hearty meal enjoyed, Tony being now permitted for the first time to sit up in the boat. After the meal Vincent and Dan lay down for a long sleep, while Tony, who had slept some hours during the night, kept watch.
At four in the afternoon tide again slackened, and as soon as it had fairly turned they pushed out from the creek and again set sail. In three hours they were at the mouth of the river. A short distance out they saw several boats fishing, and dropping anchor a short distance away from these, they lowered their sail, and taking the fishing-lines from the locker of the boat, set to to fish. As soon as it was quite dark the anchor was hauled up, and Vincent and Dan took the oars, the wind having now completely dropped. For some time they rowed steadily, keeping the land in sight on their right hand.
Tony was most anxious to help, but as he had never had an oar in his hand in his life, Vincent thought that he would do more harm than good. It was, he knew, some ten miles from the mouth of the York River to Fortress Monroe, at the entrance to Hampton Roads, and after rowing for three hours he thought that he could not be far from that point, and therefore turned the boat’s head out toward the sea. They rowed until they could no longer make out the land astern, and then laying in their oars waited till the morning, Vincent sitting in the stern and often nodding off to sleep, while the two negroes kept up a constant conversation in the bow.
As soon as it was daylight the oars were again got out. They could clearly make out the outline of the coast, and saw the break in the shore that marked the entrance to Hampton Roads. There was a light breeze now, but Vincent would not hoist the sail lest it might attract the attention of some one on shore. He did not think the boat itself could be seen, as they were some eight or nine miles from the land. They rowed for a quarter of an hour, when Vincent saw the white sails of a ship coming out from the entrance.
The breeze was so light that she would, he thought, be nearly three hours before she reached the spot where they were now, and whether she headed to the right or left of it he would have plenty of time to cut her off. For another two hours he and Dan rowed steadily. The wind had freshened a good deal, and the ship was now coming up fast to them. Two others had come out after her, but were some miles astern. They had already made out that the ship was flying a flag at her masthead, and although they had not been able to distinguish its colors, Vincent felt sure that it was the right ship; for he felt certain that the captain would get up sail as soon as possible, so as to come up with them before any other vessels came out. They had somewhat altered their course, to put themselves in line with the vessel. When she was within a distance of about a mile and a half Vincent was able to make out the flag, and knew that it was the right one.
“There’s the ship, Tony,” he said; “it is all right, and in a few minutes you will be on your way to England.”
Tony had already changed his tattered garments for the suit of sailor’s clothes that at Dan had bought for him. Vincent had given him full instructions as to the course he was to pursue. The ship was bound for Liverpool; on his arrival there he was at once to go round the docks and take a passage in the steerage of the next steamer going to Canada.
“The fare will be about twenty-five dollars,” he said. “When you get to Canada you will land at Quebec, and you had better go on by rail to Montreal, where you will, I think, find it easier to get work than at Quebec. As soon as you get a place you are likely to stop in, get somebody to write for you to me, giving me your address. Here are a hundred dollars, which will be sufficient to pay your expenses to Montreal and leave you about fifty dollars to keep you till you can get something to do.”
CHAPTER IV. SAFELY BACK.
When the ship came within a few hundred yards, Vincent stood up and waved his cap, and a minute later the ship was brought up into the wind and her sails thrown aback. The captain appeared at the side and shouted to the boat now but fifty yards away:
“What do you want there?”
“I have a passenger for England,” Vincent replied. “Will you take him?”
“Come alongside,” the captain said. “Why didn’t he come on hoard before I started?”
The boat was rowed alongside, and Vincent climbed on board. The captain greeted him as a stranger and led the way to his cabin.
“You have managed that well,” he said when they were alone, “and I am heartily glad that you have succeeded. I made you out two hours ago. We will stop here another two or three minutes so that the men may think you are bargaining for a passage for the negro, and then the sooner he is on board and you are on your way back the better, for the wind is rising, and I fancy it is going to blow a good deal harder before night.”
“And won’t you let me pay for the man’s passage, captain? It is only fair anyhow that I should pay for what he will eat.”
“Oh, nonsense!” the captain replied. “He will make himself useful and pay for his keep. I am only too glad to get; the poor fellow off. Now, we will have a glass of wine together and then say good-by.”
Two minutes later they returned to the deck. Vincent went to the side.
“Jump on board, Tony. I have arranged for your passage.”
The negro climbed up the side.
“Good-by, captain, and thank you heartily. Good-by, Tony.”
The negro could not speak, but he seized the hand Vincent held out to him and pressed it to his lips. Vincent dropped lightly into his boat; and pushed off from the side of the vessel. As he did so he heard orders shouted, the yards swung round, and the vessel almost at once began to move through the water.
“Now, Dan, up with the mast; and sail again; but let me put two reefs in first, the wind is getting up.”
In five minutes the sail was hoisted, and with Vincent at the helm and Dan sitting up to windward, was dashing through the water. Although Vincent understood the management of a sailing-boat on the calm waters of the rivers, this was his first experience of sea-sailing; and although the waves were still but small, he felt at first somewhat nervous as the boat dashed through them, sending up at times a sheet of spray from her bows. But he soon got over this sensation, and enjoyed the lively motion and the fresh wind. The higher points of the land were still visible; but even had they not been so it would have mattered little, as be had taken the precaution to bring with him a small pocket-compass. The wind was from the southwest; and he was therefore able, with the sheet hauled in, to make for a point where he judged the mouth of the York River lay.
“Golly, massa! how de boat do jump up and down.”
“She is lively, Dan, and it would be just as well if we had some ballast on board; however, she has a good beam and walks along splendidly. If the wind keeps as it is, we shall be back at the mouth of the York in three or four hours. You may as well open that basket again and hand me that cold chicken and a piece of bread; cut the meat off the bones and put it on the bread, for I have only one hand disengaged; and hand me that bottle of cold tea. That’s right. Now you had better take something yourself. You must be hungry. We forgot all about the basket in our interest in the ship.”
Dan shook his head.
“A little while ago, massa, me seem berry hungry, now me doesn’t feel hungry at all.”
“That’s bad, Dan. I am afraid you are going to be seasick.”
“Me no feel seasick, massa; only me don’t feel hungry.” But in a few minutes Dan was forced to confess that; he did feel ill, and a few moments afterward was groaning in the agonies of seasickness.
“Never mind, Dan,” Vincent said cheerfully. “You will be better after this.”
“Me not seasick, massa; de sea have nuffin to do with it. It’s de boat dat will jump up and down instead of going quiet.”
“It’s all the same thing, Dan; and I hope she won’t jump about more before we get into the river.”
But in another half hour Vincent had to bring the boat’s head up to the wind, lower the lug, and tie down the last reef.
“There, she goes easier now, Dan,” he said, as the boat resumed her course; but Dan, who was leaning helplessly over the side of the boat, could see no difference.
Vincent, however, felt that; under her close sail the boat was doing better, and rising more easily on the waves, which were now higher and farther apart than before. In another hour the whole of the shore-line was visible; but the wind had risen so much that, even under her reduced sail, the boat had as much as she could carry, and often heeled over until her gunwale was nearly under water. Another hour and the shore was but some four miles away, but Vincent felt he could no longer hold on.
In the hands of an experienced sailor, who would have humored the boat and eased her up a little to meet the seas, the entrance to the York River could no doubt have been reached with safety; but Vincent was ignorant of the art of sailing a boat in the sea, and she was shipping water heavily. Dan had for some time been bailing, having only undertaken the work in obedience to Vincent’s angry orders, being too ill to care much what became of them.
“Now, Dan, I am going to bring her head up to the wind, so get ready to throw off that halyard and gather in the sail as it; comes down. That’s right, man; now down with the mast.”
Vincent had read that the best plan when caught in an open boat in a gale, was to tie the oars and mast, if she had one, together, and to throw them overboard with the head rope tied to them, as by that means the boat would ride head to sea. The oars, sculls, mast, and sail were firmly tied together and launched overboard, the rope being first taken off the anchor and tied round the middle of the clump of spars.
Vincent carefully played out the rope till some fifteen yards were over, then he fastened it to the ring of the head rope, and had the satisfaction of finding that the boat rode easily to the floating anchor, rising lightly over the waves, and not shipping a drop of water. He then took the bailer and got rid of the water that had found its way on board, Dan, after getting down the sail, having collapsed utterly.
“Now, Dan, sit up; there, man, the motion is much easier now, and we are taking no water on board. I will give you a glass of rum, that will put new strength into you. It’s lucky we put it in the basket in case of emergency.”
The negro, whose teeth were chattering from cold, fright, and exhaustion, eagerly drank off the spirit. Vincent, who was wet to the skin with the spray, took a little himself, and then settled himself as comfortably as he could on the floor-boards in the stern of the boat, and quietly thought out the position. The wind was still rising, and a thick haze obscured the land. He had no doubt that by night it would be blowing a gale; but the boat rode so easily and lightly that he believed she would get through it.
They might, it was true, be blown many miles off the shore, and not be able to get back for some time, for the gale might last two or three days. The basket of provisions was, however, a large one. Dan had received orders to bring plenty and had obeyed them literally, and Vincent saw that the supply of food, if carefully husbanded, would last; without difficulty for a week. The supply of liquor was less satisfactory. There was the bottle of rum, two bottles of claret, and a two-gallon jar, nearly half empty, of water. The cold tea was finished.
“That would be a poor supply for a week for two of us,” Vincent; muttered, as he removed the contents of the basket and stored them carefully in the locker; “however, if it’s going to be a gale there is sure to be some rain with it, so I think we shall manage very well.”
By night it was blowing really heavily, but although the waves were high the boat shipped but little water. Dan had fallen off to sleep, and Vincent had been glad to wrap himself in the thick coat he had brought with him as a protection against the heavy dews when sleeping on the river. At times sharp rain squalls burst upon them, and Vincent had no difficulty in filling up the water-bottle again with the bailer.
