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   Chapter 18 No.18

The Long Roll By Mary Johnston Characters: 36850

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


At Stanardsville he heard from a breathless crowd about the small hotel news from over the mountains. Banks was at last in motion-was marching, nineteen thousand strong, up the Valley-had seized New Market, and, most astounding and terrific of all to the village boys, had captured a whole company of Ashby's! "General Jackson?" General Jackson had burned the railway station at Mt. Jackson and fallen back-was believed to be somewhere about Harrisonburg.

"Any other news?"

"Yes, sir! Frémont's pressing south from Moorefield, Milroy east from Monterey! General Edward Johnson's had to fall back from the Alleghenies!-he's just west of Staunton. He hasn't got but a brigade and a half."

"Anything more?"

"Stage's just brought the Richmond papers. All about Albert Sydney Johnston's death at Shiloh. He led the charge and a minie ball struck him, and he said 'Lay me down. Fight on.'"

"Fort Pulaski's taken! The darned gunboats battered down the wall. All of the garrison that ain't dead are prisoners."

"News from New Orleans ain't hilarious. Damned mortar boats bombard and bombard!-four ships, they say, against Fort Saint Philip, more against Fort Jackson. Air full of shells. Farragut may try to run forts and batteries, Chalmette and all-"

"What else?"

"Looks downright bad down t' Richmond. McClellan's landed seventy-five thousand men. Magruder lost a skirmish at Yorktown. All the Richmond women are making sandbags for the fortifications. Papers talk awful calm and large, but if Magruder gives way and Johnston can't keep McClellan back, I reckon there'll be hell to pay! I reckon Richmond'll fall."

"Anything more?"

"That's all to-day."

The village wag stepped forth, half innocent and half knave. "Saay, colonel! The prospects of this here Confederacy look rather blue."

"It is wonderful," said Cleave, "how quickly blue can turn to grey."

A portion of that night he spent at a farmhouse at the western mouth of Swift Run Gap. Between two and three he and Harris and Dundee and the grey were again upon the road. It wound through forests and by great mountains, all wreathed in a ghostly mist. The moon shone bright, but the cold was clinging. It had rained and on the soft wood road the horses feet fell noiselessly. The two men rode in silence, cloaks drawn close, hats over their eyes.

Behind them in the east grew slowly the pallor of the dawn. The stars waned, the moon lost her glitter, in the woods to either side began a faint peeping of birds. The two came to Conrad's Store, where the three or four houses lay yet asleep. An old negro, sweeping the ground before a smithy, hobbled forward at Harris's call. "Lawd, marster, enny news? I specs, sah, I'll hab ter ax you 'bout dat. I ain' heard none but dat dar wuz er skirmish at Rude's Hill, en er skirmish at New Market, en er-nurr skirmish at Sparta, en dat Gineral Jackson hold de foht, sah, at Harrisonburg, en dat de Yankees comin', lickerty-split, up de Valley, en dat de folk at Magaheysville air powerful oneasy in dey minds fer fear dey'll deviate dis way. Howsomever, we's got er home guard ef dey do come, wid ole Mr. Smith what knew Gin'ral Washington at de haid. En dar wuz some bridges burnt, I hearn, en Gineral Ashby he had er fight on de South Fork, en I cyarn think ob no mo' jes now, sah! But Gineral Jackson he sholy holdin' de foht at Harrisonburg.-Yes, sah, dat's de Magaheysville road."

The South Fork of the Shenandoah lay beneath a bed of mist. They crossed by a wooden bridge and came up again to the chill woods. Dim purple streaks showed behind them in the east, but there was yet no glory and no warmth. Before them rose a long, low mountain ridge, a road running along the crest. "That certainly is damn funny!" said Harris; "unless I've taken to seeing sights."

Cleave checked his horse. Above them, along the ridge top, was moving an army. It made no noise on the soft, moist road, artillery wheel and horse's hoof quiet alike. It seemed to wish to move quietly, without voice. The quarter of the sky above the ridge was coldly violet, palely luminous. All these figures stood out against it, soldiers with their muskets, colour-bearer with furled colours, officers on foot, officers on horseback, guns, caissons, gunners, horses, forges, ordnance wagons, commissary-van, main body and rear, an army against the daybreak sky.

