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The Guns of Shiloh: A Story of the Great Western Campaign

The Guns of Shiloh: A Story of the Great Western Campaign

Author:Joseph A. Altsheler


Dick Mason, caught in the press of a beaten army, fell back slowly with his comrades toward a ford of Bull Run. The first great battle of the Civil War had been fought and lost. Lost, after it had been won! Young as he was Dick knew that fortune had been with the North until the...
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  Dick Mason, caught in the press of a beaten army, fell back slowly withhis comrades toward a ford of Bull Run. The first great battle of theCivil War had been fought and lost. Lost, after it had been won! Youngas he was Dick knew that fortune had been with the North until the veryclosing hour. He did not yet know how it had been done. He did not knowhow the Northern charges had broken in vain on the ranks of StonewallJackson's men. He did not know how the fresh Southern troops from theValley of Virginia had hurled themselves so fiercely on the Union flank.But he did know that his army had been defeated and was retreating onthe capital.

  Cannon still thundered to right and left, and now and then showers ofbursting shell sprayed over the heads of the tired and gloomy soldiers.Dick, thoughtful and scholarly, was in the depths of a bitterness anddespair reached by few of those around him. The Union, the Republic, hadappealed to him as the most glorious of experiments. He could not bearto see it broken up for any cause whatever. It had been founded withtoo much blood and suffering and labor to be dissolved in a day on aVirginia battlefield.

  But the army that had almost grasped victory was retreating, and thecamp followers, the spectators who had come out to see an easy triumph,and some of the raw recruits were running. A youth near Dick cried thatthe rebels fifty thousand strong with a hundred guns were hot upon theirheels. A short, powerful man, with a voice like the roar of thunder,bade him hush or he would feel a rifle barrel across his back. Dickhad noticed this man, a sergeant named Whitley, who had shown singularcourage and coolness throughout the battle, and he crowded closer to himfor companionship. The man observed the action and looked at him withblue eyes that twinkled out of a face almost black with the sun.

  “Don't take it so hard, my boy,” he said. “This battle's lost, but thereare others that won't be. Most of the men were raw, but they did somemighty good fightin', while the regulars an' the cavalry are coverin'the retreat. Beauregard's army is not goin' to sweep us off the face ofthe earth.”

  His words brought cheer to Dick, but it lasted only a moment. He was tosee many dark days, but this perhaps was the darkest of his life. Hisheart beat painfully and his face was a brown mask of mingled dust,sweat, and burned gunpowder. The thunder of the Southern cannon behindthem filled him with humiliation. Every bone in him ached after suchfierce exertion, and his eyes were dim with the flare of cannon andrifles and the rolling clouds of dust. He was scarcely conscious thatthe thick and powerful sergeant had moved up by his side and had put ahelping hand under his arm.

  “Here we are at the ford!” cried Whitley. “Into it, my lad! Ah, how goodthe water feels!”

  Dick, despite those warning guns behind him, would have remained a whilein Bull Run, luxuriating in the stream, but the crowd of his comradeswas pressing hard upon him, and he only had time to thrust his face intothe water and to pour it over his neck, arms, and shoulders. But he wasrefreshed greatly. Some of the heat went out of his body, and his eyesand head ached less.

  The retreat continued across the rolling hills. Dick saw everywhere armsand supplies thrown away by the fringe of a beaten army, the men in therear who saw and who spread the reports of panic and terror. But theregiments were forming again into a cohesive force, and behind themthe regulars and cavalry in firm array still challenged pursuit. Heavyfiring was heard again under the horizon and word came that the Southerncavalry had captured guns and wagons, but the main division maintainedits slow retreat toward Washington.

  Now the cool shadows were coming. The sun, which had shown as red asblood over the field that day, was sinking behind the hills. Its fieryrays ceased to burn the faces of the men. A soft healing breeze stirredthe leaves and grass. The river of Bull Run and the field of Manassaswere gone from sight, and the echo of the last cannon shot died solemnlyon the Southern horizon. An hour later the brigade stopped in the wood,and the exhausted men threw themselves upon the ground. They were sotired that their bodies were in pain as if pricked with needles. Thechagrin and disgrace of defeat were forgotten for the time in theoverpowering desire for rest.

