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Full text of "The iron brigade; a story of the Army of the Potomac"



THE IKON 
BKIGADE 



UC-NRLF 




GENERAL 
CHARLES 
KENG X V 



I 






NORMAN HOLT 

BY GENERAL CHARLES KING 



WHAT THE CRITICS SAY 

" A pretty love story, like a silver thread, winds through the 
story and brightens and lightens the dark scenes of battle. 
Norman Holt is like a sea breeze it has the sweep and dash, 
and is clean and wholesome." Chicago Record-Herald. 

" Written in the author s most spirited manner, and his descrip 
tion of the battle of Mission Ridge is singularly vivid and 
forceful." Philadelphia Press. 

"It is a strong story, worthy of dramatization; but one fears 
lest it fall into incompetent hands, and so loose the strong high 
lights, the deep background, the soft mezzotints which the author 
has so deftly interwoven." Indianapolis Journal. 

" It is a swift and thrilling story of action." San Francisco 
Call. 

" One meets in these pages real human beings. There is not 
in the whole book a dull chapter." Omaha Bee. 

"The story is among the best General King has produced." 
New York Times. 

"The book is rich in romance, thrilling in situation, and so 
intense in its recital that the reader is literally hypnotized with 
interest from the very first lines. It is General King s strongest 
work." New York Press. 

"None of his past novels, which won him his reputation as 
one of the notably vivid fiction writers of the country, is more 
dramatic in plot and stirring in action than Norman Holt. " 
San Francisco Bulletin. 



Beautifully Bound in Cloth, Illustrated, $1.25 



G. W. DILLINGHAM CO., PUBLISHERS 



THE IRON BRIGADE 

A Story of the Army of 
the Potomac 



BY 

General CHARLES KING 

AUTHOR OF 

NORMAN HOLT," " THE COLONEL S DAUGHTER," 
"FORT FRAYNE," ETC. 




ILLUSTRATIONS BY R. F. 



G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY 
G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY 



The Iron Brigade. Issued September, 1902. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

I. DAMON AND PYTHIAS 



II. A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 23 

III. THE FIRST UNIFORM . ,... 38 
IV. WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS .... .50 

V. A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 60 

VI. A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 72 

VII. A WOMAN S DARING 83 

VIII. A BADGER IN THE TOILS . . . . . .96 

IX. ESCAPE POSSIBLE . .108 

X. LIBBY OR LIBERTY 122 

XI. QUEEN ROSALIE 136 

XII. IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE 150 



912901 



8 CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XIII. RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN ... . . . .164 

XIV. THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE . . .174 
XV. LINCOLN S DILEMMA . .... . 187 

XVI. " STONEWALL " IN AMBUSH . . . . .202 

XVII. How THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME . .: . 220 
XVIII. THE HEART OF LINCOLN. . . . . . 232 

XIX. KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS .... 242 

XX. A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE ..... 256 

XXI. BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN . " . . . 269 

XXII. "CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" . . 282 

XXIII. GETTYSBURG . . . . . . . 295 

XXIV. THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 306 

XXV. LADUE S LAST RETREAT 320 

XXVI. WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 335 

XXVII. LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 344 

XXVIII. SURRENDER 355 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

"IT is I ABRAHAM LINCOLN" . . . (Frontispiece) 240 

IN FRONT OF HIM STOOD THE OLD VIRGINIA HOMESTEAD . 67 

THE RIFLE-BUTTS LEAP TO THE SHOULDERS . . . . 222 

BENTON THRUST His LEFT ARM UNDER THE FALLEN HEAD 333 



THE IRON BRIGADE 

CHAPTER I 

DAMON AND PYTHIAS 

They were paddling idly down the stream two 
young men and a girl. She lay luxuriously back upon 
the cushions in the stern sheets, the tiller ropes hang 
ing loosely from her slender white hands, her soft blue 
eyes fixed tenderly upon the fine face of the oarsman 
nearest her a youth whose lithe, agile form swayed 
slowly to and fro in harmony with the swing of the long, 
light sculls. The wooded shores, the rural beauty of 
the scene, passed unnoticed. Something of absorbing 
interest kept " all eyes in the boat." Stroke and bow 
were in animated if not actually heated discussion, 
and the dark brown eyes that earlier in the afternoon 
seemed ever seeking those of liquid blue before him, 
were now turned, sometimes to port, sometimes to 
starboard, sometimes over the squared shoulders, 
flashing on the man in front a young athlete with 
eyes as blue and hair and skin well-nigh as fair as those 
of the girl at the helm. He of the stroke sculls, on the 
contrary, was tawny, almost, as a son of the tropics. 



10 THE IRON BRIGADE 

His head was crowned by a wealth of dark brown curls, 
tumbling low /and iu-xiitint about his neck and brow 
and temples, . The .l&sjies of his deep, dark eyes were 
long, tftfck and : be auUfufly V^ir-ved. The shape of his 
face, in its perfect oval, had all the delicate beauty of 
a woman s. The mouth, lips, teeth and chin were al 
most perfect, and among the four score young fellows 
prominent in society of the Western metropolis, there 
was not one to deny to Paul Ladue the palm for physi 
cal, or at least facial, charm. Ever since his coming 
among them four years before there was hardly a girl 
in all their circle in the bustling city that had not de 
clared him " simply lovely." 

Refined, delicate, even effeminate was his face one 
to delight a painter. What it lacked was strength and 
will. A physiognomist would have turned from it speed 
ily to study the strong, virile features, the square jaw, 
the firm set lips of the stalwart fellow at his back. It 
required no unusual power of divination to tell that he 
and the silent girl were brother and sister, and that 
between them sat, despite the heat of argument, a be 
loved and cherished friend. 

" You ll never do it, even if you muster in every man 
north of the Ohio, Fred," said he of the dark, flashing 
eyes. " Our people will fight to the last man and then 
the women and children will take it up." 

Fred Benton shook his head in dissent a sad smile 
on his face. For a moment he ceased rowing and bent 
earnestly forward: 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 11 

" You at least can have no sympathy with the South, 
after the wrong done your father, Paul, and I m blessed 
if I can understand your taking up the cudgels for Ala 
bama as you do." 

The color deepened in Ladue s face. For a moment 
he made no reply, but the light shallop seemed to bound 
forward, spurning the foam from her sharp, white bow, 
under the impetus of the supple strength he suddenly 
threw into the sculls. Benton had scored a hit " a 
palpable hit." The eyes of the fair, slender girl suddenly 
brimmed with tears. There was something of reproach 
in the glance she threw at her stalwart brother. Well 
as the story was known, people rarely spoke of it to the 
Ladues. Four years old though it was, it still cut deep, 
and no one of their little household could refer to it 
without manifest emotion. 

It was some time in 57 that the editor of a leading 
journal received a letter commending to him one Fran 
cis Ladue, who purposed settling in the city and going 
into business there. Presently Ladue came and with him 
his little family a fragile, sad-faced wife, a slender, big- 
eyed boy of sixteen, and two young children. Presently, 
too, marked copies of Southern papers were received, 
and little by little their story was told to an indignant 
and sympathetic community. Natives of the South and 
residents for years of a beautiful old Southern metropo 
lis, they had been banished from the home of their love, 
driven from State to State, forbidden ever to return, 
and compelled finally to seek refuge among strangers in 



12 THE IRON BRIGADE 

the cold and distant North, and the head and front of 
their offending had been that Ladue, senior, owner of 
the finest bookstore on the Gulf coast, stood charged 
with having sold to an old customer one copy of " Uncle 
Tom s Cabin," and when the store was searched by 
wrathful, slave-holding fellow citizens, three more copies 
were found on a far back shelf, " secreted," said the 
committee, " under a stack of bound volumes." No 
law had been violated. The book was poison a blow 
at their " peculiar institution," and that was enough. 
The business it had taken Ladue nearly a quarter of a 
century to build up was ruined in a day. 

Nor could the sympathy and cordial welcome of his 
new fellow citizens begin to compensate for the loss. 
Ladue was shy and reserved, his wife a semi-invalid and 
Paul a sensitive plant. The lad was sent to the best 
school where, so soon as his story was known, the other 
youngsters gradually ceased from troubling, and sought 
in crude, clumsy, boyish fashion to give him comfort. It 
was long before he seemed to thaw out at all, but Fred 
Benton, a near neighbor when they passed into the high 
school, was the youth he finally tied to, and then this 
strangely assorted pair joined forces, apparently, for 
good and all. Damon and Pythias they called them; 
for, after the first six months of shyness on Ladue s 
part, they became inseparable. One was rarely seen 
without the other, yet were they utterly unlike. High 
school finished, Ladue was needed as assistant in his 
father s growing business. Benton had begun th* ^tudy 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 13 

of law in the office of the famous old firm of which his 
father was the head. But before either had cast his 
first vote the long-heralded conflict between the North 
and South the slaveholders rebellion, so-called had 
burst upon the startled land. Sumter had fallen. The 
President had called, first for seventy-five thousand men 
to defend the Capital, then for five hundred thousand 
volunteers to prosecute the war. 

For a moment there came no answer to Benton s 
tentative. Heightened color, compressed lips and a 
quick glance at the flushing face of the girl before him 
told, however, that Ladue was deeply moved. They 
were nearing the little boathouse now, and Benton in 
turn, bending to his sculls, sent their light craft shooting 
through the mirrorlike waters. Already he repented 
him of his words, yet there was something he longed to 
know. For upwards of three years there had been no 
secret between him and his chosen friend. Then came 
the election of Abraham Lincoln, then the secession of 
State after State, then the inauguration of our great 
Westerner as President, then Sumter and the call to 
arms. And now Paul Ladue, who had hitherto held no 
communication with his native State, was writing fre 
quent letters thither and feverishly, furtively, perhaps, 
awaiting reply. What did it portend? 

A wave of patriotic fervor had swept over the West. 
On every hand men were quitting the desk, the plough 
or the tools of their trade, and flocking to the recruiting 
offices. Benton s name had been sent to the Governor 



14 THE IRON BRIGADE 

for a commission in one of the new regiments. Mass 
meetings were being held almost every night, and ener 
getic citizens were passing subscription papers from 
desk to desk that a fund might be raised for the benefit 
of the families of the rapidly enlisting husbands and 
fathers. One of these papers was brought to Ladue, 
senior. He colored, coughed, looked embarrassed, took 
out his check-book, thought a moment, returned it, and 
then going to his cash drawer found some twenty dol 
lars in currency and gave it to the collector. " No," 
said he, when asked to write his name, " I prefer follow 
ing the precepts of the Scriptures let not my left hand 
know what my right hand is doing/ The committee 
looked queer when they heard the story. " He is will 
ing to give, but dreads its being known," said the 
mayor. " His heart is still with the South." 

Yet Ladue gave again and gave gladly. " How could 
I do otherwise? " said he. " You and these kind people 
bade me welcome when life was at its blackest. I am 
a Southerner. I cannot fight against mine own people 
no matter what they did to me. I cannot support them, 
however, in their revolt against the Government which 
shields and protects me. I will not refuse to contribute 
toward the support of the wives and children of those 
who so kindly welcomed my wife and children. I and 
mine are grateful." 

"But what is Paul going to do?" was the question 
that startled him, one fair May morning. " He would 
not enlist with the boys here and he s writing letter 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 15 

after letter to somebody there. It isn t possible he 
would fight for the people who broke his father s heart." 

It had never occurred to Ladue. It was high time he 
interposed. Paul was barely twenty, and, therefore, still 
subject to his father s will. It was a soft, warm even 
ing at the very verge of June as the trio came silently 
back from their up-river row Paul and Elinor side by 
side, Fred, scull-laden, some distance in rear. They 
looked up at the aging Southerner, seated on his narrow 
porch, and smiled and nodded as they passed, but Fred 
propped his sculls against the tree box, and after a lin 
gering gaze at the two wandering slowly and sorrow 
fully along the almost deserted street, let himself in at 
the gate for a few minutes of earnest talk. It was in 
deed time somebody in authority sought to dissuade 
the young man if it should prove that he were seek 
ing service with the Alabama troops and, since Paul 
could not be induced to talk, Fred determined to appeal 
to the father. 

Meantime the two young people had gone on toward 
the Benton homestead. The soft twilight still lingered 
over roof and spire. The bells in the cathedral tower 
had just rung out the stroke of eight. Away down town, 
somewhere, a military band was playing stirring march 
music, and there came the sound of distant cheering, 
for another mass meeting was being held in Market 
Square and a gifted orator from Chicago was being pre 
sented to the throng. Up here near the bluffs overlook 
ing the great inland sea, all was still. The street lamps 



1 6 THE IRON BRIGADE 

were only just being lighted. Some houses seemed to 
show no lights at all, as though all the inmates had gone 
to listen to the speaker of the evening. Elinor Benton 
looked warily within as they reached the gate in front of 
the quaint colonial house that had been her honje since 
babyhood. Voices, in low-toned chat, floated out to her 
from the broad veranda, and with hardly a shadow of 
hesitation the girl turned and followed when her partner 
said, " Let us go back to the bluff a little while." Be 
fore she fully realized it she found herself leaning on 
his arm and yet, no further word had been spoken. He 
had simply possessed himself of her pretty, slender white 
hand, passed it within his elbow and then clasped, or 
rather clamped, it there. For a few minutes neither 
seemed to care to speak. When they reached the edge 
of the bluff Ladue flung open the shawl he was carry 
ing, spread a double thickness on the sod and begged 
her to sit. Silently she obeyed. Then he turned to 
her and his voice trembled as he asked, 

"You heard Fred s question?" 

An almost inaudible " Yes," was the sole response. 

" What do you think I ought to do?" he wistfully, 
slowly asked. For a moment she could not reply. 
When the words came for she was only seventeen, and 
the position most trying her clear young voice had a 
pathetic, tremulous undertone. 

" How can / judge? Almost any one would say your 
duty was here yet I know your heart is there." 
And as she spoke the heart in her own pure youngbosom 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 17 

was throbbing hard. For another little while there was 
silence, broken only by the sound of distant cheering 
from the center of the town by the rhythmical, sooth 
ing plash of the wavelets on the pebbly beach beneath 
them. Far in the eastern firmament the spangled sky 
was bathed in silvery light, growing every moment more 
brilliant, and now, at the edge of the placid waters a 
glistening point appeared, spreading swiftly into a tiny 
segment of liquid fire that rose with slow, majestic grace 
at the dim horizon, gaining in bulk and brilliancy with 
every second and sending toward them along the flaw 
less sheen of the waters a long, radiant, tapering stream 
of dazzling light, as, only just beyond her full, the sweet 
May moon began her star circled flight to the zenith. 
Then Elinor, uplifting her face, looked upon the clear- 
cut features of the slender youth at her side and saw 
that the dark eyes were filled with sadness and trouble 
unspeakable, saw that the soft lips, just shaded by the 
silken fringe of the boy mustache, were twitching and 
trembling with uncontrollable emotion, and her young 
heart brimmed over, as in sympathy and tenderness that 
for the moment overmastered her, she impulsively bent 
forward, and with slender, tapering fingers touched his 
shoulder as though to turn him toward her, while with 
almost a sob in her voice she murmured 

" What is it, Paul? Tell me! " 

And then the lad, throwing himself on his face, seized 
in both his the trembling little hand that had braved the 
shyness of maidenhood, the conventions of society, and 
2 



18 THE IRON BRIGADE 

bathed it in burning kisses and in scalding tears. " My 
heart is not there ! " he sobbed. " You know well where 
it is, but my duty ." Affrighted now, she sought to 
draw away her hand, but he clung to it. " No, Nell, 
no! " he cried. " It s the first time I ever dared! It s 
the last time I ever may! I m going, Nell; I ve got to 
go, but remember, my heart isn t there. It s here it s 
here with you! " 

And then on a sudden he sprang to his feet, dashed 
away the tears and stood with head uplifted, like that of 
a challenging stag, a picture of youthful grace and 
beauty in the silvery light of the gleaming disk now 
spurning the limpid waters, for voices, close at hand, 
broke the silence of the summerlike evening. Some 
one was climbing the pathway up the height. An in 
stant of listening and Elinor, too, sprang to her feet, 
and the sweet face that but a moment before was all 
mantled with the blush of girlish joy and love, went 
suddenly white as the dainty gown she wore, and her 
eyes, as they turned on the youth by her side, filled 
with alarm. 

" If you know he s going to join the rebel army and 
can prove it, why, that s enough," panted the first 
speaker. "The trouble is to prove it. Otherwise 
there s no law to hold him." 

" Prove it! By heaven, Curtis, you make me swear! " 
was the vehement answer. " If our postmaster would 
only do his duty we could prove far more that he s in 
the rebel service at this minute that he s here a spy 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 19 

in our midst sending notes of all our preparations and 
forces and numbers, and, just as Andre was hung on 
the Hudson eighty years ago, so should that young 
scoundrel hang here now. The laws of war the world 
over will tell you so." 

And then scrambling to the crest, full in the light of 
the unclouded moon, the two climbers straightened up 
and stood face to face with the man of whom they were 
speaking, Elinor Benson clinging, trembling, yet in 
speechless indignation at his side. 

For a moment there was awkward silence. Paul 
Ladue, with gleaming eyes stood squarely confronting 
the foremost, a portly man of perhaps thirty years, who 
was still breathing hard as the result of his climb. His 
companion, tall and spare and a few years older, slowly 
ranged himself alongside his friend and looked to him 
to speak. The stout man stared for a few seconds at 
the silent twain, partly to recover breath, partly to 
recover wits. Finally he lamely said, " Oho! " 

Then finding the steadfast gaze of Ladue s burning 
brown eyes rather hard to bear, he turned to his com 
panion. " Rather a coincidence, isn t it? " said he. 
This remark, too, fell flat, for no response followed. It 
became necessary to say something more to relieve the 
situation, and obviously the gentleman knew not what 
to say. If there lived in this Western community a 
man Paul Ladue held in especial disfavor, it was George 
McKinnon, junior partner in the firm of Benton, Gray 
& McKinnon, attorneys and counselors at law, and it 



20 THE IRON BRIGADE 

was George McKinnon who stood there in the flesh and 
who, but a moment before, had denounced him as de 
serving the fate of the spy. Ample reason had he to 
hate McKinnon for, ever since Elinor s return the pre 
vious autumn from a visit to relatives in the East, that 
energetic practitioner had been a constant caller at the 
Benton homestead, and despite the fact that Elinor had 
not yet finished her school days, was persistent in atten 
tions that showed to all society he had become infatu 
ated with her radiant beauty that the man of thirty 
eagerly sought the girl of seventeen as his wife. On 
/he other hand, McKinnon had noted with jealousy un 
speakable, that the frank, joyous, boy and girl friend 
ship that had existed throughout the lad s school days 
had given place to the half shy, half hesitant, yet 
strangely sweet relationship of early love, pure yet pas 
sionate. McKinnon was a keen student, a rising man 
at the bar, a brilliant " jury " lawyer and just the one 
needed to strengthen the somewhat slow and ponderous 
combination of the old firm. Benton, a lawyer of the old 
school, held his young partner in high esteem if not, in 
deed, in a certain awe, due to the daring and successful 
methods that had distinguished him ever since his call 
to the bar. On the other hand, he was not too well 
pleased with his son s choice of an intimate. Paul 
Ladue was a dreamer, an idler, a poet perhaps a youth 
to write sonnets and sing sentimental ballads (he did 
play the guitar delightfully and was no mean performer 
on the banjo) he was what the stern, hard-headed old 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS 21 

delver in facts and figures called " a lapdog sort of fel 
low " just the last kind of intimate for a young man 
starting in the law. It was his gentle, tender-hearted 
wife who yearned over the sad-faced young exile and 
made him welcome to their fireside. It was the squire s 
love for her, the wife of his youth, that prompted him 
to follow her lead and be kind and hospitable to Paul 
Ladue, but he could hardly brook it either in Paul or 
his aging, breaking father that they who had suffered 
so much and so unjustly at the hands of the South, 
should now seem to cling so tenaciously to all the ideals 
and traditions of their earlier days and persist in calling 
Alabama " home." Time and again he forcefully re 
buked them both. Ladue, senior, would listen in sub 
missive silence until challenged to reply, and then would 
merely say, " I dare say you re right, sir, but they were 
my people nearly three score years. My eldest son lies 
buried there under the magnolias, and, sometimes I 
think my heart is, too." Ladue, junior, would sit with 
flushing cheek and downcast eyes and say nothing at 
all. It was Fred who would take up the case for him 
in vehement debate. It was Elinor who would look 
volumes and who declared it good to see how faithful 
a boy could be to all the old home ties and associations. 
It was Mrs. Benton who had been his best and most 
powerful advocate for two long years, and then, it is 
hard to say which of the two lads more bitterly mourned 
her, for, the year before our story opens, the gentle lady 
had been borne to her last resting place. And now the 



22 THE IRON BRIGADE 

war had come. The flag had been lowered in defeat 
at Sumter. The men of Massachusetts had been mobbed 
in the streets of Baltimore. The first levies in the far 
West had clashed with the enemy in Missouri, and hos 
tile armies were arrayed upon the sacred soil of Vir 
ginia. Now when the young men of the Badger State 
were flocking to the recruiting offices, and companies 
and regiments were being filled to overflowing, when 
Damon, brimming with patriotic zeal and energy, was 
seeking a commission in the Union volunteers, Pythias, 
Paul Ladue, was known to be writing frequently, doubt 
less urgently, to his native State the State that had 
banished and impoverished him, yet could not banish 
from his soul the old time loyalty and love. It had 
amazed and offended many of these, his Northern 
friends who had welcomed and cheered him in the hour 
of his adversity. It had scandalized one man who had 
never shown him sympathy at all the man now stand 
ing uneasily before him, unable to face the stern glitter 
in his speaking eyes. It was finally Paul who spoke: 

" You say the postmaster should do his duty, Mr. 
McKinnon," said he, contempt and hot hatred in his 
trembling voice. " By opening my letters, do you 
mean? Somebody has been doing that already, and I 
believe you know who ! " 



CHAPTER II 

A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 

June the first came in with the radiant sunshine blaz 
ing on a wealth of bunting. From staff and spire, roof 
and tower, window and balcony the stars and stripes 
were flung to the breeze, and by thousands the citizens 
had thronged the broad thoroughfares to give a parting 
cheer to the second Badger regiment marching away to 
the war. The dusk and the dew came settling down as 
the tail lights of the last section of the troop train drew 
slowly away along the sweeping curve to the south, and 
then the dense throngs that had shouted themselves 
hoarse as the big battalion rolled away, were easily 
marshalled into an impromptu mass meeting. The 
Governor and the Mayor were to speak, and brief ad 
dresses, so said the handbills, might be expected from 
such brilliant orators as the Honorable George McKin- 
non and others equally well known. The cathedral bells 
had chimed the hour of nine of the long June evening, 
as a roar of cheers about the temporary stage on Market 
Square greeted the executive of the State when he made 
his bow to the assembled multitude a roar distinctly 
heard far up along the bluffs and on the narrow portico 
of the modest home, where, leaning back in an easy 



24: THE IRON BRIGADE 

chair, Paul Ladue, looking pale and weak, sat with his 
slim hand clasped in that of his faithful friend, Fred 
Benton. 

They had been in earnest talk. Events had crowded 
thick in the life of young Ladue since that untoward 
meeting on the bluffs. The long suspected and slum 
bering enmity of McKinnon had burst at last into furi 
ous flame, and the younger man found himself suddenly 
involved in a whirl of trouble. First and most serious, 
the elder Benton, after a conference with his junior 
partner, had been moved to say to Elinor that he for 
bade her receiving or being seen with Paul Ladue. He 
would not ask her, he said, if there had been love mak 
ing between them, he knew it, and as she was but a 
school girl and Ladue a feather-brained boy, he de 
manded that it end then and there. To Ladue he wrote 
a cold, cutting letter, accusing him of having taken ad 
vantage of his intimacy in the household to seek the 
love and destroy the peace of mind of his daughter, 
when, if all signs and only some of the stories were true, 
he deserved neither home nor harbor in their midst, and 
ended by forbidding him the house. Then one or 
two stinging articles had found their way into an even 
ing paper, plainly pointing to Ladue as a rebel sym 
pathizer and one holding treasonable correspondence 
with the enemy. Then certain creditors had made a 
combined onslaught on his failing, heart-sore father. 
Ladue had gradually built up a very fair business and 
had won the kindly regard of the community. All on a 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 35 

sudden his store was shunned, save by collectors, and 
one night, after a meeting at which McKinnon was the 
principal speaker, the front windows were smashed in 
by half a dozen drunken patriots and Paul, seated at a 
desk over the books of the firm, was struck in the temple 
and felled by a stone. A cry of shame had gone up 
from the lips of a few lookers-on, who drove the roughs 
away and carried the stricken lad to his home. The in 
cident brought about a temporary revulsion of feeling 
among right-thinking people and Fred Benton had 
found and soundly thrashed one of the gang of assail 
ants. But little substantial comfort could come to 
the Ladues, for the old man had lost his nerve. He 
seemed broken and bewildered. It cut him to the 
heart to find that at this critical time in his career, the 
firm to present and press the claim of his creditors 
was that of Benton, Gray & McKinnon. He had the 
shattered windows boarded up and refused at first to 
reopen his store. The men who had been his best 
friends and advisers, as luck would have it, had already 
gone to the front as officers of volunteers. He was 
crushed and sorely hurt and stung, and the well meant 
words of sympathy spoken by a few neighbors failed to 
reassure him. 

It was then that Fred Benton had his first difference 
with his father. 

; The whole outrage, sir," said he, " is the direct re- 
suU of your partner s efforts. I hold George McKinnon 
responsible for every misfortune that has befallen the 



26 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Ladues in this town, and the only reason I don t thrash 
him as I did that blackguard Irishman is that he is your 
partner." 

It had startled and then angered the elder man, so 
loyal and devoted had his son ever been in the past. 
Well he knew that, though some letters had passed in 
April between Paul Ladue and persons in Alabama, it 
was impossible to prove that he was planningto join the 
Southern army, much less that he was furnishing infor 
mation, or " aid and comfort to the enemy." Since the 
first of May the worst that could be said of him was that 
he had sent three letters to a certain address in St. 
Louis, and that three missives had come to him bearing 
the St. Louis postmark. Everybody knew that St. Louis 
was infested with Southern sympathizers who had means 
of communication with friends beyond the line, and it 
was these letters McKinnon referred to when he dared 
to suggest that it was the postmaster s duty to open 
them and learn their contents. Not yet had the North 
reached the point of violating the sanctity of personal 
mail. 

" So far from its being McKinnon s fault," the elder 
Benton answered, as soon as he could control his voice, 
" I hold your friend Paul solely responsible. McKinnon 
is an intensely loyal man, and he and I both are indig 
nant that any man should be living here in our midst 
and holding treasonable correspondence with the enemy. 
You will do well, sir, if you hope for a commission, to 
hold aloof from so dangerous an association." 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 27 

But Fred would not hold aloof. For three days he 
was constantly at the Ladues, comforting Paul as best 
he could, and on this evening of the third day, after rue 
fully, enviously bidding adieu to many a friend who had 
marched away with the Second, he had cut loose from 
the crowd and returned to his labor of love. Entering 
the shaded gateway he had been surprised to see a vision 
in white seated close to Paul s reclining chair, and con 
founded and troubled to find that it was Elinor. Bravely 
she had risen and faced him: 

" It seems that it is not enough that Paul should be 
forbidden our house," said she, with strangely calm and 
controlled manner, " but this afternoon father bade me 
pack my trunk and be ready to go to Aunt Margaret 
to-morrow. I have obeyed him, and to-night I shall 
tell him that I came here to bid Paul good-by." Then, 
waiting no reply she turned swiftly to the invalid. " And 
now I must go, for father will be home to tea. Thank 
you again for your promise, Paul. Be sure I shall make 
it known, and then you will see how quickly everybody 
will turn again to you, and I ll write to you through 
Fred, and and God bless you, Paul! " Then both the 
white hands went out to him one second and with bowed 
head she hurried away. 

" What was the promise, Paul?" asked Benton, after 
a moment of silence. 

The lad looked up, his dark face thinned and sad and 
pale, yet there was a soft, tender glow in the deep brown 
eyes. " I told Elinor and I tell you, Fred, that if I had 



28 THE IRON BRIGADE 

any idea that duty demanded my going back to the land 
of my birth it is ended. If people will only let me 
stay in peace my place is here." 

" Good God, Paul! " was the almost exultant answer. 
"What a load you ve lifted from my mind! What a 
facer this will be to McKinnon! " 

And so perhaps it might have been had it become 
known to him and to the public that evening before he 
had finished his impassioned speech and had exhibited 
a certain letter, but even as they sat there, hand in hand, 
stalwart Fred Benton and fragile looking Paul Ladue, 
the sound of cheering grew fierce and frequent. Some 
body with a gift of oratory and the power to move men s 
souls was evidently swaying that meeting at will. Elinor, 
who had gone home to give her father his tea, was 
hardly surprised to find him still away, and the evening 
wore on without him. In the dark shadows of the 
broad veranda she sat, looking at the dim light up the 
street where dwelt the Ladues, and listening to the 
cheering that told unerringly the stirring effect of the 
speaker s words. Ten o clock had come and gone, and 
still she sat there and still no one appeared who could 
say what was going on at the Square. It must have 
been half after ten when a final and prolonged burst of 
cheering seemed to announce the close of the orator s 
speech and presumably the breaking up of the meeting, 
and then far down the street there came the sound of 
swift running footsteps, and presently, panting and ex 
cited, a young man, a near neighbor, darted into view 






A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 39 

under the glare of the nearest gas lamp and rushed on 
toward the lake. Hurrying down to the front gate, 
Elinor heard rather than saw him speeding eastward 
until nearly opposite the Ladues, then he went bound 
ing across the broad, unpaved and, in places, grass- 
grown street, and faintly she could hear the challenge of 
manly young voices. What did this portend? 

Away to the west, down in the valley of the river, a 
confused murmur rose upon the night a murmur rap 
idly augmenting in depth and volume as it seemed to 
be drawing nearer and nearer. Then to her amaze 
came Fred to the front gate, half lifting, half leading 
a slim-built, reluctant youth whose voice she knew on 
the instant, whose form she knew at a glance. " You 
must, Paul," she heard Fred saying, low and stern. " I 
can t lick a thousand fellow citizens. The only thing is 
to get you in some safe harbor until this blows over. 
Yes, I know father forbade you the house, but he never 
dreamed of this, and were he home he would act exactly 
as I am acting." 

So saying he had half lifted, half run the helpless 
young Southerner into the forbidden grounds. Then, 
opening the cellar door, he plunged his unwilling pris 
oner into the dark depths, took him a candle from the 
kitchen and bounded back to the front gate just in time 
to see a throng of men, covering the street from curb 
to curb, sweeping silently up the wide thoroughfare, 
passing him by with hardly a gleam of recognition, and 



30 THE IRON BRIGADE 

finally halting nearly two blocks away in front of the 
little homestead of the Ladues. 

Just then the Squire appeared, springing from a hack 
that had driven swiftly on the trail of the crowd, and 
started at sight of his son, standing there like sentry 
at the gate. The elder s face was pale and beads of 
sweat were starting from his brow. " Is Elinor home? " 
was his first question. 

" I am here, father," came the answer, clear, yet low, 
and with slow, deliberate step the girl came forward 
down the gravel walk. 

" I I wish you to go to your room, child. There 
there may be trouble here presently. The people are 
over excited." 

" Trouble for whom, father? " was the calm question 
as, apparently ignoring his injunction, Elinor came 
straight onward until she stood by her brother s side. 
The strong arm on which she laid her little white hand 
was trembling, partly the result of recent exertion, 
partly from intense excitement. 

" You may as well know," was the half hesitant reply. 
" Just as I foresaw, young Ladue yonder has got to 
face the music. They have evidence to prove that he is 
in the rebel service." 

" It s a lie! " swore Fred Denton, between his clinched 
teeth. 

" It s the miserable truth," said his father. " Listen! " 
Somebody was again haranguing the crowd, now com 
pletely filling the street from block to block only four 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 31 

hundred yards away, while men and boys, jabbering 
excitedly, were still hurrying by the Bentons to join the 
throng. Presently the voice rose higher and clearer, 
and they recognized it at once. " Your committee have 
searched the house, fellow citizens, and have failed to 
find this misguided young man. Moreover, I have the 
assurance of his aged and unhappy father that his erring 
son is not here that, warned by his own conscience or 
some still deluded friend, he fled full half an hour ago. 
It is not conceivable that he would remain here over 
night. Already he is probably beyond the suburbs. 
Banishment from our midst was what you demanded, 
and the sentence is self-executed. Let me urge you, 
therefore, in the interests of law and order, to quietly 
disperse. Let me " 

But here the speaker s voice was drowned in shouts 
of wrath and impatience, and before he could again 
make himself heard a mighty bass was uplifted over the 
clamor and in tones that could be heard four blocks 
away these words were bellowed on the startled ear of 
night : 

" They tarred and feathered and rode our teachers on 
a rail for no cause whatever. I move, by God! that 
before we let Paul Ladue wear a rebel coat we give 
him one of tar and feathers. / know where to find him." 

It was the riff raff of the city, let it be remembered, 
that made up the bulk of the crowd, the idler, the loafer, 
the saloon hanger-on, the same class precisely that six 



32 THE IRON BRIGADE 

weeks before had mobbed the men of Massachusetts in 
the streets of Baltimore a gang ever ready for rapine 
and outrage, the counterpart of the human wolves that 
seventy years earlier had drenched the streets of Paris 
with the blood of the gentlest, noblest born of the fair 
land of France. Of the thousand shouting and swaying 
there in the dim light of the city lamps probably not fifty 
men were tax-payers or respectable citizens, and, all too 
late, George McKinnon began to realize that he was now 
powerless to quench the train his vehement oratory had 
fired. A new leader had sprung to the front, a giant 
blacksmith, a man whose sledge hammer had beaten in 
the jail doors barely four years previous, and rescued 
from the hands of the Federal authorities a luckless fugi 
tive slave who had been caught when almost in sight 
of freedom and Canadian soil and meekly surrendered 
to the agent of his owners in deference to the hateful 
laws of the day. Madly they cheered him, breaking a 
way westward through their midst until the open street 
lay before him. Then, facing his excited followers a 
moment, he shouted, "You who are with me, come on! " 
turned and went striding down the street. 

" My God," cried Mr. Benton. " They are coming 
here!" 

Running toward them along the sidewalk, distancing 
the crowd, pale now and trembling, came McKinnon. 
" Quick! " he cried. " Let me take Miss Elinor round 
to Judge Meredith s. She s safe there. Come come, 
Elinor," he pleaded, with outstretched hand. But the 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 33 

blue eyes looked him over with utter indifference. She 
would not even vouchsafe reply. 

" What in heaven s name have you done, McKin- 
non? " cried the father. " Surely you ought to have 
known it was playing with fire to arouse these ruffians. 
But they shall not touch me or mine! They shall not 
enter this gate ! Go in doors, child," he continued, turn 
ing suddenly to her. But now it was McKinnon who 
detained. 

"Stop! You must see," said he. "Here is what 
came for him this very night. Now do you believe? " 

Benton took the heavy envelope extended to him. It 
bore the St. Louis postmark. It had been sliced open 
with a knife. It was addressed to " Paul Ladue, Esq., 

Bookseller and Stationer, East Water Street, , 

and it contained another envelope still sealed and un 
broken, addressed in round, clerkly hand to First Lieu 
tenant Paul Ladue, Eleventh Alabama Infantry, and 
bore at the upper left hand corner the letters so often 
used in the old days of the old army, O. P. S. (on public 
service), instead of the later shibboleth of the War De 
partment, " Official Business." 

" It is fatal," said the veteran lawyer, with a gasp of 
dismay. 

" It is a forgery! " said Fred, his son, whereat McKin 
non started as though stung. And now the mob, headed 
by Hugh Gale, came swarming to their gate, and their 
spokesman, in his resounding basso, addressed himself 
to the master. 

3 



34 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Squire Benton, it is my belief that the man we want 
is hidden here on your premises. Your son has long 
been his most intimate friend. Mr. Ladue invited our 
committee to enter and search. Will you do the same? 
Or are you going to shelter rebel spies and traitors?" 

" You are not going to enter and search," answered 
Benton, sturdily. " This city has been my home since 
it was a mere village. For twenty years I have worked 
with it and for it and no man, woman or child in this 
community can point to a wrong done to one of your 
number by me or mine. This is my home, and by the 
Eternal, you shall not violate it! " 

" Hear me, fellow citizens," cried McKinnon, clam 
bering on the gate and grasping the boughs of the 
mountain ash trees that stood close on either hand. 
" Hear me one minute! " 

"Shut up!" yelled the crowd. "Go ahead, Gale. 
We re with you," and suiting action to word a score of 
the populace began climbing the old-fashioned white 
picket fence and striving to burst a way through the 
thick hedge of rose bushes and sturdy young trees that 
stretched from flank to flank along the front of the lot. 
Others, running round to the west, swarmed to the flat- 
topped fence bounding the yard on that side, and two 
of their number, truculent and daring, leaped down upon 
the flower-beds and came lunging out across the grass 
plot. In an instant Fred Benton, breaking from Elinor s 
restraining hands, sprang to confront them, and without 
a word, sent his clinched fist square at the leader s jaw 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 35 

and tumbled him, crashing and cursing, among the pan- 
sies. His fellows recoiled to the fence, and a howl of 
mingled wrath and admiration went up from the mob. 
Then somebody picked up a huge clod from a pile of 
soft, fresh-cut sod that stood by the tree box at the 
edge of the gutter, and with practiced hand hurled it at 
McKinnon. It took that portly counselor twixt midriff 
and gorge, just as a bulky vegetable, hurtling through 
gaslit space, landed full on his distended cheek. The 
combined impact proved too much for his equilibrium 
and, to the shrill delight of the masses, down he went, 
ripping out a branch of mountain ash and a gasp of 
mingled protest and profanity. For an instant the on 
ward impulse of the crowd was stayed, and Gale again 
began to rumble in dramatic speech when of a sudden 
there arose from the throats of the mob a yell of tri 
umph and rejoicing, for there, at the head of the steps, 
bareheaded in the soft moonlight, between the white 
columns of the portico, stood Paul Ladue, facing them 
with flashing eyes and without a tremor. Another in 
stant and before Fred could interpose, light and agile, 
he bounded down the steps, across the lawn and vaulted 
to the flat-topped fence at the corner, lighting like a cat 
on his feet, and confronted them with uplifted hand as 
though demanding to be heard. 

