Who Goes There? by Blackwood Ketcham BensonThe Story of a Spy in the Civil War

Produced by Charlie Kirschner and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team from images provided by the Million Book Project. WHO GOES THERE? THE STORY OF A SPY IN THE CIVIL WAR BY B.K. BENSON 1900 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION. I. THE ADVANCE. II. A SHAMEFUL DAY. III. I BREAK MY MUSKET. IV. A PERSONA
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  • 1900
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Produced by Charlie Kirschner and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team from images provided by the Million Book Project.













“I’ll note you in my book of memory.”–SHAKESPEARE.

From early childhood I had been subject to a peculiar malady. I say malady for want of a better and truer word, for my condition had never been one of physical or mental suffering. According to my father’s opinion, an attack of brain fever had caused me, when five years old, to lose my memory for a time–not indeed my memory entirely, but my ability to recall the events and the mental impressions of a recent period. The physicians had agreed that the trouble would pass away, but it had been repeated more than once. At the age of ten, when occurred the first attack which I remember, I was at school in my native New England village. One very cold day I was running home after school, when my foot slipped on a frozen pool. My head struck the ice, but I felt no great pain, and was almost at once on my feet. I was bewildered with what I saw around me. Seemingly I had just risen from my seat at the breakfast table to find myself in the open air, in solitude, in clothing too heavy, with hands and feet too large, and with a July world suddenly changed to midwinter. As it happened, my father was near, and took me home. When the physicians came, they asked me many questions which I could not understand.

Next morning my father sat by my bed and questioned mo again. He inquired about my studies, about my classmates, about my teacher, about the school games. Many of his questions seemed strange to me, and I answered them in such words that he soon knew there was an interval of more than six mouths in my consciousness. He then tried to learn whether there remained in my mind any effect of my studies during the past term. The result was surprising. He found that as to actual knowledge my mind retained the power developed by its exercise,–without, however, holding all details of fact,–but that, in everything not positive, my experience seemed to have been utterly lost. I knew my multiplication table thoroughly; I had acquired it in the interval now forgotten. I could write correctly, and my ability to read was not lessened. But when questions concerning historical events, either general or local, were asked, my answers proved that I had lost everything that I had learned for the six months past. I showed but little knowledge of new games on the playground, and utter forgetfulness of the reasons for and against the Mexican War which was now going on, and in which, on the previous day, I had felt the eager interest of a healthy boy.

Moreover my brain reproduced the most striking events of my last period of normal memory with indistinct and inaccurate images, while the time preceding that period was as nothing to me. My little sister had died when I was six years old; I did not know that she had ever lived; her name, even, was strange to me.

After a few days I was allowed to rise from bed, to which, in my own opinion, there had never been necessity for keeping me. I was not, however, permitted to go out of doors. The result of the doctors’ deliberations was a strict injunction upon my father to take me to the South every winter, a decision due, perhaps, to the fact that my father had landed interests in South Carolina. At any rate, my father soon took me to Charleston, where I was again put to school. Doubtless I was thus relieved of much annoyance, as my new schoolmates received me without showing the curiosity which would have irritated me in my own village.

More than five months passed before my memory entirely returned to me. The change was gradual. One day, at the morning recess, a group of boys were talking about the Mexican War. The Palmetto regiment had distinguished itself in battle. I heard a big boy say, “Yes, your Uncle Pierce is all right, and his regiment is the best in the army.” I felt a glow of pride at this praise of my people–as I supposed it to be. More talk followed, however, in which it became clear that the boys were not speaking of Franklin Pierce and his New Hampshire men, and I was greatly puzzled.

A few days afterward the city was in mourning; Colonel Pierce M. Butler, the brave commander of the South Carolina regiment, had fallen on the field of Churubusco.

Now, I cannot explain, even to myself, what relation had been disturbed by this event, but I know that from this time I began to collect, vaguely at first, the incidents of my whole former life; so that, when my father sent for me at the summer vacation, I had entirely recovered my lost memory. I even knew everything that had happened in the recent interval, so that my consciousness held an uninterrupted chain of all past events of importance. And now I realized with wonder one of the marvellous compensations of nature. My brain reproduced form, size, colour–any quality of a material thing seen in the hiatus, so vividly that the actual object seemed present to my senses, while I could feel dimly, what I now know more thoroughly, that my memory during the interval had operated weakly, if at all, on matters speculative, so called–questions of doubtful import, questions of a kind upon which there might well be more than one opinion, being as nothing to my mind. Although I have truly said that I cannot explain how it was that my mind began its recovery, yet I cannot reason away the belief that the first step was an act of sensitive pride–the realization that it made some difference to me whether the New Hampshire regiment or the Palmetto regiment acquired the greater glory.

My father continued to send me each winter to Charleston, and my summers were spent at home. By the time I was fifteen he became dissatisfied with my progress, and decided that I should return to the South for the winter of 1853-4. and that if there should be no recurrence of my mental peculiarity he would thereafter put me in the hands of a private tutor who should prepare me for college.

* * * * *

For fully five years I had had no lapse of memory and my health was sound. At the school I took delight in athletic sports, and gained a reputation among the Charleston boys for being an expert especially in climbing. My studies, while not neglected, were, nevertheless, considered by me as secondary matters; I suppose that the anxiety shown by my father for my health influenced me somewhat; moreover, I had a natural bent toward bodily rather than mental exercise.

The feature most attractive to me in school work was the debating class. As a sort of _ex-officio_ president of this club, was one of our tutors, whom none of the boys seemed greatly to like. He was called Professor Khayme–pronounced Ki-me. Sometimes the principal addressed him as Doctor. He certainly was a very learned and intelligent man; for although the boys had him in dislike, there were yet many evidences of the respect he commanded from better judges than schoolboys. He seemed, at various times, of different ages. He might be anywhere between thirty and fifty. He was small of stature, being not more than five feet tall, and was exceedingly quick and energetic in his movements, while his countenance and attitude, no matter what was going on, expressed always complete self-control, if not indifference. He was dark–almost as dark as an Indian. His face was narrow, but the breadth and height of his forehead were almost a deformity. He had no beard, and yet I feel sure that he never used a razor. I rarely saw him off duty without a peculiar black pipe in his mouth, which he smoked in an unusual way, emitting the smoke at very long intervals. It was a standing jest with my irreverent schoolmates that “Old Ky” owed his fine, rich colour to smoking through his skin. Ingram Hall said that the carved Hindoo idol which decorated the professor’s pipe was the very image of “Old Ky” himself.

Our debating class sometimes prepared oratorical displays to which were admitted a favoured few of the general public. To my dying day I shall remember one of these occasions. The debate, so celebrated, between the great Carolinian Hayne and our own Webster was the feature of the entertainment. Behind the curtain sat Professor Khayme, prompter and general manager. A boy with mighty lungs and violent gesticulation recited an abridgment of Hayne’s speech, beginning:–

“If there be one State in the Union, Mr. President, and I say it not in a boastful spirit, that may challenge comparison with any other for a uniform, zealous, ardent, and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina.”

Great applause followed. These were times of sectional compromise. I also applauded. We were under the falsely quieting influence of Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Bill. There was effort for harmony between the sections. The majority of thinking people considered true patriotism to concist in patience and charity each to each. Mrs. Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had appeared, but few Southerners had read it or would read it. I also applauded.

Professor Khayme now came forward on the rostrum, and announced that the next part of the programme would be “‘Webster’s Reply to Hayne,’ to be recited”–and here the professor paused–“by Master Jones Berwick.”

I was thunderstruck. No intimation of any kind had been given me that I was to be called on. I decided at once to refuse to attempt an impossibility. As I rose to explain and to make excuses, the boys all over the hall cried, “Berwick! Berwick!” and clapped loudly. Then the professor said, in a low and musical voice,–and his voice was by far his greatest apparent attraction,–that Master Berwick had not been originally selected to recite, but that the young orator chosen the duty had been called away unexpectedly, and that it was well known that Master Berwick, being a compatriot of the great Webster, and being not only thoroughly competent to declaim the abridged form of the speech in question, but also in politics thoroughly at one with the famous orator, could serve with facility in the stead of the absentee, and would certainly sustain the reputation of the club.

How I hated that man! Yet I could see, as I caught his eye, I know not what of encouragement. I had often heard the speech recited, but not recently, and I could not see my way through.

I stumbled somehow to the back of the curtain. The Doctor said to me, in a tone I had never heard before. “Be brave, my boy: I pledge you my word as a gentleman that you shall succeed. Come to this light.” Then he seemed to be brushing my hair back with a few soft finger-touches, and I remembered no more until I found myself on the rostrum listening to a perfect din of applause that covered the close of my speech. If there were any fire-eaters in the audience, they were Carolina aristocrats an knew how to be polite, even to a fault.

