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    Chapter 6

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    Chapter 7
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    At dawn we were gathered together, more meal issued to us, which we
    cooked in the same way, and then were started under heavy guard to march
    on foot over the mountains to Bristol, a station at the point where the
    Virginia and Tennessee Railroad crosses the line between Virginia and

    As we were preparing to set out a Sergeant of the First Virginia cavalry
    came galloping up to us on my horse! The sight of my faithful "Hiatoga"
    bestrid by a Rebel, wrung my heart. During the action I had forgotten
    him, but when it ceased I began to worry about his fate. As he and his
    rider came near I called out to him; he stopped and gave a whinny of
    recognition, which seemed also a plaintive appeal for an explanation of
    the changed condition of affairs.

    The Sergeant was a pleasant, gentlemanly boy of about my own age.
    He rode up to me and inquired if it was my horse, to which I replied in
    the affirmative, and asked permission to take from the saddle pockets
    some letters, pictures and other trinkets. He granted this, and we
    became friends from thence on until we separated. He rode by my side as
    we plodded over the steep, slippery hills, and we beguiled the way by
    chatting of the thousand things that soldiers find to talk about, and
    exchanged reminiscences of the service on both sides. But the subject he
    was fondest of was that which I relished least: my--now his--horse. Into
    the open ulcer of my heart he poured the acid of all manner of questions
    concerning my lost steed's qualities and capabilities: would he swim?
    how was he in fording? did he jump well! how did he stand fire?
    I smothered my irritation, and answered as pleasantly as I could.

    In the afternoon of the third day after the capture, we came up to where
    a party of rustic belles were collected at "quilting." The "Yankees"
    were instantly objects of greater interest than the parade of a menagerie
    would have been. The Sergeant told the girls we were going to camp for
    the night a mile or so ahead, and if they would be at a certain house,
    he would have a Yankee for them for close inspection. After halting,
    the Sergeant obtained leave to take me out with a guard, and I was
    presently ushered into a room in which the damsels were massed in force,
    --a carnation-checked, staring, open-mouthed, linsey-clad crowd, as
    ignorant of corsets and gloves as of Hebrew, and with a propensity to
    giggle that was chronic and irrepressible. When we entered the room
    there was a general giggle, and then a shower of comments upon my
    appearance,--each sentence punctuated with the chorus of feminine
    cachination. A remark was made about my hair and eyes, and their
    risibles gave way; judgment was passed on my nose, and then came a ripple
    of laughter. I got very red in the face, and uncomfortable generally.
    Attention was called to the size of my feet and hands, and the usual
    chorus followed. Those useful members of my body seemed to swell up as
    they do to a young man at his first party.

    Then I saw that in the minds of these bucolic maidens I was scarcely,
    if at all, human; they did not understand that I belonged to the race;
    I was a "Yankee"--a something of the non-human class, as the gorilla or
    the chimpanzee. They felt as free to discuss my points before my face as
    they would to talk of a horse or a wild animal in a show. My equanimity
    was partially restored by this reflection, but I was still too young to
    escape embarrassment and irritation at being thus dissected and giggled
    at by a party of girls, even if they were ignorant Virginia mountaineers.

    I turned around to speak to the Sergeant, and in so doing showed my back
    to the ladies. The hum of comment deepened into surprise, that half
    stopped and then intensified the giggle.

    I was puzzled for a minute, and then the direction of their glances, and
    their remarks explained it all. At the rear of the lower part of the
    cavalry jacket, about where the upper ornamental buttons are on the tail
    of a frock coat, are two funny tabs, about the size of small
    pin-cushions. They are fastened by the edge, and stick out straight
    behind. Their use is to support the heavy belt in the rear, as the
    buttons do in front. When the belt is off it would puzzle the Seven
    Wise Men to guess what they are for. The unsophisticated young ladies,
    with that swift intuition which is one of lovely woman's salient mental
    traits, immediately jumped at the conclusion that the projections
    covered some peculiar conformation of the Yankee anatomy--some
    incipient, dromedary-like humps, or perchance the horns of which they
    had heard so much.

    This anatomical phenomena was discussed intently for a few minutes,
    during which I heard one of the girls inquire whether "it would hurt him
    to cut 'em off?" and another hazarded the opinion that "it would probably
    bleed him to death."

    Then a new idea seized them, and they said to the Sergeant "Make him
    sing! Make him sing!"

    This was too much for the Sergeant, who had been intensely amused at the
    girls' wonderment. He turned to me, very red in the face, with:

    "Sergeant: the girls want to hear you sing."

    I replied that I could not sing a note. Said he:

    "Oh, come now. I know better than that; I never seed or heerd of a
    Yankee that couldn't sing."

    I nevertheless assured him that there really were some Yankees that did
    not have any musical accomplishments, and that I was one of that
    unfortunate number. I asked him to get the ladies to sing for me,
    and to this they acceded quite readily. One girl, with a fair soprano,
    who seemed to be the leader of the crowd, sang "The Homespun Dress," a
    song very popular in the South, and having the same tune as the "Bonnie
    Blue Flag." It began,

    I envy not the Northern girl
    Their silks and jewels fine,

    and proceeded to compare the homespun habiliments of the Southern women
    to the finery and frippery of the ladies on the other side of Mason and
    Dixon's line in a manner very disadvantageous to the latter.

