Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Hero Tales From American History by Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and swiftness compared favorably with any ships of their class in
any other navy of the day, for the American shipwrights were
already as famous as the American gunners and seamen. The new
Wasp, like her sister ships, carried twenty-two guns and a crew
of one hundred and seventy men, and was ship-rigged. Twenty of
her guns were 32-pound carronades, while for bow-chasers she had
two "long Toms." It was in the year 1814 that the Wasp sailed
from the United States to prey on the navy and commerce of Great
Britain. Her commander was a gallant South Carolinian named
Captain Johnson Blakeley. Her crew were nearly all native
Americans, and were an exceptionally fine set of men. Instead of
staying near the American coasts or of sailing the high seas, the
Wasp at once headed boldly for the English Channel, to carry the
war to the very doors of the enemy.

At that time the English fleets had destroyed the navies of every
other power of Europe, and had obtained such complete supremacy
over the French that the French fleets were kept in port. Off
these ports lay the great squadrons of the English ships of the
line, never, in gale or in calm, relaxing their watch upon the
rival war-ships of the French emperor. So close was the blockade
of the French ports, and so hopeless were the French of making
headway in battle with their antagonists, that not only the great
French three-deckers and two-deckers, but their frigates and
sloops as well, lay harmless in their harbors, and the English
ships patroled the seas unchecked in every direction. A few
French privateers still slipped out now and then, and the far
bolder and more formidable American privateersmen drove hither
and thither across the ocean in their swift schooners and
brigantines, and harried the English commerce without mercy.

The Wasp proceeded at once to cruise in the English Channel and
off the coasts of England, France, and Spain. Here the water was
traversed continually by English fleets and squadrons and single
ships of war, which were sometimes covoying detachments of troops
for Wellington's Peninsular army, sometimes guarding fleets of
merchant vessels bound homeward, and sometimes merely cruising
for foes. It was this spot, right in the teeth of the British
naval power, that the Wasp chose for her cruising ground. Hither
and thither she sailed through the narrow seas, capturing and
destroying the merchantmen, and by the seamanship of her crew and
the skill and vigilance of her commander, escaping the pursuit of
frigate and ship of the line. Before she had been long on the
ground, one June morning, while in chase of a couple of merchant
ships, she spied a sloop of war, the British brig Reindeer, of
eighteen guns and a hundred and twenty men. The Reindeer was a
weaker ship than the Wasp, her guns were lighter, and her men
fewer; but her commander, Captain Manners, was one of the most
gallant men in the splendid British navy, and he promptly took up
the gage of battle which the Wasp threw down.

The day was calm and nearly still; only a light wind stirred
across the sea. At one o'clock the Wasp's drum beat to quarters,
and the sailors and marines gathered at their appointed posts.
The drum of the Reindeer responded to the challenge, and with her
sails reduced to fighting trim, her guns run out, and every man
ready, she came down upon the Yankee ship. On her forecastle she
had rigged a light carronade, and coming up from behind, she five
times discharged this pointblank into the American sloop; then in
the light air the latter luffed round, firing her guns as they
bore, and the two ships engaged yard-arm to yard-arm. The guns
leaped and thundered as the grimy gunners hurled them out to fire
and back again to load, working like demons. For a few minutes
the cannonade was tremendous, and the men in the tops could
hardly see the decks for the wreck of flying splinters. Then the
vessels ground together, and through the open ports the rival
gunners hewed, hacked, and thrust at one another, while the black
smoke curled up from between the hulls. The English were
suffering terribly. Captain Manners himself was wounded, and
realizing that he was doomed to defeat unless by some desperate
effort he could avert it, he gave the signal to board. At the
call the boarders gathered, naked to the waist, black with powder
and spattered with blood, cutlas and pistol in hand. But the
Americans were ready. Their marines were drawn up on deck, the
pikemen stood behind the bulwarks, and the officers watched, cool
and alert, every movement of the foe. Then the British sea-dogs
tumbled aboard, only to perish by shot or steel. The combatants
slashed and stabbed with savage fury, and the assailants were
driven back. Manners sprang to their head to lead them again
himself, when a ball fired by one of the sailors in the American
tops crashed through his skull, and he fell, sword in hand, with
his face to the foe, dying as honorable a death as ever a brave
man died in fighting against odds for the flag of his country. As
he fell the American officers passed the word to board. With wild
cheers the fighting sailormen sprang forward, sweeping the wreck
of the British force before them, and in a minute the Reindeer
was in their possession. All of her officers, and nearly two
thirds of the crew, were killed or wounded; but they had proved
themselves as skilful as they were brave, and twenty-six of the
Americans had been killed or wounded.

The Wasp set fire to her prize, and after retiring to a French
port to refit, came out again to cruise. For some time she met no
antagonist of her own size with which to wage war, and she had to
exercise the sharpest vigilance to escape capture. Late one
September afternoon, when she could see ships of war all around
her, she selected one which was isolated from the others, and
decided to run alongside her and try to sink her after nightfall.
Accordingly she set her sails in pursuit, and drew steadily
toward her antagonist, a big eighteen-gun brig, the Avon, a ship
more powerful than the Reindeer. The Avon kept signaling to two
other British war vessels which were in sight--one an
eighteen-gun brig and the other a twenty-gun ship; they were so
close that the Wasp was afraid they would interfere before the
combat could be ended. Nevertheless, Blakeley persevered, and
made his attack with equal skill and daring. It was after dark
when he ran alongside his opponent, and they began forthwith to
exchange furious broadsides. As the ships plunged and wallowed in
the seas, the Americans could see the clusters of topmen in the
rigging of their opponent, but they knew nothing of the vessel's
name or of her force, save only so far as they felt it. The
firing was fast and furious, but the British shot with bad aim,
while the skilled American gunners hulled their opponent at
almost every discharge. In a very few minutes the Avon was in a
sinking condition, and she struck her flag and cried for quarter,
having lost forty or fifty men, while but three of the Americans
had fallen. Before the Wasp could take possession of her
opponent, however, the two war vessels to which the Avon had been
signaling came up. One of them fired at the Wasp, and as the
latter could not fight two new foes, she ran off easily before
the wind. Neither of her new antagonists followed her, devoting
themselves to picking up the crew of the sinking Avon.

It would be hard to find a braver feat more skilfully performed
than this; for Captain Blakeley, with hostile foes all round him,
had closed with and sunk one antagonist not greatly his inferior
in force, suffering hardly any loss himself, while two of her
friends were coming to her help.

Both before and after this the Wasp cruised hither and thither
making prizes. Once she came across a convoy of ships bearing
arms and munitions to Wellington's army, under the care of a
great two-decker. Hovering about, the swift sloop evaded the
two-decker's movements, and actually cut out and captured one of
the transports she was guarding, making her escape unharmed. Then
she sailed for the high seas. She made several other prizes, and
on October 9 spoke a Swedish brig.

This was the last that was ever heard of the gallant Wasp. She
never again appeared, and no trace of any of those aboard her was
ever found. Whether she was wrecked on some desert coast, whether
she foundered in some furious gale, or what befell her none ever
knew. All that is certain is that she perished, and that all on
board her met death in some one of the myriad forms in which it
must always be faced by those who go down to the sea in ships;
and when she sank there sank one of the most gallant ships of the
American navy, with. as brave a captain and crew as ever sailed
from any port of the New World.


We have fought such a fight for a day and a night
As may never be fought again!
We have won great glory, my men!
And a day less or more
At sea or ashore,
We die--does it matter when?


In the revolution, and again in the war of 1812, the seas were
covered by swift-sailing American privateers, which preyed on the
British trade. The hardy seamen of the New England coast, and of
New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, turned readily from their
adventurous careers in the whalers that followed the giants of
the ocean in every sea and every clime, and from trading voyages
to the uttermost parts of the earth, to go into the business of
privateering, which was more remunerative, and not so very much
more dangerous, than their ordinary pursuits. By the end of the,
war of 1812, in particular, the American privateers had won for
themselves a formidable position on the ocean. The schooners,
brigs, and brigantines in which the privateersmen sailed were
beautifully modeled, and were among the fastest craft afloat.
They were usually armed with one heavy gun, the "long Tom," as it
was called, arranged on a pivot forward or amidships, and with a
few lighter pieces of cannon. They carried strong crews of
well-armed men, and their commanders were veteran seamen, used to
brave every danger from the elements or from man. So boldly did
they prey on the British commerce, that they infested even the
Irish Sea and the British Channel, and increased many times the
rate of insurance on vessels passing across those waters. They
also often did battle with the regular men-of-war of the British,
being favorite objects for attack by cutting-out parties from the
British frigates and ships of the line, and also frequently
encountering in fight the smaller sloops-of-war. Usually, in
these contests, the privateersmen were worsted, for they had not
the training which is obtained only in a regular service, and
they were in no way to be compared to the little fleet of regular
vessels which in this same war so gloriously upheld the honor of
the American flag. Nevertheless, here and there a privateer
commanded by an exceptionally brave and able captain, and manned
by an unusually well-trained crew, performed some feat of arms
which deserves to rank with anything ever performed by the
regular navy. Such a feat was the defense of the brig General
Armstrong, in the Portuguese port of Fayal, of the Azores,
against an overwhelming British force.

The General Armstrong hailed from New York, and her captain was
named Reid. She had a crew of ninety men, and was armed with one
heavy 32 pounder and six lighter guns. In December, 1814, she was
lying in Fayal, a neutral port, when four British war-vessels, a
ship of the line, a frigate and two brigs, hove into sight, and
anchored off the mouth of the harbor. The port was neutral, but
Portugal was friendly to England, and Reid knew well that the
British would pay no respect to the neutrality laws if they
thought that at the cost of their violation they could destroy
the privateer. He immediately made every preparation to resist an
attack, The privateer was anchored close to the shore. The
boarding-nettings were got ready, and were stretched to booms
thrust outward from the brig's side, so as to check the boarders
as they tried to climb over the bulwarks. The guns were loaded
and cast loose, and the men went to quarters armed with muskets,
boarding-pikes, and cutlases.

On their side the British made ready to carry the privateer by
boarding. The shoals rendered it impossible for the heavy ships
to approach, and the lack of wind and the baffling currents also
interfered for the moment with the movements of the
sloops-of-war. Accordingly recourse was had to a cutting-out
party, always a favorite device with the British seamen of that
age, who were accustomed to carry French frigates by boarding,
and to capture in their boats the heavy privateers and armed
merchantmen, as well as the lighter war-vessels of France and

The British first attempted to get possession of the brig by
surprise, sending out but four boats. These worked down near to
the brig, under pretense of sounding, trying to get close enough
to make a rush and board her. The privateersmen were on their
guard, and warned the boats off, and after the warning had been
repeated once or twice unheeded, they fired into them, killing
and wounding several men. Upon this the boats promptly returned
to the ships.