"Well, if ever I saw the like of that!" breathed the orderly. "What d'ye reckon it means, sir?"

"It means that General Jackson is moving east from Harrisonburg."

"Not a sound-D'ye reckon they're ghosts, sir?"

"No. They're the Army of the Valley-There! the advance has made the turn."

Toward them swung the long column, through the stillness of the dawn, down the side of the ridge, over the soundless road, into the mist of the bottom lands. The leading regiment chanced to be the 2d; colonel and adjutant and others riding at the head. "Hello! It's Richard Cleave!-The top of the morning to you, Cleave!-knew that Old Jack had sent you off somewhere, but didn't know where.-Where are we going? By God, if you'll tell us, we'll tell you! Apparently we're leaving the Valley-damn it all! Train to Richmond by night, I reckon. We've left Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year behind us-Banks rubbing his hands, Frémont doing a scalp dance, Milroy choosing headquarters in Staunton! Well, it doesn't stand thinking of. You had as well waited for us at the Gap. The general? Just behind, head of main column. He's jerked that right hand of his into the air sixteen times since we left Harrisonburg day before yesterday, and the staff says he prays at night most powerful. Done a little praying myself; hope the Lord will look after the Valley, seeing we aren't going to do it ourselves!"

Cleave drew his horse to one side. "I'll wait here until he comes up-no, not the Lord; General Jackson. I want, too, to speak to Will. Where in column is the 65th?"

"Fourth, I think. He's a nice boy-Will. It was pretty to watch him at Kernstown-V. M. I. airs and precision, and gallantry enough for a dozen!"

"I'll tell him you said so, colonel! Good-bye!"

Will, too, wanted to know-he said that Mr. Rat wanted to know-all the fellows wanted to know, what-("I wish you'd let me swear, Richard!") what it all meant? "Mr. Rat and I don't believe he's responsible-it isn't in the least like his usual conduct! Old Jack backing away from cannons and such-quitting parade ground before it's time!-marching off to barracks with a beautiful rumpus behind him! It ain't natural! Mark my words, Richard, and Mr. Rat thinks so, too, it's General Lee or General Johnston, and he's got to obey and can't help himself!-What do you think?"

"I think it will turn out all right. Now march on, boy! The colonel says he watched you at Kernstown; says you did mighty well-'gallant for a dozen!'"

General Jackson on Little Sorrel was met with further on. Imperturbable and self-absorbed, with his weather-stained uniform, his great boots, his dreadful cap, he exhibited as he rode a demeanour in which there was neither heaviness nor lightness. Never jovial, seldom genial, he was on one day much what he was on another-saving always battle days. Riding with his steadfast grey-blue eyes level before him, he communed with himself or with Heaven-certainly not with his dissatisfied troops.

He acknowledged Cleave's salute, and took the letter which the other produced. "Good! good! What did you do at Charlottesville?"

"I sent the stores on to Major Harman at Staunton, sir. There was a good deal of munition." He gave a memorandum.

One hundred rifled muskets with bayonets.

" " Belgian " " "

Fifty flintlocks.

Two hundred pikes.

Five hundred pounds cannon powder.

Two " " musket "

Five thousand rounds of cartridge.

Eight sets artillery harness.

Ten artillery sabres.

One large package of lint.

One small case drugs and surgical instruments.

"Good, good," said Jackson. "What day?"

"Monday, sir. Virginia Central that afternoon. I telegraphed to Major Harman."

"Good!" He folded the slip of paper between his large fingers and transferred it to his pocket. "I will read General Ewell's letter. Later I may wish to ask you some questions. That is all, major."

