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[115] opposite direction, into which I was madly charging. I made a strenous effort to check my mare, but she was a hard-mouthed brute, the villainous curbchain snapped, and a very serious collision was only prevented by the dexterity of the leader of the band. You may faintly imagine my amazement and discomfiture, when that leader proved to be General Hampton, followed by his staff and couriers. Thus was I very near performing a feat never yet achieved by mortal man, single-handed, unhorsing that peerless knight. I explained my strange proceeding, feeling very foolish about it, but was dismissed on my errand with a kindly smile, and a wave of the hand, as the General rode out of the town.

It will be necessary for me to explain why I had returned to the city where there were no Confederate troops to whom I could have been sent to carry dispatches from my officers. I must confess that the cause was no more and no less than the recollection of the whereabouts of a few dozen of Madeira. It is a refining wine, one inspiring noble impulses, and therefore no true cavalier would hesitate to run the risk of a few vulgar bullets for the sake of its delicious perfume. It is altogether different from whiskey, which, it is said, will make a man steal. Apropos of that, Sherman's regiments were chiefly recruited where whiskey is the vin du pays. My earnestness in my mission will, at all events, not be doubted when it is remembered that Confederate cavalry-men furnished their own mounts, and when I mention, that I bestrode a war-horse worth $3,000, whose valuable life I was thus risking. This sounds well, suggestive of the resplendent days of chivalry, but lest it should be thought that my prowess in drawing the long bow is greater than my skill with other weapons, I will be obliged to say, that the said $3,000 thus invested were the proceeds of only twenty pounds sterling (about the equivalent of $100 gold), part of a remittance which I found awaiting me on my arrival at Columbia. This amount was exchanged for me into Confederate money by a benevolent trader, with a generosity worthy of a descendant of some of the stowaways by the “Mayflower,” as I afterwards discovered that he had not “shaved” me to a much greater extent than twenty-five per cent.

Besides the quest for wine I had another, and perhaps a better, reason for my private raid. A lady of my acquaintance in the city, a refugee, had a small store of rare wine, which had been saved in some way from the general wreck of her home, and it was almost the only article of value saved. It was possible by selling some of this from time to time (blockade-runners' agents the purchasers) to procure necessary food. This was not the only use made of the slender supply however, as many a sorely wounded soldier could with gratitude attest.

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