Chapter 19:

  • Just Judgment
  • -- General Prentiss in close confinement -- Northern peace men -- bear story -- in the hospital -- old Aunt Susie -- sold children -- without bread, and satisfied -- what our fathers thought -- an untrammeled Pulpit -- Clay-eaters -- commissioners to Washington -- homeward bound -- an Irate Southron -- my yellow angel -- our journey -- an accident -- Jeff Davis' Coffin -- Don't know myself -- safe at home -- conclusion.

Is it not passing strange that enlightened Americans can be thus so barbarous? It is related of a certain English judge, that a criminal was brought before him, whom, for certain offences, he sentenced to seven years transportation. The prisoner's friends immediately sent a petition to the judge, stating that he was a well-informed man, and if he had an opportunity, might yet be a useful member of society. The judge forthwith sent for the criminal, and thus addressed him:

I understand, sir, that you are a man of knowledge, and well-informed, and might be a useful member to society. But see what you have done in the face of all your knowledge. [253] Now, sir, I had intended to give you only seven years; but because you know better, I shall double your term and give you fourteen years transportation, with hard labor.

That was a just judge, and before him should the South be tried for the deeds she has committed during this war.

What renders the offence against the noble General Prentiss so much more aggravating, is the fact, that he was thus treated after he had been regularly exchanged. The man for whom he was exchanged, General Price, had been set at liberty, and returned to his family.

What apology the Southerners could offer in this case I know not; but I suppose they might treat the matter in the same light as they do the wrongs inflicted upon the four millions of human beings whom they hold in bondage. Their reply is, when spoken to of their cruelties to their slaves:

Oh, they're only niggers!

So, in regard to General Prentiss, they might say:

Oh, he's only a Yankee abolitionist!

And shame mantles my brow as I say that there is a class of men in the North, whom this answer would not only satisfy, but actually delight. Thank God that this class is a harmless [254] minority! What a sorry figure they will cut after the war is over, and the rebels thrashed back into the Union! They remind me of an anecdote I once heard, of a man named John Williams. John was a poor, lazy coward himself, while his wife was just the reverse. Moving to a mountainous region in Virginia, they got a little cabin and lot of ground. One day Lucy, his wife, was working in the garden, while John was nursing the baby. Suddenly an old, hungry bear was seen coming down the mountain side, directly toward them. John instantly dropped the child, ran to the cabin, climbed up the ladder into the loft, and pulled the ladder up after him, thus leaving the mother and baby to do the best they could. Lucy, seeing her chance of escape thus cut off, did not wait to scold her cowardly husband, but seizing an ax, went out to meet the bear. As soon as old Bruin came within reach, the courageous mother struck him on the head again and again.

John, as he witnessed this from the loft-window, cried out:

Quit that, you Lucy; you'll make him madder and madder!

Lucy paid no attention to John, but continued chopping away at the bear until she killed him. [255] As the beast fell dead, John breathed somewhat more freely, and called out:

Lucy, is he dead?


“Are you sure he's dead, Lucy?”

“Yes! Of course he is.”

John came down, and going to where the dead bear lay, he looked first at it, and then at his wife, ready, however, to start off on a run should the brute give any signs of life. After thus contemplating matters, he gave his collar a jerk, and exclaimed, proudly:

Hurrah, Lucy, we've killed a big bear! blamed if we ain't!

So it is with the peace-men of to-day. They cry now loudly for peace, and whine about the unconstitutional arrest of a few tories. And when it is over, and freedom triumphs, their coward lips will boast of victories won over the legions of secession. Such are the Vallandigham traitors.

General Prentiss remained in close confinement until October 6th, and during the time he had been absent from our party. I had been taken with a severe illness, which obtained for me admission to a rear room of the prison, which was dignified by the name of a hospital. Here I enjoyed the privilege of drawing my allowance [256] of corn-meal from the commissary, and taking it, or sending it, under guard, out to some one in the town, to have it cooked. I got a slave, called Aunt Susie, belonging to a widow, to attend to mine, and she did it well. I was forbidden to speak to her, however.

One day, Lieutenant Welsh came in with the report that Aunt Susie was having great trouble. I suspected the reason, but kept silent. The next day, feeling well enough, I obtained permission to take my own meal out to get it cooked. As it happened, two black boys were on guard, and one of these only accompanied me. He knew all about Aunt Susie's sorrow, and, as he walked along, he said:

Don't b'lieve Aunt Susie ‘ill be able to do your cookin‘, sah.

“Why?” asked I.

“Kase she's in heaps oa trouble, sah. You see, de sheriff sold her little boy an‘ gal t'oder day, an she's bin cryin‘ eber since, as though her heart ‘ud break.”

“Do you think that sale was right?” said I.

“Well, now, I guess I doesn't, sah!” was the quick reply.

“Well, then, why are you in the army that supports such doings?”

“Ah, sah, dey makes me shoulder my gun, [257] an‘ dey makes me fire, sah; but dey can't make me shoot low, so as to hit anybody. When I fire, sah, I shoots ober, d'ye understand, sah? I fires, but nobody gits hurt wid my ball, sah!”

“Well, why is it,” continued I, “that your masters mix you up with white soldiers? Why don't they put all you blacks into regiments by yourselves?”

“Yah! Yah! Sah,” said the slave, “dey knows ‘nuff better dan dat. Dey knows we'd fight t'odder way, if we got togedder. Yes, sah!”

By this time we reached Aunt Susie's cabin, where I found the poor creature sitting on a stool, weeping bitterly. On her lap lay a little boy two years old, while by her knee stood another of four years.

When I entered the cabin, she sprang to her feet in an excited manner; but when she saw myself and guard, she became calmer.

“What is the matter, Aunt Susie?” I asked.

“Oh, sah,” she replied, amidst tears and sobs, “I darsen't tell you, sah, for it'll break my poor old heart.”

“Oh, yes, come now, Susie, tell me. If I cannot help you, I can at least feel sorry for you.”

“Oh, sah, but you are kind to feel sorry for a poor old slave like me. Dey're sold my two [258] dear little children, and dey'll take 'em away to-morrow, and I knows I'll neber see 'em no more 'till I sees 'em up dar, sah — up dar, sah, whar none of us'll be sold any more.”

As Aunt Susie made this reply, she turned her face heavenward, and pointed up with her finger. In her agonized countenance, wet as it was with her sorrowful tears, I read an appeal for the freedom of the slave, stronger and more touching than all the volumes and speeches that have ever been written or made upon the subject.

I could not stand it any longer, and bidding the poor old slave good-bye, I turned away without my bread, for my heart was full. I no longer wondered at the strength of the language used by Ireland's great orator, Daniel O'Connell, when he said:

