he was singing hymns, of which he had endless store.
He was not, however, one of our leading religionists, but his moral code was solid and reliable, like his mental processes.
Ignorant as he was, the “years that bring the philosophic mind” had yet been his, and most of my young officers seemed boys beside him. He was a Florida man, and had been chiefly employed in lumbering and piloting on the St. Mary's River
, which divides Florida
Down this stream he had escaped in a “dug-out,” and after thus finding the way, had returned (as had not a few of my men in other cases) to bring away wife and child.
“I would n't have leff my child, Cunnel
,” he said, with an emphasis that sounded the depths of his strong nature.
And up this same river he was always imploring to be allowed to guide an expedition.
Many other men had rival propositions to urge, for they gained self-confidence from drill and guard-duty, and were growing impatient of inaction.
“Ought to go to work, Sa,--don't believe in we lyin‘ in camp eatin‘ up de perwisions.”
Such were the quaint complaints, which I heard with joy. Looking over my note-books of that period, I find them filled with topographical memoranda, jotted down by a flickering candle, from the evening talk of the men,--notes of vulnerable points along the coast, charts of rivers, locations of pickets.
I prized these conversations not more for what I thus learned of the country than for what I learned of the men. One could thus measure their various degrees of accuracy and their average military instinct; and I must say that in every respect, save the accurate estimate of distances, they stood the test well.
But no project took my fancy so much, after all, as that of the delegate from the St. Mary's River