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Chapter 12: the Second cavalry.1

  • Pierce elected.
  • -- Jefferson Davis Secretary of War. -- strength of the army. -- increase of force asked. -- action of General Johnston's friends. -- recommended by Texas Legislature. -- Senator Rusk. -- William Preston. -- political appointments the tradition. -- Mr. Davis reverses the rule. -- General Johnston made Colonel of the Second cavalry. -- no Favoritisms. -- the appointments tested. -- Ben McCulloch's disappointment. -- General Scott's opinion of General Johnston's appointment. -- General Johnston's acceptance. -- public honors by his neighbors. -- enlistment of his Regiment. -- March to Texas with the Second cavalry. -- suffering from cold. -- Northers. -- illness. -- letters. -- patriotic apprehensions of disunion. -- opposition to abolitionism. -- Administration of his military Department. -- extraordinary success in repressing Indian outrage. -- activity of his command. -- the people satisfied. -- mode of dealing with the frontier people. -- his motives. -- General Johnston's influence with Young men. -- two illustrations. -- a duel prevented. -- a Filibuster overruled. -- his present estimate of General Johnston's character.

When General Franklin Pierce was elected President, he appointed General Jefferson Davis Secretary of War. Pierce's gallantry, amiability, and address, had enabled him to avoid the blunders of the other “political generals” in the Mexican War; while his actual service made him perceive clearly the necessity of positive qualifications at the head of the War Department. He had the good fortune to secure as secretary a man who combined political knowledge and administrative ability with a perfect experience in the details and requirements of the service. It is not too much to say that the department was never conducted with more intelligence and skill, or with more satisfaction to the army and the country. The secretary attempted and secured great improvements in the organization and efficiency of all branches of the service. In carrying out these plans he had to ask for an increase in the force, which resulted in a bill, passed March 3, 1855, providing for four new regiments-two of cavalry and two of infantry.

The necessity for this increase in the strength of the army will be at once apparent by reference to the President's message, and to the secretary's report of December 4, 1854. The secretary says:

We have a seaboard and foreign frontier of more than 10,000 miles; an Indian frontier and routes through the Indian country requiring constant protection of more than 8,000 miles; and an Indian population of more than 400,000, of whom probably one-half, or 40,000 warriors, are inimical, and only wait the opportunity to become active enemies. If our army should be expanded to its greatest limits it would have a force of 14,731 officers and men; but as a large allowance must always be made for absentees, invalids, etc., the effective force would probably never exceed 11,000.

The secretary also estimated the Indian frontier of Texas at nearly 2,000 miles, the lines of communication through the Indian country [184] at more than 1,200 miles, and the nomadic and predatory Indians at 30,000; while the army in that department was only 2,886 officers and men, a force entirely inadequate for its protection and defense.

While the policy of the Administration was taking shape, the friends of different aspirants for appointment or promotion naturally urged their claims in the usual manner. General Johnston followed the same line of conduct which he had prescribed for himself during General Taylor's Administration, and abstained from presenting his claims. His patient performance of the duties of paymaster, however, incited the friends who witnessed it to move on his behalf. The Texas Legislature contained a number of those brave spirits who had formerly looked to him in the days of the republic as their leader in every martial enterprise; and, under this guidance, the whole Legislature united in a recommendation for General Johnston's appointment to the command of one of the proposed regiments. This memorial, dated January 8, 1854, in which the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Speaker of the House united, was addressed to Senator Rusk, and urged the cooperation of himself and his colleagues in securing the object of the petition.

When the bill was passed, in 1855, General Rusk, who needed no other prompting than his own feelings in the matter, used active efforts to secure the appointment for General Johnston. His position was somewhat embarrassing, as that gallant and popular partisan leader, Major Ben McCulloch, was vehemently pressed by influential friends for the same appointment. Hon. P. H. Bell, although an advocate of the claims of McCulloch, kindly offered a testimonial to the capacity and character of General Johnston. Hon. William Preston, member of Congress from Kentucky, was in the opposition, but was able, perhaps partly on that account, to smooth the way for General Johnston's promotion. But as it had been General Johnston's good fortune previously to be personally known and appreciated by President Taylor, so he chanced again to have in the Secretary of War a friend who had known him from boyhood and who esteemed him as highly as any man living. Mr. Preston wrote: “Johnston's merits should have given him a regiment years ago, but his pride and delicacy have always prevented him from pressing his claims. Davis was truly his friend.”