    The rest of the girls made a fine exhibition of the lung-power acquired
    in climbing their precipitous mountains, when they came in on the chorus

    Hurra! Hurra! for southern rights Hurra!
    Hurra for the homespun dress,
    The Southern ladies wear.

    This ended the entertainment.

    On our journey to Bristol we met many Rebel soldiers, of all ranks,
    and a small number of citizens. As the conscription had then been
    enforced pretty sharply for over a year the only able-bodied men seen in
    civil life were those who had some trade which exempted them from being
    forced into active service. It greatly astonished us at first to find
    that nearly all the mechanics were included among the exempts, or could
    be if they chose; but a very little reflection showed us the wisdom of
    such a policy. The South is as nearly a purely agricultural country as
    is Russia or South America. The people have, little inclination or
    capacity for anything else than pastoral pursuits. Consequently
    mechanics are very scarce, and manufactories much scarcer. The limited
    quantity of products of mechanical skill needed by the people was mostly
    imported from the North or Europe. Both these sources of supply were
    cutoff by the war, and the country was thrown upon its own slender
    manufacturing resources. To force its mechanics into the army would
    therefore be suicidal. The Army would gain a few thousand men, but its
    operations would be embarrassed, if not stopped altogether, by a want of
    supplies. This condition of affairs reminded one of the singular paucity
    of mechanical skill among the Bedouins of the desert, which renders the
    life of a blacksmith sacred. No matter how bitter the feud between
    tribes, no one will kill the other's workers of iron, and instances are
    told of warriors saving their lives at critical periods by falling on
    their knees and making with their garments an imitation of the action of
    a smith's bellows.

    All whom we met were eager to discuss with us the causes, phases and
    progress of the war, and whenever opportunity offered or could be made,
    those of us who were inclined to talk were speedily involved in an
    argument with crowds of soldiers and citizens. But, owing to the polemic
    poverty of our opponents, the argument was more in name than in fact.
    Like all people of slender or untrained intellectual powers they labored
    under the hallucination that asserting was reasoning, and the emphatic
    reiteration of bald statements, logic. The narrow round which all from
    highest to lowest--traveled was sometimes comical, and sometimes
    irritating, according to one's mood! The dispute invariably began by
    their asking:

    "Well, what are you 'uns down here a-fightin' we 'uns for?"

    As this was replied to the newt one followed:

    "Why are you'uns takin' our niggers away from we 'uns for?"

    Then came:

    "What do you 'uns put our niggers to fightin' we'uns for?" The windup
    always was: "Well, let me tell you, sir, you can never whip people that
    are fighting for liberty, sir."

    Even General Giltner, who had achieved considerable military reputation
    as commander of a division of Kentucky cavalry, seemed to be as slenderly
    furnished with logical ammunition as the balance, for as he halted by us
    he opened the conversation with the well-worn formula:

    "Well: what are you 'uns down here a-fighting we'uns for?"

    The question had become raspingly monotonous to me, whom he addressed,
    and I replied with marked acerbity:

    "Because we are the Northern mudsills whom you affect to despise, and we
    came down here to lick you into respecting us."

    The answer seemed to tickle him, a pleasanter light came into his
    sinister gray eyes, he laughed lightly, and bade us a kindly good day.

    Four days after our capture we arrived in Bristol. The guards who had
    brought us over the mountains were relieved by others, the Sergeant bade
    me good by, struck his spurs into "Hiatoga's" sides, and he and my
    faithful horse were soon lost to view in the darkness.

    A new and keener sense of desolation came over me at the final separation
    from my tried and true four-footed friend, who had been my constant
    companion through so many perils and hardships. We had endured together
    the Winter's cold, the dispiriting drench of the rain, the fatigue of the
    long march, the discomforts of the muddy camp, the gripings of hunger,
    the weariness of the drill and review, the perils of the vidette post,
    the courier service, the scout and the fight. We had shared in common

    The whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns

    which a patient private and his horse of the unworthy take; we had had
    our frequently recurring rows with other fellows and their horses, over
    questions of precedence at watering places, and grass-plots, had had
    lively tilts with guards of forage piles in surreptitious attempts to get
    additional rations, sometimes coming off victorious and sometimes being
    driven off ingloriously. I had often gone hungry that he might have the
    only ear of corn obtainable. I am not skilled enough in horse lore to
    speak of his points or pedigree. I only know that his strong limbs never
    failed me, and that he was always ready for duty and ever willing.

    Now at last our paths diverged. I was retired from actual service to a
    prison, and he bore his new master off to battle against his old friends.


    Packed closely in old, dilapidated stock and box cars, as if cattle in
    shipment to market, we pounded along slowly, and apparently interminably,
    toward the Rebel capital.

