Part III. after twenty years.1

Chapter 1: ‘my boys.’ address to the wives and children of Confederate veterans.

I have been often and earnestly requested by ‘my comrades’ to address to you a few words explanatory of the tie which binds me to them and them to me. They tell me, among other things, that you ‘wonder much, and still the wonder grows,’ that I should presume to call grave and dignified husbands and fathers ‘my boys.’ Having promised to meet their wishes, I must in advance apologize for the egoism which it is quite impossible to avoid, as my own war record is inseparable from that of my comrades.

Does it seem strange to you that I call these bronzed and bearded men ‘my boys?’ Ah, friends, in every time-worn face there lives always for me ‘the light of other days.’ Memory annihilates the distance between the long-ago and the present.

I seem to see them marching, with brave, bright faces and eager feet, to meet the foe. I hear the distant boom of cannon, growing fainter as they press the retreating enemy. And then, alas! many come back to me mutilated, bleeding, dying, yet with ardor unquenched, repressing [307] moans of anguish that they may listen for the shout of victory: wrestling fiercely with the King of Terrors, not that they fear to die, but because his chill grasp palsies the arm that would fain strike another blow for the right.

I stood among the sick and wounded lying in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, while the magnificent Army of Northern Virginia was passing from the scene of their late glorious victory at Manassas to meet the invaders under McClellan, who were marching upon the Peninsula. Around me lay many sick and wounded men, gathered under the immense roof of a tobacco factory, which covered nearly a whole square. Its windows commanded a full view of the legions passing on both sides.

The scene I can never forget. As the strains of martial music fell upon the summer air, pale, gaunt forms struggled to their feet, feebly but eagerly donned clothes and accoutrements, and, staggering under their weight, crept to the office of the surgeon in charge, piteously begging that they might ‘get to go on with the boys.’ Many, too weak to rise, broke into bitter sobs: tears poured from eyes bright with fever or dim with the shadow of death. Passing among these, I was startled to see a patient, whom all had supposed to be dying, sitting up in bed. Stretching his arms toward me, he cried out, ‘Lady, lady, come here!’ He was a boy of sixteen years, one of the glorious Third Alabama, and he begged so hard to be allowed to see ‘the boys’ that I had his bunk drawn up to an open window, supporting him in my arms so that he could see. When his own regiment passed, he tried with faltering breath to cheer, but, failing, waved his feeble hand, gasping out, ‘God knows, I wish I could be with you, boys, but 'pears like the heavenly Master ain't willing.’ [308]

His comrades passed on. The boy was borne back to his place, whence, in a few hours, he passed beyond all pain and disappointment.

I need not mention here the magnificent record of the army that passed that day the streets of Richmond. The pages of history are ablaze with the glory of it. Not less glorious to me are the records written in my heart of heroic fortitude, patient endurance, sublime resignation. Alas for my poor, worn, shattered, suffering, dying boys! how their souls were tried, yet never found wanting!

The fortunes of war led me from the scenes of my first service to rejoin my husband, who had been ordered to the Army of Tennessee. On my journey, and while waiting to be assigned to duty, I lingered for a while among the homes of Southern soldiers. How can I convey to you the impressions there received?

Here lay the main-spring of the valor which then and long afterward astonished the world. In the towns and near the front thousands of women daily ministered to the sick and wounded. When a battle ended, these could soon know the fate of loved ones, perhaps were permitted to nurse them, to attend their dying hour, or—inestimable privilege—reclaim the precious casket which had enshrined a gallant soul. But in many a country home women endured, day after day, crucifixion of the soul, yet heroically, patiently, toiled and prayed on. Startled by flying rumors, tortured by suspense, weary with unwonted labor, they never dreamed of leaving the post of duty or of neglecting the interests confided to their care. No comforter had they save their God, no resource but unwearied prayer.

Memory brings back to me a scene which sadly illustrates the exalted courage and faith of these noble women. I was present one night when, at a plantation [309] home, the family and servants were assembled, as usual, for prayers. The aged father led the worship, but, while praying for the absent sons, two of whom had already fallen in battle, he faltered and ceased. Instantly the clear, sweet voice of the mother was heard as she prayed fervently, not only for the dear ones at the front, but for the holy cause, for other parents, other sons, and for strength to submit to God's will.

I have, sitting by the bedside of sick or wounded soldiers, read to them letters from just such homes, breathing lofty courage, full of cheer, although I knew that the hearts of the writers had been almost breaking, the fingers that penned them stiff and trembling with toil hitherto unknown. God bless the women of the South.

If from every wreath that ever adorned the brow of a hero the brightest laurels were plucked, all would not form an offering too resplendent to lay at their feet.

Soon after the battle of Shiloh began my service with the Army of Tennessee. How shall I make you understand, dear friends, how strong, how dear, how imperishable are the ties which bind me to these grand and noble heroes,—the true, brave boys with whom I shared until the bitter end their trials and glory. Heroic souls who bore with equal fortitude and transcendent bravery alike the shock of battle, the pangs of ‘hope deferred,’ the untold hardships which soon became their daily portion. Their bleeding feet dyed alike the snows of Georgia and the rocky mountain paths of Tennessee.

