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Return of a refugee.

By Mrs. Clara D. Maclean.

The end had arrived. All prayers and tears had availed nothing; all prophecies of success were null; all forebodings fulfilled; all hopes blasted. When, one morning, as the joyous spring came dancing over the hills, and one's very heart seemed bursting with the brightness and beauty, two battle-scarred and thread-bare soldiers came in with the news of Lee's surrender, it fell upon us like a thunderbolt of doom.

‘No, no!’ I cried, ‘you heard falsely. It cannot be!’

‘I saw him with my own eyes,’ said one, as those very eyes rained strange tears; ‘I heard him with my own ears read the general orders telling us he had to give up.’

His voice grew too husky — to speak, and his comrade took up the fateful tale. He was a harder man, but the furrows in his bronzed visage seemed worn as by ‘rivers of waters.’ With suppressed oaths and many bitter words he rehearsed the scene at Appomattox.

‘We are going back to old South Caliny,’ he ended, ‘where we left four years ago, and a-never seen sence, jest a-fightina faithful, and all for nothina! I hear my house is burnt, and my wife and chil'en turned into the woods. Now I'm going to do some fightina on my own hook. I'll bushwhack Yankees till I die.’

They had their breakfast and went on. I sat down at my window and looked out at the leafing trees and the sward breaking into emerald. A little breeze touched my hot cheek; I heard the far-off whistle of a quail, the nearer piping of some listless boy. Above, the blue heaven was flecked as with the foam of a cirrus-sea; the smell of fresh-turned earth came in its rich suggestiveness from the garden below. The lovely, lovely day—and the Confederacy lying dead! All sights and sounds were lost in that one overwhelming thought. What availed beauty, sweetness, light, life itself!

‘I must go home,’ was my first thought. It was comparatively easy to endure the separation from dear ones when the excitement of suspense or continual action kept the mind at fever-heat. But now my heart fled like a frightened bird to its nest. I longed to see my mother, to hear her tales of woe, to pour my own eventful story into her sympathetic ear. She alone had remained in the home at Columbia when the rest of us were scattered; my father to take a servant [503] to the two boys who were in the Cadet corps of Hardee's command; one sister with the Treasury department, hurrying from point to point to escape capture; the other with me in the interior of North Carolina, whither we had been sent when it was considered unsafe to remain in the possible line of march of Sherman's merciless myrmidons.

So, without friend or family, the noble woman, Roman in fortitude, Spartan in patriotism, met the dreaded enemy face to face when they took possession of the ‘nest of treason’ and wreaked their vengeance upon it with fire and sword and nameless atrocities.

Letters with some hints of these things had come to me, but they were brief and few. The railroads had been destroyed, and mail-service was a mere name. Moreover, the very necessaries of correspondence, pen, ink and paper, were often unobtainable, or of such miserable sort that one dreaded the task of an epistle, however short. I knew, therefore, but little of the particulars which had occurred since our departure, and less, still, of the important events that were thrilling the ears of Christendom, and we in total ignorance within a few score miles of their transaction.

In this hour of darkness and despair I longed to escape from the prison-like solitude surrounding me, and fly to the great centers where I could hear and know all the terrible truths, meet it with courage, and endure, if necessary, with undismayed firmness. But not alone! It is easier to bear afflictions when surrounded by affection and soothed by sympathy. My one thought, the only one which sustained me at this time of trial, was to go home. Nothing would be so hard if I were but there.

But time went on and there seemed no prospect of the fulfilment of this hope. Transportation was impossible. Railroads were destroyed; horses and mules of any worth had been seized by friends or foes; vehicles of all sorts were appropriated or in a state of utter dilapidation. More than all, we were forty miles away from everywhere! Raleigh, Greensboro, Hillsboro, all lay at that distance, more or less.