    The railroads of the South were already in very bad condition. They were
    never more than passably good, even in their best estate, but now,
    with a large part of the skilled men engaged upon them escaped back to
    the North, with all renewal, improvement, or any but the most necessary
    repairs stopped for three years, and with a marked absence of even
    ordinary skill and care in their management, they were as nearly ruined
    as they could well be and still run.

    One of the severe embarrassments under which the roads labored was a lack
    of oil. There is very little fatty matter of any kind in the South.
    The climate and the food plants do not favor the accumulation of adipose
    tissue by animals, and there is no other source of supply. Lard oil and
    tallow were very scarce and held at exorbitant prices.

    Attempts were made to obtain lubricants from the peanut and the cotton
    seed. The first yielded a fine bland oil, resembling the ordinary grade
    of olive oil, but it was entirely too expensive for use in the arts.
    The cotton seed oil could be produced much cheaper, but it had in it such
    a quantity of gummy matter as to render it worse than useless for
    employment on machinery.

    This scarcity of oleaginous matter produced a corresponding scarcity of
    soap and similar detergents, but this was a deprivation which caused the
    Rebels, as a whole, as little inconvenience as any that they suffered
    from. I have seen many thousands of them who were obviously greatly in
    need of soap, but if they were rent with any suffering on that account
    they concealed it with marvelous self-control.

    There seemed to be a scanty supply of oil provided for the locomotives,
    but the cars had to run with unlubricated axles, and the screaking and
    groaning of the grinding journals in the dry boxes was sometimes almost
    deafening, especially when we were going around a curve.

    Our engine went off the wretched track several times, but as she was not
    running much faster than a man could walk, the worst consequence to us
    was a severe jolting. She was small, and was easily pried back upon the
    track, and sent again upon her wheezy, straining way.

    The depression which had weighed us down for a night and a day after our
    capture had now been succeeded by a more cheerful feeling. We began to
    look upon our condition as the fortune of war. We were proud of our
    resistance to overwhelming numbers. We knew we had sold ourselves at a
    price which, if the Rebels had it to do over again, they would not pay
    for us. We believed that we had killed and seriously wounded as many of
    them as they had killed, wounded and captured of us. We had nothing to
    blame ourselves for. Moreover, we began to be buoyed up with the
    expectation that we would be exchanged immediately upon our arrival at
    Richmond, and the Rebel officers confidently assured us that this would
    be so. There was then a temporary hitch in the exchange, but it would
    all be straightened out in a few days, and it might not be a month until
    we were again marching out of Cumberland Gap, on an avenging foray
    against some of the force which had assisted in our capture.

    Fortunately for this delusive hopefulness there was no weird and boding
    Cassandra to pierce the veil of the future for us, and reveal the length
    and the ghastly horror of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, through
    which we must pass for hundreds of sad days, stretching out into long
    months of suffering and death. Happily there was no one to tell us that
    of every five in that party four would never stand under the Stars and
    Stripes again, but succumbing to chronic starvation, long-continued
    exposure, the bullet of the brutal guard, the loathsome scurvy, the
    hideous gangrene, and the heartsickness of hope deferred, would find
    respite from pain low in the barren sands of that hungry Southern soil.

    Were every doom foretokened by appropriate omens, the ravens along our
    route would have croaked themselves hoarse.

    But, far from being oppressed by any presentiment of coming evil, we
    began to appreciate and enjoy the picturesque grandeur of the scenery
    through which we were moving. The rugged sternness of the Appalachian
    mountain range, in whose rock-ribbed heart we had fought our losing
    fight, was now softening into less strong, but more graceful outlines as
    we approached the pine-clad, sandy plains of the seaboard, upon which
    Richmond is built. We were skirting along the eastern base of the great
    Blue Ridge, about whose distant and lofty summits hung a perpetual veil
    of deep, dark, but translucent blue, which refracted the slanting rays of
    the morning and evening sun into masses of color more gorgeous than a
    dreamer's vision of an enchanted land. At Lynchburg we saw the famed
    Peaks of Otter--twenty miles away--lifting their proud heads far into the
    clouds, like giant watch-towers sentineling the gateway that the mighty
    waters of the James had forced through the barriers of solid adamant
    lying across their path to the far-off sea. What we had seen many miles
    back start from the mountain sides as slender rivulets, brawling over the
    worn boulders, were now great, rushing, full-tide streams, enough of them
    in any fifty miles of our journey to furnish water power for all the
    factories of New England. Their amazing opulence of mechanical energy
    has lain unutilized, almost unnoticed; in the two and one-half centuries
    that the white man has dwelt near them, while in Massachusetts and her
    near neighbors every rill that can turn a wheel has been put into harness
    and forced to do its share of labor for the benefit of the men who have
    made themselves its masters.

    Here is one of the differences between the two sections: In the North man
    was set free, and the elements made to do his work. In the South man was
    the degraded slave, and the elements wantoned on in undisturbed freedom.

    As we went on, the Valleys of the James and the Appomattox, down which
    our way lay, broadened into an expanse of arable acres, and the faces of
    those streams were frequently flecked by gem-like little islands.
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