I could not understand my success: I had vague inward inclination that it was not mine alone. My identity seemed to have departed for the time. I felt that some wonderful change had been wrought in me, and, youngster though I was, I was amazed to think what might be the possibilities of the mind.

* * * * *

For some time after this incident I tried to avoid Doctor Khayme, but as he had charge of our rhetoric and French, as well as oratory, it was impossible that we should not meet. In class he was reserved and confined himself strictly to his duties, never by tone or look varying his prescribed relation to the class; yet, though his outward gravity and seeming indifference, I sometimes felt that he influenced me by a power which no other man exerted over me.

One afternoon, returning from school to my quarters, I had just crossed Meeting Street when I felt a light hand on my shoulder, and, turning, I saw Doctor Khayme.

“Allow me to walk with you?” he asked.

He did not wait for an answer, but continued at once: “I have from your father a letter in relation to your health. He says that he is uneasy about you.”

“I was never better in my life, sir,” said I; “he has no reason to be worried.”

“I shall be glad to be able to relieve his mind,” said the Doctor.

Now, I had wit enough to observe that the Doctor had not said “I am glad,” but “I shall be glad,” and I asked, “Do _you_ think I am wrong in health?”

“Not seriously,” he replied; “but I think it will be well for you to see the letter, and if you will be so good as to accompany me to my lodging, I will show it to you.”

Dr. Khayme’s “lodging” proved to be a small cottage on one of the side streets. There was a miniature garden in front: vines clambered over the porch and were trained so that they almost hid the windows. An old woman, who seemed to be housekeeper, cook, and everything that a general servant may be, opened to his knock.

“I never carry a key,” said the Doctor, seemingly in response to my thought.

I was led into a bright room in the back of the house. The windows looked on the sunset. The floor was bare, except in front of the grate, where was spread the skin of some strange animal. For the rest, there was nothing remarkable about the apartment. An old bookcase in a corner seemed packed to bursting with dusty volumes in antique covers, A writing-table, littered and piled with papers, was in the middle of the room, and there were a few easy-chairs, into one of which the Doctor motioned me.

Excusing himself a moment, he went to the mantel, took seemed fixed on me, but I felt that he was looking through me at something beyond.

Again he spoke. “I think that what you need is to exert your will. I can help you to do that. You are very receptive; you have great will-power also, but you have not cultivated that power. This is a critical time in your life. You are becoming a man. You must use your will. I can help you by making you see that you _can_ use your will, and that the will is very powerful–that _your_ will is very powerful. He who has confidence in his own will-power will exert it. I can help you to have confidence. But I cannot exert your will for you; you must do that. To begin with, I shall give you a very simple task. I think I can understand a little your present attitude toward me. You are in doubt. I wish you to be in doubt, for the moment. I wish your curiosity and desires for and against to be so evenly balanced that you will have no difficulty in choosing for or against. You are just in that condition. You have feared and mistrusted me; now your fear and suspicion are leaving you, and curiosity is balancing against indolence. I do not bid you to make an effort to will; I leave it entirely to you to determine now whether you will struggle against weakness or submit to it; whether you will begin to use your sleeping will-power or else continue to accept what comes.”

I rose to my feet at once.

“What is your decision?” asked the Doctor smiling–the first smile I had ever seen on his face.

“I will be a man!” I exclaimed.

* * * * *

I became a frequent visitor at the Doctor’s, and gradually learned more and more of this remarkable man. His little daughter told me much that I could never have guessed. She was a very serious child, perhaps of eleven years, and not very attractive. In fact, she was ugly, but her gravity seemed somehow to suit her so well that I could by no means dislike down a pipe with a long stem, and began to stuff the bowl with tobacco which I saw was very black; while he was doing so, I recognized on the pipe the carven image of an idol.

“Yes,” he said; “I see no good in changing.”

I did not say anything to this speech; I did not know what he meant.

He went to his desk, took my father’s letter from a drawer, and handed it to me. I read:–

“MY DEAR SIR: Pardon the liberty I take in writing to you. My son, who is under your charge in part, causes me great uneasiness. I need not say to you that he has a mind above the average–you will have already discovered this; but I wish to say that his mind has passed through strange experiences and that possibly he must–though God forbid–go through more of such. A friend of mine has convinced me that you can help my boy.

Yours very truly, “JONES BERWICK, SR.”

When I had read this letter, it came upon me that it was strange, especially in its abrupt ending. I looked at the Doctor and offered the letter to him.

“No,” said he; “keep it; put it in your pocket.”

I did as he said, and waited. For a short time Dr. Khayme sat with the amber mouthpiece of his pipe between his lips; his eyes were turned from me.

He rose, and put his pipe back on the mantel; then turning toward me, and yet standing, he looked upon me gravely, and said very slowly, “I do not think it advisable to ask you to tell me what the mental experiences are to which your father alludes; it may be best that you should not speak of them; it may be best that you should not think of them. I am sure that I can help you; I am sure that your telling me your history could not cause me to help you more.”

I was silent. The voice of the man was grave, and low, and sweet. I could see no expression in his face. His dark eyes seemed fixed on me, but I felt that he was looking through me at something beyond.

Again he spoke. “I think that what you need is to exert your will. I can help you to do that. You are very receptive; you have great will-power also, but you have not cultivated that power. This is a critical time in your life. You are becoming a man. You must use your will. I can help you by making you see that you _can_ use your will, and that the will is very powerful–that _your_ will is very powerful. He who has confidence in his own will-power will exert it. I can help you to have confidence. But I cannot exert your will for you; you must do that. To begin with, I shall give you a very simple task. I think I can understand a little your present attitude toward me. You are in doubt. I wish you to be in doubt, for the moment. I wish your curiosity and desires for and against to be so evenly balanced that you will have no difficulty in choosing for or against. You are just in that condition. You have feared and mistrusted me; now your fear and suspicion are leaving you, and curiosity is balancing against indolence. I do not bid you to make an effort to will; I leave it entirely to you to determine now whether you will struggle against weakness or submit to it; whether you will begin to use your sleeping will-power or else continue to accept what comes.”

I rose to my feet at once.

“What is your decision?” asked the Doctor smiling–the first smile I had ever seen on his face.

“I will be a man!” I exclaimed.

* * * * *

I became a frequent visitor at the Doctor’s, and gradually learned more and more of this remarkable man. His little daughter told me much, that I could never have guessed. She was a very serious child, perhaps of eleven years, and not very attractive. In fact, she was ugly, but her gravity seemed somehow to suit her so well that I could by no means dislike her. Her father was very fond of her; of an evening the three of us would sit in the west room; the Doctor would smoke and read; I would read some special matter–usually on philosophy–selected by my tutor; Lydia would sit silently by, engaged in sewing or knitting, and absorbed seemingly in her own imaginings. Lydia at one time said some words which I could not exactly catch, and which made me doubt the seeming poverty of her father, but I attributed her speech to the natural pride of a child who thinks its father great in every way. I was not greatly interested, moreover, in the domestic affairs of the household, and never thought of asking for information that seemed withheld. I learned from the child’s talk, at odd times when the Doctor would be absent from the room, that they were foreigners,–a fact which. I had already taken for granted,–but I was never made to know the land of their birth. It was certain that Dr. Khayme could speak German and French, and I could frequently see him reading in books printed in characters unknown to me. Several times I have happened to come unexpectedly into the presence of the father and daughter when they were conversing in a tongue which I was sure I had never heard. The Doctor had no companions. He was at home, or at school, or else on the way from the one to the other. No visitor ever showed himself when I was at the cottage. Lydia attended the convent school. I understood from remarks dropped incidentally, as well as from seeing the books she had, that her studies were the languages in the main, and I had strong evidence that, young as she was, her proficiency in French and German far exceeded my own acquirements.

By degrees I learned that the Doctor was deeply interested in what we would call speculative philosophy. I say by degrees, for the experience I am now writing down embraces the winters of five or six years. Most of the books that composed his library were abstruse treatises on metaphysics, philosophy, and religion. I believe that in his collection could have been found the Bible of every religious faith. Sometimes he would read aloud a passage in the Bhagavadgita, of which he had a manuscript copy interleaved with annotations in his own delicate handwriting.

He seldom spoke of the past, but he seemed strangely interested in the political condition of every civilized nation. The future of the human race was a subject to which he undoubtedly gave much thought. I have heard him more than once declare, with emphasis, that the outlook for the advancement of America was not auspicious. In regard to the sectional discord in the United States, he showed a strange unconcern. I knew that he believed it a matter of indifference whether secession, of which we were beginning again to hear some mutterings, was a constitutional right; but on the question of slavery his interest was intense. He believed that slavery could not endure, let secession be attempted or abandoned, let secession fail or succeed.