  Dick had enlisted as a common soldier. There was no burden ofmaintaining order upon him, and he threw himself upon the ground by theside of his new friend, Sergeant Whitley. His breath came at first ingasps, but presently he felt better and sat up.

  It was now full night, thrice blessed to them all, with the heat anddust gone and no enemy near. The young recruits had recovered theircourage. The terrible scenes of the battle were hid from their eyes, andthe cannon no longer menaced on the horizon. The sweet, soothing windblew gently over the hills among which they lay, and the leaves rustledpeacefully.

  Fires were lighted, wagons with supplies arrived, and the men beganto cook food, while the surgeons moved here and there, binding up thewounds of the hurt. The pleasant odors of coffee and frying meat arose.Sergeant Whitley stood up and by the moonlight and the fires scanned thecountry about them with discerning eye. Dick looked at him with renewedinterest. He was a man of middle years, but with all the strength andelasticity of youth. Despite his thick coat of tan he was naturallyfair, and Dick noticed that his hands were the largest that he had everseen on any human being. They seemed to the boy to have in them thepower to strangle a bear. But the man was singularly mild and gentle inhis manner.

  “We're about half way to Washington, I judge,” he said, “an' I expect alot of our camp followers and grass-green men are all the way thereby now, tellin' Abe Lincoln an' everybody else that a hundred thousandrebels fell hard upon us on the plain of Manassas.”

  He laughed deep down in his throat and Dick again drew courage andcheerfulness from one who had such a great store of both.

  “How did it happen? Our defeat, I mean,” asked Dick. “I thought almostto the very last moment that we had the victory won.”

  “Their reserves came an' ours didn't. But the boys did well. Lots worsethan this will happen to us, an' we'll live to overcome it. I've beenthrough a heap of hardships in my life, Dick, but I always remember thatsomebody else has been through worse. Let's go down the hill. The boyshave found a branch an' are washin' up.”

  By “branch” he meant a brook, and Dick went with him gladly. Theyfound a fine, clear stream, several feet broad and a foot deep, flowingswiftly between the slopes, and probably emptying miles further on intoBull Run. Already it was lined by hundreds of soldiers, mostly boys,who were bathing freely in its cool waters. Dick and the sergeant joinedthem and with the sparkle of the current fresh life and vigor flowedinto their veins.

  An officer took command, and when they had bathed their faces, necks,and arms abundantly they were allowed to take off their shoes and socksand put their bruised and aching feet in the stream.

  “It seems to me, sergeant, that this is pretty near to Heaven,” saidDick as he sat on the bank and let the water swish around his ankles.

  “It's mighty good. There's no denyin' it, but we'll move still a stepnearer to Heaven, when we get our share of that beef an' coffee, whichI now smell most appetizin'. Hard work gives a fellow a ragin' appetite,an' I reckon fightin' is the hardest of all work. When I was a lumbermanin Wisconsin I thought nothin' could beat that, but I admit now that abig battle is more exhaustin'.”

  “You've worked in the timber then?”

  “From the time I was twelve years old 'til three or four years ago. IfI do say it myself, there wasn't a man in all Wisconsin, or Michiganeither, who could swing an axe harder or longer than I could. I guessyou've noticed these hands of mine.”

  He held them up, and they impressed Dick more than ever. They were greatmasses of bone and muscle fit for a giant.

  “Paws, the boys used to call 'em,” resumed Whitley with a pleased laugh.“I inherited big hands. Father had em an' mother had 'em, too. So minewere wonders when I was a boy, an' when you add to that years an' yearswith the axe, an' with liftin' an' rollin' big logs I've got what Ireckon is the strongest pair of hands in the United States. I can pull ahorseshoe apart any time. Mighty useful they are, too, as I'm likely toshow you often.”