Cleave rode back to the 65th. Presently, the sun now brilliantly up, the Army of the Valley, in no sunny mood, crossed the bridge over the Shenandoah. There was a short halt. A company of Ashby's galloped from the rear and drew off into a strip of level beside the bridge. A section of artillery followed suit. The army understood that for some reason or other and for some length of time or other the bridge was to be guarded, but it understood nothing more. Presently the troops passed Conrad's Store, where the old negro, reinforced now by the dozen white inhabitants, gaped at the tramping column. The white men asked stuttering questions, and as the situation dawned upon them they indulged in irritating comment. "Say, boys, where in the Lord's name air you going? We want you on this side of the Blue Ridge-you ain't got any call to go on the other!-if you've got any Tuckahoes, let them go, but you Cohees stay in your native land-Valley men ain't got no right to go! What'd the women say to you along the road? Clearing out like a passel of yaller dogs afore there's trouble and leavin' them an' the children to entertain the Yankees!"

Harris, coming up with the orderlies, found the old negro at his mare's bridle. "Well, marster, I sholy did think I wuz tellin' de truf, sah, 'bout Gin'ral Jackson holdin' de foht at Harrisonburg! En now he done 'vacuate hit, en Gin'ral Banks he prance right in! Hit look powerful cu'rous, hit sho do. But dar! I done seed de stars all fallin' way back in '33, en dat wuz powerful cu'rous too, fer de worl' didn't come ter an eend-Mebbe, sah, he jes'er drawin' dat gent'man on?"

Sullen and sorry, the army marched on, and at noon came to Elk Run Valley on the edge of Swift Run Gap. When the men stacked arms and broke ranks, it was upon the supposition that, dinner over, they would resume the march. They did not so; they stayed ten days in Elk Run Valley.

All around were the mountains, heavily timbered, bold and pathless. Beyond Conrad's Store, covering Jackson's front, rushed the Shenandoah, the bridge guarded by Ashby's men. There were pickets enough between the river and the camp; north, south, and east rose the mountains, and on the other side of Swift Run Gap, near Stanardsville, lay Ewell and his eight thousand. The encampment occupied low and flat ground, through which ran a swollen creek. The spring had been on the whole inclement, and now, with suddenness, winter came back for a final word. One day there was a whirl of snow, another was cold and harsh, on the third there set in a chilly rain. It rained and rained, and all the mountain streams came down in torrents and still further swelled the turbid creek. One night, about halfway through their stay, the creek came out of its banks and flooded the surrounding land. All tents, huts, and shelters of boughs for a hundred feet each side acquired a liquid flooring. There arose an outcry on the midnight air. Wet and cursing, half naked and all a-shiver, men disentangled themselves from their soaked blankets, snatched up clothing and accoutrements, and splashed through a foot of icy water to slightly dryer quarters on the rising ground.

Snow, rain, freeze, thaw, impatience, listlessness, rabid conjecture, apathetic acquiescence, quarrels, makeups, discomfort, ennui, a deal of swearing (carefully suppressed around headquarters), drill whenever practicable, two Sunday services and one prayer meeting!-the last week of April 1862 in Elk Run Valley was one to be forgotten without a pang. There was an old barn which the artillery had seized upon, that leaked like a sieve, and there was a deserted tannery that still filled the air with an evil odour, and there was change of pickets, and there were rain-sodden couriers to be observed coming and going (never anything to be gotten out of them), and there were the mountains hung with grey clouds. The wood was always wet and would not burn. Coffee was so low that it was served only every other day, besides being half chicory, and the commissary had been cheated into getting a lot of poor tobacco. The guardhouse accommodated more men than usual. A squad of Ashby's brought in five deserters, all found on the backward road to the Valley. One said that he was sick and that his mother had always nursed him; another that he was only going to see that the Yankees hadn't touched the farm, and meant to come right back; another that the war was over, anyhow; another that he had had a bad dream and couldn't rest until he saw that his wife was alive; the fifth that he was tired of living; and the sixth said nothing at all. Jackson had the six put in irons, and it was thought that after the court martial they would be shot.

On the twenty-ninth Ashby, from the other side of the Shenandoah, made a demonstration in force against the enemy at Harrisonburg, and the next day, encountering the Federal cavalry, drove them back to the town. That same afternoon the Army of the Valley, quitting without regret Elk Run Valley, found itself travelling an apparently bottomless road that wound along the base of the mountains.