It had been a custom, almost passing into precedent, on the formation of new regiments, for the existing Administration to reward its supporters with important commands, so that the army was in danger of degenerating into a retired list for decayed politicians. Nothing could be more fatal to honorable ambition. But now the Secretary of War, himself a soldier of distinguished merit, was able to present the [185] subject so strongly to the President, that he was allowed to make his selections, for the most part, from the army. The political pressure brought to bear upon Mr. Davis was very great, but no man was ever less amenable to such considerations; and that his appointments were made with sole reference to efficiency is best evinced by the subsequent careers of the men selected.

To the Second Regiment of cavalry, which was intended for immediate service in Texas, General Johnston was appointed as colonel, with rank from March 3, 1855. Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee was made lieutenant-colonel; and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel William J. Hardee and Major George H. Thomas, majors. Hardee was afterward a lieutenant-general in the Confederate army, and was always found equal to the occasion. Thomas is equally well known as a distinguished general on the Northern side. Among the captains were Earl Van Dorn, E. Kirby Smith, and N. G. Evans, who were generals in the Confederate army; and I. N. Palmer, George Stoneman, and R. W. Johnson, who held the same rank in the Union army. Among the subalterns, John B. Hood, Charles W. Field, Chambliss, and Phifer, became Southern generals; and K. Garrard and others attained the same place in the Northern army. It is doubtful whether any other one regiment furnished an equal number of distinguished officers to the two contending armies during the great civil war.

McCulloch, in his disappointment at not receiving a colonel's commission, refused the position of major tendered him. He had been a gallant and enterprising leader of partisan troops, and deserved well of his country. His nomination was a high compliment, as he was the only field-officer selected from civil life. Long before his untimely death in battle, he had the generosity to say that Mr. Davis had acted wisely in preferring General Johnston above him.

General Scott said to Mr. Preston, who was on intimate terms with him, that the appointments were very good, but that the positions of Johnston and Lee should have been transposed. The acquaintance that had existed between these two officers ripened into mutual regard and esteem, of which some slight but decided evidences will appear in the course of this memoir. Indeed, the writer's admiration of General Lee, which has been expressed elsewhere under so many forms, had its origin in General Johnston's commendations of that soldier subsequently so illustrious. From each he has heard in regard to the other sentiments of respect and appreciation, delivered in terms of noble sincerity — an estimate that grew and strengthened to the close. Some years after, General Scott, in another conversation, with Mr. Preston, referring to his former conversation took occasion to say that no better appointment than General Johnston could have been made; that he was equal to any position, and he would not have it otherwise. [186] Captain Eaton informs the writer that General Scott told him in the winter of 1858 that he regarded General Johnston's appointment as “a Godsend to the army and to the country.” His opinion of General Johnston's qualities had greatly improved on a better acquaintance.

Thus while General Johnston was undergoing the combined hardships, drudgery, and mental torture, arising out of his duties and losses as paymaster, a kind Providence and zealous friends advanced him to the very position which he preferred to all others. It is true that he had never held a regular cavalry command, though he had served with the rangers in Texas; but his professional knowledge was wide, and his special tastes inclined him to that arm of the service, so that he felt no difficulty in accepting the promotion. The writer was with him when he received, at Fort McKavitt, the notification of this fact; and, though his heart's desire was gratified by it, he learned it with perfect composure, and delayed his acceptance until he had surveyed the case in every possible bearing.

The citizens of Austin tendered him a public supper and ball, “as an unostentatious display of genuine feeling and respect for a distinguished public servant.” But a still more gratifying evidence of the public estimation was the confidence inspired on that whole frontier, that his presence in command there was a sufficient guarantee of its safety. On May 19th he was ordered to Louisville, Kentucky; and, by telegram, on June 29th, to report at Washington City.