  The chance came very soon. A frightened horse, probably with the memoryof the battle still lodged somewhere in his animal brain, broke histether and came charging among the troops. Whitley made one leap, seizedhim by the bit in his mighty grasp and hurled him back on his haunches,where he held him until fear was gone from him.

  “It was partly strength and partly sleight of hand, a trick that Ilearned in the cavalry,” he said to Dick as they put on their shoes.“I got tired of lumberin' an' I wandered out west, where I served threeyears on horseback in the regular army, fightin' the Indians. Goodfighters they are, too. Mighty hard to put your hand on 'em. Now they'rethere an' now they ain't. Now you see 'em before you, an' then they'rebehind you aimin' a tomahawk at your head. They taught us a big lotthat I guess we can use in this war. Come on, Dick, I guess them banquethalls are spread, an' I know we're ready.”

  Not much order was preserved in the beaten brigade, which had becomeseparated from the rest of the retreating army, but the spirits of allwere rising and that, so Sergeant Whitley told Dick, was better just nowthan technical discipline. The Northern army had gone to Bull Run withample supplies, and now they lacked for nothing. They ate long and well,and drank great quantities of coffee. Then they put out the fires andresumed the march toward Washington.

  They stopped again an hour or two after midnight and slept untilmorning. Dick lay on the bare ground under the boughs of a great oaktree. It was a quarter of an hour before sleep came, because his nervoussystem had received a tremendous wrench that day. He closed his eyesand the battle passed again before them. He remembered, too, a lightningglimpse of a face, that of his cousin, Harry Kenton, seen but an instantand then gone. He tried to decide whether it was fancy or reality, and,while he was trying, he fell asleep and slept as one dead.

  Dick was awakened early in the morning by Sergeant Whitley, who was nowwatching over him like an elder brother. The sun already rode high andthere was a great stir and movement, as the brigade was forming for itscontinued retreat on the capital. The boy's body was at first stiffand sore, but the elasticity of youth returned fast, and after a briefbreakfast he was fully restored.

  Another hot day had dawned, but Dick reflected grimly that however hotit might be it could not be as hot as the day before had been. Scouts inthe night had brought back reports that the Southern troops were on thenorthern side of Bull Run, but not in great force, and a second battlewas no longer feared. The flight could be continued without interruptionover the hot Virginia fields.

  Much of Dick's depression returned as they advanced under the blazingsun, but Whitley, who seemed insensible to either fatigue or gloom, sooncheered him up again.

  “They talk about the Southerners comin' on an' takin' Washington,” hesaid, “but don't you believe it. They haven't got the forces, an' whilethey won the victory I guess they're about as tired as we are. Our boystalk about a hundred thousand rebels jumpin' on 'em, an' some felt as ifthey was a million, but they weren't any more than we was, maybe notas many, an' when they are all stove up themselves how can they attackWashington in its fortifications! Don't be so troubled, boy. The Unionain't smashed up yet. Just recollect whenever it's dark that light'sbound to come later on. What do you say to that, Long Legs?”

  He spoke to a very tall and very thin youth who marched about a halfdozen feet away from them. The boy, who seemed to be about eighteenyears of age, turned to them a face which was pale despite theVirginia sun. But it was the pallor of indoor life, not of fear, as thecountenance was good and strong, long, narrow, the chin pointed, thenose large and bridged like that of an old Roman, the eyes full blueand slightly nearsighted. But there was a faint twinkle in those samenearsighted eyes as he replied in precise tones:

  “According to all the experience of centuries and all the mathematicalformulae that can be deduced therefrom night is bound to be followedby day. We have been whipped by the rebels, but it follows witharithmetical certainty that if we keep on fighting long enough we willwhip them in time. Let x equal time and y equal opportunity. Then whenx and y come together we shall have x plus y which will equal success.Does my logic seem cogent to you, Mr. Big Shoulders and Big Hands?”

  Whitley stared at him in amazement and admiration.