"For the Lord's sake, where are we going now?"

"This is the worst road to Port Republic."

"Why are we going to Port Republic?"

"Boys, I don't know. Anyway, we ain't going through the Gap. We're still in the Valley."

"By gosh, I've heard the captain give some mighty good guesses! I'm going to ask him.-Captain, what d' ye reckon we camped ten days in that mud hole for?"

Hairston Breckinridge gave the question consideration. "Well, Tom, maybe there were reasons, after all. General Ewell, for instance-he could have joined us there any minute. They say he's going to take our place at Elk Run to-night!"

"That so? Wish him joy of the mud hole!"

"And we could have been quickly reinforced from Richmond. General Banks would know all that, and 't would make him even less eager than he seems to be to leave the beaten way and come east himself. Nobody wants him, you know, on the other side of the Blue Ridge."

"That's so-"

"And for all he knew, if he moved north and west to join Frémont we might pile out and strike Milroy, and if he went south and west to meet Milroy he might hear of something happening to Frémont."

"That's so-"

"And if he moved south on Staunton he might find himself caught like a scalybark in a nut cracker-Edward Johnson on one side and the Army of the Valley on the other."

"That's so-"

"The other day I asked Major Cleave if General Jackson never amused himself in any way-never played any game, chess for instance. He said, 'Not at all-which was lucky for the other chess player.'"

"Well, he ought to know, for he's a mighty good chess player himself. And you think-"

"I think General Banks has had to stay where he is."

"And where are we going now-besides Port Republic?"

"I haven't any idea. But I'm willing to bet that we're going somewhere."

The dirt roads, after the incessant rains, were mud, mud, mud! ordinarily to the ankles, extraordinarily to the knees of the marching infantry. The wagon train moved in front, and the heavy wheels made for the rest a track something like Christian's through the Slough of Despond. The artillery brought up the rear and fared worst of all. Guns and caissons slid heavily into deep mud holes. The horses strained-poor brutes! but their iron charges stuck fast. The drivers used whip and voice, the officers swore, there arose calls for Sergeant Jordan. Appearing, that steed tamer picked his way to the horses' heads, spoke to them, patted them, and in a reasonable voice said, "Get up!" They did it, and the train dragged on to the next bog, deeper than before. Then da capo-stuck wheels, straining teams, oaths, adjuration, at last "Sergeant Jordan!"

So abominable was the road that the army went like a tortoise, a mud tortoise. Twilight found it little more than five miles from its starting-point, and the bivouac that night was by the comfortless roadside, in the miry bushes, with fires of wet wood, and small and poor rations. Clouds were lowering and a chilly wind fretted the forests of the Blue Ridge. Around one of the dismal, smoky fires an especially dejected mess found a spokesman with a vocabulary rich in comminations.

"Sh!" breathed one of the ring. "Officer coming by. Heard you too, Williams-all that about Old Jack."

A figure wrapped in a cloak passed just upon the rim of the firelight. "I don't think, men," said a voice, "that you are in a position to judge. If I have brought you by this road it is for your own good."

He passed on, the darkness taking him. Day dawned as best it might through grey sheets of rain. Breakfast was a mockery, damp hardtack holding the centre of the stage. A very few men had cold coffee in their canteens, but when they tried to heat it the miserable fire went out. On marched the Army of the Valley, in and out of the great rain-drenched, mist-hidden mountains, on the worst road to Port Republic. Road, surrounding levels, and creek-bed had somehow lost identity. One was like the other, and none had any bottom. Each gun had now a corps of pioneers, who, casting stone and brushwood into the morass, laboriously built a road for the piece. Whole companies of infantry were put at this work. The officers helped, the staff dismounted and helped, the commanding general was encountered, rain-dripping, mud-spattered, a log on his shoulder or a great stone in his hands. All this day they made but five miles, and at night they slept in something like a lake, with a gibing wind above to whisper What's it for?-What's it for?