As their ranks were decimated by battle, disease, starvation, death, the hearts that were left swelled higher and higher with holy zeal, sublime courage. Night after night, with lagging, unwilling feet, they made the hated retreat.

Day after day the sun shone on those defiant faces as they presented a still unbroken front and hurled themselves [310] again and again against the invaders, contesting every inch of the land they loved.

Ah, the horrors of those latter days, when daily, almost hourly, brought to me ghastly wrecks of manhood, when my ears were always filled with the moans of the dying, or irrepressible agonizing shrieks of those who were undergoing the torture of the surgeon's knife without the blessed aid of chloroform, for that was contraband of war. Do you wonder, then, that I love to call those comrades of mine ‘my boys’? Whether they served in the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee, they were all alike my comrades. Their precious blood has often dyed my own garments. I have gone down with them to the very gates of death, wrestling with the death angel every step of the way, sometimes only to receive their last sighs as they passed into the valley of the shadow,, sometimes permitted to guide their feeble feet once more into the paths of glory.

I have shared their rations, plain but plentiful at first, at the last only a mouldy crust and a bit of rusty bacon. I have been upon an ambulance-train freighted with human agony delayed for hours by rumors of an enemy in ambush. I have fed men hungry with the ravening hunger of the wounded with scanty rations of musty corn-bread; have seen them drink eagerly of foetid water, dipped from the road-side ditches. Yet they bore it all with supreme patience; fretted and chafed, it is true, but only on account of enforced inactivity. I have packed haversacks with marching rations for forty-eight hours, a single corn-dodger split and with only a thin slice of bacon between the pieces. This was a Confederate sandwich. And on such food Southern soldiers marched incredible distances, fought desperate battles. The world will never cease to wonder [311] at the unfailing devotion, the magnificent courage, the unparalleled achievements of the Southern armies. Scarcely less admirable is the heroic spirit in which they have accepted defeat; the industry which has hidden the desolation of our land with bountiful harvest, the honesty of purpose which now seeks to restore the constitution framed by our forefathers as it was, the patient yet invincible determination which has driven out tyranny and oppression, and reclaimed for posterity this beautiful Southland, rich with historic memories, made sacred and beautiful by the graves of heroes.

And these are my boys—still—always my boys. From the highest places of the land they turn to give me a comrade's greeting. I glory in the renown of these, but just as dear and precious to me is the warm grasp of the toil-hardened hand and the smile which beams upon me from the rugged face of the very humblest of ‘the boys who wore the gray.’

Dear friends, this subject is to me inexhaustible; but I may no longer trespass upon your patience. With loving, reverent hands I have lifted the veil of the past. Let the transcendent glory streaming through penetrate the mask which time and care and sorrow have woven for the faces of my boys, and show you the brave, unfaltering hearts as I know them.


Chapter 2: the Confederate reunion at Dallas.

On the morning of August 6, 1885, a small party of ladies and gentlemen set forth from Shreveport to attend the Confederate reunion at Dallas, Texas.

The gentlemen of the party were veteran soldiers, and your correspondent claimed like honors. (Place this admission to my credit, for, believe me, it is a ruthless sacrifice of womanly vanity to dearer memories.)

In congenial companionship the day passed quickly. Its close brought us to Dallas. And here began at once an emotional experience which might well be called ‘a tempest of the heart,’—glimpses of glory once real. ‘Forms and scenes of long ago’ appeared in such constant succession that it seemed like a resurrection of the dead and buried past.

The first object that met our view was a large Confederate battle-flag, suspended from a conspicuous building on one of the principal streets, surmounted, surrounded by ‘star-spangled banners,’ large and small, but still there, to set our hearts throbbing wildly, to call forth a rain of blinding tears. This was but the beginning. Borne swiftly onward to the hotel, we momentarily started forward with streaming eyes and bated breath to gaze upon the phantom legions ever passing. Squads of cavalry dashed by, manly, weather-beaten boys in gray, and elegant-looking officers wearing the well-remembered slouched hat with cord and feathers, and full Confederate uniforms. Infantry and artillery [313] officers and privates thronged the sidewalks, arm in arm, walking in half embrace, or standing with hand grasping hand. Those not in uniform wore the badges of their respective commands, and frequently some faded remnant of ‘the gray.’

In the large dry-goods establishment of Sauger & Brothers an immense show-window was skilfully and beautifully arranged in honor of the occasion. Confederate soldiers (life size), so natural and life-like as to startle one, were grouped around a camp-fire anxiously watching a large kettle containing a temptinglook-ing ‘mess’ of green corn, potatoes, other vegetables, and the rations of pork and beef. Blankets neatly rolled and strapped, canteens, haversacks, etc., lay near upon the ground. In the background, a deck of cards and two piles of Confederate money had evidently been thrown down and deserted to ‘watch the pot.’ We learned that this most realistic arrangement was the work of a ‘Yankee boy,’ whose father had served in the Federal army,—a loving tribute to the people among whom he had come to make his home.

