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The Long Roll By Mary Johnston Characters: 34492

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Richard Cleave and his horse, two tired wights, turned a corner in the wood and came with suddenness upon a vedette, posted beneath a beech tree. The vedette brought his short rifle to bear upon the apparition. "Halt! Halt, you in blue! Halt, I say, or I'll blow your head off."

Down an aisle of the woods, deep in russet leaves, appeared a grey figure. "Hello, Company F! It's all right! It's all right! It's Captain Cleave, 65th Virginia. Special service." Musket in hand, Allan came at a run through the slanting sunshine of the forest. "It's all right, Cuninghame-Colonel Ashby will understand."

"Here," said the vedette, "is Colonel Ashby now."

From another direction, out of the filmy and amethyst haze that closed each forest vista, came a milk-white horse, stepping high over the fallen leaves. The rider, not tall, black-bearded, with a pale, handsome face, sat like a study for some great sculptor's equestrian masterpiece. In a land where all rode well, his was superb horsemanship. The cape of his grey coat was lined with scarlet, his soft wide hat had a black plume; he wore long boots and white gauntlets. The three beneath the beech saluted. He spoke in a pensive and musical voice. "A prisoner, Cuninghame? Where did you get him?-Ah, it's Richard Cleave!"

The bright December day wore on, sunny and cold in the woods, sunny and cold above the river. The water, clear now of mist, sparkled, a stream of diamonds, from shore to shore, except where rose Dam No. 5. Here the diamonds fell in cataracts. A space of crib-work, then falling gems, another bit of dry logs in the sun, then again brilliancy and thunder of water over the dam; this in sequence to the Maryland side. That side reached, there came a mere ribbon of brown earth, and beyond this ran the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. To-day boats from Cumberland were going down the canal with coal and forage, and boats from Harper's Ferry were coming up with a reinforcing regiment of soldiers for Lander at Hancock. It was bright and lively weather, and the negroes talked to the mules on the towpath, and the conductors of coal and forage hailed the soldiers, and the soldiers shouted back. The banks rang to laughter and voices. "Where're you fellows going?"-"Going to Hancock,-no, don't know where it is!"-"Purty day! Seen any rebels crost the river?"-"At Williamsport they told us there was a rebel spy got away this morning-galloped down a cliff like Israel Putnam and took to the river, and if he was drowned or not they don't know-" "No, he wasn't drowned; he got away, but he was shot. Anyhow, they say he hadn't been there long enough to find out anything."-"Wish I could find out something-wish I could find out when we're going to fight!"-"Low braidge!"-"That's a pretty big dam. What's the troops over there in the field? Indiana? That's a right nice picnic-ground-

'Kiss me good-bye, my dear,' he said;

'When I come back, we will be wed.'

Crying, she kissed him, 'Good-bye, Ned!'

And the soldier followed the drum,

The drum,

The echoing, echoing drum!"

Over on the Virginia side, behind the friendly woods paced through by Ashby's men, the height of the afternoon saw the arrival of the advance guard of that portion of the Army of the Valley which was to cover operations against Dam No. 5. Later in the day came Garnett with the remainder of the Stonewall Brigade and a two-gun detachment of the Rockbridge Artillery, and by sunset the militia regiments were up. Camp was pitched behind a line of hills, within the peninsula made by the curve of the river. This rising ground masked the movement; moreover, with Ashby between any body of infantry and an enemy not in unreasonable force, that body worked and ate and slept in peace of mind. Six miles down the river, over on the Maryland side, was Williamsport, with an infantry command and with artillery. Opposite Dam No. 5 in the Maryland fields beyond the canal, troops were posted, guarding that very stretch of river. From a little hill above the tents frowned their cannon. At Hancock, at Hagerstown, and at Frederick were other thousands, and all, from the general of the division to the corporal drilling an awkward squad in the fields beside the canal, thought of the Army of the Valley as at Winchester.

