Nothing was said about the novel fact by anybody,--it all seemed to come as matter-of-course; there appeared to be no mutual distrust among the men, and as for the officers, doubtless “each crow thought its own young the whitest,” --I certainly did, although doing full justice to the eager courage of the Northern
portion of my command.
Especially I watched with pleasure the fresh delight of the Maine
men, who had not, like the rest, been previously in action, and who strode rapidly on with their long legs, irresistibly recalling, as their gaunt, athletic frames and sunburnt faces appeared here and there among the pines, the lumber regions of their native State, with which I was not unfamiliar.
We passed through a former camp of the Rebels
, from which everything had been lately removed; but when the utmost permitted limits of our reconnoissance were reached, there were still no signs of any other camp, and the Rebel
cavalry still kept provokingly before us. Their evident object was to lure us on to their own stronghold and had we fallen into the trap, it would perhaps have resembled, on a smaller scale, the Olustee
of the following year.
With a good deal of reluctance, however, I caused the recall to be sounded, and, after a slight halt, we began to retrace our steps.
Straining our eyes to look along the reach of level railway which stretched away through the pine barren we began to see certain ominous puffs of smoke, which might indeed proceed from some fire in the woods, but were at once set down by the men as coming from the mysterious locomotive battery which the Rebels
were said to have constructed.
Gradually the smoke grew denser, and appeared to be moving up along the track, keeping pace with our motion, and about two miles distant.