For a moment the yells and shouts continued, and 
there was a rush of the crowd to the side street. Then 
curiosity prevailed, and between cries of "Silence!" 
"Dry up!" "Listen, fellers, let s hear what he has to 



36 THE IRON BRIGADE 

say," and some vigorous hissing, comparative quiet was 
restored, and in ringing, silvery tones, quivering, per 
haps with excitement, but never a sign of fear, Ladue 
addressed them. 

" Who accuses me and of what am I accused? " he 
cried. 

"You re a damned spy" "Rebel" "Traitor" 
" Here, give us that letter, Squire," were the yells from 
the crowd. And then big Gale, the blacksmith, tore a 
way round to the side and waved under the pale, quiver 
ing face McKinnon s contribution to the evening s dis 
turbance the letter he would now have been glad to 
withdraw. " What have you to say to this, Mr. Lieu 
tenant Paul Ladue, Eleventh Alabama? " 

" I say it s a forgery and a lie ! " was the ringing an 
swer. 

" Any man would, fixed as you are," boomed the 
blacksmith. " Do you deny corresponding with your 
rebel crowd in Alabama, too?" 

" No, and you can see their letters any time you 
wish." 

"Damn their letters!" shouted Gale. Then facing 
the crowd. " Fellow citizens, what shall we do with 
him?" 

Up went a chorus of curses and yells, in the midst of 
which Fred Benton sprang to the fence beside his friend, 
and his father vainly shouted, begging to be heard. 
" You be quiet, Squire," answered the nearmost. " We 
don t want you you re all right." Fred was felled by 



A SNAKE IN THE GRASS 37 

a stone that struck him full in the forehead. Paul 
Ladue s legs were jerked from under him and he was 
dragged, struggling and striking at every face within 
reach, and borne away, the vortex of a whirlpool of rag 
ing humanity whose hoarse shoutings gradually died 
to distant roar as they surged onward down the slope 
to Market Square, Benton and McKinnon vainly fol 
lowing, imploring and protesting. Then one level 
headed lad ran like a deer to the quarters of a cadet 
company across the river, and while Elinor knelt there 
by her stricken brother, chafing his hand and bathing 
his discolored brow, the court-house bell in rapid clang, 
pealed out the alarm of fire. 

An hour later, limp and exhausted, in the care of a 
physician, and escorted to the pier by Benton and cer 
tain city officials, the victim of mob fury was borne to 
a stateroom on the " Northern Light " and so on to 
Chicago. 



CHAPTER III 

THE FIRST UNIFORM 

And then for many a week there came no word from 
Paul Ladue. At the little frame cottage near the lake 
a sad-eyed, submissive, broken man sat long hours each 
day in a worn old rocking-chair, apathetic, uncomplain 
ing, yet looking wistfully into the faces of the few who 
came to see him as though imploring news of his now 
doubly banished boy. The children Nina, a fond little 
daughter of fourteen, and Alphonse, a merry-eyed lad 
of ten, sought vainly to rouse him. There was not 
business enough at the shop to call him thither. People 
had no time for books in the war days. They read only 
the papers, and, many of them, only the news and rumors 
from the front. Through the efforts of Squire Benton 
a reliable, if not over bright, young man was found to 
take charge of what was left of the stock in trade, and 
to supply the casual wants of school children in search 
of sponges and slate pencils, or elders in need of station 
ery with which to write to the boys now in camp by 
thousands along the line of the Potomac and the Ohio. 
Weak eyes and legs had led to his rejection when surg 
ing patriotism prompted him to throw up the charge 
of a ward school and present himself as food for pow- 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 39 

der, and in sore disappointment he meekly took the 
tendered place. At least it would give him abundant 
time to read and study. 

In still other ways did the Squire seek to aid the 
needy household and, all unrebuked now, Elinor went 
day after day to see Ladue and the fragile woman, his 
wife, who never left her room. Womanfully did she 
strive to cheer the aging and to guide the young, and 
rarely did she go empty handed. All through the long, 
hot summer of 61 she was ever slipping over to the 
cottage and ever coming back with pathetic sadness in 
her sweet blue eyes. There was still no further news 
from Paul Paul who after rude mauling and man 
handling, had escaped the threatened tar and feathering 
only because the gas works and the tar were far away, 
the fire department and two companies of young State 
troops close at hand. The firemen manned their brakes, 
and the powerful streams of cold water cast a damper 
on the enthusiasm of the mob. The soldiers fixed their 
bayonets, enabling the mayor and certain leading men 
to bore a way to the midst of the throng, to rescue the 
exhausted lad, and later to bear him out of harm s way, 
but that ill-born effort to crush and outrage the high 
spirited fellow had turned the scale. In one brief let 
ter from St. Louis, Paul had announced his intention of 
making his way to Mobile. After that who could say? 

And Fred, too, Elinor s stanch ally and supporter, 
was gone. Denied a commission in the earlier regi 
ments of his native State, for the reason that the men 



40 THE IRON BRIGADE 

demanded the right to elect their officers from among 
these enlisting with them, a course which his father had 
forbidden, he had found life well nigh unbearable after 
the almost tragic events of that night in June, and so 
boldly wrote a long, urgent, appealing letter to a gen 
eral officer an old soldier of the Old Army who, since 
before the days of the Mexican War and until recalled 
to active service in the spring of 61, had made the 
Badger State his home, and that vehement, vigorous 
letter the General took and laid before the President 
himself. 

This was before the first serious eye-opener the bat 
tle of Bull Run, and the tall, ungainly son of the West 
was still able to see the whimsical side of things, un- 
tinged by the infinite sadness and suffering of the days 
to come. 

" Wants to be a soldier and to sink the law, does he? " 
said the President, stretching his long, lean legs under 
neath the table and running his huge hand through the 
crop of bristling hair that crowned his forehead like a 
hedgerow, " and the Squire won t let him enlist, I met 
Benton once at Rice s caravanserai there in Chicago 
and the boys won t have anybody that doesn t start even 
with them? Well, General, I see only one way out of 
this fix that is to make him a second lieutenant of 
regulars, unless," he continued, with a twitch about the 
corners of his broad mouth, " unless I appoint him a 
brigadier-general. According to some of the papers I 
may have done worse. Which shall it be? " 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 41 

" The second lieutenancy will appeal to him, I think, 
sir," said the General, " and then I can appoint him 
aide-de-camp and teach him practical soldiering so that 
he won t be utterly a novice when he goes to his regi 
ment. I know the lad and am under many an obliga 
tion to his father." 

" So be it," said the President. And so it happened 
that two days later there came to Fred a wire from 
Washington bidding him join his General there forth 
with, and within another forty-eight hours he was gone, 
eager, ambitious and full of intense zeal and resolution, 
determined to make a name for himself. For a few 
days in mid July he was home again as aide to the Gen 
eral, who had been ordered thither to help the State 
authorities in the organization of still more regiments. 
Very tall and stiff and " swagger " he looked in his 
Eastern-made uniform, a vivid contrast to many an old 
school friend whose first blue frock coat seemed more 
like an off-color edition of some clerical garment than 
the garb of a soldier. Fearfully and wonderfully were 
they made those uniforms of our Western volunteers, 
and much did they of the great army about Washington 
marvel and make merry at the sight of the officers of the 
few regiments from Badger and Hoosierdom chosen to 
represent their States on the " sacred soil " of Eastern 
Virginia. Yet were they little more ungainly than those 
worn by the new-made militaires from Maine and New 
Hampshire. Fred Benton, however, had been taken in 
hand by a soldier nephew of his General a young New 



2 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Yorker, long time of the Seventh and now, like Fred, 
of the regular infantry, and a famous old army tailor had 
taken his measure, his orders and his promptly tendered 
cash with all alacrity, to the end that when he appeared 
with his chief on the familiar streets at home, all that 
bustling young metropolis marvelled at the change that 
had come over him. A fine stalwart specimen of Saxon 
manhood when he went toward the end of June, he had 
returned to them in mid July erect, soldierly and stun 
ningly clad, the admiration of every girl in town almost 
the adoration of his sister. 

And about the first thing Fred Benton had done on 
his return was to snub, if not actually insult, his father s 
junior partner, between whom and that father relations 
were already severely strained. 

Never yet had George McKinnon been able to satis 
factorily explain how that letter addressed to Paul 
Ladue had come into his possession. Important as it 
doubtless was held to be, as evidence of Ladue s active 
sympathy with the Rebellion, there were not a few re 
sponsible citizens who declared the postmaster gravely 
culpable for surrendering it to any but the lawful owner. 
Whereat the postmaster on hearing of the cry against 
him came out with a card in the " Watchman," insisting 
that the letter had been placed by the distributing clerk 
in the Ladue box, which was at least six feet from the 
general delivery window, and that neither he nor any 
one of the employes had subsequently touched it except, 
possibly, when handing out the little packet of mail 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 43 

called for by Paul Ladue in person. Whether Mr. 
McKinnon got that letter by fair means or foul it was 
after it had passed from the postoffice into the hands 
of the addressee, for since Ladue senior s illness only 
to Paul had their mail been delivered up to the very day 
of his sudden and enforced departure. This complicated 
the problem, and there was now no Paul to explain how 
he came to lose or part with it. 

Moreover the postmaster, being exceeding wroth at 
McKinnon, told several prominent citizens that no less 
than thrice had McKinnon called on him at the office 
and endeavored to persuade him that it was his bounden 
duty to open any letter that came from St. Louis or 
the South for Paul Ladue and to ascertain the contents. 
On the first occasion McKinnon clearly showed that he 
had been keeping watch on Ladue s mail by saying 
" There s a big letter in his box from St. Louis now/ 
and the postmaster admitted having gone with McKin 
non to the box, having taken the letter out and "hefted" 
it, as he said, and studied the handwriting and super 
scription and having allowed McKinnon to do the same, 
but it was not opened by either of them. He would 
never allow that. Questioned further, the postmaster 
admitted that one day toward the end of May young 
Ladue had come to him " mad clear through," and de 
clared that some one had been tampering with his mail 
and showed him one of those big, bulky missives in the 
long official envelope that had been sliced open with a 
sharp knife must have been in that condition when 



44 THE IRON BRIGADE 

handed to him, said Paul, although he did not discover 
it until he reached the store. Every clerk in the office 
protested his innocence and the postmaster had not the 
ghost of an idea who was the culprit. 

Naturally matters looked squally for McKinnon. He 
had been popular, but the better class of people felt that 
Paul Ladue had been harshly, even outrageously, dealt 
with, and that McKinnon s insidious, if not fiery 
speeches were the direct cause. Moreover, there were 
many in the community who scouted the story told re 
garding the letter. He found it, he declared, lying on 
his desk on the morning of the great meeting, with a 
card bearing only the words, " See within." The en 
velope was slit smoothly open, and, never stopping to 
note the address thereon, he was amazed to find within 
another envelope, sealed, and the superscription was of 
such startling importance that he deemed it his duty 
to exhibit it to friends, in fact to everybody, that they 
might know a traitor a spy was in their midst. He 
might have erred, but as a loyal American he conceived 
that nothing less could he do. 

But a revulsion of feeling had set in. Before leaving 
for Washington there had been ample time for Fred 
Benton to spread abroad Ladue s declaration that noth 
ing would persuade him to cast his lot with the South, 
provided he could be permitted to remain here in peace. 
He felt that his duty was with his aging father. Elinor, 
too, with flushing cheeks and flashing eyes, had told the 
tale from house to house. The physician employed by 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 45 

Benton and others to go with Paul to Chicago came 
back full of sympathy for his patient and wrath at the 
populace. Such was the state of feeling that Gale, the 
would-be heroic leader of public sentiment, awoke to 
the fact that it might be wise for him to cross the Lake 
and visit kith and kin among the Wolverines, for city 
officials had come and asked ugly questions, and there 
was talk of arrest and indictment for inciting riot. He 
swore that no violence had been offered Ladue, that he 
had simply " led him along by the scruff of the neck," 
and that Ladue s exhaustion was due to his own frantic 
struggles. But the leading journals, morning and even 
ing, denounced the whole affair McKinnon, who had 
been the Democratic candidate for city attorney at the 
spring election, coming in for an especial scoring from 
the Republican press, and finding no defenders among 
the papers of his own political persuasion. 

McKinnon called at the Bentons and asked to see 
Miss Elinor, and Miss Elinor asked to be excused. 
Then he wrote to her a long letter, full of argument, 
explanation and regret, and she answered in a short 
note, saying that she trusted he fully realized the wrong 
he had done, hoped that his regret was sincere and that 
he would find means to make amends, and that was all 
she would say. Benton, senior, quite approved her 
conduct at the time, for there had been words between 
the partners unpleasant words. Impartial listeners 
were compelled to say, however, that the words were 
Benton s own, for McKinnon hardly opened his lips ex- 



46 THE IRON BRIGADE 

cept in restrained and respectful protest. It must be 
owned that no sooner was poor Paul well out of the 
way than McKinnon s words and deeds became almost 
saint-like so meek, so forgiving and tolerant did he 
become. He had even gone to the Ladues and talked 
to the unhappy old father and dilated on his efforts to 
turn the heart of the crowd and protect Paul from in 
dignity or violence. He declared that it was due to him 
that the troops were called out and that the firemen 
came and drenched the frantic crowd. He chose the 
hour when he knew Elinor was visiting the stricken 
mother, and he hung about until long after dinner time, 
expecting her to come down and be waylaid. Keen was 
his chagrin when pert little Nina danced in and an 
nounced that if he were waiting for Elinor Benton he 
was wasting his time. She had slipped out the back 
way nearly an hour before. 

Then McKinnon ordered supplies of various kinds sent 
to the Ladues some choice claret and dainties in the 
way of fruit, but Mrs. Ladue could not be induced to 
touch either. Ladue himself was a total abstainer. The 
wine lay neglected in the cellar. The children gorged 
themselves with the fruit, and no good was done by 
the gifts. 

Then came the General with aide-de-camp Fred, and 
the former responded to McKinnon s greeting with cold 
and distant civility. The latter asked him what he had 
done with Ladue s letter and refused his proffered hand. 
It was lucky the General had to take his young staff 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 47 

officer to the State capital, whence they were recalled 
to Washington just in time to meet the demoralized 
wreck of McDowell s raw, untaught regiments, drifting 
in from the disaster of First Bull Run. 

And then the nation woke up in earnest to a realiza 
tion of the fact that the South had men as brave as the 
best in the land and leaders more skillful than those 
we had yet sent afield. Then it became apparent that 
not until it was thoroughly organized, drilled and dis 
ciplined could a Northern army hope to subdue the 
array of the South. With them there seemed to be but 
one heart, one thought, one purpose. They were a 
people united in their determination to effect a divorce 
from the old Government and to set up for themselves 
a republic with that peculiar institution, human slavery, 
guaranteed for all time. With us there was wide divi 
sion of sentiment, and many a worthy citizen could not 
be made to see that the success of the South meant the 
wreck and ruin of what promised to be the grandest 
republic, the most enlightened and powerful nation on 
the face of the globe. What made the task of that 
God-given, heaven-inspired President phenomenal in 
magnitude and difficulty was the fact that, strong and 
skillful as was the army that menaced the Capital from 
the front, there was another enemy, equally strong in 
point of numbers, and skillful in argument, debate and 
intrigue, that sorely hampered his herculean task, at 
tacking him from the rear. The war was not a fortnight 
old before the hiss of the Copperhead was heard 



48 THE IRON BRIGADE 

throughout the land. Only one man before him in the 
history of our national life had had to encounter such 
widespread, insidious, treacherous opposition at the 
hands of the very people he was so grandly serving, and 
only that man, George Washington, was great enough, 
strong enough, to rise superior to every personal slight, 
Congressional cabal or political calumny and subor 
dinate everything, as later did our immortal Lincoln, to 
the glorious end in view the establishment and main 
tenance of that government of the people, by the people 
and for the people that should not perish from the face 
of the earth. 

But the rugged features had already begun to take on 
a shade of anxiety. The lines were digging farther in 
about the sombre eyes and the broad humorous mouth 
by the time the tall, gaunt President, in the abnormally 
tall top hat the fashion of the day took to driving out 
to Kalorama in the August evenings, Mr. Secretary 
Seward dwarfing at his side to take the air and look 
at the one Western brigade of all the commands then 
being moulded by General McClellan into what was to 
become the grand Army of the Potomac. While at 
first Massachusetts, New York and even Pennsylvania 
had been represented in the huge command assigned to 
Fred Benton s General, with one exception all Eastern 
regiments were transferred to other divisions as more 
Badgers arrived, and finally, when the first frosts of 
October had turned the Virginia shores to fire and, 
strongly entrenched, the Union army covered the long 



THE FIRST UNIFORM 49 

front from Alexandria to beyond the Chain Bridge, it 
was as a brigade of four strong, stalwart regiments, 
three from Wisconsin and one from Indiana, not an 
Eastern or Middle State represented in their array, that 
this compact command was designated, of all others, to 
encamp upon the beautiful Arlington estate, and the 
General and his staff were directed to occupy as head 
quarters the fine old mansion, long the seat of a famous 
family. The Badger brigadier moved in and took pos 
session of the homestead of his old-time friend and as 
sociate in the Corps of Engineers, when as junior offi 
cers they were building Fort Monroe, and four thousand 
men of the West pitched their white tents on the lands 
of Virginia s knightly soldier Robert E. Lee. 
4 



CHAPTER IV 

WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS 

Dark and dreary the winter of the first year of the 
war closed in on the camps about the Capital. Between 
the Long Bridge and the heights of Arlington lay a sea 
of mud. Dull red, the Virginia roads were gullied de,ep 
by the wheels of cannon, ambulance and army wagon 
that sank now to the very hubs in sticky mire, and time 
and again stalled the needed supplies almost within sight 
of their destination. In vain the darky drivers doubled 
their teams and plied lash and blasphemy. Hour after 
hour the order would ring through the swarming streets 
of the nearest camp: "Turn out, boys more wagons 
stuck in the mud! " and by whole companies, regulars 
or volunteers, the men would wade knee-deep to the 
scene, and with fence rails as levers and drag ropes over 
the brawny shoulders, prying, pushing, hauling and 
shouting they would " yank " the heavy rolling stock, 
one by one, from the slough of their despond and tide 
them over to the next camp beyond, and so, from slough 
to slough, pass them on their final destination. 

But while the roads and flats were quagmires, up 
along the wooded heights the ground was fairly dry and 
well drained, and there the four regiments, three of 



WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS 51 

which had drilled through August on the broad, level 
plateau of Kalorama, and much of the early fall about 
Chain Bridge, were now kept from morn till night bus 
ily at their soldier task. The General held that the less 
time soldiers had to kill the happier and heartier they 
were, and determined was he that the splendid material 
confided to his charge should be moulded into equally 
splendid, soldierly shape that the one exclusively 
Western brigade of the now well-organized army should 
be second to none in point of instruction, discipline and 
efficiency. To this end, drills by squad, company and 
battalion, all three, were of daily occurrence, followed 
by dress parade at sundown, and all this supplemented 
by long, searching inspections every Sunday morning. 
Presently, too, he was able, by a mile march through 
the woods, to reach an open plain out toward Ball s 
Cross Roads, and there have brigade evolutions twice 
a week. Then the full uniform of the regulars had been 
drawn for the entire command, the Indiana boys shed 
ding the semi-Zouave garb of gray in favor of the army 
blue, as had certain of their Wisconsin comrades at 
Chain Bridge as early as September. One Badger regi 
ment, the Second, whose men lorded it somewhat over 
their fellows because they had been all through Bull 
Run and, despite fairly heavy losses, retired in good 
order had even obtained the quaint, stiff, Kossuth hat, 
looped up on one side and garnished with cord and 
brasses and feathers the headgear of the regulars at 
the time and were dubbed the " Black Hats " by envi- 



52 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ous comrades of other commands. Their original field 
officers had disappeared somewhere about the time of 
that initial battle, and in their place had come a stocky 
little black-bearded West Pointer as colonel, with a 
most soldierly ex-captain of State militia as his second, 
and then the whole brigade had to be fitted out with 
white gloves, and some nearby regulars were detailed to 
show them how best to polish their belts and boxes, and 
great was the competition among the four regiments to 
win the honor of headquarters guard and orderlies. 

Then, as freezing weather set in with December and 
it became possible for carriages to come bumping and 
swaying over the icy boulders and ridges into which the 
almost liquid mud had been transformed, many generals 
of rank, and statesmen by the score, and even the Presi 
dent himself, began paying visits to Arlington and bring 
ing curious and distinguished foreigners with them, and 
salutes and reviews innumerable became the vogue in 
front of the colonnaded porch of that stately old man 
sion. Not very far away Phil. Kearny s fine brigade of 
Jersey Blues was in camp, and the rivalry between these 
and the men of the West was keen and continuous. But 
Arlington lay nearer the city, and so it happened that 
the " hoith " of the visitors, as their one " exclusively 
Irish " company put it, were ever to be found at the 
Badger camps, and Fred Benton was learning how much 
time it took and money to provide entertainment for 
the men of mark swarming in Washington and the lines 
across the Potomac that first winter of the war. 



WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS 53 

But there was one visitor who cost them nothing, who 
brought them cheer and delight, and who could not come 
too often. He came, however, only twice or thrice. He 
never left his carriage, but sat there lounging comfort 
ably on the back seat, usually with Secretary Seward 
by his side, just as he used to come to nearer Kalorama, 
and, after he had chatted with the General a while, he 
would drive through the regimental camps to receive 
the tumultuous greeting of " the boys," to wave his hat 
and smile at them, and sometimes, when they crowded 
about him, to stop and shake hands with the nearmost, 
and once or twice to tell some whimsical story that 
would set his hearers shouting with glee. The President 
seemed to find himself thoroughly at home among those 
lads from the far West. 

But if the rugged features beamed with kindliness and 
sympathy early in the December days and had ever a 
smile in return for the greeting of the shouting boys in 
blue, senior officers who best knew him became aware 
of a growing anxiety and impatience on his part ere the 
joyous Christmastide came in, and the crowded camps 
were jubilant with feasting and good cheer. The be 
loved little commanding general had been taken ill of 
a fever and confined to his bed. The President to whom 
he owed his appointment had as yet no information as 
to that general s plans, and, strange as it may seem, the 
two or three men in his, McClellan s, confidence were 
strangers at the White House and the departments. 
When, in his anxiety and sympathy, the President called 



54 THE IRON BRIGADE 

in person at the invalid s house, he was neither asked 
to the bedside nor given information as to when the 
general would be able to resume duty. As a conse 
quence the President had to turn to other sources, and 
Fred s division commander, McDowell, was the first he 
sought. He was forever asking questions as to the con 
dition of the roads, the possibility of moving guns and 
trains, and showing not a little eagerness when told that 
through January, at least, they ought to be hard and 
firm, but rough. Then they who read the leading papers 
of the great North could not but note the clamor for an 
immediate advance upon the enemy, a sweeping, over 
whelming victory over " the insolent foe " that should 
wipe out the memory of Bull Run and restore confidence 
and hope throughout the loyal States. It was pointed 
out that under the vigilant eye of that famous organizer, 
the army had for five long months been drilling, drilling, 
drilling until in point of precision in the evolutions of the 
battalion or brigade, regulars and volunteers could 
hardly be distinguished one from the other that the 
men were presumably hardened and strengthened that 
they were amply nourished, armed, uniformed and 
equipped, and that now, barring the possibility of soft 
weather, there was no earthly reason why the army 
should not advance and deal to the triumphant Con 
federates, boastfully awaiting them behind their for 
midable field works, a decisive and stunning blow at the 
very scene of our recent humiliation on the plains of 
Manassas and along the wooded banks of Bull Run. 



WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS 55 

Day after day throughout the autumn had " Little 
Mac," followed by a brilliant retinue, ridden from camp 
to camp, inspecting, reviewing, commanding, criticising, 
and, long ago as mid September, after the spirited skir 
mish near Lewinsville, he had thrilled the listening thou 
sands, Fred and his Badger comrades among them, by 
the ringing words in which he had assured them the 
war should be short, sharp and decisive, and for hours 
the bands had pealed exultant music, " the boys " 
cheered themselves hoarse in glorification over his stir 
ring declaration: "We have had our last defeat we 
have made our last retreat," and the mingled appeal and 
pledge that followed: "You stand by me and I ll stand 
by you." Stand by him? Stand by Little Mac? Such 
was the faith and love and devotion that burned for him 
throughout that magnificent command that as the late 
autumn rolled by and the promise of speedy action flut 
tered from camp to camp there was hardly an officer 
or man from division commanders down to drummer 
boys that would not willingly have died for him! Never 
in the days of his most splendid achievement, sur 
rounded by the marshals of his empire and supported 
by the Imperial Guard, did Napoleon himself receive 
from the hearts of his soldiers a love more spontaneous, 
from their lips a greeting more thrilling, than did George 
McClellan as he rode the lines of the new-born Army of 
the Potomac, practically his own creation, for it was but 
raw material when confided to his hands. 

And yet, save for more drills, more grand reviews 



56 THE IRON BRIGADE 

and ceremonies, and in spite of the clamor of the nation, 
the press and the Government, it moved not, and the 
fine weather of December was gone and January came, 
and with it the fogs and soft skies and seas of mud 
again, and stories went from fire to fire to the effect 
that the President and the people had become irritated 
at the long delay, and that Little Mac was being urged 
and importuned and even blamed. " Let Little Mac 
alone," said the boys. " He knows what he s about"; 
for even in their impatience nothing could shake their 
loyalty. 

At last, as is well remembered, the President, in the 
exercise of his prerogative, took the law into his hands 
and issued his first order directing the advance of an 
army in the field. And at last, its corps organization 
completed now though with generals not of McClel- 
lan s choice to the glorious music of the innumerable 
bands, in splendid weather and in splendid spirits, the 
long blue columns filed out from the shelter of the cir 
cling fortifications and took the road to Centreville. 

Promotion had by this time carried Fred s division 
commander to the head of a corps and his brigade com 
mander to the head of the fine division, in which until 
now the wild Westerners had been numbered as the 
First Brigade. Now they became the Third, and were 
both astonished and disgusted to find that their numeri 
cal designation depended not, as they were inclined to 
say, on their soldierly superiority, but upon the relative 
rank of the brigade commander. It galled them, to tell 



WHAT WAS FOUND AT MAN ASS AS 57 

the truth, to find that the promotion to division rank of 
the West Point soldier who had organized, drilled and 
taught them from the start, involved a corresponding 
setback for themselves. Some Badgers took the matter 
so much to heart as to declare that the General should 
have declined promotion let somebody else step up to 
the command of the division rather than see his old 
comrades moved from the right to the left of the line, 
from front to rear of the column. In vain were they 
assured that it really made no earthly difference, that 
the brigade would take turns at the head of the column 
on the march, and, as for the line of battle, they would 
get Just as much fighting on the left as on the right. It 
is strange to see what little things will start a big sensa 
tion among young soldiers. Badger and Hoosier the 
brigade had a mild case of sulks when it found that its 
comrade commands, made up of New Yorkers and 
Pennsylvanians, each headed by a West Point general, 
were now its seniors in soldier rank, because the best 
they could boast for brigade headquarters was one of 
their own colonels. Senators and representatives, egged 
on by letters from " the boys," flocked to the White 
House and the War Department to " see about this " 
and have it rectified, and came away reconciled from 
the one and ruffled from the other. The new war secre 
tary was as like Cameron as cactus is like the cowslip. 
Even then, at the outset of his career, he was all spines 
and bristles. The patient President, however was 
ever man more patient? listened without interruption 



58 THE IRON BRIGADE 

to the somewhat vehement words of the Badger states 
men who had assured the boys, " Black Hats " and all, 
that they would see them righted. With downcast eyes, 
his shaggy head on one side, his long, bony, muscular 
hands extended, finger-tips touching over the right knee, 
his wide mouth twitching sometimes into a semblance 
of whimsical smile, Mr. Lincoln waited until his callers 
had finished, then passed a hand through his bristling 
hair, then clasped both hands behind his big black- 
brown head and threw it upon their support and gazed 
aloft as though for inspiration, then straightened up, and 
with the sunshine breaking through the sombre lines 
about his deep-set eyes, began: 

" As I understand it," said he, " the boys want to go 
back to head the procession as they did when McDowell 
commanded the division. Now, to do that I ve either 
got to pull their own general down a peg set him back 
from the head of the three brigades to that of one or 
else find some brigadier who ranks such fellows as 
Augur and Patrick, take him away from the brigade he 
has been licking into shape, and set him over our friends 
and neighbors from Wisconsin and Indiana that, too, 
gentlemen," and here he reached out and picked up a 
bundle of papers from his desk, " when at least a dozen 
smart young West Point captains and all the four 
colonels are being pushed by their friends as the right 
man to succeed to the command of that particular bri 
gade. You see they appreciate the stuff our Western 
lads are made of. Now I can t reduce your Western 



WHAT WAS FOUND AT MANASSAS 59 

general, and the boys wouldn t thank me for sending 
them a total stranger. You just say to them for me 
that I ll send them a brigadier presently who ll see to it 
that they get everything in creation they are entitled to, 
righting, feasting or fun, and I ll warrant they ll be satis 
fied." 

" You wouldn t care to give us his name, Mr. Presi 
dent," suggested the ambassadors. 

" I shouldn t care, if I knew for certain but Stanton 
might. You see we ve got a new housekeeper in the 
War Department now, and we mustn t do anything 
without consulting that authority." And with that he 
rose and cordially clasped the hands of his Western visi 
tors, and the gentlemen had to go, convinced, if not 
satisfied. 

As for the brigade, it strode away most vigorously on 
the march to Manassas, was one of the first to reach the 
storied stream that wound along at the foot of the 
heights, was one of the most disgusted to find the " im 
pregnable system of powerful works " held only by 
Quaker guns and abandoned impedimenta, but to Fred 
Benton and his general there came a lively sensation in 
the report from the lips of the bearded colonel of the 
" Black Hats." His men had stumbled on a lot of letters 
and luggage unaccountably left behind even in the calm 
deliberation of the Confederate withdrawal the prop 
erty of certain officers of the nth Alabama. 



CHAPTER V 

A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 

Most skillfully and leisurely had " Joe " Johnston, the 
Confederate commander, withdrawn his army to the line 
of the upper Rappahannock. Placidly had he waited, 
even after being furnished with copies of the President s 
war order calling for an advance on February 22d, until 
it should be apparent that McClellan was beginning to 
break camp, and when the first of the Union troops, 
some cavalry under Averell, came twinkling into view 
along the heights of Centreville, the last of Johnston s 
fifty thousand all he had to face McClellan s field 
force of probably double that number was reluctantly 
riding away from Manassas. More for exercise and the 
name of the thing than with the idea of a fight, " Little 
Mac " had sent his big corps forward to the scene of 
McDowell s defeat of the previous July, and for a whole 
day Fred Benton and his Badger comrades wandered 
about the Junction, the Henry house, the Warrenton 
pike and the old Stone Bridge, gathering relics and in 
formation, and it was while so occupied that a squad of 
busy searchers had stumbled on two or three boxes in 
an abandoned hut boxes that when burst open were 
found to contain letters, papers and clothing belonging 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 61 

to a prominent captain of the nth Alabama, and, as luck 
would have it, to First Lieutenant Paul Ladue. 

" Now, what have you got to say? " demanded officers 
of the Montgomery Guard, a home company, as one of 
them shook under Benton s paling face an open letter 
addressed to Ladue. "Will you own up that he was 
a reb all the time?" 

" No," said Benton, sadly. " He would have re 
mained there taking care of his old father if it hadn t 
been for that mob, and more than one of your men was 
in it, Captain O Kane, as you very well know." 

" I m prayin my boys can meet him, that s all," said 
the Hibernian leader. 

" Some of them will be past praying for when they 
do," returned Benton hotly, for his heart was sore, and 
a new anxiety had come to him. What if some of the 
letters should prove to be Elinor s his sister s? 

For Benton knew that at last a letter had reached her 
from Paul Ladue, forwarded under cover from St. 
Louis. She had frankly written and told him of its com 
ing told him, moreover, that she had taken it to their 
father and asked him to read it, and, so far from show 
ing anger or disapprobation, the Squire had stood irres 
olute a moment and then taken her in his arms and 
kissed her and returned her the letter, unread. " But 
you must know what he says," wrote Elinor to her 
brother, " for he speaks so beautifully of you and the 
regard in which he holds you and the regret he feels that 
writing either to you or to me is impossible, because it 



62 THE IRON BRIGADE 

might injure us you with your superiors and comrades, 
me with the neighbors here. Yet every fortnight, now 
that poor Mrs. Ladue is too feeble to leave her bed and 
Mr. Ladue too apathetic to write, I write for them both 
sending the letter under cover to a firm in St. Louis, 
and every month there has come something through the 
same channel for his father or mother. My letter came 
in hers." 

It was a manful letter. The poor lad seemed to real 
ize that they were almost hopelessly parted now and 
that he had no right whatsoever to stand between her 
and the possibility of a happier fortune. A portion of 
his letter read as follows: 



" Mother s few lines, written so slowly and painfully, have told me 
what an angel of goodness you have been to her, to my father and the 
children. God only knows how grateful I am to you you whom I dare 
not hope ever to see again. The die was cast when they drove me 
away, dear Elinor, and now my fate is bound irrevocably with that of 
my oldest friends, my father s people and my State. I do not seek to 
further explain or defend my action. It is done. 

" But if the idea still prevail that within a few months the North can 
crush with overwhelming force these soldiers of the South, tell your 
people it is impossible. Every family is represented in the field. Our 
best and bravest are all in arms, and it will take years to kill us off. 
Meantime, what may not we be doing ? Why, Elinor, one of our most 
distinguished officers in the regiment tells me he is own cousin to Fred s 
general that he owed his appointment as a cadet long years ago to the 
influence the general brought to bear. You see we are all in it, every 
family, every name. We have no dissenters as you have. We are a 
united, enthusiastic people who mean to be utterly free. 

"And so and this is the hardest thing I ever thought to have to 
write it has to be good-by. Try to think kindly, forgivingly of me if 
you can. I cannot, and I have no right to, tell you what this costs me. 
May God in heaven bless and guard you always." 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 63 

Early in December had that letter reached her, and 
the copy been sent to Fred. No wonder she wished 
her father to see it, thought he. It showed Paul Ladue 
in so different a light. Already, however, had the Squire 
begun to realize that there was far more principle in 
that fragile-looking dreamer than among his defamers, 
and hot words had passed between the senior and junior 
partner again, leading late in the fall to open rupture 
and a withdrawal of McKinnon from the firm. 

Nor did it surprise either Benton or Gray to find 
within the month that McKinnon had allied himself with 
their keenest rivals that those astute practitioners, in 
deed, had sought the allegiance of the younger man, 
this, too, in spite of the cloud that had hung over his 
good name ever since the postmaster s published state 
ment. Eight months had passed and the matter of that 
purloined letter was as deep a mystery as ever, and now 
here at Manassas, and, of all others, to the men of the 
Badger Brigade had come confirmation of the state 
ment insisted on by McKenna and denounced as a lie 
and forgery by Paul Ladue that the fiery young South 
erner was actually an officer of the nth Alabama. The 
absent are ever in the wrong, and with sad heart poor 
Fred listened to the chorus of denunciation that fol 
lowed the discovery. He knew that within forty-eight 
hours a dozen letters would be flying homeward with the 
exciting news, so what was the use of attempting to sup 
press it? 

By his general s advice he wrote to his father forth- 



64 THE IRON BRIGADE 

with, telling him of the finding of letters and luggage 
belonging to Paul, the letters all tending to show that he 
was now an officer of the nth Alabama but that he, 
Fred, still believed Paul s statement to the effect that he 
had accepted neither commission nor appointment up to 
the time he was banished from his Northern home. 
The General added some words of his own, and then as 
a courier was to start for Washington from McDowell s 
headquarters that evening, Fred was given leave to ride 
thither, and thereby assure their letters going ahead of 
the others. 

It was an unusually bright and beautiful afternoon, 
as, followed by his orderly, the young officer took the 
Sudley Springs road and trotted away northward in 
search of the corps commander. Already some of the 
comrade divisions, strung out along the Warrenton 
Turnpike, had been faced about and started back for 
Fairfax Courthouse, and it was apparent that beyond 
Manassas, in search of Johnston, McClellan did not care 
to go. Averell s cavalry, pushing out southwestward, 
had spent a day of two in scouting without seeing any 
thing worthy of mention, and then had drifted back to 
Manassas for forage and supplies. 