The Americans, in their conduct towards the slaves, are traitors to the cause of human liberty, foul detractors of the democratic principles which I have cherished throughout my political life. They are blasphemers of that great and sacred name which they pretend to honor. For in their solemn league and covenant, the Declaration of Independence, they declare that all men have certain ‘inalienable rights.’ These they defined to be life, liberty, [259] and the pursuit of happiness. To maintain these, they pledged themselves with all the solemnity of an oath in the presence of Almighty God. The aid which they invoked from heaven was awarded to them; but they have violated their awfully solemn compact with the Deity, and set at naught every principle which they profess to hold sacred, by keeping two and a half millions of their fellow-men in bondage. In reprobation of that disgraceful conduct, my humble voice is heard across the waves of the wide Atlantic. Like the thunderstorm in its strength, it careers against the breeze armed with the lightning of Christian truth. And let them seek to repress it as they may; let them murder and assassinate in the true spirit of Lynch law; the storm will rave louder and louder around them till the claims of justice become too strong to be withstood, and the black man will stand up too big for his chains. I hope what I am about to say is not a profanation, but it seems as if the curse of the Almighty has already overtaken them. For the first time in their political history, disgraceful tumults and anarchy have been witnessed in their cities. Blood has been shed without the sanction of the law, and even Sir Robert Peel has been enabled to taunt Americans with gross [260] inconsistency and lawless proceedings. I differ with Sir Robert Peel on many points. On one point, however, I fully agree with him. Let the proud Americans learn that all parties in this country unite in condemnation of their present conduct, and let them also learn that the worst of all aristocracies is that which prevails in America, an aristocracy which has been aptly denominated that of the human skin. The most insufferable pride is that shown by such an aristocracy. I will continue to hurl these taunts across the Atlantic. They will ascend the Mississippi, they will descend the Missouri, and be heard along the banks of the Ohio and Monongahela till the black man leaps delightedly to express his gratitude to those who have effected his emancipation. And oh! but perhaps it is my pride that dictates this hope, that some black O'Connell may rise among his fellow-slaves, who will cry ‘agitate! agitate! agitate!’ till the two millions and a half of his fellow-sufferers learn their strength, learn that they are two millions and a half! If there is one thing more than another which can excite my hatred, it is the laws which the Americans have framed to prevent the instruction of their slaves. To teach a slave to read is made a capital offence! Shame! To be seen in the company of a slave [261] who can write, is visited with imprisonment! Shame! And to teach the slave the principles of freedom is punishable with death! It may be asked, Are these human laws? Are they not made by the wolves of the forest? No, but they are made by a congregation of two-legged wolves, American wolves, monsters in human shape, who boast of their liberty and of their humanity, while they carry the hearts of tigers within them. With regard to the attacks that have been made upon my countrymen by such men, I rejoice at them. They prove to me that the sufferings to which they have been subjected in the land of their birth have not been lost upon them; but that their kindly affections have been nurtured into strength, and that they have ranged themselves on the side of the oppressed slave.

Would to heaven that ministers of religion, as well as statesmen, would shake off their lipfetters, and throughout the whole nation proclaim, as with one voice, the liberty of Gospel love! As long as the heralds of salvation are time-servers and caste-courters, there will be Pharisaical hatred to God's poor. The reader will peruse an extract here from a sermon on Christian Courage, by Rev. Alexander Clark, delivered in the mid-summer of 1862, some [262] weeks before the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. The words are timely and truthful now as then:

To the Christian citizen, who, in this nation, is greater than a ruler in any other, I would say a word to-day. These are times of sorrow. Our nation is terribly lacerated, and bleeding at every pore: Horrid civil war hangs her black pall over our summer skies. The clouds have hovered long, and still they gather. All the light we have are the vivid lightnings that flash across our battle-fields, though every flash reveals a flying foe, records the victory, and thrills it in electric velocity throughout our loyal land. Then an impenetrable darkness prevails. We cannot yet see the. “cloud with the silver lining.” We cannot hail the day of universal peace. The thick shadows obscure our vision. The groans we hear, and the tears we see, hinder our exulting. Oh, the tears of this war-what a river of them, enough, with the added tears of the suffering slaves for lo! these many years, to float the cruel ship that first brought bondmen to our shores! The graves already filled, and others filling every day, and every where, almost crush our very hopes. In the midst of this darkness and storm, this carnage and blood, we would fear for the [263] result, were it not for the assurance that we feel to nerve us right from the God of nations. Be not afraid, only believe.

And what shall we believe? What shall be our faith? This — no more, and no less-that this nation must first be pure, then peaceable. Amen. Lord, help thou our unbelief! Purify us from all sin! Take away from us all false trust, and all man-glorying! The Lord help us to accept universal liberty for this nationboldly, immediately, unconditionally, that the sunlight of God's favor may shine upon us once more and for ever! May our rulers and generals, and all Christians, accept the life-thought of freedom to all men as the talisman of triumph henceforth! And may none in authority, may none in the churches or closets, be unwilling to trust in the arm of the Lord. Oh, that the entire people might cease trembling, and believe, and be bold for the right!

The same Power that spoke life to the daughter of Jairus, is able to restore our lost prosperity — is able to return to us our national renown. And He will, if we only believe. Our Republic is young in years, as a child among the nations, but it will yet be raised to its second life, which shall be more glorious than the first. The noise of party politicians [264] and mock mourners shall be hushed as insolence, and the professional fault-finders who ridicule the workings of Providence, shall be turned out; and independent of their viperous hisses over a dead Republic, it even already pleaseth Almighty God to awake our slumbering people to the liberty of truth. His name, and not a paltry, pitiful party's, shall have the glory for a nation redeemed, and a weary, toilworn race emancipated!

