The two officers chanced to be Americans
by brevet, as it were.
After some little discussion, I said, ‘Gentlemen, I am a Yankee, and I beg you will allow me to retire to my quarters and do a bit of thinking.’
I found my room crowded with officers curious to know what was up. ‘Gentlemen,’ I said, ‘please ask me no question, but leave me alone for ten minutes.’
My lieutenant sprang to his feet and said, ‘Boys, get out of here.
The captain's got something in his head.’
Laughing at tile lieutenant's drollery, they all retired.
In less than ten minutes I had solved the problem—thanks to my habit of seeing things
and remembering what I see. I sent a detail of twenty men to the lower end of the island to dig out two old ships' gun-carriages that were nearly buried in the sand.
Another squad went to the magazine for the garrison gin and all the rigging pertaining to it. The third squad was ordered to bring fifty or more boards to the upper batteries, where the entire company would report for duty.
Having adjusted everything to my satisfaction, I dismissed everybody from the battery to man the ‘fall.’
Some one here made the reassuring remark that my ‘rigging wouldn't sustain the weight of the gun.’
‘It must,’ I replied, as I anxiously noted the stretching of the ‘sling,’ and the nervousness of the legs and pry-pole of the gin as the weight of the gun began to get in its work.
As the trunnions left their bed, out of the darkness (we were working by night) came the warning, ‘Captain
, come out of the battery, or we'll have a funeral.’
‘Only one,’ I said, for I would allow no one in the battery with me. I will admit that I laid my hands very gingerly on the huge gun as I swung it into position to lower it into the trunnion beds of the old ship's gun-carriage placed on the parapet to receive it. All chatter had ceased.
As gently as a sleeping infant would be placed in its crib, this ‘Parrott
’ was lowered to its improvised carriage and eased down the slope of the sand battery and on to the board track on which it was to be transported to the wharf a mile away.
Now a question that had been put to me a hundred times, ‘What are you going to do with those old boards?’
was answered by the screaking trucks of a resurrected gun-carriage, as a jolly set of boys seized the dragrope