Here and there through the wooded, winding lanes 
that crossed his path, Fred caught sight of little squads 
of explorers from his own division, but these became 
less numerous as he came in view of the now famous 
Henry house and the cleared fields up the slope to the 
right. It lacked still two hours to sunset. He was 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 65 

now barely a mile from the Warrenton pike and, with 
abundant time to spare, he decided to ride to the crest 
and have a look at the battle ground of the previous 
year. War with us had not then become the hell de 
scribed by Sherman two years later. We still handled 
both the enemy and the musket with gloves. Each in 
his turn, McDowell and McClellan had declared that the 
houses of home-keeping Virginians should be held in 
violate, that property of every kind should be protected. 
Even when, of its own motion, it sought the shelter of 
the Union camps, the law demanded its restoration to 
the master coming with whip and hounds in search of 
his chattel. Safeguards were still posted at the gates 
and doorways and over the pens, roosts, smoke-houses 
and cellars of the complacent households whose sires, 
sons, and brothers were doubtless with the gray-clad 
army across the Rappahannock. Benton could see the 
glint of the sentry s bayonet among the tall shrubbery 
in front of the Henry house, and a corporal, with a 
squad of blue-coated guardians, lounged at the gateway 
ahead of him. But other forces, less heedful of per 
sonal rights, perhaps, had been there before, and the 
fence was but a ruin through one of whose numerous 
gaps he sent his powerful bay and then jogged on up 
the hillside. Accustomed to the saddle from early boy 
hood, Fred was a horseman whose easy mastery over 
the most intractable " mounts " submitted to him for 
subjugation had won the admiration of such experts as 
Bayard and Custer, young officers of the regular cavalry 
5 



66 THE IRON BRIGADE 

frequently visiting division headquarters during the 
winter. A keen observer, he had studied the carriage 
and manners of the professional soldiers with whom his 
staff duties so frequently brought him in contact. Mc- 
Clellan, McDowell and Fitz John Porter were his mod 
els of soldierly bearing, dignity and deportment, Phil 
Kearny his ideal of the fyreux chevalier, while among 
the few cavalry commands and the famous light bat 
teries of the regulars rode younger soldiers whom he 
never tired of watching, Gibbon with the guns of his old 
brigade, Griffin with the West Point battery. Weed, 
Ayres, Ames (still crippled and scarred from First Bull 
Run), Kirby and Hazlett and a dozen jaunty boy gun 
ners, while Bayard, " Joe " Taylor, Audenried, Sanders 
and McQuesten, and the dashing troopers of their set 
were ever the objects of our young Badger s scrutiny. 
He had profited by his observation and study, and no 
aide-de-camp in McDowell s big corps, as the spring 
came on, better adorned his position than did the tall, 
sinewy Westerner, not yet twenty-two. 

Small wonder was it, therefore, that the few sentries 
scattered about the house and gardens gazed admiringly 
at the slender, soldierly figure in the trim-fitting, well- 
cut uniform. Every detail of his equipment horse fur 
niture, boots, spurs, belt, sash, sword and gauntlets, 
holsters and field-glasses was all of the best that ex 
perts could choose or money buy, for the Squire had 
not stinted his only son. A stirring picture they made 
as they halted on the heights, horse and rider silhouetted 




In front of him stood the old 
Virginia homestead. Page 67. 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 67 

against the sky, and a grand picture of Virginia land 
scape a beautiful picture when the summer clothed 
the forest in verdure was that outspread before him 
as he gazed away northwestward. Spanning the hori 
zon to his left, eight miles or so away, the long, low 
range of the Bull Run mountains the easternmost 
parallel of the Blue Ridge stretched from near War- 
renton until lost in the hazy distance toward the Poto 
mac opposite Point of Rocks. North and westward the 
ground fell away before him, criss-crossed with farm 
fences and country roads, dotted with little hamlets and 
darkened here and there by copse and grove and forest 
while, beyond the road by which he came a barren 
crest, bursting out above abrupt, sloping sides, fringed 
with scrub oak and cedar, partially hid the view of tan 
gled woodland that seemed to spread for several miles 
to and beyond the twisting line of the railway toward 
that low notch in the Bull Run range the height 
known as Bald Hill, and a vital point in the summer 
months soon to come the notch, destined to be the 
gateway through which the Southern hosts were so 
soon to swarm upon our rear, already known as Thor 
oughfare Gap. In front of him, a hundred yards away, 
stood the old Virginia homestead about whose walls the 
battle raged that hot July Sunday of the year gone by 
beneath whose shattered roof the poor mother died, 
stricken by whirring fragments of shell. Riding thither 
and skirting the enclosure, he passed on, unchecked by 
silent, saluting guardsmen, and as he rode something 



68 THE IRON BRIGADE 

prompted him to glance toward the house again, and 
there at a jagged shell hole, just under the eaves, peer 
ing at him between the shattered clapboards, his keen 
eyes caught an instant glimpse of a haggard face a 
face that, at his glance, was instantly withdrawn. 

Three minutes later, out on the northward edge of 
the plateau, he unslung his field-glass to study the coun 
try outspread before him and stretching away in alter 
nate field and forest, to the dim, white walls of Vienna. 
Just beneath him, at the foot of the slope and across the 
shining ribbon of a little stream and the broader, dull 
red gash of the Warrenton pike, stood the stone house 
the historic stone house of the by-gone year; just to 
his right, at the edge of the plateau, the relics of the 
Robinson homestead, and there in the low ground of the 
middle distance, the wooded banks of the winding Bull 
Run. Still thinking of the face at that jagged hole, 
some sudden impulse prompted him to quickly turn in 
saddle, to bring the powerful lenses to bear on a little 
window under the peak of the roof of the Henry house, 
and there was the face again, furtive, frightened, he 
could swear, and again, instantly it popped out of sight. 

But his heart had given leap as sudden as the sight, 
and now was hammering within his breast. Replacing 
the glass in its leathern case, he whirled his horse to the 
leftabout and rode straight for the rear entrance to the 
garden. Another moment and, dismounting, he rapped 
loudly at the door. A tall, slim man of middle age ap- 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 69 

peared and, with grave courtesy but without welcome 
in his tones, asked the purpose of his coming. 

" I am Lieutenant Benton, sir aide-de-camp to the 
general commanding the division guarding your prem 
ises, and I have a question to ask as to the occupant 
of your garret." 

Instantly there came from just within the doorway 
to an inner room a half stifled cry a gasp a rustle of 
skirts. The tall man turned thither a quick glance of 
warning and rebuke, then, visibly paler, again faced his 
caller. 

" You see the condition of my house, sir. It is a 
mere wreck as the result of the cannonading it sustained 
from both sides in the battle of last July. We have 
been trying to make it habitable, and have given succor 
here to sick neighbors or friends who had no roofs left 
to cover them only to the sick, sir." 

Benton paused, irresolute. The tall Virginian spoke 
with so much dignity and sadness. The house, as he 
said, seemed barely habitable. The garret, especially, 
was little better than a ruin. The face at that peep 
hole on the eastern side and at the little window away 
up under the gable eaves at the north might well have 
been that of some of the household, yet, even at the dis 
tance and at the first glance there was a something 
about it that caused his heart that leap of sudden joy 
and that kept it bounding still. And then if it should 
be true if what he hoped and feared were really so, 
what would be his duty to his general to his country? 



70 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Against all enemies or opposers whomsoever " the 
words of his oath of office came ringing to his ears 
blazing before his ey^es in letters of fire and without 
further ado he briefly said, " I am sorry to intrude, sir, 
but what I saw at that window makes it necessary that 
I should see the garret. Will you lead the way? " 

For a moment the Virginian hesitated, then, lifting 
his hat stepped backward to admit his unwelcome visi 
tor. " We are in your hands, sir," was his half reproach 
ful answer. " Enter if you will." 

But then came sudden barrier to his further progress. 
Quickly there stepped into view and stood confronting 
him at the doorway to the inner room the tall and slen 
der form of a young girl. Eighteen she might have 
been, not more, though anxiety and grief had paled her 
pretty face. But her great, glorious dark eyes were all 
ablaze as she folded her slender arms and looking the 
young officer squarely in the face, said, " This is my 
room, sir, and not subject to search." 

Slowly Fred Benton s gauntleted hand went up to the 
visor and the natty forage cap was uplifted. The kindly, 
yet kindling eyes of blue gazed one moment into the 
unflinching, unmelting eyes of deep, deep brown, then 
turning deliberately the aide-de-camp inquired: 

" Is there another way to reach the stair? " 

" Only by going round the house to the other door, 
sir," was the Virginian s reply; whereat Mr. Benton, 
with bow as ceremonious as though he, too, hailed from 
the shores of the James, the York or Rappahannock 



A STARTLING RESEMBLANCE 71 

instead of the bustling, pragmatical Northwest, looked 
once more long at the lovely oval face, now surely 
blushing before him, then turned and left the room. 

Three minutes later he had searched both garret and 
the upper story and not a sign of occupant was there. 



CHAPTER VI 

A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 

When Lieutenant Benton rode away from the Henry 
house that sunshiny evening the long shadows were 
slanting across the levels, and the dazzling shield of the 
day god was well down at the west. Shadows, too, had 
fallen on the blithe spirits that had been his in the ear 
lier hours. Surely he could not have been mistaken 
about that face, thinned and haggard as though from 
recent illness, and livid with the consciousness of im 
minent peril; and, if he had not been mistaken, just as 
surely he had been tricked tricked in all probability by 
that defiant and yet most attractive Virginia girl. Vir 
ginian he believed her to be, partly because her accent 
so resembled that of the very palpable Virginian, the 
owner, and partly because that courteous and well-man 
nered native, in answer to somewhat imperious ques 
tion, said " The young lady, suh, is a daughter of old 
Doctor Chilton, of Charlottesville." 

To the very natural question that followed, "What 
was Miss Chilton doing there? " the Virginian had an 
swer equally prompt and dignified. Her brother, a lieu 
tenant in Stuart s cavalry, had been accidentally shot by 
the pickets the dark night of March 4th, had been left 



A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 73 

with an attendant at the Thornton place across Bull 
Run, too badly wounded to be moved when Johnston 
fell back from Manassas, had bribed his friends to send 
him away in a cart when he heard of the Union advance, 
and cart and contents had been run down by other 
troopers Averell s before they reached Manassas. 
The wounded boy, delirious with fever, was even now 
lying in the room his sister guarded. Dr. Alexander, 
of General McDowell s staff, had twice been to see him. 
Dr. Chilton had come, bringing his devoted daughter, 
and then gone on to Fairfax in hopes of obtaining from 
General McClellan permission to take his son on parole, 
by slow stages, to Charlottesville, and Miss Chilton 
meanwhile remained there under what was left of a 
roof, and what he, Mr. Henry, could offer by way of 
care and protection. Indeed, there could be little doubt 
of the presence of a sorely sick man, for fevered moans, 
mingling with the gentle, soothing, appealing words of 
the fair nurse could be heard in the adjoining room. 
Moreover, brief conference with the guard without did 
much to confirm Benton in his faith in the truth of the 
statement. They assured him that if anybody else was 
harbored or hidden there he could not escape, for they 
were ordered to prevent the occupants from leaving, as 
well as to protect the premises from harm. 

At five o clock, therefore, the young aide-de-camp 
went his way, not fully satisfied by any means, but con 
tent to seek explanation at corps headquarters and to in 
vestigate further on his return. In point of fact he was 



74 THE IRON BRIGADE 

doubtful as to his duties and prerogatives in the mat 
ter and needed his general s advice. He meant to tell 
him just what he feared or suspected that Paul Ladue 
himself, in some unaccountable manner, had become 
separated from his regiment, possibly through illness 
or wounds, and was concealed within the shattered walls 
of the old Virginia farmhouse. But, just at the time 
when he most needed the instructions of his own divi 
sion chief, he was destined to be cut off from him 
and for many a day. 

It was after sundown, and long after, when at last, 
riding some miles at swift trot, he overtook the corps 
commander with his staff on the road beyond Centre- 
ville. " Ah," said that soldierly leader, " the General is 
prompt. What time did he start? " 

" Start, sir? " said Benton, his heart beating quick 
and hard again. " I don t know. I was instructed to 
deliver this letter and to ask to have these others sent 
on to Washington by your courier to-night, but I 
thought to find you west of Centreville, not on the 
march, sir." 

" Then my orders had not arrived when you left? 
Why, what hour did you leave, sir?" and McDowell s 
face reddened as it would when he was annoyed. 

" About four o clock, General, but " 

" Four o clock, sir! Then where on earth have you 
been all this time?" 

" I came by way of the Henry house to look at the 
old battle-field, General. We had no idea of your mov- 



A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 75 

ing, and there was plenty of time before dark," an 
swered poor Fred, noting with much concern the omin 
ous silence of the listening staff and orderlies. 

" You must have stayed an unconscionable time 
there," grumbled the general, who had not yet ceased 
to feel touchy at any mention of Bull Run the First. 
(" Longer than he did last July," laughed O Kane, of 
the Montgomery s, when told of it.) " Ah, I remember. 
That pretty daughter of old Chilton s is there. You 
saw her, I suppose?" 

" I suppose I did, General," was the rueful answer, 
" though she in no wise sought to detain me. Quite 
the contrary." 

" Well, Mr. Benton, your division is doubtless follow 
ing us by this time, and should be across the Run. My 
compliments to the general and say I will have his 
letters forwarded. Now, don t get lost in the woods 
on your way back." 

And thus summarily was the brief interview ended, 
and the corps commander with his staff rode on. 

Now here was a plight for an aide-de-camp! His 
tent and all his belongings were with those of division 
headquarters and would doubtless be taken care of by 
the staff quartermaster, but where was he to find his 
general and how? Well he knew the division in 
marching to follow or overtake the others of the corps 
and Kearny s Jersey brigade was just striding by him 
at the moment would probably take the shortest road 
from the camps about Manassas, would follow the wind- 



76 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ing wood roads and cross Bull Run at Blackburn s or 
Mitchell s Ford, taking the hypothenuse of the triangle 
instead of the long way around the two adjacent sides 
formed by the Sudley Springs and Warrenton roads. 
Yet he had fully intended to be back at the Henry 
house before this hour that found him still in saddle 
and crowded off the highway he and his orderly both 
beginning to get hungry and their horses showing signs 
of hard riding. It ended in his picking a way past the 
flank of the marching column, every now and then nar 
rowly shaving some straggler along the dilapidated 
stone wall that skirted the pike, and after half an 
hour s groping, finding himself once more at Centre- 
ville as the rear of Franklin s fine division was clear 
ing it. 

On the westward rise of the roadway, just beyond the 
old stone church in Centreville, the wagons of this the 
First Division in double column blocked the way, as 
only one by one could they cross the ramshackle 
wooden bridge over the dry wash or shallow water 
course at the east end of the hamlet, and here he was 
able to coax a few quarts of oats from a complaisant 
teamster, and while Burns, his orderly, set to work to 
rub down the horses in the fenceless yard of the first 
big house to the right of the road, Benton banged at 
the door in quest of supper. Those were still the early 
the " velvet " days of the war when almost anything 
but a square fight could be had for money, and the aide 
was in no wise surprised to find half a dozen field and 



A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 77 

staff officers eating heartily in the kitchen, and rather 
loudly and coarsely, yet not really ill-naturedly, chaffing 
an elderly, gray-haired man who, seated by himself at 
a little table, answered their crude sallies with impertur 
bable dignity and patience. One of the number knew 
Benton and jovially hailed him by name: 

" What ho, thou limb of the West! Fred Benton, by 
all that s lucky! Well met, my bold Badger, for we re 
well nigh dead broke. Our Boniface here wants a dol 
lar apiece for our supper and five dollars for the demi 
john of peach brandy he d been saving for Joe John 
ston. We can manage the tax for the victuals, Fred. 
It s the peach that staggers us." And there was un 
conscious truth in the statement, for the entire party 
showed symptoms of undue exhilaration. 

" I ll stake you, provided you ve left enough supper 
for me and my orderly," laughed Benton. " Otherwise 
I ll see you hanged first. How is it, friend? What 
can you give me? " and he turned to the man of the 
house, and he in turn to the tall, unkempt creature in 
faded calico, hair and complexion, just entering from 
the " leanto " at the eastward side. A shrug of the 
scraggy shoulders was the significant reply, supple 
mented by the brief word " NuthinV 

Somewhere out on the pike a cavalry trumpet 
sounded " Mount," and the sextette started. " By Jove! 
There goes the escort, so we must move," cried a burly 
major. " Come, Benton, fork over and we ll have a 
stirrup cup." With that he lugged the demijohn from 



78 THE IRON BRIGADE 

underneath the table, slung it by a deft turn of the 
wrist, camp fashion, across his right forearm, and pro 
ceeded to pour a liberal shot into the glasses and cups 
held forth to him. Then the devil of over stimulation 
sent him lunging across the narrow floor to the table 
where sat the lonely Virginian. " Come, old chap," he 
cried, " you re all right. We ve been a little free, per 
haps. Soldiers will be soldiers, you know. You re a 
gentleman. Join us in a drink, sir, and a toast. Hey, 
fellows, let s have a toast." 

"Forward!" rang the trumpets on the soft night 
wind, and the rumble of wheels gave way to. the clack 
and clatter of countless hoofs. 

"Come on, major!" shouted Captain Cranston, he 
who had accosted Benton, and by this time had readily 
effected the needed loan with unneeded increment. 
"Come on! Don t bother the gentleman. We must 
be off." 

But the major was bent on another drink and having 
the gray-haired stranger share it despite the latter s 
plea to be excused. 

" One toast just one! " shouted he of the demijohn. 
" Here s to Little Mac, by Jupiter, the best general the 
best gentleman in the whole army! Ain t he, old 
chap?" 

And to the surprise of all, even in the midst of the 
boisterous talk and confusion as the party searched for 
discarded sabres and gauntlets, the elderly stranger 
arose, held forth his glass and courteously said: " Give 



A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 79 

me a thimbleful, sir. I ll join you in that with infinite 
pleasure." 

" Bully for you, old boy! " cried the major, who had 
gulped a stiff three fingers whereas the Virginian had 
merely sipped at his glass. " Now, scuse me just two 
drops more. One more toast. Here s confusion to the 
Confederacy an everything c nected with it an , 
an " 

" Oh, come out of this, Mullen! " growled a comrade, 
grasping him by the arm. " Come out or I ll " 

" Not till I ve had a st rrup cup with this gen leman 
not till he drinks my toasht I ve drunk his. Ready, 
sir? Here s confush n to the Confederacy an every 
body What! You won t drink that? You a damned 
reb l, too?" and before his friends could interpose the 
half crazed fellow had lunged threateningly forward at 
the pallid stranger, who, having set down his glass un 
touched, stood facing them, one hand uplifted in silent 
protest. It was Benton who sprang between them and 
with apparently laughing ease, whirled the major about, 
and with his powerful hands on the burly shoulders 
sent him struggling and swearing to the doorway where 
the others closed about and bore him away, one of their 
number, a young staff captain, running back to say a 
word of apology. Then Fred and the stranger found 
themselves for the moment alone. 

" You have done me a kindness, suh," said the latter. 
" Did I catch the name a-right? Lieutenant Fred Ben- 
ton, of of Wisconsin? " 



80 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Benton, yes," was the wary answer, for though the 
word Badger had been spoken, Wisconsin had not. 
Somebody had talked to this man of him before and 
now light flashed suddenly upon the situation. 

" Are you pardon me Doctor Chilton, of Char- 
lottesville? " asked Benton. 

" The same, suh, at your suhvice. I have been to 
General McClellan for permission to take my son, 
wounded and paroled, back home, suh. He treated me 
like the courteous gentleman he is, so I drank his 
health. Now, pardon me, you have not eaten," and 
with that Dr. Chilton arose, and followed the whisper 
ing Darby and Joan into the lean-to, and when he re 
turned it was with an air of mild triumph. 

u You shall be suhved, suh, in a very few moments, 
also your orderly " (he called it " ohdly "). " You ride 
on to Fairfax? " 

" No," said Benton, " I look to meet my division 
somewhere about here. They come by way of the lower 
fords, as I am told." 

"Then they are retiring from the Junction, too?" 
asked the veteran, an eager light in his eye. 

" I cannot say," answered Benton, coldly now, for the 
sudden question put him on his guard. 

" Pardon me, suh, if I seem over pleased. I have no 
reason to rejoice. I am too old to serve, even if my 
people had not opposed the ordinance of secession, and 
no enemy could be so courteous and considerate as 
General McClellan and the officers of your own divi- 



A STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES 81 

sion. My son, suk, and any other Virginia boy would 
do the same, I reckon went with his State, went with 
Jeb Stuart, suh, who is his second cousin, and it is hard 
to say which is the more distressed over his being shot 
my son, because it was a Southern not a Northern 
bullet that did the business, or the unhappy fellow who 
gave the order to fire." 

"Who was that?" inquired Benton, thinking more 
and more of the face he had seen at the window. 

" Mr. Ladue, suh Lieutenant Paul Ladue, of the 
nth Alabama. He was on picket duty that night." 

But Benton, with eager eyes, was rising from his 
chair, unmindful even of the smoking supper the host 
was dishing from the stove. Voices and the trampling 
of horses feet were heard without. One voice that he 
knew well rang out clearly over all other sounds. 

" You look to it, Captain, and find Benton. The rest 
of us will ride ahead after General McDowell." 

In no time at all Fred was hurrying round to the 
front, but already the general and the few staff officers 
and orderlies with him had disappeared in the eastward 
darkness, riding at spanking trot, leaving to represent 
them only a captain and one trooper a captain who 
gave a shout of joy and relief when he heard Benton s 
glad hail and caught a glimpse of his face. 

"The Lord be praised!" he cried. "I feared you 

had gone back the way you came. If so you might 

run slap into the rebel lines, for they must have heard 

of the fall-back orders Stuart s cavalry are already up 

6 



8% THE IRON BRIGADE 

from Warrenton and his advance has been skirmishing 
against our rear-guard toward Bristoe ever since five 
o clock. I was sent to warn our guards and sentries 
at the Henry and Robinson houses, and found them all 
in a state of excitement that pretty Miss Chilton dis 
appeared during the hour between seven and eight, just 
after it grew dark." 



CHAPTER VII 



Ten o clock of the still, starlit night and, entering the 
sleepy old hamlet of Centreville by the road from 
Mitchell s Ford and passing through without halt or 
pause, a long dense column in dusty blue went trudging 
away to Fairfax by the broad, stone-ribbed pike. In 
compact order the leading brigade of the Third Division 
had just cleared the village and the general command 
ing the second in column had turned out to the left to 
observe the march when Captain Carver of the division 
staff, striding up from the westward, stood at salute and 
bade the brigadier good evening. 

" The very man I wish to see ! " said the general. 
" Some of my people ran foul of an old F. F. V. about 
a mile down the road. He had McClellan s own pass 
to the Henry house and beyond, and safe conduct for 
a wounded son to Charlottesville. He claimed that he 
had lost his way. Now is it likely a Virginian could 
lose the broad pike and get into a wood road a night 
like this? I sent an orderly to show him through the 
fields to Cub Run bridge there s a wood road just wide 
enough for his old ambulance but I ve been thinking 



84 THE IRON BRIGADE 

over it ever since. Why should he be trying to go to 
the lower fords? " 

" I know all about him, General," was Carver s 
prompt reply. " I found him back here in the village. 
He d just got Benton a bite to eat when I came along 
with the news that his pretty daughter had disappeared 
from the Henry house Meredith s men were on guard 
there and sent a courier to us at the gallop. The news 
upset him completely." 

" Did you say Benton was here in Centreville? 
Then where s the General?" 

" Way ahead, sir. General McDowell sent word for 
him to come forward and join him and leave Meredith to 
look after the rear-guard, etc. It may change the plan 
when he hears that Stuart is following us up. Yes, sir, 
Benton was there, but my horse is lame and I got him 
to ride back to stone bridge. One regiment at least 
will have to come that way, and I ll wait for him here. 
He will bring word when Meredith s rear-guard is safe 
across Bull Run." 

"How long before Benton did Dr. Chilton start?" 
asked the general, after a moment of reflection. 

" Half an hour or more, sir. It may be that he knew 
his daughter had friends at Lewis s, or perhaps at the 
Junction, but it stampeded him to think of her being 
out alone with stragglers in those interminable wood 
paths." 

The general shuddered. " I m glad Benton has gone 
back," said he. " I know those Chiltons they are blue 



A WOMAN S DARING 85 

bloods all of them. God help the man that lays hand 
on that girl if I catch him! Let me hear what Benton 
reports, will you, Carver? " and with that they parted. 

Long into that eventful night, impatient, anxious and 
finally in deep distress did Carver wait, but no Benton 
came. At midnight the head of Meredith s column 
came swinging through from Mitchell s Ford, but no 
word reached him from the westward road that by 
the stone bridge to Groveton, Gainesville and beyond 
that along which he had sent Fred Benton, who for his 
part had been most eager to go. At two in the morn 
ing the first tidings reached him: Major May with four 
stout companies of Hoosiers Meredith s own halted 
at the edge of the village and were bidden to lie down 
and rest until the remainder of the regiment appeared. 
Carver plied the officers with questions. Certainly they 
had met Benton, but it was beyond the bridge. He 
had an old Virginia doctor in tow, with a rickety ambu 
lance, and was going to the Henry house to gather up 
a wounded Reb officer. Yes, the sentries there were 
to be withdrawn as soon as the rear-guard fell back 
from the railway. Averell s men had been skirmishing 
with Stuart s fellows until dark, and Meredith was in a 
fit about some girl that had been spirited away from 
the Henry house. What they feared was that she had 
been abducted, and Benton and his doctor friend 
couldn t rest till they found out. What time was this? 
Oh, somewhere about ten o clock! And with this 
meagre news had Carver to be content until nearly 



36 THE IRON BRIGADE 

dawn when the last of the Indianas came tramping up 
the pike from the lowlands to the west, and they had 
a story to tell of adventurous, gray-jacketed, black- 
plumed troopers who, just as the last guards were leav 
ing the plateau in the direction of the Lewis house, or 
Portici, came galloping across Young s Branch from 
the northwest, right under Henry house hill, and 
scrimmaging with some fellows down on the pike at the 
crossing of the Sudley lane. The whole gang was off 
and away toward Groveton long before a battalion 
could be gathered up and marched back to the scene. 

Not until weeks after could Fred Benton s own 
story be told, but it was a strange and thrilling one. 
With infinite sympathy he and the orderlies had aided 
Dr. Chilton to harness his horses to the old-fashioned, 
side-seated, half bus, half ambulance he had brought 
with him from Warrenton borrowed, probably, from 
the hotel, or possibly some field hospital, as the best 
available vehicle in which to convey his wounded boy. 
The doctor was tremulous with dread and distress on 
account of his beloved daughter, and utterly unable to 
account for her strange disappearance. 

She had been left there under the care of Mr. Henry 
to nurse and soothe her fevered brother until the 
father s return. Dr. Alexander had been there early 
that morning before Chilton started in quest of General 
McClellan, in fact the two came away at the same time, 
and Alexander had left abundant medicine and the 
prophecy that by evening the patient would sleep, and 



A WOMAN S DARING 87 

that was what was very much needed. Chilton could 
think of no reason whatever for her wandering beyond 
sight of the sentries, and surely they would not dare 

He drove away, with all speed toward stone bridge, 
pass and papers in his outer pocket, so as to be able to 
promptly show his credentials to any sentries or patrols, 
and Benton was trying, half an hour later, to satisfactor 
ily account for what he had heard and thought he had 
seen that day, when Carver came for him to say his 
horse was dead lame. He had been directed to remain 
behind and to see the last detachments across the Run, 
then to rejoin the chief as soon as he had found Benton. 
This, therefore, was Benton s chance and he begged. 

" Let me go back," said he, " and you take your or 
derly s horse, if you can t get another, and report to 
the general in the morning." 

And so about ten o clock Fred had reached the stone 
bridge, found it held by a small guard, and with that 
guard was a young officer who had been at the Robin 
son and Henry houses two hours before and had heard 
all about the circumstances connected with Miss Chil- 
ton s disappearance had indeed been there for some 
time and had seen her. She had come to the rear door 
with Mr. Henry about half past five o clock, and very 
sweetly and smilingly had told the guards her brother 
was sleeping at last and that she needed a little fresh 
air. Lieutenant Ferguson was in command of the 
guard, " And you know what an eye for a pretty girl 
Ferguson has," and he begged her to consider the pre- 



88 THE IRON BRIGADE 

mises hers, and probably wanted to walk with her, but 
for twenty minutes she tripped about the old, dismantled 
garden, going all around it as though interested in what 
was left of the hollyhocks and sunflowers, and, about 
six, Lewis came and called her and said supper was 
ready, and she seemed reluctant to go in, but finally 
yielded, telling Ferguson that if there were no objec 
tions she would finish her walk later. It might be dark 
and chilly, but she knew the garden now and would 
throw a shawl over her head. Ferguson said, " By all 
means," and sure enough, right after dark, out she came 
again, slim and fragile-looking, but well wrapped up, 
and Henry begged her not to stay out long. We saw 
her flitting about in the dim light of the camp-fire and 
lanterns a moment or two, then she seemed to take to 
the outer edge of the enclosure, and then, by Jove, she 
disappeared totally. They hunted everywhere, and 
while they were hunting Captain Carver rode up with 
orders for Ferguson and was told what had happened. 
He was compelled to leave at once, but the search con 
tinued. " It is a perfect mystery," said the lieutenant, 
removing his cap and wiping his brow. 

Then while they were talking, the sentries challenged 
at the bridge, and, to the amaze of Benton, who should 
appear but old Dr. Chilton with his country omnibus 
and the strange explanation that he had lost the road 
got way south toward the lower fords and had been 
turned back by no less a personage than General Augur, 
whom he had met at Washington several years before 



A WOMAN S DARING 89 

when the general was a captain of regulars. Benton s 
guarantee to the guard was sufficient, and they let the 
doctor go on his westward way and Benton went with 
him, that he might give the anxious father these further 
particulars as they trotted along the dim, shadowy vista 
of the famous old thoroughfare. At Young s Branch 
crossing not a mile beyond stone bridge they had met 
May s battalion, and after five minutes talk with the 
officers, again pushed on, while the Hoosiers tramped 
for Centreville. Benton had determined now to revisit 
the Henry house and make still further investigation. 

But he never reached it. Pushing westward along 
the pike they noted that all was darkness about the old 
Robinson place on the rise to the south, and then were 
surprised to see lights flitting about the stone house, 
close to the road on the right hand side. Then voices 
in excited tones were heard within. Two or three were 
harsh and threatening, one was uplifted in mingled plea 
and protest, and then, from the direction of the Sudley 
road, only a few yards away, came shadowy forms, just 
visible under the starlight. "Halt!" was the instant 
order from Benton s lips, low, yet commanding, and his 
revolver seemed to leap from the holster. " Who are 
you?" 

" Patrol Nineteenth Indiana," was the prompt an 
swer. " Is that you, Lieutenant Benton? Three of our 
fellows strayed away, and the captain ordered me down 
here to look em up. They ve called in the guard at the 
Henry house where you were this afternoon." 



90 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Your men are here in this house, and you re just 
in time, I fancy," for now there were sounds of scuffle 
and violence. Benton was off his horse in a second and, 
followed by the sergeant and two or three men, hurled 
himself at the door, which gave way before his impetu 
ous rush, and in another moment he had sprung 
through one dismantled room into another at the rear 
of the house, and there came upon a sight that explained 
the whole situation a demijohn the mate to the one 
he had seen at Centreville stood on a rude sideboard, 
with only one civilian to defend it against three sturdy 
lads in full marching order who had evidently just had 
enough " peach " to be mad for more. One of them 
had grappled with the owner, the other two were watch 
ing a chance for a leap at the prize when Benton and 
the sergeant burst in upon them. 

Shame-stricken, caught in the act, the three maraud 
ers faced the rescuing party and sheepishly, foolishly, 
furtively glanced about them, from the tall staff officer 
to the grinning comrades at his back. 

" Are these your missing men, sergeant?" demanded 
Benton. 

" They are, sir." 

"What do they owe you, sir?" demanded the aide, 
turning to the elderly man at the sideboard who 
was nursing a bruised throat, yet looking infinitely 
thankful. 

" They don t owe me cept for a few drinks of peach 
I d a given them that gladly if they d said they were 



A WOMAN S DARING 91 

dry and hadn t any money, but when it came to takin 
the demijohn I lowed it was robbery." 

" How dare you men break in here? " demanded Ben- 
ton, sternly. " You know the orders against plunder 
ing. Take their names, sergeant, and turn them over 
to the guard when you overtake the regiment. Major 
May s battalion is only a mile or so ahead of you." 

" May I say a word, sir? " asked one of the trio, step 
ping forward, with a shifty salute, for all three seemed 
sobered by their plight. 

" Say on." 

" We didn t break in, sir. The door was open, the 
light in the window. We were down here before eight 
o clock with the sergeant, trying to find news of the 
young lady, and this fellow can tell about her and won t 
tell. It was that we came to see about. He set up the 
peach to keep us from peaching, " and the scamp had 
the impudence to grin over his own conceit. 

" Take those men outside," ordered Benton, implac 
ably, " and ask Dr. Chilton to step in here a moment. 
I m afraid you re hurt," he continued, for the man 
had turned pale and was leaning against the sideboard 
for support. At sound of the name " Chilton " he 
started and glared. Obediently the sergeant marched 
his prisoners to the outer air, and, presently, in came 
the doctor. One quick glance passed between him and 
the pallid Virginian. 

"You here now, Jennings!" cried the newcomer; 
" and hurt? How did it happen? When did you get 



92 THE IRON BRIGADE 

here? Have you seen do you know anything of Rosa 
lie?" and by this time his practised finger was at the 
other s pulse the other who for all reply glanced sig 
nificantly, warningly toward Benton, and seemed striv 
ing to bid his friend be silent. But the doctor was all 
impatience. 

"Speak man! This gentleman is a friend a friend 
in need. You have seen her. Is she safe? Is she 
harmed?" 

" Safe," was the sententious answer, with still another 
significant look, disregarded as before by Chilton. 

" But what does it mean? Why should she leave 
Henry s? She was to take care of her brother till I 
returned. Had anybody dared affront her there? 
Where is she, Jennings? Answer me, man! " 

But despite the almost agonized appeal, despite the 
assurance that Benton, though in the garb of the enemy 
was yet a friend, the Virginian could not reply. " Wait, 
doctor wait till you see Judge Armistead. He ll tell 
you the hull story. He s coming over from Hopewell 
this evening " 

"Judge Armistead here? And she went with him, 
do you mean and left my boy? Why, Jennings, I can t 
believe it." 

And then the Hoosier sergeant again came to the 
door. 

" Sharp firing, Lieutenant, south of us! Shall I fol 
low Major May or turn after the guard toward the 
Lewis place? " 



A WOMAN S DARING 93 

Leaving the two Virginians Benton stepped outside. 
The moon was just peeping above the trees toward the 
distant heights of Centreville and near by objects were 
become more readily visible in the faint and mystic 
light. Somewhere to the south toward the Junction 
Stuart s venturesome troopers had come in view of 
slowly retiring parties of the Western brigade and a 
fairly brisk fusilade was the result. For a moment the 
officer listened to the spiteful crackle of carbine and 
rifle, then answered the question. " Better follow the 
major and lively, too. I ll catch you before you ve 
gone quarter of a mile." 

He felt that it was now unsafe to return to the Henry 
house. The guard was gone. The chances were that 
within a few minutes Stuart s troopers would be coming 
up the Sudley road from the south. He would say a 
word of farewell to Dr. Chilton, then follow his men. 
Leaving the horses with the orderly in front, he once 
more turned, and as he entered the rear room, stopping 
a most excited conversation, he was amazed to see 
the back door which had been shut and barred three 
minutes before, swiftly closing behind a slender figure 
in the trim frock coat of gray the uniform of the Con 
federate service. He caught the merest fraction of a 
glimpse of a pallid, oval face, framed in a mass of dark, 
waving hair under a cavalier hat of felt a glimpse of 
the gleam of buttons and gold lace. He saw the same 
form flash by the northward window, and instead of 
pursuing, whirled about, sprang through the front 



94 THE IRON BRIGADE 

door again and round to the westward side of the 
house just missing collision with a panting corporal 
who cried, " Reb officer ran down this way from the 
Henry house. Me and Hinks followed." All in an 
instant then his suspicions were confirmed. All in a 
second s time, it seemed, he had hurled himself on a dim, 
lithe, yet fragile form and, clasping it in his arms, 
strained it, despite furious struggles, to his breast. 
" Paul Paul! " he cried. " Don t you know me? Fred? 
Surrender, you blessed boy Reb, surrender. Heavens, 
man, don t scratch!" for two furious little hands were 
tearing at his cheeks. " Speak, you sinner. Haven t 
I known since five o clock twas you I saw at the win 
dow?" 

But so far from speaking, only panting incoheren- 
cies escaped the lips of his captive. Straining, squirm 
ing, heaving, struggling, the slender, sinewy form 
writhed and palpitated in his clasp, a heart was throb 
bing like mad against his, and while he still clung with 
one arm to his prize, he seized and captured with the 
other hand a long, slim-fingered, sharp-nailed little 
member that was bent, apparently, on tearing out his 
eyes, and then, swaying and staggering, Benton bore his 
prize into the moonlit space beyond just as the doctor 
and the Virginian, lantern-bearing, came stumbling out 
into the night. The yellow gleam fell full on a beauti 
ful, dark, flushing face, framed in masses of dusky hair 
tumbling about the sloping shoulders and down the 
slender back for the natty slouch hat had been lost 



A WOMAN S DARING 95 

somewhere in the scuffle fell upon glowing, indignant, 
magnificent eyes, upon flashing white teeth, upon lovely, 
ruddy, parted lips, and in amaze, yet still clinging to 
his lovely captive, Benton stammered: 

" Not Paul, but, whoever you are my prisoner! " 
" Not Paul nor your prisoner! " was the sudden, ex 
ultant answer, in a voice that ever since early evening 
had been ringing in his ears. " Not your prisoner. 
You re ours! Do you hear?" And out of the silence 
of the night there burst the thunder of galloping hoofs, 
close upon them, sweeping like a tornado over the open 
fields to the northwest, and then there came, whirling 
into view and surging all about them a swarm of shout 
ing, jubilant cavaliers Stuart s Virginians in all their 
early glory. 



CHAPTER VIII 

A BADGER IN THE TOILS 

The rest of that night was long a blank in Benton s 
mind. He had vague recollection of a furious struggle, 
of trampling horses, of shining, whirling sabre blades, 
of a leap to saddle and frantic effort to cut his way 
through circling foes, of riders shouts, a woman s 
scream, a crushing blow that nearly split his skull, and 
then oblivion until morning; and the face bending 
fondly, anxiously over him, as he opened his eyes, was 
that of Paul Ladue, and the first words that faltered 
from his lips were: "Paul, poor old boy! How sick 
you must have been ! " for, white and haggard and dis 
tressed, the winsome features of the year gone by the 
dream face of his chosen friend, seemed aged and worn 
almost beyond recognition. 