The water was rather brackish, but not sufficiently so to be of consequence. All night the boat was tossed heavily on the waves. Vincent dozed off at times, rousing himself occasionally and bailing out the water, which came in the shape of spray and rain. The prospect in the morning was not cheering. Gray clouds covered the sky and seemed to come down almost on to the water, the angry sea was crested with white heads, and it seemed to Vincent wonderful that the boat should live in such a sea.
“Now, Dan, wake yourself up and get some breakfast,” Vincent said, stirring up the negro with his foot.
“Oh Lor’!” Dan groaned, raising himself into a sitting position from the bottom of the boat, “dis am awful; we neber see the shore no more, massa.”
“Nonsense, man,” Vincent said cheerily; “we are getting on capitally.”
“It hab been an awful night, sah.”
“An awful night! You lazy rascal, you slept like a pig all night, while I have been bailing the boat and looking out for you. It is your turn now, I can tell you. Well, do you feel ready for your breakfast?”
Dan, after a moment’s consideration, declared that he was. The feeling of seasickness had passed off, and except that he was wet through and miserable, he felt himself again, and could have eaten four times the allowance of food that Vincent handed him. A pannikin of rum and water did much to restore his life and vitality, and he was soon, with the light-heartedness of his race, laughing and chatting cheerfully.
“How long dis go on, you tink, sah?”
“Not long, I hope, Dan. I was afraid last night it was going to be a big gale, but I do not think it is blowing so hard now as it was in the night.”
“Where have we get to now, sah?”
“I don’t exactly know, Dan; but I do not suppose that we are very many miles away from shore. The mast and oars prevent our drifting fast, and I don’t think we are further off now than we were when we left that ship yesterday. But even if we were four or five times as far as that, we should not take very long in sailing back again when the wind drops, and as we have got enough to eat for a week we need not be uncomfortable about that.”
“Not much food for a week, Massa Vincent.”
“Not a very great deal, Dan; but quite enough to keep us going. You can make up for lost time when you get to shore again.”
In a few hours it was certain that the wind was going down. By midday the clouds began to break up, and an hour later the sun was shining brightly. The wind was still blowing strongly, but the sea had a very different appearance in the bright light of the sun to that which it had borne under the canopy of dark gray clouds. Standing up in the boat two hours later, Vincent could see no signs of land.
“How shall we find our way back, Massa Vincent?”
“We have got a compass; besides, we should manage very well even if we had not. Look at the sun, Dan. There it is right ahead of us. So, you know, that’s the west–that’s the way we have to go.”
“That very useful ob de sun, sah; but suppose we not live in de west de sun not point de way den.”
“Oh, yes, he would, just the same, Dan. We should know whether to go away from him, or to keep him on the right hand or on the left.”
This was beyond Dan. “And I s’pose the moon will show de way at night, massa?”
“The moon would show the way if she were up, but she is not always up; but I have got a compass here, and so whether we have the sun or the moon, or neither of them, I can find my way back to land.”
Dan had never seen a compass, and for an hour amused himself turning it round and round and trying to get it to point in some other direction than the north.
“Now, Dan,” Vincent said at last, “give me that compass, and get out the food. We will have a better meal than we did this morning, for now that the wind is going down there’s no chance of food running short. When we have had dinner we will get up the sail again. The sea is not so rough as it was, and it is certainly not so high as it was before we lowered the sail yesterday.”
“De waves berry big, massa.”
“They are big, Dan; but they are not so angry. The heads are not breaking over as they did last night, and the boat will go better over those long waves than she did through the choppy sea at the beginning of the gale.”
Accordingly the bundle of spars was pulled up alongside and lifted. The mast was set up and the sail hoisted. Dan in a few minutes forgot his fears and lost even his sense of uneasiness as he found the boat mounted wave after wave without shipping water. Several times, indeed, a shower of spray flew high up in the air, but the gusts no longer buried her so that the water came over the gunwale, and it was a long time before there was any occasion to use the bailer. As the sun set it could be seen that there was a dark line between it and the water.
“There is the land, Dan; and I do not suppose it is more than twenty miles away, for most of the coast lies low.”
“But how we find de York River, massa? Will de compass tell you dat?”
“No, Dan. I don’t know whether we have drifted north or south of it. At ordinary times the current runs up the coast, but the wind this morning was blowing from the north of west, and may have been doing so all through the night for anything I know. Well, the great thing is to make land. We are almost sure to come across some fishing-boats, but, if not, we must run ashore and find a house.”
They continued sailing until Vincent’s watch told him it was twelve o’clock, by which time the coast was quite close. The wind now almost dropped, and, lowering their sail, they rowed in until, on lowering the anchor, they found that it touched the ground. Then they lay down and slept till morning. Dan was the first to waken.
“Dar are some houses dere close down by the shore, sah, and some men getting out a boat.”
“That’s all right, Dan,” Vincent said as he roused himself and looked over. “We shall learn soon where we are.”
In a quarter of an hour the fishing-boat put off, and the lads at once rowed to it.
“How far are we from the mouth of the York River?” Vincent asked the two negroes on board.
“About twenty miles, sah. Where you come from?”
“We were off the month of the river, and were blown off in the gale.”
“You tink yourself berry lucky you get back,” one of them said. “Berry foolish to go out like dat when not know how to get back.”
“Well, we have managed to get back now, you see, and none the worse for it. Now, Dan, up with the sail again.”
There was a light wind off shore, and all the reefs being shaken out the boat ran along fast.
“I should think we are going about five miles an hour, Dan. We ought to be off the mouth of the river in four hours. We must look out sharp or else we shall pass it, for many of these islets look just like the mouth of the river. However, we are pretty sure to pass several fishing-boats on our way, and we shall be able to inquire from them.”
There was no need, however, to do this. It was just the four hours from the time of starting when they saw some eight or ten fishing-boats ahead of them.
“I expect that that is the entrance to the river. When we get half a mile further we shall see it open.”
On approaching the fishing-boats they recognized at once the appearance of the shore, as they had noticed it when fishing there before, and were soon in the entrance to the river.
“It will be high tide in about two hours,” Vincent said, “according to the time it was the other day. I am afraid when it turns we shall have to get down our sails; there will be no beating against both wind and tide. Then we must get out oars and row. There is very little tide close in by the bank, and every little gain will be a help. We have been out four days. It is Thursday now, and they will be beginning to get very anxious at home, so we must do our best to get back.”
Keeping close under the bank, they rowed steadily, making on an average about two miles an hour. After five hours’ rowing they tied up to the bank, had a meal, and rested until tide turned; then they again hoisted their sail and proceeded on their way. Tide carried them just up to the junction of the two rivers, and landing at Cumberland they procured beds and slept till morning.
Another long day’s work took them up to the plantation of Mr. Furniss, and fastening up the boat, and carrying the sails and oars on shore, they started on their walk home.
“Why, Vincent, where on earth have you been all this time?” Mrs. Wingfield said as her son entered. “You said you might be away a couple of nights; and we expected you back on Wednesday at the latest, and now it is Friday evening.”
“Well, mother, we have had great fun. We went sailing about right down to the mouth of the York River. I did not calculate that it would take me more than twice as long to get back as to get down; but as the wind blew right down the river it was precious slow work, and we had to row all the way. However, it has been a jolly trip, and I feel a lot better for it.”
“You don’t look any better for it,” Annie said. “The skin is all off your face, and you are as red as fire. Your clothes look shrunk as well as horribly dirty. You are quite an object, Vincent.”
“We got caught in a heavy gale,” Vincent said, “and got a thorough ducking. As to my face, a day or two will set it all to rights again; and so they will my hands, I hope, for I have got nicely blistered tugging at those oars. And now, mother, I want some supper, for I am as hungry as a hunter. I told Dan to go into the kitchen and get a good square meal.”
The next morning, just after breakfast, there was the sound of horses’ hoofs outside the house, and, looking out, Vincent saw Mr. Jackson, with a man he knew to be the sheriff, and four or five others. A minute later one of the servants came in, and said that the sheriff wished to speak to Mrs. Wingfield.
“I will go out to him,” Mrs. Wingfield replied. Vincent followed her to the door.
“Mrs. Wingfield,” the sheriff said, “I am the holder of a warrant; to search your slave-huts and grounds for a runaway negro named Anthony Moore, the property of Mr. Jackson here.”
“Do you suppose, sir,” Mrs. Wingfield asked angrily, “that I am the sort of person to give shelter to runaway slaves?”
“No, madam, certainly not,” the sheriff replied; “no one would suppose for a moment that Mrs. Wingfield of the Orangery would have anything to do with a runaway, but Mr. Jackson here learned only yesterday that the wife of this slave was here, and every one knows that where the wife is the husband is not likely to be far off.”
“I suppose, sir,” Mrs. Wingfield said coldly, “that there was no necessity for me to acquaint Mr. Jackson formerly with the fact that I had purchased through my agent the woman he sold to separate her from her husband.”
“By no means, madam, by no means; though, had we known it before, it might have been some aid to us in our search. Have we your permission to see this woman and to question her?”
“Certainly not,” Mrs. Wingfield said; “but if you have any question to ask I will ask her and give you her answer.”
“We want to know whether she has seen her husband since the day of his flight from the plantation?”
“I shall certainly not ask her that question, Mr. Sheriff. I have no doubt that, as the place from which he has escaped is only a few miles from here, he did come to see his wife. It would have been very strange if he did not. I hope that by this time the man is hundreds of miles away. He was brutally treated by a brutal master, who, I believe, deliberately set to work to make him run away, so that he could hunt him down and punish him. I presume, sir, you do not wish to search this house, and you do not suppose that the man is hidden here. As to the slave-huts and the plantation, you can, of course, search them thoroughly; but as it is now more than a fortnight since the man escaped, it is not likely you will find him hiding within a few miles of his master’s plantation.”
So saying she went into the house and shut the door behind her.
Mr. Jackson ground his teeth with rage, but the sheriff rode off toward the slave-huts without a word. The position of Mrs. Wingfield of the Orangery, connected as she was with half the old families of Virginia, and herself a large slave-owner, was beyond suspicion, and no one would venture to suggest that such a lady could have the smallest sympathy for a runaway slave.