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

And even to-day, while so many are afraid to trust God, afraid to hope that all this commotion shall end gloriously, let us believe that the same Power which conquered devils among the Gadarenes, healed most desperate maladies in the region of His pilgrimage, and raised the cold dead to life again, will give us the great victory. Brethren, give to the winds your fears!

A word in view of our national truth. Bless God! in our prosperous North, that has been [265] full and free; and it shall be as enduring as the Plymouth Rock, where it first breasted the New World's winter and storm. That Truth is Christian liberty, unalloyed and untrammeled, the Pilgrim fathers' treasure; that is the citizen-children's inheritance, and it shall be perpetuated. The “Mayflower” weathered the storms of a December Atlantic. The blood she brought to America courses now in so many veins, and the spirit-life at Plymouth planted, is to-day so thrilling all true Christian hearts, that this strife must end in proclamation of a Gospel to the poor. These we have with us always. Let the people — the whole people, have the Truth-the whole Truth-and nothing but the Truth. If this include body and conscience-liberty, be not afraid of that, and let the good news go forth to captive ones. Truth is used to storms. It has battled and beaten before. Itself bled on Calvary, grappled with Death, and conquered the monster on the marble floor of the new sepulchre, and is to-day a risen Sun of Righteousness, dawning upon the nations!

The Pilgrim fires, kindled so long ago on the cold New England shores, shall yet dart light and warmth to earth's remotest bounds. America must evangelize the world. But not yet. Not until all human fetters shall have [266] been melted, and all tyranny consumed at home. If it takes fire to purify the people and bur out oppression, then blow, ye winds of heaven, and fan the flames! Let our nation be the land of slaves and sorrow no longer. Give us, 0, thou Ruler of men, a home-land of freedom and of Gospel light! Then our missionary efforts will be successful. Then the day of vain mockery at our own pagan idols and wicked worship of the world's trinity, Goldpower-honor, will be for ever ended. Then the true God shall be honored, when His human image is disenthralled, when all hearts and voices publish the good news throughout the land; then shall the high hallelujah melody,

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea-
Jehovah hath triumphed-his people are free!

ring a joy unspeakable to the benighted sons of heathendom abroad. And the warbling melody, sweeter and richer far than the notes of a bugleband, shall fill and thrill the very desert airs of Africa. The wild men of Ethiopia shall catch the sounding song, and leap as harts on the mountains. The inhabitants of the far-off seaislands shall hear the sweet gospel paean, and welcome a religion that sounds liberty to the captive. [267]

What music! The first measures of the anthem have been performed in plaintive preludes, outsighing for years, in tedious time, by the weary bondmen of the cotton-fields. Now comes the bold, loud bass, majestic as the march of the whirlwind, introducing the discord of rattling muskets, and anon the rumbling thunder-roar of artillery and the neighing of war-horses. And hark! for an alto, the striking and flashing of swords, the cheers of the victors, the screams of the wounded, and the groans of the dying! But still the sweet ringing melody sounds on high in octaves of glory, like the trill of a freed bird, and as exultant as the angels' song over the Bethlehem hills before the day-dawn; soon the chorus-bar shall be reached and crossed, for the Omnipotent beats the time in downward and upward suns; then the mournful minor strains shall cease, the hoarse bass shall be keyed anew for very joy, and the heavenly soprano of peace, sung by angels and sainted choirs above, shall blend with the glad voices of a freed and shouting multitude in one rapturous burst of accord,

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea-
Jehovah hath triumped-his people are free!