Arrived at the hotel, where a crowd of people waited in the parlor to be assigned rooms, we witnessed many a touching scene between veterans who met now after twenty years. An anxious face would look in at the door, a manly form would advance irresolutely into the room, furtively scanning the new-comers. Suddenly,— ‘Jim, can this be you?’ ‘Why, Dave, old fel! great God, is this Dave?’ Then as hand met and grasped hand these strong men would often break into sobs which forbade all speech, while every heart of those who looked on thrilled with responsive feeling.

From what I learned of the intended evening festivities at the camp-ground (music and dancing under the glare of the electric light), I felt disinclined to be present. [314] All day I had walked hand in hand with memory, turning again and again to clasp her closely and to feel the throbbing of her sad heart upon my own. The dear presence still enthralled me, and I could imagine no counter-charm in the laughing face and airy form of Terpsichore.

On the following morning, Amy and I, escorted by a gallant Missouri veteran, set out for the rendezvous, where we found assembled three or four thousand people, among whom hundreds wearing more or less of the gray were conspicuous. The perfect and magnificent arrangements for the comfort and entertainment of guests inspired one with genuine admiration for those who had so well accomplished the grand results everywhere apparent. Did one thirst? In a hundred cool, pleasant nooks were placed casks of ice-water, with dippers and gourds of all sizes attached by long chains. If hungry, at ‘Headquarters’ requisitions were furnished and duly honored by the commissary, who seemed to have a never-failing supply of delicious barbecued beef and mutton, also generous rations of fresh bread.

These were supplemented by elegant refreshments of all kinds, served under shaded tents by ladies, whose entire cordiality made them charming hostesses.

Bands of music continually enlivened the scene. One of these (Gauche Brothers, of Dallas) was of rare excellence, rendering ‘Bonnie Blue Flag,’ ‘Dixie,’ and an exquisite nocturne, ‘The Soldier's Dream’ (composed for this occasion by the leader of this band), with so much expression and skill as to elicit great applause. The speaker's stand was beautifully ornamented. Hanging on either side of the rostrum was a Confederate battle-flag. Above them, in the centre, floated a new and very handsome United States banner in graceful undulations. [315] From its blue field not a star was missing. All had been restored, and the bunting waved proudly as if instinct with knowledge of this fact. But, oh, those other flags! sacred emblems of a cause so loved, so nobly defended, yet, alas, lost shattered and torn by shot and shell, begrimed with the smoke of battle, deeply stained with precious blood; as the summer breeze dallied with their ragged folds, they seemed to stir with a feeble, mournful motion, like the slow throbbing of a breaking heart. Pictures illustrating camp-life, battle scenes, etc., ornamented the stand, which was also decorated plentifully with red and white, with a sufficient admixture of blue to make one remember to be loyal to the present. The attempt to depict camp-life, cannon, camp-fires, tents, stacked guns, sentries, etc., was utterly upset by the presence of hundreds of ladies and children, with the inevitable paraphernalia necessary to their comfort. ‘The front of grim-visaged war’ was constantly being smoothed into beauty by baby fingers. Men, lured by siren voices, deserted the tented field, and were happy, in entire forgetfulness of duty (so called). Soldiers who did not bring ladies enjoyed hugely living in tents and once more ‘messing’ together. Many eloquent speakers addressed the crowd. Pearls of eloquence were sown broadcast, and brought forth a generous harvest of applause.

The number of officers present was surprising. Generals, colonels, majors were pointed out to me by the score, and at last I began to wonder whether in the portion of the Confederate army here represented there were any ‘privates,’ at least I might have so wondered had I not known that, after many of the battles now being recalled with honest pride and merited applause, my own eyes had been too dim with tears to see the glory, my ears had failed to catch the sounds of triumph, [316] because so filled with awful death-groans or the agonizing cries of the wounded. Men whose parting breath was an ascription of praise to the god of battles, whose last earthly joy was the knowledge of victory, and others who, shattered and torn and in throes of agony, yet repressed their moans that they might listen for the music of the fount which ‘springs eternal,’ whose bright waters (to them) mirrored the cause they loved so well.

All honor to those who planned the glorious campaigns of the late war—who dauntlessly led heroic legions. Their record is without a parallel in the history of nations. Equal honor to the rank and file—whose splendid valor and self-sacrifice made success possible even when further efforts seemed but a ‘forlorn hope.’

I believe I have omitted no important detail of the reunion. Each day was just like the preceding one. Meetings and partings ‘tried men's souls,’ and women's hearts were stirred to their depths.

At last the end came; afterwards to many painful reaction. Still it was passing sweet to meet old friends and comrades, and to find that memory had not proven faithless to her trust. For many a day in the future we shall stand in the light of the surpassing glory which streamed through as the curtain, which has so long obscured the past, was lifted again and again by tender, reverent hands, under the oaks at Dallas.