So the ‘slow, sad days’ dragged on, and hope deferred made the heart sick indeed. The spring fled away and a blazing summer came down, sapping one's very life-blood. In vain I tried to take an interest in the feeble gayeties of the young people of those primitive parts. The soldiers were all at home. One saw at church or at picnics (which was the rural standard of happiness) all sorts of worn gray clothes, alternating with resuscitated black or linen garments [504] that provoked a sorrowful smile with their ludicrous incongruities. A man who had fulfilled the ideal in his uniform, however shabby, lost all beauty and glory in a superannuated black frock coat or a linen ‘duster.’ It was doubtless more comfortable and more appropriate, this latter attire, but the glamour faded from many a manly figure when it ceased to wear the gray.

Girls, too, began to doff their jaunty jackets, a la militaire, and their home-made gypsy hats and don imported calicoes of gorgeous hues and ‘do up’ their hair with hairpins—unheard — of luxury for four long years. Bill Arp's children and many others tasted ‘reesins’ for the first time; and there were rumors of a circus! In short, ‘the cruel war was over.’

Alas! to how many it was just beginning. Starvation stared in the face of hundreds. The negroes—the traditional laborers of the land—were idle and impudent. Broad fields lay fallow, their fertility a matter of regret, since the rank vegetation produced malaria, hitherto unknown, and hundreds of rich and poor experienced for the first time the depressing influence of the ‘fever-'n-ager,’ while scores fell victims to typhoid diseases. The mighty army of speculators that had preyed upon the land since the attempted entrance of the Star of the West into Charleston harbor rendered war inevitable, now redoubled their ranks and energies, and bartered in human hearts. There was no comfort in the past, no relief in the present, no hope in the future, for the conquered country. We were at the mercy of our captors, and a questionable mercy it proved.

Some such words as these were getting themselves written down in a voluminous journal one day in mid-summer, when Mr. DeG. came in hot and hurried to say a neighbor was going to undertake the (almost) fabulous journey to Greensboro, and as I was so anxious to start homewards, I might be accommodated with a seat that far en route. I clapped my hands, turned over the home-made ink, and gathered the confidential companion to my bosom, exclaiming, ‘I shall be ready.’

Those ‘forty miles’ next day were the shortest on record. My heart flew so fast that it had accomplished the journey to Columbia a hundred times over, and returned to meet the spavined mule and dilapidated buggy, toiling over the dusty road at a snail's pace, and hail it as a chariot-and-four of unprecedented speed and lightness. Dawn had started us; dusk found us creeping into the suburbs of Greensboro. What a city it looked! How busy, how prosperous, how metropolitan, after those long months spent in the woodland [505] ways, ‘far from the madding crowd.’ Eagerly I welcomed now this ‘madding crowd.’ I craved life, energy, excitement. The enforced quiet of the country, always distasteful, had become doubly so, when one of the world's tragedies was being enacted just beyond the prison confines, where was heard but the echo of the victor's shout and the victim's wail. Here I was upon the very stage whence the historic actors had just passed. In fancy I saw through lowering evening shadows, the hapless head of the Confederacy, the broken remnant of an army whose devotion had never been equalled, the exulting enemy, drunk with success—all these flitted by me ghostlike, and the pageant of prosperity and every-day life vanished as these were evoked. Such alternations of gloom and brightness followed me the long journey through.

The night was spent at the house of the Rev. Mr. B., at that time presiding elder of the circuit. His wife was an invalid, and absent; but seven children surrounded the hospitable board. Apropos of the dainty and elegant supper, the host, a tall, dignified and cultured man, informed me of the numerous and varied accomplishments he had acquired perforce since, in the expressive dialect of the negroes, ‘freedom broke out.’ Mrs. B. was frequently unable to rise from her couch, and the entire work of the household devolved upon him, aided by his two eldest sons, boys of nine and seven. The rolls, preserves and cake were of his own making; and on one urgent occasion he had done a day's ironing! This man was the pride and ornament of his church. Does one doubt the position he occupied in his home, and in the respect and affection of his family? He has since gone to his reward, but his children who survive, and the community he served, ‘rise up and call him blessed.’