With the Confederate advance guard, riding Little Sorrel, his cadet cap over his eyes, his uniform whole and clean, but discoloured like a November leaf from rain and dust and dust and rain, with great boots and heavy cavalry spurs, with his auburn beard and his deep-set grey-blue eyes, with his forehead broad and high, and his aquiline nose, and his mouth, wide and thin-lipped, came Jackson. The general's tent was a rude affair. His soldiers pitched it beneath a pine, beside a small trickling stream half choked with leaves. The staff was quartered to right and left, and a clump of pines in the rear served for an Arcadian kitchen. A camp-stool and a table made of a board laid upon two stumps of trees furnished the leaf-strewn terrace before the tent. Here, Cleave, coming to report, found his commander.

Jackson was sitting, feet planted as usual, arms at side as usual, listening to his chief of staff. He acknowledged Cleave's salute, with a glance, a slight nod of the head, and a motion of the hand to one side. The young man waited, standing by a black haw upon the bank of the little stream. The respectful murmur of the chief of staff came to an end. "Very good, major. You will send a courier back to Falling Waters to halt General Carson there. He is to be prepared to make a diversion against Williamsport in the morning. I will give precise instructions later. What of this mill by the river?"

"It is a very strong, old, stone mill, sir, with windows. It would command any short-range attack upon the workers."

"Good! good! We will put riflemen there. As soon as General Garnett is up, send him to me."

From the not-distant road came a heavy rumble of wheels and the sound of horses' feet. "There are the guns, now, sir."

"Yes. They must wait until nightfall to get into position. Send Captain McLaughlin to me in half an hour's time."

"Yes, sir. Captain Colston of the 2d is here-"

"Very good. I will see him now. That is all, major."

The chief of staff withdrew. Captain Colston of the 2d approached from the shadows beyond the big pine and saluted. "You are from this region, captain?"

"Yes, sir. The Honeywood Colstons."

"This stone mill is upon your land?"

"Yes, sir. My mother owns it."

"You have been about the dam as a boy?"

"Yes, sir. In the water above it and in the water below it. I know every log, I reckon. It works the mill."

"If we break it, it will work the mill no longer. In addition, if the enemy cross, they will probably destroy the property."

"Yes, sir. My mother and I would not let that weigh with us. As I know the construction I should esteem it an honour, sir, if I might lead the party. I think I may say that I know where the cribs could be most easily cut."

"Very good then, sir. You will report for duty at nine to-night. Captain Holliday of the 33d and Captain Robinson of the 27th, with a number of their men, have volunteered for this service. It is not without danger, as you know. That is all."

Captain Colston departed. "Now, Captain Cleave," said the general.

A few minutes later, the report ended, Jackson refolded General Banks's letter to General Kelly and put it into his pocket-book. "Good! good!" he said, and turned slightly on the camp-stool so as to face the river and the north. "It's all right, captain, it's all right!"

"I wish, sir," said Cleave, "that with ten times the numbers you have, you were leading us across the river. We might force a peace, I think, and that right quickly."

Jackson nodded. "Yes, sir, I ought to have every soldier in Virginia-if they could be gotten here in time every soldier in the Carolinas. There would then be but a streamlet of blood where now there is going to be a great river. The streamlet should run through the land of them with whom we are righteously at war. As it is, the great river will run through ours." He rose. "You have done your mission well, sir. The 65th will be up presently."

* * *

It took three days to cut Dam No. 5. On the fourth the brigade went back to Winchester. A week later came Loring with the Army of the Kanawha, and on the third of January the whole force found itself again upon the road.

In the afternoon the weather changed. The New Year had come in smiling, mild as April, dust in the roads, a blue sky overhead. The withered goldenrod and gaunt mullein stalks and dead asters by the wayside almost seemed to bloom again, while the winter wheat gave an actual vernal touch. The long column, winding somewhere-no one knew where, but anyhow on the Pugh Town Road and in a northwesterly direction (even Old Jack couldn't keep them from knowing that they were going northwest!)-was in high spirits. At least, the Stonewall Brigade was in spirits. It was said that Loring's men didn't want to come, anyhow. The men whistled and sang, laughed, joked, were lavish of opinions as to all the world in general and the Confederate service in particular. They were sarcastic. The Confederate private was always sarcastic, but throughout the morning there had been small sting in their remarks. Breakfast-"at early dawn"-was good and plentiful. Three days' rations had been served and cooked, and stowed in haversacks. But, so lovely was the weather, so oppressive in the sunshine would be a heavy weight to carry, so obliging were the wagon drivers, so easy in many regiments the Confederate discipline, that overcoats, blankets, and, in very many instances haversacks, had been consigned before starting to the friendly care of the wagons in the rear. The troops marched light, and in a good humour. True, Old Jack seemed bent on getting there-wherever "there" was-in a tremendous hurry. Over every smooth stretch the men were double-timed, and there was an unusual animus against stragglers. There grew, too, a moral certitude that from the ten minutes' lawful rest in each hour at least five minutes was being filched. Another and still more certain conclusion was that the wagon train was getting very far behind. However, the morning was still sweet, and the column, as a whole, cheerful. It was a long column-the Stonewall Brigade, three brigades of Loring's, five batteries, and a few cavalry companies; eight thousand, five hundred men in all.