An incident of the Dallas reunion.2

(The scene here described is to me a ‘memory’ passing sweet, and one which I desire to perpetuate. The feeling is far removed from vanity. Had the ‘Lost Cause’ [317] been triumphant, my lips would have been sealed as to my own service. As it is, I glory in having served it, and cherish fondly even the slightest token that ‘my boys’ do not forget me.)

On the last day of the Southern Soldiers' Reunion at Dallas, and when sentiments had been read in honor of this and that officer of distinction in the service of the Lost Cause a lady occupying a somewhat retired position on the platform handed to General Gano a slip of paper on which was traced the following noble sentiment as read by General Gano in a clear, distinct voice, and in tones that expressed his entire concurrence.

The sentiment and the name subscribed are sufficient of themselves. We give it as follows:

The private soldier of the Confederate States Army.

He bore in his bosom a heart of oak; he withstood the brunt of battle and sustained the heat and burthen of the day. His blood nourished the laurels which other wise had never bloomed to grace the brow of Lee and Jackson. For myself, no blessing has ever crowded my life more highly prized than the God-given privilege I enjoyed during four years of the war, of ministering to the boys who wore the ragged, unornamented gray.

Your devoted friend and comrade,

Mrs. Fanny A. Beers, Late of the Confederate Army.

To this sentiment came the response of three cheers and a regular rebel yell, repeated and repeated for the space of twenty minutes.

But the most touching feature followed. A number of old Confederate soldiers, who had in wounds and [318] sickness received gentle and healing ministrations from the hands of Mrs. Beers, and learned just then that she was present, in defiance of all order, rushed to the stand and gathered about her. Each and every one bore the mark of some wound received in the war, and wore about their person some fragment of Confederate uniform—a hat, a coat, or other article—as souvenirs of the days of trials and glory.

Like old children they gathered around her, grasping her hand and blessing her and testifying to all the world what a blessing she had been to them.

It was, indeed and truly, the most touching and striking incident of the late reunion of Confederate veterans at Dallas.


Chapter 3: camp Nichols. The Louisiana soldiers' home.

I must begin with a digression, for, as thought concentrates itself upon this pleasant subject, one is irresistibly impelled to remember the delightful ride thitherward, and to wonder if any other city in the United States can boast of street-car routes so beautiful. The visitor to ‘Camp Nichols,’ taking on Canal Street a car of the Esplanade and Bayou Bridge line, is borne smoothly along for miles under cool, green arches of oak-trees, a broad street on either side, bordered by elegant residences and lovely, fragrant gardens.

Looking back, where the green arcade narrows away in the distance, or forward, to observe how the rough track is made beautiful by the shadows of dancing leaves and boughs,—glancing at the rapidly-succeeding pictures of beauty and comfort on either side, inhaling the mingled perfume of flowers,—one is placed under a spell of enchantment which lasts until, at ‘Bayou Bridge,’ the end of the route is reached. Leaving the car, a very short walk along the banks of the Bayou brings the visitor to the ‘camp.’ Upon entering the gate the first thought is, ‘How pleasant, how peaceful, how homelike.’ The comfortable-looking house is beautifully shaded by large live-oaks. Under these green grass is diversified by neatly-kept walks. Midway between the outer gate and the house a small stream is spanned by a rustic bridge. As I stood upon this [320] bridge and saw, upon the pleasant galleries in front of their rooms, the maimed and scarred veterans sitting in groups or apart, tranquilly smoking and chatting or reading, the dying words of our ‘StonewallJackson came into my mind,—‘Let us cross the river and rest in the shade of the trees.’ To him was given eternal rest. The weary spirit even then stood by the river of death and viewed beyond the trees of paradise. Less happy these who remain to witness the downfall of hope. Ah, what can be more glorious, yet more deeply sorrowful, than the story of their past. The strength and beauty of their youth and early manhood was freely given to the cause they deemed sacred. It was, alas! lost; and, the tempest of war subsiding, left upon a desolate shore these wrecks.

Returning after the war to find only ruined homes and shattered fortunes, those who had retained health and strength found them taxed to the utmost. Necessity held them in bonds of iron, and the demands of helpless families absorbed them. All the same, manly hearts have been often and painfully stirred by the silent appeals of maimed and suffering comrades, and the faithful few have never ceased to hope and strive for the result now attained in the ‘Soldiers' Home.’

It is pleasant to feel that the first rays of the newlyarisen sun of prosperity have dispelled the darkness wherein these poor fellows have wandered so long, revealing to them the kindly faces of brothers, who, having gone in search of them, will lead them to home and rest.

As I said before, the ‘Home’ viewed from the bridge, a few hundred yards in front, suggests ideas of comfort which are fully realized upon a closer investigation. The rooms are delightfully situated (opening upon a shaded gallery), perfectly ventilated, and very cool, furnished [321] with iron bedsteads, comfortable and cleanly bedding, wardrobes or bureaus, and washstands. The library and reception-room is a charming nook, embellished with many gifts from loving hands.

Immediately opposite the entrance is placed an excellent portrait of General Francis T. Nichols, a hero whom all (Louisianians especially) delight to honor. From the bloody battle-fields of Northern Virginia he brought back a mangled and shattered body, but enough to hold and enshrine a powerful, active brain, and a heart as brave and generous as ever beat in human bosom.