“She was down upon you pretty hot, Mr. Jackson,” the sheriff said as they rode off. “You don’t seem to be in her good books.” Jackson muttered an imprecation.
“It is certainly odd,” the sheriff went on, “after what you were telling me about her son pitching into Andrew over flogging this very slave, that she should go and buy his wife. Still, that’s a very different thing from hiding a runaway. I dare say that, as she says, the fellow came here to see his wife when he first ran away; but I don’t think you will find him anywhere about here now. It’s pretty certain from what we hear that he hasn’t made for the North, and where the fellow can be hiding I can’t think. Still the woods about this country are mighty big, and the fellow can go out on to the farms and pick corn and keep himself going for a long time. Still, he’s sure to be brought up sooner or later.”
A thorough search was made of the slave-huts, and the slaves were closely questioned, but all denied any knowledge of the runaway. Dan escaped questioning, as he had taken up Vincent’s horse to the house in readiness for him to start as soon as he had finished breakfast.
All day the searchers rode about the plantation examining every clump of bushes, and assuring themselves that none of them had been used as a place of refuge for the runaway.
“It’s no good, Mr. Jackson,” the sheriff said at last. “The man may have been here; he ain’t here now. The only place we haven’t; searched is the house, and you may be quite sure the slaves dare not conceal him there. Too many would get to know it. No, sir, he’s made a bolt of it, and you will have to wait now till he is caught by chance, or shot by some farmer or other in the act of stealing.”
“I would lay a thousand dollars,” Andrew Jackson exclaimed passionately, “that young Wingfield knows something about his whereabouts, and has lent him a hand!”
“Well, I should advise you to keep your mouth shut about it till you get some positive proof,” the sheriff said dryly. “I tell you it’s no joke to accuse a member of a family like the Wingfields of helping runaway slaves to escape.”
“I will bide my time,” the planter said. “You said that some day you would lay hands on Tony dead or alive. You see if some day I don’t lay hands on young Wingfield.”
“Well, it seems, Mr. Jackson,” the sheriff remarked with a sneer, for he was out of temper at the ill success of the day’s work, “that he has already laid hands on your son. It seems to me quite as likely that he will lay hands on you as you on him.”
Two days afterward as Vincent was riding through the streets of Richmond he saw to his surprise Andrew Jackson in close conversation with Jonas Pearson.
“I wonder what those two fellows are talking about?” he said to himself. “I expect Jackson is trying to pump Pearson as to the doings at the Orangery. I don’t like that fellow, and never shall, and he is just the sort of man to do one a bad turn if he had the chance. However, as I have never spoken to him about that affair from beginning to end, I don’t see that he can do any mischief if he wants to.”
Andrew Jackson, however, had obtained information which he considered valuable. He learned that Vincent had been away in a boat for five days, and that his mother had been very uneasy about him. He also learned that the boat was one belonging to Mr. Furniss, and that it was only quite lately that Vincent had taken to going out sailing.
After considerable trouble he succeeded in getting at one of the slaves upon Mr. Furniss’ plantation. But he could only learn from him that Vincent had been unaccompanied when he went out in the boat either by young Furniss or by any of the plantation hands; that he had taken with him only his own slave, and had come and gone as he chose, taking out and fastening up the boat himself, so that no one could say when he had gone out, except that his horse was put up at the stables. The slave said that certainly the horse had only stood there on two or three occasions, and then only for a few hours, and that unless Mr. Wingfield had walked over he could never have had the boat out all night, as the horse certainly had not stood all night in the stables.
Andrew Jackson talked the matter over with his son, and both agreed that Vincent’s conduct was suspicious His own people said he had been away for five days in the boat. The people at Furniss’ knew nothing about this, and therefore there must be some mystery about it, and they doubted not that that mystery was connected with the runaway slave, and they guessed that he had either taken Tony and landed him near the mouth of the York River on the northern shore, or that he had put him on board a ship. They agreed, however, that whatever their suspicious, they had not sufficient grounds for openly accusing Vincent of aiding their runaway.
CHAPTER V. SECESSION.
While Vincent had been occupied with the affairs of Tony and his wife, public events had moved forward rapidly. The South Carolina Convention met in the third week in December, and on the 20th of that month the Ordinance of Secession was passed. On the 10th of January, three days after Vincent returned home from his expedition, Florida followed the example of South Carolina and seceded. Alabama and Mississippi passed the Ordinance of Secession on the following day; Georgia on the 18th, Louisiana on the 23d, and Texas on the 1st of February.
In all these States the Ordinance of Session was received with great rejoicing: bonfires were lit, the towns illuminated, and the militia paraded the streets, and in many cases the Federal arsenals were seized and the Federal forts occupied by the State troops. In the meantime the Northern Slave States, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, remained irresolute. The general feeling was strongly in favor of their Southern brethren; but they were anxious for peace, and for a compromise being arrived at. Whether the North would agree to admit the constitutional rights of secession, or whether it would use force to compel the Seceding States to remain in the Union, was still uncertain; but the idea of a civil war was so terrible a one that the general belief was that some arrangement to allow the States to go their own way would probably be arrived at.
For the time the idea of Vincent going to West Point was abandoned. Among his acquaintances were several young men who were already at West Point, and very few of these returned to the academy. The feeling there was very strongly on the side of secession. A great majority of the students came from the Southern States, as while the sons of the Northern men went principally into trade and commerce, the Southern planters sent their sons into the army, and a great proportion of the officers of the army and navy were Southerners.
As the professors at West Point were all military men, the feeling among them, as well as among the students, was in favor of State rights; they considering that, according to the constitution, their allegiance was due first to the States of which they were natives, and in the second place to the Union. Thus, then, many of the professors who were natives of the seven States which had seceded resigned their appointments, and returned home to occupy themselves in drilling the militia and the levies, who were at once called to arms.
Still all hoped that peace would be preserved, until on the 11th of April General Beauregard, who commanded the troops of South Carolina, summoned Major Anderson, who was in command of the Federal troops in Fort Sumter, to surrender, and on his refusal opened fire upon the fort on the following day.
On the 13th, the barracks of the fort being set on fire, and Major Anderson seeing the hopelessness of a prolonged resistance, surrendered. The effect of the news throughout the United States was tremendous, and Mr. Lincoln at once called out 75,000 men of the militia of the various States to put down the rebellion–the border States being ordered to send their proportion. This brought matters to a climax. Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri all refused to furnish contingents to act against the Southern States; and Virginia, North Carolina, and Kansas a few days later passed Ordinances of Secession and joined the Southern States. Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware were divided in their counsels.
The struggle that was about to commence was an uneven one. The white population of the Seceding States was about 8,000,000; while that the Northern States were 19,614,885. The North possessed an immense advantage, inasmuch as they retained the whole of the Federal navy, and were thereby enabled at once to cut off all communication between the Southern States and Europe, while they themselves could draw unlimited supplies of munitions of war of all kinds from across the Atlantic.
Although the people of Virginia had hoped to the last that some peaceful arrangement might be effected, the Act of Secession was received with enthusiasm. The demand of Mr. Lincoln that they should furnish troops to crush their Southern brethren excited the liveliest indignation, and Virginia felt that there was no course open to her now but to throw in her lot with the other Slaves States. Her militia was at once called out, and volunteers called for to form a provisional army to protect the State from invasion by the North.
The appeal was answered with enthusiasm; men of all ages took up arms; the wealthy raised regiments at their own expense, generally handing over the commands to experienced army officers, and themselves taking their places in the ranks; thousand of lads of from fifteen to sixteen years of age enrolled themselves, and men who had never done a day’s work in their life prepared to suffer all the hardships of the campaign as private soldiers.
Mrs. Wingfield was an enthusiastic supporter of State rights; and when Vincent told her that numbers of his friends were going to enroll themselves as soon as the lists were opened, she offered no objection to his doing the same.
“Of course you are very young, Vincent; but no one thinks there will be any serious fighting. Now that Virginia and the other four States have cast in their lot with the seven that have seceded, the North can never hope to force the solid South back into the Union. Still it is right you should join. I certainly should not like an old Virginian family like ours to be unrepresented; but I should prefer your joining one of the mounted corps.
“In the first place it will be much less fatiguing than carrying a heavy rifle and knapsack; and in the second place, the cavalry will for the most part be gentlemen. I was speaking only yesterday when I went into Richmond to Mr. Ashley, who is raising a corps. He is one of the best riders in the country, and a splendid specimen of a Virginian gentleman. He tells me that he has already received a large number of applications from young volunteers, and that he thinks he shall be able without any difficulty to get as many as he wants. I said that I had a son who would probably enroll himself, and that I should like to have him in his corps.
“He said that he would be glad to put down your name, and that he had had many applications from lads no older than yourself. He considered that for cavalry work, scouting, and that sort; of thing age mattered little, and that; a lad who was at once a light weight, a good rider, and a good shot was of as much good as a man.”
“Thank you, mother. I will ride into Richmond to-morrow morning and see Ashley. I have often met him at one house or another, and should like to serve under him very much. I should certainly prefer being in the cavalry to the infantry.”
Rosie and Annie, who were of course enthusiastic for the South, were almost as pleased as was Vincent when they heard that their mother had consented to his enrolling himself. So many of the girls of their acquaintance had brothers or cousins who were joining the army, that they would have felt it as something like a slur upon the family name had Vincent remained behind.
On the following morning Vincent rode over and saw Mr. Ashley, who had just; received his commission as major. He was cordially received.
Mrs. Wingfield was speaking to me about you, and I shall be glad to have you with me–the more so as you are a capital rider and a good shot. I shall have a good many in my ranks no older than you are. Did I not hear a few months since that you bought Wildfire? I thought when I heard it; that you would be lucky if you did not get your neck broken in the course of a week. Peters, who owns the next estate to mine, had the horse for about three weeks, and was glad enough to get rid of it for half what he had given for it. He told me the horse was the most savage brute he ever saw. I suppose you did not keep it many days?”