In my vacations I spoke to my father of the profound man who had interested himself in my mental welfare; my father approved the intimacy. He did not know Dr. Khayme personally, but he had much reason to believe him a worthy man. I had never said anything to my father about the note he had written to the Doctor; for a long time, in fact, the thought of doing so did not come to me, and when it did come I decided that, since my father had not mentioned the matter, it was not for me to do so; it was a peculiar note.

My father gave me to know that his former wish to abridge my life in the South had given way to his fears, and that I was to continue to spend my winters in Charleston. In after years I learned that Dr. Khayme had not thought my condition exempt from danger.

So had passed the winters and vacations until the fall of ’57, without recurrence of my trouble. I no longer feared a lapse; my father and the physicians agreed that my migrations should cease, and I entered college. I wrote Dr. Khayme a letter, in which I expressed great regret on account of our separation, but I received no reply.

On Christmas Day of this year, 1857, I was at home. Suddenly, even without the least premonition or obvious cause, I suffered lapse of memory. The period affected embraced, with remarkable exactness, all the time that had elapsed since I had last seen Dr. Khayme.

Early in January my father accompanied me to Charleston. He was induced to take me there because I was conscious of nothing that had happened since the last day I spent there, and he was, moreover, very anxious to meet Dr. Khayme. We learned, on our arrival in Charleston, however, that the Doctor and his daughter had sailed for Liverpool early in September. My father and I travelled in the South until November, 1858, when my memory was completely restored. He then returned to Massachusetts, leaving me in Carolina, and I did not return to the North until August, 1860.

* * * * *

The military enthusiasm of the North, aroused by the firing on Sumter, was contagious; but for a time my father opposed my desire to enter the army. Beyond the fears which every parent has, he doubted the effect of military life upon my mental nature. Our family physician, however, was upon my side, and contended, with what good reason I did not know, that the active life of war would be a benefit rather than a harm to me; so my father ceased to oppose, and I enlisted.




“Point against point rebellious, arm ‘gainst arm.”–Shakespeare.

In the afternoon we broke camp and marched toward the west. It was July 16, 1861.

The bands were playing “Carry me back to old Virginia.”

I was in the Eleventh. Orders had been read, but little could be understood by men in the ranks. Nothing was clear to me, in these orders, except two things:–

First, to be surprised would be unpardonable.

Second, to fall back would be unpardonable.

* * * * *

It was four o’clock. The road was ankle-deep in dust; the sun burnt our faces as we marched toward the west. Up hill and down hill, up hill and down hill, we marched for an hour, west and southwest.

We halted; from each company men were detailed to fill canteens. The city could no longer he seen.

Willis pointed to the north. Willis was a big, red-haired sergeant–a favourite with the men.

I looked, and saw clouds of dust rising a mile or two away.

“Miles’s division,” says Willis.

“What is on our left?”

“Nothing,” says Willis.

“How do you know?”

“We are the left,” says Willis.

The sergeant had studied war a little; he had some infallible views.

The sergeant-major, with his diamond stripes, and his short sword saluting, spoke to a captain, who at once reported to the colonel at the head of the regiment. The captain returned to his post:–

“_Comp-a-ny_–B … ATTENTION!” …

“_Shudda_ … HOP!” …

“LOAD!” …

“_Shudda_ … HOP!” …

“_R-i-i-i-i-ght_ … FACE!” …

“_Fah_–_w-u-u-u-d_ … MOTCH!” …

“_Fi–lef_ … MOTCH!”

Company B disappeared in the bushes on our left.

The water-detail returned; the regiment moved forward.

Passing over a rising ground, Willis pointed to the left. I could see some black spots in a stubble-field.

“Company B; skirmishers,” says Willis.

“Any rebels out that way?”

“Don’t know. Right to be ready for ’em,” says Willis.

Marching orders had been welcomed by the men, and the first few miles had been marked by jollity; the jest repeated growing from four to four; great shouts had risen, at seeing the dust made by our columns advancing on parallel roads. The air was stagnant, the sun directly in our faces. This little peaked infantry cap is a damnable outrage. The straps across my shoulders seemed to cut my flesh. Great drops rolled down my face. My canteen was soon dry. The men were no longer erect as on dress parade. Each one bent over–head down. The officers had no heavy muskets–no heavy cartridge-boxes; they marched erect; the second lieutenant was using his sword for a walking-cane. “Close up!” shouted the sergeants. My heels were sore. The dust was stifling.

Another halt; a new detail for water.

The march continued–a stumbling, staggering march, in the darkness. A hundred yards and a halt of a minute; a quarter of a mile and a halt of half an hour; an exasperating march. At two o’clock in the morning we were permitted to break ranks. I was too tired to sleep. Where we were I knew not, and I know not–somewhere in Fairfax County, Virginia. Willis, who was near me, lying on his blanket, his cartridge-box for a pillow, said that we were the left of McDowell’s army; that the centre and right extended for miles; that the general headquarters ought to be at Fairfax Court-House at this moment, and that if Beauregard didn’t look sharp he would wake up some fine morning and find old Heintz in his rear.

* * * * *

Before the light we were aroused by the reveille.

The moving and halting process was resumed, and was kept up for many hours. We reached the railroad. Our company was sent forward to relieve the pickets. We were in the woods, and within a hundred yards of a feeble rivulet which, ran from west to east almost parallel with our skirmish-line; nothing could be seen in front but trees. Beyond the stream vedettes were posted on a ridge. The men of the company were in position, but at ease. The division was half a mile in our rear.

I was lying on my back at the root of a scrub-oak very like the blackjacks of Georgia and the Carolinas. The tree caused me to think of my many sojourns in the South. Willis was standing a few yards away; he was in the act of lighting his pipe.

“What’s that?” said he, dropping the match.

“What’s what?” I asked.

“There! Don’t you hear it? two–three–“

At the word “three” I heard distinctly, in the far northwest, a low rumble. All the men were on their feet, silent, serious. Again the distant cannon was heard.

About five o’clock in the afternoon the newspapers from Washington were in our hands. In one of the papers a certain war correspondent had outlined, or rather amplified, the plan of the campaign. Basing his prediction, doubtless, upon the fact that he knew something of the nature of the advance begun on the 16th, the public was informed that Heintzelman’s division would swing far to the left until the rear of Beauregard’s right flank was reached; at the same time Miles and Hunter would seize Fairfax Court-House, and threaten the enemy’s centre and left, and would seriously attack when Heintzelman should give the signal. Thus, rolled up from the right, and engaged everywhere else, the enemy’s defeat was inevitable.

The papers were handed from one to another. Willis chuckled a little when he saw his own view seconded, although, he was beginning to be afraid that his plans were endangered.

“I told you that headquarters last night would be Fairfax Court-House,” said he; “but the firing we heard awhile ago means that our troops have been delayed. Beauregard is awake.”

Just at sunset I was sent forward to relieve a vedette. This was my first experience of the kind. A sergeant accompanied me. We readied a spot from which, through the trees, the sentinel could be seen. He was facing us, instead of his front. The poor fellow–Johnson, of our company–had, been on post for two mortal hours, and was more concerned about the relief in his rear than about the enemy that might not be in his front. The sergeant halted within a few paces of the vedette, while I received instructions. I was to ascertain from the sentinel any peculiarity of his post and the general condition, existing in his front, and then, dismiss him to the care of the sergeant. Johnson, could tell me nothing. He had seen nothing; had heard nothing. He retired and I was alone.

The ground was somewhat elevated, but not sufficiently so to enable one to see far in front. The vedette on either flank was invisible. Night was falling. A few faint stars began to shine. A thousand insects were cheeping; a thousand frogs in disjointed concert welcomed the twilight. A gentle breeze swayed the branches of the tree above me. Far away–to right or left, I know not–a cow-bell tinkled. More stars came out. The wind died away.

I leaned against the tree, and peered into the darkness.

I wanted to be a good soldier. This day I had heard for the first time the sound of hostile arms. I thought it would be but natural to be nervous, and I found myself surprised when I decided that I was not nervous. The cry of the lone screech-owl below me in the swamp sounded but familiar and appropriate.

That we were to attack the enemy I well knew; a battle was certain unless the enemy should retreat. My thoughts were full of wars and battles. My present duty made me think, of Indians. I wondered whether the rebels were well armed; I knew them; I knew they would fight; I had lived among those misguided people.