When General Johnston was ordered on, it was not expected that his regiment would be filled for some time; and both he and Colonel Lee were directed to proceed to Fort Leavenworth, to sit on a general court-martial, to be held September 24th. Recruiting for the army had been slow, and often from an undesirable class of persons. But now, owing to the increase of pay, the prospect of a life of active adventure on the Plains, and other motives, the cavalry regiments were rapidly recruited with farmers' sons and other daring young men, making its complement of men (850) about the middle of August. The recruits were rendezvoused at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, under the command of Major Hardee, with orders to march to the frontier of Texas in October. General Johnston was troubled at being absent from his regiment at this critical period, and in a letter to the writer, dated September 29th, says: “I am much annoyed at being absent from my regiment at a time when the presence of every officer is peculiarly needed. It is really bringing form out of chaos to organize a regiment of raw recruits and prepare them for a long march. They have suffered some from cholera and other diseases, which has caused a considerable number to desert. I do not expect desertion to cease while the regiment remains at Jefferson Barracks.” He was relieved, however, [187] early in October, and proceeded to assume the command of his regiment.

Major Hardee, an officer of tact, intelligence, and professional knowledge, had been in charge of the regiment, and had accomplished all that could be expected under the circumstances; but ague, cholera, desertion, and the other discouragements incident to novitiates in garrison, kept the regiment in an unhappy and restless condition until it moved. General Johnston began by the application of a rigid discipline, and the letter of a witness mentions that six men were on the same day drummed out of the regiment with shaven heads and other marks of degradation. The preparations were urged with all possible dispatch; and, on the 27th of October, the column was put in motion for the frontier of Texas.

It was a happy day for General Johnston when, mounting his splendid gray charger, he led a regiment of United States regular cavalry, nearly 800 strong, on the road toward Texas. As Texas was to be their home for some years, the families of the married officers accompanied them. General Johnston's wife and family were packed into an ambulance-wagon, and occupied a tent ten feet square during the halts. They, with the other families accompanying the regiment, bore the hardships of a winter's march and a gypsy-life with uncomplaining fortitude.

The march was not eventful. Though in the earlier part of the journey the progress was slow, on account of rain, high water, and bad roads, yet the change from garrison-life to the march and active work put new life into the men. Discontent vanished, and only one desertion, I believe, occurred. Some casualties happened, of course. A drunken soldier was killed by a fall from his horse. Another soldier was killed by a kick of his horse; and a few men died in consequence of the extreme cold weather. The strictest discipline was enforced; and though offenses were few, they were promptly and severely punished. The rights of citizens were respected without qualification; and of this regard for law the colonel himself set a good example. In Mrs. Johnston's journal occurs the following entry: “Marched to-day eighteen miles through a well-cultivated country, but inhabited by a mean set of people. A man refused to sell me fresh milk for my sick baby at any price; ‘for,’ said he, ‘that milk has butter in it. After it is churned, if you will send for it, I will sell it to you.’ ” No further effort was made with him, not even a remonstrance. The supremacy of law over force was fully recognized. The incident is trifling in itself, but it has its value.

The route from Jefferson Barracks lay through the Ozark Mountains, in Southwestern Missouri, and passed by the way of Springfield and Neosho into the Indian Territory. Reaching Talequah, November [188] 28th, and traveling by Fort Gibson and Fort Washita, they entered Texas at Preston on the 15th of December. From Preston the column moved to Belknap, and thence to Fort Mason, its destination, where it arrived January 14, 1856. Four companies were left on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, under Major Hardee. In this march they forded many rivers, and suffered three weeks of the coldest weather ever felt in Texas.

While still on the elevated table-lands, some sixty miles northeast of Fort Belknap, the regiment was caught by a terrible norther. General Johnston says in a letter to the writer, of January 17th:

Norther! It makes me cold to write the word. I do not believe that any of the hyperborean explorers felt the cold more intensely than did my regiment. Noble fellows! Officers and men, they will always be found at their post, wherever duty calls them. Think of a northern blast, sixty miles an hour, unceasing, unrelenting (the mercury below zero, ice six inches thick), coming suddenly down on the highest table-lands of Texas, 2,000 feet above the sea, upon a regiment only a few moments before luxuriously enjoying the balmy, bland south breeze, and dissipating in a moment the sweet, illusive hope that, having traveled far into the sunny South, we had escaped the horrors of a Northern winter!