He is idolized by his comrades and beloved by us all. By a unanimous vote of the board of directors the home has been called ‘Camp Nichols,’ and from a gracefully-proportioned flag-staff, placed directly in front of the reception-room (the gift of the Army of Tennessee), floats a banner whereon this honored name was embroidered by the daughters of Generals Lee and Jackson during their recent visit to New Orleans.

The dining-room is very large, well lighted, and fairly shines with cleanliness. In short, every appointment is excellent, and every effort of managers and officers is directed toward making the disabled veterans feel that they are honored inmates of a home which they have earned and deserved, not recipients of charity. Camp Nichols may well be called a trysting-place of heroes. Here old comrades meet as comrades and friends. In the warm grasp of hands there is no suspicion of patronage. Right down in these brave, long-suffering hearts shine glances full of the unforgotten ‘light of other days,’ causing eyes dim and clouded by care and sorrow to beam with a responsive brightness. Ah, who shall undertake to estimate the value and blessedness of this work! [322]

The Legislature of Louisiana organized this enterprise in 1881, making a yearly appropriation for its support. It is designed for all soldiers of Louisiana who have been disabled by wounds received in her service or have become incapacitated by age or disability; is controlled by a board of directors, also created by the State, consisting of the president, three vice-presidents, and recording secretary of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the president, three vice-presidents, and recording secretary of the Army of Tennessee.

The harmonious action of this board is nobly sustained by the members composing both organizations.

The president of the Army of Tennessee, Judge Walter Rogers, is an indefatigable worker, as he was once a brave and faithful soldier. He may with perfect truth be written ‘as one who loves his fellow-men’ (especially his fellow-soldiers). I believe he will, as long as he lives, stand a faithful sentinel upon the sands of time, watching lest the ever-encroaching tide of years may obliterate sacred foot-prints.

All arrangements having been nearly completed, the Home was opened January 1, 1884. Eight soldiers were at once admitted, and since the number has been increased to fifty. Under the rules of the institution no compulsory labor is allowed except that necessary to properly police the quarters. Yet all feel so deep an interest in their Home that they yield willing assistance whenever asked. They choose such occupations as they are physically able to perform, and take delight in keeping things in order.

The Home has many friends outside of the Confederate organizations, none more zealous and truly kind than the officers and members of the Grand Army of the Republic, ‘Mewer Post.’ These are frequent and welcome visitors to Camp Nichols, and have shown both [323] generosity and thoughtfulness in their contributions to the comfort of its inmates. The superintendent, Captain William Bullitt, was selected on account of his soldierly qualities and excellent administrative abilities, and by a unanimous vote of the board elected to fill the position.

His record is untarnished and excellent. At the inception of the war, having assisted in raising the First Company Louisiana Guards, he went out as first lieutenant of the same, won by promotion the rank of captain and afterwards of major, which he held at the close of the war. Used, therefore, to command, he also brings to his work a thorough love for it, and an amount of intelligence in interpreting, and skill in carrying out arrangements and improvements proposed by the board of directors, which insures success and the satisfaction of all concerned.

‘God bless our Home,’ and let the light of His countenance shine upon it and bless it.

And may God strengthen the kindly hands which have led these weary ones away from thorny pathways ‘through green pastures and beside still waters.’ May the; never falter nor fail until the all—merciful Father shall himself provide the ‘rod and staff’ which shall guide all through the dark valley to rest eternal.


Chapter 4: the march of time.

Thoughts suggested while witnessing the ceremonies attending the unveiling of a statue of General Albert Sydney Johnston, erected upon their tomb by the Louisiana Division, Army of Tennessee, in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 6, 1887.3

Little more than three years ago there came a day long to be remembered by every man, woman, and child resident in New Orleans, and by all strangers then sojourning within her gates. A day when the souls of thousands held but a single thought, when all hearts beat as one, when one impulse, strong, thrilling, irresistible led willing feet to where, upon a pedestal, raised stone by stone by love and self-sacrifice, stood the shrouded figure of General Robert E. Lee. Above hung heavy clouds, alas! too suggestive of the hopes that perished forever at Appomattox, but ever and anon the struggling sun broke through, lingering awhile as if to recall the matchless glory which, even in the hour of disaster and defeat, gilded and made immortal the untarnished swords, the stacked arms, then and there surrendered.

To me the terrific storm which soon broke, upsetting all arrangements, abolishing all ceremonies, hushing all oratory, seemed to solemnize and mark in a most fitting manner this great occasion. For no tongue of man or angel could have evoked a feeling so strong, a sentiment [325] so lasting, as that written, as it were, by the finger of Heaven that day upon the hearts of that awe-stricken multitude. Years hence, those who were boys then will remember the lesson there learned. They will tell you of the soldierly figures standing at the foot of the monument, exposed to the pitiless storm, immovable, unshrinking on duty, and these were men who, following where duty led, had won an imperishable record under the immortal Lee.