  “I haven't heard so many big words in a long time,” he said, “an' then,too, you bring 'em out so nice an' smooth, marchin' in place as regularas a drilled troop.”

  “I've been drilled too,” said the tall boy, smiling. “My name is GeorgeWarner, and I come from Vermont. I began teaching a district school whenI was sixteen years old, and I would be teaching now, if it were not forthe war. My specialty is mathematics. X equals the war, y equals me andx plus y equals me in the war.”

  “Your name is Warner and you are from Vermont,” said Dick eagerly. “Why,there was a Warner who struck hard for independence at Bennington in theRevolution.”

  “That's my family,” replied the youth proudly. “Seth Warner delivereda mighty blow that helped to form this Union, and although I don't knowmuch except to teach school I'm going to put in a little one to helpsave it. X equalled the occasion, y equalled my willingness to meet it,and x plus y have brought me here.”

  Dick told who he and Whitley were, and he felt at once that he and thislong and mathematical Vermont lad were going to be friends. Whitley alsocontinued to look upon Warner with much favor.

  “I respect anybody who can talk in mathematics as you do,” he said. “Nowwith me I never know what x equals an' I never know what y equals, soif I was to get x an' y together they might land me about ten thousandmiles from where I wanted to be. But a fellow can bend too much overbooks. That's what's the matter with them eyes of yours, which I noticealways have to take two looks where I take only one.”

  “You are undoubtedly right,” replied Warner. “My relatives told me thatI needed some fresh air, and I am taking it, although the process isattended with certain risks from bullets, swords, bayonets, cannonballs, and shells. Still, I have made a very close mathematicalcalculation. At home there is the chance of disease as well as here. Athome you may fall from a cliff, you may be drowned in a creek or riverwhile bathing, a tree may fall on you, a horse may throw you and breakyour neck, or you may be caught in a winter storm and freeze to death.But even if none of these things happens to you, you will die some dayanyhow. Now, my figures show me that the chance of death here in the waris only twenty-five per cent greater than it was at home, but physicalactivity and an open air continuously increase my life chancesthirty-five per cent. So, I make a net life gain of ten per cent.”

  Whitley put his hand upon Warner's shoulder.

  “Boy,” he said, “you're wonderful. I can cheer up the lads by talkin'of the good things to come, but you can prove by arithmetic, algebra an'every other kind of mathematics that they're bound to come. You're goin'to be worth a lot wherever you are.”

  “Thanks for your encomiums. In any event we are gaining valuableexperience. Back there on the field of Bull Run I was able todemonstrate by my own hearing and imagination that a hundred thousandrebels could fire a million bullets a minute; that every one of thosemillion bullets filled with a mortal spite against me was seeking my ownparticular person.”

  Whitley gazed at him again with admiration.

  “You've certainly got a wonderful fine big bag of words,” he said, “an'whenever you need any you just reach in an' take out a few a foot longor so. But I reckon a lot of others felt the way you did, though theywon't admit it now. Look, we're nearly to Washington now. See the domeof the Capitol over the trees there, an' I can catch glimpses of roofstoo.”

  Dick and George also saw the capital, and cheered by the sight, theymarched at a swifter gait. Soon they turned into the main road, wherethe bulk of the army had already passed and saw swarms of stragglersahead of them. Journalists and public men met them, and Dick now learnedhow the truth about Bull Run had come to the capital. The news of defeathad been the more bitter, because already they had been rejoicing thereover success. As late as five o'clock in the afternoon the telegraph hadinformed Washington of victory. Then, after a long wait, had come thebitter despatch telling of defeat, and flying fugitives arriving in thenight had exaggerated it tenfold.

  The division to which Dick, Warner, and Whitley belonged marched overthe Long Bridge and camped near the capital where they would remainuntil sent on further service. Dick now saw that the capital was in nodanger. Troops were pouring into it by every train from the north andwest. All they needed was leadership and discipline. Bull Run had stung,but it did not daunt them and they asked to be led again against theenemy. They heard that Lincoln had received the news of the defeat withgreat calmness, and that he had spent most of a night in his officelistening to the personal narratives of public men who had gone forth tosee the battle, and who at its conclusion had left with great speed.