‘He tires betimes, that too fast spurs betimes.”–Shakespeare.

“_Fall in, men! Fall in Company D_!”

It was after two o’clock on the morning of July 21.

We had scarcely slept. For two or three days we had been in a constant state of nervous expectancy. On the 18th the armed reconnaissance on Bull Run had brought more than our generals had counted on; we had heard the combat, but had taken no part in it. Now the attack by the left had been abandoned.

The early part of the night of the 20th had been spent in trying to get rations; at twelve o’clock we had two days’ cooked rations in our haversacks.

At about three o’clock the regiment turned south, into the road for Centreville.

Willis said that we were to flank Beauregard’s left; but nobody took the trouble to assent or deny.

At Centreville there was a long and irksome halt; some lay down–in the road–by the side of the road; some kept their feet and moved about impatiently.

An army seemed to be passing in the road before our column, and we must wait till the way was clear.

Little noise was made by the column marching on the road intersecting ours. There was light laughter occasionally, but in general the men were silent, going forward with rapid strides, or standing stock still when brought to an abrupt halt whenever the head of the column struck an obstacle.

I slept by snatches, awaking every time in a jump. Everybody was nervous; even the officers could not hide their irritation.

* * * * *

Six o’clock came. The road was clear; the sun was nearly two hours high.

Forward we went at a swinging gait down the road through the dust. In ten minutes the sweat was rolling. No halt–no pause–no command, except the everlasting “Close up! close up!”

Seven o’clock … we turn to the right–northwest–a neighbourhood road; … fields; … thickets; … hills–not so much dust now, but the sun getting hotter and hotter, and hotter and hotter getting our thirst.

And Sunday morning … Close up! close up!

Hear it? Along the southeast the horizon smokes and booms. Hear it? The cannon roar in the valley below us.

Eight o’clock … seven miles; nine o’clock … ten miles; … a ford–we cross at double-quick; … a bridge–we cross at double-quick; the sound of cannon and small arms is close in our front.

What is that confusion up on the hill? Smoke and dust and fire.

See them? Four men with another–and that other, how the red blood streams from his head!

What are they doing up on the hill? They are dying up on the hill. Why should they die?

Ah, me! ah, me!

The Eleventh is formed at the foot of the hill; the commander rides to its front:

“_Colour_–_bearer_–_twelve_–_paces_–_to the front_–MARCH! _Bat-tal-ion_–_pre-sent_–ARMS!”

Then, with drawn sword, the colonel also salutes the flag–and cries, DIES BY IT!

A mortal cold goes to the marrow of my bones; my comrades’ faces are white as death.


“_For-ward_–_guide centre_–MARCH!”

Slowly we move up the hill; the line sways in curves; we halt and re-form.

We lie down near the crest; shells burst over us; shells fly with, a dreadful hissing beyond us. I raise my head; right-oblique is a battery; … it is hidden in smoke; again I see the guns and the horses and the men; they load and fire, load and fire.

A round shot strikes the ground in our front … rises … falls … rises–goes over. We fire at the smoke.

Down flat on your face! Do you hear the singing in the air? Thop! Johnson is hit; he runs to the rear, bending over until his height is lost.

And now a roar like that of a waterfall; I look again … the battery has disappeared … but the smoke rises and I see a long line of men come out of the far-off woods and burst upon the guns. The men of the battery flee, and the rebels swarm among the captured pieces.

Now there are no more hissing shells or bullets singing. We rise and look,–to our right a regiment is marching forward … no music, no drum … marching forward, flag in the centre … colonel behind the centre, dismounted,–the men march on; quick time, right-shoulder-shift; the fleeing cannoneers find safety behind the regiment always marching on. The rebels at the battery are not in line; some try to drag away the guns; swords flash in the hot sun; … the rebels re-form; … they lie down; … and now the regiment is at double-quick with trailed arms; … the rebel line rises and delivers its fire.

The smoke swallows everything.

* * * * *

Again I see. The rebel line has melted away. Our own men hold the battery. They try to turn the guns once more on the fleeing rebels; and now a rebel battery far to the left works fast upon the regiment in disorder. A fresh rebel line comes from the woods and rushes for the battery with the sound of many voices. Our men give way … they run–the officers are frantic; all run, all run … and the cavalry ride from, the woods, and ride straight through our flying men and strike … and many of the fugitives fire upon the horsemen, who in turn flee for their lives.

* * * * *

It is long past noon; the sun is a huge red shield; the world is smoke. Another regiment has gone in; the roar of battle grows; crowds of wounded go by; a battery gallops headlong to the rear … the men madly lash the horses.


Our time is upon us; the Eleventh, stands and forms.


The dust is so dense that I can see nothing in the front, … but we are moving. Smith drops; Lewis falls to the rear; the ranks are thinning; elbows touch no longer … our pace quickens … a horrid impatience seizes me … through the smoke I see the cannons … faster, faster … I see the rebel line–a tempest breaks in my face–“_Surrender, you damned Yankee!_”



“And, spite of spite, needs must I rest awhile.”–SHAKESPEARE.

I am running for life–a mass of fugitives around me–disorderly mob … I look behind–nothing but smoke … I begin to walk.

The army was lost; it was no longer an army. As soon as the men had run beyond gunshot they began to march, very deliberately, each one for himself, away from the field. Companies, regiments, and brigades were intermingled. If the rebels had been in condition to pursue us, many thousands of our men would have fallen into their hands.

In vain I tried to find some group of Company D. Suddenly I felt exhausted–sick from hunger and fatigue–and was compelled to stop and rest. The line of the enemy did not seem to advance, and firing in our rear had ceased.

A man of our company passed me–Edmonds. I called to him, “Where is the company?”

“All gone,” said he; “and you’d better get out of that, too, as quick as you can.”

“Tell me who is hurt,” said I.

But he was gone, and I felt that it would not do for me to remain where I was. I remembered Dr. Khayme’s encouraging words as to my will, and by great effort resolved to rise and run.

At length, as I was going down the slope toward the creek, I heard my name called. I looked round, and saw a man waving his hand, and heard him call me again. I went toward him. It was Willis; he was limping; his hat was gone; everything was gone; in fact, he was hardly able to march.

“Where are you hit?” I asked.

“The knee,” he replied.


“I don’t think it is serious; it seems to me that it don’t pain me as it did awhile ago.”

“Can you hold out till we find an ambulance?” I asked.

“Well, that depends; I guess all the ambulances are needed for men worse off than I am.”

Just then an officer rode along, endeavouring to effect some order, but the men gave no attention to him at all. They had taken it into their heads to go. By this time the routed troops before us were packed between the high banks of the roadway which went down toward the creek. I was desperately hungry, having eaten nothing since five o’clock in the morning.

“Let’s stay here and eat something,” said I to Willis, “and let the crowd scatter before we go on.”

“No, not yet,” said he; “we need water first. I couldn’t swallow a mouthful without water. Whiskey wouldn’t hurt either. Got any water in your canteen?”

“Not a drop,” said I.

Although Willis was limping badly, the slow progress of the troops at this point allowed him to keep up. At the bottom of the hill, where the road strikes the low ground, the troops had greater space; some of them followed their leaders straight ahead on the road; others went to the right and left, seeking to avoid the crowd.

“Let’s go up the creek,” said Willis.

“What for?”

“To get water; I’m dying of thirst.”

“Do you think you can stand it awhile longer?”

“Yes; at any rate, I’ll keep a-goin’ as long as God lets me, and I can stand it better if I can get water and something to eat.”

“Well, then, come on, and I’ll help you as long as I can.”

He leaned on me, hobbling along as best he could, and bravely too, although, at every step he groaned with pain.

I had become somewhat attached to Willis. He was egotistic–just a little–but harmlessly so, and his senses were sound and his will was good; I had, too, abundant evidence of his liking for me. He was a strapping fellow, more than six feet tall and as strong as a bullock. So, while I fully understood the danger in tying myself to a wounded comrade, I could not find it in my heart to desert him, especially since he showed such determination to save himself. Besides, I knew that he was quick-witted and country-bred; and I had great hope that he would prove more of a help than a hindrance.

We followed a few stragglers who had passed us and were now running up the creek seeking a crossing. The stream was shallow, but the banks were high, and in most places steep. Men were crossing at almost all points. Slowly following the hurrying groups of twos and threes who had outstripped us, we found at length, a place that seemed fordable for Willis. It was where a small branch emptied into the creek; and by getting into the branch, above its mouth, and following its course, we should be able to cross the creek.

“Lord! I am thirsty,” said Willis; “but look how they have muddied the branch; it’s as bad as the creek.”