This first check greatly irritated the British captains, and they
decided to repeat the experiment that night with a force which
would render resistance vain. Accordingly, after it became dark,
a dozen boats were sent from the liner and the frigate, manned by
four hundred stalwart British seamen, and commanded by the
captain of one of the brigs of war. Through the night they rowed
straight toward the little privateer lying dark and motionless in
the gloom. As before, the privateersmen were ready for their foe,
and when they came within range opened fire upon them, first with
the long gun and then with the lighter cannon; but the British
rowed on with steady strokes, for they were seamen accustomed to
victory over every European foe, and danger had no terrors for
them. With fierce hurrahs they dashed through the shot-riven
smoke and grappled the brig; and the boarders rose, cutlas in
hand, ready to spring over the bulwarks. A terrible struggle
followed. The British hacked at the boarding-nets and strove to
force their way through to the decks of the privateer, while the
Americans stabbed the assailants with their long pikes and
slashed at them with their cutlases. The darkness was lit by the
flashes of flame from the muskets and the cannon, and the air was
rent by the oaths and shouts of the combatants, the heavy
trampling on the decks, the groans of the wounded, the din of
weapon meeting weapon, and all the savage tumult of a
hand-to-hand fight. At the bow the British burst through the
boarding-netting, and forced their way to the deck, killing or
wounding all three of the lieutenants of the privateer; but when
this had happened the boats had elsewhere been beaten back, and
Reid, rallying his grim sea-dogs, led them forward with a rush,
and the boarding party were all killed or tumbled into the sea.
This put an end to the fight. In some of the boats none but
killed and wounded men were left. The others drew slowly off,
like crippled wild-fowl, and disappeared in the darkness toward
the British squadron. Half of the attacking force had been killed
or wounded, while of the Americans but nine had fallen.

The British commodore and all his officers were maddened with
anger and shame over the repulse, and were bent upon destroying
the privateer at all costs. Next day, after much exertion, one of
the war-brigs was warped into position to attack the American,
but she first took her station at long range, so that her
carronades were not as effective as the pivot gun of the
privateer; and so well was the latter handled, that the British
brig was repeatedly hulled, and finally was actually driven off.
A second attempt was made, however, and this time the
sloop-of-war got so close that she could use her heavy
carronades, which put the privateer completely at her mercy. Then
Captain Reid abandoned his brig and sank her, first carrying
ashore the guns, and marched inland with his men. They were not
further molested; and, if they had lost their brig, they had at
least made their foes pay dear for her destruction, for the
British had lost twice as many men as there were in the whole
hard-fighting crew of the American privateer.


The heavy fog of morning
Still hid the plain from sight,
When came a thread of scarlet
Marked faintly in the white.
We fired a single cannon,
And as its thunders rolled,
The mist before us lifted
In many a heavy fold.
The mist before us lifted,
And in their bravery fine
Came rushing to their ruin
The fearless British line.
--Thomas Dunn English.


When, in 1814, Napoleon was overthrown and forced to retire to
Elba, the British troops that had followed Wellington into
southern France were left free for use against the Americans. A
great expedition was organized to attack and capture New Orleans,
and at its head was placed General Pakenham, the brilliant
commander of the column that delivered the fatal blow at
Salamanca. In December a fleet of British war-ships and
transports, carrying thousands of victorious veterans from the
Peninsula, and manned by sailors who had grown old in a quarter
of a century's triumphant ocean warfare, anchored off the broad
lagoons of the Mississippi delta. The few American gunboats were
carried after a desperate hand-to-hand struggle, the troops were
landed, and on December 23 the advance-guard of two thousand men
reached the banks of the Mississippi, but ten miles below New
Orleans, and there camped for the night. It seemed as if nothing
could save the Creole City from foes who had shown, in the
storming of many a Spanish walled town, that they were as
ruthless in victory as they were terrible in battle. There were
no forts to protect the place, and the militia were ill armed and
ill trained. But the hour found the man. On the afternoon of the
very day when the British reached the banks of the river the
vanguard of Andrew Jackson's Tennesseeans marched into New
Orleans. Clad in hunting-shirts of buckskin or homespun, wearing
wolfskin and coonskin caps, and carrying their long rifles on
their shoulders, the wild soldiery of the backwoods tramped into
the little French town. They were tall men, with sinewy frames
and piercing eyes. Under "Old Hickory's" lead they had won the
bloody battle of the Horseshoe Bend against the Creeks; they had
driven the Spaniards from Pensacola; and now they were eager to
pit themselves against the most renowned troops of all Europe.

Jackson acted with his usual fiery, hasty decision. It was
absolutely necessary to get time in which to throw up some kind
of breastworks or defenses for the city, and he at once resolved
on a night attack against the British. As for the British, they
had no thought of being molested. They did not dream of an
assault from inferior numbers of undisciplined and ill-armed
militia, who did not possess so much as bayonets to their guns.
They kindled fires along the levees, ate their supper, and then,
as the evening fell, noticed a big schooner drop down the river
in ghostly silence and bring up opposite to them. The soldiers
flocked to the shore, challenging the stranger, and finally fired
one or two shots at her. Then suddenly a rough voice was heard,
"Now give it to them, for the honor of America!" and a shower of
shell and grape fell on the British, driving them off the levee.
The stranger was an American man-of-war schooner. The British
brought up artillery to drive her off, but before they succeeded
Jackson's land troops burst upon them, and a fierce, indecisive
struggle followed. In the night all order was speedily lost, and
the two sides fought singly or in groups in the utmost confusion.
Finally a fog came up and the combatants separated. Jackson drew
off four or five miles and camped.

The British had been so roughly handled that they were unable to
advance for three or four days, until the entire army came up.
When they did advance, it was only to find that Jackson had made
good use of the time he had gained by his daring assault. He had
thrown up breastworks of mud and logs from the swamp to the
river. At first the British tried to batter down these
breastworks with their cannon, for they had many more guns than
the Americans. A terrible artillery duel followed. For an hour or
two the result seemed in doubt; but the American gunners showed
themselves to be far more skilful than their antagonists, and
gradually getting the upper hand, they finally silenced every
piece of British artillery. The Americans had used cotton bales
in the embrasures, and the British hogsheads of sugar; but
neither worked well, for the cotton caught fire and the sugar
hogsheads were ripped and splintered by the roundshot, so that
both were abandoned. By the use of red-hot shot the British
succeeded in setting on fire the American schooner which had
caused them such annoyance on the evening of the night attack;
but she had served her purpose, and her destruction caused little
anxiety to Jackson.

Having failed in his effort to batter down the American
breastworks, and the British artillery having been fairly worsted
by the American, Pakenham. decided to try open assault. He had
ten thousand regular troops, while Jackson had under him but
little over five thousand men, who were trained only as he had
himself trained them in his Indian campaigns. Not a fourth of
them carried bayonets. Both Pakenham and the troops under him
were fresh from victories won over the most renowned marshals of
Napoleon, andover soldiers that had proved themselves on a
hundred stricken fields the masters of all others in Continental
Europe. At Toulouse they had driven Marshal Soult from a position
infinitely stronger than that held by Jackson, and yet Soult had
under him a veteran army. At Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, and San
Sebastian they had carried by open assault fortified towns whose
strength made the intrenchments of the Americans seem like the
mud walls built by children, though these towns were held by the
best soldiers of France. With such troops to follow him, and with
such victories behind him in the past, it did not seem possible
to Pakenham that the assault of the terrible British infantry
could be successfully met by rough backwoods riflemen fighting
under a general as wild and untrained as themselves.

He decreed that the assault should take place on the morning of
the eighth. Throughout the previous night the American officers
were on the alert, for they could hear the rumbling of artillery
in the British camp, the muffled tread of the battalions as they
were marched to their points in the line, and all the smothered
din of the preparation for assault. Long before dawn the riflemen
were awake and drawn up behind the mud walls, where they lolled
at ease, or, leaning on their long rifles, peered out through the
fog toward the camp of their foes. At last the sun rose and the
fog lifted, showing the scarlet array of the splendid British
infantry. As soon as the air was clear Pakenham gave the word,
and the heavy columns of redcoated grenadiers and kilted
Highlanders moved steadily forward. From the American breastworks
the great guns opened, but not a rifle cracked. Three fourths of
the distance were covered, and the eager soldiers broke into a
run; then sheets of flame burst from the breastworks in their
front as the wild riflemen of the backwoods rose and fired, line
upon line. Under the sweeping hail the head of the British
advance was shattered, and the whole column stopped. Then it
surged forward again, almost to the foot of the breastworks; but
not a man lived to reach them, and in a moment more the troops
broke and ran back. Mad with shame and rage, Pakenham rode among
them to rally and lead them forward, and the officers sprang
around him, smiting the fugitives with their swords and cheering
on the men who stood. For a moment the troops halted, and again
came forward to the charge; but again they were met by a hail of
bullets from the backwoods rifles. One shot struck Pakenham
himself. He reeled and fell from the saddle, and was carried off
the field. The second and third in command fell also, and then
all attempts at further advance were abandoned, and the British
troops ran back to their lines. Another assault had meanwhile
been made by a column close to the river, the charging soldiers
rushing to the top of the breastworks; but they were all killed
or driven back. A body of troops had also been sent across the
river, where they routed a small detachment of Kentucky militia;
but they were, of course, recalled when the main assault failed.

At last the men who had conquered the conquerors of Europe had
themselves met defeat. Andrew Jackson and his rough riflemen had
worsted, in fair fight, a far larger force of the best of
Wellington's veterans, and had accomplished what no French
marshal and no French troops had been able to accomplish
throughout the long war in the Spanish peninsula. For a week the
sullen British lay in their lines; then, abandoning their heavy
artillery, they marched back to the ships and sailed for Europe.


He rests with the immortals; his journey has been long:
For him no wail of sorrow, but a paean full and strong!
So well and bravely has he done the work be found to do,
To justice, freedom, duty, God, and man forever true.


The lot of ex-Presidents of the United States, as a rule, has
been a life of extreme retirement, but to this rule there is one
marked exception. When John Quincy Adams left the White House in
March, 1829, it must have seemed as if public life could hold
nothing more for him. He had had everything apparently that an
American statesman could hope for. He had been Minister to
Holland and Prussia, to Russia and England. He had been a Senator
of the United States, Secretary of State for eight years, and
finally President. Yet, notwithstanding all this, the greatest
part of his career, and his noblest service to his country, were
still before him when he gave up the Presidency.