They will describe how, in the storm-swept streets outside the enclosure, legions of soldiers, the Blue as well as the Gray, calmly faced the howling tempest, standing ‘at rest,’ awaiting the moment when the form of the great commander should be revealed to their reverent gaze. Among these, the veterans of the Army of Tennessee bore a conspicuous part. In their true, brave hearts, second to none in allegiance to their commander-in-chief, there yet lay enshrined another image, there burned another purpose equally high and holy. Hope pointed down the long vista of the future to where Lay—a tomb! only a tomb I nay, more—a ‘bivouac of the dead,’ where, life's battle fought, the toilsome march ended, weary comrades might gather to their rest. And so far distant, yet always in sight, gleamed their Mecca; steadily towards it marched the pilgrims of memory, unfaltering, undismayed, led by a few brave, faithful spirits, through deserts of discouragement, when oases were few and far between, patiently bridging chasms which seemed impassable, until to-day they stand at the goal so hardly won. There lie the veterans who one by one have stolen to the bivouac. ‘After life's fitful fever they sleep well.’ Above, faithful comrades keep watch and ward. Here is a solemn but glorious trysting-place.

On the morning of the 6th of April, twenty-five years [326] ago, a sky as bright and beautiful as that which to-day bends above us, became obscured and darkened by the smoke of battle. Of the Confederate forces then and there engaged it has been said, ‘Their splendid valor has been rarely equalled, never surpassed, on any field of any war.’ Alas! why must it be that grief and glory always go hand in hand? Up through the heavy clouds which hid the face of nature that terrible day sped hundreds of gallant souls, straight to the light wherein was made clear to them the awful Providence which even now disquiets our hearts and clouds our earthly vision. Among them, one whose sudden taking off filled every breast with gloom, and wrested from the Confederacy the fruits of a splendid victory.

So many and so grand are the eulogies which have been pronounced upon Albert Sydney Johnston that nothing remains for me to add. Who does not remember the sorrow of a nation at his death? Who can forget the lava tide of indignation which spread over our land when the ‘conquered’ were forbidden to mourn their fallen hero, when a stricken people were compelled to ‘lay their hands upon their mouths, their mouths in the dust,’ when even the mournful voices of the bells were silenced?

Viewed in the glorious light of to-day, how like a prophecy fulfilled appear the beautiful lines of Father Ryan,—

There's a grandeur in graves, there's a glory in gloom,
For out of the gloom future brightness is born,
As after the night looms the sunrise of morn,
And the graves of the dead, with grass overgrown,
May yet form the footstool of Liberty's throne.

Years of bitter strife have left sad traces all over this beautiful Southland. In lovely valleys, upon every hillside, [327] in the majestic forests, lie, side by side, the Gray and the Blue. The sun clothes every mound with equal glory, the sky weeps over all alike. Standing beside these graves, angry passions die in the hearts of brave men; ‘one touch of nature’ moistens manly eyes, softens obdurate hearts. Involuntarily hands meet in a firmer clasp, which expresses respect as well as sympathy.

The soldiers on both sides have learned to appreciate and understand each other, so, in spite of those who would fain prolong the strife, the long-oppressed people of the South are free to mourn their dead, and

The graves of the dead, with grass overgrown,


Form a footstool for Liberty's throne.

To-day the veterans who met and fiercely battled at Shiloh unite in doing honor to the memory of General Johnston and of the men who, with him, won immortality upon that bloody field.

To-day imperishable laurels bloom afresh upon the upturned brows of the men who hail with loud acclaim the image of their chieftain placed here to guard forever

War's richest spoil,—the ashes of the dead.

It is fitting that, on this day of memory, rich strains of martial music should awaken long-silent echoes in this city of the dead,—fitting that nature should be despoiled of her floral treasures to deck this sacred place which, indeed, is ‘not so much the tomb of virtue as its shrine.’

The flowers that yield their beauty and fragrance to grace this scene will fade and die. Yon radiant sun [328] will set, but not before it has burned an indelible record upon the young hearts of thousands to whom, ere long, we must trust this precious spot.

Of the remnant of the once magnificent Army of Tennessee gathered here it will soon be said,—

On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread.

But the figure of their chieftain will be left to tell the story of a patriotic purpose long cherished in faithful hearts, at last accomplished by patient hands.

Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
     Nor Time's remorseless doom,
Can dim our ray of holy light
     That gilds this glorious tomb.


Chapter 5: a woman's record.4 (from the Southern Bivouac.)

This record will be found to substantiate in every particular my own history of the period referred to.

Being inspired by an ardent zeal or a high sense of duty, not a few noble women during the war arose conspicuous to view. Their gentle deeds, though done in humble spheres, yet shone like ‘a bright light in a low world.’

Fair exemplars they were of patriotic virtue, whose acts of devotion helped much to enshrine in our memories a melancholy past; and they should not be forgotten. In the March number of the Bivouac was given a short sketch of a lady who, during the war, tenderly cared for the sick and suffering Confederates in a Northern prison. It is now proposed to give the record of one who, animated with a romantic love for the cause of the South, left a luxurious home and spent nearly four years in nursing the sick and wounded in Confederate hospitals.