Mid-day arrived, and the halt for dinner. Alas for the men without haversacks! They looked as though they had borne all the burdens of the march. There was hunger within and scant sympathy without. "Didn't the damned fools know that Old Jack always keeps five miles ahead of wagon trains and hell fire?" "Here, Saunders! take these corn pones over to those damned idiots with the compliments of Mess No. 4. We know that they have Cherrystone oysters, canvas-back ducks, terrapin, and peach brandy in their haversacks, and that they meant to ask us to join them. So unfortunate!"

The cavalry marched on, the artillery marched on, the infantry marched on. The bright skies subtly changed. The blue grew fainter; a haze, white, harsh, and cold, formed gradually, and a slight wind began to blow. The aster and goldenrod, the dried ironweed and sumach, the red rose hips and magenta pokeberry stalks looked dead enough now, dead and dreary upon the weary, weary road. The men sang no more; the more weakly shivered. Before long the sky was an even greyish-white, and the wind had much increased. Coming from the northwest, it struck the column in the face; moreover, it grew colder and colder. All types shivered now, the strong and the weak, the mounted officer and the leg-weary private, the men with overcoats, and the men without. The column moved slower and slower, all heads bent before the wind, which now blew with violence. It raised, too, a blinding dust. A curt order ran down the lines for less delay. The regiments changed gait, tried quick time along a level stretch, and left behind a large number of stragglers. The burst of speed was for naught, they went the slower thereafter, and coming to a long, bleak hill, crept up it like tortoises-but without protecting shells. By sunset the cold was intense. Word came back that the head of the column was going into camp, and a sigh of approbation arose from all. But when brigade by brigade halted, deployed, and broke ranks, it appeared that "going into camp" was rather a barren phrase. The wagons had not come up; there were no tents, no blankets, no provisions. A northwester was blowing, and the weather-wise said that there would be snow ere morning. The regiments spread over bare fields, enclosed by rail fences. There were a small, rapidly freezing stream and thick woods, skirting the fields. In the woods were fallen boughs and pine cones enough to make the axes in the company wagons not greatly missed, and detachments were sent to gather fagots. The men, cold and exhausted, went, but they looked wistfully at the rail fences all around them, so easy to demolish, so splendid to burn! Orders on the subject were stringent. Officers will be held responsible for any destruction of property. We are here to protect and defend, not to destroy. The men gathered dead branches and broke down others, heaped them together in the open fields, and made their camp-fires. The Rockbridge Artillery occupied a fallow field covered with fox grass, dead Michaelmas daisy, and drifted leaves. It was a good place for the poor horses, the battery thought. But the high wind blew sparks from the fires and lighted the grass. The flames spread and the horses neighed with terror. The battery was forced to move, taking up position at last in a ploughed field where the frozen furrows cut the feet, and the wind had the sweep of an unchained demon. An infantry regiment fared better. It was in a stretch of fenced field between the road and the freezing brook. A captain, native of that region, spoke to the lieutenant-colonel, and the latter spoke to the men. "Captain -- says that we are camping upon his land, and he's sorry he can't give us a better welcome! But we can have his fence rails. Give him a cheer, and build your fires!" The men cheered lustily, and tore the rails apart, and had rousing fires and were comfortable; but the next morning Stonewall Jackson suspended from duty the donor of his own fences. The brigades of Loring undoubtedly suffered the most. They had seen, upon the Monterey line, on the Kanawha, the Gauley, and the Greenbriar, rough and exhausting service. And then, just when they were happy at last in winter quarters, they must pull up stakes and hurry down the Valley to join "Fool Tom Jackson" of the Virginia Military Institute and one brief day of glory at Manassas! Loring, a gallant and dashing officer, was popular with them. "Fool Tom Jackson" was not. They complained, and they very honestly thought that they had upon their side justice, common sense, and common humanity-to say nothing of military insight! The bitter night was bitterer to them for their discontent. Many were from eastern Virginia or from the states to the south, not yet inured to the winter heights and Stonewall Jackson's way. They slept on frozen ground, surrounded by grim mountains, and they dreamed uneasily of the milder lowlands, of the yet green tangles of bay and myrtle, of quiet marshes and wide, unfreezing waters. In the night-time the clouds thickened, and there came down a fine rain, mixed with snow. In the morning, fields, hillsides, and road appeared glazed with ice-and the wagons were not up!