In the following year (1830) he was told that he might be elected
to the House of Representatives, and the gentleman who made the
proposition ventured to say that he thought an ex-President, by
taking such a position, "instead of degrading the individual
would elevate the representative character." Mr. Adams replied
that he had "in that respect no scruples whatever. No person can
be degraded by serving the people as Representative in Congress,
nor, in my opinion, would an ex-President of the United States be
degraded by serving as a selectman of his town if elected thereto
by the people." A few weeks later he was chosen to the House, and
the district continued to send him every two years from that time
until his death. He did much excellent work in the House, and was
conspicuous in more than one memorable scene; but here it is
possible to touch on only a single point, where he came forward
as the champion of a great principle, and fought a battle for the
right which will always be remembered among the great deeds of
American public men.

Soon after Mr. Adams took his seat in Congress, the movement for
the abolition of slavery was begun by a few obscure agitators. It
did not at first attract much attention, but as it went on it
gradually exasperated the overbearing temper of the Southern
slaveholders. One fruit of this agitation was the appearance of
petitions for the abolition of slavery in the House of
Representatives. A few were presented by Mr. Adams without
attracting much notice; but as the petitions multiplied, the
Southern representatives became aroused. They assailed Mr. Adams
for presenting them, and finally passed what was known as the gag
rule, which prevented the reception of these petitions by the
House. Against this rule Mr. Adams protested, in the midst of the
loud shouts of the Southerners, as a violation of his
constitutional rights. But the tyranny of slavery at that time
was so complete that the rule was adopted and enforced, and the
slaveholders, undertook in this way to suppress free speech in
the House, just as they also undertook to prevent the
transmission through the mails of any writings adverse to
slavery. With the wisdom of a statesman and a man of affairs, Mr.
Adams addressed himself to the one practical point of the
contest. He did not enter upon a discussion of slavery or of its
abolition, but turned his whole force toward the vindication of
the right of petition. On every petition day he would offer, in
constantly increasing numbers, petitions which came to him from
all parts of the country for the abolition of slavery, in this
way driving the Southern representatives almost to madness,
despite their rule which prevented the reception of such
documents when offered. Their hatred of Mr. Adams is something
difficult to conceive, and they were burning to break him down,
and, if possible, drive him from the House. On February 6, 1837,
after presenting the usual petitions, Mr. Adams offered one upon
which he said he should like the judgment of the Speaker as to
its propriety, inasmuch as it was a petition from slaves. In a
moment the House was in a tumult, and loud cries of "Expel him!"
"Expel him!" rose in all directions. One resolution after another
was offered looking toward his expulsion or censure, and it was
not until February 9, three days later, that he was able to take
the floor in his own defense. His speech was a masterpiece of
argument, invective, and sarcasm. He showed, among other things,
that he had not offered the petition, but had only asked the
opinion of the Speaker upon it, and that the petition itself
prayed that slavery should not be abolished. When he closed his
speech, which was quite as savage as any made against him, and
infinitely abler, no one desired to reply, and the idea of
censuring him was dropped.

The greatest struggle, however, came five years later, when, on
January 21, 1842, Mr. Adams presented the petition of certain
citizens of Haverhill, Massachusetts, praying for the dissolution
of the Union on account of slavery. His enemies felt. that now,
at last, he had delivered himself into their hands. Again arose
the cry for his expulsion, and again vituperation was poured out
upon him, and resolutions to expel him freely introduced. When he
got the floor to speak in his own defense, he faced an excited
House, almost unanimously hostile to him, and possessing, as he
well knew, both the will and the power to drive him from its
walls. But there was no wavering in Mr. Adams. "If they say they
will try me," he said, "they must try me. If they say they will
punish me, they must punish me. But if they say that in peace and
mercy they will spare me expulsion, I disdain and cast away their
mercy, and I ask if they will come to such a trial and expel me.
I defy them. I have constituents to go to, and they will have
something to say if this House expels me, nor will it be long
before the gentlemen will see me here again." The fight went on
for nearly a fortnight, and on February 7 the whole subject was
finally laid on the table. The sturdy, dogged fighter,
single-handed and alone, had beaten all the forces of the South
and of slavery. No more memorable fight has ever been made by one
man in a parliamentary body, and after this decisive struggle the
tide began to turn. Every year Mr. Adams renewed his motion to
strike out the gag rule, and forced it to a vote. Gradually the
majority against it dwindled, until at last, on December 3, 1844,
his motion prevailed. Freedom of speech had been vindicated in
the American House of Representatives, the right of petition had
been won, and the first great blow against the slave power had
been struck.

Four years later Mr. Adams fell, stricken with paralysis, at his
place in the House, and a few hours afterward, with the words,
"This is the last of earth; I am content," upon his lips, he sank
into unconsciousness and died. It was a fit end to a great public
career. His fight for the right of petition is one to be studied
and remembered, and Mr. Adams made it practically alone. The
slaveholders of the South and the representatives of the North
were alike against him. Against him, too, as his biographer, Mr.
Morse, says, was the class in Boston to which he naturally
belonged by birth and education. He had to encounter the bitter
resistance in his own set of the "conscienceless respectability
of wealth," but the great body of the New England people were
with him, as were the voters of his own district. He was an old
man, with the physical infirmities of age. His eyes were weak and
streaming; his hands were trembling; his voice cracked in moments
of excitement; yet in that age of oratory, in the days of Webster
and Clay, he was known as the "old man eloquent." It was what he
said, more than the way he said it, which told. His vigorous mind
never worked more surely and clearly than when he stood alone in
the midst of an angry House, the target of their hatred and
abuse. His arguments were strong, and his large knowledge and
wide experience supplied him with every weapon for defense and
attack. Beneath the lash of his invective and his sarcasm the
hottest of the slaveholders cowered away. He set his back against
a great principle. He never retreated an inch, he never yielded,
he never conciliated, he was always an assailant, and no man and
no body of men had the power to turn him. He had his dark hours,
he felt bitterly the isolation of his position, but he never
swerved. He had good right to set down in his diary, when the gag
rule was repealed, "Blessed, forever blessed, be the name of


He told the red man's story; far and wide
He searched the unwritten annals of his race;
He sat a listener at the Sachem's side,
He tracked the hunter through his wild-wood chase.

High o'er his head the soaring eagle screamed;
The wolfs long howl rang nightly; through the vale
Tramped the lone bear; the panther's eyeballs gleamed;
The bison's gallop thundered on the gale.

Soon o'er the horizon rose the cloud of strife,
Two proud, strong nations battling for the prize:
Which swarming host should mould a nation's life;
Which royal banner flout the western skies.

Long raged the conflict; on the crimson sod
Native and alien joined their hosts in vain;
The lilies withered where the lion trod,
Till Peace lay panting on the ravaged plain.

A nobler task was theirs who strove to win
The blood-stained heathen to the Christian fold;
To free from Satan's clutch the slaves of sin;
These labors, too, with loving grace he told.

Halting with feeble step, or bending o'er
The sweet-breathed roses which he loved so well,
While through long years his burdening cross he bore,
From those firm lips no coward accents fell.

A brave bright memory! His the stainless shield
No shame defaces and no envy mars!
When our far future's record is unsealed,
His name will shine among its morning stars.


The stories in this volume deal, for the most part, with single
actions, generally with deeds of war and feats of arms. In this
one I desire to give if possible the impression, for it can be no
more than an impression, of a life which in its conflicts and its
victories manifested throughout heroic qualities. Such qualities
can be shown in many ways, and the field of battle is only one of
the fields of human endeavor where heroism can be displayed.

Francis Parkman was born in Boston on September 16, 1822. He came
of a well-known family, and was of a good Puritan stock. He was
rather a delicate boy, with an extremely active mind and of a
highly sensitive, nervous organization. Into everything that
attracted him he threw himself with feverish energy. His first
passion, when he was only about twelve years old, was for
chemistry, and his eager boyish experiments in this direction
were undoubtedly injurious to his health. The interest in
chemistry was succeeded by a passion for the woods and the
wilderness, and out of this came the longing to write the history
of the men of the wilderness, and of the great struggle between
France and England for the control of the North American
continent. All through his college career this desire was with
him, and while in secret he was reading widely to prepare himself
for his task, he also spent a great deal of time in the forests
and on the mountains. To quote his own words, he was "fond of
hardships, and he was vain of enduring them, cherishing a
sovereign scorn for every physical weakness or defect; but
deceived, moreover, by the rapid development of frame and sinew,
which flattered him into the belief that discipline sufficiently
unsparing would harden him into an athlete, he slighted the
precautions of a more reasonable woodcraft, tired old foresters
with long marches, stopped neither for heat nor for rain, and
slept on the earth without blankets." The result was that his
intense energy carried him beyond his strength, and while his
muscles strengthened and hardened, his sensitive nervous
organization began to give way. It was not merely because he led
an active outdoor life. He himself protests against any such
conclusion, and says that "if any pale student glued to his desk
here seek an apology for a way of life whose natural fruit is
that pallid and emasculate scholarship, of which New England has
had too many examples, it will be far better that this sketch had
not been written. For the student there is, in its season, no
better place than the saddle, and no better companion than the
rifle or the oar."

The evil that was done was due to Parkman's highly irritable
organism, which spurred him to excess in everything he undertook.
The first special sign of the mischief he was doing to himself
and his health appeared in a weakness of sight. It was essential
to his plan of historical work to study not only books and
records but Indian life from the inside. Therefore, having
graduated from college and the law-school, he felt that the time
had come for this investigation, which would enable him to gather
material for his history and at the same time to rest his eyes.
He went to the Rocky Mountains, and after great hardships, living
in the saddle, as he said, with weakness and pain, he joined a
band of Ogallalla Indians. With them he remained despite his
physical suffering, and from them he learned, as he could not
have learned in any other way, what Indian life really was.

The immediate result of the journey was his first book, instinct
with the freshness and wildness of the mountains and the
prairies, and called by him "The Oregon Trail." Unfortunately,
the book was not the only outcome. The illness incurred during
his journey from fatigue and exposure was followed by other
disorders. The light of the sun became insupportable, and his
nervous vous system was entirely deranged. His sight was now so
impaired that he was almost blind, and could neither read nor
write. It was a terrible prospect for a brilliant and ambitious
man, but Parkman faced it unflinchingly. He devised a frame by
which he could write with closed eyes, and books and manuscripts
were read to him. In this way he began the history of "The
Conspiracy of Pontiac," and for the first half-year the rate of
composition covered about six lines a day. His courage was
rewarded by an improvement in his health, and a little more quiet
in nerves and brain. In two and a half years he managed to
complete the book. He then entered upon his great subject of
"France in the New World." The material was mostly in manuscript,
and had to be examined, gathered, and selected in Europe and in
Canada. He could not read, he could write only a very little and
that with difficulty, and yet he pressed on. He slowly collected
his material and digested and arranged it, using the eyes of
others to do that which he could not do himself, and always on
the verge of a complete breakdown of mind and body. In 1851 he
had an effusion of water on the left knee, which stopped his
outdoor exercise, on which he had always largely depended. All
the irritability of the system then centered in the head,
resulting in intense pain and in a restless and devouring
activity of thought. He himself says: "The whirl, the confusion,
and strange, undefined tortures attending this condition are only
to be conceived by one who has felt them." The resources of
surgery and medicine were exhausted in vain. The trouble in the
head and eyes constantly recurred. In 1858 there came a period
when for four years he was incapable of the slightest mental
application, and the attacks varied in duration from four hours
to as many months. When the pressure was lightened a little he
went back to his work. When work was impossible, he turned to
horticulture, grew roses, and wrote a book about the cultivation
of those flowers which is a standard authority.