Next morning found me awaiting the train at this improvised depot, with a motley crowd, consisting chiefly of ‘citizens of African descent’ and Yankee soldiers. The latter made themselves conspicuous in their character of conquerors on all possible opportunities—now ordering ‘Cuffee’ about in a most masterful and patronizing manner, and anon befriending (?) him against the encroachments of his quondam masters. It was the first time I had met the blue-coats since my encounter with ‘John Miller,’ and hot flashes of indignation and wrath, and something possibly worse, kept me at fever-heat from the first glimpse of them upon arriving at the station. Still I kept my lips compressed even when several of these creatures, ‘dressed in a little brief authority,’ abused and insulted an old man for not giving a ‘colored lady’ the entire sidewalk as he came down [506] breathless, with bag, basket and umbrella, to meet the approaching train.

Once embarked, I ceased to hear or see them, as only two or three had entered the same car—one of them an officer. Fortunately, as it then seemed to me, I found an acquaintance aboard, returning from New York. We fell into conversation, and as time went on our mutual war experiences became naturally the theme of discourse I told him of the recent encounter I had had with a raiding party of Kilpatrick's men, and received some thrilling incidents of his own in return.

At Salisbury, as the train stopped, a party of half a dozen or more Federal soldiers pressed noisily into the car, and approached my companion.

‘See here!’ the spokesman began; ‘you have been talking too much. You can't abuse us that way, you and her’ (indicating me), ‘and not get paid up for it. Come out here and we'll fix you,’ adding the usual accompaniment of oaths and imprecations.

I saw the face opposite blanch, and knew it was no time for me to shrink. I rose and stood between him and them.

‘I am the person to blame,’ I said, ‘and I will meet the consequences.’

‘We don't fight women,’ one of them said, doggedly.

‘You don't!’ was my indignant response, roused now to the pitch of recklessness. ‘You have conquered the Confederacy by fighting women. If you had met the men alone upon the field, and not skulked into their homes and murdered their wives and children by fire and famine, we would now be free and not subjected to such insults as this. Even now you don't dare to fight man to man, but come, six of you, to fight one, as is your cowardly habit.’

Something and much more to this purpose I hurled at the waiting combatants, and then turned to the officer who had passed silent ‘on the other side.’

‘Do you stand there and see your subordinates committing such outrages, and not exert your authority? Will you allow this sort of thing in your very presence?’

He rose as I spoke and came forward, said a few words in a peremptory voice, and the men went out, muttering and cursing.

The train moved on, but it was long before I recovered calmness. After a while the officer approached with a handful of ripe peaches, stood for a few moments in the aisle by my side, while I gazed steadily out of the window, apparently unconscious of his presence. [507] Then he laid the luscious fruit cautiously upon the seat and departed. Ten minutes after, the peaches were all lying by the track. It was a foolish act, but I could not help it. To eat one, I felt, would have choked me to death.

No other incident marred the journey, and we reached its close by railway at sundown that evening. All along, however, mute yet powerful witnesses met us of the scourge that had swept over the land. Road-iron twisted like ribbons about the telegraph poles was the first sign of destruction. Below Chester began the ‘desolation of desolation.’ Not a fence or house or living animal where once I had remembered such happy homesteads and pleasant farms embowered in orchards and gardens. A chimney here, a blackened ruin there, the silence as of death, attested the pathway of the destroyer. One wondered where all the former dwellers in these homes had gone. Where were their cows and chickens, and hogs, and cattle? We knew afterwards that every living creature had been sacrificed to the Molock which the invaders worshipped. What could not be used was left to decay and pollute the air upon the very thresholds that had sheltered them.

At my grand-aunt's, Mrs. Barkeley, of Rocky Mount, whose fine old mansion was Sherman's headquarters when his army crossed the Catawba into Lancaster, the great American chieftain gave his pledged word that nothing should be damaged on these premises. Hardly had he ridden out of sight when his well-disciplined (?) soldiers plundered the house, the occupants of which were three old, decrepid, helpless women, one a cripple; and not satisfied with their luck, destroyed the green-house, piled up dead animals within it, and with deliberate energy dragged the decaying bodies of two horses into the front colonnade of the residence. This is the very climax of dastardly invention in the annals of a march which will forever disgrace the nineteenth century. Overwhelmed by these painful scenes, and the privations and distress which followed, Mrs. Barkeley died suddenly two weeks after General Sherman's self-invited visit—as truly murdered as if she had been the victim of his sword. And this is the man that the South is urged to honor, to shake heartily by the hand ‘across the bloody chasm!’ It is, doubtless, our duty as Christians to forgive him, and pray that he may have a ‘saving sense of his sins.’ But let us at least maintain our self-respect. As I once heard a distinguished minister say: ‘We must entertain the love which is benevolence towards our enemies; but we are not called upon to bestow upon them the love which is [508] complaisance.’ A nice, yet just distinction, which some of us would do well to remember.

