begin at the end of my memory and go back. I
retraced our present march--then back to the Valley--then Falling
Waters--Hagerstown--Gettysburg--the march into
Pennsylvania--Chancellorsville--illness--the march to
Ferry--Manassas--the SPOT, with a broken gun and with Willis--Ah! a new
thought, at which I stagger for an instant--then my wound at Gaines's
Mill--then Dr. Frost, and that is all.
But I have a new discovery: Willis was the injured man at second
But no; that could not be second Manassas--it was first Manassas.
Distinctly Willis was shot at first Manassas; the Man helped Willis. Why
should he help Willis?
Another and puzzling thought: How should I know Willis--a Yankee
I know his face and I know his name.
I must hunt this thought down.
Is it that I have heard this story? Not in my present time of
experience. Is it that Willis was made prisoner that day--he and his
companion, there in the woods? It might have been so.
But did I not see the strange man break his gun and go away from the
spot? He was not captured.
Yet I may have been hidden in the woods near by, watching these two men.
I must try to remember whether I saw what became of them.
Then I imagine myself hidden behind a log. I watch the strange man; he
binds up Willis's leg. I see him help the sergeant--there! again a
thought--Willis was a sergeant. Why could I not see that before--with
the stripes on his arm? Of course hidden near by I could see that Willis
was a sergeant; but how could I know that his name was Willis? Possibly
I heard the strange man call him Jake--So! again it comes. I have the
But I must follow them if I can. The strange man helps Willis to rise,
and puts his gun under the sergeant's shoulder for a crutch, and helps
him on the other side. They begin to move, but Willis drops the gun, for
it sinks into the soft ground, and is useless. Then the strange man
breaks his gun and the two go away. I see them moving slowly through the
woods--but strange! they are no farther from me than before. I must have
really followed them that day. They go on and get into the creek, and
climb with difficulty the farther bank, and rest. Again they start--they
reach a stubble field; I see some straw stacks; the strange man kneels
by one of the stacks and works a hollow; he tells Willis to lie down;
then he speaks to Willis again, and I can hear every word he says: he
tells Willis to go to sleep; that he will try to get help; that if he
does not return by noon to-morrow, Willis must look out for
himself--maybe he'd better surrender. And Willis says, "God bless
And now I have the man's name, Jones--a name common enough.
I must hunt this Jones down--where have I known a Jones? But I must not
now be diverted by him; I must stick to Willis.
Then I watch Willis, but only for an instant; I feel entrained by Jones,
and I go with Jones even though I want to see what becomes of Willis.
It gets dark, yet I can see Jones. He goes rapidly, though I feel that
he is weary. He stands on a narrow road, and I hear sounds of rattling
harness, and he sees a wagon moving. He stops and looks at the wagon; I
see a man get out of the wagon--a very small man; the man says, "Is
that you, Jones?" Then I wonder who this man is, and though I wonder I
yet know that he is Dr. Khayme. Jones sinks to the ground; the Doctor
calls for brandy. Then the Doctor and Jones and the wagon turn, round in
my head and all vanish, and I find myself a vedette on the North Fork of
the Rappahannock, and pull myself together with a jerk.
It had been vivid, intense, real. I did not understand it, but I could
not doubt it.
The relief came, and I went back to the picket-line and took my place
near the right of Company H.
What next? I had come to a stop. Jones had fallen to the ground, and
that was as far as I could get. What had happened to him after that?
My interest in Jones had deepened. I had tried to get rid of him and
failed; now, when he disappeared of himself, I tried to see him, and
failed. I wish to say that my memory served me no longer in regard to
Jones. There was a blank--a blank in regard to Jones and in regard to
myself also. I had got to the end of that experience, for I had no doubt
that it was an experience of my own in some incomprehensible connection
Then I return to Willis again--and, wonder of wonders, I see Jones and
Dr. Khayme with Willis at the straw. There is another man also. Who is
he? I do not know. He and Jones lift Willis into an ambulance, and all
go away into darkness.
My mind was now in a tangle. Jones had abandoned Willis, yet had not
abandoned him. Which of the two incidents was true? Neither? Both? If
both, which followed the other? I did not know.
I try to follow Willis; I cannot. I try to follow Dr. Khayme; I fail. I
had tried to follow Jones, and had succeeded in a measure; I try
again, and fail.
Now I see this fact, which seems to me remarkable: I cannot remember
Willis or the Doctor alone--Jones is always present.
Jones--Jones--where have I known a man named Jones? Jones, the corporal