“I have got it still, and mean to ride it with you. The horse was not really savage. It was hot-tempered, and had, I think, been badly treated by its first owner. Who-ever it had belonged to, I found no difficulty with it. It only wanted kindness and a little patience; and as soon as it found that it could not get rid of me, and that I had no intention of ill-treating it, it settled down quietly, after running away a few times and giving me some little trouble at starting. And now I would not change it for any horse in the State.”
“You must he a first-rate rider,” Major Ashley said, “to be able to tame Wildfire. I never saw the horse, for I was away when Peters had him, but from his description it was a perfect savage.”
“Are we allowed to bring a servant with us” Vincent asked.
“Yes, if you like. I know that a good many are going to do so, but you must not make up your mind that you will get much benefit from one. We shall move rapidly, and each man must shift for himself, but at the same time we shall of course often be stationary; and then servants will be useful. At any rate I can see no objection to men having them. We must be prepared to rough it to any extent when it is necessary, but I see no reason why at other times a man should not make himself comfortable. I expect the order to-morrow or next day to begin formally to enroll volunteers. As I have now put down your name there will be no occasion for you to come in then. You will receive a communication telling you when to report yourself.
“I shall not trouble much about uniform at first. High boots and breeches, a thick felt hat that will turn the edge of a sword, and a loose coat-jacket of dark-gray cloth. That is the name of the tailor who has got the pattern, and will make them. So I should advise you to go to him at once, for he will be so busy soon that; there is no saying when the whole troop will get their uniforms.”
Upon his return home Vincent related to his mother and sisters the conversation that he had had with Major Ashley.
“Certainly you had better take a servant with you,” his mother said. “I suppose when you are riding about; you will have to clean your horse, and cook your dinner, and do everything for yourself; but when you are in a town you should have these things done for you. Who would you like to take?
“I should like to take Dan, mother, if you have no objection. He is very strong and active, and I think would generally be able to keep up with us; besides, I know he would always stick to me.”
“You shall have him certainly, Vincent; I will make him over formally to you.”
“Thank you, mother,” Vincent said joyfully; for he had often wished that Dan belonged to him, as he would then be able to prevent any interference with him by the overseer or any one else, and could, if he liked, give him his freedom–although this would, he knew, be of very doubtful advantage to the lad as long as he remained in the South.
The next morning the necessary papers were drawn up, and the ownership of Dan was formally transferred to Vincent. Dan was wild with delight when he heard that Vincent was now his master, and that he was to accompany him to the war. It had been known two days before that Vincent was going, and it seemed quite shocking to the negroes that the young master should go as a private soldier, and have to do everything for himself-“just,” as they said, “like de poor white trash;” for the slaves were proud to belong to an old family, and looked down with almost contempt upon the poorer class of whites, regarding their own position as infinitely superior.
Four days later Vincent received an official letter saying that the corps would be mustered in two days’ time. The next day was spent in a long round of farewell visits, and then Vincent mounted Wildfire, and, with Dan trotting behind, rode off from the Orangery amid a chorus of blessings and good wishes from all the slaves who could on any pretext get away from their duties, and who had assembled in front of the house to see him start.
The place of meeting for the regiment was at Hanover Courthouse–a station on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railway, close to the Pamunkey River, about eighteen miles from the city.
The Orangery was a mile from the village of Gaines, which lay to the northeast of Richmond, and was some twelve miles from Hanover Courthouse.
A month was spent in drill, and at the end of that time the corps were able to execute any simple maneuver. More than this Major Ashley did not care about their learning. The work in which they were about to engage was that of scouts rather than that of regular cavalry, and the requirements were vigilance and attention to orders, good shooting and a quick eye. Off duty there was but little discipline. Almost the whole of the men were in a good position in life, and many of them very wealthy; and while strict discipline and obedience were expected while on duty, at all other times something like equality existed between officers and men, and all were free to live as they chose.
The rations served out were simple and often scanty, for at present the various departments were not properly organized, and such numbers of men were flocking to the standards that the authorities were at their wit’s end to provide them with even the simplest food. This mattered but little, however, to the regiment, whose members were all ready and willing to pay for everything they wanted, and the country people round found a ready market for all their chickens, eggs, fruit, and vegetables at Hanover Courthouse, for here there were also several infantry regiments, and the normally quiet little village was a scene of bustle and confusion.
The arms of the cavalry were of a very varied description. Not more than a dozen had swords; the rest were armed with rifles or shot-guns, with the barrels cut short to enable them to be carried as carbines. Many of them were armed with revolvers, and some carried pistols so antiquated that they might have been used in the revolutionary war. A certain number of tents had been issued for the use of the corps. These, however, were altogether insufficient for the numbers, and most of the men preferred to sleep in shelters composed of canvas, carpets, blankets, or any other material that came to hand, or in arbors constructed of the boughs of trees, for it was now April and warm enough to sleep in the open air.
In the third week in May the order came that the corps was to march at once for Harper’s Ferry–an important position at the point where the Shenandoah River runs into the Potomac, at the mouth of the Shenandoah Valley. The order was received with the greatest satisfaction. The Federal forces were gathering rapidly upon the northern banks of the Potomac, and it was believed that, while the main army would march down from Washington through Manassas Junction direct upon Richmond, another would enter by the Shenandoah Valley, and, crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains, come down on the rear of the Confederate army, facing the main force at Manassas. The cavalry marched by road, while the infantry were despatched by rail as far as Manassas Junction, whence they marched to Harper’s Ferry. The black servants accompanied the infantry.
The cavalry march was a pleasant one. At every village through which they passed the people flocked out with offerings of milk and fruit. The days were hot, but the mornings and evenings delightful; and as the troops always halted in the shade of a wood for three or four hours in the middle of the day, the marches although long were not fatiguing. At Harper’s Ferry General Johnston had just superseded Colonel Jackson in command. The force there consisted of 11 battalions of infantry, 16 guns, and after Ashley’s force arrived, 300 cavalry. Among the regiments there Vincent found many friends, and learned what was going on.
He learned that Colonel Jackson had been keeping them hard at work. Some of Vincent’s friends had been at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, where Jackson was professor of natural philosophy and instructor of artillery.
“He was the greatest fun,” one of the young men said; “the stiffest and most awkward-looking fellow in the institute. He used to walk about as if he never saw anything or anybody. He was always known as Old Tom, and nobody ever saw him laugh. He was awfully earnest in all he did, and strict, I can tell you, about everything. There was no humbugging him. The fellows liked him because he was really so earnest about everything, and always just and fair. But he didn’t look a bit like a soldier except as to his stiffness, and when the fellows who had been at Lexington heard that he was in command here they did not think he would have made much hand at it; but I tell you, he did. You never saw such a fellow to work.
“Everything had to be done, you know. There were the guns, but no horses and no harness. The horses had to be got somehow, and the harness manufactured out of ropes; and you can imagine the confusion of nine battalions of infantry, all recruits, with no one to teach them except a score or two of old army and militia officers. Old Tom has done wonders, I can tell you. You see, he is so fearfully earnest himself every one else has got to be earnest. There has been no playing about anything, but just fifteen hours’ hard work a day. Fellows grumbled and growled and said it was absurd, and threatened to do all sorts of things. You see, they had all come out to fight if necessary, but hadn’t bargained for such hard work as this.
“However, Jackson had his way, and I don’t suppose any one ever told him the men thought they were too hard worked. He is not the sort of man one would care about remonstrating with. I don’t know yet whether he is as good at fighting as he is at working and organizing; but I rather expect a fellow who is so earnest about everything else is sure to be earnest about fighting, and I fancy that when he once gets into the thick of it he will go through with it. He had such a reputation as an oddity at Lexington that there were a lot of remarks when he was made colonel and sent here; but there is no doubt that he has proved himself the right man so far, and although his men may grumble they believe in him.
“My regiment is in his brigade, and I will bet any money that we have our share of fighting. What sort of man is Johnston? He is a fine fellow–a soldier, heart and soul. You could tell him anywhere, and we have a first-rate fellow in command of the cavalry–Colonel Stuart–a splendid dashing fellow, full of life and go. His fellows swear by him. I quite envy you, for I expect you will astonish the Yankee horsemen. They are no great riders up there, you know, and I expect the first time you meet them you will astonish them.”
Here he suddenly stopped, stood at attention, and saluted.
Vincent at once did the same, although, had he not been set the example by his friend, he would never have thought of doing so to the figure who passed.
“Who is it?” he asked, as his companion resumed his easy attitude.
“Why, that’s Old Tom.”
“What! Colonel Jackson!” Vincent said in surprise. “Well, he is an odd-looking fellow.”
The figure that had passed was that of a tall, gaunt man, leaning awkwardly forward in his saddle. He wore an old gray coat, and there was no sign of rank, nor particle of gold lace upon the uniform. He wore on his head a faded cadet cap, with the rim coming down so far upon his nose that he could only look sideways from under it. He seemed to pay but little attention to what was going on around him, and did not enter into conversation with any of the officers he met.
The brigade commanded by Jackson was the first of the army of the Shenandoah, and consisted of the 2d, 4th, 5th, and 27th Virginians, to which was shortly afterward added the 33d. They were composed of men of all ranks and ages, among them being a great number of lads from fifteen and upward; for every school had been deserted. Every boy capable of carrying a musket had insisted upon joining, and among them were a whole company of cadets from Lexington. The regiments selected their own officers, and among these were many who were still lads. Many of the regiments had no accouterments, and were without uniforms, and numbers carried no better arms than a double-barreled shot-gun; but all were animated with the same spirit of enthusiasm in their cause, and a determination to die rather than to allow the invaders to pass on through the fertile valleys of their native land.
Of all these valleys that of Shenandoah was the richest and most beautiful. It was called the Garden of Virginia; and all writers agreed in their praises of the beauties of its fields and forests, mountains and rivers, its delicious climate, and the general prosperity which prevailed among its population.