The country grew rougher, lonelier, a series of low mountains and partly cleared levels. To a few in the creeping column it may have occurred that Jackson chose unfrequented roads, therefore narrow, therefore worse than other roads, to the end that his policy of utter secrecy might be the better served; but to the majority his course seemed sprung from a certain cold wilfulness, a harshness without object, unless his object were to wear out flesh and bone. The road, such as it was, was sheeted with ice. The wind blew steadily from the northwest, striking the face like a whip, and the fine rain and snow continued to fall and to freeze as it fell. What, the evening before, had been hardship, now grew to actual misery. The column faltered, delayed, halted, and still the order came back, "The general commanding wishes the army to press on." The army stumbled to its now bleeding feet, and did its best with a hill like Calvary. Up and down the column was heard the report of muskets, men falling and accidentally discharging their pieces. The company officers lifted monotonous voices, weary and harsh as reeds by a winter pond. Close up, men-close up-close up!

In the afternoon Loring, riding at the head of his brigades, sent a staff officer forward with representations. The latter spurred his horse, but rapid travelling was impossible upon that ice-sheathed road. It was long before he overtook the rear of the Stonewall Brigade. Buffeted by the wind, the grey uniforms pale under a glaze of sle

et, the red of the colours the only gleam of cheer, the line crawled over a long hill, icy, unwooded, swept by the shrieking wind. Stafford in passing exchanged greetings with several of the mounted officers. These were in as bad case as their men, nigh frozen themselves, distressed for the horses beneath them, and for the staggering ranks, striving for anger with the many stragglers and finding only compunction, in blank ignorance as to where they were going and for what, knowing only that whereas they had made seventeen miles the day before, they were not likely to make seven to-day. He passed the infantry and came up with the artillery. The steep road was ice, the horses were smooth shod. The poor brutes slipped and fell, cutting themselves cruelly. The men were down in the road, lifting the horses, dragging with them at gun and caisson. The crest of the hill reached, the carriages must be held back, kept from sliding sideways in the descent. Going down was worse than coming up. The horses slipped and fell; the weight of gun and caisson came upon them; together they rolled to the foot, where they must be helped up and urged to the next ascent. Oaths went here and there upon the wind, hurt whinnies, words of encouragement, cracking of whips, straining and groaning of gun carriages.

Stafford left the artillery behind, slowly climbed another hill, and more slowly yet picked his way down the glassy slope. Before him lay a great stretch of meadow, white with sleet, and beyond it he saw the advance guard disappearing in a fold of the wrinkled hills. As he rode he tried to turn his thoughts from the physical cold and wretchedness to some more genial chamber of the brain. He had imaginative power, ability to build for himself out of the void. It had served him well in the past-but not so well the last year or two. He tried now to turn the ring and pass from the bitter day and road into some haunt of warmth and peace. Albemarle and summer-Greenwood and a quiet garden. That did not answer! Harassment, longing, sore desire, check and bitterness-unhappiness there as here! He tried other resting places that once had answered, poets' meadows of asphodel, days and nights culled like a bouquet from years spent in a foreign land, old snatches out of boyhood. These answered no longer, nor did a closing of the eyes and a sinking downward, downward through the stratas of being into some cavern, reckonless and quiet, of the under-man. It as little served to front the future and try to climb, like Jack of the Beanstalk, to some plane above and beyond war and disappointment and denying. He was unhappy, and he spoke wearily to his horse, then shut his lips and faced the Siberian road. Entering in his turn the fold of the hills, he soon came up with the advance. As he passed the men on foot a sudden swirl of snow came in larger flakes from the leaden skies. Before him were a dozen horsemen, riding slowly. The air was now filled with the great white flakes; the men ahead, in their caped overcoats, with their hats drawn low, plodding on tired horses between the hills, all seen vaguely through the snow veil, had a sudden wintry, desolate, and far-away seeming. He said to himself that they were ghosts from fifty years back, ghosts of the Grand Army in the grasp of General January. He made what haste he could and came up with Stonewall Jackson, riding with Ashby and with his staff. All checked their horses, the general a little advanced, Stafford facing him. "From General Loring, sir."

