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   Chapter 13 FOOL TOM JACKSON

The Long Roll By Mary Johnston Characters: 50845

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


The Reverend Mr. Corbin Wood, chaplain to one of Loring's regiments, coming down from the hillside where he had spent the night, very literally like a shepherd, found the little stream at its foot frozen to the bottom. No morning bath for a lover of cleanliness! There had been little water, indeed, to expend on any toilet since leaving Winchester. Corbin Wood tried snow for his face and hands, but the snow was no longer soft, as it had fallen the day before. It was frozen and harsh. "And the holy hermits and the saints on pillars never had a bath-apparently never wanted one!"

Reveille sounded drearily enough from the surrounding mountains. The fires sprang up, but they did not burn brightly in the livid day. The little there was to eat was warmed and eaten. When, afterwards, the rolls were called, there were silences. Mr. Ready-to-halt, Mr. Faint Heart, Mr. Fearing, and also Mr. Honesty, really too ill to march, were somewhere on the backward road to Winchester. Length by length, like a serpent grey and cold, sluggish, unburnished, dull, and bewildered, the column took the road. Deeply cut the day before by the cavalry, by Garnett's brigade, and by the artillery, the road was horrible. What had been ridged snow was now ridged ice.

Corbin Wood and his old grey horse were loved by their regiment. The chaplain was not, physically, a strong man, and his ways were those of a scholar, but the regiment found them lovable. Pluto the horse was very wise, very old, very strong and gentle. Upon the march he was of use to many beside his master. The regiment had grown accustomed to the sight of the chaplain walking through dust or mud at the bridle of the grey, saying now and then a word in a sober and cheerful fashion to the half-sick or wholly weary private seated in his saddle. He was forever giving some one a lift along the road. Certain things that have had small place in the armies of the world were commonplaces in the Confederate service. The man on horseback was a more fortunate, but not a better man-not even a better born or educated man-than he on foot. The long grey lines saw nothing strange in a dismounted officer giving a cast of the road to a comrade in the ranks. So, to-day, the chaplain's horse was rather for everybody than for the chaplain himself. An old college mate slipping stiffly to earth after five inestimable minutes, remonstrated. "I'd like to see you riding, Corbin! Just give yourself a lift, won't you? Look at Pluto looking at that rent in your shoe! You'll never be a bishop if you go on this way."

The sleet fell and fell, and it was intensely cold. The wagons were invisible. It was rumoured that they had taken another road. The country was almost a wilderness. At long intervals the troops came upon a lonely farmhouse, or a wayside cabin, a mill, a smithy. Loring sent ahead a foraging party, with orders to purchase all supplies. Hardly anything was gotten. Little had been made this year and little stored. Moreover, latterly, the Yankees at Bath had taken all the stock and poultry and corn-and without paying for it either. "Yes, sir, there are Yankees at Bath. More'n you can shake a stick at!"

The foragers brought back the news. "There are Yankees at Bath-eight miles away! Any number of them. Just as certain as it's sleeting, that's where Old Jack's going!"

The news running along the column awoke a small flare of interest. But it filled no empty stomachs, nor dissipated the numbing cold. The momentary enthusiasm passed. "Eight miles! Have we got to go eight miles to-day? We haven't made three miles since dawn. If George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Julius C?sar were here they couldn't get this army eight miles to-day!"

The cavalry, the artillery, the Stonewall Brigade, Meems and Carson's Militia, the three brigades of Loring-on wound the sick and sluggish column. The hills were now grey glass, and all the horses smooth-shod. In advance a corps of pioneers broke with pickaxes the solid and treacherous surface, roughening the road so that the poor brutes might gain foothold. The vanguard, stumbling around a bend of the road, stumbled upon a Federal ambush, horse and foot. To either side a wood of cedars blazed and rang. A lieutenant of the 21st Virginia threw up his arms and pitched forward, dead. A private was badly wounded. The company charged, but the blue outposts fired another volley and got away, crashing through the woods to some by-road. It was impossible to follow; chase could not be given over grey glass.

With the closing in of the ghostly day, in a stretch of fields beside a frozen stream, the column halted. There were no tents, and there was scarcely anything to eat. One of the fields was covered by stacked corn, and it was discovered that the ear had been left. In the driving sleet the men tore apart the shocks and with numbed fingers stripped from the grain the sere, rough, and icy husks. They and the horses ate the yellow corn. All night, stupid with misery, the soldiers dozed and muttered beside the wretched fires. One, a lawyer's clerk, cried like a child, with his hands scored till they bled by the frozen corn husks. Down the stream stood a deserted sawmill, and here the Rockbridge men found planks with which they made for themselves little pens. The sleet sounded for hours on the boards that served for roof, but at last it died away. The exhausted army slept, but when in the grey dawn it stirred and rose to the wailing of the bugles, it threw off a weight of snow. All the world was white again beneath a livid sky.

This day they made four miles. The grey trees were draped with ice, the grey zigzag of the fences was gliding ice under the hands that caught at it, the hands of the sick and weak. Motion resolved itself into a Dead March; few notes and slow, with rests. The army moved and halted, moved and halted with a weird stateliness. Couriers came back from the man riding ahead, cadet cap drawn over eyes that saw only what a giant and iron race might do under a giant and iron dictatorship. General Jackson says, "Press Forward!" General Jackson says, "Press Forward, men!"