Then there were hours of trundling over rough, half 
frozen roads, with a racking pain in his fevered head 
and incessant thirst. Bearded faces came and peered 
at him from time to time, not in enmity or hate, but al 
most in soldier sympathy, and one young fellow in a 
gray jacket and cap three sizes too big for him, perched 
on the back step of the ambulance in which he rode and 
gave him frequently cool water from his canteen. The 



A BADGER IN THE TOILS 97 

letters U. S. in black were on the white canvas cover, 
and the letters C. S. in gilt on the clumsy gray forage 
cap, and Fred dreamily sought to reconcile the discrep 
ancy until his boy attendant divined his thoughts and 
with an embarrassed laugh explained that this was " one 
of the wheeled things left behind at stone bridge last 
July." From time to time, too, Dr. Chilton came and 
ministered to and comforted him. " It s the fotune of 
wah, my deah suh," said he. " Yes dy my boy, my 
daughter and young Ladue yahnduh were all in your 
hands. Now it s just the other way. Be patient, suh. 
Once across the Rappahannock we ll take to the cyahs. 
This side the river the railway is all ripped up." 

Four patients had Chilton to care for now, it seems, 
and by General Johnston s orders, fast as they could 
possibly be transported, he was conveying them under 
cavalry escort beyond the river. In very serious plight 
was his own gallant boy, the lieutenant of the First 
Virginia Cavalry, to rescue whom his comrades had 
made that wide detour and sudden and surprising swoop 
from the northward side of the pike. Consciousness 
had returned to him after the long sleep of the previous 
evening, and now the tossing of the light, springy am 
bulance over the rough, rutted pike gave him torment 
unspeakable. Reclining in the second ambulance 
throughout the morning hours was Miss Chilton, suffer 
ing both from shock and partial collapse, for she had 
been knocked down by a rushing, riderless horse in the 
midst of the melee in front of the stone house and se- 
7 



98 THE IRON BRIGADE 

verely bruised and shaken. Yet was that young woman 
brimming over with indignation at her father because 
he would not let her rise and nurse her brother, and at 
every halt for rest or repairs, food or water, her voice 
could be heard in emphatic protest and appeal. Third 
on the list of invalids, but insisting on remaining in 
saddle, was Lieutenant Paul Ladue the unhappiest 
man in the party, worn down with grief and anxiety. 
Fourth and last was Fred Benton, with a bandaged 
skull and a broken arm captured in the moment of 
supposed victory. 

In the gray of the dawn that followed the fight 
Stuart s troopers had been able to bring forward three 
ambulances, to give the doctor and his party a soldier 
breakfast and start them westward along the pike. At 
Gainesville they had been joined by Judge Armistead, 
an honored and beloved neighbor, who since the out 
break of the unhappy war had retired to his old country 
home near Hopewell Gap, and with the judge, or rather 
in one of the houses of the little hamlet at the forks 
of the great highway, was Lieutenant Paul Ladue, self- 
incarcerated until he could exchange the garb in which 
he had made his escape from the Henry house the pre 
vious evening, for the stunning regimentals still in pos 
session of Rosalie Chilton. 

Already the story of that romantic and stirring epi 
sode was going from bearded lip to lip among the riders 
of Stuart s Horse, and before the second sunset follow 
ing Fred Benton s capture he had heard almost every 



A BADGER TN THE TOILS 99 

word of it, so what was so widely known may just as 
well be told here. The dark night of the fourth of 
March had been a sorry one for Paul Ladue. Ever 
since the previous week he and his comrades had been 
looking for the second coming of the Yankee columns 
from the forts in front of Washington. Day after day, 
armed with field-glasses, in belfry, tree or steeple, John 
ston s lookouts watched for the first sight of screening 
cavalry. Night after night, eastward along the pike 
toward Fairfax and northward along the wood-roads, 
Stuart s patrols scoured the approaches, eager for a 
chance to show their mettle and gather in the venture 
some advance-guard of the Union force. They were 
all " green " at such work, North and South both. Al 
ready had the Northern volunteers, marching by night, 
on converging roads, twice opened fire and killed or 
wounded several in each party before discovering their 
blunder. It was all nervous business for new and in 
experienced officers and, as luck would have it, Paul 
Ladue, only just up from a debilitating fever, found 
himself commanding an infantry outpost north of Bull 
Run, heard afar out at the front the neigh of horses 
and presently the dull tramping of hoofs. He was at 
the moment accompanied only by a little picket guard 
of a corporal and three men. The skies were overcast, 
the gloom intense, and the wind at intervals was sway 
ing the bows and rustling the dead leaves in the thickets 
by the roadside. No cavalry had been in their front at 
sunset. None had passed out that way, and when at 



100 THE IRON BRIGADE 

brisk trot, all ignorant of their proximity to the pickets, 
the troopers came surging down the lane, never hear 
ing, probably, and certainly never heeding the order to 
halt, Ladue shouted fire and, sorely wounded, young 
Chilton fell from his horse. 

Five seconds more and the error was discovered. 
Chilton and his platoon had taken the wrong road 
somewhere south of Chantilly and, instead of rejoining 
their squadron, had stumbled on the pickets. There 
was more or less soldier recrimination, but, quickly as 
possible, the wounded officer was borne in a blanket to 
a neighboring farmhouse, and a trooper galloped to 
Gainesville for a surgeon. Ladue spent a sleepless and 
miserable night, was exonerated by his division com 
mander and Stuart when the matter was investigated 
next day, but was so utterly broken up over the affair 
that permission was given him to go back again and 
remain with Chilton until he could be moved. It had 
developed that during Paul s illness he had been for 
three weeks at Charlottesville, constantly attended by 
Dr. Chilton and frequently visited, nursed, read to and 
otherwise entertained by Dr. Chilton s most winsome 
daughter as enthusiastic a little Southron and rebel as 
her father had been conservative and Union loving. 
Ladue left them full of gratitude, full of promise to find 
the gallant young trooper of whom they talked inces 
santly, full of project to make much of him in every way, 
and the very first duty his evil star had assigned to him 
was that in the course of which he had shot his bene- 



A BADGER IN THE TOILS 101 

factor s only son sweet Rosalie v Chilton s beloved 
brother. . ;, : \ \\ - *: /v ;/ . 

No wonder Ladue, with his high-strung, hypersensi 
tive organization, was nearly mad with misery, yet he 
had managed for two days to be very helpful and a great 
comfort to the stricken lad and was hopefully awaiting 
the coming of an ambulance on the third day when his 
patient suddenly took a turn for the worse. The divi 
sion surgeon said it would be a serious matter to take 
him that long ride back to Warrenton and suggested 
Ladue s going over to the home of Judge Armistead at 
Hopewell and arranging to have the lad moved thither. 
This was on the eighth of March, and up to noon they 
had no sign of soldiers coming from the east or north, 
although for three days Johnston had been sending 
sick, wounded and supplies to the Rappahannock and 
was now following with his whole command. At Hope- 
well, said the surgeon, Lieutenant Chilton would be in 
comfort, far out of the line of Yankee invasion, and 
the judge and his fair daughter Lucy would do every 
thing possible to promote his recovery. Ladue could 
be with him, too, and if Yankee cavalry should come 
scouting up there in the Bull Run range, why, Ladue 
could hide and Chilton give his parole until regularly 
exchanged. 

So Paul had gone, never counting on Chilton s tak 
ing the bit in his teeth. And when late at night he re 
turned to Thornton, weak and weary, he was aghast to 
learn that with only his body servant and a trooper 



102 THE IRON BRIGADE 

nurse, Chiiton had- starred southward that evening by 
the Stsdley. roa,d, bent on escaping from the now her 
alded advance of the Union- blae. Despite fatigue and 
failing strength, Ladue followed, caught them at the 
Henry house, and was within that historic wreck, con 
sulting the owner as to the best roads to follow while 
the farm wagon, with its solitary escort was toiling up 
the slope from the crossing of the pike, when all on a 
sudden there came a cloud of blue-jacketed, yellow- 
trimmed troopers sweeping across the field from the 
southeast, and Mr. Henry had barely time to hide his 
visitor under the flooring in the garret when they were 
dismounting by the dozen and jovially swarming all 
over the premises. 

Another moment, too, and they had surrounded the 
wagon with its helpless load. Then Averell himself had 
ridden up to investigate, and one of his first orders was 
that the Henry house and grounds were to be protected 
against all possibility of pillage or vandalism. 

Again must it be remembered that we were still at a 
sentimental stage of the war the United States hold 
ing long, as it has in dealing with savage and semi- 
civilized foe, mob, Modoc or Malay, to the theory that 
courtesy and forbearance are weapons more potent than 
shot and steel, for turning the heart of the enemy and 
leading him to the light. Sad experience long since 
had taught the soldier the futility of such practice, even 
when dealing with our brethren of the South. But the 
statesmen most in evidence and power when such mat- 



A BADGER IN THE TOILS 103 

ters are under discussion at the Capitol speak beauti 
fully, eloquently from the viewpoint of a section geo 
graphically over the furthest removed from the seat of 
conflict and impervious, therefore, to the rule " experi- 
entia docet." We went into that war with the South 
hailed as vandals, hirelings, mudsills and the like and 
stood guard over the teeming storehouses and cellars 
of scores of families whose sons and sires were fighting 
us at the front and whose mothers, wives and daughters 
too often reviled or ridiculed their very guardians. It 
is the way of the enlightened, the merciful and the im 
practical, but it is the way to prolong and protract a war 
and make it cost vastly more in blood and treasure 
at the far distant end than had it been fought, without 
gloves, from the start. 

The Henry house had been for a time the vortex of 
furious fight that July Sunday of 61. The aged, bed 
ridden mother, as has been said, had died under her 
own roof-tree, riddled by shell and spherical case shot. 
Everybody sympathized with the unhappy family, and it 
was but natural that both sides, having done the dam 
age, should seek to repay it by subsequent care and 
kindness. Within those guarded walls, therefore, poor 
young Chilton, racked with pain, was borne and given 
stimulant ; and when later the infantry of McDowell s 
Corps relieved the cavalry, and the black-bearded divi 
sion commander rode over to see the place, the orders 
to permit no intrusion or plunder were emphasized, and 
from his own stores the general sent wine and food to 



104 THE IRON BRIGADE 

the wounded captive and much appreciated supplies to 
the man of the house. 

But while none save officers of rank or their repre 
sentatives might enter, none of the inmates, even offi 
cers, might now go out save by express sanction of the 
senior general along that front. It wouldn t do to have 
Mr. Henry or Black Dan, his henchman, or Chilton s 
body servant Fabius (originally Scipio, but changed 
while young marse was pursuing his classical studies at 
the university, because of a manifest tendency on the 
darkey s part to delay even in waiting) skipping away 
with information as to the numbers, plans, etc., of the 
Yankees about Manassas, and so it had happened that 
for two days Paul Ladue lay concealed within the Henry 
house once when the guard was changed hearing 
voices he recognized as those of men he well knew in 
his Western home. Will he ever forget the afternoon 
that brought the division commander to the spot? Dr. 
Alexander was gently examining his new and sore- 
stricken patient ; Henry was smoking his corn-cob pipe 
at the back steps, describing to a knot of Sixth Wis 
consin men the battle in which their comrades of the 
Second had been so conspicuous, when the word was 
passed from the sentries at the front : " Here comes the 
general! " and while the guard sprang to their stacked 
arms, Paul Ladue, crouching sadly in the little garret, 
crept to the westward side and peered through a crevice 
at the coming cavalcade. 

All in the uniform of their rank, in frock coats, belts 



A BADGER IN THE TOILS 105 

and sashes, gauntlets and forage caps, with regulation 
horse equipments, for, thus early in the campaign men 
cared more for style than they did after ceaseless 
marching to and fro, in sun and dust and mud and rain, 
had taught them the vanity of all pomp and circum 
stance in war the general and his little staff made gal 
lant show as they breasted the slope. There were only 
five in all, with three orderlies and no escort, but in 
three of the five Ladue saw the faces of men whom he 
had looked up to, honored and esteemed, while the face 
of the fourth was that of the faithful and devoted friend 
whom he had loved as David loved Jonathan. Only a 
few moments did they remain, the general, in his cour 
teous, kindly tone talking with Mr. Henry, then they 
turned and rode away, and Ladue threw himself upon 
the floor, face downward, so weak, so broken, so sick 
at heart that it was a relief to sob like homesick child. 

And so Henry found him, when in his stocking feet, 
a little later, he climbed the ladder to the loft with won 
drous news. Dr. Chilton and his daughter were com 
ing were even then on their way from Warrenton. 

Much of the early morning of the following day he 
spent with Rosalie by the side of the wounded boy. 
Now that Dr. Chilton had gone on in search of the 
commanding general, hopeful of permission to take his 
crippled soldier home, the vital question arose, What 
was to become of Paul ? He had no excuse for parole. 
He had not been grievously wounded. He was there 
of his own volition, undiscovered, within the hostile 



106 THE IRON BRIGADE 

lines, and, though wearing his new and natty uniform 
and in no sense a spy, still, the lot of Southern prisoner 
in Northern hands was a problem yet unsolved. The 
South might well refuse, even while yet exchanges were 
possible, to ask for the return of an officer as incon 
spicuous and unlucky as he. Shy and sensitive as ever, 
the poor lad believed he had lost caste among his fel 
lows, and that if captured it would be regarded as an 
act of self-surrender a well planned move on his part 
to escape the imminent perils of the war now opening 
in good earnest. The thought was maddening, and 
Rosalie Chilton saw it, and the daring, quick-witted girl 
it was who planned the escape so successfully effected. 

Little luggage had she brought with her on that hur 
ried journey, but, soon as it was dusk, she doffed the 
gown and skirt she wore even the crinoline, at that 
period of our national life regarded as indispensable to 
the wardrobe of the gentlewoman then donned a soft 
wrapper, and ten minutes later, Paul Ladue, shorn of 
his new uniform, was attiring himself aloft in the travel 
ing dress of a Virginia belle. He well-nigh ruined the 
whole plan and crinoline by putting his foot through 
the flimsy cage as he reached the stairway, but from 
the floor below came ominous " Hush-sh-sh! " in Rosa 
lie s tragic tones, and she shook him almost savagely 
while giving some finishing touches to his toilet. " How 
dare you be so careless with my best hoop-skirt, sir? 
Don t you know that s almost the very last one in Vir 
ginia?" Then, duly informed as to the paths in the 



A BADGER IN THE TOILS 107 

garden and the exits through the fence, with her shawl 
over his head and a prayer on her trembling lips she 
sent him forth, and Jim Ferguson, officer of the guard, 
bowed to her representative with killing grace and let 
him go. 

Half an hour later Paul had shed his skirts at the 
stone house, had had a whispered word with Jennings 
he of the subsequent demijohn and, in some old 
clothes of that worthy and with a note to a farmer 
friend back of Groveton, was away en route to Hope- 
well. By nine he was in saddle, with a horse borrowed 
of the farmer friend; by ten he had learned that Judge 
Armistead was at Gainesville, having reached the 
Thornton farm too late, and there were they both 
judge and lieutenant when the little ambulance train 
came along in the morning. 

Such was the story of Ladue s escape from within 
the Union lines. But the story that agitated at least 
three men was that of Rosalie Chilton. Why should 
she have essayed her perilous masquerade? Why should 
she have left her brother and, in the dress of a Con 
federate officer, before the last of the Yankees were 
clear of the plateau, before Stuart s fellows were sure 
of the Sudley road why should she have dared that 
night dash down to the pike? Even in his battered con 
dition Fred Benton found himself pondering over the 
problem, for he had heard her father urging her to ex 
plain had heard her implore that father not to press 
the question now. 



CHAPTER IX 

ESCAPE POSSIBLE 

It is by no means a far cry from Manassas to Char- 
lottesville as one takes the swift flight in the cosey par 
lor car of to-day, shooting over stream after stream that 
bears historic name, and smoothly rounding the beauti 
ful wooded heights that loom up south of the Rapidan, 
but it was a different thing in 61, bumping, banging, 
jarring behind some wheezy old wood-burner, in ram 
shackle coach or open platform car, yet it was almost 
heavenly, after two days tossing and tumbling over the 
ruts of the Virginia roadways and the period of enforced 
rest at Warrenton Junction to be drawn away on com 
paratively even keel, with light and air and sunshine 
and the fragrance of budding orchard and bursting leaf 
sweeping through the open windows of the car and 
gladdening the senses of the half score of invalids, 
homeward bound from the front. Two or three, like 
young Chilton and our captured Badger, had been 
wounded in cavalry clash or some affair of outpost, but 
mostly were they fever victims, weak, apathetic and 
somnolent. Yet even these seemed to wake and stir 
and brighten as Rosalie Chilton passed among them 
and bent and spoke, as she did to one and all. 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 109 

It was a soft spring morning that saw the genial doc 
tor s little party entrained at the Rappahannock. Scores 
of sympathetic fellows in Confederate gray surrounded 
the car to which Lieutenant Chilton was borne and into 
which Fred Benton, his arm in a sling and his head 
still in bandages, was carefully guided. For reasons 
not then made known to his Yankee patient, the doctor 
persisted in treating his case as far more serious than 
conditions seemed to warrant. Constantly he strove 
to impress upon Benton the necessity of lying still and 
speaking as little as possible. Rosalie, too, was forever 
holding up a tapering ringer in warning and pursing 
her soft, rosy lips in very significant " hush " when he 
ventured to ask questions or show a disposition to stir. 
Otherwise she had but little to say to him, and our 
wounded Badger boy had enjoyed the doubtful bliss of 
watching her hour after hour during the long wait at 
the Junction, hanging about her suffering brother, or 
with softly flushing cheek, talking in low, eager tone to 
Paul Ladue, whose melancholy eyes fairly brightened 
and whose sallow, solemn face beamed with something 
like awakened hope. Except when she was thus cheering 
him, the young soldier s depression seemed ever pres 
ent. He hated to leave Benton s side. He dreaded the 
reception awaiting him at his regiment, yet was fever 
ishly, nervously anxious to rejoin, and mad for oppor 
tunity to prove himself something better than the dolt 
they probably deemed him. It had been settled that he 
should leave them at Gordonsville and return to the 



HO THE IRON BRIGADE 

front, but at the Rappahannock his own colonel had 
boarded the train and, noticing at once how ill and worn 
he looked, had talked with him kindly, sympathetically, 
awhile, had had brief conference with Dr. Chilton and, 
leaving Rosalie surrounded three deep by young gal 
lants, late of the university, but now gay, dashing, 
devil-may-care, mustachioed warriors of the South, had 
gone off to see their division general, soon to be so 
famous as a corps commander, whose tent was pitched 
near by, and in ten minutes they were both there, the 
one tall, martial, and with his long, flowing beard 
looking more like a hero of Norseland or warrior of 
Aiminius than a soldier of the cavalier South destined 
to live long in song and story and to return to the love 
of the old flag. The other, a type of chivalric bearing 
and breeding, within ten weeks fated to 

" find a soldier s resting place, beneath a soldier s blow," 

leading his heroic regiment at Seven Pines. Paul s sal 
low face flushed at sight of the famous soldier who had 
to stoop to enter the low-roofed, old-fashioned car, and 
it was good to see how quickly the chat and laughter 
hushed in the group of young officers, how they faced 
their honored general with prompt salute or uncovered 
heads. Rosalie, herself, with glistening eyes and a brave 
rush of color in her soft cheek, came forward to greet 
him, fast as the fashion of the day would permit, for in 
that narrow aisle the balloon skirt was vastly a hin 
drance. Even then, before the wrinkles and crows feet 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE m 

had dug deep about the outer corners of Longstreet s 
eyes, queer little lines would play about them and his 
bearded lips when humorous fancy struck him, and 
kindly humor seemed never to be far from that genial 
face until the bitter day that cost him Pickett s grand 
and devoted division in Hancock s front at Gettysburg. 
" I looked to see you in uniform, Miss Chilton," said 
he, " and I have yet to learn by what authority you 
have discarded the gray. And this, I believe, is the 
young gentleman you were personating? " whereat he 
shook hands very kindly with the shrinking subaltern 
and thought to himself how very near alike they were 
in stature. " Colonel Moore tells me you are far too 
ill to resume duty just yet, Mr. Ladue, so I am going to 
take the responsibility of bidding you go back to Char- 
lottesville for a week of Miss Chilton s care. Ah, Doc 
tor, I m glad to see you." And then two very distin 
guished Virginians were shaking hands ; but all Fred 
Benton could see of it was the back of Longstreet s 
head towering above his fellows, and the backs of sub 
ordinate officers clustered about him. They went pres 
ently and spoke with young Chilton lying on his mat 
tress along the tops of the seats, then came straight to 
the lonely officer the only one in blue, reclining toward 
the rear end of the long vehicle, the object of much si 
lent curiosity but no intrusion whatsoever, and to the 
prisoner Longstreet spoke as courteously as to the 
princess holding her little court in mid car, bidding him 
be of good cheer. 



112 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Dr. Chilton has told us, sir, of your protecting 
him from indignity at Centreville, and of all the kind 
ness you did him that night, resulting in your cap 
ture. We cannot afford," and here the blue-gray eyes 
twinkled and the half-hidden lips twitched whimsically, 
" to let so good a soldier get right back to business. 
Neither can we send so chivalric a foe to Libby at 
least so long as he is wounded as you are. There 
fore, Dr. Chilton, you will see to his having hospital 
accommodations, and now, we must have a suitable 
guard." And here the tall general straightened up, 
studied earnestly the circle of soldier faces about him 
until the twinkling eyes rested on the very sweet and 
rosy features of the one damsel present. Then briefly 
and in official tone, he finished. " Miss Chilton, I ap 
point you, until further orders, custodian of Lieutenant 
and Aide-de-Camp Benton, of the Federal Army." 

Verily, as Benton wrote at the time, these were the 
halcyon days of the war, before ever it had become the 
grim and deadly earnest they were to know so bitterly 
and so very soon. The car was cleared of all save pas 
sengers, the train was started before he could find words 
with which to thank the courtly Southern general, and 
the doctor, bending over him, was saying, " You must 
not discredit my repoht, suh, by looking so much alive 
as you do at this moment. I represented your case, 
suh, as one requiring constant attention, otherwise you 
might have had to go to Richmond." 

And so for a day or two these pleasantries these 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 113 

courtesies of war prevailed. Then all of Johnston s men 
remaining north of the Rappahannock came drifting in 
before a new forward move of the Union force along 
the railway. Howard s strong division of Sumner s 
Corps swept out in reconnaissance, even as the bulk of 
McClellan s army was being directed on Alexandria for 
the now inevitable swing to the Peninsula between the 
York and the James full details of the gathering of 
every kind of bay and river craft reaching Johnston 
quite as speedily as they did New York. So that skilled 
soldier withdrew still further to the line of the Rapidan 
where he could be nearer Richmond in case of need. 

Then when Banks should have come down from the 
Shenandoah and "covered" Washington, up sprang that 
restless, watchful, prayerful Virginia leader, Jackson, 
and so stirred the situation in the valley that Banks and 
his men had to hurry back through the mountain passes, 
and further delays and complications arose before April 
set in and McClellan could sail for Fortress Monroe, 
and in all the bustle and excitement, the rumors flying 
hither and yon, the marching to and fro of cavalry and 
fleet-footed infantry, it happened that for full a fortnight 
Dr. Chilton and his patients, nurse, guard and all, had 
settled down to something like peace and physical com 
fort at cosey, homelike old Charlottesville, and no man 
sought seriously to hamper or disturb them. From 
Gainesville Dr. Chilton had penned a letter to be sent 
through the lines, notifying the commanding general of 
the Union force along Bull Run of Benton s capture 
8 



114 THE IRON BRIGADE 

after gallant effort to cut his way through, in the course 
of which he was quite painfully though not dangerously 
wounded that he was in good hands and would be 
well cared for, and this news a great relief was 
promptly transmitted to Fred s general and by him 
telegraphed to the far Western home. The Squire was 
both proud and distressed, but Elinor, his fair daughter, 
never dreaming that Paul Ladue was one of the little 
corps of faithful friends and attendants, could find no 
comfort whatsoever. What would she have thought 
could her straining eyes have pierced the intervening 
mountain ranges, the long sweep of rolling hills beyond 
the Ohio, the wooded flats and boundless prairies, and 
peeped in from the shores of Michigan upon that vine- 
covered trellis, among the blossoms and buds now 
bursting into view on every side and rejoicing in the 
warm April sunshine of far Virginia? 

On a well-made stretcher lay the central figure of 
household and local interest, Lieutenant Jack Chilton, 
slowly but surely mending of his serious wounds and 
gaining health, strength, and spirits with every day. 
And who wouldn t under similar influences? for two 
fair young daughters of the old commonwealth vied 
with each other in assiduous effort to " entertain " the 
trooper invalid two bonny, winsome lassies in their 
teens, both brimming over with hero worship and en 
thusiastic faith and love for every Virginian to be found 
afield. Lovely were they both, these cousins of the 
blood, and most carefully had they been chosen for this 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 115 

special duty by their acknowledged leader, chief of the 
little clan of kinswomen that dwelt among the wooded 
hills of Albemarle and Fluvanna. Brilliant, beautiful 
and daring, who of their brave Order could lay claim to 
leadership so long as Rosalie cared to hold it? They 
followed and obeyed her eagerly, loyally, though in 
years she was but eighteen, and five, at least, of the 
Sacred Band were her seniors. Ever since the days of 
short dresses, braids and pinafores, she had been domi 
nant among them, fearless in act and speech a little 
tyrant of the fireside, ruling her father almost as with 
a rod of iron, domineering over the colored retinue of 
the kitchen, stable and household, and alternately laugh 
ing, coaxing, storming and wheedling out of every ef 
fort at restraint, or self-assertion, the gentle-mannered 
Virginia dame the doctor s only sister who, almost 
ever since the year of Rosalie s birth, had striven to sup 
ply the place of the sweet young mother, who drooped 
and died before her babe had learned to lisp the word 
she so longed to hear. Tomboy had they called Rosalie 
at ten, for she could ride any horse within miles of 
Charlottesville, and preferred walking stilts, flying kites 
or running races to the customary allurements of girl 
hood. She had one envy, one champion, one idol her 
brother, barely two years her senior and apparently but 
one sorrow that she could not do everything that Jack 
could, and not for lack of trying. 

Then as they both grew older, and other girls brothers 
began showing hitherto unsuspected fondness for Jack s 



116 THE IRON BRIGADE 

society, and coming to see him at all hours of the day, 
and other girls themselves began making eyes at Jack, 
her indifference to the first and her fury at the second 
were comical to see. Jack, for his part, took it not 
amiss that Kate Falconer and Georgia Scott and Belle 
Brinton should show appreciation of his physical gifts 
and graces, and could not understand it in Rosalie that 
she skould become so suddenly discursive about Kate s 
freckles and red hair, Georgia s dumpy figure, and 
Belle s multitudinous affectations. She was forever 
finding excuse to ride over to the Varsity after Jack s 
matriculation not, as other girls declared, that she 
might see and be seen by other youths, but simply from 
longing for Jack and then, when the war came on and 
Virginia sprang to arms and Jack to saddle and his 
first commission in Jeb Stuart s famous First Cavalry, 
she was all afire with fervor and patriotism on the one 
hand and of mad jealousy of Maud Pelham on the other, 
for on Maud had Jack cast favoring eyes. 

And so, when she brought her brother home to nurse 
and pet and coddle to her heart s content, while she was 
all soothing sweetness on the side that showed to him, 
she fairly bristled on the other that which all well- 
favored feminine callers, inquirers and friends must 
needs encounter when they came and asked to see him. 
She established a regular roster book and told off the 
list of the Sacred Band, her henchwomen, into four 
" reliefs " of two girls each one relief only to be on 
duty each day and no outsiders to be admitted. Need- 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 117 

less to say Maud Pelham was not of the elect, and Jack 
speedily showed he wished it were otherwise. 

And so this sweet April morning, with a soft, lan 
guorous air playing about the wooded, sun-kissed 
heights, she had two such awfully nice young girls to 
cheer him, while she herself turned dutifully to another 
wounded officer, a youth in dark blue and gold who had 
been for over an hour a silent watcher of the merriment 
about Chilton s cot, while he, Fred Benton, sat lonely 
and longing to get far away. 

It was not that they were cold, constrained or incon 
siderate when speaking to him, but, the doctor had to 
be much away now; Lieutenant Jack was always sur 
rounded by his fair bodyguard; the one man Benton 
loved, his boon companion Paul, had gone to rejoin his 
regiment, and the one woman who could have made 
Benton s stay a world of strange, sweet, witching de 
light was beginning day after day to show less inclina 
tion to approach him at all. A fortnight of watching 
that beautiful dark face, that slender, willowy form, and 
listening to that silvery voice alternately pleading, ca 
joling, caressing, commanding, while to him it was only 
coldly courteous had done its work. Fred Benton was 
mending in body, but not in mind, for doubly now was 
he a prisoner. 

And this fair April morning the news he heard had 
made him all the more restless and troubled. The Feder 
als were landing in force and marching on Yorktown, 
and Longstreet s whole command had been sent away, 



118 THE IRON BRIGADE 

with others, to meet them. He doubted not that his 
old comrades of McDowell s Corps would be in action 
ere ever he could reach them, and the thought drove 
his pulses up to fever heat again, and Rosalie Chilton, 
without seeming to look, saw it in the flush of his anx 
ious face, and came to him instanter. 

" You will be having fever again, Mr. Benton," said 
she, and the cool, white hand that at first had arranged the 
bandages of his head and arm, or tested his pulses with 
out a sign of hesitancy, seemed now to falter and shrink 
as though it had to be forced to an unwilling task. It 
stung Benton sore, for, man-like, he could read only one 
interpretation. How different had she been with Ladue 
when, for three days, he was feverish and headachy. 
Why, she had bathed his hot forehead time and again 
within an hour, and smoothed back his rumpled hair, 
and she could hardly have treated her own brother more 
affectionately. Once Fred could almost swear to it 
Paul had seized and kissed her pretty hand, a thing that, 
were he to attempt, his instinct told him it would be furi 
ously resented and not entirely because he was a Yan 
kee. With shame and contrition did Benton admit to 
himself that he was now not sorry to see Paul go, yet 
what would he not give to recall him? 

For several days after his capture it had been Ben- 
ton s belief that Paul was concealed in the room Rosalie 
declared hers at the Henry house the room sacred to 
her stricken brother and not until after their coming 
to Charlottesville was he undeceived. There, one after- 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 119 

noon, the week before he went away, the young Con 
federate was moved to refer to the matter mainly by 
seeing that it was a subject of which Benton fought shy. 

" I had been with Miss Chilton and poor Jack some 
hours that morning," said he, " for the guard never 
came in the front part of the house, but she had ordered 
me to go and get some sleep in the afternoon, it having 
been fully determined that I should make the attempt 
to escape that night. Lying there in a sort of cat nap 
toward five o clock, I heard the soldiers speak your 
name and could not resist the longing to see you. Then 
when you turned back I knew you had come to search 
and had plenty of time to flatten out between the joists 
and pull my section of the floor over me. You stamped 
on my nose with your spurred boot-heel, Fred, and I 
never winced." 

So that ghost was laid, at least as far as Rosalie was 
concerned! But how about the other the far more sig 
nificant and now mysterious freak of clothing herself in 
Paul s uniform and slipping through the darkness of 
night to the stone house? For whose sake for what 
purpose had she so carefully disguised, yet recklessly 
exposed, herself? Not even her father had been told as 
yet. He had so confided to Benton only a day or two 
after Paul s departure, and now, with her growing shy 
ness, aversion, or whatever it might be toward him, little 
likelihood was there, thought Benton, of his learning 
the secret from her lips, and that, too, when he was 
beginning to feel that he must know. 



120 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Every day of late, for hours, he could pace up and 
down the pretty, homelike garden, listening to the low 
chatter in the arbor, the tinkle of guitar, the soft bub 
bling laughter or the murmur of reading aloud when 
" Jack s girls " Rosalie s approved were there. What 
comical little ceremonies had there been in the succes 
sive presentation of their Yankee captive to these their 
Virginia neighbors. Of course the story of all his kind 
ness to the doctor had been told, otherwise his presence 
would have been insupportable. But some one had said 
he was very handsome, very silent, very interesting, and 
that he couldn t keep his big blue eyes off Rosalie, and 
so there was much curiosity mingling with the stately 
little curtseys each in turn accorded him. Hour after 
hour as they watched they could see that his eyes were 
ever following Rosalie, coming and going, for she had 
assumed all house-keeping cares of late, and was forever 
busy about the homestead. Yet, as the evening shad 
ows grew long and the sun began to sink, she was sure 
to appear with Pomp and Peter to bear the lieutenant, 
stretcher and all, to his bedroom, and at the same time 
Prisoner Benton was bidden co return to his delightful 
cell, overlooking the garden and giving him views of the 
neighborhood denied him when below stairs. 

And this April evening as, obediently, he returned to 
his quarters and sat at the window awaiting the doctor s 
coming to look at his arm before tea-time, his eyes were 
attracted by the sight of a certain broad-brimmed drab 
felt hat that he had noted more than once before that 



ESCAPE POSSIBLE 121 

day, passing along the fence at the side of the house 
where the hedge was so thick and high that, only at the 
gateway, now nearly boarded up, could it be seen from 
the arbor at all. Now, from the commanding height 
of the chamber window, Fred Benton saw distinctly not 
only the hat, but much of the form and some of the face 
beneath it, and face and form were those of a young 
and slender girl. Even while he was wondering why 
a young lady should be patrolling that side street so 
close to the garden wall, she lifted up her eyes tilting 
back the hat and looked full at the captive Yankee; then 
stopped short, glanced hastily about her; took from the 
bosom of her gown a little white note; held it high 
that he should see it; turned and walked back to the 
gateway. One moment she held her note aloft again, 
then lowered her hand as though working vigorously 
at the bricks, and when a second time she uplifted the 
hand the note was gone. Another moment and so 
was she. Obviously, however, that girl wished him to 
mark the spot, then come down and get that note. 

Not until the following morning came there oppor 
tunity. Then, while Jack in his latticed, vine-covered 
arbor was listening to the chatter of the new relief of his 
fair bodyguard, Benton stepped quickly to the gateway, 
and, after brief search, hauled aside a loose brick or two 
and found a tiny billet folded three-cornered, that when 
opened said: 

" Be alert. Orders coming send you to Libby. Watch every morn 
ing and evening for further warning. Escape possible. 



CHAPTER X 

LIBBY OR LIBERTY 

Then came three days of rain, as rain it will sheets 
and torrents in the sweet springtide in old Virginia. 
And while McClellan s men were wallowing in the mud 
of the lower Peninsula, held by the elements, not by the 
enemy for Magruder s little force at Yorktown could 
not have stopped two divisions when led by a later day 
general of the Army of the Potomac here about Char- 
lottesville the wooded heights were draped in filmy mist, 
the mountain streams ran bank full, and Jack Chilton s 
bodyguard came on duty with blooming, rain-kissed 
cheeks, emerging from waterproof hoods and mantles 
that, like the antique coaches, coachmen and horses that 
brought them, were beginning to show many a pathetic 
sign of wear and tear. The arbor and the garden were 
perforce deserted, and Jack held court in the roomy 
old hall, while the doctor made his rounds heedless of 
weather or accounts alike unsettled. Scattered over a 
range of country within twenty-five miles radius of his 
office were the homesteads of some hundreds of fami 
lies, not one of whom could later recall that " endurin* 
ob de wah " he ever presented a bill or neglected a case. 
And, while he was ministering abroad, it fell to Rosa- 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 123 

lie s lot to look after everything and everybody at home 
invalided aunt, wounded brother, unbalanced domes 
tics, already beginning 1 to prate of life and luxury 
without work and freedom without knowledge, and last, 
yet not least, that now fast-mending prisoner in the 
second floor back room, where he was becoming rude 
enough to prefer to stay, sit by the window and rock 
and read the old masters beloved of the South Scott, 
Sims and Cooper and the speeches of the famous Vir 
ginian whose beautiful Monticello gleamed white among 
the grand old forest trees so close at hand, and whose 
broadly democratic theories, instilled in the immature 
minds of the student body, had well-nigh wrecked at its 
very launching the dearest project of his declining years. 
Rosalie, secretly disturbed about her captive, as the 
girls called him, professed to think Mr. Benton ought 
to be glad to come down-stairs and watch Brother Jack 
being worshipped " It ought to make any man better 
to see how Virginia girls honor a Virginia soldier 
stricken while battling for his native State." Bull Run 
victims were few and far between now either were they 
dead or again on duty and Virginia girls by the hundred 
were longing to lavish smiles and sweetness and sooth 
ing potions, all in one, on Virginia lads shot or sabred 
in their defence. Time was soon, and far too soon, to 
come when every house and every room should be filled 
with the sore stricken, and there could be nowhere near 
enough girls to go around ; but just now, in April, Char- 
lottesville had but three wounded Southrons and one 



124 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Yank," and to the foremost of these Southrons all 
but a corps d? elite of Miss Chilton s choosing were denied 
admission. As to the Yank, no one of their number 
dare let another know how gladly would her charity 
have been extended even to him. Of course, however, 
that was merely through curiosity. 