It was a pleasant evening that Ashley’s horse spent at Harper’s Ferry on the day they marched in. All had many friends among the other Virginian regiments, and their camp-fires were the center toward which men trooped by scores. The rest was pleasant after their hard marches; and, although ready to do their own work when necessary, they appreciated the advantage of having their servants again with them to groom their horses and cook their food.
The negroes were not less glad at being again with their masters. Almost all were men who had, like Dan, been brought up with their young owners, and felt for them a strong personal attachment, and, if it had been allowed, would gladly have followed them in the field of battle, and fought by their side against the “Yankees.” Their stay at Harper’s Ferry was to be a short one. Colonel Stuart, with his 200 horse, was scouting along the whole bank of the Potomac, watching every movement of the enemy, and Ashley’s horse was to join them at once.
It was not difficult for even young soldiers to form an idea of the general nature of the operations. They had to protect the Shenandoah Valley, to guard the five great roads by which the enemy would advance against Winchester, and not only to save the loyal inhabitants and rich resources of the valley from falling into the hands of the Federals, but what was of even greater importance, to prevent the latter from marching across the Blue Ridge Mountains, and falling upon the flank of the main Confederate army at Manassas.
The position was a difficult one, for while “the grand army” was assembling at Alexandria to advance against Manassas Junction, McClellan was advancing from the northwest with 20,000 men, and Patterson from Pennsylvania with 18,000.
In the morning before parading his troop, 100 strong, Ashley called them together and told them that, as they would now be constantly on the move and scattered over a long line, it was impossible that they could take their servants with them.
“I should never have allowed them to be brought,” he said, “had I known that we should be scouting over such an extensive country; at the same time, if we can manage to take a few on it would certainly add to our comfort. I propose that we choose ten by lot to go on with us. They must be servants of the troop and not of individuals. We can scatter them in pairs at fire points, with instructions to forage as well as they can, and to have things in readiness to cook for whoever may come in off duty or may for the time be posted there. Henceforth every man must groom and see to his own horse, but I see no reason, military or otherwise, why we shouldn’t get our food cooked for us; and it will be just as well, as long as we can, to have a few bundles of straw for us to lie on instead of sleeping on the ground.
“Another ten men we can also choose by lot to go to Winchester; which is, I imagine, the point we shall move to if the enemy advance, as I fancy they will, from the other side of the Shenandoah Valley. The rest must be sent home.”
Each man accordingly wrote his name on a piece of paper, and placed them in a haversack. Ten were then drawn out; and their servants were to accompany the troop at once. The servants of the next ten were to proceed by train to Winchester, while the slaves of all whose names remained in the bag were to be sent home at once, provided with passes permitting them to travel. To Vincent’s satisfaction his name was one of the first ten drawn, and Dan was therefore to go forward. The greater part of the men evaded the obligation to send their servants back to Richmond by despatching them to friends who had estates in the Shenandoah Valley, with letters asking them to keep the men for them until the troop happened to come into their neighborhood.
At six o’clock in the morning the troop mounted and rode to Bath, thirty miles away. It was here that Stuart had his headquarters, whence he sent out his patrols up and down the Potomac, between Harper’s Ferry on the east and Cumberland on the west. Stuart was away when they arrived, but he rode in a few hours afterward.
“Ah! Ashley, I am glad you have arrived,” he said, as he rode up to the troop, who had hastily mounted as he was seen approaching. “There is plenty for you to do, I can tell you; and I only wish that you had brought a thousand men instead of a hundred. I am heartily glad to see you all, gentlemen,” he said to the troop. “I am afraid just at first that the brightness of your gray jackets will put my men rather to shame; but we shall soon get rid of that. But dismount your men, Ashley; there is plenty for them and their horses to do without wasting time in parade work. There is very little of that here, I can tell you. I have not seen a score of my men together for the last month.”
Vincent gazed with admiration at the young leader, whose name was soon to be celebrated throughout America and Europe. The young Virginian–for he was not yet twenty-eight years old–was the beau ideal of a cavalry officer. He was singularly handsome, and possessed great personal strength and a constitution which enabled him to bear all hardships. He possessed unfailing good spirits, and had a joke and laugh for all he met; and while on the march at the head of his regiment he was always ready to lift up his voice and lead the songs with which the men made the woods resound.
He seemed to live in his saddle, and was present at all hours of the night and day along the line he guarded seeing that the men were watchful and on the alert, instructing the outposts in their duty, and infusing his own spirit and vigilance among them. He had been educated at West Point, and had seen much service with the cavalry against the Indians in the West. Such was the man who was to become the most famous cavalry leader of his time. So far he had not come in contact with the enemy, and his duties were confined to obtaining information regarding their strength and intentions, to watching every road by which they could advance, and to seeing that none passed north to carry information to the enemy as to the Confederate strength and positions, for even in the Shenandoah Valley there were some whose sympathies were with the Federals.
These were principally Northern men settled as traders in the towns, and it was important to prevent them from sending any news to the enemy. So well did Stuart’s cavalry perform this service, and so general was the hostility of the population against the North, that throughout the whole of the war in Virginia it was very seldom that the Northern generals could obtain any trustworthy information as to the movements and strength of the Confederates, while the latter were perfectly informed of every detail connected with the intentions of the invaders.
The next morning Ashley’s troop took up their share of the work at the front. They were broken up into parties of ten, each of which was stationed at a village near the river, five men being on duty night and day. As it happened that none of the other men in his squad had a servant at the front, Vincent was able without difficulty to have Dan assigned to his party. A house in the village was placed at their disposal, and here the five off duty slept and took their meals while the others were in the saddle. Dan was quite in his element, and turned out an excellent cook, and was soon a general favorite among the mess.
CHAPTER VI. BULL RUN.
The next fortnight passed by without adventure. Hard as the work was, Vincent enjoyed it thoroughly. When on duty by day he was constantly on the move, riding through the forest, following country lanes, questioning every one he came across; and as the men always worked in pairs, there was no feeling of loneliness. Sometimes Ashley would draw together a score of troopers, and crossing the river in a ferryboat, would ride twenty miles north, and, dashing into quiet villages, astonish the inhabitants by the sight of the Confederate uniform. Then the villagers would be questioned as to the news that had reached them of the movement of the troops; the post office would be seized and the letters broken open; any useful information contained in them being noted. But in general questions were readily answered; for a considerable portion of the people of Maryland were strongly in favor of the South, and were only prevented from joining it by the strong force that held possession of Baltimore, and by the constant movement of Federal armies through the State. Vincent was often employed in carrying despatches from Major Ashley to Stuart, being selected for that duty as being the best mounted man in the troop. The direction was always a vague one. “Take this letter to Colonel Stuart, wherever he may be,” and however early he started, Vincent thought himself fortunate if he carried out his mission before sunset; for Stuart’s front covered over fifty miles of ground, and there was no saying where he might be. Sometimes after riding thirty or forty miles, and getting occasional news that Stuart had passed through ahead of him, he would learn from some outpost that the colonel had been there but ten minutes before, and had ridden off before he came, and then Vincent had to turn his horse and gallop back again, seldom succeeding in overtaking his active commander until the latter had halted for his supper at one or other of the villages where his men were stationed. Sometimes by good luck he came upon him earlier, and then, after reading the despatch, Stuart would, if he were riding in the direction where Ashley’s command lay, bid him ride on with him, and would chat with him on terms of friendly intimacy about people they both knew at Richmond, or as to the details of his work, and sometimes they would sit down together under the shade of some trees, take out the contents of their haversacks, and share their dinners.
“This is the second time I have had the best of this,” the colonel laughed one day; “my beef is as hard as leather, and this cold chicken of yours is as plump and tender as one could wish to eat.”
“I have my own boy, colonel, who looks after the ten of us stationed at Elmside, and I fancy that in the matter of cold rations he gives me an undue preference. He always hands me my haversack when I mount with a grin, and I quite understand that it is better I should ask no questions as to its contents.”
“You are a lucky fellow,” Stuart said. “My own servant is a good man, and would do anything for me; but my irregular hours are too much for him. He never knows when to expect me; and as he often finds that when I do return I have made a meal an hour before at one of the outposts, and do not want the food he has for hours been carefully keeping hot for me, it drives him almost to despair, and I have sometimes been obliged to eat rather than disappoint him. But he certainly has not a genius for cooking, and were it not that this riding gives one the appetite of a hunter, I should often have a good deal of difficulty in devouring the meat he puts into my haversack.”
But the enemy were now really advancing, and on the 12th of June a trooper rode in from the extreme left, and handed to Vincent a despatch from Colonel Stuart.
“My orders were,” he said, “that, if you were here, you were to carry this on at all speed to General Johnston. If not, some one else was to take it on.”
“Any news?” Vincent asked, as aided by Dan he rapidly saddled Wildfire.
“Yes,” the soldier said; “2,000 of the enemy have advanced up the Western side and have occupied Romney, and they say that all Patterson’s force is on the move.”
“So much the better,” Vincent replied, as he jumped into the saddle. “We have been doing nothing long enough, and the sooner it comes the better.”
It was a fifty-mile ride; but it was done in five hours, and at the end of that time Vincent dismounted in front of General Johnston’s quarters.
“Is the general in?” he asked the sentry at the door.
“No, he is not in; but here he comes,” the soldier replied, and two minutes later the general, accompanied by three or four officers, rode up.
Vincent saluted, and handed him the despatch. The general opened it and glanced at the contents.
“The storm is going to burst at last, gentlemen,” he said to the officers. “Stuart writes me that 2,000 men, supposed to be the advance of McClellan’s army, are at Romney, and that he hears Patterson is also advancing from Chambersburg on Williamsport. His despatch is dated this morning at nine o’clock. He writes from near Cumberland. No time has been lost, for that is eighty miles away, and it is but five o’clock now. How far have you brought this despatch, sir?”
“I have brought it from Elmside, general; twenty miles on the other side of Bath. A trooper brought it in just at midday, with orders for me to carry it on at once.”
“That is good work,” the general said. “You have ridden over fifty miles in five hours. You must be well mounted, sir.”