They did not reach Bath that night. They lay down and slept behind a screen of hills and awoke in an amethyst dawn to a sky of promise. The light, streaming from the east, made glorious the ice-laden trees and the far and dazzling wastes of snow. The sunshine cheered the troops. Bath was just ahead-Bath and the Yankees! The 1st Tennessee and the 48th Virginia suddenly swung from the main road, and moved across the fields to the ridges overlooking the town. Apparently they had gathered their strength into a ball, for they went with energy, double-quickening over the snow. The afternoon before Carson and Meems had been detached, disappearing to the right. A rumour ran through the ranks. This force would be now on the other side of Bath. "It's like a cup, all of us on the rim, and the Yanks at the bottom. If Carson can hold the roads on the other side we've got them, just like so many coffee grounds! Fifteen hundred of them in blue, and two guns?-Boys, I feel better!"

Old Jack-the men began with suddenness again to call him Old Jack-Old Jack divulged nothing. Information, if information it was, came from scouts, couriers, Ashby's vedettes, chance-met men and women of the region. Something electric flashed from van to rear. The line went up the hill with rapidity. When they reached the crest the men saw the cavalry far before and below them, charging upon the town and shouting. After the horse came a body of skirmishers, then, pouring down the hillside the 1st Tennessee and the 48th Virginia, yelling as they ran. From the town burst a loud rattle of musketry, and from a height beyond a cannon thundered. All the white sides of the cup echoed the sound.

The infantry swerved to let the artillery by. The guns, grim beneath their ice coats, the yelling men, the drivers loudly encouraging the horses, the horses, red-nostrilled, wide-eyed-all came somehow, helter-skelter down the long windings of the ridge. The infantry followed; the town was entered; the Federals retreated, firing as they went, streaming out by two roads. One led toward Sir John's Run, the other direct to the Potomac with Hancock on the Maryland shore, and at Hancock General Lander with a considerable force. Carson's men, alack! had found the winter hills no bagatelle. They were not in time to secure the roads.

The Confederate cavalry, dividing, followed, full tilt, the retreating foe. A courier brought back to the artillery a curt order from Jackson to push on by the Hancock road. As he turned, his mare slipped, and the two came crashing down upon the icy road. When they had struggled up and out of the way the batteries passed rumbling through the town. Old men and boys were out upon the trampled sidewalks, and at window and door women and children waved handkerchiefs, clapped hands. At a corner, in the middle of the street, lay a horse, just lifeless, covered with blood. The sight maddened the battery horses. They reared and plunged, but at last went trembling by. From the patriarchs and the eager boys came information. The Yankees were gone, but not their baggage and stores. Everything had been left behind. There were army blankets, tents, oilcloths, clothing, shoes, cords of firewood, forage for the horses, flour, and fresh meat, sugar, coffee, sutlers' stores of every kind, wines, spirits, cigars-oh, everything! The artillery groaned and swore, but obeyed orders. Leaving Capua behind, it strained along the Hancock road in the wake of the pursuing cavalry and the fleeing Federals.

The main body of the latter, well in advance and with no exhausting march behind them to weaken horse and man, reached the Potomac by the Hancock road at a point where they had boats moored, and got clean away, joining Lander on the Maryland shore. The lesser number, making for Sir John's Run and the Big Cacapon and followed by some companies of Ashby's, did not so quickly escape. The Confederate advance came, artillery, horse, and skirmishers, upon the river bank at sunset. All around were great rolling hills, quite bare of trees and covered with snow, over which the setting sun threw a crimson tinge. Below was the river, hoarsely murmuring, and immediately upon the other side, the clustering Maryland village, with a church spire tall and tapering against the northern sky. About the village was another village of tents, and upon a hilltop frowned a line of guns. Dusk as it was, the Confederate batteries unlimbered, and there opened an artillery duel, shells screaming from north to south and south to north across the river yet stained with the sunset glow.

That night the infantry remained at Bath, warmed and comforted by the captured stores. They came like a gift from the gods, and as is usual with that gift they disappeared in a twinkling. In the afternoon the three arms met on the river bank. The sky was again a level grey; it was evident that a snowstorm was brewing. There was not a house; except for the fringe along the water's edge there was hardly a tree. The hills were all bare. The snow was packed so hard and so mingled with ice that when, in the cannonading, the Federal missiles struck and tore it up the fragments were as keen and troublesome, almost, as splinters of shell. There was no shelter, little wood for burning. The men gazed about them with a frown of uneasiness. The storm set in with a whirl of snow and with a wind that raved like a madman and broke the spectral white arms of the sycamores by the river. In a short time there was a shifting, wonderful, numbing veil streaming silent from the grey heavens. It was almost a relief when dark came and wrapped the great, lonely, ghostly countryside. This night the men disregarded the taboo and burned every available fence rail.

In the morning a boat was put across the half-frozen river. It bore a summons to Lander to surrender, the alternative being a bombardment of the town. "Retaliation for Shepherdstown" read Jackson's missive. Ashby bore the summons and was led blindfold through the streets to headquarters. Lander, looking momently for reinforcements from Williamsport, declined to surrender. Ashby passed blindfolded out of the town, entered the boat, and came back to Stonewall Jackson. The latter waited two hours, then began to throw shells into the town. Since early morning a force had been engaged in constructing, two miles up the river, a rude bridge by which the troops might cross. The evening before there had been skirmishes at Sir John's Run and at the Big Cacapon. A regiment of Loring's destroyed the railroad bridge over the latter stream. The Federals withdrew across the river, leaving no command in Morgan County.