No. Fred Benton was chafing, restless and unhappy, 
and, even now that Paul was gone, again suffering the 
pangs of jealousy. A tall Confederate officer, a very 
distinguished looking major of the staff, had called 
thrice in two days, and had had long conversation with 
the little lady of the house one, in fact, behind closed 
doors after Jack had been " toted " to his room. Fred 
heard the colored house of commons discussing the pros 
and cons as to that indication, and in like manner ascer 
tained that the officer was Major Lounsberry long a 
resident of Albemarle and now of the staff the Inspec 
tor s Department of the Confederate Army, and Fred 
could have sworn his pretty jailor was in tears when 
she came hurrying up from one interview, for he went 
out in hopes of a word with her, but she saw or sus 
pected and darted to her room without heeding his 
hail. Morning and evening both had he watched for 
the return of the lady of the broad-brimmed felt, but the 
rain or something had been too much for her, and she 
failed to reappear. Major Lounsberry s deep voice, 
however, was heard in the broad lower hall three hours 
after his long afternoon interview with Miss Chilton, 
and the doctor came briskly forth from his study to 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 125 

greet and welcome the distinguished representative of 
the war office the son of an old familiar friend. There 
was good news from Yorktown, it seems, and small 
Pomp brought it in with a little pitcher of cool butter 
milk and some " cohn pone " for Marse Benton " De 
Yankees done got licked agin down by Yohktown." 
" Marse Lounsberry " had so told the doctor, and Fred 
went down to Jack s room, his arm still slung, to wish 
him good-night and learn what he knew, and Rosalie 
departed and left them to each other, and it happened 
that as the doctor was ushering his martial visitor from 
his study to the door full fifteen minutes later, and long 
before Benton s usual hour for retiring, the door to 
Jack s room opened and the Yankee lieutenant came 
forth, looking very tall, erect and by no means broken 
down. 

The doctor gave a start an unmistakable glance of 
warning. A crouching bundle of femininity near the 
head of the stairs, out of Lounsberry s sight but plainly 
in Benton s view, frantically signalled with both impetu 
ous hands with wild eyes and wide-opening mouth 
gasping dismay the imperious order to go back at 
once, but obtusely Benton stood his ground and faced, 
half defiantly, this new visitor, who in turn stopped short 
and calmly, even somewhat insolently, surveyed him. 
The major was the first to speak. 

" Lieutenant Benton, I presume," said he, " and look 
ing vastly better than I had been led to hope/ How 
near he there came to saying " believe "! 



126 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Looking quite well, my dear major," hastily inter 
posed the doctor, " yet, I assure you, but the ghost of the 
fine young fellow who rescued me that night at Centre- 
ville. It will be months before he can handle a sabre 
again." 

" How about a pen? " asked Lounsberry, significantly, 
his eyes burning into Benton s gaze as though striving 
to read his innermost thoughts. 

" Mr. Benton has certainly managed to write three 
home letters left-handed," answered Dr. Chilton, 
speaking for his captive guest, yet glancing nervously 
toward him. " They were duly forwarded to Richmond 
to be censored. Was it there you saw them, Major 
Lounsberry? " 

" I had reference to possibilities, Doctor, though I am 
not unacquainted with the lieutenant s left hand-writ 
ing. It would be injudicious, for instance, not to say 
ungrateful to those who have shielded him, were he to 
answer the letter he found at the old side gate of the 
garden, Monday evening! " 

The hot blood leaped to Benton s face. Lounsberry 
had spoken with the cool deliberation of one absolutely 
sure of his ground. The doctor turned and stood gaz 
ing at his guest as though expecting him promptly to 
deny the imputation. From the stairway came the sound 
of faint rustle as though Rosalie shrank still further 
away, and Benton felt, rather than saw for under the 
major s stern, relentless, searching gaze he dare not 
look in the lead of his heart that her eyes were fixed 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 127 

upon him in mingled scrutiny and indignation. The 
silence was painful and Benton broke it. 

" There was nothing new in the note, Doctor," said 
he, purposely ignoring the staff officer. " It was to tell 
me what I already suspected and, since this gentle 
man s arrival, have felt sure of that I was to be 
sent to Richmond. Do not let it worry you. I 
have been preparing for it, and now I am quite ready 
to go." 

For the life of him as the sentence closed he could not 
avoid shooting one swift glance at the stairway to note 
the effect of his words. The major saw, turned and 
finding that from where he stood the landing and 
stairway were hidden from view, stepped quickly for 
ward. Benton instantly did the same, and almost breast 
to breast they met there in the middle of the room the 
blue and the gray the fire flashing in the eyes of each. 
There was the sound of whisking drapery, a soft swish 
along stair and balcony rail, and in an instant Rosalie 
had darted to the landing and out of sight. A half smile, 
contemptuous and cutting, played about the Confeder 
ate s lips. He gave no sign whatever that he had 
heard. He addressed himself to Benton : 

" I presume you have burned that note, sir, and there 
fore have nothing with which to back your statement, 
but I take you at your word. You are ready to go, you 
say; be ready to start then at six in the morning." 

"My dear Major!" broke in Dr. Chilton. "Surely 
you " 



128 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Those are my orders, doctor. I have no volition/ 
answered Lounsberry, coldly. " And now if I may say 
adieu to Jack I ll leave you to such preparation as may 
be necessary. The guard will call for Mr. Benton at 
six. I go myself to Gordonsville to-night." 

With that Major Lounsberry turned haughtily there 
is no other word for it away, as though the possibility 
of further talk with a Federal prisoner was something 
intolerable to an officer of his rank and station. The 
doctor, stunned and silent, looked helplessly from one 
to the other, and again it was Benton who spoke a re 
assuring word. Cordially he held forth his one free 
hand. 

" It s all right, Doctor," said he. " You and Miss 
Chilton have pulled me round famously. I can stand 
Libby diet now just as well as anybody, and I m betting 
on speedy exchange. Then our fellows will be do 
ing something now," he added, with significant smile. 
" Who knows but they may gather in game as big as 
that!" with a laughing nod toward the resplendent 
major. " Or, is he, like so many of our staff, only for 
duty at the rear?" And Benton meant that Louns 
berry should hear, and hear he did and flushed red 
under the taunt. 

" Do not judge our methods by the little you know 
of yours, Mr. Benton," he retorted, albeit with admir 
able self-control. Then, as though again determined to 
ignore the Northerner, " May I be permitted a word 
with Lieutenant Chilton, Doctor? " a question which 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 129 

seemed to recall the doctor to himself and left Benton 
to his own devices. Without another glance at the un 
welcome visitor, the latter turned and ascended the 
stairs to the second story, and there, in the dim light of 
a night lamp, by the eastward window, stood the girl 
he longed to see and speak with, and she who had 
avoided, now came half timidly forward as though to 
meet him. 

The broad hallway of the lower story, extending from 
the colonnaded portico in front to the wide veranda in 
rear, was virtually repeated aloft by as broad a " land 
ing " from which opened four bedrooms in the main 
building and passageways leading to the wings. India 
matting covered the floor. Couches, divans and easy 
reclining chairs were scattered about. Several portraits 
in oil of famous connections of the family Cabell,Custis 
or Stuart and many a good engraving hung about the 
walls. Two windows, heavily curtained, opened to the 
east; two others, draped in dimity, looked out over the 
fine old-fashioned garden, over a few Virginia home 
steads peeping from the midst of oaks and maples, with 
the roofs and cupola of the university in the distance, 
and beyond them the tumbling outline of the Ragged 
Mountains, rising against the backbone barrier to the 
great valley, the beautiful Blue Ridge. It was away 
from the neighborhood of her aunt s door and her own, 
and close to the westward windows that Rosalie Chilton 
silently led her captive soldier, and then turned, her 
face pale and sorrow stricken, her great dark eyes fill- 



130 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ing with unshed tears. For days she had been distant, 
repellent almost, in manner that relented not one whit 
even when she saw it stung and grieved him. To 
night she seemed suddenly to have determined on mak 
ing amends. Without, the skies had been covered with 
heavily charged masses of clouds that poured their tor 
rents on the thirsting earth, but now a vigorous young 
moon was peeping through the thinning veil and throw 
ing a vague, ghostly light upon garden, village street 
and vine-clad arbor and tracing marvellous pattern of 
fretwork on the India malting. Within, just in like 
manner, Rosalie s almost perfect face had been dark 
ened by clouds Fred could neither banish nor fathom, 
but now a new, soft, tender light seemed shimmering 
through. What could it mean? he asked, with beating 
heart, for there was a moment in which neither spoke. 

" I have a confession to make, Mr. Benton," said she, 
at length. " Do you think it s easy for a girl to say 
she s glad to find that she was wrong? " 

" Something has seemed to me very wrong of late," 
answered Benton, " so much so I was glad to get away 
on any terms, even to Libby. For what have I been 
punished? " 

" I shall tell you frankly," she answered, standing 
with downcast eyes before him, her white hands loosely 
clasping. " Do you know, I thought I heard that 
you were plotting with people outside to escape, and, 
father being responsible for you, it seemed ungrateful 
indeed dishonorable " 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 131 

" But what on earth have I said or done to warrant 
the belief? I have talked with no one, communicated 
with no one, except that, after I had noted your cold 
and distant manner, there came this little unsigned note, 
saying that I was to be sent to Richmond. I have never 
answered it. I haven t an idea who sent it." 

" But the note " and now she looked up eagerly, 

" you have it still? " 

" Burned it to ashes the hour it came ! " he an 
swered. 

" But you saw who brought it or who left it? " 

" I saw ," he impulsively began, then stopped short. 
What right had he, a Union soldier, to give information 
against some possible Union lover in their midst, one 
who was seeking to be of service to him at that? 

" Oh, you needn t say!" cried Miss Chilton, with a 
curl of her lip. " We know at least I know the girl ! 
What we heard, or at least I heard, a week ago was 
that you that they, that oh, I can t explain I can t 
go on ! " she said, and now burning blushes, to his 
amaze, suffused her face and she covered it with her 
hands. 

Then voices were heard below stairs the doctor 
showing the major from Jack s room to the door, cere 
monious and courtly even when aggrieved. 

" He will wish to see me perhaps you, too at 
once," suddenly exclaimed Miss Chilton, starting im 
pulsively forward. " I just want to know that that 
what I now believe is true, and to be able to say so 



132 THE IRON BRIGADE 

confidently to father and perhaps to to others. You 
had not thought of trying to escape so long as you 
were with us?" And for an instant the dark, glorious 
eyes looked full into his face, then fell before the inten 
sity of his. 

" On my word, Miss Chilton no ! " 

" Then then," she vehemently cried, " I don t 
care how soon you do try now!" and with that 
she darted past him to her own room and presently 
the doctor s slow step was heard ascending the 
stairs. 

It was late that night and the moon had dipped be 
yond the Blue Ridge when, after a family talk in Jack s 
room, they separated. Not another chance had Benton 
to speak to Rosalie, but for good and sufficient reason 
he had found her actions of most unusual interest. Pale 
and silent, absorbed in thought, she had taken little part 
in the conference. Twice she stole softly to the win 
dow, drew aside the curtain and peered through to outer 
darkness; then, while her father was earnestly talking, 
she seated herself close to the curtains, and Benton, 
watching her with devouring eyes, saw that she was 
listening intently for sounds, signals, something from 
without and paying little heed to what was said within. 
Then, he could not be mistaken, there came a low tap, 
tap on the pane. Rosalie quickly, silently drew the 
shade aside enough to enable her to give one answering 
tap, and a moment later she stole quietly out of the 
room, while the doctor was still talking, and, when she 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 133 

returned nearly half an hour later, there were drops of 
water on her rippling hair. 

By this time between the Chiltons, father and son, it 
had been determined that every influence should at once 
be brought to bear at Richmond to bring about Ben- 
ton s exchange Fred himself agreeing to write urgent 
letters to friends in front of Washington. Already quite 
a number of officers and men had been returned from 
Libby, the first small boat-load having gone to the 
Capital and been welcomed by the President himself 
before the winter s snows were swept entirely from the 
Virginia mountains. " Just one thing I fear," said the 
doctor, " that the same influence that dogged you here 
and led to the order for your delivery there, may pursue 
you at Richmond." 

" And will you tell me what that is and why it should 
be so bitter?" asked Benton. 

The doctor glanced uncertainly at the thinned face, 
flushing faintly even through the pallor of this long con 
finement, then turned to Rosalie. Quickly she again 
left her chair, hurried to the window and threw open the 
curtain as though to look forth into the night where all 
was apparently dark as Erebus. 

" It is a family jah, suh. I hardly understand it my 
self. But I m bound to say that Major Lounsberry has 
fohfeited any claim he may have had upon my friend 
ship. Now I must look to that bandage again before 
you retiah, suh." And thus closed the conference. 

Not half an hour later young Pomp was nervously 



134 THE IRON BRIGADE 

fidgetting about the room, on the customary plea of 
helping Marse Benton undress, when he rolled his big 
eyes thrice to the west window and finally said, with a 
chuckle : 

" Marse Jack never thought nuthin of swingin out 
of that winder when dis was his room fo de wah." 

" Rather a high jump for a heavy man," suggested 
Benton, wondering to what this conversation might 
lead. 

" Lawd, Marse Benton, you done fo got de lightnin 
rawd!" 

Stepping to the window the lieutenant peered forth 
into the moist and windy night. The clouds were sail 
ing swiftly overhead, alternately hiding and revealing 
the few peeping stars. A warm wet breeze was sway 
ing the boughs of the big oak at the back of the garden 
and the branches of the locusts along the unpaved side 
street. Not a glimmer of light came from any of the 
scattered houses; not a sound was heard save the sweep 
and rustle of the gentle gale. A few heavy drops still 
pattered from the eaves and splashed upon the sill be 
side him drops such as shone on Rosalie s wavy hair. 
Putting forth his hand he could feel, just to the left of 
the window, the stout, thick iron rod that Pomp had 
described Jack s means of egress in wild university 
days not so long gone by. 

Slowly, thoughtfully he closed the shade and returned 
to the dressing-table where stood the single candle. 
Pomp had vanished, but there, pinned to the cushion 



LIBBY OR LIBERTY 135 

was the mate to the strange little billet he had found 
at the gate. Even the handwriting was the same. 

" Horses, guide and everything you need waiting back of the barn. 
Lose not a moment ! Choose between the mountains for a day or two 
or Libby for the rest of the war. Burn this, too." 



CHAPTER XI 

QUEEN ROSALIE 

For ten minutes after reading that strange missive 
Benton stood absorbed in deep, even painful, thought. 
The alternative presented was a trying one. From what 
Dr. Chilton had said in the course of the evening s con 
ference the prospect of long imprisonment seemed as 
sured. Lounsberry was a man of influence, even a 
power, at Richmond, and he could be relied on to exert 
it against Benton because " because," said the doctor, 
as he was rearranging the bandages on Benton s arm, 
" he is no longer kindly disposed toward my house 
hold, suh," and Fred reasoned that Rosalie could, if 
she would, give further and more explicit information. 

" I have been fearing this for several days, suh," said 
Chilton. " Several of my patients, who are loyal Vir 
ginians and fully in accord with the stand of their State, 
suh, have nevertheless been loyal in their friendship to 
me. They believe in fair play. They honor a chivalric 
enemy, and they know how you protected and aided me. 
From three or four sources, therefore, these warnings 
came, and and other stories that I prefer not to men 
tion. I refused to believe all until Major Lounsberry 
practically confirmed the truth that is the truth of 



QUEEN ROSALIE 137 

those referring to him, to-day. But I shall write to 
Longstreet to-night, suh, and to Jeb Stuart and to 
General Lee. They will have influence with the Presi 
dent, Mr. Benton, and meanwhile," here both the kindly 
voice and the gentle hand seemed to tremble, " I I 
would give almost anything I own to to stop your 
being sent to Libby, suh, but, I see no way I see no 
way." 

And soon thereafter, leaving young Pomp to assist 
his soldier patient, the doctor had withdrawn to his study 
on the ground floor, promising to be with him again 
about five. 

It was just after eleven o clock by Benton s watch as 
he roused himself from the spell of anxious thought and 
looked about him. There was significance in Pomp s 
disappearance. It was evident that the youngster had 
been carefully " coached " to point out the lightning rod 
as the best means to leave the house unseen, unheard. 
That Benton was confidently expected to make the at 
tempt was obvious. Otherwise Pomp would have re 
mained to help him off with his boots and uniform. 
Even to his watch, purse, spurs and boots not an item 
of his personal equipment had been taken by his captors. 
His sword had been stricken from his hand during the 
melee at the stone house and his revolver was gone, but 
that was all. A year later everything would have be 
come legitimate spoil of war. 

Peering from his window Benton saw, or fancied he 
saw, the dim light as of a lantern flitting about the barn. 



138 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Evidently they were even then waiting for him. Evi 
dently he was expected to " lose not a moment." Yet 
who were they? Surely not his venerable host and 
helper for Dr. Chilton could not lend himself to any 
scheme for the escape of the prisoner without breaking 
faith with the Confederate Government. Surely not 
Jack, his wounded son, for court-martial and dismissal 
in disgrace would follow even circumstantial evidence 
that he had aided or suggested the escape. Surely not 
Rosalie! She had shown such deep abhorrence of the 
plot to speed his going that, even after her impulsive 
outbreak early in the evening, he could not but feel it 
would be treachery to her and to those she held dear, 
were he now to make the attempt, notwithstanding the 
fact that transfer to Libby stared him in the face. 

Pomp s complicity it was easy to explain. The ne 
groes, as a rule, were glad to help the " Lincum sol 
diers," and, where they were hesitant, a bribe soon 
settled the matter. Then Pomp s suggestion of the 
lightning rod was still further proof that outsiders, not 
Chiltons, were at the bottom of the plan, for, did the 
household favor it, they would never have sent a one- 
armed man swinging into space when the back stairs 
and the back door were unguarded, and guards or sen 
tries of any kind there had been none, so sacred was 
the word of a Chilton. No; as he still pondered over 
the question, the hands of his watch crept to half-past 
eleven, and a horse, somewhere out in what appeared 
to be a lane or alley behind the barn, neighed impa- 



QUEEN ROSALIE 139 

tiently; and, surely as he could hear the tick of his watch, 
the beating of his own heart, Benton caught the sound 
of a low, gruff voice almost directly underneath his 
window, and then the dull, sudden tramp of hoofs on 
rain-soaked sod. Then then there were two horses 
or two parties one in the dark lane, one here almost 
at his feet. 

" Lose not a moment," said the note he had crumpled 
in his hand, yet here had he lost twenty in childish hesi 
tancy. Again he read the clearly pencilled lines. Again 
he recalled Rosalie s eagerness to see the previous note, 
and her contemptuous confidence as to its authorship. 
" Burn this, too," said the second missive; and, in honor, 
was he not bound to shield one who so eagerly, un 
selfishly sought to aid or rescue him? Yet Rosalie 
wished to see, and good God, how he longed once 
more to see her and satisfy himself that she would ap 
prove, condone, forgive if he seized this chance of es 
cape! to satisfy himself, moreover, that she no longer 
held him as she had in rank disfavor> that possibly 
possibly But that thought was madness ! 

And then, though his door stood a trifle ajar and he 
had been listening, listening for any sound that would 
tell of her presence near him that he might, even at so 
late an hour, have one word with her; though not the 
whisper of a foofall had reached his ears, something, 
light as down and barely audible even to him, was softly, 
stealthily tapping on the panel. 

Marvelling, he tiptoed to the door, and a little scrap of 



140 THE IRON BRIGADE 

paper waved before his eyes. Not a ringer even was 
visible. He took the paper with his one unfettered 
hand ; threw open the door by a quick twist of the foot, 
and something with long, dusky masses of hair trailing 
behind it sped away in the dim light from the lower 
hall. A board or two creaked. There was a faint swish 
of skirts, a whiff of fragrance like that of the wild violet, 
but that was all. On the floor below the hall lamp still 
burned, and the doctor, busy in his sanctum, hemmed 
loudly and stirred as though to hail or speak. A door 
closed across the wide landing her door as Benton 
could judge by the sound, and then he was alone with 
this second note. 

Bearing it to the dressing-table, he read : 

" Precious time wasted ! Go or it may be too late. Rely implicitly 
on first guide you find." 

And this, at least, was not from the hand that pencilled 
the others ! 

Again that sound of horses hoofs beneath the win 
dow, and low-toned, rebukeful, yet almost imploring 
remonstrance. A darkey s voice surely. 

" Cain t yo keep him still?" it asked, and Benton 
crept to the open window and peered down into the 
dim depths below, and then came the soft hail in tones 
he felt sure he knew Black Dan s Dan whom he 
had heard singing and doing chores about the sheds 
and gardens for days past: " Fo Gawd, Marse Benton, 
f you doan come quick dis horse ll spile de whole busi- 



QUEEN ROSALIE 141 

Then another voice a mere whisper, half drowned by 
the sweep of the wind in the trees Pomp s quavering 
tenor. " Yo doan need fetch nawthin , Marse Ben- 
ton. We ve got everythin hyuh." 

And then he heard the doctor closing his study door 
and tramping across the lower hall to take a good-night 
look at his boy, after which he would doubtless retire 
to his own room adjoining the study and well away from 
the garden side of the house. It was high time it was 
good time to be moving, still Benton hung irresolute, 
persuading himself that his longing for one look at that 
lovely face, for five words from those exquisite lips, was 
really reluctance to take a step that might compromise 
this generous and hospitable household even while in 
his hand he still held the words that bade him go. 

Then came a sudden scurry without, for, midway to 
the barn a soft, low whistle sounded, and almost in 
stantly Benton heard the sound of hoofs again. They 
were hurriedly leading a horse or two horses away. 
A lantern swung impatiently at the corner of the barn. 
Somebody was surely signalling. Something prompted 
him by way of answer to blow out his candle, to thrust 
the notes both scraps of paper into a convenient 
pocket, then to kneel by the window and watch and 
listen. 

Almost instantly the lantern disappeared, and there 
were five minutes of silence. Then, as he knelt and 
watched and waited and all was still without and his 
darkey aides-de-camp made no further hail, suddenly he 



142 THE IRON BRIGADE 

heard the creak behind him of door cautiously opening, 
and, looking over his shoulder in the dim ghostly light 
sifting through the balustrade from the floor below, he 
was able to discern a tall, slender form coming noise 
lessly, cautiously, straight to his now wide-open 
door. Rosalie beyond a doubt, and she believed him 
gone! 

Go then he must! Athlete that he had been, ever 
since boyhood, it was no trick at all to swing, even one- 
handed, on so thick a rod. His heavy gauntlet was al 
ready on, and, just as he reached forth to grasp the 
iron, his practised ear caught the stealthy tread of 
spurred boots on the path below coming from the 
back gate the way to the barn. Another moment and, 
distinctly, in a sudden lull of the breeze, he heard a low, 
cautious voice in half murmur, half whisper. Words 
were indistinguishable, but he knew the tones Louns- 
berry beyond question, and Lounsberry hailing in ex 
pectation of finding there an accomplice. 

Not a second could he lose now! To go would be 
to meet the death of escaping prisoner or, at best, 
justifiable imprisonment behind the bars. To stay where 
he was might involve her might at least so startle as 
to force from her a cry of alarm. Quick, light and lithe 
as a panther he sprang to his feet and met her just out 
side the door. No time for explanation! 

" Silence! " he whispered, almost savagely. " Louns 
berry is there," and then, defiant even of her wrath, he 
wrapped that one strong arm about her, for (this at 



QUEEN ROSALIE 143 

least, long after, was his one excuse) he thought she 
would fall, so sudden was the shock and start, so wildly 
beat the little heart once more fluttering on his breast. 
For a moment she was too dazed to use her strength, 
then, through her set teeth, savagely as he had spoken, 
she hissed at him, while slender fingers tore at his mus 
cular hand: 

" Let me go, instantly! " 

And when he had released her, she again seemed like 
to fall, and he again essayed to hold her, but now with 
clinching little fists she fairly beat him off. Then, 
springing past him, reeling a bit, but desperate and 
determined, flew to the window, knelt and listened, leav 
ing him faltering one moment at the door. Only a mo 
ment, though; for, casting aside all scruple, he followed 
and knelt beside her. Shrinking from him, with her 
white hands pressed to her temples; amaze, indignation, 
then triumph in her face, though he could not see it, she 
seemed listening absorbed. Again it was Lounsberry s 
voice, and Lounsberry had found his fellow spy, and 
with amazing confidence and fluency was Pomp reply 
ing. Oh, what glibness of guile! 

" Ye-as, suh. I don tole him so. He cum down the 
back stayuhs an outen de back do* mos an hour ago, 
an fo we could show him de way, suh, Miss Rosalie 
come tay in after him, an draw d him back into de house 
again! " 

Benton could feel, although only a fold of her gown 
touched his knee, that the girl beside him was fairly 



144 THE IRON BRIGADE 

quivering at that bare-faced whopper, but quivering with 
wrath or delight he knew not which. 

" You imp of hell ! If you are lying I ll skin you alive ! 
Whose horses were those in the side lot as I came up? " 
demanded Lounsberry. 

" Fo* Gawd, Captain, / do know ! Dey wasn t ouhs 
ouhs is in de bahn, suh. Take de key and see fo yo - 
self. Hyuh s the dochtuh now, suh! " 

A stream of mellow light had shot suddenly forth as a 
door in the north wing was thrown open, and, lantern 
in hand, out came the head of the house, angering, bare 
headed. 

" What are you doing here at this hour, you black 
rascal, and with whom are you talking? Major Louns 
berry! " and with amaze and dismay in his voice the old 
Virginian faced his unlooked-for visitor. 

"I do not wonder at your surprise, Doctor," promptly 
replied the staff officer, stepping forward into the little 
circle of light. " I had thought to be at Gordonsville 
before this, but strange things are happening, strange 
stories are afloat. It came to my ears while on the way 
that your servants had been bribed to enable Lieutenant 
Benton to escape this night. I returned at once, and 
two of my escort declare that two horsemen rode away 
from your side yard yonder barely ten minutes ago. 
You can hear their story, or satisfy yourself and me, if 
you will, that that our prisoner is still here." 

" Still here, Major Lounsberry," answered the doctor, 
with grave dignity. " Though I warn you now that 



QUEEN ROSALIE 145 

since your order was issued remanding him to Libby I 
no longer assume responsibility. I know that he is still 
here, but do you prefer to search in person, suh?" 

In an instant Rosalie was on her feet. Only a second 
or two she stood there, quivering with excitement, then 
seized him by the arm. " Quick! Follow me," she whis 
pered. Out into the broad landing she rushed, and to 
Benton s amaze, struck a light, threw open the lid of 
an old colonial desk that stood with its back against 
the wall between the doors of her own and her aunt s 
room, plumped him down into a chair, and scattered 
paper and envelopes in front of him. " Be writing your 
letters," she whispered command. Then away she sped, 
closed her door behind her just as the doctor s voice 
was again heard in the hall below. 

Two minutes later, lantern bearing, the master of 
the house came slowly up the stairs, followed by the 
clinking boots of Major Lounsberry. Feigning sur 
prise at such interruption, the Union officer rose delib 
erately from his seat and confronted the two. They 
stopped short, and for a moment were speechless; 
then 

" As I told you, suh," said Dr. Chilton, with a bow of 
mock deference, to his unwelcome follower. 

" As I should have known," said Major Lounsberry, 
in prompt though unpalatable acceptance of the situa 
tion. 

" The major, suh," said Dr. Chilton, to his guest, in 
pardonably magniloquent enjoyment of the situation, 



146 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" required ocular demonstration that you had not taken 
unto yourself wings. I rejoice that we didn t have to 
disturb you in bed. Are you satisfied now, Major 
Lounsberry? " 

" Perfectly, Dr. Chilton." Then to Benton : " Since 
you do not care to sleep, sir, perhaps it will not incom 
mode you to start at five." 

" It would incommode the household, not me," an 
swered Benton, calmly, yet wondering what he would 
do if ordered searched at the moment, for both those 
little tell-tale notes were now crumpled together in his 
hand. " Breakfast is ordered at five-thirty, but I am 
entirely at your service." Then placidly he turned and 
resumed his seat and pen. Once more the doctor 
ushered his visitor to the front door, ceremoniously 
bowed him out, regretting, he said, inability to offer him 
the hospitalities of his roof, for every room was taken, 
and then, tremulous with wrath, returned to Benton. 

" I cannot fathom this, suh," said he. " That man 
gave me to understand he would be at Gawd nsville to 
night, and here at midnight comes prowling around 
my place like he was layin a trap, suh. Mr. Benton, if 
there were any way in my power, suh, to get you out of 
that fella s clutches, I believe I d do it hyuh an now! " 
and the gray-haired physician sank into a chair. 

" You can best serve me, Doctor, by getting to bed 
and resting," was Benton s reply. i( You need it, sir." 
And then, to the surprise of both, Rosalie s door opened 
and forth she came, candle in hand, her lustrous hair fall- 



QUEEN ROSALIE 147 

ing in ebony waves all down her back, her face pale but 
beautiful, and with quiet force she led the passive doctor 
from his seat to the stairway; escorted him to his room; 
talked with him quietly, soothingly a moment, and then, 
bidding him affectionate good night, came tripping 
lightly up the stairs. 

But it was a transmogrified face that now met Ben- 
ton s gaze. Flushed, eager, brimful of wrath and deter 
mination, she came straight to his side, for one moment 
too excited to speak, again the girl who had dared every 
peril the night she donned Confederate uniform for the 
sake of what? 

" I owe everything to your quickness of wit," Benton 
began. " I should never have thought of this. I was 
going to jump into my blankets." 

" And spoil everything ! " said she, in deep disdain of 
such stupidity. " He would have seen and suspected 
at once. You, with your boots in bed ! Listen, now. 
They are riding away," and as she spoke the clanking 
of sabres and the squashing of hoofs in the soft, muddy 
side street told that Lounsberry s aggressive party was 
really on the move. She ran to a window and glanced 
out after them. Then, when they were surely out of 
earshot and the sound had died away on the night, once 
more she came to him, her eyes ablaze, her cheeks afire. 

" And now if I had any compunction," she murmured 
fast, " it is gone ! Of course I had striven that you 
should never suspect we aided you ; and, had you gone 
at once, you never could have known. No, don t ! " 



148 THE IRON BRIGADE 

For here, with protestation on his lips and eager, 
outstretched hand, he stepped impulsively forward. 
" No no ! Listen, for there is no second to spare. 
The horses your horses will be back in a moment. 
Go without question ! You should have been miles up 
toward the mountains now. I simply took a leaf out 
of that man s book. He planned to lure you to attempt 
to escape, with creatures of his own waiting back of 
the barn. Then he was to overtake and arrest you, or 
they might have shot I do not know. But they would 
have been badly fooled. They bribed Pomp to bring 
you his her note, and he had to give it first to me. 
They were to wait beyond the barn, but we had horses 
right under your window. Then you delayed. They 
became impatient. Pomp gave warning in time to get 
the horses away. You know the rest. Now, are you 
ready?" And the brave eyes looked one instant glori 
ously into his. 

"Ready?" he cried. "Ready but for one thing," 
and again and with burning eagerness and longing he 
sprang forward, and again she recoiled, her hand up 
lifted ; but he would not be denied. " You shall hear 
me, Rosalie," he murmured, hoarsely. " You must 
hear ! " and one strong hand had seized the white, slen 
der wrist. " I bless you and thank you, but more than 
all I love yr 

" Hush ! Silence ! " she cried, adding imperative 
stamp of her little foot. 

From the window of his room there came a pleading 



QUEEN ROSALIE 149 

voice. In the soft glow of the candle light two rolling 
eyeballs and a double row of gleaming teeth were seen. 
It was Pomp, simian-like sealer of the lightning " rawd." 
" Miss Rosalie/ he panted, " the horses is hyuh ! The 
sojers done gone ! " 

" Now, Lieutenant Benton," she cried, though her 
voice her very form was shaking. " If you mean to 
make a try for freedom, it s now or never! " 

And when at dawn Lounsberry s guard came ham 
mering at the door, they came too late the bird had 
flown. 



CHAPTER XII 



" IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE " 



Once more the Badger-Hoosier brigade was swing 
ing away southwestward. For the sixth time in less 
than a year the men of the " Black Hats " at the head of 
column had picked their way over the stone-ribbed pike, 
saying opprobious things of Virginia path-masters. An 
impudent lot were these fellows in the imitation " Kos- 
suths." Marvellously snappy and precise in drill, steady 
on parade, enduring on the march and reasonably re 
spectful toward their own officers (who were the only 
ones in the division to don and habitually wear the full- 
dress headgear of the regular service), the rank and 
file were blessed with not a little soldier skepticism as 
to the value or stability of other commands in and out 
of the brigade, and a calmly critical attitude toward offi 
cers other than those of their selection. They had not 
been over well content with their original field and 
staff, and, for lack of leaders of that rank, had become 
somewhat split up at first Bull Run, fighting sturdily 
all the same by company or squad to the fag end, and 
never knowing they were whipped when finally 
" herded " off the field. Now, however, they had men 
at their head colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major by 



"IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE" 151 

whom they positively swore and on whose skill and 
valor they would have banked their last cent. Yet, 
with all their regard for these, their honored leaders, it 
must be owned the Black Hats gave them lots of trou 
ble. They would guy the rest of the brigade and lord 
it generally over the whole division, only one other 
regiment of which had as yet faced the foe in battle. 
They had a curious defect of vision when " outside " 
officers happened along, and were forever being com 
plained of as failing to " render honors," whereat they 
were heard on more than one occasion unblushingly to 
declare they saw, but didn t suppose the strangers could 
be officers. They were preternaturally keen sighted as 
sentries toward men of other regiments " running 
guard " or smuggling contraband of war, and were 
correspondingly blind when the culprit was of their own 
complexion. They prided themselves on their regi 
mental knowledge of guard duty, and had won wide 
spread fame and deserved malediction by the exploit of 
relieving every mother s son of the sentries of one of 
Baldy Smith s pet regiments, replacing each in turn by 
a duly authenticated yet entirely unauthorized guards 
man of their own choosing, who promptly deserted post 
and sneaked off home, while the luckless relief itself was 
headed away through the darkness, a ship without a 
rudder, a squad of twelve without a commander, and 
left to its own devices to pitch and flounder and curse 
through ditches until brought up standing by a stone 
wall and the discovery that there was no corporal. 



152 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Preceding, as did these Badgers, the regular relief by 
only five minutes and provided with the same counter 
sign, dress and equipment, there was really nothing par 
ticularly brilliant or hazardous in their accomplishment 
of this feat. It was the sublime impudence of the thing 
that made it remarkable. They were probably the best 
drilled and positively the worst hated regiment in the 
whole division and relished one distinction quite as 
much as the other when they were marching this third 
time on Manassas, and the little West Pointer in saddle 
at their head thanked God that at last he had them 
where, with work against a common foe, there was pos 
sibility of keeping them out of mischief. 

Centreville had been passed, Bull Run recrossed, and 
Bristoe reached a point beyond their previous explo 
rations. Then back had they to go to meet a threat 
ened raid on their railway communications, and, that 
matter settled, again were they trudging through the 
well-remembered wood roads when, as a turn of the 
way brought their foremost company in full view of the 
fine sweep of country off to the west, the gray-bearded 
colonel, for the time commanding the brigade, reined 
out to the right for a look at his men, and his tall, born- 
soldier of an adjutant rode alongside the black-bearded, 
dark-featured, stocky little leader of the Black Hats, 
pointed with his gauntletted hand to the blue curtain of 
the Bull Run range and remarked : " I d give a good 
deal to know just what that fellow Jackson s doing be 
hind that screen to-day." 



"IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE" 153 

"Why so?" asked O Connor, shortly. " Shields 
licked him well at Kernstown. Banks has turned his 
whole force back there. Blenker s big division has gone 
to reinforce them. Why, we ve got enough men there 
to eat em alive Jackson and all." 

" First catch your rabbit," said the adjutant, mus 
ingly. " Old Stonewall knows every footpath in the 
valley every path through the mountains. He ll trick 
Banks and Fremont, sure s your born, colonel. Then 
we ll have a shy at him." 

" May the Lord grant it," was the pious answer, as 
the colonel looked wistfully away toward the little rift 
in the dark ridge where, ten miles distant, lay Thor 
oughfare Gap, the best and shortest route to the Shen- 
andoah the Gap through which four months later this 
same much-discussed and as yet little-known Jackson 
was with such fatal effect to pour his columns on the 
Union flank and rear. How little the speaker dreamed 
what that day was to bring forth ! 

It was a moist afternoon. The sun at intervals 
streamed hotly on the spongy earth. Little wreaths of 
vapor here and there drifted slowly into space. The 
men in the marching column, heavily burdened with 
bulging knapsack and double blanket and the long 
Springfield over their burly shoulders, whipped off 
their hats and swept the coat-sleeve over their dripping 
brows, peering curiously at the old colonel sitting sturd 
ily in saddle and watching their array. He had but 
scant retinue, this acting brigadier, and had sent his 



154 THE IRON BRIGADE 

right bower ahead to show the Black Hats where to 
camp for the night, while he studied the wearying regi 
ments as they issued from the wood. The march had 
been long and heavy. The men, despite much recent 
tramping to and fro, were still a trifle soft from the 
months of comparative inaction. He had seen fellows 
in better physical trim in the Mexican War days, but 
none that gave better promise of splendid work when 
once they settled down to business. A grim smile stole 
over his grizzled face as his own old battalion came strid 
ing forth in the wake of the " Scoffing Second." Then 
the kindly eyes clouded with something like displeasure 
at sight of a tall, rather lanky civilian on a decrepit 
gray, riding with the lieutenant-colonel commanding. 
He had seen the man before many a mile from the spot 
and more than a week away. " How came you here ? " 
he asked, as the civilian ambled out of the column and 
touched his worn hat-brim. 

" My place is just over yahnduh, Colonel. P haps 
you doan remember my comin to you with a pass, back 
o Fairfax," and the tall stranger looked confidingly into 
the grizzled, sun-burned face. " Been in to Alexandria, 
yo know, for supplies. Wagon went sho ht cut by 
stone bridge." 

" I know," said the colonel, gloomily, " and that s the 
way you should have gone. What are you doing here 
at Manassas ? " 

"Mo* supplies, Colonel," grinned he of the gray mount. 
* The commissary gave me n ohdah for sugah and cof- 



"IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE" ^5 

fee from hyuh. I was just passing the time o* day with 
the colonel when I caught sight o you, suh," and con 
ciliation beamed in the native s artless face. 

" Then you ll be asking for somebody to help you 
* tote it over to the stone house, I suppose. You 
told me that was your place," growled the colonel, in 
manifest dissatisfaction." 

" Oh, no, Colonel ! We ain t stoppin there now. Th 
old place is too leaky for one thing, an we re livin way 
over near Hopewell so long s this fightin s goin on. I 
reckon I ll stop hyuh at the Junction to-night an go 
on to-mawrrow." 

" I reckon that s just what you ll have to do, sir," said 
the colonel, shortly, " as this brigade camps here, and 
you d get into trouble with our pickets if you rode out." 

" Lawd love you, Colonel ! I d just as lief spend a 
week with you if t want that I d promised to get a lot 
of truck over to old Judge Armistead at Hopewell." 
Then keenly studying the veteran s face, he suddenly 
added : " Ain t Colonel Bayard s cavalry out there ? " 

" Ask me no questions, my friend, and I ll tell you no 
lies," was the wary answer. " General McDowell s pass 
Compels me to let you ride along with the column, but 
doesn t require me to post you as to our movements. 
You know too much now to be travelling toward Jack 
son s people, and have you shown that pass to the 
division commander ? " 

" Why, it was he who got it for me," answered the 
Virginian, placidly. " It was I that took him Lieu- 



156 THE IRON BRIGADE 

tenant Benton s pistol and told him of his capture. 
What s more, I m specting to get further news of the 
lieutenant. Why, hyuh comes the general now, and f 
you don t mind, Colonel, I reckon I ll ride with him a 
piece." 

Graybeard glanced half angrily over his shoulder. A 
few yards north of the road there was a barren little 
eminence, on the crest of which there had suddenly 
appeared the division commander with two of his staff. 
Unslinging their field-glasses, they seemed for a mo 
ment studying the westward lowlands, then came trot 
ting swiftly toward the column. With soldierly salute, 
the colonel faced the party as though he knew that 
orders were in the wind, and his intuition proved cor 
rect. 

" Colonel, there are scattered parties of cavalry out 
there coming swift this way, too out north of Bristoe 
between that and Gainesville. They don t seem to be 
watching the column either. Send one regiment out 
along the Gainesville road as far as Bethlehem Church 
and let them throw out skirmishers. Halt the rest of 
the brigade here. Good afternoon, Mr. Jennings," he 
continued, in civil acknowledgment of the Virginian s 
salutation. " I thought you were home by this 
time." 

" I sent the wagon that way, General," was the 
prompt answer, " but I looked to see some kinsfolk 
hereabouts, and the wagon won t go beyond Groveton 
if there s trouble ahead. Those niggers are more scared 



"IN THE TEETH OP THE BRIGADE" 157 

o shootin than they are of ghosts. Yet, I d hoped to 
reach Judge Armistead s to-night." 

" Better think twice ! If those troopers are some of 
Stuart s scouting they might hold you for examina 
tion." But the general s eyes were following the column 
as he spoke. Evidently he was more interested in the 
choice of the regiment to be sent to the right front than 
in the fortunes of the Virginian. A smile crossed his 
face as a moment later the Sixth turned out of column, 
and silently he reined his horse to the right and, fol 
lowed by a party of six, all told, including orderlies, rode 
away on the flank. Jennings, finding himself unhin 
dered, ambled in their tracks until, half a mile out, they 
reached the fork of the road. Northward lay the dun 
colored route to the s-tone house and Sudley Springs ; 
westward, or a little north of west, the winding roadway 
to Gainesville and the Gaps. For a moment the tall civi- 
ian sat irresolute, then clapped his heels into his lean 
charger s ribs and went sputtering after the chief. 

" General," said he, coming alongside, " I want to say 
one thing, suh, and it s this that young gentleman of 
your staff was so kind to Dr. Chilton that it completely 
staggered the doctor to have him knocked down and 
captured. He s bound to take the best of cayuh of him 
till he s well enough to take cayuh of himself an 
then " 

" Well, and then, Mr. Jennings ? " asked the general, 
impatiently, for he was eager to get on ahead. 



158 THE IRON BRIGADE 

f< You look out for his turning up any day ! If he 
ain t exchanged, I m bettin somethin else will happen." 

" My understanding is that Dr. Chilton has made 
himself personally responsible for Mr. Benton s safe 
keeping so long as he s allowed to remain with 

V 

" That s true, I reckon," answered Jennings. " But," 
and here his lantern jaws relaxed in whimsical grin, 
" the doctor ain t the only brainy one in that family, 
General. The girl that planned young Ladue s escape 
from your fellows at Henry house may play it on 
EwelFs folks at Gawd nsville just as easy." 

" So you know Ewell s at Gordonville ! " said the 
general, whirling suddenly on the speaker. " And you 
know the lady who got Mr. Ferguson into his scrape, 
do you ? " 

" Gettin another fella out o one yes, suh," an 
swered Jennings, unflinchingly. " And she made a big 
play that night to get still another out of a bad fix 
less I m mistaken. Why, General, you jus ought to 
heuh Judge Armistead talk about that girl. He says 
half the men in Albemarle, university and all, were in 
love with her when the war broke out, and the judge has 
a mighty pretty daughter of his own, too. I rather 
hoped some of our cavalry might be pushin out toward 
Hopewell to-night. Ain t Colonel Bayard somewhere 
out that way? Hullo! There s a shot !" 

Not one shot alone, but two, three, in quick succes 
sion. Somewhere ahead among the patches and thick- 



"IN THE TEETH OP THE BRIGADE" 159 

ets of scrub oak and pine the scattering advance-guard 
had suddenly met swift galloping lads in gray. Then 
came the distant sound of half a dozen shots, carbines, 
and the answering sputter of a ragged volley. At long 
range, as yet, Badger afoot and Virginian in saddle, 
were saluting each other, and the men, trudging by 
fours along the winding roadway, threw up their heads 
and picked up their heels, a thrill of excitement quiver 
ing through the column. Well out to the front a bugle 
sounded some lively call, and, spurring full gallop from 
the rear, the tall adjutant went bending and twisting 
away among the trees until out of sight ahead, and then 
his powerful voice came ringing back : " This way, Cap 
tain lively ! Double quick ! " 

Evidently Haskell had sighted some of the quarry 
and closer at hand than those ahead along the roadway, 
for there came a crackle of shots, the bark of the cav 
alry weapon, the saucy pop of a revolver somewhere 
among the thickets to the left of the column; then a 
shrill burst of cheers from the deploying blue-coats on 
the westward flank. All on a sudden, scrambling 
through the bushes they had tumbled over a little squad 
of troopers in gray, making heroic effort to carry off 
a helpless comrade. The general and his aides had 
spurred in with the skirmishers, and were just in time 
to see two riderless horses tearing away among the 
trees across an open glade, while half a dozen daring, 
devoted fellows in saddle were stoutly interposing be 
tween the forward rush of the excited Badgers and 



160 THE IRON BRIGADE 

three of their number surrounding and supporting a tall 
officer who had been lifted sideways to the back of a 
plunging, snorting, frightened steed, but who seemed 
fainting and powerless to help himself or them. 
"Halt!" "Halt!" "Dismount!" "Surrender!" rang 
the hoarse shouts of the dozen bluecoats, dashing in pur 
suit. Bang! Bang! came the defiant response of the 
few defenders. Bang! Bang! bellowed a brace of 
Springfields in reply, ill aimed, God be praised, in the 
thrilling excitement of the moment. It seemed cruel 
savage to shoot down such gallant fellows in their hope 
less deed of devotion. " Don t shoot ! " " Hold your 
fire!" yelled the general. "Don t shoot!" "Don t 
shoot ! " echoed the staff, for the luckless cavalier, reel 
ing in his seat, went sliding into the arms of his loyal 
followers, while the devil of a horse whirled round, tug 
ging, straining at the reins and striving to break away. 
" Dismount ! " " Down with you ! " " Off with you ! " 
cried the pursuers, officer and man, as another terrified 
horse tore, wildly neighing, in chase of the foremost. 
It was a desperate effort on part of the grays. Their 
comrade troopers were too far off to help them, even 
could they drive through the stout skirmish line already 
far flung across the field beyond. With a last wave 
of his white hand, the officer seemed ordering his de 
fenders to save themselves, and those in saddle, with 
parting shots and defiant yells one of them even hurl 
ing in rage his emptied revolver at the tall adjutant, 
the foremost man in the rush darted away, bending 



" IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE " IQI 

low over the streaming manes, with the bullets of half 
a score of Springfields whizzing past their ears, and only 
a sad-faced, silent little trio knelt about the fallen soldier 
as, panting and triumphant, the boys in blue came 
thronging round them. 

The adjutant was off his big, raw-boned bay in an in 
stant and, bending over the fainting man, unscrewed the 
cap of his flask and held it to the pale lips beneath the 
sweeping mustache. "A major, hey?" he said, as he 
noted the brilliant braids of gold lace on the handsome 
uniform frock. " What is a major doing out here with 
only a squad of you boys ? " and something like pity 
shone in his kindling eyes, as he looked up at the beard 
less, clear-cut, young face of the captured trooper near 
est him. Two of the three could not have been more 
than seventeen, but never a word of complaint did they 
utter not a syllable did either speak in reply. 

"What have you, Haskell?" inquired the black- 
bearded general, riding in through the group of eager, 
almost sympathetic soldier faces. 

" Don t know yet, General," was the answer, as a 
faint quiver ran through the prostrate form. " He can t 
speak for himself, and these young veterans 
won t." 

"Is he wounded?" asked the chief. "Surely you 
can tell us that," he added, presently, as he glanced at 
the two silent striplings in gray. Then at last one of 
them faced the commander. 

" Horse fell, suh rolled on him broke his leg," said 



162 THE IRON BRIGADE 

he, with a salute that told unerringly of soldier teach 
ing; so, too, did the speaker s pose. Instinctively he 
was standing at attention. He knew the rank betrayed 
by that yellow sash. 

" Give this young gentleman a sip from your flask, 

Haskell ; I fear he s Why, my lad, you re wounded ! 

Look to him, some of you ! " cried the general, for the 
boy had grown ashen pale and was reeling when strong 
arms caught and lowered him. 

" Sure, General. He s shot through the breast," said 
a bearded soldier, tearing aside the trooper s jacket and 
displaying a blood-wet shirt beneath. 

" And wouldn t show it," answered the general. 
" That s the way with them. Send for a surgeon, Cap 
tain." And then the general, too, was off his horse and 
bending over the stricken lad. " Do you know his name 
and home ? " he asked of the pale-faced young Vir 
ginian, standing trembling a bit with excitement beside 
him. The lad flushed, looked distressed, embarrassed, 
but seemed to believe it his soldier duty to give no in 
formation whatever to the enemy. It was Jennings 
who spoke, his voice breaking harshly, somehow, on 
the silence of the surrounding group, as he elbowed a 
way through the curious circle and caught sight of the 
swooning boy. 

" I know him, General. He s one of our best, suh," 
and now Jennings, too, had thrown himself upon his 
knees. " It s Floyd Pelham, suh, of Charlottesville. 
It ll break his mother s heaht, suh, if he s done for." 



"IN THE TEETH OF THE BRIGADE" 153 

The wail in the Virginian s voice seemed to catch the 
ear and rouse the faculties of the reviving officer. 

"Who s that done for?" he faintly asked. "Not 
Floyd Pelham ? " And bracing his hands upon the turf, 
he struggled to a sitting posture, while Jennings sprang 
to his feet and stared. 

" Major Lounsberry ! Good God, suh, you wounded, 
too? Why, I d no idea " 

" No idea, I suppose," interposed the major, with cut 
ting, sarcastic emphasis, " that your friends, the Chil- 
tons, had turned that Yankee lieutenant loose. Well, 
you needn t rejoice, gentlemen, we ve got him again 
and right in the teeth of his own brigade ! " 



CHAPTER XIII 

RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 

Long as he lives Fred Benton will never forget that 
night ride from the Chiltons and the thrilling days that 
followed. Imperiously had Queen Rosalie dismissed 
him. Impulsively had she turned away, refusing further 
look, touch or word. Her door closed behind her, and 
he well knew she meant her mandate to be final. " Not 
a second to lose ! " Even now he should have been far 
up toward the mountains. Yet the doctor was again 
stirring uneasily about his room below. The light 
burned dimly in the lower hall. Pomp had disappeared 
from the window small task was it for that agile imp 
to climb a lightning " rawd" ! But, groping back to his 
room, Benton heard again the stamp of hoofs beneath 
the window and muttered words and a sound as of 
straining over some unresponsive, inanimate burden. 
Then something heaved up through the dim starlight 
and lightly tapped against the clapboards below the sill, 
and something black came " swarming " up the other 
something Pomp again, and Pomp chuckled at sound 
of Benton s whispered hail. 

" We ve got a ladder dis time, suh. Didn t dass try 
it befo wid dem sojus at de bahn," and by ladder, not by 



RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 165 

lightning rod, was the descent accomplished. Dusky 
hands helped the crippled soldier into saddle. Dusky 
hands waved him good-by and good luck. Darky voices 
muttered blessings for the astonishing feel of gold in 
dusky palms for Benton would not ride until he had 
rewarded and then, never knowing until long, long 
after what chattel it was that aided Pomp in aiding him 
to mount, never seeking to know until the dawn whose 
was the dusky hand that took his bridle rein and led 
him cautiously away through the darkness, Benton lifted 
up his brave heart in brief, silent prayer for heaven s 
blessing on those that dwelt within that house, for 
heaven s guidance on his way, and gave himself un 
questioning to him whom she, his imperious queen, had 
appointed as his guide, and together they rode forth into 
the murmuring night. 

Through leafy lanes, until clear of the village, across 
a broad high-road into dark depths beyond, over a slop 
ing pasture where, studying the stars on high, Benton 
first took note that they were heading westward again, 
twisting and turning through winding woodpath, ever 
accompanied by the clamor of watch-dogs not yet recon 
ciled to night patrols. Twice compelled to let down bars 
and squeeze through half-opened barnyard gates, his 
silent conductor led on and Benton followed, until even 
the dogs of the suburbs were left behind and they, the 
fugitives, had found the open country. Then at last his 
escort turned and said: " Kin you stand a little canter, 
Marstuh ? " and Benton recognized the voice of Dusky 



166 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Dan, and " stood " accordingly. They forded, some 
where toward two o clock, a little branch, a tributary of 
the rushing Rivanna, and were still heading westward 
when Fred s darky guide left him with both horses at 
the edge of a grove, while he went forward afoot and 
reconnoitred. Presently he came back rejoiceful. " Dey 
ain t a soul a lookin out fo de bridge, suh. Dey s all 
over Gawd nsville way. We save nigh onto five miles 
hyuh," and so led on again, the hoof-beats sounding 
hollow on the planking of some old-time truss across a 
swift, exuberant mountain stream, running bank full and, 
far and near, said Dan, unfordable. Still on through 
whispering aisles of forest trees, through squashy cross 
country bridle paths, far from pike or toll road; only 
at rare intervals, now, stirring the challenge of some 
farmer s dog, and never seeing habitation of any kind 
until, just as the dawn was faintly lighting the placid 
eastern sky, clean swept of every cloud, old Daniel led 
his soldier charge from the beaten track, and turning 
square to the left began a tortuous climb that brought 
them presently into an open pasture, half way up a 
line of wooded heights, and there, faintly visible at 
the upper side of the clearing, were two little cabins 
with an outlying shed and some ramshackle fences, and 
here, while Benton was made comfortable in his blanket 
with his feet to a fire, Dan held converse with other un 
seen occupants, giving explicit directions, faintly audible 
in the hiss of frying bacon and the bubble of boiling 
coffee. Benton heard vaguely, drowsily, the words 



RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 167 

" Swift Run Gap, Sperryville, Ohleans, Hedgman 
River " and when he roused himself in response to vig 
orous yet regretful prodding, he knew not how long 
thereafter, a new voice sounded on his sleepy senses. 
Another guardian bent over him in the shape of a negro 
with wrinkled face and gray-white, kinky hair, but a 
world of sympathy and interest in his sombre eyes. 
Marstuh s breakfast was spoiling and it was time that 
they were moving. Where was Daniel ? " Daniel had 
to go back to Marse Chilton s. Miss Rosalie done fixed 
all dat." 

And so, while Benton drank a huge tin of steaming 
coffee and ate hungrily at the rashers and " aigs " pro 
vided for him, his new attendant explained the situation. 
For years he had belonged to Marse Chilton, but when 
he married a lass on the Lounsberry place, and by and 
by the chil luns began to grow, Marse Chilton found 
him of less use than ever and swapped him off. And 
then he d been Marse Lounsberry s coachman, and then 
was put in charge of Marse Pelham s " stawk," and 
finally he and his ole woman were moved up here into 
the mountains to take care of the cattle of certain fan 
ciers who had prudently shifted their Jerseys and Ayr- 
shires to the hills rather than see them requisitioned by 
a commissariat that already had begun to find its limi 
tations in the matter of fresh beef. His big boy Hector 
was " groomin hawses," and from this point would 
lead him on up the east face of the range until near the 
Hedgman. He knew that country well, whereas old 



168 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Dan did not, and the latter had to hurry home so that 
he might show about the Chilton place as usual. Miss 
Rosalie had ordered that, too. They would do anything 
in the world for her or for the doctor. 

But Mars r ought to have been beyond the Gap road 
Swift Run Gap before sun-up and now twas long 
after, but Hector knew the Ridge and a host of places 
to hide if need be. Hector had a sweetheart on 
the Hazel whom he greatly longed to see for whose 
sake more than thrice had he run the gauntlet to her 
welcoming arms, and so, once more, but in broad day 
light now, and well up along the heights, with magnifi 
cent vistas of eastward Virginia almost every hour, they 
came at last in view of the twisting mountain road that 
pierced the range Jackson s runway from the Shenan- 
doah down to Gordonsville and here again Fred lurked 
in hiding, while Hector scrambled down afoot to try the 
pass. 

Thus far the danger had been slight. Between Rock- 
fish and Swift Run Gaps there lay few roads through 
which scouting parties would be apt to come. Brown s 
and Powell s Gaps were then but little used. The Blue 
Ridge served as a screen or barrier to their left. The 
line of communication of the Southern army was far 
over along the railway to the east. Jackson and his 
nimble-footed brigades were still some distance down 
the Shenandoah to the north, but Hector had heard 
" old Stonewall " was retiring before overwhelming 
/lumbers, and that a lot of his soldiers were already at 



RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 169 

work over on the west side, throwing up fortifications, 
and couriers kept coming and going between him and 
" Marse " Ewell down at " Gawd nsville." Benton still 
wore the uniform coat and riding breeches in which he 
had been captured, though a sleeve was slit and a shoul 
der-strap had been ripped off. His forage cap, too, a 
jaunty affair of the McClellan type, had been missing 
since the fight at the stone house, and he was sporting 
a black, broad-brimmed felt hat that had done duty in 
Jack Chilton s university days. Horse, horse equip 
ments, Grimsley valise, and all items attached to the 
saddle, of course, were gone, but he still had his field- 
glass. A pair of the doctor s old saddle-bags slung on 
his horse seemed bulging with sundries he had not yet 
had time to inspect. A blanket and poncho, " treasure 
trove " of Manassas the First, were strapped on the 
spare horse, together with a canteen marked U. S., and 
that canteen Hector had replenished at a mountain 
brook only an hour agone. With their bits slipped and 
their fore feet hoppled, the horses were placidly brows 
ing among the bushes close at hand, and there for over 
an hour this sunshiny April morning the lonely Union 
soldier watched and waited, and over and again mar 
velled at the generalship of the girl who had managed 
every detail connected with his escape. Only that one 
evening did she have in which to prepare, yet saddle 
bags were secured and packed, blanket and poncho pro 
vided, horses " borrowed " by Black Dan, with the con 
nivance of a colored retainer, from the Pelham pasti e 



170 THE IRON BRIGADE 


within pistol shot of the varsity grounds (to take their 

own would have lent too much color to the theory that 
the doctor connived), their very route mapped out and 
determined, and all this by a Virginia maid yet in her 
teens, already the planner of Paul Ladue s escape al 
ready the heroine of a perilous midnight masquerade 
the object of which was still wrapped in tormenting 
mystery. 

If she would but condescend if he could but induce 
her to account for that, what might it not mean to Ben- 
ton! Only once had he ventured to begin to suggest 
that explanation was something due to herself, when she 
lifted up her eyes and then her queenly little head, and 
just looked at him, and that ended further questioning. 

Ten o clock had come, so said his watch, before Hec 
tor reappeared, big-eyed, panting. There were two 
hundred soldiers to the west of the Gap digging forts, 
a squad in every farmhouse along the road, and about 
as much chance of a Yankee officer crossing in daylight 
as there was " of a needle s eye a-gittin into heaven." 
Hector had been piously taught at some time in his life 
and now he looked at the blue and the brass buttons 
in dismay. 

Benton thought it over. The guard were to come for 
him at six, and long ere this had discovered his escape. 
Pursuit and search would of course be made. " Any 
body own bloodhounds around Charlottesville ? " he 
asked, and Hector said " No." Still Dan had gone 
back, Dan might be lashed and tortured until he re- 



RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 171 

vealed what he knew such things had happened and 
the sooner Benton reached the upper waters of the Rap- 
pahannock and secure hiding places back of Warrenton, 
known to Hector, the better it would be for him 
for all. He doubted not that by noon couriers would 
come galloping out from Gordonsville telling of his es 
cape and ordering guards and sentries on the lookout 
everywhere along the Gap. 

" Not a second to lose ! " He sprang to the saddle 
bags and began a search. What had occurred to him 
would probably have occurred to her, and it was Miss 
Rosalie, Dan affirmed, who packed them. With eager 
hands Benton pulled at the contents of the nearmost a 
flask of brandy from the doctor s store, towel, handker 
chiefs, sponge, soap, comb and brush, socks, shirt and 
underwear Jack s, of course, and probably a tight fit; 
small tin boxes containing ground coffee, sugar and 
other things no time to examine now! an extra sling 
and bandage for his arm; boot hooks! Think of a 
woman who would think of them ! Then came a shout 
from Hector, rummaging on the other side, and over 
the broad back of Marse Pelham s old Pyramus came a 
worn gray sack coat and waistcoat, of Richmond make, 
and pinned to the lapel a scrap of paper on which in 
pencil appeared in Roman characters, not script, these 
words : " Map and spectacles in coat pocket. Small 
pistol also. Look out for Federals about Warrenton. 
Strip gold cord." 

Gold cord? Why, yes, that meant the narrow gold 



172 THE IRON BRIGADE 

braid worn in the war days on the seam of the trousers 
by general and staff officers. Small compliment to him 
was it that she should think it necessary to remind him 
of that. Yet, how sweet how sweet it was to see how 
she planned and thought for him ! 

In less than half an hour, a tall, pale-faced, studious- 
looking young man in spectacles, slouch hat and worn 
sack coat of gray thrown loosely over a slung right 
arm with a dark-brown horse, a doctor s saddle-bags 
and a darky follower on a nondescript nag, turned de 
liberately from a mountain path and took the highway 
to the eastward, for all the world as though he were 
bound for Stanardsville or beyond. A few rods further 
the road twisted to the left and brought him in view of 
a mountain cabin, close to a watering trough where a 
squad of soldiers in queer-looking frock coats of dingy 
gray were filling their canteens. Another of their num 
ber, sick and dejected, was squatting on the steps, his 
sallow face the picture of woe. " Gawt any physic that 
will cure the cawlic, dawktuh ? " drawled a sun-tanned 
young fellow in sergeant s stripes, and the doctor reined 
in, studied the patient attentively one moment, then 
swung out of saddle and stepped to his side. Asking no 
questions, he gravely felt the pulse and glanced at the 
coated tongue, smiled quietly to himself and, while Hec 
tor held the horses, fumbled a minute at the saddle-bags, 
stirred a compound into a stone china cup that stood 
by the trough a compound whereof powdered sugar, 
spring water and Spiritus Vini Gallici were the sole in- 



RIVANNA TO RAPIDAN 173 

gradients, and in three minutes had the satisfaction of 
seeing the light of reviving interest in life in the dull eyes 
of the invalid and receiving the plaudits of half a dozen 
would-be patients. Gladly would they have held him, 
though from no hostile intent, as, with apparent serenity 
yet with thumping heart, he rode away. He had heard 
enough to make it expedient that he should move at 
once. 

" You re the first dawktuh we ve seen since we left 
home, cept those in the army, suh," said the young ser 
geant. " Guess they need em all." 

" You re not Virginian, then," hazarded Benton, as 
he was mounting. 

" No, suh Fifteenth Alabama, Trimble s brigade, 
suh. We b long down at Gawd nsville, but they sent a 
few companies out this way last night." 

"Know any of the Eleventh?" queried Benton, 
rashly, yet thinking it not unwise to display some knowl 
edge of the Southern service " Lieutenant Ladue, of 
Mobile ? " he continued at a venture. 

" Not many, suh. They re all with General Long- 
street and Anderson down toward Yohktown." 

" Lieutenant Ladue ain t ! " said the sick man, uplift 
ing his sallow face. " He s on General Ewell s staff 
made me ride his hawse this mornin an he ain t a mile 
away this minute." 



CHAPTER XIV 

THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE 

Late that evening two tired steeds were painfully 
struggling up a stony, winding pathway among the 
heights at the headwaters of the Hazel. Dodging ham 
lets and settlements, fording branch after branch of the 
Rapidan, keeping ever to the wood-path and by-ways, 
Fred s black guide at last had landed him in a sheltered 
nook among the hills, just as darkness settled down over 
the wild beauty of the woodland scenery, and the twink 
ling stars came peeping into the eastward sky. Here in 
a little amphitheatre of rock and cedar and stunted pine, 
Hector sprang from his dejected beast, whose drooping 
head and jaded withers told of the trials of the day, 
helped Benton to alight, whipped off the saddles and set 
to work to build a little fire in a blackened corner, evi 
dently often put to similar use in the past. The beasts 
had had their fill of water when they forded the Hazel 
and were soon rolling in infinite relief on the scanty turf. 
Then the battered tin was filled from the canteen and 
set to boil for coffee. Some pine boughs were shaken 
down, and Fred s blanket spread. Then away went Hec 
tor to refill the canteen and get such news as he could. 
It was late, near nine o clock, when he came back laden 



THROUGH THE MESH OP THE FOE 175 

oats for the horses, corn dodgers for their riders and 
big news for Fred. The Yankees were pushing forward 
in heavy columns along the Rappahannock, moving per 
haps on Culpeper. Yankee troopers had been scouting 
that morning about Fauquier Springs and Waterloo, 
barely fifteen miles away. If all went well and the 
horses weren t lame in the morning, they could be off 
at dawn and feel their way round back of the Cross 
Roads and Washington Coht House, cross the North 
Fork the Hedgman way up among the hills, and then 
work eastward until they fell in with the Yankee cavalry 
that ought to be out on the right flank of McDowell s 
advance. Hector had a friend who could " baw " a mule 
and meet them at the ford of the Thornton back of 
Sperryville, and show a way to the Hedgman. After 
that if Hector was to go back, Benton would have to 
shift for himself. 

If only Stuart s fellows, now, or some other Southern 
cavalry weren t scouting the lower fords and wood- 
roads, interposing between them and the Yankee out 
posts at Warrenton, all might go well. 

And so, wearied yet refreshed and full of hope, Fred 
Benton slept until aroused by the din of dogs among 
the farms below them. It was just at the chill of the 
earliest dawn. A whip-poor-will was piping his weird 
chant in the thickets on the northward side, and from 
that day until long years thereafter he could never hear 
the harmless, mournful plaint without a thrill of anxiety, 
if not dismay, for from far down among the scattered 



!76 THE IRON BRIGADE 

settlements there came floating to him on the still, 
morning air, quick, stirring and spirited the soft trumpet 
notes of the cavalry reveille, played just as he had 
heard it played four successive mornings on that ambu 
lance journey to the railway, and he knew these were 
not the blue-jackets of Bayard, but beyond doubt the 
grays. The plumes of Stuart might have been wafted 
away to meet the new danger along the York, but Ben- 
ton had heard enough at the Chiltons to know that 
skilled leaders of horse, with hosts of daring fellows, 
were still close at hand, Turner Ashby in the Valley or 
Beverly Robertson in front of Ewell at Gordonsville. 
Now, what could this mean but that the squadron had 
bivouacked far out on their flank, far north, too, of the 
Confederate positions below the Rapidan,and was scout 
ing these mountain by-paths, perhaps in search of him? 
To Robertson and men of his rank the game might not 
be worth the candle, but there was that strangely vin 
dictive fellow Lounsberry, armed with power to order 
hither and yon. The dawn came in with rose and 
gold and royal purple, but the day looked dark for 
Benton. 

Rousing Hector, who still slept the sleep of the just 
and the weary, he told him of the new danger, and the 
darky s eyes bulged in their sockets. He was up and 
well scared in less than no time and, taking Benton s 
glass, disappeared among the rocks and trees up the 
hillside to the west. There was a lookout, he said, in 
the branches of an oak, from which much of the country 



THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE 177 

could be seen to the southeast. It was full twenty 
minutes later and just after Benton had heard the dis 
tant signal " boots and saddles " from the same trumpet, 
when he came scrambling down. No time for coffee, 
no time for feeding or rubbing the horses, he said. Like 
as not these troopers would be out searching every by 
path. He had seen them doing that after the first Bull 
Run when a dozen Yankee prisoners broke away from 
the cars at night and skipped for the mountains. They 
had all but two of them back inside of twelve hours. 
Hurriedly saddling, Hector then aided his charge to 
mount; then again led the way, crooked and devious, 
through all manner of scrub and tangle ; threading ra 
vines, skirting clearings and creeping ever higher to 
ward the crest until the foothills at last were left far 
below, and by the edge of a little brook that furnished 
cool and abundant water for man and beast they stopped 
for breakfast coffee, cold corn dodgers, and slices of 
bacon frizzled on the point of a stick for the masters 
and the last of the oats for the four-footed slaves. Then 
on again northward, and, so tortuous was their way, so 
many were the halts, making on a bee line little more 
than a mile an hour, they bored through the wilderness 
until, late in the afternoon, from a bare projecting ledge, 
they obtained their first unimpeded view to the east 
ward, and saw the North Fork, the Hedgman, like a sil 
ver thread, winding away southeastward through copses 
and clearings, and among the wooded heights toward 
Warrenton, and all the lovely rural landscape of Fau- 



178 THE IRON BRIGADE 

quier spread before them like a map. Who now were 
masters there the Blue or the Gray? 

That night the moon, half full but brilliant, stood high 
toward the zenith as the whip-poor-wills began their 
vesper Miserere. By midnight it would sink behind the 
Blue Ridge, and Benton ordered " forward " while the 
faint light lasted, despite Hector s demurrer. He didn t 
know the Hedgman fords, he said, and they d find cav 
alry everywhere along the stream. They wouldn t waste 
so many horsemen looking for one man, said Benton, 
but Hector could tell the time when as many as two 
hundred were out after one poor nigger, though he 
failed to say what the fugitive had done to make him 
so generally sought. Hector declared they " might 
treat Marse Benton decent enough if they cotched him," 
but what concerned Hector most, and not unnaturally, 
was the treatment that would be meted out to Benton s 
colored guide and helper. Hector had heard terrific 
tales of what had befallen certain of his color and condi 
tion that had aided Ossawatomie Brown at Harper s 
Ferry exaggerated tales, no doubt, yet not contra 
dicted because it might be just as well to let the darkies 
know the penalty of lending aid to the enemy. " Dey d 
flog me to death, suh, or burn my eyes out," he pleaded. 
But Benton was firm. They must try to cross the 
Hedgman while the moon served, then hide in the 
woods on the further shore until the dawn of another 
day. 

A scrambly ride was that to the lowlands, but toward 



THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE 179 

ten o clock they struck a wood-path, and began to stir 
the dogs of scattered homesteads in the foot-hills. No 
main travelled roads were to be found in this region, 
but even the bridle paths might be guarded by cavalry, 
andjust as the moon was sinking behind the ridge and 
they fancied they could hear the soothing murmur of 
swift waters, a sudden turn of the path brought them 
to the edge of a cleared field and in view of a scattered 
shed or two. Then came double challenge. First the 
impudent snarl and dash of a brace of back country 
mongrels ; then the stern " Halt thar ! Dismount ! " of 
a cavalry vedette, starting from the shadow of a clump 
of stunted trees, not fifty feet away. 

Before Hector, limp and trembling, could slip to 
earth in obedience to the order, Benton s hand was on 
his arm, lugging him back into saddle, while his heels 
made vigorous play. " Stoop low, you fool, and fol 
low ! " he swore between his set teeth as he whirled his 
horse about and at plunging gallop tore westward again 
by the way they came. A shot rang out on the night. 
A bullet went whizzing into the shrubbery, but before 
the solitary sentry could reload, or the men from the 
picket reach him, Benton and Hector were four hun 
dred yards away back along the wood-path and heading 
through the darkness for the higher refuge of the hills. 
Unwittingly they struck a northward-bending path at an 
unseen fork, and there, as no sound of pursuit reached 
them, Benton bade Hector cease his terrific heeling of 
his horse s ribs, and gladly enough the half-blown beasts 



180 THE IRON BRIGADE 

came down to heaving walk. The ill luck that had led 
them into the maw of the outermost picket of the Con 
federate force turned to blessing when, near midnight, 
they found themselves at an unguarded reach of this 
far-away branch of the Rappahannock, and the thirsting 
horses, eager for drink, found their own ford to the 
other shore. 

Then came a night of broken sleep ; then a long day 
of cautious prowling toward the line of heights to the 
eastward the Bull Run mountains, as Benton s map 
declared them. They did not faint or starve, for scat 
tered field hands brought them pone and " poke " and 
buttermilk at sight of Hector s silver. Some of them 
had not seen a dime since Christmas of a year gone by. 
They brought them further tidings of Yankee horsemen 
in blue, hundreds of them, scouting all round here two 
days ago, and then riding away to Warrenton, and then 
of small parties of gray-coated gentlemen the very next 
day popping across the Hedgman at every ford and 
bridge, picking up Yankee stragglers and running them 
off to Gawd nsville, and of a tall, fine-looking gentleman, 
with lots of buttons and gold lace and beautiful sword 
and sash and spurs " didn t look lak he d been doin 
any hahd fightin " and he and his people were asking 
everywhere for such a gentleman as this with Hector. 
Then Lounsberry was still between him and the Union 
lines ! 

That night they slept, or rather waked, in a barn some 
distance south of Salem, hidden by friendly darkies, for 



THROUGH THE MESH OP THE FOE 181 

now Hector feared to return. He felt sure that his con 
nection with Benton s escape was known, and that dire 
punishment awaited him. He would unite his fortunes 
with those of his new master, and be his groom and 
hostler for the rest of his days. Union cavalry had been 
trotting to and fro on the pike between the two Gaps, 
Manassas and Thoroughfare, until yesterday, whispered 
their darky entertainers who stole cheerfully from lar 
der and kitchen of the nearest farmers in order to min 
ister to their wants but now, unaccountably, it was all 
" Secesh " again, though there were only a few. A 
young negro promised to fetch a mule at four in the 
morning and guide them over the hills toward New 
Baltimore, eastward, they dare not try the roads, or 
Thoroughfare Gap and from New Baltimore, once 
across the Warrenton Pike, Benton hoped to be able to 
reach the Union lines. True to his word and his hopes 
of reward, the young fellow roused them an hour before 
the dawn and had them clear of the valley roads before 
sun-up. Then from the heights back of the Warrenton 
pike Benton scoured the low ground toward Manassas 
with his glasses, and only far south of Broad Run could 
he see sign of cavalry of any kind, and so, bidding their 
latest guide adieu, he and his faithful Hector rode hope 
fully yet slowly, for the beasts were leg weary down 
from the wooded range toward the long seam through 
the open country, the once well-travelled high-road to 
the lovely old county seat of Fauquier. They were look 
ing for abandoned shack, cabin or barn where they could 



182 THE IRON BRIGADE 

hide until twilight, then, with fairly level country to 
traverse and the moon to light the way, they might 
cross the pike unseen and, skirting Broad Run for a dis 
tance, reach the pickets about Bristoe or Manassas be 
fore another sun. 

And so, while still well up above the level of the low 
lands, they were baiting their horses and having a frugal 
lunch in an old cowshed, when toward noon their 
startled ears caught the sound of hoof-beats on the hill 
side, and there came shambling into sight a wild-eyed 
negro, one of their friends of the night before, on a 
remonstrant mule. " Run, Marse ! " he cried, at sight 
of Benton. " Run, fo Gawd s sake ! Dey s a hundred 
sojers huntin every house an bahn just over the hill, 
suh, and comin dis way ! " There was nothing for it 
now but mount and away a stern chase was a long one, 
anyhow. 

Then came a ride almost for life. Down through 
winding lanes to the farms below, out to the pike itself, 
with many a backward glance at the low line of heights 
behind them and expectant ever of seeing gray-jacketted 
horsemen heading them off in front, they trotted on 
until they came in view of some mill buildings, a mile 
before them Buckland s, doubtless, said Benton, after 
a glance at his map, and more than likely there would 
be cavalry there if anywhere east of the Bull Run range. 
They turned into a lane leading away southeastward be 
tween desolate fields; halted to "blow" their panting, 
reeking horses at a little clump of trees near a south- 



THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE 183 

ward sweep of the mill stream Broad Run then Ben- 
ton unslung his glass and took deliberate survey of the 
distant mills, then of the country over which they had 
come, and, spurring like mad down a slope of the 
heights, barely three miles back of them, came a dozen 
gray horsemen. " They ve seen us," said he, as quietly 
as he could, and Hector s trembling hands helped him 
again to mount. Then away dashed the pair for the 
first ford of the stream, only to see as they rode out 
dripping on the opposite bank that the distant fringe of 
the Manassas woods looked far away as ever. Oh, for 
a sight of Union flankers now ! 

A long half hour they rode, fast as jaded steed could 
bear them, but Hector s horse was nearly done. The 
spare oak openings, the scattered copses, now were only 
half a mile ahead, but southward, cutting them off from 
Bristoe, galloped a jaunty half dozen, following the lead 
of a dashing rider. Behind them, still beyond carbine 
range but slowly gaining, full twenty troopers were 
spreading out over the open fields, " turning " them, as 
it were, from the left. The soil was growing loose and 
soft and spongy now that they had left the lanes, and 
every now and then they plunged through holes, deep 
and treacherous, but still they lashed ahead, Hector s 
poor brute groaning staggering with every stride. 
Presently the ground began slowly rising and the woods 
grew thick. If only they could reach them ! Surely the 
Union pickets must be close at hand, and now, as they 
drove in among the clumps of stunted trees, they lost 



184 THE IRON BRIGADE 

sight of the troopers to the south. Now the yells of 
those in rear became exultant, and still there came no 
shot. Then, as they struggled through a boggy slough, 
with sickening groan Hector s exhausted horse went 
down and floundered helpless in the mud, his wretched 
rider dragging himself from underneath, and, limping 
to the foot of a tree, fell gasping and terrified. " Oh, 
Gawd, don t leave me, Marse Benton ! " he pleaded in 
agony. " Doan leave me or dey ll kill me, suah." 
With one glance at the cheering chase, one longing look 
at the eastward slopes, Benton sprang from saddle, and 
with firm-set lips and flashing eyes, with only one arm, 
one weapon, to oppose to these thronging and exultant 
foes, proud, protecting and defiant, he planted himself 
between the yelling troopers and the prostrate, helpless, 
humble friend, and like gentleman and soldier stood to 
his ground, looking fate in the face. 

Bursting through the trees, the foremost riders drove 
straight at him. " Down with that pistol ! " shouted a 
voice in stern command. " Don t shoot, men ; he s 
wounded ! Drop your pistol, suh. We re ten to one ! " 
And realizing the hopelessness of fight, Fred Benton 
tossed his puny weapon away. 

But what meant that sudden shot to the southward? 
what that sputtering volley, that burst of cheers ? " The 
major ! " " The Yanks ! " " Come on, come on ! " were 
the shouts. Away darted half the mud-spattered group, 
and then, sudden as the shot, in spurred a breathless 
young officer. " Mount, suh, instantly ! Help him, 



THROUGH THE MESH OF THE FOE 185 

corporal. Up with you, suh ! We haven t a moment." 
Rough, powerful hands fairly lifted him into saddle. 
Another hand seized the reins of his horse. " Come on 
now, lively ! " was the order. " Get him back out o 
range. We ve run slap into a brigade, general and all. 
Off with you to Buckland, you two ! The rest of you 
come with me to the major. What ll we do with the 
nigguh? Damn the nigguh we ve no time to bother 
with him ! " 

Daring and devoted, away went the young gallants to 
the support of their chief, only to meet the riderless 
horses tearing through the glade, only to see a dis 
ciplined skirmish line come dancing out into the open, 
the slanting sunbeams flashing on their glistening -rifles, 
only to see that their major was beyond all possibility 
of rescue, only to realize that the ardor of the chase 
had carried him and them very much too far, for, as 
though riding to the sound of the shots, there came 
galloping into line platoon after platoon of a blue- 
jacketted squadron, the first of a column issuing from 
the southward woods, and now the tables turned in 
desperate earnest, for, with blown and exhausted 
mounts, what hope had they of escape? "Charge as 
foragers," rang the distant trumpets, as the leader s 
eyes swept over the scene and saw the pitiful few in his 
front, and, with a wild burst of cheers, and sabres flash 
ing on high, the long line sprang forward, fan-like; then, 
every man for himself, came tearing northward across 
the field. 



136 THE IR ON BRIGADE 

An hour later, defiant and superbly disdainful of his 
surroundings, Major Lounsberry was being interro 
gated by Captain Carver of the division staff, while 
three or four other officers in blue hovered about the 
little frame farmhouse to which the prisoner had been 
conducted. 

" You may spare yourself the trouble of questioning 
me, suh," said he with appropriate hauteur. " I decline 
to answer. Wait till you see Dr. Chilton," he added, 
with sneering triumph, " if he isn t already hanged for 
a traitor. You ve seen the last of your friend Benton, 
I reckon. Perhaps he could have told you." 

" I reckon he could," said Carver imperturbably, as 
he glanced toward the door at Lounsberry s back. 
" How is it, Benton, is Ewell at Gordonsville ? " 



CHAPTER XV 
LINCOLN S DILEMMA 

" The President desires to see Lieutenant Benton of 
your staff," wrote the adjutant general, three weeks 
later, to the division commander and, just at a time 
when he hated to go, for there seemed a prospect of a 
forward dash on Gordonsville, the aide-de-camp found 
himself en route from the Stafford heights opposite 
Fredericksburg to the steamer landing on the Potomac. 
The big division had made a sudden swoop from Cat- 
lett s on the Orange railway down to the lower Rappa- 
hannock. A Confederate cavalry picket had been cut off 
and captured. Another young gallant, painfully 
wounded, had been brought in, and now, in charge of 
Benton, was being escorted to Washington. He had 
refused parole. He would rather share the fate of 
Lounsberry, said he, if his wounds speedily healed, or 
of poor Floyd Pelham, still languishing in hospital, if 
the wounds proved baffling. He knew both gentlemen, 
it seems, and had served with one of the detachments 
in pursuit of Benton. It was strange, indeed, to find 
himself now a prisoner in the hands of the recently pur 
sued, and, with no little curiosity in his eyes, had he 
watched the stalwart aide who had come each day to 



188 THE IRON BRIGADE 

the field hospital at Falmouth to talk with and cheer 
him. Distant and offish in manner at first, as he and 
his comrades had considered it their role to appear, this 
young soldier had melted under the kindness shown him 
by the enemy. " We heard stories that led us to expect 
the opposite," said he, and so, before the doctor de 
clared him well enough to be sent further to the rear, 
had told of things of vivid interest to him who so lately 
had himself been prisoner within the hostile lines. How 
much those fellows seemed to know of everything tran 
spiring within the Union divisions ! Just what had been 
done with Lounsberry and Pelham just where they 
were confined and everything connected with their cap 
ture was all told at Charlottesville almost as soon as at 
Washington. How little, until long weeks after, as a 
rule, did our generals know of the daily doings beyond 
the picket posts along the front ! With sorrow and anx 
iety inexpressible Benton heard that in spite of Dr. 
Chilton s long years of kindness and generosity among 
his townsfolk in spite of Rosalie s acknowledged 
queendom, an almost bitter feeling now existed, and 
there was talk of arrest and incarceration at Richmond. 
Not until he had studied Benton for several days did 
young Winston admit all this and more. He had 
heard it through officers at Robertson s headquarters. 
He had known the Chiltons well when he was a junior 
at the Varsity. He had often seen Lounsberry and 
had heard much of his standing and influence had 
heard, moreover, that he had been a devotee of Miss 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 189 

Rosalie s. " However," with a quick glance at Ben- 
ton s face, which colored instantly, even under its coat 
of tan and sunburn, " Lounsberry didn t seem to find 
favor." There was some trouble, he didn t know what, 
and Maud Pelham had " had a flare up " with Rosalie, 
and that was something people didn t understand, for 
Jack Chilton was as much smitten with her as Louns 
berry had been with Miss Chilton. " Don t s pose you 
heard much about it," said he in the confidence bred 
of the unlooked-for kindness with which he had been 
treated, but adding, with an apologetic laugh, " they do 
say at Charlottesville that Miss Rosalie just ruled every 
body about her like she was a bohn queen." And then 
did Mr. Winston admit that possibly something of the 
bitterness now displayed was due to this fact, and to 
the envy or malice of those who had felt her imper 
ious sway in the past. At all events, and here was 
what so troubled Benton, it was held that the doctor, 
or at least Miss Rosalie, had taken active part in Ben- 
ton s escape and had thereby been false to the cause 
of Virginia and the South. The doctor contented him 
self with saying the escape was all a surprise to him, 
though he would not say that he deplored it. He frankly 
owned his obligation to his former captive and his re 
joicing that the young fellow was spared the fate of a 
prisoner at Libby. As for Miss Rosalie, " she was too 
proud to say a word," said Winston. It was Jack who 
really suffered most, for he had incurred the suspicion 
of war-office magnates, who had sent surgeons to ex- 



190 THE IRON BRIGADE 

amine and say whether, if exchanged, he would be fit 
to restime duty a proceeding that set him back six 
weeks on the road to recovery, so ugly was the fever 
into which he fretted himself. Indeed, Jack was criti 
cally ill, said Winston, when last he heard of him. Then 
Lounsberry s people wouldn t speak to Dr. Chilton. 
Squire Pelham had publicly denounced him as the cause 
of the desperate plight of his own brave boy. Old Black 
Dan had been arrested by soldiers sent by Ewell, and 
taken to Gordonsville, and as for Pomp, he had totally 
disappeared. All this had Lieutenant Winston heard 
just before he rode forth on his latest scout and had 
been pounced upon, while his horses were unsaddled 
and feeding, by a troop of the " Harris Light " Kilpat- 
rick s boasted command and so swept in to the divis 
ion camp opposite quaint old Fredericksburg. 

Therefore was Benton at this moment most unwilling 
to leave the front, for there were indications of brisk 
work and a forward movement that might relieve the 
situation. Letters from home had showered him with 
blessings and congratulations on his escape. The squire 
was now full of a scheme to come on to Washington, 
bringing Elinor with him, but, much as she longed to 
see her brother, the girl was now loth to leave home 
Mrs. Ladue was swiftly failing and seemed to need her 
gentle nurse more and more with every day. Mr. La- 
due, more and more apathetic and resigned, seemed to 
do nothing but sit long hours in an easy rocking-chair, 
watching the gambols of the children s kittens and tak- 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 191 

ing little heed of other mundane matters. McKinnon, 
wrote certain townsfolk to Fred s general, had so lost 
caste in the community that he had determined on a 
war record to rehabilitate himself, and was now seeking 
the lieutenant-colonelcy of a new regiment being raised 
in their midst. The general urged at once, and instead, 
that the field officers of such new regiments should be 
chosen from those officers who, with a year s experience 
at the front, had demonstrated their fitness for com 
mand. " There are candidates right here in the brigade," 
said he, but what influence have soldiers at the front as 
compared with that of State senators at the rear? 

When the President said he wished to see an officer, 
however, it meant that the officer indicated must stand 
not upon the order of his going, and Fred in saddle, with 
young Winston in the ambulance and Hector in a broad 
grin on the steps thereof, set out from Falmouth on a 
mild May morning just about the time that Jackson 
was beginning those wondrous cross-country dashes of 
his in the Shenandoah, scattering our already scattered 
divisions in astonishing style. What with bad news 
from Schenck and Milroy, falling back on Fremont 
after a thrashing at the Bull Pasture, a deep disappoint 
ment over McClellan s being held an entire month in 
front of Yorktown and a feeling that we were getting 
rather the worst of the grapple on the Peninsula, the 
atmosphere about the War Department was gloomy 
enough the day the young officer arrived. He had had 
no time to replace, as yet, the handsome equipments 



192 THE IRON BRIGADE 

sacrificed in his escape. (What had Queen Rosalie done, 
for instance, with that beautiful soft silken sash that he 
left in his room?) He had hoped to do so before re 
porting, but at the hospital where he left his prisoner, 
with a lingering hand clasp and promise of a later call, 
there awaited him a note saying the adjutant-general, 
despite the early hour, desired his presence without de 
lay. There in the ante-room, with officers, orderlies and 
mesengers grouped about or coming and going, sat the 
long, lanky and phenomenally solemn Virginian he had 
first seen that night at the stone house on the Warren- 
ton pike. Jennings knew the newcomer at a glance 
and, springing up, shook him effusively by the hand. 
A moment later an officer appeared at another door and 
beckoned Benton to enter. " What do you know about 
that man ? " was the very first question propounded the 
instant the door closed behind him. 

" Nothing," said Benton, " except that he was at the 
stone house, in trouble with some of our brigade the 
first time I saw him seemed to be well known to Dr. 
Chilton and other Virginians, and later he was with the 
Sixth Wisconsin the afternoon they captured Major 
Lounsberry." 

" But how about papers information concerning 
our forces that he received that night? You were cap 
tured while grappling with the cavalry officer who 
brought them." 

" I ? " cried Benton. " Good heavens ! " And then 
stood dumb, for all on a sudden it flashed over him. 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 193 

Rosalie ! Rosalie, who had so inexplicably donned La- 
due s uniform, ventured down through the darkness to 
the pike, seeking some one at the stone house. Rosalie, 
who had refused to tell what influence prompted that 
apparently reckless escapade! Papers? Information 
concerning our movements? Why, what sense was 
there in her taking all that risk when at that very mo 
ment our pickets were falling back before Stuart s tri 
umphant advance when all but a few of the guard 
had already disappeared from the Henry place when 
by midnight or at the latest at dawn she was almost 
sure to be again in touch with her own friends and 
kindred? Aye, but did she know that? Might it not 
be that there had been papers maps memoranda in 
the pockets of Ladue s uniform that she deemed of vital 
importance to the cause she loved, and so had sought 
what she deemed the surest, quickest way to get them 
to him? Ladue was to go, if possible, to Hopewell and 
the Armisteads. Jennings, if at the stone house, could 
take the packet thither. At all events it would then be 
in safe hands if it proved, indeed, of value safe beyond 
possibility of being taken by the Union soldiers and used 
to the injury of her wounded brother. Perhaps that 
was why she had fought so furiously when he grappled 
with that supple, slender form. Perhaps after his cap 
ture she had given it to Jennings. All this and more 
flashed through his mind as he stood there in the dark 
little office, with his interrogator impatiently facing him, 
and two other officials looking up at him from a paper- 



194 THE IRON BRIGADE 

littered table, much impressed, evidently, by the sig 
nificance of his silence and embarrassment. 

" Yes," sharply repeated the first speaker, " papers 
and, doubtless, valuable information. You saw them 
pass to Jennings, as he calls himself, did you not ? " 

" I saw nothing of the kind ! " answered Benton, inex 
pressibly relieved that as yet, at least, he had had no 
occasion to speak of her to reveal the fact that the 
daring young Southerner with whom he had grappled 
was no officer at all, yet what a soldier ! What a leader 
of men ! What a conqueror and commander ! " In 
deed," he went on eagerly, " I was too busy trying to 
get out of the scrape to think of Jennings at all. I 
made a jump for my horse and was in a hand-to-hand 
fight in two seconds. I never knew what became of 
Jennings." 

" You remember Sergeant Miller, do you not ? " 

" I remember a sergeant an Indiana sergeant, and 
a very keen one who was there, but I feared he and his 
party were killed or captured." 

" Some of them were," said the examining officer 
grimly, " but Miller dove into the bushes, made his way 
through the darkness and escaped. He declares he saw 
the young rebel officer toss the packet to Jennings and 
heard him cry, For General Armistead to-night 
sure ! And now here is Jennings begging to be al 
lowed to see two prisoners Major Lounsberry and the 
young Virginian, Pelham, who was wounded protecting 
him the day you were rescued. He brings a note from 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 195 

the President. Look here ! " and taking a scrap of 
paper from his desk the staff officer held it forth for 
Benton s inspection. It was brief and to the point : 

" The bearer, Mr. Jennings, has been of service and asks to see two 
friends prisoners Major Lounsberry and Trooper Pelham. I shall be 
glad if opportunity can be given him. 

(Signed) "A. LINCOLN." 

Benton read and looked up inquiringly. " I, too 
should like to see them Lounsberry, at least," said he, 
with eyes that kindled and lips that set, " but not as a 
prisoner. I have a score to settle with that gentleman. 
When does Mr. Jennings go?" 

" Can t say. The Secretary said no emphatically 
not until matters were explained. It was thought you 
might settle it one way or another before we questioned 
him." And the officer was manifestly disappointed, and 
still he persisted. "You heard nothing about him? 
Dr. Chilton never spoke of him while you were at 
Charlottesville ? " 

" I cannot recall his ever doing so except casually. 
But Judge Armistead, not the general, was there at 
Gainesville. My belief is that General Armistead was 
not near Manassas when I was taken. Miller must have 
misunderstood." 

Yet how could Miller misunderstand those clear, 
vibrant tones ? The very thought of them thrilled Ben- 
ton to the heart. And how could he now, her lover, 
her infinite debtor, drag her name into the investigation 
so long as there was no need? As yet no one at the 



196 THE IRON BRIGADE 

War Department seemed to know of Rosalie Chilton s 
share in that stirring night s adventure. What good 
end would be attained by the telling of it? 

" Well," said the officer, finally, " I m sorry we had to 
trouble you, but the Secretary thought you would know 
more of this suspected stranger. General McDowell 
trusted him, we fear, too much, and as you are to see 
the President we thought you might open his eyes if 
the fellow were playing a double game. I dare say you 
know people sometimes impose on the President," and 
here the captain smiled, whimsically, " and that s why 
when he could issue these things as an order, he won t. 
He thinks it wiser to let the Secretary handle matters 
of the kind. Now, your general, Mr. Benton, is being 
accused of having Southern leanings because he has 
been protecting Southern property there about Fred- 
ericksburg." 

" Some defenceless women, left all alone, asked for 
guards and got them," answered Benton, stoutly. " I 
shouldn t wonder if their lords and masters are secesh, 
but we re not warring on women, I take it." 

" As yet no," was the thoughtful reply, " and may 
God forbid our having to come to it. But, my young 
friend, if you knew half that we know, and we don t 
begin to know half that those brainy, daring, scheming, 
smiling Southern women are doing all around us, you 
might think the time close at hand when they, too, 
would have to be made amenable to the laws of war. It 
isn t a week since one of them ran off with one of our 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 197 

prisoners here, and you know what a trick was played 
by Dr. Chilton s daughter." 

And now indeed did Benton s face begin to burn, a 
thing the captain and the silent listeners were quick to 
note. 

" You have your receipt for your prisoner, I presume. 
Then I ll not detain you further, only come this way. 
We ve got to question your friend Jennings next," and 
so saying the captain led his visitor through a second 
room where at crowded desks a score of clerks were 
writing. " When do you go to the White House ? " he 
suddenly asked. 

" I don t know. I expected to learn here. But I 
hoped to have time to get freshened up a bit, and I 
need new " 

" Nonsense ! You look as though you d just stepped 
out of a bandbox in that uniform. Ask Mr. Stone to 
come here," he added, to a statuesque soldier at the 
door. 

" The uniform may be all right, but what I need is 
sash and side arms," said Benton, still weighted with 
the traditions of his " regular " regiment. 

" Never mind them ! The President never notices 
what a man wears or knows what he himself has on. I 
suppose he wants to hear what you saw and heard and 
something about the Chiltons, for they seem to be in hot 
water. Ah, Mr. Stone, what time was Mr. Benton to 
report to the White House ? " 

" I was to bring him over as soon as he arrived, sir. 



198 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Is this the gentleman ? " And a young man in civilian 
garb bowed courteously. Then, with a promise to re 
turn, as there were matters on which General Thomas 
wished to question him, Benton hurried away. 

It was not yet nine o clock, but already half a dozen 
carriages were halted along the semi-circular drive in 
front of the mansion, and a number of pallid, anxious 
women and grave-visaged men were gathered about the 
beautiful, colonnaded portico. Through the waiting 
group the messenger swiftly led his charge ; through the 
massive doorway and up the stairs to the left, past offi 
cers chatting in low tones along the broad corridor, past 
the desks of badgered secretaries, striving to answer the 
questions of a dozen importunates at once. Many 
glanced up curiously, at the tall young soldier, striding 
in the wake of his well-known guide, and many a man 
questioned, " Who is that? " as, with a whispered word 
to a door-keeper, the two disappeared beyond green 
baize portals that swung quickly shut through another 
large, airy room from whose windows one saw a lovely 
vista of the placid river and wooded Virginia shores, 
and even here some half a dozen elders, gray-haired, 
important-looking men privileged characters, evidently 
were awaiting the coming of the great head of an anx 
ious and distracted people. Through still another door 
way they passed and into a smaller room, where stood 
a long table in the middle and smaller desks at the sides, 
whereat two silent secretaries were writing. One of 
these looked up, nodded and pointed with the tip of his 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 199 

pen to a door across the little room. Mr. Stone led 
Benton to a long window facing the river and the 
heights of Arlington beyond, left him there and dis 
appeared. A moment or two later that door opened, 
and the two secretaries did not even rise or discontinue 
their work. A tall, bony, black-robed, black-haired and 
bearded man, with deep-set, black-browed eyes and 
brown, sunken cheeks came striding in, one great hand 
grasping a batch of papers, the other being grasped by 
both the sturdy paws of a merry-eyed, ruddy-cheeked 
urchin who, lifting his booted feet clear of the carpet, 
was being swung through space like some animated 
hopper at the end of the traversing jib of tall, traveling 
crane. Benton knew them at a glance the chief magis 
trate of a mighty nation and the darling of the father s 
great, fond, over-burdened heart little Tad. 

Down went the batch of papers on the table; out 
stretched the freed hand to greet the young soldier at 
the window; a winsome, welcoming smile shone like 
sunbeam through wintry cloud, illumining the kind, 
homely face. " Glad to see you, Lieutenant," said he, 
with cordial hand-clasp, as the little scamp, still swing 
ing at his side, now encircled the black-garbed lower 
limbs with his own sturdy legs. " Tad, my boy, this is 
Lieutenant Benton just back from Dixie. Now, he s 
got a darky worth having in your show. Take a chair, 
Lieutenant," and the lean, sinewy arm, long accustomed 
to the sweep of a Mississippi trading scow, or the long- 
handled axe of the rail-splitter, whirled the nearest chair 



200 THE IRON BRIGADE 

round toward the window. Then, switching his tangling 
coat tails out of the way with that same brawny hand 
and, never striving to pull loose from the determined 
grasp of the youngster now straddling his knee, the 
President unhinged somewhere about the middle and 
dropped on the edge of the table. " You see," he con 
tinued, " in these busy times I have to do several things 
at once. McClellan wants forty thousand more men 
for a side-show and Tad four boys for a nigger minstrel 
performance " 

" You promised ! " burst in Tad, emphasizing his de 
mand with strenuous thumps at the parental ribs. 

" That s what McClellan says," whimsically responded 
the President, " and, Mr. Benton, it begins to look as 
though we couldn t get down to business until both are 
supplied. We have a session in the cabinet room on 
the first issue in five minutes and have been at odds on 
the second since before I was out of bed. In both 
cases there are objections on part of the the house 
keeper, but, Mr. Stone, will you go with this young 
showman and arrange the matter with his mother? I 
surrender ! " 

Whereupon did Tad, in a rapture, tear away to tell 
of the victory, and the President, laying that long, lean 
hand on Benton s knee, bent earnestly toward him. " I 
need to know all you can tell me about Dr. Chilton and 
his family," said he. " Some of our vehement, war-to- 
the-hilt people are practically demanding the arrest of 
a Southern family here to be dealt with in precisely the 



LINCOLN S DILEMMA 



same way certain Virginians propose to deal with the 
doctor and that spirited daughter of his. No harm as 
yet," for here the young soldier s face had blanched and 
his eyes filled with dread and anguish. " No harm, that 
is - Have we further news this morning? " he turned 
and asked the busy secretary at the nearest desk, tilting 
the while one long leg over the other and clasping the 
bony knee with both hands. " Your general gave us 
the particulars of your escape so far as you had told 
him, and it is noted that you in no way reveal the names 
of those who aided you, but now - What is it, Mr. 
Nicolay?" for with solemn face, the confidential secre 
tary, holding an open letter in his hand, now stood at 
the President s elbow. Mr. Lincoln took the paper, 
knitted his brows and began to read. 

" It came from the secret service, Mr. President, not 
ten minutes ago," said the secretary. " Colonel Baker, 
I believe, is in the ante-room." 

Benton felt himself gripping the arms of his chair, 
for the room seemed swimming as the President looked 
quickly up. " Not so bad," said he, " if we can only 
take care of them here. They have simply banished 
them father and daughter, both." 



CHAPTER XVI 

" STONEWALL " IN AMBUSH 

From Arlington to Bull Run, from Bull Run to Alex 
andria, from Alexandria to Catlett s, from Catlett s to 
Falmouth, from Falmouth to Guiney s, from Guiney s 
to Belle Plaine, from Belle Plaine to Front Royal one 
hundred miles up and one hundred miles down, from 
Stafford to Culpeper, then back to the Hedgman, with 
Jackson and Longstreet prodding the march, through 
.dust and heat, through mud and rain, through storm and 
sunshine, through ford and field, through May and June, 
July and August, hither and yon, to and fro, no wonder 
they called it the " Pendulum Division " by the time 
that arch-optimist of the war days, the new commander 
of the newly named Army of Virginina, John Pope, of 
blessed memory, recoiled from his victory at Cedar 
Mountain, drawing the shattered foe after him " on to 
Manassas " (from the other side) and a meeting with 
those other victorious corps reshipped from the Penin 
sula to the succor of Washington. Resting from his ill- 
starred Chickahominy campaign, McClellan watched 
with presumably sympathetic eyes the stirring exploits 
of his rival, who, halting a bit for breath at the Hedg 
man and greeting with scant courtesy the first aid to 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 203 

reach him from the Army of the Potomac, sent our 
friends of the Pendulum four brigades now up stream 
to watch Jackson at Sulphur Springs when that agile 
leader was already crossing still farther west, and, 
with Benton s old friends, the Bull Run Mountains, for 
a screen, was sprinting round our right flank, only to 
come bursting through the very gap the swarthy little 
colonel of the " Black Hats " and the tall adjutant of the 
comrade Sixth had studied with their glasses that April 
afternoon, little dreaming it was to afford the grand 
entree of the rebel host in August. 

The next heard of " Old Jack " he was at Manassas 
Junction square between the headquarters in the sad 
dle and those on the steamboat between Pope at War- 
renton and Mac at Alexandria between the victorious 
retreat of the Army of Virginia and the half-hearted, 
half-halting advance of that of the Potomac, twenty- 
five thousand with him, probably two hundred thousand 
encompassing him round about, and there, despite his 
perilous position did he linger long enough to refit, re- 
clothe, re-shoe large share of his ragged, whole-souled, 
half-soled followers and to feast them all at Uncle Sam s 
expense. Then, burning the thousands of barrels and 
bales that he couldn t use, retired by night toward 
Washington while Pope, facing about, advanced ad 
vanced behind, as before to " bag the whole crowd," 
to sprinkle salt on the tail of a swift, to batter a flea with 
a flail. 

A hot, yet sweet and placid August afternoon spent 



204 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Jackson and most of his wiry men (did ever one suspect 
our languid Southern brethren of such phenomenal 
powers of self-propulsion ?) snoozing in the leafy woods 
behind the screen of that unfinished railway embank 
ment, their left at Sudley Springs, their right reaching 
to a point a little northwest of Groveton, yet curving 
gently back, well clear of the pike and thinning out into 
mere scattered squads of Stuart s troopers, keeping 
touch, as it were, with Longstreet s coming host just 
bristling through the gaps of Thoroughfare and Hope- 
well beyond, making John Buford, with his handful of 
horse, show his teeth at the lower gap, while Ricketts, 
sore wounded the previous year on Henry house hill 
and a prisoner perforce long months at Libby, deploy 
his brigades cross country to compel Longstreet to do 
likewise, and so delay his march until the rest of the 
army should encircle Manassas from south, southwest, 
west, northwest and north, make but a mouthful of Jack 
and his saucy divisions his famous Foot Cavalry and 
so, sleep with satisfied stomachs on the choicest game 
of the season. 

But, as had said that far-sighted adjutant that April 
afternoon when, not a mile from the now ruined, smok 
ing, devastated supply depot at the Junction, " first catch 
your hare." The plan was a gem, the bag was a big 
one, the feast was a joy if only the hare had consented 
to stay. When Pope reached the spot of his prospec 
tive banquet the quarry had vanished, no man could say 
where. 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 205 

In bivouac the night before beyond Buckland Mills, 
Benton had again told to his general and some of the 
staff the story of his ride across the Bull Run Moun 
tains, and the dash for life and liberty to the distant 
woods about Manassas. Hector, too, had his circle of 
eager listeners, but all men were too wearied from in 
cessant marching to care to go exploring beyond that 
western range, even had daylight lasted. True to the 
traditions of the War Department, no cavalry could be 
had to scout for the corps commander. John Buford, 
with a puny brigade, had felt his way through Thor 
oughfare the evening previous, but there was no one 
to reach out westward on McDowell s left and learn 
the actual truth that Longstreet s whole corps was 
trudging swiftly northward, turning east at Salem on 
the trail of Jackson and making, doubtless, for that 
famous Gap. The division commander, worn with days 
and nights of sleepless vigil and still suffering from ill 
ness, had gone early to his blankets on the bare ground, 
while Benton and Carver, sitting by their little fire, 
puffed at their pipes and chatted of the strange vicis 
situdes of fortune that had befallen those with whom 
the young soldier s life had been so closely linked. The 
Ladues what sorrowful fate had not been theirs? the 
mother, sleeping peacefully at last beneath the shades 
of Forest Home ; the father living a second childhood, 
bereft of all its buoyancy ; the children the care of kindly 
neighbors ; Paul serving somewhere, if still alive, with 
Ewell s division, perhaps at that moment visiting the 



206 TH E IRON BRIGADE 

outposts over yonder in those dark woods beyond which 
the dull glow in the skies told of the havoc wrought 
by Jackson s men. Would they meet him on the mor 
row? was the thought in Benton s breast. 

Then there were the Chilton s, his other Southern 
friends the gentle-natured sire, the gallant son and that 
daring, wilful, imperious girl what had been their for 
tune ? Ostracised at home by some, at least, of those 
he had longest loved, the doctor had accepted almost 
as a release the mandate of a citizens committee bid 
ding him and his to leave Charlottesville forthwith. 
Richmond was in a turmoil at the time, but the doctor 
would go there, hoping to redress his wrongs, and wear 
ing himself out, body and soul, with nervous anxiety 
and sense of utter injustice. Not for a day would Ro 
salie leave him, though Jack was now a stricken lad 
indeed, in rough field hospital at Gordonsville. 

McClellan s guns were thundering almost at the gates 
of the Confederate capital when sorrowing, sympathetic 
kinsfolk took the Chiltons to their hearth and home and 
strove to soothe the wrathful old man. The city filled 
up fast with wounded. Every house was a hospital, 
and then, when by his devotion and professional skill, 
the good doctor might soon have rehabilitated himself, 
he was taken sorely ill. When he was well enough, 
or at least so pronounced, to move at all, the crisis at 
the capital was over. McClellan was gone. The seat of 
war had shifted to the north. Jack, exchanged and re 
leased, was again in saddle, and, how it was arranged 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 207 

Fred never heard until long after, father and daughter 
had been sent to Newport News with the wounded and 
exchanged, and thence had gone to the roof of the doc 
tor s devoted sister in Washington. Once again had 
the great-hearted President sent for the general s aide- 
de-camp, and this time bade him go, meet the Chiltons 
and see them safely to their destination. 

But that meeting had not made our Badger boy too 
happy. The doctor was aging fast and apparently 
breaking. Rosalie was stern and strange. Squire Ben- 
ton, with Elinor, as he had long planned, hastened on to 
Washington when notified by wire that Fred had a 
week s leave from the front, and Fred s earnest, yet 
almost humble plea that he should be allowed to bring 
his father to see Dr. Chilton his sister to see her 
Rosalie had almost curtly refused. Then she had fairly 
stunned him by saying, " If you really wish to do me a 
favor, Mr. Benton, there is one man I d like to meet, 
and that is Major Lounsberry." Benton should have 
known by the flash in her eye, the fire in her manner, 
the fury in her tone that for no sweet assurance did she 
so desire to see that distinguished Virginian, now every 
moment expectant of exchange, but in her nervous, 
fitful, wrathful state when not needed at her father s 
side, Rosalie s wondrous face had an almost unearthly 
beauty, and in Benton s deep and passionate, yet seem 
ingly helpless, hopeless love, he was consumed with 
unreasoning jealousy, and went back to the front sore- 
hearted. Yet it was through his planning, after all, 



208 THE IRON BRIGADE 

that they met the blue-eyed sister who so surely had 
read her brother s secret the dark-eyed, charing, fit 
ful, fuming Virginia beauty who so surely held it. 
Women at least will know with what veiled scrutiny 
they searched each other s faces, studied each other s 
every point and pose and gesture, and they had ample 
time, for sea air had been ordered for Dr. Chilton; 
Washington was torrid and unwholesome; and just be 
fore Fred hurried back to the division he had brief con 
ference with his father. The Chiltons would surely 
need money, said he, and as surely refuse it if tendered 
by them. Neither the doctor nor Rosalie began to 
know until long months thereafter that the ample means 
so readily supplied by the doctor s widowed sister came 
(as she did not know not too readily) from that hard- 
headed, hard-fisted Western lawyer who, though well- 
to-do, had earned his wealth but slowly, and whose next 
move was to Cape May with Elinor : there was little 
he could now deny that boy of whom the President 
himself had so highly spoken (proud indeed was Fred 
of that!), and there were they still recuperating at 
the Atlantic seaboard, the fathers already friends, the 
daughters still " on guard " at the very moment when 
Jack Chilton, scouting with the advance of FitzHugh 
Lee s brigade, and Paul Ladue, riding the dim picket 
lines of Ewell s grim veterans, and Fred Benton, here at 
Buckland s, closing in with that strong, disciplined divis 
ion, were dreaming not ten miles apart of what the mor 
row might bring forth. 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 209 

Not until the shadows grew long across the stubble 
fields that lovely August evening came the first fierce 
grapple of that devoted brigade. Marching at dawn 
through Buckland s, they found the pike toward 
Gainesville crowded with Sigel s trains and teamsters 
(brought along, said McDowell, in spite of orders), 
through which they slowly forced a way, for, far in the 
eastward distance little snowball puffs, bursting sudden 
into view above the treetops, then drifting into vapor 
ous nothing, told the shells were flying fast ahead, while 
similar, fleecy cloudlets against the dark background 
of the Bull Run Range told equally of other fighting 
to their left and rear. Twas there that Buford strove 
to bar the road, and soldierly McDowell, looking thither 
with anxious eyes, turned Ricketts out of column, and 
sent him back with his whole division to hold that pass. 
Reynolds, with his "decimated relic" of the Pennsylvania 
Reserves, had gone on ahead in the wake of Sigel s 
Corps, but all were out of sight and touch when the 
corps commander, with his one division, dove into the 
winding wood roads toward Manassas until brought 
up standing after two P.M. by disconcerting news from 
Pope that the hare had not waited for the bag, that 
swift-footed Jackson had given them the slip, and wasn t 
where they looked for him at all. In point of fact, hav 
ing no cavalry to do his looking for him, Pope didn t 
know where Jackson was. 

It is three hours later when, bidding his biggest di 
vision obey its new orders, just received, McDowell, 



210 THE IRON BRIGADE 

deep laden with that commodity which paves so many 
squares of Sheol the best intentions in the world 
rides away to find his chieftain Pope and show him the 
field. Thereby he loses Pope, loses touch with his di 
visions, loses all chance of usefulness in the battle that 
is to close the day loses, in fact, himself, for he can 
not find his way to his own command over the field he 
knew so well the year before, even when signalled by 
the guiding thunder of the heaviest cannonade, the sul 
len crashing of the fiercest volleying, those tangled 
woods have ever heard. At five or thereabouts comes 
staff officer from Pope with these astounding tidings : 
Jackson is located. Jackson has dared to cross Bull 
Run and march in the teeth of the coming corps of the 
Army of the Potomac. Reno and Kearny have fol 
lowed his rear guard Hill s Light Division straight to 
Centerville. Where is General McDowell? Here! 
Well, General Pope s orders are for this, McDowell s 
Corps, to retrace its steps to the Warrenton Pike, then 
turn eastward and march forthwith on Centerville, 
whither Jackson, with all hands, has shifted his colors, 
and where Pope now proposes to apply the sack. Fur 
ther orders will meet the corps on the way. 

Now there is but one division to obey the order, but 
loud ring the bugles through the leafy woods. Up 
spring the men of the old brigade, refreshed by three 
hours rest, with coffee and hardtack to comfort them 
ere starting, and, as the heads of columns reach the 
Pike again and turn sturdily away eastward, some level- 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 211 

headed band leader signals to his men, and the Black 
Hats set up a shout as the woods ring to the rollicking 
strains of " Ain t I glad to git out o de Wilderness ! " 
Four brigades in solid column they swing along the 
broad, dry thoroughfare, full six thousand boys in blue. 
Those in the lead, at least those now under Hatch and 
Gibbon who have been long in the division are stanch 
and seasoned men; those that follow under Doubleday, 
three Eastern regiments, for some reason not under 
stood, seem straggling and dispirited. The colonel com 
manding the Seventy-sixth New York ruefully says he 
can muster only one hundred and eighty men with the 
colors, the rest having fallen out, " exhausted by the se 
verity of the march." Doubleday s brigade seems, there 
fore, little bigger than one of Gibbon s stalwart Western 
regiments. Rearmost of all, far back toward Gaines 
ville, comes Patrick, with his presumably well-con 
ditioned command, but he and they enter not into what 
follows, their leader claiming later that he " had no 
orders," and so contented himself with looking on when 
by pitching in on the exposed flank he could have rolled 
the Confederate line upon itself and turned the struggle 
into splendid victory. 