Mrs. Fannie. A. Beers was a native of the North, and the child of fond parents, who gave her every educational advantage, and the means of acquiring all the accomplishments usual in refined circles.

When very young she was married to her present husband, and before the war came South to reside at New Orleans. By nature ardent and susceptible, she [330] readily adapted herself to the surroundings of her new life, and soon grew to love the people and the land of her adoption. A few years of happiness passed and then came the sectional storm. Full well she knew that it threatened to sunder cherished ties, but it did not move her from the side of her choice.

When the struggle came at last, and her home was broken up in New Orleans by the absence of her husband in the field, she returned to the parental roof, to beguile the time in the companionship of her mother. But the separation, with the anxiety it brought, became intolerable; besides, from the positiveness of her opinions and the warmth of her zeal, she soon became ill at ease in the land of her birth. So, with her mother's approval, she resolved to face all perils, and to return and share the fortunes of the Confederacy. Taking her little boy she set out for ‘Dixie,’ and, after many trials, arrived at Richmond, Virginia, just after the battle of Bull Run. Here she was kindly cared for by some old acquaintances, among whom was Commodore Maury, a friend of her family, and who had dedicated his ‘Geography of the Sea’ to her uncle, George Manning, of New York. Through his introduction she made many dear friends among the ladies of Richmond, some of whom pressed her to come and dwell with them; but she neither needed nor was seeking roof and shelter. If she so wished, she might have found them with her husband's relatives in Alabama. What she felt the want of was occupation,—work in behalf of the cause to which, in spite of selfish reasons, she felt impelled to devote herself.

In order that she might have this work, and at the same time be where assistance could be rendered her husband and friends at the front, she asked to be appointed a hospital matron.

Commodore Maury for some time protested against [331] such a step, saying that she was too young, and had been too tenderly raised; but she persisted, so he finally yielded, as appears from the following letter:

Richmond, August 10, 1861.
my dear Fanny,—you bear the heart of a true and tender woman, in the breast of a noble patriot. I will no longer oppose your wishes, and mean to help you all I can. Command me at any and all times.

Yours truly,

At first she assisted in a private hospital maintained by some Richmond ladies, who, by turns, sent in all the food required. Permission was applied for to enter the Louisiana hospital, but it was refused.

In a few weeks she was appointed matron-in-charge of the Second Alabama Hospital, with liberty to receive a limited number of her friends, who might be taken care of there.

Soon after she entered upon her regular duties the sick and wounded began to pour in, and from this time forward she was constantly employed till within a few weeks of the battle of Shiloh. With the departure of her husband's command to Tennessee, she was disposed for a like change of field-duty. She now left Richmond, and for a few weeks only was occupied with a visit to her husband's relatives. Then she resumed her hospital work at Gainesville, Alabama.

Her subsequent career is best related in the following letters from surgeons of high rank, and whose official positions gave them abundant opportunities of estimating the work she performed and the strength of the spirit which animated her. The letters were called from their authors in the spring of 1883, nearly twenty [332] years after the close of the war, upon the occasion of a musical and literary entertainment being tendered Mrs. Beers by her soldier friends in New Orleans. So profound was the gratitude for her former services to sick and wounded Confederates, that all the military organizations exerted themselves to make it a success, and at the meeting of the members of the ‘Army of Tennessee,’ complimentary resolutions were passed, and the letters read.

New Orleans, March 8, 1883.
Judge Rogers:
dear Sir,—Understanding that the members of the Army of Tennessee have tendered Mrs. F. A. Beers an entertainment, I feel anxious to aid in securing its success.

I am well qualified to testify to the valuable and disinterested services which this lady rendered in the Confederate hospital during the late war. In truth, aside from officers and soldiers who may be now living and still holding in remembrance the kind and skilful nursing which she gave them personally while wounded or sick, I know of only four persons whose positions made them fully cognizant of the heroism, devotion, and selfsacri-fice which she brought to the discharge of her duties. These are, first, Dr. T. H. McAllister, now of Marion, Alabama, in whose admirably-conducted hospital she was the only matron during the greater part of the war; second, Dr. C. B. Gamble, now of Baltimore; third, Dr. S. H. Stout, now of Roswell, Georgia, medical director of hospitals of the Army of Tennessee; fourth, the writer.

I know that I can venture to speak in behalf of these gentlemen and for myself in declaring that the skill and efficiency with which she nursed and fed our sick and wounded soldiers, and the coolness and bravery [333] With which she faced danger in discharge of these duties do merit suitable recognition from the survivors of those rapidly-diminishing numbers who fought under the Confederate flag.

Very respectfully,

S. M. Bemiss, M. D., Late Assistant Medical Director and Medical Director of Hospitals, Army of Tennessee.

Marion, Alabama, March 11, 1883.
Dr. S. Bemiss, New Orleans,—Having heard an entertainment was to be given in your city on March 29 for the benefit of Mrs. Fannie A. Beers, I feel it to be my duty, as well as pleasure, to add my testimony to her worth and to the part she played in the late war.

