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[376] and all passengers were ordered below, only officers and crew being permitted on deck. The furnaces were replenished with carefully selected coal, which would give the greatest amount of heat, and make the least possible smoke. The last orders were given; every man was at his appointed place. Presently the boilers hissed, and the paddlewheels began to revolve faster and faster, as the fleet little steamer rose higher and higher in the water from the immense force of the rapid strokes; she actually felt like a horse gathering himself up under you for a great leap. After a little while the few faint sounds from the deck, which we could hitherto faintly catch in the cabin, ceased altogether, and there was the stillness of death, except for the sounds necessarily made by the movements of the machinery. Then we realized that we were running for our lives past the line of cruisers, and that at any moment a big shell might come crashing through our cabin, disagreeably lighting up the darkness in which we were sitting.

Our suspense was prolonged for some minutes longer, when speed was slackened, and finally we stopped altogether. Even then we did not know whether we were safely through the lines, or whether we had been brought — to under the guns of a hostile ship, for we could distinguish nothing whatever through the port-holes. However, we were soon released from the cabin, and walked out on deck to find ourselves safely through the blockade. In the offing could be descried several of the now harmless blockaders, and near at hand lay the coast of North Carolina. Soon the gray of dawn was succeeded by a brilliant, lovely sunrise, which lighted up cheerfully the low-lying shores and earthworks bristling with artillery, whilst from a fort near by floated the Southern Cross, the symbol of the glorious cause for which we had come to fight. Then we felt, with a thrill of joy, that we were at length within the Confederacy and would soon be launched amid stirring adventures. I say we, but of the passengers the only one besides myself to whom the term was applicable was the quondam Horse-Guardsman, for the rest were business people, seeking no “adventures” except in a commercial sense. At Wilmington we found the moral atmosphere a very great improvement upon that of Nassau, where we had left behind us most of the sordid canaille of commerce. The military element was here predominant, and the surroundings partook of the dignity of actual war. Still, the first sight of the Confederate arms as witnessed at Wilmington, was tame in sensations as compared with the deep impressions produced in him, who saw for the first time the Army of Northern Virginia. Composed of the flower of every Southern State, crowned with the glory of numberless victories achieved

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