“I do not think there is a better horse in the State,” Vincent said, patting Wildfire’s neck.
The general called an orderly.
“Let this man picket his horse with those of the staff,” he said, “and see that it has forage at once. Take the man to the orderly’s quarters, and see that he is well cared for.”
Vincent saluted, and, leading Wildfire, followed the orderly. When he had had a meal, he strolled out to see what was going on. Evidently some movement was in contemplation. Officers were riding up or dashing off from the general’s headquarters. Two or three regiments were seen marching down from the plateau on which they were encamped into the town. Bells rang and drums beat, and presently long trains of railway wagons, heavily laden, began to make their way across the bridge. Until next morning the movement continued unceasingly; by that time all the military stores and public property, together with as much private property belonging to inhabitants who had decided to forsake their homes for a time rather than to remain there when the town was occupied by the enemy, as could be carried on in the available wagons, had been taken across the bridge. A party of engineers, who had been all night hard at work, then set fire both to the railway bridge across the river and the public buildings in the town. The main body of troops had moved across in the evening. The rear-guard passed when all was in readiness for the destruction of the bridge.
General Johnston had been preparing for the movement for some time; he had foreseen that the position must be evacuated as soon as the enemy began to advance upon either of his flanks, and a considerable portion of his baggage and military stores had some time previously been sent into the interior of Virginia. The troops, formed up on the high grounds south of the river, looked in silence at the dense volumes of smoke rising. This was the reality of war. Hitherto their military work had been no more than that to which many of them were accustomed when called out with the militia of their State; but the scene of destruction on which they now gazed brought home to them that the struggle was a serious one–that it was war in its stern reality which had now begun.
The troops at once set off on their march, and at night bivouacked in the woods around Charlestown. The next day they pushed across the country and took up a position covering Winchester; and then the enemy, finding that Johnston’s army was in front of them ready to dispute their advance, recrossed the river, and Johnston concentrated his force round Winchester.
Vincent joined his corps on the same afternoon that the infantry marched out from Harper’s Ferry, the general sending him forward with despatches as soon as the troops had got into motion.
“You will find Colonel Stuart in front of the enemy; but more than that I cannot tell you.”
This was quite enough for Vincent, who found the cavalry scouting close to Patterson’s force, prepared to attack the enemy’s cavalry should it advance to reconnoiter the country, and to blow up bridges across streams, fell trees, and take every possible measure to delay the advance of Patterson’s army, in its attempt to push on toward Winchester before the arrival of General Johnston’s force upon the scene.
“I am glad to see you back, Wingfield,” Major Ashley said, as he rode up. “The colonel tells me that in the despatch he got last night from Johnston the general said that Stuart’s information had reached in a remarkably short time, having been carried with great speed by the orderly in charge of the duty. We have scarcely been out of our saddles since you left. However, I think we have been of use, for we have been busy all round the enemy since we arrived here in the afternoon, and I fancy he must think us a good deal stronger than we are. At any rate, he has not pushed his cavalry forward at all; and, as you say Johnston will be up to-morrow afternoon. Winchester is safe anyhow.”
After the Federals had recrossed the river, and Johnston had taken up his position round Winchester, the cavalry returned to their old work of scouting along the Potomac.
On the 20th of June movements of considerable bodies of the enemy were noticed; and Johnston at once despatched Jackson with his brigade to Martinsburg, with orders to send as much of the rolling-stock of the railroad as could be removed to Winchester, to destroy the rest, and to support Stuart’s cavalry when they advanced. A number of locomotives were sent to Winchester along the highroad, drawn by teams of horses. Forty engines and 300 cars were burned or destroyed, and Jackson then advanced and took up his position on the road to Williamsport, the cavalry camp being a little in advance of him. This was pleasant for Vincent, as when off duty he spent his time with his friends and schoolfellows in Jackson’s brigade.
On the 2d of July the scouts rode into camp with the news that a strong force was advancing from Williamsport. Jackson at once advanced with the 5th Virginia Infantry, numbering 380 men and one gun, while Stuart, with 100 cavalry, started to make a circuitous route, and harassed the flank and rear of the enemy. There was no intention on the part of Jackson of fighting a battle, his orders being merely to feel the enemy; whose strength was far too great to be withstood even had he brought his whole brigade into action, for they numbered three brigades of infantry, 500 cavalry, and some artillery.
For some hours the little Confederate force skirmished so boldly that they checked the advance of the enemy, whose general naturally supposed that he had before him the advanced guard of a strong force, and therefore moved forward with great caution. Then the Confederates, being threatened on both flanks by the masses of the Federals, fell back in good order. The loss was very trifling on either side, but the fact that so small a force had for hours checked the advance of an army greatly raised the spirits and confidence of the Confederates. Stuart’s small cavalry force, coming down upon the enemy’s rear, captured a good many prisoners–Colonel Stuart himself capturing forty-four infantry. Riding some distance ahead of his troop to find out the position of the enemy, he came upon a company of Federal infantry sitting down in a field, having no idea whatever that any Confederate force was in the neighborhood. Stuart did not hesitate a moment, but riding up to them shouted the order, “Throw down your arms, or you are all dead men.” Believing themselves surrounded, the Federals threw down their arms, and when the Confederate cavalry came up were marched off as prisoners.
Jackson, on reaching his camp, struck his tents and sent them to the rear, and formed up his whole brigade in order of battle. The Federals, however, instead of attacking, continued their flank movement, and Jackson fell back through Martinsburg and halted for the night a mile beyond the town.
Next day he again retired, and was joined six miles further on by Johnston’s whole force. For four days the little army held its position, prepared to give battle if the enemy advanced; but the Federals, though greatly superior in numbers, remained immovable at Martinsburg, and Johnston, to the great disgust of his troops, retired to Winchester. The soldiers were longing to meet the invaders in battle, but their general had to bear in mind that the force under his command might at any moment be urgently required to join the main Confederate army and aid in opposing the Northern advance upon Richmond.
Stuart’s cavalry kept him constantly informed of the strength of the enemy gathering in his front. Making circuits round Martinsburg, they learned from the farmers what numbers of troops each day came along; and while the Federals knew nothing of the force opposed to them, and believed that it far outnumbered their own, General Johnston knew that Patterson’s force numbered about 22,000 men, while he himself had been joined only by some 3,000 men since he arrived at Winchester.
On the 18th of July a telegram from the government at Richmond announced that the Federal grand army had driven in General Beauregard’s pickets at Manassas, and had begun to advance, and Johnston was directed if possible to hasten to his assistance. A few earthworks had been thrown up at Winchester, and some guns mounted upon them, and the town was left under the protection of the local militia. Stuart’s cavalry was posted in a long line across the country to prevent any news of the movement reaching the enemy. As soon as this was done the infantry, 8,300 strong, marched off. The troops were in high spirits now, for they knew that their long period of inactivity was over, and that, although ignorant when and where, they were on their march to meet the enemy.
They had no wagons or rations, the need for speed was too urgent even to permit of food being cooked. Without a halt they pressed forward steadily, and after two days’ march, exhausted and half famished, they reached the Manassas Gap Railroad. There they were put into trains as fast as these could be prepared, and by noon on the 20th joined Beauregard at Manassas. The cavalry had performed their duty of preventing the news of the movement from reaching the enemy until the infantry were nearly a day’s march away, and then Stuart reassembled his men and followed Johnston. Thus the Confederate plans had been completely successful. Over 30,000 of the enemy, instead of being in line of battle with the main army, were detained before Winchester, while the little Confederate force who had been facing them had reached Beauregard in time to take part in the approaching struggle.
In the North no doubt as to the power of the grand array to make its way to Richmond was entertained. The troops were armed with the best weapons obtainable, the artillery was numerous and excellent, the army was fed with every luxury, and so confident were the men of success that they regarded the whole affair in the light of a great picnic. The grand army numbered 55,000 men, with 9 regiments of cavalry and 49 rifle-guns. To oppose these, the Confederate force, after the arrival of Johnston’s army, numbered 27,833 infantry, 35 smooth-bored guns, and 500 cavalry. Many of the infantry were armed only with shot-guns and old fowling-pieces, and the guns were small and ill-supplied with ammunition. There had been some sharp fighting on the 18th, and the Federal advance across the river of Bull Run had been sharply repulsed; therefore their generals determined, instead of making a direct attack on the 31st against the Confederate position, to take a wide sweep round, cross the river higher up, and falling upon the Confederate left flank, to crumple it up.
All night the Federal troops had marched, and at daybreak on the 21st nearly 40,000 men were in position on the left flank of the Confederates. The latter were not taken by surprise when Stuart’s cavalry brought in news of the Federal movement, and General Beauregard, instead of moving his troops toward the threatened point, sent orders to General Longstreet on the right to cross the river as soon as the battle began, and to fall upon the Federal flank and rear.
Had this movement been carried out, the destruction of the Federal army would have been complete; but by one of those unfortunate accidents which so frequently occur in war and upset the best laid plans, the order in some way never came to hand, and when late in the day the error was discovered it was too late to remedy it.
At eight o’clock in the morning two of the Federal divisions reached the river, and while one of them engaged the Confederate force stationed at the bridge, another crossed the river at a ford. Colonel Evans, who commanded the Confederate forces, which numbered but fifteen companies, left 200 men to continue to hold the bridge, while with 800 he hurried to oppose General Hunter’s division, which had crossed at the ford.
This consisted of 16,000 infantry, with cavalry and artillery, and another division of equal force had crossed at the Red House ford higher up. To check so great a force with this handful of men seemed all but impossible; but Colonel Evans determined to hold his ground to the last, to enable his general to bring up reinforcements. His force consisted of men of South Carolina and Louisiana, and they contested every foot of the ground.
The regiment which formed the advance of the Federals charged, supported by an artillery fire, but was repulsed. As the heavy Federal line advanced, however, the Confederates were slowly but steadily pressed back, until General Bee, with four regiments and a battery of artillery, came up to their assistance. The newcomers threw themselves into the fight with great gallantry, and maintained their ground until almost annihilated by the fire of the enemy, who outnumbered them by five to one. As, fighting desperately, they fell back before Hunter’s division, the Federals who had crossed at Red House Ford suddenly poured down and took them in flank.