May the second was of a piece with May the first. On the morning of May the third the clouds broke and the sun came out. It found the troops bivouacked just east of the village of Port Republic, and it put into them life and cheer. Something else helped, and that was the fact that before them, clear and shining in the morning light, stretched, not the neglected mountain road they had been travelling, but a fair Valley road, the road to Staunton.

Jackson and his staff had their

quarters at the neighbouring house of General Lewis. At breakfast one of the ladies remarked that the Staunton road was in good condition, and asked the guest of honour how long it would take the army to march the eighteen miles.

"Is that the exact distance?" asked the general. "Eighteen miles?"

"Yes, sir; just about eighteen. You should get there, should you not, by night?"

"You are fortunate," said the general, "in having a great natural curiosity at your very doors. I have long wanted to see Weyers's Cave. A vast cavern like that, hollowed out by God's finger, hung with stalactites, with shells and banners of stone, filled with sounding aisles, run through by dark rivers in which swim blind fish-how wonderful a piece of His handiwork! I have always wished to see it-the more so that my wife has viewed it and told me of its marvels. I always wish, madam, to rest my eyes where my wife's have rested."

The bugles ringing "Fall in!" were positively sweet to the ears of the soldiers of the Valley. "Fall in? with pleasure, sir! Eighteen miles? What's eighteen miles when you're going home? It's a fine old road anyhow, with more butterflies on it! We'll double-quick it all the way if Old Jack wants us!"

"That man back there says Staunton's awfully anxious. Says people all think we've gone to reinforce Richmond without caring a damn what becomes of the Valley. Says Milroy is within ten miles of Staunton, and Banks's just waiting a little longer before he pulls up stakes at Harrisonburg and comes down the pike to join him. Says Edward Johnson ain't got but a handful, and that the Staunton women are hiding their silver. Says-Here's Old Jack, boys! going to lead us himself back to Goshen! One cheer ain't enough-three cheers for General Jackson!"

Jackson, stiffly lifting the old forage cap, galloped by upon Little Sorrel. His staff behind him, he came to the head of the column where it was drawn up on the fair road leading through Port Republic, south and west to Staunton. Close on the eastern horizon rose the Blue Ridge. To this side turned off a rougher, narrower way, piercing at Brown's Gap the great mountain barrier between the Valley and Piedmont Virginia.

The column was put into motion, the troops stepping out briskly. Warm and lovely was the sunshine, mildly still the air. Big cherry trees were in bloom by the wayside: there was a buzzing of honey bees, a slow fluttering of yellow butterflies above the fast drying mud puddles. Throughout the ranks sounded a clearing of throats; it was evident that the men felt like singing, presently would sing. The head of the column came to the Brown's Gap Road.

"What's that stony old road?" asked a Winchester man.

"That's a road over the mountains into Albemarle. Thank the Lord-"

"Column left. march!"

It rang infernally. Column left. march!-Not a freight boat horn winding up the James at night, not the minie's long screech, not Gabriel's trump, not anything could have sounded at this moment so mournfully in the ears of the Army of the Valley. It wheeled to the left, it turned its back to the Valley, it took the stony road to Brown's Gap, it deeply tasted the spring of tragic disappointment.

The road climbed and climbed through the brilliant weather. Spur and wall, the Blue Ridge shimmered in May greenery, was wrapped in happy light and in sweet odours, was carpeted with wild flowers and ecstatic with singing birds. Only the Army of the Valley was melancholy-desperately melancholy. Here and there through openings, like great casements in the foliage, wide views might be had of the Valley they were leaving. Town and farm and mill with turning wheel were there, ploughed land and wheat fields, Valley roads and Valley orchards, green hills and vales and noble woods, all the great vale between mountain chains, two hundred miles from north to south, twenty-five from Blue Ridge to Alleghenies! The men looked wistfully, with grieved, children's faces.

