A Lynchburg man performed, late in the siege, a feat never heretofore recorded, and of courage worthy of the honest Irish blood that flowed in his veins.
Major Mike Connell
, having resigned his commission in a Memphis regiment as having passed the age of service, undertook to convoy a large purchase of sugar from somewhere in Louisiana
to its owner in Virginia
He had maneuvred it as far as Vicksburg
, and there the siege settled on it. After awaiting its issue from week to week, being satisfied that he could accomplish no good by remaining, and was only one more mouth to be fed out of next to nothing, Major Connell
decided to make his escape.
He intimated his purpose to the numerous Virginians
in the city, and to other friends, and received from these a great budget of letters, which was all his load.
Waiting for a stormy night, he laid himself flat in the bottom of a dug-out, just large enough to hold him, and was pushed out to take the chances of the Mississippi
's arrowy current.
He drifted, bygood luck, between the gunboats and the guard-boats around them, and late next day was swept by a turn of the stream to the east bank near Rodney
, and struggled through swamps and across bayous to terra firma
. Borrowing somebody's mule (on what terms history is silent), he made his way painfully across the country to the nearest station on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, whence he took cars for Mobile
His letters were mailed, and a six weeks brain fever was the penalty paid for his hardihood.
Not many letters have seemed to come so nearly out of the grave as did these missives to their astonished recipients.
Other people went and came between the garrison and the world outside.
Others started who never reached their destination; some were captured and some deserted.
had ten dispatches from Pemberton
during the siege, but the number received from him was smaller.
How these messengers made their way in and out I have no means of knowing; perhaps through the woods, and between the intricate system of hills and vales that surround the city, and perhaps in disguise as citizens of the country.
One of the deserters was a youth named Douglass
, a native of Illinois
, who had lived several years in Texas
, and was supposed to be “loyal” --our way. It was he who refreshed the correspondents with the news that Mrs. Pemberton
) had been killed by a mortar shell.
There were reports from time to time of the flitting of Lanar Fontaine
, one of the numerous poets for whom the authorship of “All quiet along the Potomac
to-night” is claimed, between the garrison and the outside world.
I do not know if they were true or not.