“That water wouldn’t do us any good,” I replied.

“No,” said he; “it would make us sick.”

“But what else can we do?”

“Let’s go up the branch, a little,” said he.

All sounds in our rear had long since died away. The sun was yet shining, but in the thick forest it was cool and almost dark. I hoped that water, food, and a little rest would do us more good than harm–that time would be saved, in effect.

A hundred yards above the mouth of the branch, we found the water clear. I still had my canteen, my haversack with a cup in it, and food. Willis lay on the ground near the stream, while I filled my canteen; I handed it to him, and then knelt in the wet sand and drank.

The spot might have been well chosen for secrecy; indeed, we might have remained there for days were it not for fear. A giant poplar had been uprooted by some storm and had crushed in its fall an opening in, the undergrowth. The trunk spanned the little brook, and the boughs, intermingling with the copse, made a complete hiding-place.

I helped Willis to cross the branch; then we lay with the log at our backs and completely screened from view.

Willis drank another great draught of water. I filled the canteen again, and examined his wound. His knee was stiff and much swollen; just under the knee-cap was a mass of clotted blood; this I washed away, using all the gentle care at my command, but giving him, nevertheless, great pain. A small round hole was now scan, and by gently pressing on its walls, I thought I detected the presence of the ball.

“Sergeant,” said I, “it’s in there; I don’t believe it’s more than half an inch, deep.”

“Then pull it out,” said Willis,

That was more easily said than done. Willis was lying flat on his back, eating ravenously. From moment to moment I stuffed my mouth with hardtack and pork.

I sharpened a reed and introduced its point into the wound; an obstacle was met at once–but how to get it out? The hole was so small that I conjectured the wound had been made by a buck-shot, the rebels using, as we ourselves, many smooth-bore muskets, loaded with buck-and-ball cartridges.

“Willis,” said I, “I think I’d better not undertake this job; suppose I get the ball out, who knows that that will be better for you? Maybe you’d lose too much blood.”

“I want it out,” said Willis.

“But suppose I can’t got it out; we might lose an hour and do no good. Besides, I must insist that I don’t like it. I think my business is to let your leg alone; I’m no surgeon.”

“Take your knife,” said Willis, “and cut the hole bigger.”

The wound was bleeding afresh, but I did not tell him so.

“No,” said I; “your leg is too valuable for me to risk anything of that kind.”

“You refuse?”

“I positively refuse,” said I.

We had eaten enough. The sun was almost down. Far away a low rumbling was heard, a noise like the rolling of cars or of a wagon train.

Willis reluctantly consented to start. I went to the brook and kneaded some clay into the consistency of plaster; I took off my shirt, and tore it into strips. Against the naked limb, stiffened out, I applied a handful of wet clay and smoothed it over; then I wrapped the cloths around the knee, at every fold smearing the bandage with clay. I hardly knew why I did this, unless with the purpose of keeping the knee-joint from bending; when the clay should become dry and hard the joint would be incased in a stiff setting which I hoped would serve for splints. Willis approved the treatment, saying that clay was good for sprains, and might be good for wounds.

I helped the sergeant to his feet. He could stand, but could hardly move.

“Take my gun,” said I, “and use it as a crutch.”

He did as I said, but the barrel of the gun sank into the soft earth; after two strides he said, “Here! I can get along better without it.” Meanwhile I had been sustaining part of his weight.

I saw now that I must abandon my gun–a smooth-bore, on the stock of which, with a soldier’s vanity, I had carved the letters J.B. I broke the stock with one blow of the barrel against the poplar log.

I was now free to help Willis. Slowly and painfully we made our way through the bottom. The cool water of the creek rose above our knees and seemed to cheer the wounded man. The ascent of the further bank was achieved, but with great difficulty.

[Illustration: BULL RUN, July 2l,1881]

We rested a little while. Here, in the swamp, night was falling. We saw no one, neither pursuers nor pursued. At length, after much and painful toil, we got through the wood. The last light of day showed us a small field in front. Willis leaned against a tree, his blanched face showing his agony. I let down a gap in the fence.

It was clearly to be seen that the sergeant could do no more, and I decided to settle matters without consulting him. In the field I had seen some straw stacks. We succeeded in reaching them. At the bottom of the smallest, I hollowed out a sort of cave. The work took but a minute. Willis was looking on dully; he was on the bare ground, utterly done for with pain and weariness. At length, he asked, “What’s that for?”

“For you,” I replied.

He said no more; evidently he appreciated the situation and at the same time was too far gone to protest. I made him a bed and pulled the overhanging straw thinly around him, so as effectually to conceal him from any chance passer-by; I took off my canteen and haversack and placed them within his reach. Then, with a lump in my throat, I bade him good-by.

“Jones,” said he, “God bless you.”

“Sergeant,” I said, “go to sleep if you can. I shall try to return and get you; I am going to find help; if I can possibly get help, I will come back for you to-night; but if by noon to-morrow you do not see me, you must act for the best. It may become necessary for you to show yourself and surrender, in order to get your wound properly treated; all this country will be ransacked by the rebel cavalry before to-morrow night.”

“Yes, I know that,” said Willis; “I will do the best I can. God bless you, Jones.”

Alone and lightened, I made my way in the darkness to the road which we had left when we began to seek the ford. I struck the road a mile or more to the north of Bull Run. There was no moon; thick clouds gave warning of rain. I knew that to follow this road–the same circuitous road by which we had advanced in the morning–was not to take the nearest way to Centreville. I wanted to find the Warrenton turnpike, but all I knew was that it was somewhere to my right. I determined to make my way as rapidly as I could in that direction through the fields and thickets.

For an hour or more I had blundered on through brush and brake, when suddenly I seemed to hear the noise of a moving wagon. I went cautiously in the direction of the sound, which soon ceased.

By dint of straining my eyes I could see an oblong form outlined against the sky.

I went toward it; I could hear horses stamping and harness rattling; still, I could see no one. The rear of the wagon, if it was a wagon, was toward me.

I reasoned: “This cannot be a rebel ambulance; there would be no need for it here; it must be one of ours, or else it is a private carriage; it certainly is not an army wagon.”

I advanced a little nearer, I had made up my mind to halloo, and had opened my lips, when a voice came from the ambulance–a voice which I had heard before, and which, stupefied me with astonishment.

“Is that you, Jones?”

I stood fixed. I seemed to recognize the voice, but surely my supposition must be impossible.

A man got out of the ambulance, and approached; he had a pipe in his mouth; he was a small man, not more than five feet tall. I felt as though in the presence of a miracle.

“I have been seeking you,” he said.



“I cannot tell
What heaven hath given him; let some graver eye Pierce unto that.”–SHAKESPEARE.

For a time I was dumb. I knew not what to say or ask or think. The happenings of this terrible day, which had wrought the defeat of the Union army, had been too much for me. Vanquished, exhausted, despairing, heart-sore from enforced desertion of my wounded friend, still far from safety myself, with no physical desire remaining except the wish to lie down and be at rest forever, and with no moral feeling in my consciousness except that of shame,–which will forever rise uppermost in me when I think of that ignominious day,–to be suddenly accosted by the man whom I held in the most peculiar veneration and who, I had believed, was never again to enter into my life–accosted by him on the verge of the lost battlefield–in the midst of darkness and the debris of the rout, while groping, as it were, on my lone way to security scarcely hoped for–it was too much; I sank down on the road.

How long I lay there I have never known–probably but few moments.

The Doctor took my hand in his. “Be consoled, my friend,” said he; “you are in safety; this is my ambulance; we will take you with us.”

Then, he called to some one in the ambulance, “Reed, bring me the flask of brandy.”

When I had revived, the Doctor urged me to climb in before him.

“No,” I cried, “I cannot do it; I cannot leave Willis; we must get Willis.”

“I heard that Willis was shot,” said he; “but I had supposed, from the direction you two wore taking when last seen, that he had reached the field hospital. Where is Willis now?”

I told him as accurately as I could, and in half an hour we were in the stubble-field. For fear the sergeant should be unnecessarily alarmed on hearing persons approach, I called him softly by name; then, hearing no answering call, I raised my voice–“Willis! It is Jones, with help!” But there was no response.

We found the sergeant fast asleep. It was more difficult to get him awake than to get him into the ambulance. Reed and I picked him up bodily and laid him down on a mattress in the bottom of the vehicle.

And now, with my load of personal duty gone, I also sank back and slumbered through a troubled night, and when I fully awoke it was six in the morning and we were crossing Long Bridge in the midst of a driving rain. There were two seats in the ambulance, besides a double-deck, that is to say, two floors for wounded to lie upon. I scrambled to the rear seat.

