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    Chapter 1

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    We wait beneath the furnace blast
    The pangs of transformation;
    Not painlessly doth God recast
    And mold anew the nation.
    Hot burns the fire
    Where wrongs expire;
    Nor spares the hand
    That from the land
    Uproots the ancient evil.


    The hand-breadth cloud the sages feared
    Its bloody rain is dropping;
    The poison plant the fathers spared
    All else is overtopping.
    East, West, South, North,
    It curses the earth;
    All justice dies,
    And fraud and lies
    Live only in its shadow.

    Then let the selfish lip be dumb
    And hushed the breath of sighing;
    Before the joy of peace must come
    The pains of purifying.
    God give us grace
    Each in his place
    To bear his lot,
    And, murmuring not,
    Endure and wait and labor!
    ~WHITTIER

    ANDERSONVILLE

    A STORY OF REBEL MILITARY PRISONS

    CHAPTER I.

    A STRANGE LAND--THE HEART OF THE APPALACHIANS--THE GATEWAY OF AN EMPIRE
    --A SEQUESTERED VALE, AND A PRIMITIVE, ARCADIAN, NON-PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE.

    A low, square, plainly-hewn stone, set near the summit of the eastern
    approach to the formidable natural fortress of Cumberland Gap, indicates
    the boundaries of--the three great States of Virginia, Kentucky and
    Tennessee. It is such a place as, remembering the old Greek and Roman
    myths and superstitions, one would recognize as fitting to mark the
    confines of the territories of great masses of strong, aggressive, and
    frequently conflicting peoples. There the god Terminus should have had
    one of his chief temples, where his shrine would be shadowed by barriers
    rising above the clouds, and his sacred solitude guarded from the rude
    invasion of armed hosts by range on range of battlemented rocks, crowning
    almost inaccessible mountains, interposed across every approach from the
    usual haunts of men.

    Roundabout the land is full of strangeness and mystery. The throes of
    some great convulsion of Nature are written on the face of the four
    thousand square miles of territory, of which Cumberland Gap is the
    central point. Miles of granite mountains are thrust up like giant
    walls, hundreds of feet high, and as smooth and regular as the side
    of a monument.

    Huge, fantastically-shaped rocks abound everywhere--sometimes rising into
    pinnacles on lofty summits--sometimes hanging over the verge of beetling
    cliffs, as if placed there in waiting for a time when they could be
    hurled down upon the path of an advancing army, and sweep it away.

    Large streams of water burst out in the most unexpected planes,
    frequently far up mountain sides, and fall in silver veils upon stones
    beaten round by the ceaseless dash for ages. Caves, rich in quaintly
    formed stalactites and stalagmites, and their recesses filled with
    metallic salts of the most powerful and diverse natures; break the
    mountain sides at frequent intervals. Everywhere one is met by surprises
    and anomalies. Even the rank vegetation is eccentric, and as prone to
    develop into bizarre forms as are the rocks and mountains.

    The dreaded panther ranges through the primeval, rarely trodden forests;
    every crevice in the rocks has for tenants rattlesnakes or stealthy
    copperheads, while long, wonderfully swift "blue racers" haunt the edges
    of the woods, and linger around the fields to chill his blood who catches
    a glimpse of their upreared heads, with their great, balefully bright
    eyes, and "white-collar" encircled throats.

    The human events happening here have been in harmony with the natural
    ones. It has always been a land of conflict. In 1540--339 years ago
    --De Soto, in that energetic but fruitless search for gold which occupied
    his later years, penetrated to this region, and found it the fastness of
    the Xualans, a bold, aggressive race, continually warring with its
    neighbors. When next the white man reached the country--a century and a
    half later--he found the Xualans had been swept away by the conquering
    Cherokees, and he witnessed there the most sanguinary contest between
    Indians of which our annals give any account--a pitched battle two days
    in duration, between the invading Shawnees, who lorded it over what is
    now Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana--and the Cherokees, who dominated the
    country the southeast of the Cumberland range. Again the Cherokees were
    victorious, and the discomfited Shawnees retired north of the Gap.

    Then the white man delivered battle for the possession the land, and
    bought it with the lives of many gallant adventurers. Half a century
    later Boone and his hardy companion followed, and forced their way into
    Kentucky.

    Another half century saw the Gap the favorite haunt of the greatest of
    American bandits--the noted John A. Murrell--and his gang. They
    infested the country for years, now waylaying the trader or drover
    threading his toilsome way over the lone mountains, now descending upon
    some little town, to plunder its stores and houses.

    At length Murrell and his band were driven out, and sought a new field of
    operations on the Lower Mississippi. They left germs behind them,
    however, that developed into horse thieve counterfeiters, and later into
    guerrillas and bushwhackers.

    When the Rebellion broke out the region at once became the theater of
    military operations. Twice Cumberland Gap was seized by the Rebels, and
    twice was it wrested away from them. In 1861 it was the point whence
    Zollicoffer launched out with his legions to "liberate Kentucky," and it
    was whither they fled, beaten and shattered, after the disasters of Wild
    Cat and Mill Springs. In 1862 Kirby Smith led his army through the Gap
    on his way to overrun Kentucky and invade the North. Three months later
    his beaten forces sought refuge from their pursuers behind its
    impregnable fortifications. Another year saw Burnside burst through the
    Gap with a conquering force and redeem loyal East Tennessee from its
    Rebel oppressors.

    Had the South ever been able to separate from the North the boundary
    would have been established along this line.

    Between the main ridge upon which Cumberland Gap is situated, and the
    next range on the southeast which runs parallel with it, is a narrow,
    long, very fruitful valley, walled in on either side for a hundred miles
    by tall mountains as a City street is by high buildings. It is called
    Powell's Valley. In it dwell a simple, primitive people, shut out from
    the world almost as much as if they lived in New Zealand, and with the
    speech, manners and ideas that their fathers brought into the Valley when
    they settled it a century ago. There has been but little change since
    then. The young men who have annually driven cattle to the distant
    markets in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, have brought back occasional
    stray bits of finery for the "women folks," and the latest improved
    fire-arms for themselves, but this is about all the innovations the
    progress of the world has been allowed to make. Wheeled vehicles are
    almost unknown; men and women travel on horseback as they did a century
    ago, the clothing is the product of the farm and the busy looms of the
    women, and life is as rural and Arcadian as any ever described in a
    pastoral. The people are rich in cattle, hogs, horses, sheep and the
    products of the field. The fat soil brings forth the substantials of
    life in opulent plenty. Having this there seems to be little care for
    more. Ambition nor avarice, nor yet craving after luxury, disturb their
    contented souls or drag them away from the non-progressive round of
    simple life bequeathed them by their fathers.
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