"Good! What does he want?"

"There is much suffering among his men, sir. They have seen hard service and they have faced it gallantly-"

"Are his men insubordinate?"

"Not at all, sir. But-"

"You are, I believe, the officer whom General Loring sent me once before?"

"Yes, general. Many of the men are without rations. Others are almost barefoot. The great number are unused to mountain work or to so rigorous a climate."

The commanding general sat regarding the emissary with a curious chill blankness. In peace, to the outward eye he was a commonplace man; in war he changed. The authority with which he was clothed went, no doubt, for much, but it was rather, perhaps, that a door had been opened for him. His inner self became visible, and that imposingly. The man was there; a firm man, indomitable, a thunderbolt of war, a close-mouthed, far-seeing, praying and worshipping, more or less ambitious, not always just, patriotically devoted fatalist and enthusiast, a mysterious and commanding genius of an iron sort. When he was angered it was as though the offender had managed to antagonize some natural law, or force or mass. Such an one had to face, not an irritated human organism, but a Gibraltar armed for the encounter. The men who found themselves confronted by this anger could and did brace themselves against it, but it was with some hopelessness of feeling, as of hostility upon a plane where they were at a disadvantage. The man now sitting his horse before him on the endless winter road was one not easily daunted by outward aspects. Nevertheless he had at this moment, in the back of his head, a weary consciousness that war was roseate only to young boys and girls, that the day was cold and drear, the general hostile, the earth overlaid with dull misery, that the immortals, if there were any, must be clamouring for the curtain to descend forever upon this shabby human stage, painful and sordid, with its strutting tragedians and its bellman's cry of World Drama! The snow came down thickly, in large flakes; a horse shook himself, rubbed his nose against his fellow's neck, and whinnied mournfully. The pause, which had seemed long, was not really so. Jackson turned toward the group of waiting officers. "Major Cleave."

Cleave pushed his horse a little into the road. "Sir."

"You will return with this officer to General Loring's command. It is far in the rear. You will give General Loring this note." As he spoke he wrote upon a leaf torn from his pocket-book. The words as he traced them read: "General Jackson's compliments to General Loring. He has some fault to find with the zeal of General Loring, his officers and men. General Loring will represent to himself that in war soldiers are occasionally called upon to travel in winter weather. Campaigns cannot always be conducted in seasons of roses. General Loring will urge his men forward, without further complaint. T. J. Jackson, Major-General."

He folded the leaf and gave it to Richard Cleave, then touched Little Sorrel with his heavy spur and with Ashby and the staff rode on through the falling snow, between the hills. The small cavalry advance passed, too, grey and ghost-like in the grasp of General January, disappearing within the immense and floating veil of the snow. When all were gone Stafford and Cleave turned their horses' heads toward the distant column, vaguely seen in the falling day. Stafford made an expressive sound.

"I am sorry," said Cleave gravely. "But when you have been with him longer you will understand him better."

"I think that he is really mad."

The other shook his head. "He is not mad. Don't get that idea, Stafford. It is hard on the troops, poor fellows! How the snow falls! We had better turn out and let the guns pass."

They moved into the untrodden snow lying in the fence corners and watched the guns, the horses, and men strain past with a sombre noise. Officers and men knew Richard Cleave, and several hailed him. "Where in hell are we going, Cleave? Old Jack likes you! Tell him, won't you, that it's damned hard on the horses, and we haven't much to eat ourselves? Tell him even the guns are complaining! Tell him-Yes, sir! Get up there, Selim! Pull, Flora, pull!-Whoa!-Damnation! Come lay a hand to this gun, boys! Where's Hetterich! Hetterich, this damned wheel's off again!"

