previous next

[280] never been traversed by an armed Federal soldier-belongs, in fact, to the unexplored region into which literary non-combatants seldom have the curiosity to penetrate. But Mr. D. P. Conyngham, of the New York Herald, and myself propose to be the Speke and Grant of a reconnoissance in that direction, influenced possibly, beside other weighty motives, by a desire to be the first of Sherman's grand army of flankers to enter Atlanta. Our horses are saddled, and with pockets crammed full of notes from which, if we are captured, the enemy may possibly extract a little aid, but not a grain of comfort, we cast loose from Sherman's noble, victorious army, still pouring densely down the road, headed south-due south.

7 P. M.--In Atlanta, after a funny, adventurous ride. Reaching the cavalry on the left of our army, General Garrard's trusty division, we halted to learn if we could pass into Atlanta from the south with safety. Our design seemed fool-hardy when we ascertained that no direct communication with our troops there had yet been established. General Garrard, however, concluded to send out a reconnoitering party over the road, to ascertain if the city could be reached by that route. Captain J. F. Newcomer, commanding General Garrard's escort, and Lieutenant W. C. Rickard, Provost-Marshal on Brevet Brigadier-General Wilder's staff, with forty men, were despatched, and, with the correspondents of the Commercial and the New York Herald, this detachment was the first to reach Atlanta from Sherman's main army, twenty miles distant, operating without a base.

During this ride we were, no doubt, watched from ambuscades by many rebel stragglers, recent traces of whom were plentiful. Armed Yankees had never before been seen on the road, and as the news of the evacuation of Atlanta had not spread through the country, our riding leisurely toward the city was viewed by the few inhabitants of the wayside farm-houses with unfeigned astonishment. At Rough and Ready Station, on the Macon railroad, eleven miles south of Atlanta, we found a few squalid women and children collected around the doorsteps — the desolation broken only by the morose drone of a spinning-wheel. The glamour of despair hung over the hamlet.

A few more miles were passed, when a shot from our vedettes excited our interest. In a moment we found they had captured an ancient negro, mounted on a brisk mule, who was endeavoring to escape, when the shot compelled him to heave-to. I have seen terror in many stages, but never a more undisguised variety than was shown by this fugacious African. His black hide had been bleached in a moment to a smoky canary-color; his dangling legs oscillated dizzily with nervous relaxation, and his eyes were immovably open as those of a plaster bust. If fear ever distilled anything to a jelly, this sable party would have melted into a strange, palpitating mass. In answer to a query as to where he belonged, he managed to gasp:

Mum — m — m-mum--Mr. Ferguson.

In the course of another five minutes we ascertained that the mule he strode belonged to the same gentlemen.

Taking the African in tow, we reached a fine house beside the road, the entire family being seated upon the verandah. This was Mr. Ferguson and his flock. The negro was requested to dismount. The saddle was thrown from his mule and the animal taken in charge by a trooper, while another impressed the negro's services in getting his girths taut. This done, the blackamoor was requested to deliver our respects to the ladies, in a tone intended possibly to reach them at first hand, which he gurgled he would be “suah” to do, and we rode on.

When within four and a half miles of the city, we halted at an unpretending house for refreshment, and found there an elderly and exceedingly garrulous lady, whose manner led us to fear instantly that she was determined to protest too much.

“ God bless you Yankees I why didn't you let me know? should have had a hot meal.”

Then dropping her voice mysteriously, she continued:

“I've got two little boys with you-uns — nice little boys--Union boys. Didn't you ever meet any of the McCools?”

We had never met the McCools.

While quaffing a glass of milk, one of the escort noticed that the bed-spread in the next room seemed a little plethoric toward the middle. He turned it down and discovered — not a quivering virgin — but five guns duly loaded and capped. In another bed, concealed in the same manner, were two more guns. We ventured to ask our obsequious hostess why so many small arms were cultivated about her premises. Without a moment's hesitation, and with a voice whose honeyed accents would have been irresistible had they issued from a younger and prettier neighborhood, she replied:

Oh, dear, now! my youngest — Johnny — did you never meet Johnny McCool?--was sich a great hand to hunt. Nay, do now have some more butter.

I fear we ruined young Nimrod's armory, (which we could hardly consider complete without a battery of artillery), by breaking to pieces his seven fowling-pieces, which, by the way, bore a remarkable resemblance to army muskets.

On reaching East Point, we came upon the rebel defences of Atlanta, and upon unfinished works, which showed that they were expecting Sherman to strike at them there. We came within a mile of the city, and still met no trace of our troops. Just as we entered the suburbs, we caught a glimpse of a blue uniform. One of our escort dashed forward with a flag of truce, and in a moment we had grasped each other by the hand, with hearts swelling with something akin to tenderness. Groups closed around us, and drank in the glorious news it was our privilege to be the first to impart, and the enthusiasm

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Atlanta (Georgia, United States) (7)
East Point (Georgia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. T. Sherman (4)
Garrard (3)
Ferguson (2)
Wilder (1)
W. C. Rickard (1)
J. F. Newcomer (1)
Johnny McCool (1)
D. P. Conyngham (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: