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    Chapter 35

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    Chapter 36
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    THE SIEGE OF CHATTANOOGA AND A HUNT FOR DRUGS

    "This is the worst situation I ever heard of, Deck. What in the world are we to do?"

    "I fancy General Rosecrans is asking himself the same question, Tom," answered the major of the first battalion, gravely. "For myself, I must say I can't answer."

    "We'll be eating horse-meat next," put in Life Knox, who stood by. "And the horses are dying right along, too."

    "Poor Ceph! He hasn't had enough to eat for a week," said Deck, with a shake of his head. "But let all that go. What I am thinking of is the medicine my father and Artie require. If that can't be had, Surgeon Farnwright says he won't be responsible for consequences."

    "I'd rather fight than starve like this," concluded Tom Belthorpe, and he walked away.

    The Army of the Cumberland had retired to Chattanooga several weeks before, and Bragg had followed Rosecrans closely, taking possession of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and several other important points. The Confederate leader had failed to defeat his Northern foe, and now calculated to cut off all the Unionist's lines of communication and starve him out. He had already cut off travel on the river and on the railroad, and the only supplies to come into Chattanooga had to be brought through the mountains.

    The state of affairs in Chattanooga during this siege had grown rapidly from bad to worse. The first thing to give out was fresh meats, for the Confederate cavalry leader, Wheeler, raided the country for miles around Chattanooga and gathered in all of the animals in sight. Next, the fodder ran short, and horses and mules dropped in the streets, and whole detachments of regiments were kept busy burying the beasts, to prevent the spread of disease. And now rations were scarce, and not a man of the whole Army of the Cumberland had had a square meal for a week or over.

    And yet, to Major Deck Lyon, this was not the worst feature of the long-to-be-remembered siege. On the day following the retreat to the city proper an ambulance had been procured and Captain Artie had been brought in, as carefully as possible, and taken to the house formerly occupied by the Greenes. Rosebel Greene and Miss Pomeroy had come in with the wounded captain, the former feeling it her duty to nurse the young man, because of what Deck had done for her, and the aunt saying she would not remain at the farmhouse alone, and because she was curious to see if Rosebel would really find the money hidden in the cellar, as the dead brother had mentioned.

    The money had been found intact, and then hidden again, for there was no telling what might happen in those troublesome times. Artie had stood the journey fairly well, and was put in the best room the house afforded.

    During these days the Riverlawns had been kept busy in the vicinity of Camp Thomas, some twenty-eight miles out of the city. Here one day they had had a fierce brush with Forrest, and when it was over it was discovered that Colonel Lyon was missing.

    The discovery had caused a shock to Deck, and without delay he had organized a searching party, to learn if his father was killed, wounded, or a prisoner of the enemy. The search had lasted until nearly midnight and the gallant colonel had been found, lying partly under his horse, the latter dead, and the colonel shot through the head and unconscious.

    As Artie was at Rosebel Greene's house, it was but natural that Deck should take his father to the same place, since the regular hospitals in Chattanooga were crowded far beyond their capacity. The colonel was placed in a chamber adjoining that of his foster-son, and Rosebel and Miss Pomeroy became his nurses, Deck promising to pay them handsomely for whatever was done. Rosebel said she wanted no pay. "You were a friend to my brother," were her words; "that is sufficient."

    For two days the colonel had lain unconscious, and Surgeon Farnwright and the doctor called into consultation with him had given Deck but small hope. "Poor Artie's case was bad enough, Major," said the surgeon. "Your father--" and he finished with a shake of his head.

    "The trouble is," said the doctor, later on, "the colonel is suffering for some medicine we cannot obtain in Chattanooga. We have a good general supply here, but there are certain things which I know would do your father a great deal of good. And they would do your brother good, too."

    The announcement that certain drugs which were so sorely needed were not procurable in Chattanooga made Major Lyon feel very bad. He got the doctor to write down a list of the missing articles for him, and started out on a personal hunt, visiting every druggist he could find, and offering large sums of money, even for small quantities.

    "Can't be had," said one druggist. "You will have to wait until this siege comes to an end and we get in some new supplies."