The railroad came to an end about three miles north of Winnsboro, and there I found a courier waiting me with a team consisting of a very spare horse and a very small mule hitched to a wagon. Passing through the ‘burnt district’ of my native village, my courage nearly failed as I saw the town garrisoned by the first black regiment it had ever been my misfortune to meet. Stories of their manners and habits towards the citizens were not calculated to restore my equanimity, which fairly gave way when, upon reaching the home where I had spent so many happy days, I found the old associations broken and fled forever. ‘Where is Mauma Renas? Where is Mitty?’ These were the servants I loved best, the latter the third generation of a favorite family, to whom I was especially attached. When I found they were gone I broke down. I had pledged my faith (to myself) upon their faithfulness, and they had failed. Yet now I see how natural it was. They wanted to ‘feel free,’ and could not so long as they remained in their masters service, or even upon his premises. So they had gone to themselves, though living in the same town. But I did not want to see them; disloyalty always seems so much worse than death. I was not angry or indignant, but sorely hurt at the failure of an affection upon which I had implicitly depended all my life.

Two or three days of the sad sights in this unfortunate village were enough. To see that uniform in possession of the scenes of my youth was hard enough, but when it was worn by the race which is regarded by the whole civilized world as inferior and subordinate in every possible sense, I shuddered with a feeling I could neither express nor hide. The indignities which these poor imitators of their white comrades heaped upon the citizens can scarcely at this time be credited; one doubts that they would have been borne quietly by a race known perhaps justly as ‘fire-eaters.’ But in the power of a military despotism more arbitrary than that of Rome, more cruel than that which degraded Russia, the helpless and oppressed victims could make no protest, offer no resistance. Truly it might have been inscribed on the banners of the invading army ‘vae victims

I must not allow myself to dwell upon the incidents which yet remain fresh in the memory of many who lived through that heart-sickening time. Suffice it that I saw grey-haired gentlemen forced to clean the streets under a negro guard as a punishment for [509] having spoken, acted, or looked any sense of superiority to the race so lately their servitors, now their masters. I saw delicate, refined women summoned and taken before the military tribunals to answer to the charge of having asserted authority in their own houses. It was unsafe for young girls to walk in the streets in open daylight, the pavements being reserved strictly for the use of the ‘colored ladies,’ and even their escorts elbowed white citizens into the gutters, and took vengeance if resistance was made or a protest entered. It is hard to believe that such things were possible only a few years ago; but we of the South have good memories, and the generations to come must not remain ignorant of what was inflicted and endured for the sake of that two-faced goddess called liberty.

Next to Columbia, Winnsboro suffered more than any other town in the State. The license given to the army in the former city had not yet glutted itself, and this town had to pay the penalty of lying in the line of march. The country around was one holocaust of flame that night of February 20, 1864. From the doorway of her dwelling in Winnsboro, my aunt, Mrs. James Stewart, counted sixteen distinct fires in the country around. Her own plantation, two miles west, was entirely destroyed. Not less than one dozen buildings were burnt, every head of cattle driven off or killed, horses and mules seized, stores and supplies consumed in the burning houses or poured out wantonly upon the ground, the frightened negroes robbed of their new supply of winter shoes. A three-years' crop of cotton disappeared in the blazing gin-house, together with our wagons, carriages, and every inflammable bit of material on the premises. One huge bonfire rejoiced the sight of these Parsees, who laughed and sang and shouted as the crackling flames licked the ancestral oaks, and that beloved homestead, which had sheltered so many warm and happy hearts, vanished into smoke and ashes.