At the top of the mountain there was a short halt. The up-hill pull had been hard enough, heavy hearts and all! The men dropped upon the earth between the pine trees of the crest. For the most part they lay in the sullen silence with which they had climbed. Some put their heads upon their arms, tilted hat or cap over their eyes. Others chewed a twig or stalk of grass and gazed upon the Valley they were leaving, or upon the vast eastward stretch of Piedmont, visible also from the mountain top. It was bright and quiet up here above the world. The sunshine drew out the strong, life-giving odour of the pines, the ground was dry and warm, it should have been a pleasant place to drowse in and be happy. But the Valley soldiers were not happy. Jackson, riding by a recumbent group, spoke from the saddle. "That's right, men! You rest all over, lying down." In the morning this group had cheered him loudly; now it saluted in a genuine "Bath to Romney" silence. He rode by, imperturbable. His chief engineer was with him, and they went on to a flat rock commanding both the great views, east and west. Here they dismounted, and between them unfurled a large map, weighting its corners with pine cones. The soldiers below them gazed dully. Old Jack-or Major-General T. J. Jackson-or Fool Tom Jackson was forever looking at maps. It was a trick of his, as useless as saying "Good! good!" or jerking his hand in the air in that old way.

* * *

That evening the Army of the Valley slept in emerald meadows beside Meechum's River in Albemarle. Coming down the mountain it had caught distant glimpses of white spirals of smoke floating from the overworked engines of the Virginia Central; and now it lay near a small country station, and there on the switch were empty cars and empty cars!-cars to go to Richmond on. The army groaned and got its supper, took out its pipe and began, though reluctantly enough, to regard the situation with a philosophic eye. What was done was done! The Blue Ridge lay between it and the Valley, and after all Old Joe must be wanting soldiers pretty badly down at Richmond! The landscape was lovely, the evening tranquil and sweet. The army went to bed early, and went in a frame of mind approaching resignation. This was Saturday evening; Old Jack would rest to-morrow.

Sunday dawned clear and sweet. Pleasant morning-no drill, and light camp duties-coffee, hot biscuits, good smoke-general Sunday atmosphere-bugler getting ready to sound "Church!"-regimental chaplains moving toward chosen groves-"Old Hundred" in the air.-"Oh, come on and go! All the people are going at home."

And, after all, no one in the Army of the Valley went to church! The bugler blew another call, the chaplains stopped short in their sedate stride, short as if they had been shot, "Old Hundred" was not sung. Break camp-Break camp!

The regiments, marching down to Meechum's Station, were of one mind. Old Jack was losing his religion. Manassas on Sunday-Kernstown on Sunday-forced marches on Sunday-Sunday train to Richmond. Language failed.

There were long lines of cars, some upon the main track, others on the siding. The infantry piled in, piled atop. Out of each window came three or four heads. "You fellows on the roof, you're taller'n we are! Air we the first train? That's good, we'll be the first to say howdy to McClellan. You all up there, don't dangle your legs that-a-way! You're as hard to see through as Old Jack!"

Company after company filed into the poor old cars that were none too large, whose ante-bellum days were their best days, who never had time now to be repaired or repainted, or properly cleaned. Squad by squad swung itself up to the cindery roof and sat there in rows, feet over the edge, the central space between heaped with haversacks and muskets.

"2d-4th-5th-65th-Jerusalem! the whole brigade's going on this train! Another's coming right behind-why don't they wait for it? Crowding gentlemen in this inconsiderate fashion! Oh, ain't it hot? Wish I was going to Niagara, to a Know-Nothing Convention! Our train's full. There's the engine coming down the siding! You all on top, can you see the artillery and the wagons?"

"Yes. Way over there. Going along a road-nice shady road. Rockbridge's leading-"

"That's the road to Rockfish Gap."

"Rockfish Gap? Go 'way! You've put your compass in the wrong pocket. Rockfish Gap's back where we came from. Look out!"

The backing engine and the waiting cars came together with a grinding bump. An instant's pause, a gathering of force, a mighty puffing and, slow and jerkily, the cars began to move. The ground about Meechum's Station was grey with soldiers-part of the Stonewall, most of Burk's and Fulkerson's brigades, waiting for the second train and the third train and their turn to fill the cars. They stood or leaned against the station platform, or they sat upon the warm red earth beneath the locust trees, white and sweet with hanging bloom. "Good-bye, boys! See you in Richmond-Richmond on the James! Don't fight McClellan till we get there! That engine's just pulling them beyond the switch. Then that one below there will back up and hitch on at the eastern end.-That's funny!" The men sitting on the warm red earth beneath the locust trees sprang to their feet. "That train ain't coming back! Before the Lord, they're going west!"