    "I can't wait. My father and my cousin may die in the meantime," answered Deck, and continued his search on foot. For several days he had not ridden Ceph, deeming the poor beast too weak from lack of food to bear such a burden.

    General Rosecrans had been considering the advisability of making a determined effort against the enemy, but in the midst of this he was relieved of his command. The Army of the Cumberland was placed in a new military division, to be known as that of the Mississippi, under General Grant, and General Thomas was ordered to fill General Rosecrans's place. General Grant at once ordered Thomas to "hold Chattanooga at any cost," and added that he would come on as soon as possible and see what could be done.

    General Grant, the leader of all leaders, the man of iron will, arrived on October 23. The plans made by Rosecrans and slightly changed by Thomas were approved, and movements were made to put them into immediate execution.

    In the meantime, General Sherman had been engaged in opening up the Memphis and Charleston railroad eastward, hoping by this means to effect a communication with Chattanooga through Huntsville. But Grant had ordered him to cross the Tennessee at Eastport, and this was done, and Sherman then united with the right wing of what was now Thomas's command. Hooker had before been ordered to move to Bridgeport, below Chattanooga, and march thence by the wagon road to Wauhatchie, while Palmer was ordered to a point on the river opposite Whitesides.

    The plan now put into operation was one looking to the seizing of a spur of mountains overlooking Lookout Valley. If this was successfully accomplished, Hooker and Palmer would be materially aided in their movements, and the river would be opened for steamboats as far as Brown's Ferry.

    It was six miles to Brown's Ferry, and on the night of the 26th of the month, eighteen hundred men under General Hazen floated down the stream in sixty pontoon boats, around the sharp bend, and past nearly three miles of Confederate pickets. The darkness aided their movements, and as silently as ghosts, they landed at two points, overcame the pickets, and marched to the spurs to be taken. While this was going on, another force, under General Smith, marched by the north bank of the river, and were ferried over before daylight. A large crowd of men were set to work, and by early morning a pontoon bridge nine hundred feet long was swung across the river, and all points seized were protected by artillery and intrenched troops.

    The Union forces now commanded the highway from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley, and began a vigorous attack on the Confederates located between Shell Mound and Lookout Mountain. At the same time Hooker advanced, and Bragg awoke to the realization of the fact that a genuine effort was being made to raise the siege. Half a dozen small but sharp conflicts followed, and then the Confederates fell back; and the way was opened to Brown's Ferry, Bridgeport, and Stevenson, both by the river and the excellent wagon roads on either bank.

    Many a commander would have paused here, but not so Grant. Without delay the whole army was put on an active footing and supplied with necessary food, clothing, and ammunition. Forage was brought in in large quantities, and the horses and mules put in the best possible condition, and heavy artillery was rushed forward. In the meantime, the arrival of General Sherman with reënforcements was eagerly awaited.

    The Riverlawns, as a body, had not been active in the taking of Brown's Ferry and the spurs of mountains beyond, but a detachment under Major Lyon had gone on with Turchin's brigade, to clear out and hold a gorge through which the Bridgeport road ran to the crossing. The work was hazardous in the extreme, and the first two companies of the first battalion and Life Knox's company with them received a severe fire lasting for upward of two hours.

    At this engagement Deck took more than an ordinary interest in his work. As a true soldier, he wanted to see the siege raised. More than this, he wanted to obtain the drugs so much needed by his father and Artie. He went in with a vigor almost born of desperation, and falling against a body of Confederates which were little better than guerillas, his command drove them, seven hundred strong, a distance of two miles into the mountain fastnesses.

    As mentioned, the way was now open to Bridgeport, Stevenson, and other points, and Deck obtained permission to visit half a dozen towns and villages in quest of the drugs desired.

    He took Life Knox with him, and the pair were gone the best part of the forty-eight hours. Nothing that was wanted could be found at the places named; but at another spot, where there was a cross-roads, the major discovered a large general store, with a medicine department attached.

    Entering the place, the two Union officers were confronted by a burly Confederate over six feet high, and weighing over two hundred and fifty pounds. He scowled at them, but did not dare to abuse them openly.

    "Yes, I've got drugs, but I ain't sellin' 'em to-day," he said shortly. "You'll have to find another drug shop, I reckon."