Throughout the afternoon McLaughlin's battery dropped shells into Hancock, but an hour before dark came orders to cease firing. A scout-Allan Gold-brought tidings of heavy reinforcements pouring into the town from Williamsport and Hagerstown. So heavy were they that Jackson, after standing for five minutes with his face to the north, sent orders to discontinue work upon the bridge. Romney, when all was said, not Hancock, was his destination-Kelly's eight thousand in Virginia, not Lander's brigades across the line. Doubtless it had been his hope to capture every Federal in Bath, to reach and cross the Potomac, inflict damage, and retire before those reinforcements could come up. But the infantry which he commanded was not yet his "foot cavalry," and neither knew nor trusted him as it was to know and trust. The forces about him to-day were not homogeneous. They pulled two ways, they were not moulded and coloured as they were to be moulded and coloured, not instinct with the one man view as they were to become instinct. They were not iron as he was iron, nor yet thunderbolts of war. They could not divine the point and hour of attack, and, sooth to say, they received scant assistance from the actual wizard. They were patriot forces, simple and manly souls ready enough to die for their cause, but few were yet at the arrowhead of concentration as was this man. They were to attain it, but not yet. He looked at the north and he looked at his complaining legions, and he strode off to his bivouac beneath a solitary tree. Here, a little later he gave orders to his brigadiers. The Army of the Northwest would resume the march "at early dawn."

In the harsh coldness of the morning they retraced the road to Bath, a frightful road, a road over which an army had passed. At noon they came to Bath, but there was hardly a pause in the town. Beneath a sky of lead, in a harsh and freezing wind, the troops swung slowly into a narrow road running west through a meagre valley. Low hills were on either side-low and bleak. Scrub oak and pine grew sparsely, and along the edges of the road dead milkweed and mullein stood gaunt above the snow. The troops passed an old cider press and a cabin or two out of which negroes stared.

Before long they crossed a creek and began to climb. All the landscape was now mountainous. To the right, as the way mounted, opened a great view, white dales and meadows, far winter forests, and the long, long wall of North Mountain. There was small care for the view among the struggling soldiers. The hills seemed perpendicular, the earth treacherous glass. Going up, the artillerymen must drag with the horses at gun and caisson; going down the carriages must be held back, else they would slide sideways and go crashing over the embankment. Again and again, going down, the horses slipped and fell. The weight of metal behind coming upon them, the whole slid in a heap to the bottom. There they must be gotten to their feet, the poor trembling brutes! and set to the task of another hill. The long, grey, halting, stumbling, creeping line saw no beauty in the winter woods, in the arched fern over the snow, in the vivid, fairy plots of moss, in the smooth, tall ailanthus stems by the wayside, in the swinging, leafless lianas of grape, pendent from the highest trees, in the imposing view of the mountains. The line was sick, sick to the heart, numbed and shivering, full of pain. Every ambulance and wagon used as ambulance was heavy laden; at every infrequent cabin or lonely farmhouse were left the too ill to travel farther. The poor servants, of whom there were some in each company, were in pitiable plight. No negro likes the cold; for him all the hot sunshine he can get! They shivered now, in the rear of the companies, their bodies drawn together, their faces grey. The nature of most was of an abounding cheerfulness, but it was not possible to be cheerful on this January road to Romney.

The army crossed Sleepy Creek. It was frozen to the bottom. The cedars along its shore stood so funereally, so crape-like and dark, the sycamores were so clay-white and long of arm, the great birds slowly circling above a neighbouring wood of so dreary a significance, that the heart sank and sank. Was this war?-war, heroic and glorious, with banners, trumpets, and rewarded enterprise? Manassas had been war-for one brief summer day! But ever since there was only marching, tenting, suffering, and fatigue-and fatigue-and fatigue.

Maury Stafford and the Reverend Mr. Corbin Wood found themselves riding side by side, with other mounted officers, in advance of Loring's leading regiment. The chaplain had experienced, the day before, an ugly fall. His knee was badly wrenched, and so, perforce, he rode to-day, though, as often as he thought the grey could stand it, he took up a man behind him. Now, however, he was riding single. Indeed, for the last mile he had uttered no pitiful comment and given no invitation. Moreover, he talked persistently and was forever calling his companion's attention to the beauty of the view. At last, after a series of short answers, it occurred to Stafford to regard him more closely. There was a colour in the chaplain's cheek and he swayed ever so slightly and rhythmically in his saddle. Stafford checked his horse, drew his hand out of an ice-caked gauntlet, and leaning over laid it on the other's which was bare. The chaplain's skin was burning hot. Stafford made a sound of concern and rode forward to the colonel. In a minute he returned. "Now you and I, Mr. Wood, will fall out here and just quietly wait until the wagons come by. Then the doctor will fix you up nicely in the ambulance.... Oh, yes, you are! You're ill enough to want to lie down for awhile. Some one else, you know, can ride Pluto."