Who will be afraid, since God rules? Only believe, and all will be well. [268]

Rather let us rejoice aloud and praise the Lord! For now a better day is dawning upon our own dear native land. These sweet summer mornings, with their blessed, balmy breezes, breathe and beam it. The birds warble it. The rain patters it. The flowers nod it. The leaves laugh it. The sun is rising that shall flash it in one blaze of glory the rolling globe around! “Be not afraid-only believe.” “Amen; so let it be.” The infamous slave trade, and the scarcely less infamous institution of American slavery, God is crushing out of this land for ever-thanks be to His name! Soon our poor shall have the gospel preached to them. Soon shall eyes that have looked so long through tears to a tyrant master's frown, see their prison bands severed in pieces, to fall in tingling music at their feet. Soon shall the illiterate slave be taught to read, in silent meditation, or aloud to his children, the simple story of a Saviour's love. Soon shall the hearts that have sickened at the selling of kindred flesh for gold, bound and beat to the welcome, “Come, come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

The Almighty Deliverer is working now And, as in the days of his incarnation, there are men now who desire in their hearts that God [269] would leave the country. They think Him unable to pay for the loss of the herds. Men will not believe it; but the Almighty Deliverer works. Glory to God! Underneath our cause are the Everlasting Arms; and side by side with the heroic soldier, as he walks to war, the Lord is marching on! Again and again let it ring-let Southern hills the echo sound,

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea-
Jehovah hath triumphed-His people are free!

Be not afraid to come out, and speak out for freedom. Only believe that the Lord will grant it. Already it comes — the victorious march of the Almighty! The nation's capital He has freed and blessed, and foundationed on consecrated ground. The very flowers must yield a richer fragrance there. The feathered choristers that hop among the elms in the yards and gardens there, so early in the morning, must strike higher, gladder notes of praise. Now Washington is safe. Let the conquest circle the Republic until the waves of the Gulf and the rippling Rio Grande shall have the soil of liberty.

Upon my return to prison I found that Aunt Susie's troubles had been heard of there. The little boy and girl played close by the fence [270] during two days, and then we lost them. They were gone to spend the rest of their lives in chains and slavery, unless the Almighty arm breaks every bond of every oppressor!

I am aware that those who would excuse the slave system, often attempt to give conclusive weight to their arguments by asserting that our forefathers were slaveholders. Let me give some facts to the contrary.

One day, the wife of Samuel Adams returning home from a visit, informed her husband that a dear friend had made her a present of a female slave.

“My dear,” replied Mr. Adams, “she may come; but not as a slave, for a slave cannot live in my house. If she comes, she must be free.”

She came, and took up her free abode with the family of this great champion of American liberty, and there she continued free until her death.

General Kosciusko, by his will, placed in the hands of Mr. Jefferson a sum exceeding twenty thousand dollars, to be laid out in the purchase of young female slaves, who were to be both educated and emancipated. The laws of Virginia prevented the will of Kosciusko from being carried into effect-1820. [271]

A tyrant power had captured nine hundred and twenty Sardinian slaves, of whom General William Eaton thus makes mention:

Many have died of grief, and others linger out a life less tolerable than death. Alas! remorse seizes my whole soul when I reflect that this is indeed but a copy of the very barbarity which my eyes have seen in my own native country.

“Dissipation, as well as power,” wrote the immortal John Randolph, “hardens the heart; but avarice deadens it to every feeling but the thirst for riches. Avarice alone could have produced the slave trade. Avarice alone can as it does, drive the infernal traffic and the wretched victims, like so many post-horses, are whipped to death in a small coach. Ambition has its incentives in the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war; but where are the trophies of avarice? The handcuffs, the manacles, and the blood-stained cowhide!”

But to return to my narrative. One morning, as I stood gazing at the guards about our prison, I was forcibly struck with their appearance. They were a new set of men, who had relieved our old guards, the latter having been sent to Richmond. They were all tall and ungainly, and, in speaking, always said “har,” “sar,” [272] “whar” and “dar.” Their most favorite exclamations were, “tamal Jesus,” and “I golly.”

As I was thus surveying these degraded creatures, I heard one of them say:

Tom, what do you always go to old Sanders's mill for? Why don't you go to Mike Adams's mill?

“Why, you tamal fool,” was the reply, “don't you know there's a good deal better clay up at old Sanders's than there is at Mike Adams's?”

As we were at this time under the charge of one Captain Collins, who was more indulgent than any of our previous keepers, we were allowed to converse with the guards. I resolved to settle this matter of clay-eating. So I asked one of the fellows to whom I have just referred, what his comrade wanted with the clay that he got at the mill.