During the three years she was with me as a Confederate hospital matron, she conducted herself as a high-toned lady in the strictest sense of the term, and to every word I may say of her there are hundreds, yea, thousands, of Confederate soldiers scattered all over the South who would cheerfully testify to some facts if opportunity were offered them.

After the battles of Shiloh and Farmington, and then the evacuation of Corinth, I was ordered to establish hospitals (in June or July, 1862) for the sick and wounded of General Bragg's army, at Gainesville, Alabama. With scarcely any hospital supplies I began preparations for the same, and in answer to a card published in the Selma (Alabama) papers, asking for supplies and a suitable lady to act as matron, she promptly responded. At first sight her youthful, delicate, refined, and lady-like appearance, showing she had never been accustomed to any hardships of life, caused me to doubt her capacity to fill the position of matron.

She said she desired to do something while her husband [334] was at the front defending our Southern homes I soon found what she lacked in age and experience was made up in patriotism, devotion to the Southern cause, constant vigilance, and tenderness in nursing the Confederate sick and wounded. I soon learned to appreciate her services and to regard her as indispensable.

She remained with me as hospital matron while I was stationed at Gainesville, Alabama, Ringgold, Georgia, Newnan, Georgia, and Fort Valley, Georgia, embracing a period of over three years. She was all the time chief matron, sometimes supervising more than one thousand beds filled with sick and wounded, and never did any woman her whole duty better. Through heat and cold, night and day, she was incessant in her attentions and watchfulness over the Confederate sick and wounded, many times so worn down by fatigue that she was scarcely able to walk, but never faltering in the discharge of her duties.

At one time, while at Newnan, Georgia, the Federal forces under General McCook were advancing on the town, and it became necessary for every available man —post officers, surgeons, convalescents, and nurses—to leave the town and wards in order to repel the invading enemy. I was much affected while hurrying from ward to ward giving general orders about the care of the sick luring my absence in the fight, to see and hear the maimed begging Mrs. Beers to remain with them, and they could well testify to how well she acted her part in remaining with them and caring for their many wants, while the able-bodied men of all grades went to battle for all they held dear.

At the same time, all the citizens and officers' wives sought refuge in some place of safety. After the battle, which resulted in victory to the Confederates, and the [335] wounded of both armies were brought to our wards, and the Federal prisoners (about one thousand) to the town, her attention and kindness was, if possible, doubly increased, extending help and care as well to the boys in blue as to those in gray. In her missions of mercy she made no distinction. There she was daily seen with her servant going into the prison of the Federal soldiers with bandages and baskets of provisions to minister to the wants of such as were slightly wounded or needed some attention. Many a Federal officer and soldier would doubtless bear willing testimony to these acts of unselfish kindness.

While Atlanta was invested and being shelled she, contrary to my advice and urgent remonstrance, took boxes of provisions to her husband and comrades in the trenches when the shot and shell fell almost like hail. While at Fort Valley her courage and patriotism were put to the severest test in an epidemic of smallpox.

When all who could left, she remained and nursed the Confederate soldiers with this loathsome disease. I desire to say she was a voluntary nurse, and did all her work from patriotism alone, until it became necessary for her to remain as a permanent attache of the hospitals that her name should go upon the pay-rolls. After that she spent her hard earnings in sending boxes to the front and dispensing charity upon worthy objects immediately under her care.

She was with me as voluntary nurse, or matron, for more than three years, and during that time she conducted herself in every respect so as to command the respect and esteem of all with whom she came in contact, from the humblest private to the highest in command, and the citizens of every place where she was stationed gave her a hearty welcome, and invited her into the best of society. [336]

Feeling this much was due to one who suffered so many privations for “Dear lost cause,” I send it to you for you to use as you think proper in promoting her good. You know me well; and can vouch for anything I have said.

Very respectfully,

Wm. T. Mcallister, M. D., Late Surgeon P. A. C. S.

After such testimonials of worth and work, anything more would seem out of place. Yet we cannot refrain from mentioning some of the sayings of soldiers who, though forgotten, yet recall her with affection for the tender nursing received at her hands. Says one, ‘She was the moving spirit in the hospital, officially and practically. The first object of her ministrations was to relieve suffering and save life. The next was to fit men for service. When health was restored she would brook no shirking, but with the power of kindly words impelled patients to the field. Her zeal sprang from profound convictions of the righteousness of the Cause, and with the vehemence of sincerity she wielded a great influence over those who had recovered under her care.’

Another declares that he has seen her ‘not only bathing the heads of soldiers, but washing their feet.’

So the evidence accumulates, and it is no wonder she is called by many ‘The Florence Nightingale of the South.’

the end.

1 these articles, originally prepared for the Southern Bivouac and ‘South Illustrated,’ are here republished by special request.

2 written at the time for the Shreveport paper by Colonel Henderson, a true and gallant soldier, who has since died.

3 The article was first published in ‘The Illustrated South.’

4 written in 1883 by Major McDonald, of Louisville, Kentucky, then editor Southern Bivouac.

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