Corbin Wood pondered the matter. "That's true, that's very true, my dear Maury. Fontaine, now, behind us in the ranks, his shoes are all worn out. Fontaine, eh? Fontaine knows more Greek than any man-and he'll be good to Pluto. Pluto's almost worn out himself-he's not immortal like Xanthius and Balius. Do you know, Maury, it's little wonder that Gulliver found the Houyhnhnms so detesting war? Horses have a dreadful lot in war-and the quarrel never theirs. Do but look at that stream!-how cool and pleasant, winding between the willows-"

Stafford got him to one side of the road, to a small plateau beneath an overhanging bank. The column was now crawling through a ravine with a sheer descent on the right to the frozen creek below. To the left, covering the mountain-side, were masses of evergreen kalmia, and above them tall and leafless trees in whose branches the wind made a grating sound. The sleet was falling again-a veil of sleet. The two waiting for the ambulance looked down upon the grey soldiers, grey, weary, and bent before the wind. "Who would ever have thought," said the chaplain, "that Dante took an idea from Virginia in the middle of the nineteenth century? I remember things being so happy and comfortable-but it must have been long ago. Yes, my people, long ago." Dropping the bridle, he raised his arm in a gesture usual with him in the pulpit. In the fading light there was about him an illusion of black and white; he moved his arm as though it were clad in the sleeve of a surplice. "I am not often denunciatory," he said, "but I denounce this weary going to and fro, this turning like a dervish, this finding that every straight line is but a fraction of a circle, this squirrel cage with the greenwood never reached, this interminable drama, this dance of midges,-

Through a circle that ever returneth in

To the selfsame spot,

And much of Madness and more of Sin

And Horror the soul of the plot-

Is it not wonderful, the gold light on the mountains?"

At last the ambulance appeared-a good one, captured at Manassas. The chaplain, still talking, was persuaded stiffly to dismount, to give Pluto's bridle into Stafford's hand, and to enter. There were other occupants, two rows of them. Stafford saw his old friend laid in a corner, on a wisp of straw; then, finding Fontaine in the ranks, gave over the grey, and joined the staff creeping, creeping on tired horses through the sleet.

Cavalry and infantry and wagon train wound at the close of day over a vast bare hilltop toward Unger's Store where, it was known, would be the bivouac. The artillery in the rear found it impossible to finish out the march. Two miles from Unger's the halt was ordered. It was full dark; neither man nor brute could stumble farther. All came to a stand high up on the wind-swept hill. The guns were left in the road, the horses led down the slope and picketted in the lee of a poor stable, placed there, it seemed, by some pitying chance. In the stable there was even found some hay and corn. The men had no supper, or only such crumbs as were found in the haversacks. They made their fires on the hillside and crouched around them, nodding uneasily, trying to sleep with faces scorched by the flame and freezing backs. They put their feet in the sodden shoes to the fire, and the poor, worn-out leather fell into yet greater holes. There was some conjecture as to how far the thermometer stood below zero. Some put it at forty, but the more conservative declared for twenty. It was impossible to sleep, and every one was hungry, and the tobacco was all out. What were they doing at home, by the fire, after supper, with the children playing about?

At dawn the bugles blew. Stiff and sore, racked with pains and aches, coughing, limping, savagely hungry, the men rose. Time was to come when even a dawn like this would be met by the Confederate soldier with whimsical cheer, with greetings as to an oft-encountered friend, with a courage quaint, pathetic, and divinely high-but the time was not yet. The men swore and groaned. The haversacks were quite empty; there would be no breakfast until the wagons were caught up with at Unger's. The drivers went down the hillside for the horses. When they came to the strength that had drawn the guns and looked, there was a moment's silence. Hetterich the blacksmith was with the party, and Hetterich wept. "If I was God, I wouldn't have it-I wouldn't have a horse treated so! Just look at Flora-just look at her knees! Ah, the poor brute!" So frequent had been the falls of the day before, so often had the animals been cut by the carriages coming upon them, that many were scarred in a dreadful fashion. The knees of Flora had been badly cut, and what Hetterich pointed at were long red icicles hanging from the wounds.

At Unger's the evening before, in a narrow valley between the silver hills, the infantry stacked arms, broke ranks, and listened with sullen brows to two pieces of news. At Hanging Rock, between Unger's and Romney, the advance, composed of a regiment of militia and a section of artillery, had come into touch with the enemy. The militia had broken, the two guns had been lost. "Fool Tom Jackson" was reported to have said, "Good! good!" and lifted that right hand of his to the sky. The other tidings were to the effect that the troops would rest at Unger's for three days, to the end, chiefly, that the horses might be rough-shod. Rest-delicious sound! But Unger's! To the east the unutterably bleak hills over which they had toiled, to the west Capon Mountain high and stark against the livid skies, to the south a dark forest with the snow beneath the trees, to the north long, low hills, with faded broomsedge waving in the wind. Upon a hilltop perched a country store, a blacksmith shop, and one or two farmhouses, forlorn and lonely in the twilight, and by the woods ran Buffalo Run, ice upon the shallows to either bank.

In the morning, when the artillery was up, when breakfast was over, roll called, orders read, the army fell to the duties upon which paramount stress had been laid. All the farriers, the drivers, the men who had to do with horses, went to work with these poor, wretched, lame, and wounded friends, feeding them, currying them, dressing their hurts and, above all, rough-shoeing them in preparation for the icy mountains ahead. The clink of iron against iron made a pleasant sound; moreover, this morning, the sun shone. Very cold as it was, there was cheer in the sky. Even the crows cawing above the woods did not sound so dolefully. A Thunder Run man found a tree laden with shrivelled persimmons. He was up it like a squirrel. "Simmon tree! Simmon tree!" Comrades came hurrying over the snow; the fruit was dropped into upheld caps, lifted toward eager

mouths. Suddenly there flamed a generous impulse. "Boys! them poor sick fellows with nothing but hardtack-" The persimmons were carried to the hospital tents.