As he grew older the attacks moderated, although they never
departed. Sleeplessness pursued him always, the slightest
excitement would deprive him of the power of exertion, his sight
was always sensitive, and at times he was bordering on blindness.
In this hard-pressed way he fought the battle of life. He says
himself that his books took four times as long to prepare and
write as if he had been strong and able to use his faculties.
That this should have been the case is little wonder, for those
books came into being with failing sight and shattered nerves,
with sleeplessness and pain, and the menace of insanity ever
hanging over the brave man who, nevertheless, carried them
through to an end.

Yet the result of those fifty years, even in amount, is a noble
one, and would have been great achievement for a man who had
never known a sick day. In quality, and subject, and method of
narration, they leave little to be desired. There, in Parkman's
volumes, is told vividly, strongly, and truthfully, the history
of the great struggle between France and England for the mastery
of the North American continent, one of the most important events
of modern times. This is not the place to give any critical
estimate of Mr. Parkman's work. It is enough to say that it
stands in the front rank. It is a great contribution to history,
and a still greater gift to the literature of this country. All
Americans certainly should read the volumes in which Parkman has
told that wonderful story of hardship and adventure, of fighting
and of statesmanship, which gave this great continent to the
English race and the English speech. But better than the
literature or the history is the heroic spirit of the man, which
triumphed over pain and all other physical obstacles, and brought
a work of such value to his country and his time into existence.
There is a great lesson as well as a lofty example in such a
career, and in the service which such a man rendered by his life
and work to literature and to his country. On the tomb of the
conqueror of Quebec it is written: "Here lies Wolfe victorious."
The same epitaph might with entire justice be carved above the
grave of Wolfe's historian.


The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

* * *

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout are past;
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that never more may feel
The rapture of the fight.
--Theodore O'Hara.


"Thermopylae had its messengers of death, but the Alamo had
none." These were the words with which a United States senator
referred to one of the most resolute and effective fights ever
waged by brave men against overwhelming odds in the face of
certain death.

Soon after the close of the second war with Great Britain,
parties of American settlers began to press forward into the
rich, sparsely settled territory of Texas, then a portion. of
Mexico. At first these immigrants were well received, but the
Mexicans speedily grew jealous of them, and oppressed them in
various ways. In consequence, when the settlers felt themselves
strong enough, they revolted against Mexican rule, and declared
Texas to be an independent republic. Immediately Santa Anna, the
Dictator of Mexico, gathered a large army, and invaded Texas. The
slender forces of the settlers were unable to meet his hosts.
They were pressed back by the Mexicans, and dreadful atrocities
were committed by Santa Anna and his lieutenants. In the United
States there was great enthusiasm for the struggling Texans, and
many bold backwoodsmen and Indian-fighters swarmed to their help.
Among them the two most famous were Sam Houston and David
Crockett. Houston was the younger man, and had already led an
extraordinary and varied career. When a mere lad he had run away
from home and joined the Cherokees, living among them for some
years; then he returned home. He had fought under Andrew Jackson
in his campaigns against the Creeks, and had been severely
wounded at the battle of the Horse-shoe Bend. He had risen to the
highest political honors in his State, becoming governor of
Tennessee; and then suddenly, in a fit of moody longing for the
life of the wilderness, he gave up his governorship, left the
State, and crossed the Mississippi, going to join his old
comrades, the Cherokees, in their new home along the waters of
the Arkansas. Here he dressed, lived, fought, hunted, and drank
precisely like any Indian, becoming one of the chiefs.

David Crockett was born soon after the Revolutionary War. He,
too, had taken part under Jackson in the campaigns against the
Creeks, and had afterward become a man of mark in Tennessee, and
gone to Congress as a Whig; but he had quarreled with Jackson,
and been beaten for Congress, and in his disgust he left the
State and decided to join the Texans. He was the most famous
rifle-shot in all the United States, and the most successful
hunter, so that his skill was a proverb all along the border.

David Crockett journeyed south, by boat and horse, making his way
steadily toward the distant plains where the Texans were waging
their life-and-death fight. Texas was a wild place in those days,
and the old hunter had more than one hairbreadth escape from
Indians, desperadoes, and savage beasts, ere he got to the
neighborhood of San Antonio, and joined another adventurer, a
bee-hunter, bent on the same errand as himself. The two had been
in ignorance of exactly what the situation in Texas was; but they
soon found that the Mexican army was marching toward San Antonio,
whither they were going. Near the town was an old Spanish fort,
the Alamo, in which the hundred and fifty American defenders of
the place had gathered. Santa Anna had four thousand troops with
him. The Alamo was a mere shell, utterly unable to withstand
either a bombardment or a regular assault. It was evident,
therefore, that those within it would be in the utmost jeopardy
if the place were seriously assaulted, but old Crockett and his
companion never wavered. They were fearless and resolute, and
masters of woodcraft, and they managed to slip through the
Mexican lines and join the defenders within the walls. The
bravest, the hardiest, the most reckless men of the border were
there; among them were Colonel Travis, the commander of the fort,
and Bowie, the inventor of the famous bowie-knife. They were a
wild and ill-disciplined band, little used to restraint or
control, but they were men of iron courage and great bodily
powers, skilled in the use of their weapons, and ready to meet
with stern and uncomplaining indifference whatever doom fate
might have in store for them.

Soon Santa Anna approached with his army, took possession of the
town, and besieged the fort. The defenders knew there was
scarcely a chance of rescue, and that it was hopeless to expect
that one hundred and fifty men, behind defenses so weak, could
beat off four thousand trained soldiers, well armed and provided
with heavy artillery; but they had no idea of flinching, and made
a desperate defense. The days went by, and no help came, while
Santa Anna got ready his lines, and began a furious cannonade.
His gunners were unskilled, however, and he had to serve the guns
from a distance; for when they were pushed nearer, the American
riflemen crept forward under cover, and picked off the
artillerymen. Old Crockett thus killed five men at one gun. But,
by degrees, the bombardment told. The walls of the Alamo were
battered and riddled; and when they had been breached so as to
afford no obstacle to the rush of his soldiers, Santa Anna
commanded that they be stormed.

The storm took place on March 6, 1836. The Mexican troops came on
well and steadily, breaking through the outer defenses at every
point, for the lines were too long to be manned by the few
Americans. The frontiersmen then retreated to the inner building,
and a desperate hand-to-hand conflict followed, the Mexicans
thronging in, shooting the Americans with their muskets, and
thrusting at them with lance and bayonet, while the Americans,
after firing their long rifles, clubbed them, and fought
desperately, one against many; and they also used their
bowie-knives and revolvers with deadly effect. The fight reeled
to and fro between the shattered walls, each American the center
of a group of foes; but, for all their strength and their wild
fighting courage, the defenders were too few, and the struggle
could have but one end. One by one the tall riflemen succumbed,
after repeated thrusts with bayonet and lance, until but three or
four were left. Colonel Travis, the commander, was among them;
and so was Bowie, who was sick and weak from a wasting disease,
but who rallied all his strength to die fighting, and who, in the
final struggle, slew several Mexicans with his revolver, and with
his big knife of the kind to which he had given his name. Then
these fell too, and the last man stood at bay. It was old Davy
Crockett. Wounded in a dozen places, he faced his foes with his
back to the wall, ringed around by the bodies of the men he had
slain. So desperate was the fight he waged, that the Mexicans who
thronged round about him were beaten back for the moment, and no
one dared to run in upon him. Accordingly, while the lancers held
him where he was, for, weakened by wounds and loss of blood, he
could not break through them, the musketeers loaded their
carbines and shot him down. Santa Anna declined to give him
mercy. Some say that when Crockett fell from his wounds, he was
taken alive, and was then shot by Santa Anna's order; but his
fate cannot be told with certainty, for not a single American was
left alive. At any rate, after Crockett fell the fight was over.
Every one of the hardy men who had held the Alamo lay still in
death. Yet they died well avenged, for four times their number
fell at their hands in the battle.

Santa Anna had but a short while in which to exult over his
bloody and hard-won victory. Already a rider from the rolling
Texas plains, going north through the Indian Territory, had told
Houston that the Texans were up and were striving for their
liberty. At once in Houston's mind there kindled a longing to
return to the men of his race at the time of their need. Mounting
his horse, he rode south by night and day, and was hailed by the
Texans as a heaven-sent leader. He took command of their forces,
eleven hundred stark riflemen, and at the battle of San Jacinto,
he and his men charged the Mexican hosts with the cry of
"Remember the Alamo." Almost immediately, the Mexicans were
overthrown with terrible slaughter; Santa Anna himself was
captured, and the freedom of Texas was won at a blow.


Then far away to the south uprose
A little feather of snow-white smoke,
And we knew that the iron ship of our foes
Was steadily steering its course
To try the force
Of our ribs of oak.

Down upon us heavily runs,
Silent and sullen, the floating fort;
Then comes a puff of smoke from her guns,
And leaps the terrible death, With fiery breath,
From her open port.

* * *

Ho! brave hearts, that went down in the seas!
Ye are at peace in the troubled stream;
Ho! brave land! with hearts like these,
Thy flag, that is rent in twain,
Shall be one again,
And without a seam!


The naval battles of the Civil War possess an immense importance,
because they mark the line of cleavage between naval warfare
under the old, and naval warfare under the new, conditions. The
ships with which Hull and Decatur and McDonough won glory in the
war of 1812 were essentially like those with which Drake and
Hawkins and Frobisher had harried the Spanish armadas two
centuries and a half earlier. They were wooden sailing-vessels,
carrying many guns mounted in broadside, like those of De Ruyter
and Tromp, of Blake and Nelson. Throughout this period all the
great admirals, all the famous single-ship fighters,--whose skill
reached its highest expression in our own navy during the war of
1812,--commanded craft built and armed in a substantially similar
manner, and fought with the same weapons and under much the same
conditions. But in the Civil War weapons and methods were
introduced which caused a revolution greater even than that which
divided the sailingship from the galley. The use of steam, the
casing of ships in iron armor, and the employment of the torpedo,
the ram, and the gun of high power, produced such radically new
types that the old ships of the line became at one stroke as
antiquated as the galleys of Hamilcar or Alcibiades. Some of
these new engines of destruction were invented, and all were for
the first time tried in actual combat, during our own Civil War.
The first occasion on which any of the new methods were
thoroughly tested was attended by incidents which made it one of
the most striking of naval battles.