We were making but slow progress. The bridge ahead of us was crowded. There were frequent stoppages. Many civilians, on horseback or in carriages, were before and behind us. Soldiers single and in groups swelled the procession, some of them with their arms in slings; how they had achieved the long night march I cannot yet comprehend.

Willis was yet lying on the mattress; his eyes were not open, but he was awake, I thought, for his motions were restless.

Reed appeared to be exhausted; he said nothing and nodded sleepily, although holding the lines. The Doctor, on the contrary, looked fresh and vigorous; indeed, as I closely studied his face, I could almost have believed that he had become younger than he had been when I parted with him in Charleston, more than three years before. He knew that I was observing him, for he said, without turning his face toward me, “You have not slept well, Jones; but you did not know when we stopped at Fairfax; we rested the horses there for an hour.”

“Yes,” I said, “I feel stupid, and my spirits are wofully down.”

“Why so?” he asked, with a smile.

“Oh, the bitter disappointment!” I cried; “what will become of the country?”

“What do you mean by the country?” asked the Doctor.

I did not reply at once.

“Do you mean,” he repeated, “the material soil? Do you mean the people of the United States, including those of the seceded States? Do you mean the idea symbolized by everything that constitutes American civilization? However, let us not speak of these difficult matters now. We must get your friend Willis to the hospital and then arrange for your comfort.”

“I thank you, Doctor; but first be so good as to relieve my devouring curiosity: tell me by what marvellous chance you were on the battlefield.”

“No chance at all, Jones; you know that I have always told you there is no such thing as chance, I went to the field deliberately, as an agent of the United States Sanitary Commission.”

“I thought that you were far from this country, and that you felt no interest in us,” said I. “My father and I were in Charleston in ‘fifty-eight,’ and were told that you were in Europe. And then, too, how could you know that I was on such a part of the battlefield, and that Willie was hurt and that I was with him?”

“All that is very simple,” said he; “as to being in Europe, and afterward getting to America, that is not more strange than being in America and afterward getting to Europe; however, lot us defer all talk of Europe and America. As to knowing that you were with Sergeant Willis, and that he was wounded, that is simple; some men of your regiment gave me that information.”

I did not reply to the Doctor, but sat looking at the miscellaneous file of persons, carriages, ambulances, and all else that was now blocked on the bridge,

At length I said: “I cannot understand how you could so easily find the place where I left Sergeant Willis. It was more than a mile from the spot where I met you; the night was dark, and I am certain that I could not have found the place.”

“Of course you could not,” he replied; “but it was comparatively easy for me; I had passed and repassed the place, for I worked all day to help the disabled— and Reed was employed for the reason that he knows every nook and corner of that part of the country.”

After crossing the bridge, Reed drove quickly to the Columbia College Hospital, where we left Sergeant Willis, but not before learning that his wound was not difficult.

“Now,” said the Doctor, “you are my guest for a few days. I will see to it that you are excused from duty for a week. It may take that time to set you right, especially as I can see that you have some traces of nervous fever. I am going to take steps to prevent your becoming ill.”

“How can you explain my absence, Doctor?”

“Well,” said he, “in the first place there is as yet nobody authorized to receive an explanation. To-day our time is our own; by to-morrow all the routed troops will be in or near Washington; then I shall simply write a note, if you insist upon it, to the commanding officer of your company, explaining Willis’s absence and your connection with his case, and take on myself the responsibility for your return to your command.”

“Has the Sanitary Commission such credit that your note will be accepted as a guaranty, in good form, for my return?”

“The circumstances in this case are peculiar,” said the Doctor; “some of your men will not report to their commands for a week. You will be ready for your company before your company is ready for you.”

“That is true enough, Doctor; but I should wish to observe all military requirement.”

He left me for a while and returned with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Well, what do you think of this?”

It was a surgeon’s commitment of Private Jones Berwick, company and regiment given, into the hands of the Sanitary Commission for ten days. I could say no more, except to speak my gratitude for his kindness.

“I am sorry,” said Dr. Khayme, “to be unable to offer you the best of quarters. The Commission has so recently been organized that we have not yet succeeded in getting thorough order into our affairs; in fact, my work yesterday was rather the work of a volunteer than the work of the Commission. Our tents are now beyond Georgetown Heights; in a few days we shall move our camps, and shall increase our comfort.”

The ambulance was driven through some of the principal streets. The sidewalks and carriageways were crowded; civilians and soldiers; wagons, guns, caissons, ambulances; companies, spick-and-span, which, had not yet seen service; ones, twos, threes, squads of men who had escaped from the disaster of the 21st, unarmed, many of them, without knapsacks, haggard.

At the corners of the streets were rude improvised tables behind which stood men and women serving food and drink to the famished fugitives. The rain fell steadily, a thick drizzle. Civilians looked their anxiety. A general officer rode by, surrounded by the remnant of his staff, heads bent down, gloomy. Women wept while serving the hungry. The unfinished dome of the Capitol, hardly seen through the rain, loomed ominous. Depression over all: ambulances full of wounded men, tossing and groaning; fagged-out horses, vehicles splashed with mud; policemen dazed, idle; newsboys crying their merchandise; readers eagerly reading–not to know the result to the army, but the fate of some loved one; stores closed; whispers; doom.

I turned to Dr. Khayme; he smiled. Then he made Reed halt; he got out of the ambulance and went to one of the tables. A woman gave him coffee, which he brought to me, and made me drink. He returned to the table and gave back the cup. The woman looked toward the ambulance. She was a tall young woman, serious, dignified. She impressed me.

We drove past Georgetown Heights. There, amongst the trees, were four wall-tents in a row; one of them was of double length. The ambulance stopped; we got out. The Doctor led the way into one of the tents; he pointed to one of two camp-beds. “That is yours,” said he; “go to sleep; you shall not be disturbed.”

“I don’t think I can sleep, Doctor.”

“Why not?”

“My mind will not let me.”

“Well, try,” said he; “I will peep in shortly and see how you are getting on.”

I undressed, and bathed my face. Then I lay down on the bed, pulling a sheet over me. I turned my face to the wall.

I shut my eyes, but not my vision. I saw Ricketts’s battery–the First Michigan charge;–the Black-Horse cavalry ride from the woods. I saw the rebel cannons through dust and smoke;–a poplar log in a thicket;–a purple wound–wet clay;–a broken rifle;–stacks of straw.

Oh, the gloom and the shame! What does the future hold for me? for the cause? What is to defend Washington?

Then I thought of my father; I had not written to him; he would be anxious. My eyes opened; I turned to rise; Dr. Khayme entered; I rose.

“You do not sleep readily?” he asked.

“I cannot sleep at all,” I said; “besides I have been so overwhelmed by this great calamity that I had not thought of telegraphing to my father. Can you get a messenger here?”

“Oh, my boy, I have already provided for your father’s knowing that you are safe.”


“Yes, certainly. He knows already that you are unhurt; go to sleep; by the time you awake I promise you a telegram from your father.”

“Doctor, you are an angel; but I don’t believe that I can sleep.”

“Let me feel your pulse.”

Dr. Khayme placed his fingers on my wrist; I was sitting on the side of the bed.

“Lie down,” said he. Then, still with his fingers on my pulse, he said softly, “Poor boy! you have endured too much; no wonder that you are wrought up.”

He laid his other hand on my head; his fingers strayed through my hair.



“Great lords, wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss, But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.”


When I awoke in Dr. Khayme’s tent toward four o’clock of the afternoon of July 22, I felt that my mind was clear; I had slept dreamlessly.

On the cover of my bed an envelope was lying–a telegram. I hastily tore it open, and read: “Dr. Khayme tells me you are safe. Continue to do your duty.” My heart swelled,

I rose, and dressed, and went out. The Doctor was standing under a tree, near a fire; a negro was cooking at the fire. Under an awning, or fly, beneath which a small eating table was dressed, a woman was sitting in a chair, reading. I thought I had seen her before, and looking more closely I recognized the woman who had given the Doctor a cup of coffee on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Doctor stepped forward to meet me, “Ah, I see you have rested well,” said he; then, “Lydia, here is Mr. Berwick.”

I was becoming accustomed to surprises from the Doctor, so that I was not greatly astonished, although I had received no intimation of the young lady’s identity. The feeling that was uppermost was shame that I had not even, once thought of asking the Doctor about her.

“I should, never have recognized you,” I said. She replied with, a smile, and the Doctor relieved the situation by cheerfully crying out “Dinner!” and leading the way to the table.

“Now, Jones,” said the Doctor, “you are expected to eat; you have had nothing since yesterday afternoon, when you choked yourself while bandaging–“

“What do you know about that?” I asked.