Before the sun was halfway to the meridian a curious spectacle appeared along the banks of Buffalo Run. Every hundred feet or so was built a large fire. Over it hung a camp kettle, full of water-water hot as the fire could make it. Up and down the stream an improvised laundry went into operation, while, squad by squad, the men performed their personal ablutions. It was the eighth of January; they had left Winchester upon the first, and small, indeed, since then had been the use of washing water. In the dire cold, with the streams frozen, cleanliness had not tempted the majority, and indeed, latterly, the men had been too worn out to care. Sleep and food and warmth had represented the sum of earthly desire. A number, with ostentation, had each morning broken the ice from some pool or other and bathed face and hands, but few extended the laved area. The General Order appointing a Washerman's Day came none too soon. Up and down Buffalo Run, in the zero weather, the men stripped and bathed. Soap was not yet the scarce and valuable commodity it was to become; there was soap enough for all and the camp kettles were filled from the stream as soon as emptied. Underclothing, too, flannel and cotton, must be washed.... There came discoveries, made amid "Ughs!" of disgust. The more fastidious threw the whole business, undergarment and parasites into the fire; others, more reasonable, or without a change of clothing, scalded their apparel with anxious care. The episode marked a stage in warfare. That night Lieutenant Coffin, writing a letter on his last scrap of pale blue paper, sat with scrupulously washed hands well back from the board he was using as a table. His boyish face flushed, his lips quivered as he wrote. He wrote of lilies and moss rose-buds and the purity of women, and he said there was a side of war which Walter Scott had never painted.

Three bleak, pinched days later the army again took the road to Romney. Four miles from Unger's they began to climb Sleepy Creek Mountain, mounting the great, sparsely wooded slope like a long line of warrior ants. To either hand the view was very fine, North Mountain to the left, Capon Mountain to the right, in between a sea of hills and long deep vales-very fine and utterly unappreciated. The earth was hostile, the sky was hostile, the commanding general was hostile. Snow began to fall.

Allan Gold, marching with Company A, began to think of Thunder Run, the schoolhouse, and the tollgate. The 65th was now high upon the mountain-side and the view had vastly widened. The men looked out and over toward the great main Valley of Virginia, and they looked wistfully. To many of the men home was over there-home, wife, child, mother-all hopelessly out of reach. Allan Gold had no wife nor child nor mother, but he thought of Sairy and Tom, and he wondered if Sairy were making gingerbread. He tried to smell it again, and to feel the warmth of her kitchen-but then he knew too well that she was not making gingerbread! Tom's last letter had spoken of the growing scarcity; flour so high, sugar so high. Everybody was living very plainly, and the poor were going to suffer. Allan thought of the schoolhouse. It was closed. He could see just how it looked; a small unused building, mournful, deserted, crumbling, while past it rushed the strong and wintry torrent. He thought suddenly of Christianna. He saw her plainly, more plainly than ever he had done before. She looked starved, defeated. He thought of the Country. How long would the war last? In May they had thought "Three months." In the flush of triumph after Manassas they had said "It is over." But it wasn't over. Marching and camping had followed, fights on the Peninsula, fights on the Kanawha, at Leesburg, at Cheat Mountain, affairs in the far South; and now McClellan drilling, organizing, organizing below Washington! with rumours of another "On to Richmond." When would the war be over? Allan wondered.

The column, turning to the right, began to descend the mountain, a long, slipping, stumbling downward going, with the snow falling heavily and the wind screaming like a banshee. At the foot was a stretch of bottom land, then, steep and rocky, grimly waiting to be crossed, rose Bear Garden Ridge. High Top loomed behind. The infantry could see the cavalry, creeping up Bear Garden, moving slowly, slowly, bent before the blast, wraith-like through the falling snow. From far in the rear, back of the Stonewall Brigade, back of Loring, came a dull sound-the artillery and the wagon train climbing Sleepy Creek Mountain. It was three o'clock in the afternoon-oh, leaden weariness, hunger, cold, sickness, worn-out shoes-

Back upon the mountain top, in the ambulance taken at Manassas, Mr. Corbin Wood, better than he had been for several days, but still feverish, propped himself upon the straw and smiled across at Will Cleave, who, half carried by his brother, had appeared beside the ambulance an hour before. Swaying as he stood, the boy protested to the last that he could march just as well as the other fellows, that they would think him a baby, that Richard would ruin his reputation, that he wasn't giddy, that the doctor in Winchester had told him that after you got well from typhoid fever you were stronger than you ever had been before, that Mr. Rat would think he was malingering, that-that-that-Richard lifted him into the ambulance and laid him upon the straw which several of the sick pushed forward and patted into place. The surgeon gave a restorative. The elder brother waited until the boy's eyes opened, stooped and kissed him on the forehead, and went away. Now Will said that he was rested, and that it was all a fuss about nothing anyway, and it was funny, travelling like animals in a circus, and wasn't it most feeding time anyway? Corbin Wood had a bit of bread which he shared, and two or three convalescents in a corner took up the circus idea. "There ain't going to be another performance this year! We're going into winter quarters-that's where we're going. Yes, siree, up with the polar bears-" "And the living skeletons-" "Gosh! I'm a warm weather crittur! I'd jest like to peacefully fold the equator in my arms an' go to sleep." "Oh, hell!-Beg your pardon, sir, it just slipped out, like one of the snake charmer's rattlers!" "Boys, jes' think of a real circus, with all the women folk, an' the tarletan, an' the spangles, an' the pink lemonade, an' the little fellers slipping under the ropes, an' the Grand Parade coming in, an' the big tent so hot everybody's fanning with their hats-Oh, Lord!" "Yes, and the clown-and the ring master-" "What d'ye think of our ring master?" "Who d'ye mean? Him? Think of him? I think he's a damned clown! Don't they call him Fool Tom-"