  “Lots of people have laughed at Abe Lincoln an' have called him only arail-splitter,” said Whitley, “but I heard him two or three times, whenhe was campaignin' in Illinois, an' I tell you he's a man.”

  “He was born in my state,” said Dick, “and I mean to be proud of him.He'll have support, too. Look how the country is standing by him!”

  More than once in the succeeding days Dick Mason's heart thrilled atthe mighty response that came to the defeat of Bull Run. The stream ofrecruits pouring into the capital never ceased. He now saw men, and manyboys, too, like himself, from every state north of the Ohio Riverand from some south of it. Dan Whitley met old logging friends fromWisconsin whom he had not seen in years, and George Warner saw twopupils of his as old as himself.

  Dick had inherited a sensitive temperament, one that responded quicklyand truthfully to the events occurring about him, and he foresaw thebeginning of a mighty struggle. Here in the capital, resolution washardening into a fight to the finish, and he knew from his relativeswhen he left Kentucky that the South was equally determined. There wasan apparent pause in hostilities, but he felt that the two sections weremerely gathering their forces for a mightier conflict.

  His comrades and he had little to do, and they had frequent leaves ofabsence. On one of them they saw a man of imposing appearance pass downPennsylvania Avenue. He would have caught the attention of anybody,owing to his great height and splendid head crowned with snow-whitehair. He was old, but he walked as if he were one who had achievedgreatly, and was conscious of it.

  “It's Old Fuss and Feathers his very self,” said Whitley.

  “General Scott. It can be no other,” said Dick, who had divined at oncethe man's identity. His eyes followed the retreating figure with thegreatest interest. This was the young hero of the War of 1812 and thegreat commander who had carried the brilliant campaign into the capitalof Mexico. He had been the first commander-in-chief of the Northernarmy, and, foreseeing the great scale of the coming war, had prepareda wide and cautious plan. But the public had sneered at him and haddemanded instant action, the defeat at Bull Run being the result.

  Dick felt pity for the man who was forced to bear a blame not his own,and who was too old for another chance. But he knew that the presentcloud would soon pass away, and that he would be remembered as the manof Chippewa and Chapultepec.

  “McClellan is already here to take his place,” said Whitley. “He'sthe young fellow who has been winning successes in the western part ofVirginia, an' they say he has genius.”

  Only a day or two later they saw McClellan walking down the same avenuewith the President. Dick had never beheld a more striking contrast. ThePresident was elderly, of great height, his head surmounted by a highsilk hat which made him look yet taller, while his face was long,melancholy, and wrinkled deeply. His collar had wilted with the heat andthe tails of his long black coat flapped about his legs.

  The general was clothed in a brilliant uniform. He was short and stockyand his head scarcely passed the President's shoulder. He was redolentof youth and self confidence. It showed in his quick, eager gestures andhis emphatic manner. He attracted the two boys, but the sergeant shookhis head somewhat solemnly.

  “They say Scott was too old,” he said, “and now they've gone to theother end of it. McClellan's too young to handle the great armies thatare going into the field. I'm afraid he won't be a match for them oldveterans like Johnston and Lee.”

  “Napoleon became famous all over the world when he was only twenty-six,”said Warner.

  “That's so,” retorted Whitley, “but I never heard of any other Napoleon.The breed began and quit with him.”

  But the soldiers crowding the capital had full confidence in “LittleMac,” as they had already begun to call him. Those off duty followed andcheered him and the President, until they entered the White House anddisappeared within its doors. Dick and his friends were in the crowdthat followed, although they did not join in the cheers, not becausethey lacked faith, but because all three were thoughtful. Dick hadsoon discovered that Whitley, despite his lack of education, was anexceedingly observant man, with a clear and reasoning mind.