Back to Meechum's Station, from body and top of the out-going train floated wild cheering. "Staunton! We're going to Staunton! We're going back to the Valley! We're going home! We're going to get there first! We're going to whip Banks! We've got Old Jack with us. You all hurry up. Banks thinks we've gone to Richmond, but we ain't! Yaaaih! Yaaaaihhh! Yaaaih! Yaaaaaaih!"

At Meechum's Station, beneath the locust trees, it was like bees swarming. Another train was on the main track, the head beautifully, gloriously westward! "Staunton! Good-bye, you little old Richmond, we ain't going to see you this summer!-Feel good? I feel like a shouting Methodist! My grandmother was a shouting Methodist. I feel I'm going to shout-anyhow, I've got to sing-"

A chaplain came by with a beaming face. "Why don't we all sing, boys? I'm sure I feel like it. It's Sunday."

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord-

In Staunton it had been a day of indigo gloom. The comfortable Valley town, fair-sized and prosperous, with its pillared court house, its old hotel, its stores, its up and down hill streets, its many and shady trees, its good brick houses, and above the town its quaintly named mountains-Staunton had had, in the past twelve months, many an unwonted throb and thrill. To-day it was in a condition of genuine, dull, steady anxiety, now and then shot through by a fiercer pang. There had been in town a number of sick and convalescent soldiers. All these were sent several days before, eastward, across the mountains. In the place were public and military stores. At the same time, a movement was made toward hiding these in the woods on the other side of the twin mountains Betsy Bell and Mary Grey. It was stopped by a courier from the direction of Swift Run Gap with a peremptory order. Leave those stores where they are. Staunton grumbled and wondered, but obeyed. And now the evening before, had come from Port Republic, eighteen miles toward the Blue Ridge, a breathless boy on a breathless horse, with tidings that Jackson was at last and finally gone from the Valley-had crossed at Brown's Gap that morning! "Called to Richmond!" groaned the crowd that accompanied the boy on his progress toward official Staunton. "Reckon Old Joe and General Lee think we're small potatoes and few in a row. They ain't, either of them, a Valley man. Reckon this time to-morrow Banks and Milroy'll saunter along and dig us up! There's old Watkin's bugle! Home Guard, come along and drill!"

Staunton did little sleeping that Saturday night. Jackson was gone-Ashby with him. There was not a Confederate vedette between the town and Banks at Harrisonburg-the latter was probably moving down the pike this very night, in the dark of the moon. Soldiers of Edward Johnson-tall Georgians and 44th Virginians-had been in town that Saturday, but they two were gone, suddenly recalled to their camp, seven miles west, on the Parkersburg road. Scouts had reported to Johnson that Milroy was concentrating at M'Dowell, twenty miles to the westward, and that Schenck, sent on by Frémont, had joined or would join him. Any hour they might move eastward on Staunton. Banks-Frémont-Milroy-three armies, forty thousand men-all converging on Staunton and its Home Guard, with the intent to make it even as Winchester! Staunton felt itself the mark of the gods, a mournful Rome, an endangered Athens, a tottering Carthage.

Sunday morning, clear and fine, had its church bells. The children went to Sunday School, where they learned of Goliath and the brook Hebron, and David and his sling. At church time the pews were well filled-chiefly old men and women and young boys. The singing was fervent, the prayers were yet more so. The people prayed very humbly and heartily for their Confederacy, for their President and his Cabinet, and for Congress, for their Capital, so endangered, for their armies and their generals, for every soldier who wore the grey, for their blocked ports, for New Orleans, fallen last week, for Norfolk that the authorities said must be abandoned, for Johnston and Magruder on the Peninsula-at that very hour, had they known it, in grips with Hancock at Williamsburg.