Swept by a terrible musketry fire, these troops could no longer resist, and in spite of the efforts of their general, who rode among them imploring them to stand firm until aid arrived, they began to fall back. Neither entreaties nor commands were of avail; the troops had done all that they could, and broken and disheartened they retreated in great confusion. But at this moment, when all seemed lost, a line of glittering bayonets was seen coming over the hill behind, and the general, riding off in haste toward them, found Jackson advancing with the first brigade.
Unmoved by the rush of the fugitives of the brigades of Bee and Evans, Jackson moved steadily forward, and so firm and resolute was their demeanor, that Bee rode after his men, and pointing with his sword to the first brigade, shouted, “Look, there is Jackson standing like a stonewall” The general’s words were repeated, and henceforth the brigade was known as the Stonewall Brigade, and their general by the nickname of Stonewall Jackson, by which he was ever afterward known. The greater part of the fugitives rallied, and took up their position on the right of Jackson, and the Federal forces, who were hurrying forward assured of victory, found themselves confronted suddenly by 2,000 bayonets. After a moment’s pause they pressed forward again, the artillery preparing a way for them by a tremendous fire.
Jackson ordered his men to lie down until the enemy arrived within fifty yards, and then to charge with the bayonet. Just at this moment Generals Johnston and Beauregard arrived on the spot, and at once seeing the desperate nature of the situation, and the whole Federal army pressing forward against a single brigade, they did their best to prepare to meet the storm. First they galloped up and down the disordered lines of Bee, exhorting the men to stand firm; and seizing the colors of the 4th Alabama, Johnston led them forward and formed them up under fire.
Beauregard hurried up some reinforcements and formed them on the left of Jackson, and thus 6,500 infantry and artillery, and Stuart’s two troops of cavalry, stood face to face with more than 20,000 infantry and seven troops of regular cavalry, behind whom at the lower fords were 35,000 men in reserve. While his men were lying down awaiting the attack, Jackson rode backward and forward in front of them as calm and as unconcerned to all appearance as if on the parade ground, and his quiet bravery greatly nerved and encouraged the young troops.
All at once the tremendous artillery fire of the enemy ceased, and their infantry came on in massive lines. The four Confederate guns poured in their fire and then withdrew behind the infantry. When the line came within fifty yards of him, Jackson gave the word, his men sprang to their feet, poured in a heavy volley, and then charged. A wild yell rose from both ranks as they closed, and then they were mingled in a desperate conflict. For a time all was in wild confusion, but the ardor and courage of Jackson’s men prevailed, and they burst through the center of the Federal line.
Immediately Jackson had charged, Beauregard sent forward the rest of the troops, and for a time a tremendous struggle took place along the whole line. Generals Bee and Barlow fell mortally wounded at the head of their troops. General Hampton was wounded, and many of the colonels fell. So numerous were the Federals, that although Jackson had pierced their center, their masses drove back his flanks and threatened to surround him. With voice and example he cheered on his men to hold their ground, and the officers closed up their ranks as they were thinned by the enemy’s fire, and for an hour the struggle continued without marked advantage on either side.
Jackson’s calmness was unshaken even in the excitement of the fight. At one time an officer rode up to him from another portion of the field and exclaimed, “General, I think the day is going against us!” To which Jackson replied in his usual curt manner, “If you think so, sir, you had better not say anything about it.”
The resolute stand of the Confederates enabled General Beauregard to bring up fresh troops, and he at last gave the word to advance.
Jackson’s brigade rushed forward on receiving the order, burst through the Federals with whom they were engaged, and, supported by the reserves, drove the enemy from the plateau. But the Federals, still vastly superior in force, brought up the reserves, and prepared to renew the attack; but 1,700 fresh men of the army of the Shenandoah came upon the field of battle, Smith and Early brought up their division from the river, and the whole Southern line advanced at the charge, drove the enemy down the slopes and on toward the fords.
A panic seized them, and their regiments broke up and took to headlong flight, which soon became an utter rout. Many of them continued their flight for hours, and for a time the Federal army ceased to exist; and had the Confederates advanced, as Jackson desired that they should do, Washington would have fallen into their hands without a blow being struck in its defense.
This, the first great battle of the war, is sometimes known as the battle of Manassas, but more generally as Bull Run.
With the exception of one or two charges, the little body of Confederate horse did not take any part in the battle of Bull Run. Had they been aware of the utter stampede of the Northern troops, they could safely have pressed forward in hot pursuit as far as Washington, but being numerically so inferior to the Federal cavalry, and in ignorance that the Northern infantry had become a mere panic-stricken mob, it would have been imprudent in the extreme for such a handful of cavalry to undertake the pursuit of an army.
Many of the Confederates were of opinion that this decisive victory would be the end of the war, and that the North, seeing that the South was able as well as willing to defend the position it had taken up, would abandon the idea of coercing it into submission. This hope was speedily dissipated. The North was indeed alike astonished and disappointed at the defeat of their army by a greatly inferior force, but instead of abandoning the struggle, they set to work to retrieve the disaster, and to place in the field a force which would, they believed, prove irresistible.
Vincent Wingfield saw but little of the battle at Bull Run. As they were impatiently waiting the order to charge while the desperate conflict between Jackson’s brigade and the enemy was at its fiercest, a shell from one of the Federal batteries burst a few yards in front of the troop, and one of the pieces striking Vincent on the side hurled him insensible from his horse. He was at once lifted and carried by Dan and some of the other men-servants, who had been told off for this duty, to the rear, where the surgeons were busily engaged in dressing the wounds of the men who straggled back from the front. While the conflict lasted those unable to walk lay where they fell, for no provision had at present been made for ambulance corps, and not a single man capable of firing a musket could be spared from the ranks. The tears were flowing copiously down Dan’s cheeks as he stood by while the surgeons examined Vincent’s wound.
“Is he dead, sah?” he sobbed as they lifted him up from his stooping position.
“Dead.” the surgeon repeated. “Can’t you see he is breathing, and did you not hear him groan when I examined his side? He is a long way from being a dead man yet. Some of his ribs are broken, and he has had a very nasty blow; but I do not think there is any cause for anxiety about him. Pour a little wine down his throat, and sprinkle his face with water. Raise his head and put a coat under it, and when he opens his eyes and begins to recover, don’t let him move. Then you can cut up the side of his jacket and down the sleeve, so as to get it off that side altogether. Cut his shirt open, and bathe the wound with some water and bit of rag of any sort; it is not likely to bleed much. When it has stopped bleeding put a pad of linen upon it, and keep it wet. When we can spare time we will bandage it properly.”
But it was not until late at night that the time could be spared for attending to Vincent; for the surgeons were overwhelmed with work, and the most serious cases were, as far as possible, first attended to. He had soon recovered consciousness. At first he looked with a feeling of bewilderment at Dan, who was copiously sprinkling his face with water, sobbing loudly while he did so. As soon as the negro perceived that his master had opened his eyes he gave a cry of delight.
“Tank de Lord, Marse Vincent; dis child tought you dead and gone for sure.”
“What’s the matter, Dan? What has happened?” Vincent said, trying to move, and then stopping suddenly with a cry of pain.
“You knocked off your horse, sah, wid one of de shells of dem cussed Yanks.”
“Am I badly hurt, Dan?”
“Berry bad, sah; great piece of flesh pretty nigh as big as my hand come out ob your side, and doctor says some of de ribs broken. But de doctor not seem to make much ob it; he hard sort ob man dat. Say you get all right again. No time to tend to you now. Hurry away just as if you some poor white trash instead of Massa Wingfield ob de Orangery.”
Vincent smiled faintly.
“It doesn’t make much difference what a man is in a surgeon’s eyes, Dan; the question is how badly he is hurt, and what can be done for him? Well, thank God it’s no worse. Wildfire was not hurt, I hope?”
“No, sah; he is standing tied up by dat tree. Now, sah, de doctor say me cut your jacket off and have de wound.”
“All right, Dan; but be a little careful with the water, you seem to be pretty near drowning me as it is. Just wipe my face and hair, and get the handkerchief from the pocket of my jacket, and open the shirt collar and put the handkerchief inside round my neck. How is the battle going on? The roar seems louder than ever.”
Dan went forward to the crest a of slight rise of the ground whence he could look down upon the field of battle, and made haste to return.
“Can’t see berry well, sah; too much smoke. But dey in de same place still.”
“Look round, Dan, and see if there are any fresh troops coming up.”
“Yes, sah; lot of men coming ober de hill behind.”
“That’s all right, Dan. Now you can see about this bathing my side.”
As soon as the battle was over Major Ashley rode up to where Vincent and five or six of his comrades of the cavalry were lying wounded.
“How are you getting on, lads? Pretty well I hope?” he asked the surgeon as he dismounted.
“First rate, major,” one of the men answered. “We all of us took a turn as soon as we heard that the Yanks were whipped.”
“Yes, we have thrashed them handsomely,” the major said. “Ah, Wingfield, I am glad to see you are alive. I thought when you fell it was all over with you.”
“I am not much hurt, sir,” Vincent replied. “A flesh wound and some ribs are broken, I hear; but they won’t be long mending I hope.”
“It’s a nasty wound to look at,” the major said, as Dan lifted the pad of wet linen. “But with youth and health you will soon get round it, never fear.”
“Ah, my poor lad, yours is a worse case,” he said as he bent over a young fellow who was lying a few paces from Vincent.
“It’s all up with me, major,” he replied faintly; “the doctor said he could do nothing for me. But I don’t mind, now we have beaten them. You will send a line to the old people, major, won’t you, and say I died doing my duty? I’ve got two brothers, and I expect they will send one on to take my place.”
“I will write to them, my lad,” the major said, “and tell them all about you.” He could give the lad no false hopes, for already a gray shade was stealing over the white face, and the end was close at hand; in a few minutes he ceased to breathe.