Will rose from the straw. "While I am by, I'll allow no man to reflect upon the general commanding this army-"

A Georgian of Loring's, tall, gaunt, parched, haggard, a college man and high private astray from his own brigade, rose to a sitting posture. "What in hell is that young cockerel crowing about? Is it about the damned individual at the head of this army? I take it that it is. Then I will answer him. The individual at the head of this army is not a general; he is a schoolmaster. Napoleon, or C?sar, or Marlborough, or Eugène, or Cromwell, or Turenne, or Frederick wouldn't turn their heads to look at him as they passed! But every little school-yard martinet would! He's a pedagogue-by God, he's the Falerian pedagogue who sold his pupils to the Romans! Oh, the lamb-like pupils, trooping after him through flowers and sunshine-straight into the hands of Kelly at Romney, with Rosecrans and twenty thousand just beyond! Yaaah! A schoolmaster leading Loring and all of us! Let him go back to Lexington and teach the Rule of Three, for by God, he'll never demonstrate the Rule of One!"

He waved a claw-like hand. "Kindly do not interrupt. Stiff, fanatic, inhuman, callous, cold, half mad and wholly rash, without military capacity, ambitious as Lucifer and absurd as Hudibras-I ask again what is this person doing at the head of this army? Has any one confidence in him? Has any one pride in him? Has any one love for him? In all this frozen waste through which he is dragging us, you couldn't find an echo to say 'One!' Oh, you needn't shout 'One!' You're not an echo; you're only a misguided V. M. I. cadet! And you don't count either, chaplain! With all respect to you, you're a non-combatant. And that Valley man over there-he doesn't count either. He belongs to the Stonewall Brigade. He's one of Major-General T. J. Jackson's pet lambs. They're school-teachers' favourites. All they've got to do is to cheer for their master.-Hip, hip, hooray! Here's Old Jack with his hand lifted and his old cap pulled low, and his sabre carried oblikely, and his 'God has been very good to us to-day, men!' Yaaah-Look out! What are you about?"

The cadet and the Valley man threw themselves across the straw, upon the Georgian. Corbin Wood crawled over and separated them. "Boys, boys! You're quarrelling just because you're sick and tired and cold and fretful! Try to be good children. I predict there'll come a day when we'll all cheer like mad-our friend from Georgia, too-all cheer like mad when General Jackson goes by, leading us to victory! Be good now. I was at the circus once, when I was a little boy, when the animals got to fighting-"

The way over Bear Garden was steep, the road a mere track among boulders. There were many fallen trees. In places they lay across the road, abatis thrown there by the storm to be removed by half-frozen hands while the horses stood and whinnied. The winter day was failing when Stonewall Jackson, Ashby, and a portion of the cavalry with the small infantry advance, came down by precipitous paths into Bloomery Gap. Here, in a dim hollow and pass of the mountains, beside a shallow, frozen creek, they bivouacked.

From the other side of Bear Garden, General Loring again sent Stafford forward with a statement, couched in terms of courtesy three-piled and icy. The aide-a favourite with his general-had ventured to demur. "I don't think General Jackson likes me, sir. Would not some other-" Loring, the Old Blizzard of two years later-had sworn. "Damn you, Maury, whom does he like? Not any one out of the Stonewall Brigade! You've got a limberer wit than most, and he can't make you cower-by the Lord, I've seen him make others do it! You go ahead, and when you're there talk indigo Presbyterian!"

"There" was a space of trampled snow underneath a giant pine. A picket on the eastern side of the stream pointed it out, three hundred yards away, a dark sentinel towering above the forest. "He's thar. His staff's this side, by the pawpaw bushes." Stafford crossed the stream, shallow and filled with floating ice, climbed the shelving bank, and coming to the pawpaw bushes found Richard Cleave stooping over the small flame that Tullius had kindled and was watchfully feeding with pine cones. Cleave straightened himself. "Good-evening, Stafford! Come to my tiny, tiny fire. I can't give you coffee-worse luck!-but Tullius has a couple of sweet potatoes."

"I can't stay, thank you," said the other. "General Jackson is over yonder?"

"Yes, by the great pine. I will take you to him." The two stepped from out the ring of pawpaws, Stafford, walking, leading his horse. "General Loring complains again?"

"Has he not reason to?" Stafford looked about him. "Ugh! steppes of Russia!"

"You think it a Moscow march? Perhaps it is. But I doubt if Ney complained."

"You think that we complain too much?"

"What do you think of it?"

Stafford stood still. They were beside a dark line of cedars, skirting the forest, stretching toward the great pine. It was twilight; all the narrow valley drear and mournful; horses and men like phantoms on the muffled earth. "I think," said Stafford deliberately, "that to a Napoleon General Loring would not complain, nor I bear his message of complaint, but to General Jackson we will, in the interests of all, continue to make representations."

"In the interests of all!" exclaimed Cleave. "I beg that you will qualify that statement. Garnett's Brigade and Ashby's Cavalry have not complained."

"No. Many disagreeable duties are left to the brigades of General Loring."

"I challenge that statement, sir. It is not true."

Stafford laughed. "Not true! You will not get us to believe that. I think you will find that representations will be forwarded to the government at Richmond-"

"Representations of disaffected soldiers?"