  “It was a pair worth seeing,” said the sergeant, as they turned away,“but I looked a lot more at Old Abe than I did at 'Little Mac.' Did youever think, boys, what it is to have a big war on your hands, with allsorts of men tellin' you all sorts of things an' tryin' to pull you inall sorts of directions?”

  “I had not thought of it before, but I will think of it now,” saidWarner. “In any event, we are quite sure that the President has a greattask before him. We hear that the South will soon have a quarter of amillion troops in the field. Her position on the defensive is perhapsworth as many more men to her. Hence let x equal her troops, let y equalher defensive, and we have x plus y, which is equal to half a millionmen, the number we must have before we can meet the South on equalterms.”

  “An' to conquer her completely we'll need nigh on to a million.” saidthe sergeant.

  Shrewd and penetrating as was Sergeant Whitley he did not dream thatbefore the giant struggle was over the South would have tripled herdefensive quarter of a million and the North would almost have tripledher invading million.

  A few days later their regiment marched out of the capital and joinedthe forces on the hills around Arlington, where they lay for many days,impatient but inactive. There was much movement in the west, and theyheard of small battles in which victory and defeat were about equal.The boys had shown so much zeal and ability in learning soldierly dutiesthat they were made orderlies by their colonel, John Newcomb, a taciturnPennsylvanian, a rich miner who had raised a regiment partly at hisown expense, and who showed a great zeal for the Union. He, too, waslearning how to be a soldier and he was not above asking advice now andthen of a certain Sergeant Whitley who had the judgment to give it inthe manner befitting one of his lowly rank.

  The summer days passed slowly on. The heat was intense. The Virginiahills and plains fairly shimmered under the burning rays of the sun. Butstill they delayed. Congress had shown the greatest courage, meeting onthe very day that the news of Bull Run had come, and resolving tofight the war to a successful end, no matter what happened. But whileMcClellan was drilling and preparing, the public again began to call foraction. “On to Richmond!” was the cry, but despite it the army did notyet move.

  European newspapers came in, and almost without exception they sneeredat the Northern troops, and predicted the early dissolution of theUnion. Monarchy and privileged classes everywhere rejoiced at thedisaster threatening the great republic, and now that it was safe to doso, did not hesitate to show their delight. Sensitive and proud of hiscountry, Dick was cut to the quick, but Warner was more phlegmatic.

  “Let 'em bark,” he said. “They bark because they dislike us, and theydislike us because they fear us. We threatened Privilege when ourRevolution succeeded and the Republic was established. The fact of ourexistence was the threat and the threat has increased with our yearsand growth. Europe is for the South, but the reason for it is one of thesimplest problems in mathematics. Ten per cent of it is admirationfor the Southern victory at Bull Run, and ninety per cent of it ishatred--at least by their ruling classes--of republican institutions,and a wish to see them fall here.”

  “I suspect you're right,” said Dick, “and we'll have to try all theharder to keep them from being a failure. Look, there goes our balloon!”

  Every day, usually late in the afternoon, a captive balloon rose fromthe Northern camp, and officers with powerful glasses inspected theSouthern position, watching for an advance or a new movement of anykind.

  “I'm going up in it some day,” said Dick, confidently. “Colonel Newcombhas promised me that he will take me with him when his turn for theascension comes.”

  The chance was a week in coming, a tremendously long time it seemedto Dick, but it came at last. He climbed into the basket with ColonelNewcomb, two generals, and the aeronauts and sat very quiet in a corner.He felt an extraordinary thrill when the ropes were allowed to slide andthe balloon was slowly going almost straight upward. The sensation wassomewhat similar to that which shook him when he went into battle atBull Run, but pride came to his rescue and he soon forgot the physicaltremor to watch the world that now rolled beneath them, a world thatthey seemed to have left, although the ropes always held.

  Dick's gaze instinctively turned southward, where he knew theConfederate army lay. A vast and beautiful panorama spread in asemi-circle before him. The green of summer, the green that had beenstained so fearfully at Bull Run, was gone. The grass was now brown fromthe great heats and the promise of autumn soon to come, but--from theheight at least--it was a soft and mellow brown, and the dust was gone.