In Chesapeake Bay, near Hampton Roads, the United States had
collected a fleet of wooden ships; some of them old-style
sailing-vessels, others steamers. The Confederates were known to
be building a great iron-clad ram, and the wooden vessels were
eagerly watching for her appearance when she should come out of
Gosport Harbor. Her powers and capacity were utterly unknown. She
was made out of the former United States steamfrigate Merrimac,
cut down so as to make her fore and aft decks nearly flat, and
not much above the water, while the guns were mounted in a
covered central battery, with sloping flanks. Her sides, deck,
and battery were coated with iron, and she was armed with
formidable rifle-guns, and, most important of all, with a steel
ram thrust out under water forward from her bow. She was
commanded by a gallant and efficient officer, Captain Buchanan.

It was March 8, 1862, when the ram at last made her appearance
within sight of the Union fleet. The day was calm and very clear,
so that the throngs of spectators on shore could see every
feature of the battle. With the great ram came three light
gunboats, all of which took part in the action, haraising the
vessels which she assailed; but they were not factors of
importance in the fight. On the Union side the vessels nearest
were the sailing-ships Cumberland and Congress, and the
steam-frigate Minnesota. The Congress and Cumberland were
anchored not far from each other; the Minnesota got aground, and
was some distance off. Owing to the currents and shoals and the
lack of wind, no other vessel was able to get up in time to take
a part in the fight.

As soon as the ram appeared, out of the harbor, she turned and
steamed toward the Congress and the Cumberland, the black smoke
rising from her funnels, and the great ripples running from each
side of her iron prow as she drove steadily through the still
waters. On board of the Congress and Cumberland there was eager
anticipation, but not a particle of fear. The officers in
command, Captain Smith and Lieutenant Morris, were two of the
most gallant men in a service where gallantry has always been too
common to need special comment. The crews were composed of
veterans, well trained, self-confident, and proud beyond measure
of the flag whose honor they upheld. The guns were run out, and
the men stood at quarters, while the officers eagerly conned the
approaching ironclad. The Congress was the first to open fire;
and, as her volleys flew, the men on the Cumberland were
astounded to see the cannon-shot bound off the sloping sides of
the ram as hailstones bound from a windowpane. The ram answered,
and her rifle-shells tore the sides of the Congress; but for her
first victim she aimed at the Cumberland, and, firing her bow
guns, came straight as an arrow at the little sloop-of-war, which
lay broadside to her.

It was an absolutely hopeless struggle. The Cumberland was a
sailing-ship, at anchor, with wooden sides, and a battery of
light guns. Against the formidable steam ironclad, with her heavy
rifles and steel ram, she was as powerless as if she had been a
rowboat; and from the moment the men saw the cannon-shot bound
from the ram's sides they knew they were doomed. But none of them
flinched. Once and again they fired their guns full against the
approaching ram, and in response received a few shells from the
great bow-rifles of the latter. Then, forging ahead, the Merrimac
struck her antagonist with her steel prow, and the sloop-of-war
reeled and shuddered, and through the great rent in her side the
black water rushed. She foundered in a few minutes; but her crew
fought her to the last, cheering as they ran out the guns, and
sending shot after shot against the ram as the latter backed off
after delivering her blow. The rush of the water soon swamped the
lower decks, but the men above continued to serve their guns
until the upper deck also was awash, and the vessel had not ten
seconds of life left. Then, with her flags flying, her men
cheering, and her guns firing, the Cumberland sank. It was
shallow where she settled down, so that her masts remained above
the water. The glorious flag for which the brave men aboard her
had died flew proudly in the wind all that day, while the fight
went on, and throughout the night; and next morning it was still
streaming over the beautiful bay, to mark the resting-place of as
gallant a vessel as ever sailed or fought on the high seas.

After the Cumberland sank, the ram turned her attention to the
Congress. Finding it difficult to get to her in the shoal water,
she began to knock her to pieces with her great rifle-guns. The
unequal fight between the ironclad and the wooden ship lasted for
perhaps half an hour. By that time the commander of the Congress
had been killed, and her decks looked like a slaughterhouse. She
was utterly unable to make any impression on her foe, and finally
she took fire and blew up. The Minnesota was the third victim
marked for destruction, and the Merrimac began the attack upon
her at once; but it was getting very late, and as the water was
shoal and she could not get close, the rain finally drew back to
her anchorage, to wait until next day before renewing and
completing her work of destruction.

All that night there was the wildest exultation among the
Confederates, while the gloom and panic of the Union men cannot
be described. It was evident that the United States ships-of-war
were as helpless as cockle-shells against their iron-clad foe,
and there was no question but that she could destroy the whole
fleet with ease and with absolute impunity. This meant not only
the breaking of the blockade; but the sweeping away at one blow
of the North's naval supremacy, which was indispensable to the
success of the war for the Union. It is small wonder that during
that night the wisest and bravest should have almost despaired.

But in the hour of the nation's greatest need a champion suddenly
appeared, in time to play the last scene in this great drama of
sea warfare. The North, too, had been trying its hand at building
ironclads. The most successful of them was the little Monitor, a
flat-decked, low, turreted. ironclad, armed with a couple of
heavy guns. She was the first experiment of her kind, and her
absolutely flat surface, nearly level with the water, her
revolving turret, and her utter unlikeness to any pre-existing
naval type, had made her an object of mirth among most practical
seamen; but her inventor, Ericsson, was not disheartened in the
least by the jeers. Under the command of a gallant naval officer,
Captain Worden, she was sent South from New York, and though she
almost foundered in a gale she managed to weather it, and reached
the scene of the battle at Hampton Roads at the moment when her
presence was allimportant.

Early the following morning the Merrimac, now under Captain Jones
(for Buchanan had been wounded), again steamed forth to take up
the work she had so well begun and to destroy the Union fleet.
She steered straight for the Minnesota; but when she was almost
there, to her astonishment a strange-looking little craft
advanced from the side of the big wooden frigate and boldly
barred the Merrimac's path. For a moment the Confederates could
hardly believe their eyes. The Monitor was tiny, compared to
their ship, for she was not one fifth the size, and her queer
appearance made them look at their new foe with contempt; but the
first shock of battle did away with this feeling. The Merrimac
turned on her foe her rifleguns, intending to blow her out of the
water, but the shot glanced from the thick iron turret of the
Monitor. Then the Monitors guns opened fire, and as the great
balls struck the sides of the ram her plates started and her
timbers gave. Had the Monitor been such a vessel as those of her
type produced later in the war, the ram would have been sunk then
and there; but as it was her shot were not quite heavy enough to
pierce the iron walls. Around and around the two strange
combatants hovered, their guns bellowing without cessation, while
the men on the frigates and on shore watched the result with
breathless interest. Neither the Merrimac nor the Monitor could
dispose of its antagonist. The ram's guns could not damage the
turret, and the Monitor was able dexterously to avoid the stroke
of the formidable prow. On the other hand, the shot of the
Monitor could not penetrate the Merrimac's tough sides.
Accordingly, fierce though the struggle was, and much though
there was that hinged on it, it was not bloody in character. The
Merrimac could neither destroy nor evade the Monitor. She could
not sink her when she tried to, and when she abandoned her and
turned to attack one of the other wooden vessels, the little
turreted ship was thrown across her path, so that the fight had
to be renewed. Both sides grew thoroughly exhausted, and finally
the battle ceased by mutual consent.

Nothing more could be done. The ram was badly damaged, and there
was no help for her save to put back to the port whence she had
come. Twice afterward she came out, but neither time did she come
near enough to the Monitor to attack her, and the latter could
not move off where she would cease to protect the wooden vessels.
The ram was ultimately blown up by the Confederates on the
advance of the Union army.

Tactically, the fight was a drawn battle--neither ship being able
to damage the other, and both ships, being fought to a
standstill; but the moral and material effects were wholly in
favor of the Monitor. Her victory was hailed with exultant joy
throughout the whole Union, and exercised a correspondingly
depressing effect in the Confederacy; while every naval man
throughout the world, who possessed eyes to see, saw that the
fight in Hampton Roads had inaugurated a new era in ocean
warfare, and that the Monitor and Merrimac, which had waged so
gallant and so terrible a battle, were the first ships of the new
era, and that as such their names would be forever famous.


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never beat retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat;
Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
--Julia Ward Howe.


In no war since the close of the great Napoleonic struggles has
the fighting been so obstinate and bloody as in the Civil War.
Much has been said in song and story of the resolute courage of
the Guards at Inkerman, of the charge of the Light Brigade, and
of the terrible fighting and loss of the German armies at Mars La
Tour and Gravelotte. The praise bestowed, upon the British and
Germans for their valor, and for the loss that proved their
valor, was well deserved; but there were over one hundred and
twenty regiments, Union and Confederate, each of which, in some
one battle of the Civil War, suffered a greater loss than any
English regiment at Inkerman or at any other battle in the
Crimea, a greater loss than was suffered by any German regiment
at Gravelotte or at any other battle of the Franco-Prussian war.
No European regiment in any recent struggle has suffered such
losses as at Gettysburg befell the 1st Minnesota, when 82 per
cent. of the officers and men were killed and wounded; or the
141st Pennsylvania, which lost 76 per cent.; or the 26th North
Carolina, which lost 72 per cent.; such as at the second battle
of Manassas befell the 101st New York, which lost 74 per cent.,
and the 21st Georgia, which lost 76 per cent. At Cold Harbor the
25th Massachusetts lost 70 per cent., and the 10th Tennessee at
Chickamauga 68 per cent.; while at Shiloh the 9th Illinois lost
63 per cent., and the 6th Mississippi 70 per cent.; and at
Antietam the 1st Texas lost 82 percent. The loss of the Light
Brigade in killed and wounded in its famous charge at Balaklava
was but 37 per cent.

These figures show the terrible punishment endured by these
regiments, chosen at random from the head of the list which shows
the slaughter-roll of the Civil War. Yet the shattered remnants
of each regiment preserved their organization, and many of the
severest losses were incurred in the hour of triumph, and not of
disaster. Thus, the 1st Minnesota, at Gettysburg, suffered its
appalling loss while charging a greatly superior force, which it
drove before it; and the little huddle of wounded and unwounded
men who survived their victorious charge actually kept both the
flag they had captured and the ground from which they had driven
their foes.

A number of the Continental regiments under Washington, Greene,
and Wayne did valiant fighting and endured heavy punishment.
Several of the regiments raised on the northern frontier in 1814
showed, under Brown and Scott, that they were able to meet the
best troops of Britain on equal terms in the open, and even to
overmatch them in fair fight with the bayonet. The regiments
which, in the Mexican war, under the lead of Taylor, captured
Monterey, and beat back Santa Anna at Buena Vista, or which, with
Scott as commander, stormed Molino Del Rey and Chapultepec,
proved their ability to bear terrible loss, to wrest victory from
overwhelming numbers, and to carry by open assault positions of
formidable strength held by a veteran army. But in none of these
three wars was the fighting so resolute and bloody as in the
Civil War.