This wonderful change of temperature occurred on the night of December 22d. I had just received and finished reading your letter, in which you mentioned the delightful weather with which you were blessed in New York. I rejoiced that the rude blasts had not visited you all too roughly, but pitied you in the future. Blind mortals that we are! I could not know that what I so dreaded for you would in a moment be inflicted upon myself. From the 22d to this time it has been severely cold, but it is moderate now. On the 23d I did not march, as we had a ration of corn on hand for our poor, benumbed horses. On the 24th we were compelled to give up the little shelter afforded by a skirt of timber, and take our route over the prairie. This was a hard day for all. I do not go much into detail, because you have with me faced a Texas norther, and you will comprehend that it was fortunate that our course was southwest. I think we could not have marched northward. On the 25th, having overtaken our supply-train the evening before, and having a ration of corn for our horses, we remained in camp, the best sheltered by timber that we could find for so large a body of troops, but not good. This bright, clear, beautiful day was the coldest of all; the ground was covered with snow, and the small quantity of water to be found was nearly all congealed, so that with great difficulty an insufficient supply was obtained for our horses. On the 26th we were compelled to take the route again and go on to our depot of corn, and there encamped without water for our horses and with very little for our men. On the 27th we reached Belknap, and encamped near the post until the 2d of January, when we marched for this place. We are now comfortable, and begin to forget the past.

During their march from Belknap they encountered hail, snow, and sleet; and both men and animals suffered severely. A train on its way from the coast to meet them lost 113 oxen. At Fort Mason, as the accommodations [189] were insufficient for the comfort of the officers' families, General Johnston reserved only one small room for his own family. Soon after his arrival there he was attacked by a violent remittent bilious fever, brought on by the exposure of the march. The disease nearly proved fatal, but he finally rallied and seemed to recover.

Having been ordered, on the 2d of April, to proceed to San Antonio to take command of the department, he made the journey on horseback while still convalescent. He had hardly secured comfortable quarters before he suffered a relapse, which brought him to the verge of the grave. His strong constitution at last brought him safely through. Writing about the middle of May, he says: “I try my physical powers a little every day. I have been so little accustomed to sickness that I can hardly realize it, and find myself inclined constantly to jump up and go right off to work.” He was gradually restored to strength and health, but did not recover his robust appearance until braced by a winter in Utah.

During the summer and fall of 1856 all other interests were subordinate to the political struggle which resulted in the election of Mr. Buchanan, the Democratic candidate, over Fremont, the nominee of the Antislavery party. The following letters are inserted, because they clearly define General Johnston's views on the subject of abolitionism and his apprehensions at that time.

On the 21st of August, writing from San Antonio to the author, he says:

The best friends of the Union begin to feel apprehensions for its permanency. A disruption is too horrid for contemplation. War and its accompaniments would be a necessary consequence; a peaceful separation is impossible. Let us make war against the world rather than against each other. Our compact of union seems to be drifting toward a lee-shore; already expectant, we stand to listen for the insolent shouts of the greedy wreckers. May Divine interposition prevent the shock!

San Antonio, Texas, September 12, 1856.
My dear son: We are all well, but good health is no novelty here; the beneficence of Providence has accorded this blessing to all the inhabitants of this beautiful region. The simplicity of our habits, from the necessity of practising a rigid economy, imposes upon us the fulfillment of the conditions which insure that blessing to us. After providing for our wants, though not many, there is nothing left for hospitality. This gives me no uneasiness. I prefer rather that my creditors (now very few) should regard me as an honest man than that the world should esteem me a generous fellow. My outfit and necessary expenses in bringing my family to this country on a long overland route will keep me under half-pay until March.

I notice with sorrow the progress of fanaticism in the North. What do they want? We want the Union with the Constitution. We want to share in its glorious, benevolent, civilizing mission, and its high and magnificent destiny. [190] Our whole hearts are devoted to its support and perpetuity. We want the rights and independence of the States and the security to individuals guaranteed by its Constitution; we claim immunity from intervention and interference. Do they want these things? Let them then cease to agitate a question which reaches our hearths and should be sacred, which disturbs our peace and produces a feeling of insecurity which is intolerable. With whatever sorrow, however heart-felt and agonizing, we will not hesitate to encounter separation with all its attendant horrors rather than bear the evils and degradation relentlessly heaped upon us by the heartless folly of fanaticism.