Among such scenes as met me here I could not linger. A few days more and I went on to Columbia. An old-fashioned stagecoach, revived by the necessities of the case, ran between the two towns, and in this my seat was taken one August evening. The passengers consisted of a merchant from Baltimore, two way-farers of the indefinite sort which leaves no vivid impression, and a very fat old lady, who was going as far as Ridgeway. The condition of the road rendered sleep impossible, and probably it was years before the footprints of Sherman's army were obliterated. Every available path was cut up by the wheels of heavy ordnance and wagon-trains; [510] and even at this favorable season of the year the hoof-marks of cavalry were plainly visible in the sun-baked mud over each side of the main track.

But this was not the only enemy to repose.

Rumors of highwaymen were rife, and only a night or two previous the stage had been intercepted, the driver intimidated, and the mails and passengers robbed. As we jolted along over clay cañons and through dense woodlands, we saw a modern Robin Hood in every passing shadow, and heard with fluttering heart a signal in the idle whistle of every laggard freedman.

About midnight the coach stopped at a wayside shanty for a change of horses and supper. Provided with a lunch I did not get out with the other passengers, but shared my frugal meal with the Baltimorean, a middle-aged gentleman of refinement and widely travelled. As we sat there discussing our chicken and sandwiches in the fitful glare of a lightwood fire blazing in front of the temporary hostelrie, a trio of rough-looking men, carrying guns, came out of the forest and approached us. Mr. F. glanced at them, and then put his hand behind him with a significant gesture. In another moment I heard the click of a revolver. The men came nearer, looked at us searchingly for several minutes, met my casual eye as I sat with a chicken-wing in one hand and a biscuit in the other, the personification of confiding assurance, Mr. F. being in the shadow, and then passed on to inspect the other passengers at supper. Finding these, doubtless, unworthy of their steel, or unsuggestive of concealed gold, the mysterious foot-pads vanished as they came, silently and stealthily. Perhaps they were merely harmless hunters, for in those days many lived almost solely on the results of the chase; but their proceedings were certainly suspicious, and Mr. F. maintained that their object was plunder.

Day-break found us entering Columbia. The approach was made from the north over bleak, bare sand-hills, and it was from the nearest of these that I first saw the ruined city spread out like a neglected kiln below. At the sight I burst into tears.

Down the long straight street we drove, through Cotton-town, southward towards the new capitol, its white walls gleaming ghastly in the chiar-oscuro of a summer's dawn. I recalled how I had last seen this avenue on Christmas eve of 1864, as one of a merry party we had dashed along to the Charlotte depot; bursts of music, gold and gray and scarlet uniforms brightening the motley crowd, laughter, light, and life everywhere, and now—darkness, silence, death! [511]

The hot tears streamed over my face. My heart ached as if it would break. How cruel, how hard it all seemed.

‘Oh, Liberty!’ I cried in those words of historic eloquence, ‘what crimes are committed in thy name!’

My companion was silent with a great sympathy. I saw his broad chest heave, and he hid his face from the distressing sights around. He had been one of that noble band. ‘The Old Maryland Line,’ and his heart was with the cause for which he was expatriated. When we drew up at last before the door of my home, he held out his hand, ‘God be with you!’ he said, ‘for man has no comfort for grief like yours.’

Then the coach drove away, and I never saw him again.

I must pass over that meeting with dear ones in the desolated home. It was enough that we were ‘all there’ once more; brothers from the war, sisters from exile, father from long wandering in search of food for a dependent family, and a heroic mother, who had met single-handed and alone under this roof the vandals of the notorious Fifteenth Army Corps. I heard her story a few days later, and though it may be similar in some points to many others, there are details so characteristic that I cannot forbear the recital.