Late in the evening the surgeons, having attended to more urgent cases, came round. Vincent’s wound was now more carefully examined than before, but the result was the same. Three of the ribs were badly fractured, but there was no serious danger.
“You will want quiet and good nursing for some time, my lad,” the principal surgeon said. “There will be a train of wounded going off for Richmond the first thing in the morning, and you shall go by it. You had better get a door, lads,” he said to some of the troopers who had come across from the spot where the cavalry were bivouacked to see how their comrades were getting on, “and carry him down and put him in the train. One has just been sent off, and another will be made up at once, so that the wounded can be put in it as they are taken down. Now I will bandage the wound, and it will not want any more attention until you get home.”
A wad of lint was placed upon the wound and bandaged tightly round the body.
“Remember you have got to be perfectly quiet, and not attempt to move till the bones have knit. I am afraid that they are badly fractured, and will require some time to heal up again.”
A door was fetched from an out-house near, and Vincent and two of his comrades, who were also ordered to be sent to the rear, were one by one carried down to the nearest point on the railway, where a train stood ready to receive them, and they were then laid on the seats.
All night the wounded kept arriving, and by morning the train was packed as full as it would hold, and with two or three surgeons in charge started for Richmond. Dan was permitted to accompany the train, at Vincent’s urgent request, in the character of doctor’s assistant, and he went about distributing water to the wounded, and assisting the surgeons in moving such as required it.
It was night before the train reached Richmond. A number of people were at the station to receive it; for as soon as the news of the battle had been received, preparations had been made for the reception of the wounded, several public buildings had been converted into hospitals, and numbers of the citizens had come forward with offers to take one or more of the wounded into their houses. The streets were crowded with people, who were wild with joy at the news of the victory which, as they believed, had secured the State from any further fear of invasion. Numbers of willing hands were in readiness to carry the wounded on stretchers to the hospitals, where all the surgeons of the town were already waiting to attend upon them.
Vincent, at his own request, was only laid upon a bed, as he said that he would go home to be nursed the first thing in the morning. This being the case it was needless to put him to the pain and trouble of being undressed. Dan had started as soon as he saw his master carried into the hospital to take the news to the Orangery, being strictly charged by Vincent to make light of his injury, and on no account whatever to alarm them. He was to ask that the carriage should come to fetch him the first thing in the morning.
It was indeed but just daybreak when Mrs. Wingfield drove up to the hospital. Dan had been so severely cross-examined that he had been obliged to give an accurate account of Vincent’s injury. There was bustle and movement even at that early hour, for another train of wounded had just arrived. As she entered the hospital she gave an exclamation of pleasure, for at the door were two gentlemen in conversation, one of whom was the doctor who had long attended the family at the Orangery.
“I am glad you are here, Dr. Mapleston; for I want your opinion before I move Vincent. Have you seen him?”
“No, Mrs. Wingfield; I did not know he was here. I have charge of one of the wards, and have not had time to see who are in the others. I sincerely hope Vincent is not seriously hurt.”
“That’s want I want to find out, doctor. His boy brought us news late last night that he was here. He said the doctors considered that he was not in any danger; but as it seems that he had three ribs broken and a deep flesh wound from the explosion of a shell, it seems to me that it must be serious.”
“I will go up and see him at once, Mrs. Wingfield, and find out from the surgeon in charge of his ward exactly what is the matter with him.” Dan led the way to the bed upon which Vincent was lying. He was only dozing, and opened his eyes as they came up.
“My poor boy,” Mrs. Wingfield said, struggling with her tears at the sight of his pale face, “this is sad indeed.”
“It is nothing very bad, mother,” Vincent replied cheerfully; “nothing at all to fret about. The wound is nothing to the injuries of most of those here. I suppose, doctor, I can be moved at once?”
Doctor Mapleston felt his pulse.
“You are feverish, my lad; but perhaps the best thing for you would be to get you home while you can be moved. You will do far better there than here. But I must speak to the surgeon in charge of you first, and hear what he says.”
“Yes, I think you can move him,” the surgeon of the ward said. “He has got a nasty wound, and the ticket with him said that three ribs were badly fractured; but I made no examination, as he said he would be fetched the first thing this morning. I only put on a fresh dressing and bandaged it. The sooner you get him off the better, if he is to be moved. Fever is setting in, and he will probably be wandering by this evening. He will have a much better chance at home, with cool rooms and quiet and careful nursing, than he can have here; though there would be no lack of either comforts or nurses, for half the ladies in the town have volunteered for the work, and we have offers of all the medical comforts that could be required were the list of wounded ten times as large as it is.”
A stretcher was brought in, and Vincent was lifted as gently as possible upon it. Then he was carried down-stairs and the stretcher placed in the carriage, which was a large open one, and afforded just sufficient length for it. Mrs. Wingfield took her seat beside him. Dan mounted the box beside the coachman.
“I will be out in an hour, Mrs. Wingfield,” Dr. Mapleston said. “I have to go round the ward again, and will then drive out at once. Give him lemonade and cooling drinks; don’t let him talk. Cut his clothes off him, and keep the room somewhat dark, but with a free current of air. I will bring out some medicine with me.”
The carriage drove slowly to avoid shaking, and when they approached the house Mrs. Wingfield told Dan to jump down and come to the side of her carriage. Then she told him to run on as fast as he could ahead, and to tell her daughters not to meet them upon their arrival, and that all the servants were to be kept out of the way, except three men to carry Vincent upstairs. The lad was consequently got up to his room without any excitement, and was soon lying on his bed with a sheet thrown lightly over him.
“That is comfortable,” he said, as his mother bathed his face and hands and smoothed his hair. “Where are the girls, mother?”
“They will come in to see you now, Vincent; but you are to keep quite quiet you know, and not to talk.” The girls stole in and said a few words, and left him alone again with Mrs. Wingfield. He did not look to them so ill as they had expected, for there was a flush of fever on his cheeks. Dr. Mapleston arrived in another half-hour, examined and redressed the wound, and comforted Mrs. Wingfield with the assurance that there was nothing in it likely to prove dangerous to life.
“Our trouble will be rather with the effect of the shock than with the wound itself. He is very feverish now, and you must not be alarmed if by this evening he is delirious. You will give him this cooling draught every three hours; he can have anything in the way of cooling drinks he likes. If he begins to wander, put cloths dipped in cold water and wrung out on his head, and sponge his hands with water with a little eau de Cologne in it. If he seems very hot set one of the women to fan him, but don’t let her go on if it seems to worry him. I will come round again at half past nine this evening and will make arrangements to pass the night here. We have telegrams saying that surgeons are coming from Charleston and many other places, so I can very well be spared.”
When the doctor returned in the evening, he found, as he had anticipated, that Vincent was in a high state of fever. This continued four or five days, and then gradually passed off; and he woke up one morning perfectly conscious. His mother was sitting on a chair at the bedside.
“What o’clock is it, mother?” he asked. “Have I been asleep long?”
“Some time, dear,” she answered gently; “but you must not talk. You are to take this draught and to go off to sleep again; when you wake you may ask any questions you like.” She lifted the lad’s head, gave him the draught and some cold tea, then darkened the room, and in a few minutes he was asleep again.
CHAPTER VII. THE MERRIMAC AND THE MONITOR.
It was some weeks before Vincent was able to walk unaided. His convalescence was somewhat slow, for the shock to the system had been a severe one. The long railway journey had been injurious to him, for the bandage had become somewhat loose and the broken pieces of bone had grated upon each other, and were much longer in knitting together than they would have been had he been treated on the spot.
As soon as he could walk he began to be anxious to rejoin his troop, but the doctor said that many weeks must elapse before he would be ready to undergo the hardships of campaign. He was reconciled to some extent to the delay by letters from his friends with the troop and by the perusal of the papers. There was nothing whatever doing in Virginia. The two armies still faced each other, the Northerners protected by the strong fortifications they had thrown up round Washington–fortifications much too formidable to be attacked by the Confederates, held as they were by a force immensely superior to their own, both in numbers and arms.
The Northerners were indeed hard at work, collecting and organizing an army which was to crush out the rebellion. General Scott had been succeeded by McClellan in the supreme command, and the new general was indefatigable in organizing the vast masses of men raised in the North. So great were the efforts that in a few months after the defeat of Bull Run the North had 650,000 men in arms.
But while no move had at present been made against Virginia there was sharp fighting in some of the border states, especially in Missouri and Kentucky, in both of which public opinion was much divided, and regiments were raised on both sides.
Various operations were now undertaken by the Federal fleet at points along the coast, and several important positions were taken and occupied, it being impossible for the Confederates to defend so long a line of sea-coast. The South had lost rather than gained ground in consequence of their victory at Bull Bun. For a time they had been unduly elated, and were disposed altogether to underrate their enemies and to believe that the struggle was as good as over. Thus, then, they made no effort at all corresponding to that of the North; but as time went on, and they saw the vastness of the preparations made for their conquest, the people of the Southern States again bestirred themselves.
Owing to the North having the command of the sea, and shutting up all the principal ports, they had to rely upon themselves for everything, while the North could draw arms and ammunition and all the requisites of war from the markets of Europe. Foundries were accordingly established for the manufacture of artillery, and factories for muskets, ammunition, and percussion caps. The South had, in fact, to manufacture everything down to the cloth for her soldiers uniforms and the leather for their shoes; and, as in the past she had relied wholly upon the North for such goods, it was for a time impossible to supply the troops with even the most necessary articles.
The women throughout the States were set to work, spinning and weaving rough cloth, and making uniforms from it. Leather, however, cannot be produced all at once, and indeed with all their efforts the Confederate authorities were never throughout the war able to provide a sufficient supply of boots for the troops, and many a battle was won by soldiers who fought almost barefooted and who reshod themselves for the most part by stripping the boots from their dead foes. Many other articles could not be produced in the Southern States, and the Confederates suffered much from the want of proper medicines and surgical appliances.
For these and many other necessaries they had to depend solely upon the ships which succeeded in making their way through the