of the day said he was sick, and, as all the other officers were on duty at the landing, he would turn over the command of the guard to me. (A year later he acknowledged that he was scared, not sick.)
As the officer of the day disappeared a staff officer dashed into our camp and inquired for Sergeant Hawes
Presenting myself, the officer said, ‘The general's compliments, and he orders that you report forthwith at headquarters as a witness before a court of inquiry.’
It would seem that my first sighting the breakers before spoken of, and also my observing and remarking on the shoaling of the water on Frying-Pan Shoals, had been reported to the general.
Hence my summons.
There was no cross-examination in my case; and when the president said, ‘Thank you, sergeant, that's all,’ I felt relieved; for I could never tell a story twice alike.
As I left the court I met the ship's quartermaster, who asked me, ‘How near to the breakers were we on the night of the gale?
I have just testified that we were within one ship's length.’
‘In my judgment,’ I said, ‘we were within two ship's length, and I so stated to the court.’
Soon after returning to my post I saw the head of a column of troops debouching from the woods about a mile to the front of our position.
I had not been notified of any contemplated movement of troops, but I soon satisfied myself that in the ‘go-as-you-please’ gait of the advancing troops there was union of action.
The guard took arms.
As the head of the column approached the sentinel challenged.
Strange to say the challenge was ignored by the colonel.
Whereupon I immediately threw my guard across his front and every musket was brought to a ready.
By this time the colonel apparently had a suspicion that I knew my duty, if for the moment he had forgotten his, for he halted his regiment, and then advanced and gave the countersign, apologized for his seeming discourtesy, and asked me to pass his stragglers, who would come later.
Suffice it to say, that when this episode was reported at headquarters the sergeant did not receive a reprimand for any dereliction of duty.
Our picket line extended into a dense oak wood
, and as I made the ‘rounds’ at night I frequently heard the sharp click of