“Why, tarnal J-s,” retorted the repulsive brute, “and don't you know nothin‘? He wanted it to eat, I golly!”

Reader, it would be impossible to describe the personal appearance of these wretched clayeaters, except by the remark an Ohio lady made upon seeing them in all their glory, in Georgia. Said she, “they do not look like fresh dead men, but men who have been dead some time.” [273]

Of all the negro-haters in the world, the clayeater is the most bitter, the cause of which is nothing more than jealousy and a degraded moral system.

While in this prison, we were permitted occasionally to receive our dinners from outside; but even this privilege was stopped every few days, so that it was always altogether uncertain.

Commissioners having been sent to Washington, in relation to the matter of exchanges by cartel, they returned, and brought with them to General Prentiss several hundred dollars, which the General divided among the officers. Our mess, consisting of three, received $100,which, of course, with prices as high as they were in Dixie at that time, was almost useless. Sometimes we complained of our bad fare, and asked for wheat-bread. Wheat-bread seemed to be a standing joke in rebeldom, or rather one of the institutions that were long since forgotten.

“Wheat-bread indeed!” laughed our keepers, “why poor flour is sixty-nine dollars per barrel!”

On the 7th of October, we left Madison, Georgia, as we hoped, for our homes. Arriving at Augusta, we remained a short time, not being allowed to leave the cars. During our stay, [274] however, we managed to learn from the negroes that there were but few white men in the place.

The loquacity of the darkies gave the guards much trouble; that is, those who were not Unionists themselves, and of the latter class there were many. Captain Collins, whom I have mentioned just before, still had us, in his charge, of which we were very glad.

The whites, as well as the negroes, crowded about our cars, and among other questions, we were asked:

Well, whar did they dun get you? What do you uns tink you uns'll dun down here? We uns have dun been waiting for you uns.

From this place to Columbia, South Carolina, we were received much in the same manner by all the inhabitants. Thence we took the Charleston railroad to Branchville, from which place, starting due east, we struck the Wilmington road at Kingsville. At Columbia, we were placed for safe-keeping in the State Prison, while arrangements were being made in regard to the cartel. As it was supposed that we would soon be within our own lines, more liberty than usual was allowed us, of which I took advantage by requesting to be allowed to go about the town under guard. My wish was granted. [275]

As I was walking along, I overheard two men talking of a young lady and two gentlemen who had just been put into cells. There was an apple-stand near by, and I stopped, with the apparent intention of purchasing some of the shriveled fruit, but really to listen to the conversation going on between the men.

“I've no doubt,” said one, “that they're Yankees.”

“Well,” said the other, “the lady was put in for hiding and feeding a conscript.”

“Yes,” savagely rejoined the first, “and if that's so, she ought to have been hung, and not put into prison.”

Upon returning to prison, I, in company with my tried friend, Captain Studman, went up stairs, where we both saw the lady and gentlemen in question. She had no hope whatever of escaping execution, and her pale, finelyformed face, though sorrowful, was determined in its expression. Her companions shared her imprisonment, because they had defended her, and to defend such an one was death or imprisonment.

When the appointed time for our departure arrived, we were soon ready. While standing in the street, drawn up in a rank, there was near us an old man, who, whenever he had an [276] opportunity, would grossly insult us. The sun was broiling hot, and my temper, not being much cooler, I felt inclined to admonish this old rebel a little. But, not wishing to offend Captain Collins, who had treated me so well, I refrained, and listened for some time to the hoary-headed coward in silence.

A line of female negroes as long as our own, stood close to us watching us, and commented upon our appearance. While thus engaged, a little dog made his way through them, and commenced barking at, and playing with one of our number, a captain from Missouri.

The captain patted the little animal, and said, in half-joking tones:

Well, puppy, I've got one friend in South Carolina, anyhow.

At this, the old man rushed up to the prisoner, and exclaimed:

What are you talking about? Them things'll hang you before you leave this place!

“Whom do you think he's talking to, sir?” I asked, in stem tones.