Countless deeds of heroism were performed by Northerner and by
Southerner, by officer and by private, in every year of the great
struggle. The immense majority of these deeds went unrecorded,
and were known to few beyond the immediate participants. Of those
that were noticed it would be impossible even to make a dry
catalogue in ten such volumes as this. All that can be done is to
choose out two or three acts of heroism, not as exceptions, but
as examples of hundreds of others. The times of war are iron
times, and bring out all that is best as well as all that is
basest in the human heart. In a full recital of the civil war, as
of every other great conflict, there would stand out in naked
relief feats of wonderful daring and self-devotion, and, mixed
among them, deeds of cowardice, of treachery, of barbarous
brutality. Sadder still, such a recital would show strange
contrasts in the careers of individual men, men who at one time
acted well and nobly, and at another time ill and basely. The
ugly truths must not be blinked, and the lessons they teach
should be set forth by every historian, and learned by every
statesman and soldier; but, for our good fortune, the lessons
best worth learning in the nation's past are lessons of heroism.

From immemorial time the armies of every warlike people have set
the highest value upon the standards they bore to battle. To
guard one's own flag against capture is the pride, to capture the
flag of one's enemy the ambition, of every valiant soldier. In
consequence, in every war between peoples of good military
record, feats of daring performed by color-bearers are honorably
common. The Civil War was full of such incidents. Out of very
many two or three may be mentioned as noteworthy.

One occurred at Fredericksburg on the day when half the brigades
of Meagher and Caldwell lay on the bloody slope leading up to the
Confederate entrenchments. Among the assaulting regiments was the
5th New Hampshire, and it lost one hundred and eighty-six out of
three hundred men who made the charge. The survivors fell
sullenly back behind a fence, within easy range of the
Confederate rifle-pits. Just before reaching it the last of the
color guard was shot, and the flag fell in the open. A Captain
Perry instantly ran out to rescue it, and as he reached it was
shot through the heart; another, Captain Murray, made the same
attempt and was also killed; and so was a third, Moore. Several
private soldiers met a like fate. They were all killed close to
the flag, and their dead bodies fell across one another. Taking
advantage of this breastwork, Lieutenant Nettleton crawled from
behind the fence to the colors, seized them, and bore back the
bloodwon trophy.

Another took place at Gaines' Mill, where Gregg's 1st South
Carolina formed part of the attacking force. The resistance was
desperate, and the fury of the assault unsurpassed. At one point
it fell to the lot of this regiment to bear the brunt of carrying
a certain strong position. Moving forward at a run, the South
Carolinians were swept by a fierce and searching fire. Young
James Taylor, a lad of sixteen, was carrying the flag, and was
killed after being shot down three times, twice rising and
struggling onward with the colors. The third time he fell the
flag was seized by George Cotchet, and when he, in turn, fell, by
Shubrick Hayne. Hayne was also struck down almost immediately,
and the fourth lad, for none of them were over twenty years old,
grasped the colors, and fell mortally wounded across the body of
his friend. The fifth, Gadsden Holmes, was pierced with no less
than seven balls. The sixth man, Dominick Spellman, more
fortunate, but not less brave, bore the flag throughout the rest
of the battle.

Yet another occurred at Antietam. The 7th Maine, then under the
command of Major T. W. Hyde, was one of the hundreds of regiments
that on many hard-fought fields established a reputation for dash
and unyielding endurance. Toward the early part of the day at
Antietam it merely took its share in the charging and long-range
firing, together with the New York and Vermont regiments which
were its immediate neighbors in the line. The fighting was very
heavy. In one of the charges, the Maine men passed over what had
been a Confederate regiment. The gray-clad soldiers were lying,
both ranks, privates and officers, as they fell, for so many had
been killed or disabled that it seemed as if the whole regiment
was prone in death.

Much of the time the Maine men lay on the battle-field, hugging
the ground, under a heavy artillery fire, but beyond the reach of
ordinary musketry. One of the privates, named Knox, was a
wonderful shot, and had received permission to use his own
special rifle, a weapon accurately sighted for very long range.
While the regiment thus lay under the storm of shot and shell, he
asked leave to go to the front; and for an hour afterward his
companions heard his rifle crack every few minutes. Major Hyde
finally, from curiosity, crept forward to see what he was doing,
and found that he had driven every man away from one section of a
Confederate battery, tumbling over gunner after gunner as they
came forward to fire. One of his victims was a general officer,
whose horse he killed. At the end of an hour or so, a piece of
shell took off the breech of his pet rifle, and he returned
disconsolate; but after a few minutes he gathered three rifles
that were left by wounded men, and went back again to his work.

At five o'clock in the afternoon the regiment was suddenly called
upon to undertake a hopeless charge, owing to the blunder of the
brigade commander, who was a gallant veteran of the Mexican war,
but who was also given to drink. Opposite the Union lines at this
point were some haystacks, near a group of farm buildings. They
were right in the center of the Confederate position, and
sharpshooters stationed among them were picking off the Union
gunners. The brigadier, thinking that they were held by but a few
skirmishers, rode to where the 7th Maine was lying on the ground,
and said: "Major Hyde, take your regiment and drive the enemy
from those trees and buildings." Hyde saluted, and said that he
had seen a large force of rebels go in among the buildings,
probably two brigades in all. The brigadier answered, "Are you
afraid to go, sir?" and repeated the order emphatically. "Give
the order, so the regiment can hear it, and we are ready, sir,"
said Hyde. This was done, and "Attention" brought every man to
his feet. With the regiment were two young boys who carried the
marking guidons, and Hyde ordered these to the rear. They
pretended to go, but as soon as the regiment charged came along
with it. One of them lost his arm, and the other was killed on
the field. The colors were carried by the color corporal, Harry

Hyde gave the orders to left face and forward and the Maine men
marched out in front of a Vermont regiment which lay beside them;
then, facing to the front, they crossed a sunken road, which was
so filled with dead and wounded Confederates that Hyde's horse
had to step on them to get over.

Once across, they stopped for a moment in the trampled corn to
straighten the line, and then charged toward the right of the
barns. On they went at the double-quick, fifteen skirmishers
ahead under Lieutenant Butler, Major Hyde on the right on his
Virginia thoroughbred, and Adjutant Haskell to the left on a big
white horse. The latter was shot down at once, as was his horse,
and Hyde rode round in front of the regiment just in time to see
a long line of men in gray rise from behind the stone wall of the
Hagerstown pike, which was to their right, and pour in a volley;
but it mostly went too high. He then ordered his men to left

Just as they were abreast a hill to the right of the barns, Hyde,
being some twenty feet ahead, looked over its top and saw several
regiments of Confederates, jammed close together and waiting at
the ready; so he gave the order left flank, and, still at the
double quick, took his column past the barns and buildings toward
an orchard on the hither side, hoping that he could get them back
before they were cut off, for they were faced by ten times their
number. By going through the orchard he expected to be able to
take advantage of a hollow, and partially escape the destructive
flank fire on his return.

To hope to keep the barns from which they had driven the
sharpshooters was vain, for the single Maine regiment found
itself opposed to portions of no less than four Confederate
brigades, at least a dozen regiments all told. When the men got
to the orchard fence, Sergeant Benson wrenched apart the tall
pickets to let through Hyde's horse. While he was doing this, a
shot struck his haversack, and the men all laughed at the sight
of the flying hardtack.

Going into the orchard there was a rise of ground, and the
Confederates fired several volleys at the Maine men, and then
charged them. Hyde's horse was twice wounded, but was still able
to go on.

No sooner were the men in blue beyond the fence than they got
into line and met the Confederates, as they came crowding behind,
with a slaughtering fire, and then charged, driving them back.
The color corporal was still carrying the colors, though one of
his arms had been broken; but when half way through the orchard,
Hyde heard him call out as he fell, and turned back to save the
colors, if possible.

The apple-trees were short and thick, and he could not see much,
and the Confederates speedily got between him and his men.
Immediately, with the cry of "Rally, boys, to save the Major,"
back surged the regiment, and a volley at arm's length again
destroyed all the foremost of their pursuers; so they rescued
both their commander and the flag, which was carried off by
Corporal Ring.

Hyde then formed the regiment on the colors, sixty-eight men all
told, out of two hundred and forty who had begun the charge, and
they slowly marched back toward their place in the Union line,
while the New Yorkers and Vermonters rose from the ground
cheering and waving their hats. Next day, when the Confederates
had retired a little from the field, the color corporal,
Campbell, was found in the orchard, dead, propped up against a
tree, with his half-smoked pipe beside him.


Like a servant of the Lord, with his bible and his sword,
Our general rode along us, to form us for the fight.


The Civil War has left, as all wars of brother against brother
must leave, terrible and heartrending memories; but there remains
as an offset the glory which has accrued to the nation by the
countless deeds of heroism performed by both sides in the
struggle. The captains and the armies that, after long years of
dreary campaigning and bloody, stubborn fighting, brought the war
to a close, have left us more than a reunited realm. North and
South, all Americans, now have a common fund of glorious
memories. We are the richer for each grim campaign, for each
hard-fought battle. We are the richer for valor displayed alike
by those who fought so valiantly for the right, and by those who,
no less valiantly, fought for what they deemed the right. We have
in us nobler capacities for what is great and good because of the
infinite woe and suffering, and because of the splendid ultimate
triumph. We hold that it was vital to the welfare, not only of
our people on this continent, but of the whole human race, that
the Union should be preserved and slavery abolished; that one
flag should fly from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande; that we
should all be free in fact as well as in name, and that the
United States should stand as one nation--the greatest nation on
the earth. But we recognize gladly that, South as well as North,
when the fight was once on, the leaders of the armies, and the
soldiers whom they led, displayed the same qualities of daring
and steadfast courage, of disinterested loyalty and enthusiasm,
and of high devotion to an ideal.

The greatest general of the South was Lee, and his greatest
lieutenant was Jackson. Both were Virginians, and both were
strongly opposed to disunion. Lee went so far as to deny the
right of secession, while Jackson insisted that the South ought
to try to get its rights inside the Union, and not outside. But
when Virginia joined the Southern Confederacy, and the war had
actually begun, both men cast their lot with the South.