“You talked about it in your sleep last night on the road. As for Lydia and me, we have had our breakfast and our luncheon, and you must not expect us to eat like a starving fantassin. Fall to, my boy. I know that you have eaten nothing to-day.”

There were fruit, bread and butter, lettuce, rice, and coffee. I did not wonder at the absence of meat; I remembered some of the talks of my friend. The Doctor and his daughter seemed to eat merely for the purpose of keeping me in countenance.

“Lydia, would you have known Mr. Berwick?”

“Why, of course, Father; I should have known him anywhere; it is not four years since we saw him.”

These four years had made a great change in Miss Khayme. I had left her a girl in the awkward period of a girl’s life; now she was a woman of fine presence, wholesome, good to look at. She did not resemble her father, except perhaps in a certain intellectual cast of feature. Her dark wavy tresses were in contrast with his straight black hair; her eyes were not his; her stature was greater than his. Yet there were points of resemblance. Her manner was certainly very like the Doctor’s, and many times a fleeting expression was identical with, the Doctor’s habitually perfect repose.

She must have been clad very simply; at any rate, I cannot remember anything of her dress. I only know that it was unpretentious and charming.

Her eyes were of that shade of gray which is supposed to indicate great intelligence; her complexion was between dark and fair, and betokened health. Her face was oval; her mouth a little large perhaps. She had an air of seriousness–her only striking peculiarity. One might have charged her with masculinity, but in this respect only: she was far above the average woman in dignity of manner and in consciousness of attainment. She could talk seriously of men and things.

I was wishing to say something pleasant to Miss Lydia, but could only manage to tell her that she had changed wonderfully and that she had a great advantage over me in that I was the same ungainly boy she had known in Charleston.

She did not reply to this, covering her silence by making me my third cup of coffee.

“Lydia,” said the Doctor, “you must tell Mr. Berwick something about our life in the East. You know how I dislike to speak three sentences.”

“With great pleasure, Father; Mr. Berwick will find that I can speak four.”

“Not now, my dear. I warn you, Jones, that I shall watch over you very carefully while you are with us. I am responsible to the hospital surgeon for your health, and I cannot be a party to your extinction.”

“How many sentences did you speak then, Father?”

“It depends on how you punctuate,” he replied.

“Mr. Berwick,” said Lydia, “Father pretends that he is not talkative, but don’t you believe him. He can easily talk you to sleep.”

The Doctor was almost gay, that is, for the Doctor. His eyes shone. He did not cease to look at me, except when he looked at Lydia. For the time, Lydia had a severer countenance than her father’s. I ate. I thanked my stars for the conversation that was covering my ignoble performance.

“Doctor,” I asked, pausing for breath, “is there any news of Willis?”

“Willis is doing well enough. The ball has been extracted; it was only a buck-shot, as you rightly surmised.”

“How do you know what I surmised, Doctor?”

“Willis told the surgeon of your supposition, giving you full credit for the origin of it. By the way, that was a famous bandage you gave him.”

“Was it the correct practice?”

“Well, I can hardly go as far as to say it was scientific, but under the circumstances we must pardon you.”

“How long will the sergeant be down?”

“From three to six weeks, I think, according to the weather and his state of mind.”

“What’s the matter with his mind?”

“Impatience,” said the Doctor; “the evil of the whole Western world.”

I had finished eating. The Doctor got his pipe: the idol’s head was the same old idol’s head. Lydia disappeared into one of the tents.

“Jones,” said Dr. Khayme, “I have been thinking that yesterday will prove to be the crisis of the war.”

“You alarm me more than ever; do you mean to say that the South will win?”

“My words do not imply that belief; but what does it matter which side shall win?”

“Doctor, you are a strange man!”

“I have been told so very frequently; but that is not to the point. I ask what difference it would make whether the North or South should succeed.”

“Then why go to war? Why not let the South, secede peaceably? What are we doing here?”

“Indeed, Jones, you may well ask such questions. War is always wrong; going to war is necessarily a phase of a shortsighted policy; every wrong act is, of course, an unwise act.”

“Even when war is forced upon us?”

“War cannot be forced upon you; it takes two nations to make war; if one refuses, the other cannot make war.”

“I have known, for a long time, Doctor, that you are opposed to war on the whole; but what was left for the North to do? Acknowledge the right of secession? Submit to insult? Submit to the loss of all Federal property in the Southern States? Tamely endure without resentment the attack on Sumter?”

“Yes, endure everything rather than commit a worse crime than that you resist.”

Here Lydia, reappeared, charming in a simple white dress without ornament. “Good-by, Father,” she said; “Mr. Berwick, I must bid you good night.”

“Yes, you are on duty to-night,” said her father. “Jones, you must know that Lydia is a volunteer also; she attaches herself to the Commission, and insists on serving the sick and wounded. She is on duty to-night at the College Hospital. I think she will have her hands full.”

“Why, you will see Willis; will you be in his ward?” I asked, looking my admiration.

“I don’t know that I am in his ward,” she replied, “but I can easily see him if you wish.”

“Then please be so good as to tell him that I shall come to see him–to-morrow, if possible.”

Lydia started off down the hill.

“She will find a buggy at our stable-camp,” said Dr. Khayme; “it is but a short distance down there.”

The Doctor smoked. I thought of many things. His view of war was not new, by any means; of course, in the abstract he was right: war is wrong, and that which is wrong is unwise; but how to prevent war? A nation that will not preserve itself, how can it exist? I could not doubt that secession is destruction. If the Union should now or ever see itself broken up, then farewell to American liberties; farewell to the hopes of peoples against despotism. To refuse war, to tamely allow the South to withdraw and set up a government of her own, would be but the beginning of the end; at the first grievance California, Massachusetts, any State, could and would become independent. No; war must come; the Union must be preserved; the nation was at the forks of the road; for my part, I could not hesitate; we must take one road or the other; war was forced upon us. But why reason thus, as though we still had choice? War already exists; we must make the best of it; we are down to-day, but Bull Run is not the whole of the war; one field is lost, but all is not lost.

“Doctor,” I asked, “why do you say that yesterday will prove to be the crisis of the war?”

“Because,” he answered, “yesterday’s lesson was well taught and will be well learned; it was a rude lesson, but it will prove a wholesome one. Your government now knows the enormous work it has to do. We shall now see preparation commensurate with the greatness of the work. Three months’ volunteers are already a thing of the past. This war might have been avoided; all war might be avoided; but this war has not been avoided; America will be at war for years to come.”

I was silent.

“We shall have a new general, Jones; General McClellan is ordered to report immediately in person to the war department.”

“Why a new general? McClellan is well enough, I suppose; but what has McDowell done to deserve this?”

“He has failed. Failure in war is unpardonable; every general that fails finds it so; McClellan may find it so.”

“You are not much of a comforter, Doctor.”

“The North does not need false comforters; she needs to look things squarely in the face. Mind you, I did not say that McClellan will fail. I think, however, that there will be many failures, and much injustice done to those who fail. In war injustice is easily tolerated–any injustice that will bring success; success is demanded–not justice. Wholesale murder was committed yesterday and brought failure; wholesale murder that brings success is what is demanded by this superstitious people.”

“Why do you say superstitious?”

“A nation at war believes in luck; if it has not good luck, it changes; it is like the gambler who bets high when he thinks he has what he calls a run in his favor. If the cards go against him, he changes his policy, and very frequently changes just as the cards change to suit his former play. You are now changing to McClellan, simply because McDowell has had bad luck and McClellan good luck. I do not know that McClellan’s good luck will continue. War and cards are alike, and they are unlike.”

“How alike and unlike?”

“Games of chance, so called, lose everything like chance in the long run; they equalize ‘chances’ and nobody wins. War also destroys chance, and nobody wins; both sides lose, only one side loses less than the other. In games, the result of one play cannot be foretold; in war, the result of one battle cannot be foretold. In games and in war the general result can be foretold; in the one there will be a balance and in the other there will be destruction. Even the winner in war is ruined morally, just as is the gambler.”

“And can you foretell the result of this war?”


“How conditionally?”

“If the North is in earnest, or becomes in earnest, and her people become determined, there is no mystery in a prediction of her nominal success; still, she will suffer for her crime. She must suffer largely, just as she is suffering to-day in a small way for the crime of yesterday.”

“It is terrible to think of yesterday’s useless sacrifice.”

“Not useless, Jones, regarded in its relation to this war, but certainly useless in relation to civilization. Bull Bun will prove salutary for your cause, or I woefully mistake. Nations that go to war must learn from misfortune.”

“But, then, does not the misfortune of yesterday justify a change in generals?”