“He's talking to them niggers, and he shall hang for it, before he leaves the place.”

Just then, one of our number said sarcastically: [277]

“Ah, now, my dear old gentleman, you are altogether mistaken. He's not talking to your children, but your dog!”

This enraged him beyond measure, and he wanted to fight, and demolish the “whole crowd of d-d Yankees at once, and on the spot.”

Captain Collins, at length, thinking that he had amused himself long enough, quietly took hold of him, and passed him over to the guards, who, however, were unable to appease him, until they jagged a sharp bayonet into that delicate portion of his corporeal organization, where, doubtless, his feelings and his brains were seated.

We were soon after on our way to the capital of North Carolina. On our journey thither, we stopped at Salisbury, where many a Yankee head was thrust out at the car-windows in hopes of attracting the attention of some of the kindhearted negroes. My unshorn beard and stragling hair, charmed a pretty yellow maiden to such an extent that she drew near and said:

Are you a Yankee, sah?

“Yes,” replied I, determined to profit by the opportunity, “and I'm a very hungry Yankee!”

“God bless you, sah! I'll go an' git you a possum leg dis minnit.”

With these words, she flew away, but soon [278] returned, bringing a good sized limb of “a possum.” I must admit, even at the risk of angering a certain lady, that the yellow angel who thus relieved my hunger, did look very beautiful in my eyes at the time. And as though she read my thoughts, she asked coyly:

When am you uns coming here for we uns?

At this moment, a surly, vigilant guard relieved me from the embarrassment which this question produced, and the girl, catching a glimpse of him, “dispersed,” without even so much as bidding me farewell.

From this slave girl's question, I was more than ever convinced that the slaves possessed more knowledge of their own rights, situation, and strength, than is generally supposed. I should not be surprised to see them some day rise in one solid phalanx, sweep their masters from existence, and cut their way to freedom! And who could pity the latter? No one. We should be compelled to say just what Mary did to her bashful suitor.

One evening, as the lovers were standing on the verandah, Willie, after immense mental effort, asked his betrothed if he might kiss her. He had never been guilty of the offence before. Mary, delighted that Willie was at last becoming sensible, gave immediate approval. Willie [279] accomplished the kiss, and fainted on the instant. Mary stepped back, and wishing to exonerate herself from any charges which might be brought against her, as to doing him injury, exclaimed loudly:

You did it yourself! you did it yourself!

As we traveled to Mason, near the State line, between Virginia and North Carolina, we came to a stream across which was a trestle bridge. Upon reaching the bridge, a rebel soldier who had been standing on the platform of the car, and who was intoxicated, lost his balance and fell through the trestle-work, a distance of full thirty feet. He was seen to fall only by Captain Crawford and myself. He was not missed, however, until we had nearly reached Petersburg, Virginia, where it was discovered when they were about to change guards. This was many miles away from the bridge, and we informed Captain Collins of the accident the moment he came in.

At Petersburg, we fell in with a rebel captain who was one of those fellows who can suit all crowds. He was much animated on the result of the Northern elections, and said that we would now most likely have peace. I asked him why. [280]

“Why,” replied he, “look how you are voting over there.”

I did not say much, for nothing that could have been said would have done the rebel captain any good, and might perhaps have brought harm to me.

We were obliged to cross the city to reach the Richmond depot, and on our way we passed by a large factory building, in which were confined a large number both of blacks and whites, the negroes for endeavoring to get away, and the whites for their Union sentiments.

During our march to the depot, we were surrounded by a strong guard of cavalry. Oh, how galling it was to me think that I, a native born Virginian, was thus driven through the streets of the principal city of the Old Dominion, without a shoe on my foot, scarcely rags enough to satisfy decency, and soaked by a cold, heavy rain!

At night, we were shut up in an old building that had been used for storing tobacco and molasses. As there were a large number of prisoners here, awaiting exchange, every one was obliged to shift for a resting-place as well as he could. Of course all the best spots were appropriated before our arrival, and we were forced to take up our quarters in the back part of the [281] building. A few of the blankets captured by the rebels at Harper's Ferry were distributed among us; but I, unfortunately, did not get one. So, suffering much from the cold, I laid down in the dirt and molasses, which formed a sort of soft cement of an inch or two in depth. Completely wearied out, however, I soon fell asleep, and dreamed of the happy home in Ohio to which I was going.