The delay threatening to be considerable, the two men rode on, picking their way, keeping to the low bank, or using the verge of the crowded road. At last they left the artillery, and found themselves again upon a lonely way. "I love that arm," said Cleave. "There isn't a gun there that isn't alive to me." He turned in his saddle and looked back at the last caisson vanishing over the hill.

"Shall you remain with the staff?"

"No. Only through this campaign. I prefer the line."

The snow fell so fast that the trampled and discoloured road was again whitening beneath it. Half a mile ahead was visible the Stonewall Brigade, coming very slowly, beaten by the wind, blinded by the snow, a spectral grey serpent upon the winding road.

Stafford spoke abruptly. "I am in your debt for the arrangements I found made for me in Winchester. I have had no opportunity to thank you. You were extremely good so to trouble yourself-"

"It was no trouble. As I told you once before, I am anxious to serve you."

They met the brigade, Garnett riding at the head. "Good-day, Richard Cleave," he said. "We are all bound for Siberia, I think!" Company by company the regiments staggered by, in the whirling snow, the colours gripped by stiffening hands. There were blood stains on the frozen ground. Oh, the shoes, the shoes that a non-manufacturing country with closed ports had to make in haste and send its soldiers! Oh, the muskets, heavy, dull, ungleaming, weighting the fiercely aching shoulders! Oh, the snow, mounded on cap, on cartridge box, on rolled blanket and haversack. Oh, the northwest wind like a lash, the pinched stomach, the dry lips, the wavering sight, the weariness excessive! The strong men were breathing hard, their brows drawn together and upward. The weaker soldiers had a ghastly look, as of life shrunk to a point. Close up, men! Close up-close up!

Farther down the line, on the white bank to which they tried to keep, the column almost filling the narrow road, Cleave checked his horse. "I have a brother in this regiment, and he has been ill-"

A company came stumbling by, heads bent before the bitter wind. He spoke to its captain, the captain spoke to a lieutenant, the lieutenant to a private in the colour guard, who at once fell out of line and sprang somewhat stiffly across the wayside depression to the two horsemen drawn up upon the bank. "Well, Richard! It's snowing."

"Have you had anything to eat, Will?"

"Loads. I had a pone of cornbread and a Mr. Rat in my file had a piece of bacon. We added them and then divided them, and it was lovely, so far as it went!" He laughed ruefully. "Only I've still that typhoid fever appetite-"

His brother took from under the cape of his coat a small parcel. "Here are some slices of bread and meat. I hoped I would see you, and so I saved them. Where is that comforter Miriam knitted you?"

The boy's eyes glistened as he put out a gaunt young hand and took the parcel. "Won't Mr. Rat and I have a feast! We were just talking of old Judge at the Institute, and of how good his warm loaves used to taste! Seems like an answer to prayer. Thank you, Richard! Miriam's comforter? There's a fellow, a clerk from the store at Balcony Falls, who hasn't much stamina and no shoes at all. They were bad when he started, and one fell to pieces yesterday, and he left most of the other on that bad piece of road this morning. So at the last halt we cut my comforter in two and tied up his feet with it-I didn't need it, anyway." He looked over his shoulder. "Well, I'd better be catching up!"

Richard put a hand upon his arm. "Don't give away any more clothing. You have your blanket, I see."

"Yes, and Mr. Rat has an oilcloth. Oh, we'll sleep. I could sleep now-" he spoke dreamily; "right in that fence corner. Doesn't it look soft and white?-like a feather bed with lovely clean sheets. The fence rails make it look like my old crib at home-" He pulled himself together with a jerk. "You take care of yourself, Richard! I'm all right. Mr. Rat and I were soldiers before the war broke out!" He was gone, stumbling stiffly across to the road, running stiffly to overtake his company. His brother looked after him with troubled eyes, then with a sigh picked up the reins and followed Stafford toward the darkening east.