“Not unless the misfortune was caused by your bad generalship, and that is not shown–at least, so far as McDowell is concerned. The advance should not have been made, but he was ordered to make it. We now know that Beauregard’s army was reenforced by Johnston’s; it was impossible not to see that it could be so reenforced, as the Confederates had the interior line. The real fault in the campaign is not McDowell’s. His plan was scientific; his battle was better planned than was his antagonist’s; he outgeneralled Beauregard clearly, and failed only because of a fact that is going to be impressed frequently upon the Northern mind in this war; that fact is that the Southern troops do not know when they are beaten. McDowell defeated Beauregard, so far as those two are concerned; but his army failed, and he must be sacrificed; the North ought, however, to sacrifice the army.”

“What do you mean by that, Doctor?”

“I mean that war is wrong; it is always so. It is essentially unjust and narrow. You have given up your power to be just; you cannot do what you know to be just. You act under compulsion, having yielded your freedom. A losing general is sacrificed, regardless of his real merit.”

“Was it so in Washington’s case?”

“Washington’s first efforts were successful; had he been, defeated at Boston, he would have been superseded–unless, indeed, the colonies had given up the struggle.”

“And independence would have been lost?”

“No; I do not say that. The world had need of American independence.”

For half an hour we sat thus talking, the Doctor doing the most of it, and giving full rein to his philosophically impersonal views of the immediate questions involved in the national struggle. He rose at last, and left me thinking of his strange personality and wondering why, holding such views, be should throw his energies into either side.

He returned presently, bringing me a letter from my father. He waited as I opened it, and when I asked leave to read it, he said for answer, as if still thinking of our conversation:–

“Jones, my boy, there is a future for you. I can imagine circumstances in which your peculiar powers of memory would accomplish more genuine good than could a thousand bayonets; good night.”

Before I went to bed I had written my father a long letter. Then, I lay down, oppressed with thought.



“There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before; The evil is null, is naught, is silence implying sound; What was good, shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more; On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round.”


The next morning Lydia was missing from the breakfast table. The Doctor said that she had gone to her room–which was at a friend’s house in Georgetown–to rest. She had brought from Willis a request that I should come to see him.

“You are getting back to your normal condition,” said the Doctor, “and if you do not object I shall drive you down.”

On the way, the Doctor told me that alarm as to the safety of the capital had subsided. The army was reorganizing on the Virginia hills and was intrenching rapidly. Reenforcements were being hurried to Washington, and a new call for volunteers would at once be made. General McClellan would arrive in a few days; much was expected of his ability to create and discipline an army.

“You need be in no hurry to report to your company,” said Dr. Khayme; “it is true that you are almost fit for duty, but you have practically a leave of absence for a week or more, and I am sure that rest will do you good. By the way, President Lincoln will visit the troops at Arlington to-day; if you like, I shall be glad to take you over.”

I declined, saying that I must see Willis, and expressing my desire to return to my post of duty as soon as possible.

We found Willis cheerful. The Doctor asked him a few questions and then passed into the office.

Willis pressed my hand. “Old man,” said he, “but for you I should be a prisoner. Count on Jake Willis whenever you need a friend, or when it is in his power to do you a service.”

“Sergeant,” said I, “I shall go back to duty in a day or two. What shall I say to the boys for you?”

“Tell ’em old Jake is a-comin’ too. My leg feels better already. The surgeon promises to put me on my feet in a month, or six weeks at the outside. Have you learned how our company came out?”

“The papers say there were four killed,” I said; “but I have not seen their names, and I hope they are only missing. There were a good many wounded. The regiment’s headquarters are over the river, and I have not seen a man of the company except you. I am very anxious.”

“So am I,” said the sergeant; “your friend Dr. Khayme told me it will be some days before we learn the whole truth. He is a queer man, Jones; I believe he knows what I think. Was that his daughter who came in here last night?”

“Yes,” I answered; “she left me your message this morning.”

“Say, Jones, you remember that poplar log?”

“I don’t think I can ever forget it,” I replied. The next moment I thought of my bygone mental peculiarity, and wondered if I should ever again be subjected to loss of memory. I decided to speak to Dr. Khayme once more about this matter. Although he had advised me in Charleston never to speak of it or think of it, he had only last night, referred to it himself.

“I must go now, Sergeant,” said I; “can I do anything for you?”

“No, I think not.”

“You are able to write your own letters?”

“Oh, yes; the nurse gives me a bed-table.”

“Well, good-by.”

“Say, Jones, you remember them straw stacks? Good-by, Jones. I’ll be with the boys again before long.”

In the afternoon I returned to the little camp and found the Doctor and Lydia. The Doctor was busy–writing. I reminded Lydia of her promise to tell me something about her life in the East.

“Where shall I begin?” she asked,

“Begin at the beginning,” I said; “begin at the time I left Charleston.”

“I don’t know,” she said, “that Father had at that time any thought of going. One morning he surprised me by telling me to get ready for a long journey.”

“When was that?” I asked.

“I am not certain, but I know it was one day in the vacation, and a good while after you left.”

“It must have been in September, then.”

“Yes, I am almost sure it was in September.”

“I suppose you were very glad to go.”

“Yes, I was; but Father’s intention was made known to me so suddenly that I had no time to say good-by to anybody, and that grieved me.”

“You wanted to say good-by to somebody?”

“The Sisters, you know–and my schoolmates.”

“Yes–of course; did your old servant go too?”

“Yes; she died while we were in India.”

“I remember her very well. So you went to India?”

“Not directly; we sailed first to Liverpool; then we went on to Paris–strange, we went right through London, and were there not more than an hour or two.”

“How long did you stay in Paris?”

“Father had some business there–I don’t know what–that kept us for two or three weeks. Then we went to Havre, and took a ship for Bombay.”

“And so you were in India most of the time while you were abroad?”

“Yes; we lived in India nearly three years.”

“In Bombay?”

“I was in Bombay, but Father was absent a good deal of the time.”

“Did you go to school?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling.

Dinner was ready. After dinner the Doctor and I sat under the trees. I told him of my wish to return to my company.

“Perhaps it is just as well,” said he.

“I think I am fit for duty,” said I.

“Yes, you are strong enough,” said he.

“Then why are you reluctant?”

“Because I am not quite sure that your health is safe; you ran a narrower risk than your condition now would show.”

“And you think there is danger in my reporting for duty?”

“Ordinary bodily exertion will not injure you; exposure might; the weather is very warm.”

“There will be nothing for me to do–at least, nothing very hard on me.”

“Danger seems at present averted,” said Dr. Khayme. “Your depression has gone; if you are not worse to-morrow, I shall not oppose your going.”

I plunged into the subject most interesting to me: “Doctor, do you remember telling me, some ten years ago, that you did not think it advisable for me to tell you of my experiences?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“And that it was best, perhaps, that I should not think of them?”

“Yes,” he replied,

“Yet you referred last night to what you called my peculiar powers.”

“Yes, and said that it is possible to make great use of them.”

“Doctor, do you know that after I left you in Charleston I had a recurrence of my trouble?”

“I had at least suspected it.”

“Why do you call my infirmity a peculiar power?” I asked.

“Why do you call your peculiar power an infirmity?” he retorted. Then, with the utmost seriousness, he went on to say: “Everything is relative; your memory, taking it generally, is better than that of some, and poorer than that of others; as it is affected by your peculiar periods, it is in some features far stronger than the average memory, and in other features it is weaker; have you not known this?”

“Yes; I can recall any object that I have seen; its image is definite, if it has been formed in a lapse.”

“But in respect to other matters than objects?”

“You mean as to thought?”


“In a lapse I seem to forget any mere opinion, or speculation, that is, anything not an established fact.”

“Suppose, for instance, that you should to-day read an article written to show that the moon is inhabited; would you remember it in one of your ‘states’?”

“Not at all,” said I.

“Suppose you should hear a discussion of the tariff question; would you remember it?”

“No, sir.”

“Suppose you should hear a discussion upon the right to coerce a seceded State, and should to-day reach a conclusion as to the truth of the controversy; now, would you to-morrow, in one of your ‘states,’ remember the discussion?”

“No; certainly not.”

“Not even if the discussion had occurred previously to the period affected by your memory?”

“I don’t exactly catch, your meaning, Doctor.”

“I mean to ask what attitude your mind has, in one of your ‘states,’ toward unsettled questions.”

“No attitude whatever; I know nothing of such, one way or the other.”

“How, then, could you ever form an opinion upon a disputed question?”

“I don’t know, Doctor; I suppose that if I should ever form an opinion upon anything merely speculative, I should have to do it from new