‘On that fatal day, February 16th, hearing of the approach of Sherman, I went,’ she said, ‘to the third story, and, looking across the river, caught the gleam of bayonets and heard the echo of sharpshooting. About noon the servants came flying in breathless, exclaiming that the Yankees were entering the city. A triumphant burst of brilliant music was the first verification of what seemed a hideous dream. Down the main street they came, with waving banners and resounding bands. A few moments later the stars and stripes floated over the State-house. That sight was too much for me. I went down to my own room and remained there alone with my only Refuge and Comforter.’

During the day a few stragglers appeared, and demanded food or drink; the orchard and garden were filled with bivouacs and campfires. With closed doors but steadfast heart the lonely woman awaited the worst. She saw the signal-rockets go up which announced the inauguration of a night of license and diabolic orgies unparalleled in the annals of civilization. She heard the wild shouts of frenzied bacchanals mingled with the shrieks of women and children surrounded by a belt of fire, and yet freezing under the pall of a wintry sky. She saw the glare of burning homes, and the huge debris hurled by a pitiless wind through the lurid air, like [512] torches in the hands of invisible demons. But the God of Jacob was with the solitary watcher; her faith failed not even in this hour of awful extremity.

As she still sat there listening to the far-away sounds of tumult, roaring flames and hurrahs and screams, there came a sudden crash in the direction of the dining-room, which opened upon a long piazza fronting a side street. She knew what it meant, and hastened thither. The windows had been burst through, though the doors were unfastened, and a horde of what scarcely seemed human creatures came pouring in, each with one or two lighted candles in his hands. There were a score or more, with faces smoke-blackened and eyes bloodshot and glaring with drink and a blind rage, which vented itself on any and everything. Several of them addressed her simultaneously.

‘Hello, old lady! where's your family? Got any sons or husbands?’

‘My husband is off attending to his profession,’ was the reply. ‘My two sons, thank God! are in the army, though they are mere boys. If I had a dozen I would give them all to my country.’

I know how she said it—grand woman as she was!—dignified, proud, yet ever feminine. But nothing appealed to these insensate barbarians, however sweet or stately, however innocent or helpless. Some had already begun the work of pillage and burning, and while the terrified servants stood in the doorway with starting eyes, beseeching their beloved mistress to come away from the scene of destruction, she stood fearless and unmoved in the midst of starting flame and blasphemous plunder.

Two had entered a closet, and were handing out to their confreres jars of preserves and such choice delicacies, as others applied their lighted candles to the upper shelves.

At that moment, as a silent prayer of agonized entreaty went up from the heart of the lonely woman, a figure clad in the uniform of a Federal officer, with bare head and long, dark, dishevelled hair, his face pale and set—‘like an avenging angel’ he looked, my mother said—rushed in at the open door, a naked sword glistening in his hand. Without a word, but with apparently superhuman strength, he drove the incendiaries forth at the point of his weapon, caught the bending figure of the preserve-depredator by the waist-band, and applying his foot, sent him headforemost into the street. My mother fell on her knees before him. ‘God has sent you!’ she said, and would have kissed the hem of his garment; but he raised her with gentle deference. [513]

‘You are alone, madam. You shall have a guard;’ and an hour after a sentry appeared, who walked the piazzas till dawn.

The long and terrible night passed. Next morning a sick soldier was found asleep on one of the galleries, and waking, he begged for water. My mother, kind as she was courageous, and generous as patriotic, not only obeyed the merciful injunction, ‘If thine enemy thirst, give him drink,’ but for the two following days, during which the army remained in the city, furnished him with food and a cot on which to lie. He seemed deeply grateful, the poor, simple boy who had come into this affair as an adventure, but which was likely to prove fatal fun to him. He spoke of his home with misty eyes, and the Christian mother who watched over him prayed God to guard her own absent ones, and to send them a friend in the hour of need, as she strove truly to be to this alien. On the last evening he tottered away to join his command, and she saw him no more; but at the judgment bar this one deed of pure charity will be remembered and rewarded to her who fulfilled the highest and hardest commandment: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good unto them that persecute you and despitefully use you.’