"No, sir! Representations of gentlemen and patriots. Remonstrances of brave men against the leadership of a petty tyrant-a diseased mind-a Presbyterian deacon crazed for personal distinction-"

Cleave let his hand fall on the other's wrist. "Stop, sir! You will remember that I am of Garnett's Brigade, and, at present, of General Jackson's military family-"

Stafford jerked his wrist away. He breathed hard. All the pent weariness, irritation, wrath, of the past most wretched days, all the chill discomfort of the hour, the enmity toward Cleave of which he was increasingly conscious, the very unsoundness of his position and dissatisfaction with his errand, pushed him on. Quarrel was in the air. Eight thousand men had, to-day, found their temper on edge. It was not surprising that between these two a flame leaped. "Member of Garnett's Brigade and member of General Jackson's military family to the contrary," said Stafford, "these are Russian steppes, and this is a march from Moscow, and the general in command is no Napoleon, but a fool and a pedant-"

"I give you warning!"

"A crazy Barebones masquerading as a Cromwell-"

The other's two hands on the shoulders of General Loring's aide had undoubtedly-the weight of the body being thrown forward-the appearance of an assault. Stafford's foot slipped upon the freezing snow. Down he came to the earth, Cleave upon him. A voice behind them spoke with a kind of steely curtness, "Stand up, and let me see who you are!"

The two arose and faced Stonewall Jackson. He had come upon them silently, out from the screen of blackening cedars. Now he blocked their path, his lips iron, his eyes a mere gleaming line. "Two squabblers rolling in the snow-two staff officers brawling before a disheartened army! What have you to say for yourselves? Nothing!"

Stafford broke the silence. "Major Cleave has my leave to explain his action, sir."

Jackson's eyes drew to a yet narrower line. "Your leave is not necessary, sir. What was this brawl about, Major Cleave?"

"We quarrelled, sir," said Cleave slowly. "Major Stafford gave utterance to certain sentiments with which I did not agree, and ... we quarrelled."

"What sentiments? Yes, sir, I order you to answer."

"Major Stafford made certain statements as to the army and the campaign-statements which I begged to contradict. I can say no more, sir."

"You will tell me what statements, major."

"It is impossible for me to do that, sir."

"My orders are always possible of execution, sir. You will answer me."

Cleave kept silence. The twilight settled closer; the dark wall of the cedars seemed to advance; a hollow wind blew through the forest. "Why, I will tell you, sir!" said Stafford impatiently. "I said-"

Jackson cut him short. "Be silent, sir! I have not asked you for your report. Major Cleave, I am waiting."

Cleave made a slight gesture, sullen, weary, and determined. "I am very sorry, sir. Major Stafford made certain comments which I resented. Hence the action of a moment. That is all that I can say, sir."

Stafford spoke with curt rapidity. "I said that these were Russian steppes and that this was a march from Moscow, but that we had not a Napoleon to soften privation for us. I said that the Stonewall Brigade was unduly favoured, that the general commanding was-"

He got no further. "Silence, sir," said Jackson, "or I will bring you before a court martial! You will come with me now to my tent. I will hear General Loring's latest communication there." He turned upon Cleave. "As for you, sir, you will consider yourself under arrest, first for disobedience of orders, second for brawling in camp. You will march to-morrow in the rear of your regiment."

He towered a moment, then with a jerk of his hand went away, taking with him the officer from Loring. Stafford had a moment in which to make a gesture of anger and deprecation-a gesture which the other acknowledged with a nod; then he was gone, looking back once. Cleave returned to Tullius and the small fire by the pawpaw bushes.

An hour later when his regiment came down into Bloomery Gap, he found the colonel and made his report. "Why, damn it all!" said the colonel. "We were backing you for the brush. Hunting weather, and a clean run and all the dogs of war to fawn upon you at the end! And here's a paltry three-foot hedge and a bad tumble! Never you mind! You'll pick yourself up. Old Jack likes you first-rate."

Cleave laughed. "It doesn't much look like it, sir! Well-I'm back with the regiment, anyway!"

All that night it snowed, snowed hard. When the day broke the valley had the seeming of a crowded graveyard-numberless white mounds stretching north and south in the feeble light. A bugle blew, silver chill;-the men beneath the snow stirred, moaned, arose all white. All that day they marched, and at dusk crossed the Capon and bivouacked below the shoulder of Sand Mountain. In the morning they went up the mountain. The road was deep sand, intolerably toilsome. The column ascended in long curves, through a wood of oak and hickory, with vast tangles of grape hanging from the trees. Cavalry, infantry, artillery, wagon train, stragglers, the army came slowly, slowly down Sand Mountain, crossed the slender levels, and climbed Lovett's Mountain. Lovett's was long and high, but at last Lovett's, too, was overpassed. The column crept through a ravine with a stream to the left. Grey cliffs appeared; fern and laurel growing in the clefts. Below lay deep snowdrifts with blue shadows. Ahead, overarching the road, appeared a grey mass that all but choked the gorge. "Hanging Rock!" quoth some one. "That's where the guns were lost!" The army woke to interest. "Hanging Rock!... How're we going to get by? That ain't a road, it's just a cow path!-Powerful good place for an ambush-"

The column passed the rock, and leaving the pass came into open country. Before the leading brigade was a creek, an old covered bridge now almost burned away, and the charred ruin of a house. By the roadside lay a dead cow; in the field were others, and buzzards were circling above a piece of woods. A little farther a dog-a big, brown shepherd-lay in the middle of the road. Its throat had been cut. By the blackened chimney, on the stone hearth drifted over by the snow, stood a child's cradle. Nothing living was to be seen; all the out-houses of the farm and the barn were burned.