Hypochondriac persons, without a single cause of unhappiness, by cherishing insane ideas, contrive to make themselves truly miserable. So with our people of the North. A merciful and beneficent God has placed within our grasp every source of human happiness. He has given us the finest country on earth, embracing every variety of climate, soil, and production, affording the means of a perfect independence of the rest of the world; a government more free than any other, and laws whose extreme benevolence hardly restrains individual action sufficiently for public safety; and the right to worship even according to our fancy. Yet with all these gifts-surely divine — they cannot be happy unless their Southern brothers will consent to lie upon the Procrustean bed they have constructed for them. They must adopt some other basis for the settlement of the question in agitation than passion. Why not let reason again resume its sway?

Yours, affectionately,

A. S. Johnston.

Writing on the 23d of November, he says, in allusion to the same topic, and the election of Mr. Buchanan as President:

My dear will: We are all well, and contented with the result of the election. If our Northern brethren will give up their fanatical, idolatrous negro-worship, we can go on harmoniously, happily, and prosperously, and also gloriously, as a nation. We hope this, although we fear it is asking too much of poor human nature. It is more in accordance with human experience to believe that they will cherish their unhappy delusion. What a people! what a destiny I Great, almost without limit we would be, if they would employ all the energy, all the talents, all the genius, and all the resolution, to build up, beautify, adorn, and strengthen our Government, which they have used from the beginning to cripple and destroy it.

General Johnston's administration of the Department of Texas was eminently satisfactory, not only to the Government, but to the people of the frontier — a state of affairs very rare indeed. He was keenly alive to the duty intrusted to him — the defense of the frontier. It was a subject that had engaged his interest and sympathy for twenty years, and the field of operations was perfectly familiar to him. His command was a force more suitable for service than had formerly been employed, and his orders were carried out by as able and enterprising a body of officers and men as has ever been collected into one regiment in America. Enjoying, too, very fully, the confidence of the people, he received [191] that justice at their hands which is not always accorded to commanders, even when deserving.

When General Johnston reached Fort Mason, the border was full of terror. The year 1855 had been one of unusual disaster and suffering. The Indians had murdered and pillaged as far down as the Blanco, within twenty miles of Austin, and even below San Antonio, in September. The arrival of the Second Cavalry changed the aspect of affairs; and a vigorous warfare upon the Comanches, illustrated by many successful combats, gave an unwonted security to the settlers.

General Johnston, in allusion to this improvement in the condition of the department, says in a letter to the writer, dated August 21st:

So far, since my administration of the affairs of this department, our frontiers have been free from Indian incursions. Our troops have driven them far into the interior, and I hope they will not soon venture in again. This is, of course, only a hope; for there is nothing in the nature of the country offering any obstacle to their movements. The country, as you know, is as open as the ocean. They can come when they like, taking the chance of chastisement. If they choose, therefore, it need only be a question of legs.

In General Orders No. 14, dated November 13, 1857, the commander-in-chief compliments no less than eleven exploits of the Second Cavalry. Although these exhibit the actual conflicts of the regiment, they afford no measure of the activity, the toil, the suffering, and the useful results of its employment. In their rapid pursuit of the flying marauders, the troops were exposed to severe cold and rains in winter, and to the still more trying heat of a semi-tropical sun in summer; they endured the extremities of thirst, were often compelled to subsist on the flesh of broken-down horses, or even, in some cases, to go without food for several days; and yet the marches performed under these circumstances were sometimes surprising; in one case, as much as 160 miles in two days and a half. These expeditions, conducted with energy, judgment, and courage, inflicted serious loss on the enemy, and made the frontier of Texas a safe residence in comparison to what it is now.

One of their newspapers, in speaking of General Johnston, said:

We believe we express the common sentiment of our frontier people, that no predecessor has given more satisfaction to them, or inspired them with more confidence in the United States Army, than this gallant officer and well-known citizen.