    Deck gazed at the man in silence for a moment. Then he pulled out his pistol and pointed it at the fellow's head.

    "Sit down in that chair, sir," he ordered, and the burly Confederate almost collapsed.

    "Would you shoot an unarmed man?" he gasped.

    "Not if he behaved himself."

    "I haven't got to sell my drugs if I don't want to."

    "In this case I think you have. Life, will you keep him covered?"

    "Certainly, Deck."

    "I want certain drugs and will have them if they are in your stock. I will pay for what I take. But there must be no disturbance," went on the major.

    He spoke thus for the benefit of two clerks who were present and who seemed inclined to be ugly. They heard him and allowed him to move around the establishment unmolested. With his list in one hand and his pistol in the other, he looked over all the bottles and packages the store contained.

    It was a wearisome search, but it was gratifying, for out of four articles wanted, Deck found three. He then interviewed the shopkeeper, who declared by all he held sacred that he had never had the fourth article and doubted if any of the local doctors used it.

    "Well, I will have to take your word for it," replied Deck. "Now I want these. What are you going to ask me for them?"

    The storekeeper hemmed and hawed and finally said five dollars in gold. As this was not so unreasonable, Deck paid over the amount, and a moment later he and Life left the store. Before they could be molested, they were off at full speed for Chattanooga. Here they took the drugs to the doctor who had been attending Colonel Lyon and Artie.

    "It was a clever haul," said the physician, after listening to Deck's story. "The drugs will do much good, I think. I am sorry, however, you could not obtain that fourth article, since it is the most important of the lot. These will help your brother, but the poor colonel will still have a hard time of it."

    "But he will live--and so will Artie?" pleaded the major.

    "While there is life there is hope," answered the doctor, and that was the only consolation Deck could get. As a matter of fact, both the lives of the colonel and the youthful captain hung upon a thread.

    General Sherman having come up, and Bragg having weakened his forces by letting Longstreet's command leave him, to do battle elsewhere, Grant lost no time in moving forward. Hooker, holding Lookout Valley, faced the enemy occupying the heights, while Thomas was stationed before Missionary Ridge. Sherman was now commanded to take position on the right bank of the river above the city, with the idea that he could afterward cross and seize another portion of the ridge beyond, as yet unfortified. A portion of the cavalry, under Long, was assigned to aid him, and the Riverlawns went with this body, all of the other horsemen remaining in camp.

    The advance of the cavalry was made in a violent thunderstorm, such as had not struck the command for many a day, and this delayed operations for twenty-four hours or more. When the pontoon bridge over the river was reached, it was found that the wind and the rush of the current had parted it, and no troops could cross until repairs were made. The Riverlawns went into temporary camp under the shelter of a long hill, but everybody was wet to the skin.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon was now in command, and he and Deck went off in the rain to take a survey of the situation. On the return, they stumbled across a camp of a dozen or more Confederate guerillas. Shots were exchanged and the guerillas withdrew. In doing this, several rode close to Deck, and the major was amazed to hear one of them mentioned by his companion as Totterly. He glanced at the fellow and saw that he was tall, with a marked stoop to his left shoulder, and that his nose did not point straight ahead. The description fitted perfectly to that given of the guerilla who had rifled the safe at Riverlawn and made off with five hundred dollars, some jewellery, and the paper intrusted to Noah Lyon, which was not to be opened until five years after Duncan Lyon's death. This man's name had been Totterly, and Deck instantly concluded that the man in front of him and the raider of Riverlawn were one and the same person.

    "I want to catch that man!" he cried to Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, and dashed off, firing several shots at the retreating form. Away they went through the brush and along an ill-defined trail, but Totterly, for it was really he, had a fair lead, and had recognized his pursuer, and now he did his best to get away. Coming to a curve in the road, he cut into some timber, and by this means threw Deck completely off the scent in the darkness of the storm.

    The major returned to the encampment in a thoughtful frame of mind. One chance to recover the money, jewels, and precious paper had slipped from him. Would another such chance ever present itself? He earnestly hoped so, and resolved that, in the future, he would keep his eyes wide open for the guerilla.
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