It is often said that the Civil War was in one sense a repetition
of the old struggle between the Puritan and the Cavalier; but
Puritan and Cavalier types were common to the two armies. In dash
and light-hearted daring, Custer and Kearney stood as conspicuous
as Stuart and Morgan; and, on the other hand, no Northern general
approached the Roundhead type--the type of the stern, religious
warriors who fought under Cromwell--so closely as Stonewall
Jackson. He was a man of intense religious conviction, who
carried into every thought and deed of his daily life the
precepts of the faith he cherished. He was a tender and loving
husband and father, kindhearted and gentle to all with whom he
was brought in contact; yet in the times that tried men's souls,
he proved not only a commander of genius, but a fighter of iron
will and temper, who joyed in the battle, and always showed at
his best when the danger was greatest. The vein of fanaticism
that ran through his character helped to render him a terrible
opponent. He knew no such word as falter, and when he had once
put his hand to a piece of work, he did it thoroughly and with
all his heart. It was quite in keeping with his character that
this gentle, high-minded, and religious man should, early in the
contest, have proposed to hoist the black flag, neither take nor
give quarter, and make the war one of extermination. No such
policy was practical in the nineteenth century and in the
American Republic; but it would have seemed quite natural and
proper to Jackson's ancestors, the grim Scotch-Irish, who
defended Londonderry against the forces of the Stuart king, or to
their forefathers, the Covenanters of Scotland, and the Puritans
who in England rejoiced at the beheading of King Charles I.

In the first battle in which Jackson took part, the confused
struggle at Bull Run, he gained his name of Stonewall from the
firmness with which he kept his men to their work and repulsed
the attack of the Union troops. From that time until his death,
less than two years afterward, his career was one of brilliant
and almost uninterrupted success; whether serving with an
independent command in the Valley, or acting under Lee as his
right arm in the pitched battles with McClellan, Pope, and
Burnside. Few generals as great as Lee have ever had as great a
lieutenant as Jackson. He was a master of strategy and tactics,
fearless of responsibility, able to instil into his men. his own
intense ardor in battle, and so quick in his movements, so ready
to march as well as fight, that his troops were known to the rest
of the army as the "foot cavalry."

In the spring of 1863 Hooker had command of the Army of the
Potomac. Like McClellan, he was able to perfect the discipline of
his forces and to organize them, and as a division commander he
was better than McClellan, but he failed even more signally when
given a great independent command. He had under him 120,000 men
when, toward the end of April, he prepared to attack Lee's army,
which was but half as strong.

The Union army lay opposite Fredericksburg, looking at the
fortified heights where they had received so bloody a repulse at
the beginning of the winter. Hooker decided to distract the
attention of the Confederates by letting a small portion of his
force, under General Sedgwick, attack Fredericksburg, while he
himself took the bulk of the army across the river to the right
hand so as to crush Lee by an assault on his flank. All went well
at the beginning, and on the first of May Hooker found himself at
Chancellorsville, face-to-face with the bulk of Lee's forces; and
Sedgwick, crossing the river and charging with the utmost
determination, had driven out of Fredericksburg the Confederate
division of Early; but when Hooker found himself in front of Lee
he hesitated, faltered instead of pushing on, and allowed the
consummate general to whom he was opposed to take the initiative.

Lee fully realized his danger, and saw that his only chance was,
first to beat back Hooker, and then to turn and overwhelm
Sedgwick, who was in his rear. He consulted with Jackson, and
Jackson begged to be allowed to make one of his favorite flank
attacks upon the Union army; attacks which could have been
successfully delivered only by a skilled and resolute general,
and by troops equally able to march and to fight. Lee consented,
and Jackson at once made off. The country was thickly covered
with a forest of rather small growth, for it was a wild region,
in which there was still plenty of game. Shielded by the forest,
Jackson marched his gray columns rapidly to the left along the
narrow country roads until he was square on the flank of the
Union right wing, which was held by the Eleventh Corps, under
Howard. The Union scouts got track of the movement and reported
it at headquarters, but the Union generals thought the
Confederates were retreating; and when finally the scouts brought
word to Howard that he was menaced by a flank attack he paid no
heed to the information, and actually let his whole corps be
surprised in broad daylight. Yet all the while the battle was
going on elsewhere, and Berdan's sharpshooters had surrounded and
captured a Georgia regiment, from which information was received
showing definitely that Jackson was not retreating, and must be
preparing to strike a heavy blow.

The Eleventh Corps had not the slightest idea that it was about
to be assailed. The men were not even in line. Many of them had
stacked their muskets and were lounging about, some playing
cards, others cooking supper, intermingled with the pack-mules
and beef cattle. While they were thus utterly unprepared
Jackson's gray-clad veterans pushed straight through the forest
and rushed fiercely to the attack. The first notice the troops of
the Eleventh Corps received did not come from the pickets, but
from the deer, rabbits and foxes which, fleeing from their
coverts at the approach of the Confederates, suddenly came
running over and into the Union lines. In another minute the
frightened pickets came tumbling back, and right behind them came
the long files of charging, yelling Confederates; With one fierce
rush Jackson's men swept over the Union lines, and at a blow the
Eleventh Corps became a horde of panicstruck fugitives. Some of
the regiments resisted for a few moments, and then they too were
carried away in the flight.

For a while it seemed as if the whole army would be swept off;
but Hooker and his subordinates exerted every effort to restore
order. It was imperative to gain time so that the untouched
portions of the army could form across the line of the
Confederate advance.

Keenan's regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry, but four hundred
sabers strong, was accordingly sent full against the front of the
ten thousand victorious Confederates.

Keenan himself fell, pierced by bayonets, and the charge was
repulsed at once; but a few priceless moments had been saved, and
Pleasanton had been given time to post twenty-two guns, loaded
with double canister, where they would bear upon the enemy.

The Confederates advanced in a dense mass, yelling and cheering,
and the discharge of the guns fairly blew them back across the
work's they had just taken. Again they charged, and again were
driven back; and when the battle once more began the Union
reinforcements had arrived.

It was about this time that Jackson himself was mortally wounded.
He had been leading and urging on the advance of his men,
cheering them with voice and gesture, his pale face flushed with
joy and excitement, while from time to time as he sat on his
horse he took off his hat and, looking upward, thanked heaven for
the victory it had vouchsafed him. As darkness drew near he was
in the front, where friend and foe were mingled in almost
inextricable confusion. He and his staff were fired at, at close
range, by the Union troops, and, as they turned, were fired at
again, through a mistake, by the Confederates behind them.
Jackson fell, struck in several places. He was put in a litter
and carried back; but he never lost consciousness, and when one
of his generals complained of the terrible effect of the Union
cannonade he answered:

"You must hold your ground."

For several days he lingered, hearing how Lee beat Hooker, in
detail, and forced him back across the river. Then the old
Puritan died. At the end his mind wandered, and he thought he was
again commanding in battle, and his last words were.

"Let us cross over the river and rest in the shade."

Thus perished Stonewall Jackson, one of the ablest of soldiers
and one of the most upright of men, in the last of his many


For the Lord
On the whirlwind is abroad;
In the earthquake he has spoken;
He has smitten with his thunder
The iron walls asunder,
And the gates of brass are broken!

With bray of the trumpet,
And roll of the drum,
And keen ring of bugle
The cavalry come:
Sharp clank the steel scabbards,
The bridle-chains ring,
And foam from red nostrils
The wild chargers fling!

Tramp, tramp o'er the greensward
That quivers below,
Scarce held by the curb bit
The fierce horses go!
And the grim-visaged colonel,
With ear-rending shout,
Peals forth to the squadrons
The order, "Trot Out"!
--Francis A. Durivage.


The battle of Chancellorsville marked the zenith of Confederate
good fortune. Immediately afterward, in June, 1863, Lee led the
victorious army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania. The South
was now the invader, not the invaded, and its heart beat proudly
with hopes of success; but these hopes went down in bloody wreck
on July 4, when word was sent to the world that the high valor of
Virginia had failed at last on the field of Gettysburg, and that
in the far West Vicksburg had been taken by the army of the
"silent soldier."

At Gettysburg Lee had under him some seventy thousand men, and
his opponent, Meade, about ninety thousand. Both armies were
composed mainly of seasoned veterans, trained to the highest
point by campaign after campaign and battle after battle; and
there was nothing to choose between them as to the fighting power
of the rank and file. The Union army was the larger, yet most of
the time it stood on the defensive; for the difference between
the generals, Lee and Meade, was greater than could be bridged by
twenty thousand men. For three days the battle raged. No other
battle of recent time has been so obstinate and so bloody. The
victorious Union army lost a greater percentage in killed and
wounded than the allied armies of England, Germany, and the
Netherlands lost at Waterloo. Four of its seven corps suffered
each a greater relative loss than befell the world-renowned
British infantry on the day that saw the doom of the French
emperor. The defeated Confederates at Gettysburg lost,
relatively, as many men as the defeated French at Waterloo; but
whereas the French army became a mere rabble, Lee withdrew his
formidable soldiery with their courage unbroken, and their
fighting power only diminished by their actual losses in the

The decisive moment of the battle, and perhaps of the whole war,
was in the afternoon of the third day, when Lee sent forward his
choicest troops in a last effort to break the middle of the Union
line. The center of the attacking force was Pickett's division,
the flower of the Virginia infantry; but many other brigades took
part in the assault, and the column, all told, numbered over
fifteen thousand men. At the same time, the Confederates attacked
the Union left to create a diversion. The attack was preceded by
a terrific cannonade, Lee gathering one hundred and fifteen guns,
and opening a fire on the center of the Union line. In response,
Hunt, the Union chief of artillery, and Tyler, of the artillery
reserves, gathered eighty guns on the crest of the gently sloping
hill, where attack was threatened. For two hours, from one till
three, the cannonade lasted, and the batteries on both sides
suffered severely. In both the Union and Confederate lines
caissons were blown up by the fire, riderless horses dashed
hither and thither, the dead lay in heaps, and throngs of wounded
streamed to the rear. Every man lay down and sought what cover he
could. It was evident that the Confederate cannonade was but a
prelude to a great infantry attack, and at three o'clock Hunt
ordered the fire to stop, that the guns might cool, to be ready
for the coming assault. The Confederates thought that they had
silenced the hostile artillery, and for a few minutes their
firing continued; then, suddenly, it ceased, and there was a

The men on the Union side who were not at the point directly
menaced peered anxiously across the space between the lines to
watch the next move, while the men in the divisions which it was
certain were about to be assaulted, lay hugging the ground and
gripping their muskets, excited, but confident and resolute. They
saw the smoke clouds rise slowly from the opposite crest, where
the Confederate army lay, and the sunlight glinted again on the
long line of brass and iron guns which had been hidden from view
during the cannonade. In another moment, out of the lifting smoke
there appeared, beautiful and terrible, the picked thousands of
the Southern army coming on to the assault. They advanced in
three lines, each over a mile long, and in perfect order.
Pickett's Virginians held the center, with on their left the
North Carolinians of Pender and Pettigrew, and on their right the
Alabama regiments of Wilcox; and there were also Georgian and
Tennessee regiments in the attacking force. Pickett's division,
however, was the only one able to press its charge home. After
leaving the woods where they started, the Confederates had nearly
a mile and a half to go in their charge. As the Virginians moved,
they bent slightly to the left, so as to leave a gap between them
and the Alabamians on the right.

