An adventure with the “Bluebirds.”
S— is a scout who has had many very curious adventures, as the narratives already laid before the reader will serve to show.
He is not a “man of peace,” nor is his life a tranquil one.
While you, my dear quiet citizen, have been sleeping in your comfortable bed, with the curtains drawn and the firelight shining on Brussels
carpeting and mahogany furniture, or luxuriously stretching out your slippered feet toward the fender in the breakfast-room, as you glance over the morning papers before going to your cent.
employments down town; while you have been thus agreeably engaged, not knowing what it is to wear a soiled shirt or miss a meal, or suffer from cold or fatigue, S-has been in the saddle, hungry, weary, exposed to rain and snow and storm, hunting Bluebirds.
Bluebird hunting is not a remunerative employment in a pecuniary point of view, but it has its attractions.
You don't realize a hundred per cent. profit, and you run some risk; but the blood flows faster and much more gloriously through the veins than in trade, to say nothing of the “fuller life” it communicates to all the faculties.
But this is not denied.
I proceed to give a brief account of a recent scout which S-- made into the Federal
One fine summer day in 1863 he took four men, made his way unperceived across the Rappahannock
, and soon reached
the neighbourhood of Warrenton
Leaving that place to his left, he struck out with his party for the railroad, and coming near a Federal camp, placed his four men in ambush, and taking a position on the road, awaited the appearance of some prey.
He had not waited long when a stray Federal cavalry-man came along, and seeing S — dressed in a blue overcoat and Federal accoutrements generally, had no fear of him. His confiding simplicity was his ruin.
When he had come within a few yards S— “put his pistol on him,” in military parlance, and took him prisoner, calling one of his men from the woods to take charge of him. The captive had scarcely been conducted into the underwood when two others appeared, coming from the same direction, and S— determined to capture these also.
He called to the man who had taken charge of the prisoner; but that worthy was too busy rifling the unfortunate bluebird, and did not hear.
S-then resolved to capture the two new cavalrymen by himself.
He accordingly advanced toward them, when suddenly another came out of the woods and joined them, making three.
He still designed attacking them, when another appeared, making four; and as these now approached S— they suddenly drew their pistols, and levelling them, ordered him to surrender.
He was within five feet of them, holding his pistol in his hand, and said coolly:
What do you mean?
“We mean,” said the men, “that you are a guerilla, and you are our prisoner.”
“I am no guerilla,” was the reply.
“What do you belong to?”
“The first New Jersey.”
“Who comamnds it?”
“Right. Who commands the brigade?”
Where is it stationed?”
“In the edge of Warrenton
“Yes. Who commands the division?”
“Look here,” said S— , who was thoroughly acquainted
with every part of his role
, “I am tired of your asking me so many questions; but I will answer.
The First New Jersey is in Taylor
's brigade, Gregg
's division, and Pleasanton
commands the whole.
I belong to the regiment, and am no guerilla.”
“He's all right, boys,” said one of the men; “let him go.”
“No,” said another; “I saw him capture one of our men ten minutes ago.”
“You are mistaken,” said S-.
“You are a guerilla!”
exclaimed the man.
“And how do I know you
are not guerillas?”
said S— ; “you have on blue coats, but let me see your pantaloons.”
They raised their coat-skirts and showed their blue regulation pantaloons.
“Now show yours,” they said.
S — had foreseen this, and readily exhibited his own, which were those of a Federal officer.
“He's one of our officers, boys,” said the former spokesman.
“Yes, I am,” said S— , “and I'll report you all for this conduct.”
“None of your talk,” said the incredulous cavalry-man.
you are a guerilla, and you've got to go with us.”
“Very well,” returned S- ; “the picket post is just down the road.
I'll take you there and convince you.”
“All right,” was the reply; and they ranged themselves, two on each side, with drawn pistols, and all rode back.
S— now saw that it was neck or nothing.
If he was conducted to the picket he knew that his real character would be discovered, his fate to be a stout rope and a short shrift, and that his body would soon be dangling from a tree as a warning to all spies.
He accordingly watched his chance, and suddenly crossing his pistol over his breast, shot the man on his left through the back; a second shot wounded a horse on his right; and all four shot at him so close that their pistols nearly touched him. Strange to say, not a ball struck him.
He then turned his horse and dashed back until he was opposite the point where his men were concealed, when he wheeled round, and they all stopped suddenly.
S— coolly crossed his
leg over the pommel of his saddle, covered them with his pistol, and said:
Now come on, you cowardly rascals!
Charge me if you dare!
I'm certain of two of you.
They remained consulting hurriedly within fifteen steps of him for some minutes, and then turned round and rode back.
They had not gone fifty yards, however, when shame seemed to overcome them; and whirling round, the three who were unwounded charged him, firing as they came with their pistols.
S- charged forward to meet them, emptying his barrels in quick succession; and the whole party turned their horses and fled down the road, S— pursuing them with shouts, and firing upon them until they had reached their picket post.
Such was S—‘s curious adventure.
There is no reason to doubt it. Every army contains brave men and faint hearts.
S— seems to have encountered the latter.