  The hills rolled far away southward, and under the horizon's rim. Narrowribbons of silver here and there were the numerous brooks and creeksthat cut the country. Groves, still heavy and dark with foliage, hungon the hills, or filled some valley, like green in a bowl. Now and then,among clumps of trees, colonial houses with their pillared porticoesappeared.

  It was a rare and beautiful scene, appealing with great force to Dick.There was nothing to tell of war save the Northern forces just beneaththem, and he would not look down. But he did look back, and saw thebroad band of the Potomac, and beyond it the white dome of the Capitoland the roof of Washington. But his gaze turned again to the South,where his absorbing interest lay, and once more he viewed the quietcountry, rolling away until it touched the horizon rim. The afternoonwas growing late, and great terraces of red and gold were heaping aboveone another in the sky until they reached the zenith.

  “Try the glasses for a moment, Dick,” said Colonel Newcomb, as he passedthem to the boy.

  Dick swept them across the South in a great semi-circle, and now newobjects rose upon the surface of the earth. He saw distinctly thelong chain of the Blue Ridge rising on the west, then blurring in thedistance into a solid black rampart. In the south he saw a long curvingline of rising blue plumes. It did not need Colonel Newcomb to tell himthat these were the campfires of the army that they had met on thefield of Bull Run, and that the Southern troops were now cooking theirsuppers.

  No doubt his cousin Harry was there and perhaps others whom he knew.The fires seemed to Dick a defiance to the Union. Well, in view of theirvictory, the defiance was justified, and those fires might come neareryet. Dick, catching the tone of older men who shared his views, had notbelieved at first that the rebellion would last long, but his opinionwas changing fast, and the talk of wise Sergeant Whitley was helpingmuch in that change.

  While he yet looked through the glasses he saw a plume of white smokecoming swiftly towards the Southern fires. Then he remembered the twolines of railroad that met on the battlefield, giving it its othername, Manassas Junction, and he knew that the smoke came from an enginepulling cars loaded with supplies for their foes.

  He whispered of the train as he handed the glasses back to ColonelNewcomb, and then the colonel and the generals alike made a longexamination.

  “Beauregard will certainly have an abundance of supplies,” said one ofthe generals. “I hear that arms and provisions are coming by every trainfrom the South, and meanwhile we are making no advance.”

  “We can't advance yet,” said the other general emphatically. “McClellanis right in making elaborate preparations and long drills before movingupon the enemy. It was inexperience, and not want of courage, that beatus at Bull Run.”

  “The Southerners had the same inexperience.”

  “But they had the defensive. I hear that Tom Jackson saved them, andthat they have given him the name Stonewall, because he stood so firm.I was at West Point with him. An odd, awkward fellow, but one of thehardest students I have ever known. The boys laughed at him when hefirst came, but they soon stopped. He had a funny way of studying,standing up with his book on a shelf, instead of sitting down at a desk.Said his brain moved better that way. I've heard that he walked part ofthe way from Virginia to reach West Point. I hear now, too, that he isvery religious, and always intends to pray before going into battle.”

  “That's a bad sign--for us,” said the other general. “It's easy enoughto sneer at praying men, but just you remember Cromwell. I'm a littleshaky on my history, but I've an impression that when Cromwell, theIronsides, old Praise-God-Barebones, and the rest knelt, said a fewwords to their God, sang a little and advanced with their pikes, theywent wherever they intended to go and that Prince Rupert and all theCavaliers could not stop them.”

  “It is so,” said the other gravely. “A man who believes thoroughly inhis God, who is not afraid to die, who, in fact, rather favors dying onthe field, is an awful foe to meet in battle.”

  “We may have some of the same on our side,” said Colonel Newcomb. “Wehave at least a great Puritan population from which to draw.”

  One of the generals gave the signal and the balloon was slowly pulleddown. Dick, grateful for his experience, thanked Colonel Newcomb andrejoined his comrades.