The Confederate lines came on magnificently. As they crossed the
Emmetsburg Pike the eighty guns on the Union crest, now cool and
in good shape, opened upon them, first with shot and then with
shell. Great gaps were made every second in the ranks, but the
gray-clad soldiers closed up to the center, and the color-bearers
leaped to the front, shaking and waving the flags. The Union
infantry reserved their fire until the Confederates were within
easy range, when the musketry crashed out with a roar, and the
big guns began to fire grape and canister. On came the
Confederates, the men falling by hundreds, the colors fluttering
in front like a little forest; for as fast as a color-bearer was
shot some one else seized the flag from his hand before it fell.
The North Carolinians were more exposed to the fire than any
other portion of the attacking force, and they were broken before
they reached the line. There was a gap between the Virginians and
the Alabama troops, and this was taken advantage of by Stannard's
Vermont brigade and a demi-brigade under Gates, of the 20th New
York, who were thrust forward into it. Stannard changed front
with his regiments and fell on Pickett's forces in flank, and
Gates continued the attack. When thus struck in the flank, the
Virginians could not defend themselves, and they crowded off
toward the center to avoid the pressure. Many of them were killed
or captured; many were driven back; but two of the brigades,
headed by General Armistead, forced their way forward to the
stone wall on the crest, where the Pennsylvania regiments were
posted under Gibbon and Webb.

The Union guns fired to the last moment, until of the two
batteries immediately in front of the charging Virginians every
officer but one had been struck. One of the mortally wounded
officers was young Cushing, a brother of the hero of the
Albemarle fight. He was almost cut in two, but holding his body
together with one hand, with the other he fired his last gun, and
fell dead, just as Armistead, pressing forward at the head of his
men, leaped the wall, waving his hat on his sword. Immediately
afterward the battle-flags of the foremost Confederate regiments
crowned the crest; but their strength was spent. The Union troops
moved forward with the bayonet, and the remnant of Pickett's
division, attacked on all sides, either surrendered or retreated
down the hill again. Armistead fell, dying, by the body of the
dead Cushing. Both Gibbon and Webb were wounded. Of Pickett's
command two thirds were killed, wounded or captured, and every
brigade commander and every field officer, save one, fell. The
Virginians tried to rally, but were broken and driven again by
Gates, while Stannard repeated, at the expense of the Alabamians,
the movement he had made against the Virginians, and, reversing
his front, attacked them in flank. Their lines were torn by the
batteries in front, and they fell back before the Vermonter's
attack, and Stannard reaped a rich harvest of prisoners and of

The charge was over. It was the greatest charge in any battle of
modern times, and it had failed. It would be impossible to
surpass the gallantry of those that made it, or the gallantry of
those that withstood it. Had there been in command of the Union
army a general like Grant, it would have been followed by a
counter-charge, and in all probability the war would have been
shortened by nearly two years; but no countercharge was made.

As the afternoon waned, a fierce cavalry fight took place on the
Union right. Stuart, the famous Confederate cavalry commander,
had moved forward to turn the Union right, but he was met by
Gregg's cavalry, and there followed a contest, at close quarters,
with "the white arm." It closed with a desperate melee, in which
the Confederates, charged under Generals Wade Hampton and Fitz
Lee, were met in mid career by the Union generals Custer and
McIntosh. All four fought, saber in hand, at the head of their
troopers, and every man on each side was put into the struggle.
Custer, his yellow hair flowing, his face aflame with the eager
joy of battle, was in the thick of the fight, rising in his
stirrups as he called to his famous Michigan swordsmen: "Come on,
you Wolverines, come on!" All that the Union infantry, watching
eagerly from their lines, could see, was a vast dust-cloud where
flakes of light shimmered as the sun shone upon the swinging
sabers. At last the Confederate horsemen were beaten back, and
they did not come forward again or seek to renew the combat; for
Pickett's charge had failed, and there was no longer hope of
Confederate victory.

When night fell, the Union flags waved in triumph on the field of
Gettysburg; but over thirty thousand men lay dead or wounded,
strewn through wood and meadow, on field and hill, where the
three days' fight had surged.


What flag is this you carry
Along the sea and shore?
The same our grandsires lifted up--
The same our fathers bore.
In many a battle's tempest
It shed the crimson rain--
What God has woven in his loom
Let no man rend in twain.
To Canaan, to Canaan,
The Lord has led us forth,
To plant upon the rebel towers
The banners of the North.


On January 29, 1863, General Grant took command of the army
intended to operate against Vicksburg, the last place held by the
rebels on the Mississippi, and the only point at which they could
cross the river and keep up communication with their armies and
territory in the southwest. It was the first high ground below
Memphis, was very strongly fortified, and was held by a large
army under General Pemberton. The complete possession of the
Mississippi was absolutely essential to the National Government,
because the control of that great river would cut the Confederacy
in two, and do more, probably, than anything else, to make the
overthrow of the Rebellion both speedy and certain.

The natural way to invest and capture so strong a place, defended
and fortified as Vicksburg was, would have been, if the axioms of
the art of war had been adhered to, by a system of gradual
approaches. A strong base should have been established at
Memphis, and then the army and the fleet moved gradually forward,
building storehouses and taking strong positions as they went. To
do this, however, it first would have been necessary to withdraw
the army from the positions it then held not far above Vicksburg,
on the western bank of the river. But such a movement, at that
time, would not have been understood by the country, and would
have had a discouraging effect on the public mind, which it was
most essential to avoid. The elections of 1862 had gone against
the government, and there was great discouragement throughout the
North. Voluntary enlistments had fallen off, a draft had been
ordered, and the peace party was apparently gaining rapidly in
strength. General Grant, looking at this grave political
situation with the eye of a statesman, decided, as a soldier,
that under no circumstances would he withdraw the army, but that,
whatever happened, he would "press forward to a decisive
victory." In this determination he never faltered, but drove
straight at his object until, five months later, the great
Mississippi stronghold fell before him.

Efforts were made through the winter to reach Vicksburg from the
north by cutting canals, and by attempts to get in through the
bayous and tributary streams of the great river. All these
expedients failed, however, one after another, as Grant, from the
beginning, had feared that they would. He, therefore, took
another and widely different line, and determined to cross the
river from the western to the eastern bank below Vicksburg, to
the south. With the aid of the fleet, which ran the batteries
successfully, he moved his army down the west bank until he
reached a point beyond the possibility of attack, while a
diversion by Sherman at Haines' Bluff, above Vicksburg, kept
Pemberton in his fortifications. On April 26, Grant began to move
his men over the river and landed them at Bruinsburg. "When this
was effected," he writes, "I felt a degree of relief scarcely
ever equaled since. Vicksburg was not yet taken, it is true, nor
were its defenders demoralized by any of our previous movements.
I was now in the enemy's country, with a vast river and the
stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies, but I
was on dry ground, on the same side of the river with the enemy."

The situation was this: The enemy had about sixty thousand men at
Vicksburg, Haines' Bluff, and at Jackson, Mississippi, about
fifty miles east of Vicksburg. Grant, when he started, had about
thirty-three thousand men. It was absolutely necessary for
success that Grant, with inferior numbers, should succeed in.
destroying the smaller forces to the eastward, and thus prevent
their union with Pemberton and the main army at Vicksburg. His
plan, in brief; was to fight and defeat a superior enemy
separately and in detail. He lost no time in putting his plan
into action, and pressing forward quickly, met a detachment of
the enemy at Port Gibson and defeated them. Thence he marched to
Grand Gulf, on the Mississippi, which he took, and which he had
planned to make a base of supply. When he reached Grand Gulf,
however, he found that he would be obliged to wait a month, in
order to obtain the reinforcements which he expected from General
Banks at Port Hudson. He, therefore, gave up the idea of making
Grand Gulf a base, and Sherman having now joined him with his
corps, Grant struck at once into the interior. He took nothing
with him except ammunition, and his army was in the lightest
marching order. This enabled him to move with great rapidity, but
deprived him of his wagon trains, and of all munitions of war
except cartridges. Everything, however, in this campaign,
depended on quickness, and Grant's decision, as well as all his
movements, marked the genius of the great soldier, which consists
very largely in knowing just when to abandon the accepted
military axioms.

Pressing forward, Grant met the enemy, numbering between seven
and eight thousand, at Raymond, and readily defeated them. He
then marched on toward Jackson, fighting another action at
Clinton, and at Jackson he struck General Joseph Johnston, who
had arrived at that point to take command of all the rebel
forces. Johnston had with him, at the moment, about eleven
thousand men, and stood his ground. There was a sharp fight, but
Grant easily defeated the enemy, and took possession of the town.
This was an important point, for Jackson was the capital of the
State of Mississippi, and was a base of military supplies. Grant
destroyed the factories and the munitions of war which. were
gathered there, and also came into possession of the line of
railroad which ran from Jackson to Vicksburg. While he was thus
engaged, an intercepted message revealed to him the fact that
Pemberton, in accordance with Johnston's orders, had come out of
Vicksburg with twenty-five thousand men, and was moving eastward
against him. Pemberton, however, instead of holding a straight
line against Grant, turned at first to the south, with the view
of breaking the latter's line of communication. This was not a
success, for, as Grant says, with grim humor, "I had no line of
communication to break"; and, moreover, it delayed Pemberton when
delay was of value to Grant in finishing Johnston. After this
useless turn to the southward Pemberton resumed his march to the
east, as he should have done in the beginning, in accordance with
Johnston's orders; but Grant was now more than ready. He did not
wait the coming of Pemberton. Leaving Jackson as soon as he heard
of the enemy's advance from Vicksburg, he marched rapidly
westward and struck Pemberton at Champion Hills. The forces were
at this time very nearly matched, and the severest battle of the
campaign ensued, lasting four hours. Grant, however, defeated
Pemberton completely, and came very near capturing his entire
force. With a broken army, Pemberton fell back on Vicksburg.
Grant pursued without a moment's delay, and came up with the rear
guard at Big Black River. A sharp engagement followed, and the
Confederates were again defeated. Grant then crossed the Big
Black and the next day was before Vicksburg, with his enemy
inside the works.

When Grant crossed the Mississippi at Bruinsburg and struck into
the interior, he, of course, passed out of communication with
Washington, and he did not hear from there again until May 11,
when, just as his troops were engaging in the battle of Black
River Bridge, an officer appeared from Port Hudson with an order
from General Halleck to return to Grand Gulf and thence cooperate
with Banks against Port Hudson. Grant replied that the order came
too late. "The bearer of the despatch insisted that I ought to
obey the order, and was giving arguments to support the position,
when I heard a great cheering to the right of our line, and
looking in that direction, saw Lawler, in his shirt-sleeves,

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest