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[118] no song of praise.1 The mortars had no almanac, and the mortars kept at home a perpetual service of fast and humiliation.

I have spoken of the wretched expedients to which families resorted in the hope of safety. Vicksburg hangs on the side of a hill, whose name is poetical — the Sky Parlor. On it thousands of people assembled to see the great sight when the Federal ships went by on the night of the 16th of April; at which time the houses of De Soto were kindled on the other side, lending a lurid background to the dark shadows of the boats, while the fire of the batteries made the river a mirror of flame! But the Sky Parlor was reserved for other uses. Its soil was light and friable, and yet sufficiently stiff to answer the purpose of excavation. Wherever the passage of a street left the face of the hill exposed, into it and under it the people burrowed, making long ranges and systems of chambers and arches within which the women and young took shelter. In them all the offices of life had to be discharged, except that generally the cooking-stove stood near the entrance, opportunity to perform upon it being seized and improved during the shells' diversions in other quarters. Sometimes the caves were strengthened by pillars and wooden joists, and beds and furniture were crowded in them. Whether they were really effective as against the largest shells dropped directly above, I cannot tell. Stories were told, more than once during the siege, of people who had been buried alive by the collapse of caves; but they probably were not true. They made good shelter against the flying fragments of the bombs, and this was no small matter. It was rather a point of honor among men not to hide in these places, which were reserved for the women and children. Under all circumstances of difficulty, the modesty of these was supported in the half-exposed life of the caves with a pathos which affected me more deeply than any other circumstance of the siege. Another refuge of a few young ladies in the neighborhood of General Smith's headquarters, which had been a bank, was a vault in its cellar. One night, when more than a dozen of them were huddled in it, a shell struck the brick arch squarely and burst the same moment. None of the pieces penetrated; but would the whole bomb have gone through, was the question. And suppose it had, and had then burst?

I believe the vault was never again occupied by the ladies. Considering the constant danger and the many narrow escapes, it is a great wonder that the casualties among the non-combatants were so

1 Rev. Dr. Lord states that there were regular Sunday morning services at the Episcopal and Catholic churches during the siege.

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