Individually, we lost little or nothing by this calamitous visitation. While so many thousands were rendered homeless, our home was spared. The old family plate had been concealed in a pigeon-house, and thus escaped confiscation. One cow of three was taken and a number of fowls; the fencing was destroyed, and the orchard much cut up; but not an article of the smallest value was taken from the house. The mysterious midnight visitor, with his flashing sword and bare head, remained ever a blessed memory, and Heaven was invoked for him henceforward till her death by the sainted woman he had rescued.

The fearful fatigue and excitement of this time left its lasting marks upon my mother, and she never recovered from the cold contracted on that night of nights. When the last ‘bummer’ had departed, and the charred ruins of the devoted city alone remained to prove that all this had not been a fearful vision, she sat down for the first time to rest, and drawing off the stockings from feet numb with long standing, the entire epidermis peeled off as if a blister had been applied. One may judge of the state of mind which rendered her up to that moment unconscious of such a contingency.

The afternoon of my arrival was spent in sauntering mournfully over the capitol grounds, and contemplating the stretches of black desolation which lay southward for over a mile, and extended east [514] and west for several squares. Around the superb promise of a building, which was to be the pride of the State, and to rival the public edifices of the national capital itself, was piled the debris of costly material destroyed in every conceivable and inconceivable manner. The exquisitely carved pilasters were calcined and broken; immense blocks of dressed granite, which could not otherwise be injured, were smoked and defaced by huge fires; on either side of the great front door-way was work, in basso-relievo, of acorns, fasces, and medallion heads, all wrought with the famous chisel of Henry Duke Brown, the sculptor, and now with wanton and malicious ingenuity so mutilated as to be a mere blot upon the lintels. In the hall below were pillars of pink Tennessee marble, supporting the groined arches, so highly finished that it resembled translucent agate; these were literally carved by some sharp instrument in long, jagged streaks, as a child's careless pencil delights in marring a sheet of clean paper.

Similar in its defacement was the bronze statue of Washington, whom these so-called ‘defenders of the Republic’ evidently regarded as a traitor and rebel—probably because he was not only a Virginian by birth, but a gentleman by principle. That work of art, also, the palmetto tree of wrought iron, erected to the memory of the regiment that gave so many noble lives for the preservation of American liberty and an inviolate constitution, was so defaced as to be utterly useless until entirely renewed in later years. It seemed a motto with this Grand Army of Destruction to leave nothing that could possibly be marred, broken, burnt, or annihilated. It was therefore not to be expected that any monument of State pride or tradition should be spared by them, or that the ‘Father of his Country’ should be recognized by the foreign mercenaries which in this case, as a hundred years before, composed the main body of the army of invasion. Even the native conscripts, fighting ostensibly for the ‘Old Flag,’ were, to all intents, but mere machines of destruction and death, and were so regarded by their general officers. They neither knew, nor could know, anything of that divine enthusiasm which nerves the

Freeman battling on his hills,’

and which fired the rank and file of the Confederate Army, educated men as well as voluntary soldiers.

The secret history of the burning of Columbia has not yet been written. It lies not within the province of the present narrative to enter into the details of heartrending cruelties and savage outrages of [515] which we have all heard, and yet which no one has fully recorded. It remains for some eloquent pen, guided by the feeling heart of some unprejudiced eye-witness, to tell the tale of that night of horrors. Four hundred decades have rolled away since the sack of Troy, and yet the veriest school-boy of to-day is as familiar with the thrilling experiences of the faithful Aeneas and his devoted comrades, as were the breathless audiences of the ‘Blind old bard of Clio's rocky isle.’ Twenty years only have elapsed since our own fair city fell by as foul a strategem as that of the Greek horse, and was subjected to a pillage and fire equally unrestrained and outrageous. Yet the children ask in vain for the story of our wrongs and sufferings. In those very capitol grounds, where such drunken orgies were enacted in the name of Liberty, they see the sleepless sentinel leaning upon his marble musket and keeping silent watch over the busy city, which has risen from the flames, adorned with new beauty, inspired with new energies. But have they been taught to love and honor the cause which he represents, and which went down in flame and smoke to a deathless immortality, grander than Ilium's and worthier of a more glorious song?

Who shall be the Homer of the Southern Confederacy?

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