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[256] tavern. Learning from him that Major Wheat was on the line, Meade and I started off in search of him. We found him at his headquarters, a fly under a tree, at the cross road, and it required no great deal of eloquence to induce him to join our dinner-party, for the Major was one of those whole souls that would never hesitate to exchange a mud-hule and camp-fare for a cheerful fireside, boon companions, and a good dinner, when his duty did not forbid it, as willingly as he would the reverse, when the long roll sounded, or the call was—duty. Of a genial disposition, graceful manners, and air of savoir faire, mingled with a certain amount of recklessness, and a lover of good things, he was at once installed, by virtue of military precedence and age, the ruler of the feast.

In fancy I can see the happy faces that gathered around the table and responded to the toast, ‘Our Dixie Land.’ Alas! ere another Christmas had come around some of them had paid the soldier's debt—friends were scattered, and other scenes were being enacted. For us there was but one Christmas of the four we spent in service at ‘Stuart's tavern;’ and of those who answered to the roll-call that day, how many could now answer “Here!” The gallant Wheat fell in the battle of Cold Harbor in June, 1862; Colonel Drake fell at the head of the Old First, at Falling Waters, on the retreat from Gettysburg. The others did their part, and some ‘laid their heads upon the lap of earth,’ to fame unknown, and in other commands, but under one flag bore the brunt of the Virginia campaigns.

The memory of those days seems like a beautiful dream—seen through the mists of the rolling years. We were boys then, fired with enthusiasm and ardor in the cause we loved so much. The dark side of war had not dimmed the halo that invested all things with a beautiful romance. Up to that time we had known no such word as defeat. The victories of Bull Run and Manassas, and several small cavalry fights, had given us a prestige, and we gloried in our colors and our chief. The cypress had not become so entwined with the laurel as to dim the lustre of our chaplets, and cause us to mingle tears with our songs of triumph; and ‘victory’ was the watchword of those who followed the feather of Stuart.

The dinner passed pleasantly without interruption, and the stars had ‘set their sentinel watch in the sky’ when we parted and made our way back to camp, filled with enthusiasm, turkey, and punch, to say nothing of egg-nog, oysters, and many other delicacies provided

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