And another says:

Colonel Johnston's regiment has been quite successful in operating against the Indians. They have acquired considerable character as Indian fighters. The colonel has for many years enjoyed the confidence of the Texans. They expected much from him, and he has not disappointed them. His conduct, since [192] he has been in command of the Texas frontier, challenges the admiration and esteem of his fellow-citizens. He has shown himself an able and energetic commander.

These notices might be multiplied, but it is unnecessary. A vacancy occurring in the rank of brigadier-general, a great many of the Texas journals testified their good — will by expressing the hope that General Johnston would be appointed to it; a fact which is now mentioned merely to show their satisfaction with his administration on their frontier.

The following instance is given as an illustration of General Johnston's mode of dealing with the people of the frontier. The citizens of Hays and Comal Counties joined in a petition to General Johnston, requesting him to station a force to protect their settlements. To their spokesman, Judge William E. Jones, General Johnston sent the following reply:

San Antonio, Texas, December 1, 1S56.
dear sir: Your letter in relation to the exposed condition of the settlements between the Guadalupe and Pedernalis Rivers, embracing those of the Blanco, has been received.

Captain Bradfute, Second Cavalry, with the effective strength of his company, has been ordered to encamp at some suitable position between five and ten miles to the northward of Sisterdale, to keep the country up the Guadalupe, on the Pedernalis, and intermediate, constantly under observation by means of scouting parties, and also to examine the country in the direction of the Blanco.

While all that activity and zeal can accomplish may be expected from the officers and men of this company, a hearty cooperation of the people of the settlements, in the way of communicating prompt intelligence of the presence of Indians to the troops, and furnishing the latter with reliable guides, will greatly contribute to their security.

The frontier has been unremittingly watched over by the small force stationed on it; but on a frontier of such extent, presenting so many facilities of approach and concealment, small parties can elude the vigilance of their scouts, and penetrate into the settlements.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

A. S. Johnston. Hon. W. E. Jones.

Commenting upon this in grateful terms, a local journal says:

This is one of the few efforts made by regular officers to conciliate the people and secure their services. It is the first step toward producing the harmony and good feeling which ought to exist between the Texans and the United States Army. Colonel Johnston, notwithstanding he is an officer of the army, does not forget he is at the same time a citizen of the United States. This is a sentiment, it is to be feared, some officers do not entertain, or cannot sufficiently appreciate.

The people of this State were much gratified when they learned Colonel Johnston had charge of this department. His course, and the successes of his [193] officers, have fully met their expectations, and, should he be continued, there is an abiding trust reposed in his ability to give protection to the frontier.

In a letter to the author, dated December 24, 1856, inclosing the foregoing, General Johnston remarks:

They praise or condemn on grounds equally untenable. In this case they totally misapprehend me. They believe I have a desire to conciliate, and consider it the motive of my action. The truth is, they felt unsafe. A feeling of security was due to them. According it to them was a simple act of duty, nothing more.

General Johnston's influence with young and ardent men was very great. Two illustrations of this are given by a devoted friend and admirer, whose terms of laudation I have sometimes omitted, though I have naturally accepted them as genuine and just. He was the son of a friend of General Johnston, and, having settled at San Antonio as a lawyer while the latter had his headquarters there, was at once put upon familiar terms with him and his family. He says:

I regard the hours spent with them as among the happiest and best improved of my life. I have long since recognized that his interest was purely the result of a desire to guard the son of an old friend against the temptations of youth incident to a frontier town. During the two years that I was a constant visitor under his roof, he could not have been kinder or more considerate if I had been his own son, as the incidents alluded to will go to show.

The writer goes on to narrate how, a personal altercation having arisen between an officer of the Second Cavalry and another person, he was engaged to act as the friend of the former. Unfortunately, the correspondence passed to such a point that he felt constrained to advise his principal that, in the event of an anticipated contingency, he must kill his antagonist on sight, pledging himself to do the same to any other man who should interfere.