The next morning I was roughly aroused by two men who stood on either side of me with barrel-staves.

“What are you doing?” exclaimed I, as the two men began prying me up from the floor.

They did not notice my question, but like sailors weighing anchor, wrenched again at me, exclaiming:

We'll fetch him clear this poke! heave ho! yo! ho!

I had positively stuck so fast to the floor, that it was only after the most strenuous exertions I succeeded in getting loose, even with the aid of my two rough helpers.

Our descriptive list did not come until ten o'clock; but when it did, we were not long in signing it, after which we were taken to Aiken's Landing, some fourteen miles southeast of Richmond. Though a cold rain was still falling [282] at intervals, I did not complain, for I was going home,--thank God! home!

Oh, how overflowing was my heart with joy at the prospect! Every drop of rain that pattered on my shivering form, fell upon me like the summer shower falls upon the parched and thirsty grass. I did not complain that I had to march the whole fourteen miles through the cold, mud, and snow, in my bare feet, for I knew that this was my last hardship.

Our guard were not at all rigorous in our marching, and therefore, I often had an opportunity to converse with the teamsters. One of them remarked to me:

Did you know dere wuz a coffin laid on Massa Jeff Davis's door step t'odder night?

“No,” answered I; “what do you think that was done for?”

“I dunno, I ‘spect some ob de Union men done it to let him know dey would kill him if he didn't mind. He's had his house guarded ebber since wid two hundred men.”

“Well, uncle, what do you black folks think about this war?”

“Why, God bless you, sah! we been looking for Massa McClellan wid all our eyes. And if he'd jes come leetle closer, dar's a darky here what'ud a leff dis State quick!” [283]

At this instant I chanced to raise my eyes, and there, in the distance, I beheld the glorious old Stars and Stripes floating proudly and beautifully upon the breeze.

“There she is! God bless her stars!” burst from two hundred and sixty throats in one breath of relief. The very clouds seemed to break asunder and let the glorious sun down upon our enfranchised souls. We wept, and laughed, and shook hands, and bounded with delight, until some time after we were taken aboard the Federal transport, which had been sent up the James river for us. We were soon tossing on the ocean, and in due time arrived without accident at Washington.

My first act upon landing and reaching Willard's Hotel, was to secure the services of a photographer, who took myself and comrade with the chain about our necks, and in our rebel rags, exactly as is represented in the engraving. The next important operation was to clean myself, trim my beard and hair, and make myself fit to go into decent society. This was by no means a small undertaking; but by dint of scrub-brushes, soaps of incredible strength, and exercise of muscle to an indefinite extent, I at last succeeded in accomplishing my objects. As I left the bathroom, I noticed at the other [284] end of the hall, a tall strange gentleman, who, for all I did not recognize him, seemed familiar to me. However, I walked toward him, and he did the same, coming toward me. When I got sufficiently near to address him, I bowed and extended my hand, He did exactly the same. I thought he was behaving very strangely, and with rather a grim smile I drew back and raised myself to my full height. He did exactly the same, and I suddenly discovered that I had been the victim of a huge mirror, and that I had, all the while, been mistaking myself for a clever, gentlemanly-looking old friend of mine. I merely relate this circutance to prove to the reader, that a man who is unfortunate enough to spend six months in Dixie, is scarcely able to recognize himself upon his return home.

Home! home! that word still sounds with strange music in my ears. Its mention brings before my mind the little cottage in Ohio, with its happy yet anxious faces turned up the road, along which papa must come after being away so many months. Home! ah, that is but another name for the dear being, who, while I lay wounded and languishing in the loathsome jails of a merciless enemy, cared for the sweet babes [285] of the captive, who taught their little lips to add a prayer for papa to their vesper offerings at the mercy-seat, and who, weary with many months of watching, never ceased to treasure in her heart's holiest recesses him who pens this tribute.

The End.

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