Benediction pronounced, the congregation came out of the churchyards in time to greet with delight, not unmixed with a sense of the pathos of it, certain just arrived reinforcements. Four companies of Virginia Military Institute cadets, who, their teachers at their head, had been marched down for the emergency from Lexington, thirty-eight miles away. Flushed, boyish, trig, grey and white uniformed, with shining muskets, seventeen years old at most, beautifully marching with their band and their colours, amidst plaudits, tears, laughter, flowers, thrown kisses, they came down the street, wheeled, and before the court house were received by the Home Guard, an organization of grey-headed men.

Sunday afternoon brought many rumours. Milroy would march from McDowell to-morrow-Banks was coming down the turnpike-Frémont hovering closer. Excited country people flocked into town. Farmers whose sons were with Jackson came for advice from leading citizens. Ought they to bring in the women and children?-no end of foreigners with the blue coats, and foreigners are rough customers! And stock? Better drive the cows up into the mountains and hide the horses? "Tom Watson says they're awful wanton,-take what they want and kill the rest, and no more think of paying!-Says, too, they're burning barns. What d'you think we'd better do, sir?" There were Dunkards in the Valley who refused to go to war, esteeming it a sin. Some of these were in town, coming in on horseback or in their white-covered wagons, and bringing wife or daughter. The men were long-bearded and venerable of aspect; the women had peaceful Quaker faces, framed by the prim close bonnet of their peculiar garb. These quiet folk, too, were anxious-eyed. They would not resist evil, but their homes and barns were dear to their hearts.

By rights the cadets should have been too leg weary for parade, but if Staunton (and the young ladies) wished to see how the V. M. I. did things, why, of course! In the rich afternoon light, band playing, Major Smith at their head, the newly-arrived Corps of Defence marched down the street toward a green field fit for evolutions. With it, on either sidewalk, went the town at large, specifically the supremely happy, small boy. The pretty girls were already in the field, seated, full skirted beneath the sweet locust trees.

V. M. I., Home Guard, and attendant throng neared the Virginia Central. A whistle shrieked down the line, shrieked with enormous vigour-"What's that? Train due?"-"No. Not due for an hour-always late then! Better halt until it pulls in. Can't imagine-"

The engine appeared, an old timer of the Virginia Central, excitedly puffing dark smoke, straining in, like a racer to the goal. Behind it cars and cars-cars with men atop! They were all in grey-they were all yelling-the first car had a flag, the battle-flag of the Confederacy, the dear red ground, and the blue Saint Andrew's Cross and the white stars. There were hundreds of men! hundreds and hundreds, companies, regiments, on the roof, on the platforms, half out of the windows, waving, shouting-no! singing-

"We're the Stonewall.

Zoom! Zoom!

We're the openers of the ball.

Zoom! Zoom!

"Fix bayonets! Charge!

Rip! Rip!

N. P. Banks for our targe.

Zip! Zip!

"We wrote it on the way.

Zoom! Zoom!

Hope you like our little lay.

Zoom! Zoom!

For we didn't go to Richmond and we're coming home to stay!"

Four days later, on Sitlington's Hill, on the Bull Pasture Mountain, thirty miles to the west of Staunton, a man sat at nightfall in the light of a great camp-fire and wrote a dispatch to his Government. There waited for it a swift rider-watching the stars while the general wrote, or the surgeons' lanterns, like fireflies, wandering up and down the long green slopes where the litter bearers lifted the wounded, friend and foe.

The man seated on the log wrote with slow precision a long dispatch, covering several pages of paper. Then he read it over, and then he looked for a minute or two at the flitting lanterns, and then he slowly tore the dispatch in two, and fed the fire with the pieces. The courier, watching him write a much shorter message, half put forth his hand to take it, for his horse whinnied upon the road far below, and the way to Staunton was long and dark. However, Jackson's eyes again dwelt on the grey slopes before him and on the Alleghenies, visited by stars, and then, as slowly as before, he tore this dispatch also across and across and dropped the pieces on the brands. When they were burned he wrote a single line, signed and folded it, and gave it to the courier. The latter, in the first pink light, in the midst of a jubilant Staunton, read it to the excited operator in the little telegraph station.

"God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday.

"T. J. Jackson


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