The two going one way, the haggard regiments another, the line that seemed interminable came at last toward its end. The 65th held the rear. There were greetings from many throats, and from Company A a cheer. Hairston Breckinridge, now its captain, came across. "Judge Allen's Resolutions-hey, Richard! The world has moved since then! I wish Fincastle could see us now-or rather I don't wish it! Oh, we're holding out all right! The men are trumps." Mathew Coffin, too, came up. "It doesn't look much, Major Cleave, like the day we marched away! All the serenading and the flowers-we never thought war could be ugly." He glanced disconsolately down at a torn cuff and a great smear of frozen mire adorning his coat. "I'm rather glad the ladies can't see us."

The Stonewall Brigade went by. There was again a stretch of horribly cut road, empty save for here and there poor stragglers, sitting dismally huddled together beneath a cedar, or limping on painful feet, hoping somewhere to overtake "the boys." A horse had fallen dead and had been dragged out of the road and through a gap in the fencing into a narrow field. Beyond this, on the farther boundary of grey rails, three buzzards were sitting, seen like hobgoblins through the veiling snow. The afternoon was closing in; it could only be said that the world was a dreary one.

The Army of the Kanawha, Loring's three brigades, with the batteries attached, came into view a long way off, grey streaks upon the road. Before the two horsemen reached it it had halted for the night, broken ranks, and flowed into the desolate fields. There was yet an hour of daylight, but discontent had grown marked, the murmuring loud, and the halt was made. A few of the wagons were up, and a dark and heavy wood filling a ravine gave fagots for the gathering. The two aides found Loring himself, middle-aged and imposing, old Indian fighter, hero of Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and Garita de Belen, commander, since the transference of General Robert E. Lee to South Carolina, of the Army of the Kanawha, gallant and dashing, with an arm left in Mexico, with a gift for picturesque phrases, with a past full of variety and a future of a like composition, with a genuine tenderness and care for his men, and an entire conviction that both he and his troops were at present in the convoy of a madman-they found Loring seated on a log beside a small fire and engaged in cooling in the snow a too-hot tin cup of coffee. His negro servant busily toasted hardtack; a brigadier seated on an opposite log was detailing, half fiercely, half plaintively, the conditions under which his brigade was travelling. The two from Jackson dismounted, crunched their way over the snow and saluted. The general looked up. "Good-evening, gentlemen! Is that you, Stafford? Well, did you do your prettiest-and did he respond?"

"Yes, sir, he responded," replied Stafford, with grimness. "But not by me.-Major Cleave, sir, of his staff."

Cleave came forward, out of the whirling snow, and gave Jackson's missive. It was so dull and dark a late afternoon that all things were indistinct. "Give me a light here, Jupiter!" said Loring, and the negro by the fire lit a great sliver of pine and held it like a torch above the page. Loring read, and his face grew purple. With a suppressed oath he sat a moment, staring at the paper, then with his one hand folded it against his knee. His fingers shook, not with cold, but with rage. "Very good, very good! That's what he says, isn't it, all the time? 'Very good!' or is it 'Good, good!'" He felt himself growing incoherent, pulled himself sharply together, and with his one hand thrust the paper into his breast pocket. "It's all right, Stafford. Major Cleave, the Army of the Kanawha welcomes you. Will you stay with us to-night, or have you fifty miles to make ere dawn?"

Cleave, it appeared, had not fifty miles to make, but four. He must report at the appointed bivouac. Loring tore with his one hand a leaf from his pocket-book, found his pencil, and using a booted knee for a table, wrote a line, folded and superscribed it. "This for General Jackson. Ugh, what freezing weather! Sit down and drink a cup of coffee before you go. You, too, Maury. Here, Jupiter! hot coffee. Major Cleave, do you remember ?sop's fables?"

"Yes, sir,-a number of them."

"A deal of knowledge there of damned human nature! The frog that swelled and swelled and thought himself an ox. Curious how your boyhood books come back into your mind! Sit down, gentlemen, sit down! Reardon's got a box of cigars tucked away somewhere or he isn't Reardon-"

Along the edge of the not-distant ravine other small fires had been built. From the circle about one of these arose a quavering voice-a soldier trying to sing cheer into company.

Dere was an old niggah, dey called him Uncle Ned-

He's dead long ago, long ago!

He had no wool on de top ob his head,

De place whar de wool ought to grow.

Den lay down de shubble an de hoe,

Hang up de fiddle an de bow-

* * *

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