It was the beginning of a track of desolation. From Hanging Rock to Romney the Confederate column traversed a country where Kelly's troops had been before it. To well-nigh all of the grey rank and file the vision came with strangeness. They were to grow used to such sights, used, used! but now they flamed white with wrath, they exclaimed, they stammered. "What! what! Just look at that thar tannery! They've slit the hides to ribbons!-That po' ole white horse! What'd he done, I wonder?... What's that trampled in the mud? That's a doll baby. O Lord! Pick it up, Tom!-Maybe 'twas a mill once, but won't never any more water go over that wheel!... Making war on children and doll babies and dumb animals and mills!"

Now as hereafter the immediate effect was almost that of warmth and rest, food and wine. Suddenly the men began to say, "Old Jack. Wait till Old Jack gets there! Just wait till Old Jack and us gets there. I reckon there'll be something doing! There'll be some shooting, I reckon, that ain't practised on a man's oxen!-I reckon we'd better step up, boys!-Naw, my foot don't hurt no more!"

A mounted officer came by. "General Jackson says, 'Press forward, men!'"

The men did their best. It was very cold, with a high, bitter wind. Another low mountain presented itself; the road edged by banks of purplish slate, to either hand great stretches of dogwood showing scarlet berries, or sumach lifting torches in which colour yet smouldered. The column came down a steep descent, crossed a creek, and saw before it Jersey Mountain. Jersey Mountain proved ghastly; long, high, bare, blown against by all the winds. There had been upon Jersey a few cabins, a smithy, a mountain school-now there were only blackened chimneys. The men panted as they climbed; the wind howled along the crest, the snow began to swirl. At a turn of the road where had been a cabin, high upon the bank above the men, stood a mountain woman, her linsey skirt wrapped about her by the wind, her thick, pale Saxon hair lifted and carried out to its full length, her arms raised above her head. "Air ye going against them? Air ye going against them? The lightning go with ye-and the fire go with ye-and the hearts of your mothers go with ye! Oh-h!-Oh-h-h-h!-Oh-h! Shoot them down!"

It was as though Jersey would never be overpassed. There grew before the men's eyes, upon the treeless plateau which marked the summit, a small country church and graveyard. Inexpressibly lonely they looked against the stormy sky, lonely and beckoning. From company to company ran a statement. "When you get to that church you're just three miles from Romney." Up and up they mounted. The cavalry and advance guard, seen for a moment against a level horizon, disappeared beyond the church, over the brink of the hill. The main column climbed on through the wind and the snow; the rear came far behind. The Stonewall Brigade led the main body. As it reached the crest of Jersey, a horse and rider, a courier of Jackson's coming from the west, met it, rose in his stirrups, and shouted, "The damned vandals have gone! The Yankees have gone! They've gotten across the river, away to Cumberland! You weren't quick enough. General Jackson says, 'By God, you are too slow!'" The courier even in his anger caught himself. "I say, 'By God!' General Jackson says, 'You are too slow.' They've gone-only Ashby at their heels! They've left their stores in Romney, but they've gone, every devil of them! By God, General Jackson says, 'you should have marched faster!'"

He was gone, past the brigade, on to Loring's with his tidings. The Stonewall Brigade left behind the graveyard and the church and began the long descent. At first a great flame of anger kept up the hearts of the men. But as they marched, as they toiled down Jersey, as the realization of the facts pressed upon them, there came a change. The enemy had been gone from Bath; the enemy had been inaccessible at Hancock; now the enemy was not at Romney. Cumberland! Cumberland was many a wintry mile away, on the other side of the Potomac. Here, here on Jersey, there were cold, hunger, weariness, sickness, clothing grown ragged, shoes between a laugh and a groan, the snow falling, the wind rising, the day declining, and misery flapping dark wings above the head of the Army of the Northwest! Over the troops flowed, resistless, a wave of reaction, nausea, disappointment, melancholy. The step changed. Toward the foot of Jersey came another courier. "Yes, sir. On toward New Creek. General Jackson says, 'Press forward!'"

The Stonewall Brigade tried to obey, and somewhat dismally failed. How could it quicken step again? Night was coming, the snow was falling, everybody was sick at heart, hobbling, limping, dog-tired. The Close up, men, the Get on, men! of the officers, thin, like a child's fretful wail, was taken up by the wind and lost. With Romney well in sight came a third courier. "General Jackson says, 'Press forward!'-No, sir. He didn't say anything else. But I've been speaking with a courier of Ashby's. He says there are three railroad bridges,-one across Patterson's Creek and two across the river. If they were destroyed the enemy's communications would be cut. He thinks we're headed that way. It's miles the other side of Romney." He passed down the column. "General Jackson says, 'Press forward!'"

Press forward-Press forward! It went like the tolling of a bell, on and on toward the rear, past the Stonewall Brigade, past the artillery, on to Loring yet climbing Jersey. Miles beyond Romney! Railroad bridges to cut!-Frozen creeks, frozen rivers, steel in a world of snow-Kelly probably already at Cumberland, and Rosecrans beyond at Wheeling-hunger, cold, winter in the spurs of the Alleghenies, disease, stragglers, weariness, worn-out shoes, broken-down horses, disappointment, disillusion, a very, very strange commanding general-Suddenly confidence, heretofore a somewhat limping attendant of the army, vanished quite away. The shrill, derisive wind, the grey wraiths of snow, the dusk of the mountains took her, conveyed her from sight, and left the Army of the Northwest to the task of following without her "Fool Tom Jackson."

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