That night between ten and twelve o'clock, General Johnston entered his room, and inquired whether he had given such advice. Before answering, my informant asked General Johnston whether he proposed to take official action in the premises. On his replying that he did not propose to avail himself of his position to interfere officiously in the affair, he was told that such had been the advice given. General Johnston then asked whether he had counted the cost and weighed the possible consequences; and was told that he had, and that he had advised the course that he himself would have adopted if principal, though he knew it must lead to a bloody street-brawl. To General Johnston's expressed hope that he might convince him that his action was, to say the least, precipitate, he replied that he feared the task was hopeless. “But,” to use the language of my informant, “he did, at length, succeed, [194] by the mathematical argument of honor and the inexorable logic of ‘the code,’ in inducing me to withdraw my counsel and leave my friend free to act after a plan which he (General Johnston) suggested. I now know that it was the wisest and best that could have been adopted, and that by its substitution for mine I have been saved a lifelong term of remorse and self-reproach. . . . Not for worlds, now, would I have had my advice followed. General Johnston was probably the one man in the world who could have prevented it, and his arguments were the only ones that could have proved effectual.” Both of these young men attained high rank and distinction in the civil war; the writer of the above in the Confederate Army, and his principal in the Federal Army.

The other incident occurred at the crisis of the Nicaragua filibustering fever, and is narrated as follows by my informant:

A battalion was raised in and around San Antonio to go to General Walker's assistance, and I was waited upon by a committee to know whether I would accept a command. Nothing could have been more consonant to my feelings at the time; but, for some reason, I demanded until the next day before returning an answer, suggesting, in the mean time, to swell the numbers by additional recruits. While that was going on that night quite briskly in the plaza, General Johnston came along, and, taking me by the arm, asked me to accompany him out of the crowd. Then, turning to me, he desired to know whether it was true that I purposed going on such a wild-goose chase. On being told that such was my intention, he replied: “My young friend, think twice, and think seriously, before taking this step; because, in all likelihood, it is the turning-point in your life.”

Admitting that in youth the impulse was natural, and referring to analogous cases in his own career, he continued: “The days of Quixotism are past, and with them the chance for name and fame in all such enterprises as this. The age is materialistic, and he who goes about in search of windmills and giants is apt to be considered a fit candidate for Bedlam. The question, however, wears a moral aspect, which should be duly weighed and considered. Is there any material difference between the filibuster and the buccaneer? Tell me not of philanthropy as a plea. I say of it as Roland's wife said of liberty: ‘ Alas I how many crimes are committed in thy name! ’ Besides, if you are pining for adventure, you will not have long to wait. Liberty and philanthropy are at work, and on a broader field than yours. Fanaticism will soon bring on a sectional collision between the States of the Union, in which every man will have to choose his side. When it comes there will be no lack of blows, and may God help the right! Then give up your present project, and wait. Go to Austin and enter on your profession there. I will give you letters which will insure you an advantageous business connection there.” By these arguments, here given almost in his very words, and similar ones, he again induced me to defer my wishes to his judgment, and I have never regretted the decision. The letters I have now.

Permit me to say, in conclusion, that I have never known the man who held in such nice equipoise qualities akin and yet in a measure antagonistic-the [195] genial and reserved, the gentle and the grand, the humane and the heroic. He would have gone a day's journey to reclaim an erring brother, and would have turned out of his path to avoid crushing a worm; and yet he would have sacrificed his life and all he held dear in it rather than deviate one hair's breadth from the strictest line of right and duty.

There was no cant in his composition, for he was a cavalier of the straitest sect; but I have never met the man who combined in himself more of the elements of a follower of the Unerring Teacher. In his company the humblest felt at ease, and yet a crowned head would not have ventured upon a freedom with him. In the course of an eventful life and extensive travel, I have come in con. tact with many of the historic personages of the day; and yet I scruple not to say that of them all, but three, to my thinking, would stand the test of the most rigid scrutiny. Of these, by a singular coincidence, the colonel and lieutenant-colonel of a cavalry regiment in the United States Army, afterward respectively the ranking officers of a hostile army, Albert Sidney Johnston and Robert E. Lee, were two; the third was Mr. Calhoun. No time-serving or self-seeking entered into their calculations. Self-abnegation at the bidding of duty was the rule of their lives. Could our much-maligned section lay no further claim to the consideration of mankind, the fact that it produced, almost in the same generation, such a triumvirate, typical of their people, is enough to place it among the foremost nations of the earth in the realms of thought, honor, patriotism, and knightly grace.

1 the Second cavalry is now styled the Fifth cavalry.

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