But if Jackson s real movements are unknown to our 
generals, rest you sure the eyes of his army have not 
been left behind. Early that very morning Old Jack has 
had that enterprising young brigade commander, Brad 
ley Johnson, scouting out toward Gainesville, and John 
son sends young Gaither with his gray-clad troop spier- 



212 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ing still further, dodging Sigel and Reynolds, inter 
posing betwixt them and McDowell, and when our 
confident courier comes galloping along with McDow 
ell s despatch to these others to Sigel and Reynolds 
telling them just what is planned for the day, Gaither 
gathers him in, sends the much-appreciated programme 
to Johnson, who grins with delight, and passes it on to 
Old Jack himself, away off toward Sudley Springs, 
snoozing with his division commanders Ewell and 
Taliaferro, on their soldier pillows saddles in the 
snake-fence corner, and Jackson wakes to read and to 
sudden rejoicing. Here is the chance of a lifetime ! 
Sigel has already gone on through Groveton and off 
over Henry house hill. Reynolds, sparring awhile 
with Bradley Johnson, has dived into the woods, going 
southward from Groveton. Somewhere, therefore, 
still to the west, must be two of McDowell s divisions, 
alone. And, even while he is rousing his right and left 
bowers, Ewell and Taliaferro, there comes word from 
Stuart that Ricketts has gone out to Thoroughfare, 
and McDowell, with one isolated division is marching 
eastward from Gainesville. Now, " Up guards and at 
em!" Up Ewell and Taliaferro! Up guns and bri 
gades batteries three and brigades just five for John 
son has done his share for the day, and away they go 
at the edge of the sheltering woods until nearly three 
miles out to the southwest, and there they halt and the 
skirmish lines are thrown forward, half across the open 
fields toward the Pike, and the dusty, grimy, gray bri- 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 213 

gades, that have fought and won all over eastward Vir 
ginia, lie down in massed double columns and wait for 
the coming of that devoted division. Famous fellows 
are these, the younger Taliaferro commanding what is 
eventually the right brigade the men of Alabama and 
Virginia then Baylor, with the unrivalled " Stone 
wall," Jackson s own all Virginian; then Stark with his 
Pelicans, the lads from Louisiana; then Lawton with 
his Georgians, and finally, farthest east, our old Gor- 
donsville acquaintance Trimble, with five regiments 
from various States. Between them and on the east 
ward flank are the guns of Poague, Wooding and Car 
penter, and now crouching, confident, devil-may-care 
these pets of Old Jack, though their battalions average 
not more than two hundred and fifty, under leaders 
true and tried, sprawl in the shelter of the trees they, 
the veterans of a score of hard-fought fields, wherein 
they have seldom been denied, waiting to pounce upon 
a Yankee command only two of whose regiments have 
yet been in battle. No wonder Ewell, grins at the pros 
pect and Taliaferro smiles with confidence. These are 
the fellows that thrashed Schenck and Milroy in the 
valley, sent Banks spinning out of it, sickened Fre 
mont of his command, swooped down from the Shen- 
andoah to the Chickahominy when McClellan seemed 
sure of the capital, trounced Fitzjohn Porter soundly 
at Gaines s Mill, drove the Union army from the York 
to the James and hurled themselves with fruitless dar 
ing on the guns at Malvern Hill. Then, as McClellan 



THE IRON BRIGADE 



took to his boats, turned again in their tracks away to 
the Rapidan, pounded Banks once more at Cedar 
Mountain, doubled Pope on the Rappahannock, and 
now, with serene confidence in the result, prepare to 
swallow with their supper that Pendulum Division of 
McDowell s Corps. 

Off to the right front, half-way to that westward 
grove is a cosey farm-house with shaded lawn and dot 
ting fruit trees and promise of eggs and butter, even 
of buttermilk and apple-jack, and Ewell lets his wide 
awakes go sampling, and signifies approval and takes a 
hearty sip, as a dark-eyed young aide-de-camp rides up 
with a dripping canteen of the soothing white fluid. 
" Thanks, Mr. Ladue," says he. " That s most refresh 
ing. By the way, you know some of these fellows we re 
expecting out yonder, don t you ? " and the general 
points southward, to where the line of the pike stretches 
from the little hamlet of Groveton in the hollow of 
Young s Branch, up over higher ground, hidden here 
and there by groves that cover half a dozen acres each, 
but is generally in full view almost all the way to 
Gainesville, lying in the low ground to the west. Ladue 
follows the gesture of his commander, and then, his 
eyes, dark, mournful and apprehensive, fix upon that 
vehement soldier face. "Wisconsin?" he falters. "I 
felt I knew it must come sometime." 

" Yes, sir, and John Gibbon commands that brigade 
now, they say. I ve known him years. To think of 
his being there and he a Tar Heel ! " And here his 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 215 

kindling eyes turn to where Trimble s men are 
stretched upon the turf North Carolina closed on 
Alabama. 

Even as Paul Ladue, dismounting, is wondering if 
after all it should be the will of the god of battles that 
David should meet Jonathan, Damon be arrayed 
against Pythias, he and Fred Benton brought face to 
face in the opposing lines, there is sound of stir and 
excitement down toward the right. " Coming ! " 
"They re coming!" "See!" are the excited whis 
pers, and young officers spring forward and peer over 
the low crest in front. Poague, that year-old, yet vet 
eran, gunner, has flipped a hand to his bugler, and low 
and muffled " Attention ! " is sounded. Low and muf 
fled, it is repeated still more faintly farther off to the 
east, where the horses of Wooding and Carpenter 
are grazing on the scanty turf, and drivers and can 
noneers spring to their posts. Officers and sergeants 
swing into saddle. No need of such precaution, 
though. From far over to the southwest, where the al 
most horizontal rays of the setting sun flash on thick 
sheaves of gleaming, slanting, dancing gun-barrels 
they can t be anything else there come floating over 
the open fields the merry strains of a fine brass band, 
ringing out the jolly notes of a popular soldier song, 
and here and there in the sprawling ranks bearded 
men or laughing boys take up the jovial chorus : 

" Johnny stole a ha-a-am 
And didn t care a da-a-a-m: " 



216 THE IRON BRIGADE 

and then, triumphantly, and all together : 

1 Ain t I glad to git out o de Wilderness 
Down in Alaba-a-a-m." 

" Down in Alabam, indeed ! " grins Ewell. " There s 
more than a few of you ll be on the way there to-night, 
or I m no prophet," and then, for the last time in many 
a day, he mounts his ready horse. He will never stand 
on two feet again. 

But Old Jack gives no sign. He, too, is waiting and 
watching. He, too, is there in saddle at the edge of 
the trees, indistinguishable in the gathering gloom 
from across the more than mile-wide stretch of open, 
undulating fields. He waits until the leading brigade 
of the long column is clear of the eastward of the two 
groves. He lets it go until it drops into the low ground 
about Groveton until its advance is at the Sudley 
Springs road, well to the eastward until the head of the 
second brigade in column, marching in splendid order, 
with full and well-closed ranks, comes swinging out be 
hind that now famous patch of timber, then nods to 
Ewell and the ball begins. Out on a sudden from the 
left of the massed lines, Poague s lean horses and gaunt, 
sinewy gunners spring to their work. Six black-muz 
zled barkers are whirled round in battery. The iron- 
shod " trails " drop with sullen thud on the turf. The 
loosened limbers, with dragging traces, circle back in 
position. The rammers whirl in air and there is a wheeze 
at the vents as the sponge heads slide home, a low 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 217 

thump, thumping as the cartridge bags are rammed 
to the base. There is a moment of sighting and squint 
ing and low-muttered orders, then a leaping aside, and 
one two three, quick bellowing, with vengeful spit 
of flame and sulphur smoke, the nearest battery hurls 
its screaming challenge across the field, and in spite 
and fury the black shells burst in whistling hail 
over the startled heads of the second brigade. Out be 
yond the first battery trot Wooding and Carpenter, 
forming " action front " on the slope a little to the 
northwest of Groveton, and so three batteries are sud 
denly hurling their swift fire upon the now halted 
column. " Now see em take to cover ! " shout the 
seasoned ones by the gun-side, as the left half battery 
echoes the right, and all the front of Starke s Brigade 
is now covered by flashing guns, bellowing in chorus, 
the men, leaping in and out to reload, dimly seen 
through the billowing battery smoke, and still, scream 
ing and shrieking the shells sail high across the rolling 
earth sea. " See em take to cover," indeed ! Well 
might they do so, for just beyond the pike the woods 
lie thick and unbroken, but, sudden as the shot, each 
regiment has " fronted " to its left. The steel ramrods 
of the foremost are seen flashing in air. The shrill 
voice of Old Graybeard, spurring back to his colors, 
has yelled the order to load at will, and not until 
they ve bitten and poured and rammed and capped 
does he follow that with " Lie down ! " The right of 
their line is flat on its belly at the edge of the field, 



21$ THE IRON BRIGADE 

while spurring, lashing and bounding, cannoneers rac 
ing alongside like mad, a well-handled battery Gib 
bon s own, as Poague and Ewell more than suspect 
the beloved of the brigade, comes thundering up the 
pike, comes galloping out on the field, comes " front 
into line " at a breakneck pace, whirls without halt 
ing its bronze beauties about, and in another moment 
the loud-ringing " light twelves " are out-bellowing 
the trio of batteries blazing there northwest of Grove- 
ton, sweeping their sections with " spherical case." 
Five, ten, fifteen minutes the duel of death goes on. 
Gibbon s gunners are all regulars, lords of their trade, 
and old Ewell sees it and knows it. " Limber up, 
Poague! Back all of you! They are too heavy for 
our guns ! " is the order, and Paul Ladue spurs to 
carry it. Out of the way, gentlemen gunners! It s our 
time now, goes the word from Starke s eager ranks, and 
so on down the long line. Into their saddles leap field, 
staff and commanders. The sun has gone down; the 
dusk is at hand; the night must not come until that stub 
born brigade has been swept from the earth. Who 
shall do it, Ewell or Taliaferro ? 

From the westward now, from the far right flank, a 
daring battery whips out on the field and unlimbers 
where its guns can enfilade Gibbon s triumphant boom 
ers, and young Taliaferro s little brigade, till now held 
in rear, goes striding off behind its fellows, and so on to 
the extreme right as though in support. And still it is 
a battle of guns and gunners, for Jackson holds his 



STONEWALL IN AMBUSH 219 

hounds in leash, " down charged " at heel, crouched at 
the edge of the woods. 

And then comes the surprise of the day, the event of 
the hour, the marvel of the campaign. Even as Ewell 
and Taliaferro are deciding that the moment has come 
for attack, lo! to the amaze of the men of the Stonewall 
Brigade, still the extreme right of the line, there is a 
glint of steel in the opposite grove and a dark column 
bursts from the depths of the wood. Nimbly a swarm 
of skirmishers leap from their covert and come dancing 
out over the sward. Straight for the guns drives the 
daring blue line, backed by eight solid companies, closed 
on the colors and marching abreast. Fancy the canary 
defying the cat! Fancy the terrier bearding the tiger! 
Fancy the lamb assailing the butcher, and you have the 
sensation that thrills the waiting divisions as a grizzled 
Georgia colonel slaps down his field-glass and turns to 
his men with delight in his eye and five words on his 
tongue : " The Black Hats by Goad ! " 



CHAPTER XVII 

HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 

Over at the southwest, half way to that second grove 
in the shelter of which the rearmost brigade has halted, 
stand that little orchard and nearby farm-house, a barn 
or two, with some fences and a decrepit wall of jagged 
rocks. Half way to this one peaceful spot, to the right 
front of these crouching, staring, incredulous lads of 
the " Stonewall," the threatened guns are thundering, 
the gray cannoneers leaping in and out through the 
billowing clouds of sulphur smoke. Half way toward 
that eastward grove, which conceals most of the second 
in column of the blue brigades, this solitary battalion in 
the feathered black hats and the wake of its skirmishers, 
is jauntily proceeding to show its comrades back on the 
pike how Bull Run veterans take a battery. Half way 
between the two groves, halted in the road and watch 
ing the scene are Doubleday s three battalions, all three 
not as strong as a fair-sized regiment. Gibbon, chief 
of the second brigade, has led the Black Hats through 
the wood, then, halting at the edge has bid them go in, 
their swarthy little colonel waving his hand in glad 
acceptance of the trust the last salute of his soldier 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 221 

life. Almost all of the blue division can be seen from 
the north by the men of the South; almost nothing of 
the gray divisions can be seen from the south by the 
men of the North. Gazing through their binoculars, 
the Union commander and staff note not a sign of the 
foe, save these venturesome batteries, the one her 
directly to the north, the others slowly trotting off to 
the northeast beyond the range of Gibbon s guns. Yet 
there are a few mounted officers or orderlies spurring 
swiftly along that far-away skirt of woods, and one of 
these horsemen carries the order from Taliaferro, chief 
of division, to Taliaferro, chief of brigade, to move into 
line on the right of Baylor the " Stonewall." Others 
are darting from Old Jack to Ewell and Taliaferro, both, 
with the word to pitch in. 

And one of these riders, galloping down the line, 
is little Ladue, brought face to face, as he dreamed, here 
on the field of battle with the men he had known as a 
lad in the West, and though his heart is throbbing hard, 
his dark eyes are burning with excitement, his " soul in 
arms and eager for the fray," something like soldier 
sympathy and sorrow stirs him to the core, as with 
laughing confidence, the men of the " Stonewall " spring 
to their feet, the little red battle flags are lifted on high, 
and forward goes the brigade, sweeping in three slender 
lines to the low crest in front, as their far-forward skir 
mishers leap from the grass and volley their challenge 
at the coming foe. Then Georgia and Louisiana and 
the men at the guns hold their breath and watch to see 



222 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Virginia send those impudent Yanks whirling back to 

the woods, or else 

Then, wonder of wonders! So far from scurrying at 
sight of the " Stonewall," the flower of Virginia, the 
boast of the South, that sombre, black-crested line halts 
short at sudden word of command; the rifle-butts leap to 
the shoulders; a crashing volley, driving point blank up 
the gentle rise, sends its storm of murderous lead square 
in the " Stonewall s " face. Down go two battle flags. 
Down goes Neff, colonel commanding the Thirty-Third. 
Down go dozens in the foremost rank, and to the amaze 
of Starke and Lawton, the " Stonewall " fairly staggers. 
" Forward ! " is one hoarse-shouted order, " Fire ! " 
another; and with the skirmishers crouching, crawling, 
rolling away to right and left, Virginia blazes at Wis 
consin now ramming fresh cartridges into the smoking 
tubes, and with never a thought of retreat. So far from 
sweeping the field the " Stonewall " is brought to a halt 
and gets another fierce volley, followed by rasping fire by 
file that is far more effective than the downward aim of 
the command, schooled rather to charge than to shoot. 
For some unfathomed reason the Virginians stand and 
fire instead of advancing at the double, perhaps because 
so many leaders are felled by the first deadly volleys of 
those insolent Badgers, fighting alone and doubtless un 
conscious of the unseen odds against them. Taliaferro, 
division chief, spurs angrily forward and through the 
thick haze of the battle smoke his voice can be heard 
ordering Starke into line with Baylor, for, off to the 




The rifle-butts leap to 
the shoulders. Page 222. 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 223 

right and left, beyond the dense veil through which the 
red fires are spitting, men shout of the coming of other 
blue lines. Sol Meredith s Hoosiers, cheering with long- 
pent enthusiasm, in full double rank aligned on their 
colors, are sweeping at double quick straight from the 
pike at the west of the grove. Arms at the trail, at the 
shoulder or anyhow, all eyes to the front, all hearts on 
the jump, Indiana is heading straight for the left of 
Wisconsin, and in five minutes more its long front is 
hidden in its own fire-flashing cloud, and it is high time 
for young Taliaferro, rushing his Third brigadesmen 
round the right rear of the " Stonewall " to make a try 
for that farm-house. Another five minutes and he and 
Meredith are clinched at the corner; another brigade is 
in line for the South, another battalion for the Union, 
and still not a man has thought of retreat save only 
the thick stream of wounded hobbling painfully back 
for the rear. Then Starke, too, comes swiftly, buoy 
antly striding over the low rolling plain and dips into 
the smoke bank that floats from the west, ranging 
alongside the " Stonewall " just as a third Yankee regi 
ment, filing from the woods, fronts to its left and, with 
machine-like precision, " playing at parade at the edge 
of the grave," says Ewell, comes forward, guide centre, 
its color-bearer out to the front, its right and left gen 
eral guides on the line, its captains sprung to the outer 
flanks of their companies, for all the world as though 
they were calmly doing battalion drill at Belle Plaine. 
Its " dandy " lieutenant-colonel is in command, he of 



224: THE IRON BRIGAD^ 

the famous name, for already its colonel and major have 
been helped to the rear, shot almost as they issued from 
the wood. Already little O Connor, heroic leader of 
the Black Hats, mortally stricken, is lying gasping in 
rear of his wrathful, swift-thinning ranks. Then gal 
lant May, major of the cheering Hoosiers, he whom we 
saw the dark night at Centerville, drops from his 
wounded horse to the arms of his men, his soldier spirit 
flitting away with the close of the day. Already, far on 
the right, old Graybeard Cutler marches the Sixth 
straight forward past Gibbon s smoking guns, halts his 
companies on the line with Hamilton s stalwart Seventh, 
and, all four regiments now, the men of the West are 
blazing red against the black background of the distant 
woods, for night and hell seem to come down together. 
In the fiercest attack of the hot campaign, Ewell and 
Taliaferro, five to one in point of brigades, two to one in 
point of numbers, one to one in point of result, bear 
down on the ranks of that gallant command, supple as 
steel as it leaps to the fight, rigid as rock as it counters 
the blow, yielding never a foot to that splendid advance. 
" Shall iron break the Northern iron or steel? " mut 
ters Old Jack, in the words of the prophet, his eyes filled 
with trouble, his teeth firm set as once again the cheer 
ing, banner-waving, fire-flashing ranks of his devoted 
battalions sweep down the gentle slope until almost lost 
in the smoke of the opposite lines, then slowly settle 
to a halt, astounded, for though full half of its left wing 
seems shot out of line, and the Hoosiers and Black Hats 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 5 

are shrunk to half their original strength ; there, 
shoulder to shoulder, daring, defiant, indomitable stands 
the brigade, the swart faces of the men lit by the flash of 
their guns, and Ewell, grim old soldier, borne to the rear 
with a shattered thigh, groans to his mournful aides that 
at last the division has met its match. 

Jackson s pale face is rigid as he himself bends over 
his loyal second in command, and his lips move in 
prayer, never in imprecation, ere they issue their next 
order, " Try again." And this time, Trimble, too, drives 
in with Lawton, only to see that machinelike regiment 
to the east of the Black Hats, despite the numbers 
dropping in their tracks and dribbling away from the 
extreme right under the deluge of shrapnel from the 
Southern guns, doing more fancy drill in front of the 
foe, changing front forward by company under com 
mand of that gamecock of a lieutenant-colonel, and then 
pouring withering fire into the left of the Louisiana 
men. " Try again," says Jack, and try they do, man 
fully, loyally but heavens, what can human valor win 
against iron resolution? Two of Doubleday s bat 
talions, one a mere skeleton like most of those of Bay 
lor s and Taliaferro s, have ranged up in the gaps of the 
Union brigade, a shadowy fabric now, visible only in 
the flash of the guns, but as Paul Ladue trots through 
the groups where surgeons and stretchermen are trying 
to care for the vast numbers of wounded, he looks in 
vain for a division commander to whom to deliver Jack 
son s last order and the news that Ewell is down. Talia- 



226 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ferro, too, has been borne to the rear, and Ladue rides 
on after Starke to bid him take command. Gods, what a 
sight, what a shambles, he finds at the rear of that line ! 
dead, dying and crippled by scores of the "Stonewalls." 
Three colonels, Neff, Grisby and Botts have been 
shot from their steeds, two of them straight to their 
graves; four majors are down of the Virginia command, 
and Walker, colonel of Taliaferro s Tenth. Full half 
the fighting force of the Second and Fourth Virginia 
are stretched on the field, as, for the last time, they close 
in on the centre in front of the now almost invisible line 
of their foes, and with strength, cartridges, hope all 
spent and gone, they drop their useless rifle butts to 
earth and lean exhausted on the hot, black muzzles. At 
least they hold the ground. 

So, too, does that stern, silent, iron command across 
those fifty yards of smoking void, " with obstinate deter 
mination," writes Old Jack, in rueful admission of the 
stubborn valor of his foe. And after all what has he 
accomplished? What has he not done this night but 
blunder? All he had to do was to remain there in con 
cealment beyond that unfinished railway grade, resting 
in the shady woods, and, all unconscious of his presence, 
the Union brigades would have passed him by. The 
division commander had no cavalry to scout for him. 
The few flankers thrown out to the north by Hatch 
found nothing, until, looking back from the low ground 
about Groveton, they saw the batteries trot out on the 
open slope. Left unmolested to obey its orders that 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 227 

fine division would have gone clear on to Centreville, 
leaving Ricketts far in rear to be cut off, crushed or 
captured. But the sight of six thousand Yankees 
marching along almost parallel to his front, all unsup 
ported, was too much for even such piety as Jackson s. 
Ordinarily he had done wonders with a dozen regiments 
nearly as small as these. To-night he sends in twice 
that number to assail a smaller force, and is fought to 
a stand within the hour. He has gained nothing. He has 
lost one-third of his best and bravest his Virginians. 
He has betrayed his position to the enemy, for Sigel, 
away to the southeast, has heard the sound of battle, 
and McLean, brave leader of one of his few American 
brigades, watches the desperate struggle from Ladue s 
old lookout at the Henry house, and Pope, skillfully 
directing his diverging columns to trap Jackson at 
Centreville, hears over the left shoulder, far over 
Bull Run, the furious cannonade a long league behind 
him, the storm of a battle that only dies out at 
nine, but that tells him the tale of one more trick 
of Jackson s the time-honored tale of the Irishman s 
flea. 

But it opens Pope s otherwise blinded eyes, changes 
in toto his plans for the morrow, and bids him turn his 
columns on Groveton. Jackson s blunder has taken 
much from his own fame, added much to those of 
another, and given the Badgers and Hoosiers the title 
they rejoice in ever thereafter the name of the Iron 
Brigade. 



228 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Sore times are these, this black, moonless night, as, 
within hailing distance of each other, officers and men 
of the opposing forces go groping about with glimmer 
ing lights, looking for friends among the slain. Sad 
hearts are these beating in the bosoms of the group of 
Union generals in the fence corner back of the moaning 
wood, for it is full of wounded. The regimental com 
manders are slowly withdrawing their wearied men to 
the line of the pike, leaving strong pickets to protect 
the surgeons and their stretcher-bearers at the front. 
It is a dramatic scene when that dark-eyed soldier, com 
mander of the Seventh, rides in to report to his brigade 
chief concerning the regiment that caustic " regular " 
has sometimes misjudged. " What do you think of the 
Seventh now? " is the irrepressible question just before 
the colonel slips, fainting, from his saddle, and then and 
not until then permits it to be known that all the time 
as he held his men to their desperate work, he sat his 
horse, pierced through both thighs by Enfield bullet, 
his boots running over with blood. Old Graybeard of 
the Sixth, too, is shot through the leg, and Gibbon has 
borrowed his right-hand man, the tall, brainy adjutant, 
and the Sixth feels bereft, though it, too, falls into 
soldier hands. But the Black Hats and Hoosiers have 
lost more than all. 

At nine o clock, as the last scattering shots are fired 
out to the northwest, where some of Stuart s fellows 
have stumbled on the Hoosier pickets in the darkness, 
the division general sends an aide with brief note to 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 229 

Ricketts, telling him of the battle, and saying he means 
to hold the ground despite the fact that prisoners report 
old Stonewall sixty thousand strong. He sends other 
staff officers in search of McDowell, his corps com 
mander, with similar report and the request that Rick 
etts be ordered to close in and support him. Mc 
Dowell s own engineer officer is with him, a deeply 
interested witness, coming up with Hatch s brigade, 
which, hurriedly recalled, had faced about and marched 
eagerly back, hoping to be of use, but reaching the field 
only as darkness settled on the line. So the engineer 
stays to hear the reports and views of the various com 
manders before going himself in search of his chief, 
stays long enough to give his opinion that the division 
must move off the pike to the right or suffer demolition 
at dawn, and this, too, is the opinion of Hatch and Gib 
bon, sitting with their division commander, and it is 
urgently given by both. 

Four hours longer they watch and wait, hoping for 
tidings from Pope or McDowell, looking for the coming 
of Ricketts from the west, but nothing comes, not a line, 
not a word from superior authority, only a hint from 
superior force, for a daring, dashing Virginia captain, 
riding blindly into a Badger picket north of the grove, 
is dragged from under his dying horse he had striven 
to dash away and he laughs at our missing a much 
bigger prize Old Jackson himself, not a moment be 
fore, was with him just in front of that very point, he 
says, and Longstreet is coming at dawn. Ricketts, 



230 THE IRON BRIGADE 

driven in before his overwhelming advance, is halted at 
Gainesville, while Stuart s patrols sweep the fields to the 
north and keep up touch between these two wing com 
manders. There is nothing for it then, urge the brig 
adiers, but slip off southeastward in hopes of support, 
and Fred Benton, riding out to the left front with orders 
to bring in the pickets, finds those venturesome 
Hoosiers crawling forward on hands and knees, beyond 
the original line 

" There was a horse battery came out there just be 
fore dusk," explains a young sergeant, " and it just 
rained shrapnel on us. Some of Stuart s fellows gal 
loped down to slice off our left. We gave em a hot 
volley and they sheered away, but tried it twice again 
after dark. We ve sent in all our wounded, but 
our boys swear they hear faint cries for help out 
yonder." 

They are right! Presently they come drifting in, 
four wearied soldiers, bearing a wounded trooper on a 
blanket. Benton is busy giving orders to the subaltern 
in charge and does not hear at first the words of the 
sergeant. " He says he was carrying orders and his 
horse fell and rolled on him. His leg s broken, I think, 
but he d never have whimpered only he thought we 
were friends." 

"What 11 we do with him if I m to fall back?" asks 
the lieutenant. " He s an officer." 

Benton turns to the dim group, slowly bearing their 
burden with them. 



HOW THE BRIGADE WINS ITS NAME 31 

" Better carry him to the grove," he says. " Take 
him where your wounded officers are." Whereupon he 
in the blanket feebly pipes, "Hello, Benton! Got a 
mouthful of drink?" 

" Good God, Chilton! Have we caught you again? " 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE HEART OF LINCOLN 

Solemn days are these that follow. Losing over a 
third of its force engaged in this furious initial battle, 
the brigade shares the lot of the rest of the army and, 
after two days more of fruitless fighting is ordered to 
fall back on Washington. Many of the wounded 
officers have been sent in ahead, without discrimination 
as to friend or foe, and Benton s general, broken down 
by illness and exhaustion, is borne by ambulance to the 
capital, and bids Fred go in search of his prisoner 
friend. How the tables of war are turned! Four 
months ago that young Virginian lay in clover at Char- 
lottesville, petted and soothed by the prettiest girls to 
be found in the court of Queen Rosalie, while Benton, a 
prisoner patient, moped in huffy dignity and merited 
semi-neglect. Now the Virginian lies in splints and a 
stuffy room in parboiled Washington, far from the 
pretty girls of Albemarle, yet assiduously cared for by 
their Queen. Washington is now one vast hospital, 
whose walls echo night and day the moan of fevered suf 
ferer, the dull thunder of distant guns, the rumble of 
rolling cannon, the tramp of soldier hosts, for Lee has 
leaped the Potomac and gone careering northward to- 



THE HEART OF LINCOLN 233 

ward the Pennsylvania line. Pope, McDowell and Sigel 
have retired in favor of McClellan, Hooker and Porter, 
the little chief again called to the fore, while the man 
ager of the sack campaign sits down to figure out the 
twistings, turnings and doublings of the hare that 
wouldn t be caught until there were hares enough to 
smother the hounds. Many and ingenious are the ex 
planations of failure: generals ordered to march who 
chose rather to sleep, of generals ordered to find the 
corps of Jackson who couldn t find their own, generals 
ordered to stand who never got the order, and who 
would have been crushed if they had, generals ordered 
to bar Jackson s retreat when he never thought of 
retreating, generals ordered to bar Longstreet s join 
ing when he had already joined, orders sent by staff 
officers who never could thereafter be found, orders 
declared sent to division generals, since admitted sent 
not at all. It is a fortnight of fruitless recrimination, 
of pushing for place and not for the foe, of intrigue and 
slander, of loyal victims and disloyal triumph. It is a 
fortnight in which the fortunes of the Union seem drift 
ing to the lowest ebb, with all the mud and slime and 
wreckage and putrescence hitherto hidden in the surg 
ing tide of the campaign, now revealed to public gaze, a 
stench to public nostrils. It is a fortnight of funerals. 
Ah, what hundreds of gallant boys have we to mourn, 
what scores of noble names on both sides! Wrung 
to the uttermost is the great, lonely, pitying heart of 
him now day and night striving to bring order out of 



234 THE IRON BRIGADE 

chaos, hope out of the slough of despond, victory from 
dire and persistent defeat. Small wonder is it that in the 
contemplation of the tremendous peril that confronts 
the nation, Lincoln can find little time to listen to innu 
merable personal appeals, to individual claims presented 
by insistent senators, to the stories of self-seeking, self- 
sufficient patriots demanding the doing of this, the un 
doing of that. It is a fortnight in which Stanton, at the 
war office, is overwhelmed with work and worry, and 
grows even more testy and imperious. It is a fortnight 
in which, despite orders and precautions, swarms of 
officers who should be with their commands are buzzing 
about Congress and the caravanserais, when every man 
is needed at the front and thousands are skulking at the 
rear, when the regiments of the Army of the Potomac 
and of Virginia that marched forth in the springtide in 
such splendid array, with such crowded ranks, are 
silently, shabbily slipping through the outskirts, mere 
ragged shadows of their former selves, yet to their 
everlasting credit be it said, loyal and subordinate still, 
and confident in their faith that they can yet whip Lee. 
It is a fortnight in which many and many a sad-faced 
soldier comes away from the War Department, even 
from the White House, denied a favor that at any other 
time would have been accorded as by right, and one 
September evening, Benton and the Squire, summoned 
to accompany their senator to the President, are wit 
nesses to a scene that wrings their very hearts. 

The Squire has been long enough near Washington 



THE HEART OF LINCOLN 235 

to become an ardent administration man. Only twice 
in the past has he seen the plain, unassuming Western 
lawyer, the humorous M. C. who had not reputation 
enough to command an audience when in 59 he came to 
speak at the Squire s home city, but later, when they 
met at the Tremont in Chicago, was the rival of the little 
giant, Douglas, in joint debate. Now, just as Douglas 
had held the hat of the victorious Lincoln during his 
inaugural address, so would Squire Benton go to any 
length to back this inspired, and, as Benton is now be 
ginning to believe, God-given leader. More troops 
must be had without delay is the burden of what the 
senator says. Will Benton go West at once and use 
his utmost influence? Benton will. He has only come, 
he says, to assure himself that Fred is safe to see 
Elinor, now scorning the sea-breezes of Cape May and 
insisting on her right to be useful as a nurse among the 
hospitals. Then the Squire will start within the day. 
Meantime, says the senator, we must see the President, 
and then there is a further muttered conversation that 
Fred cannot hear, nor does he care to. His one 
thought, after seeing that Jack Chilton lacks nothing 
after one little word, perhaps, with Jack s no longer im 
perious sister is to rejoin the division as it comes 
through with the now reorganizing corps. But, mean 
while, it is the senator s wish they should both go with 
him to the White House, and there, amidst the throng 
of importunates in the ante-room, Fred is startled to see 
the colonel of a regiment in the First Brigade holding 



236 THE IRON BRIGADE 

low-toned conversation with a portly, dignified man in 
black swallow-tailed coat, high stock and silken waist 
coat, to whom their Western statesman bows with 
deference and then whispers to them his name. Then 
the colonel turns and Benton is more startled to see 
how sad, sorrow-stricken and haggard he looks. The 
matter is soon explained, though the colonel speaks 
with choking voice. His son, a lieutenant in the Fifth 
New York Duryea s Zouaves had been down with 
Chickahominy fever at Newport News, so ill that the 
mother had hastened thither, nursed him through and 
then stayed and cared for dozens of poor boys whose 
mothers could not possibly reach them, and so, sapped 
her own strength and finally succumbed, and now her 
coffined body lies here at the wharf. Their sympathetic 
general had given the bereaved soldier permission to 
turn over the command of the regiment temporarily and 
to seek at Stanton s hands a four days leave just time 
enough to take the beloved and honored dust back to 
the home where weeping younger children await it. 
Then, the last sad rites performed, though the wife of 
his youth, his manhood, his maturer years, the love of 
his heart and life is laid away, he will return instantly to 
his duty, his command. Impossible will it be for them 
to catch Lee within that time. No battle can occur that 
will involve the old division, but Stanton sternly says no; 
bids him ship the remains that night if need be, but re 
join his regiment before the morning. 

" The brigade is marching through this moment," 



THE HEART OF LINCOLN 237 

says the colonel, with quivering lips, " but the Senator 
brought me here to the President. I have tele 
graphed to a brother to come if I must go," and the 
haggard eyes look in dumb appeal across the room 
where looms the equally haggard face of Lincoln, now 
turned in mute patience toward an impetuous, persistent 
little woman, who, backed by certain friends at court, is 
demanding that the President reverse the decision of the 
adjutant-general and send a soldier son to duty nearer 
home than with Butler in New Orleans where surely 
he ll catch the yellow fever and die. The whole room 
can hear her. The President is the only man, not of 
her immediate retinue, that does not show impatience. 
It may be here and now he thinks of the famous story 
he tells at another time, the story of the good old lady 
who, when the St. Lawrence steamer was shooting the 
Lachine rapids and the captain stood absorbed in the 
duty of guiding his ship and living cargo safely through, 
startled every one by a cry of " Stop, and lower a boat 
my little boy s lost his apple." Not for worlds will even 
that worn, heart-wrung, nerve-racked leader say the 
word to wound a mother. But, oh, the infinite sadness 
of the smile with which he speaks, his voice so low and 
gentle only those about him can hear, and she is finally 
led away with a card to the " house-keeper," the best 
the President can do, he says, " for I don t seem to have 
much influence with this administration." Then he 
gives hand and greeting to the great senator from New 
York, another to the colonel, hurriedly presented, and 



238 THE IRON BRIGADE 

inclines that ever-patient ear to both, as again the sad, 
pathetic tale is told. Oh, the pity and sorrow and sym 
pathy in the deep-set, sombre eyes, the anguish in the 
rugged features as he hears the final words, " Stanton 
says no, because the brigade is marching through this 
moment." 

For an instant the strong hands are clenched and up 
lifted almost as though in appeal to heaven, but though 
the deep voice breaks and trembles, though the pallid 
lips twitch with pain, the answer comes inflexibly: 

" And no it must be! Not a man, not a musket, can 
we spare. It may be the very crisis of the war, and I 
should be false to my trust if I did not hold myself and 
every soldier to the duty of the hour. Let the dead 
bury their dead. I cannot rob a regiment of its leader 
at such a time." 

And the two men, the sorely grieving colonel, the 
sorely-tried commander-in-chief, look one instant into 
each other s swimming eyes. There is a soldier salute 
but utter silence, and the colonel turns away. 

" You don t need me here," gulps Fred a moment 
later. " I am going to see if I can help the colonel. 
There s no one with him. I ll come to you, father, later 
at Willard s. 

And so it happens that, riding at the earliest dawn to 
catch the division, Benton passes a carriage at the out 
skirts of Georgetown, preceded by a cavalry sergeant 
who speaks a word to sentries or patrols of the provost 
guard to the end that the vehicle, with its attendant 



THE HEART OF LINCOLN 239 

brace of troopers, meets no detention, whereas he, an 
aide-de-camp going on duty, has to account for himself 
every few blocks. " Some belated general," thinks he 
as, once clear of the streets, he spurs swiftly up the 
Rockville pike. He has had his few cheering words 
with Jack. He has found Elinor, his sister, vying with 
Rosalie, his queen, in attention to the captive. He 
could wish that sister elsewhere, for not a word has he 
alone with the girl who holds his heart. (It is doubtful 
if he would have had other luck had Elinor been away.) 
So, perhaps, like the girls at Charlottesville, his sister 
had fallen under the sway of the stronger nature. He 
has been with that silent, grief-stricken soldier colonel 
until, between them, they have seen the coffined relics 
safely stored in a sexton s charge. Then, with long 
hand clasp he leaves him with his dead and goes to say 
farewell to his father. It is long past midnight now, but 
Washington still wakes, and finally, just as the pallid 
light is creeping into the eastward sky Benton reins in 
at the challenge of a sentry and the sight of a tented 
field. Behind him, in the lower ground, feebly glow the 
night lights of Georgetown. Beyond them lies the 
great, straggling city. Here, close at hand, a sentry 
paces slowly by the roadway, recognizes the aide-de 
camp at once and bids him advance. A dim light burns 
in a nearby wall tent. " Yes, sir, the colonel got back 
soon after three," is the answer to his question, as, 
swinging out of saddle, Benton throws the reins over a 
fence post and scratches at the tent flap. 



240 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Tis I, Colonel only Benton. I stopped to see " 

But the tent flap is thrown back from within and a 
voice bids him enter. " I ve been writing to my poor 
motherless babies/ chokes the colonel, and then at last 
breaks down, bows his humbled head upon his arm on 
the rude camp table that shakes with the sobs wrung 
from an almost bursting heart. Who can picture, much 
less soothe, a grief like this ? Benton has seen him time 
and again, ever alert, ready, vigorous on the march, 
cheery and cordial in all manner of wind and weather, 
inspiring, commanding, magnificent in battle, God-like, 
almost, in his superb dominion over men. But it is the 
strong and soldierly and virile that love the deepest and 
that suffer most when robbed of the heart s idol and de 
light. " The bravest are the tenderest. The loving 
are the daring." And in wordless sympathy Benton can 
only lay his hand upon the massive shoulder while the 
teardrops well from his own brimming eyes. 

And then there are voices, low and deep, without the 
tent, and then a footfall close at hand, and a tall, dark 
form, enveloped in a cloak, looms between them and the 
gathering dawn, and Benton, staring and only half cred 
ulous, stammers the question, "Who is it?" Then 
both men stand erect and face the newcomer at the 
first sound of his deep yet trembling voice. 

" It is I Abraham Lincoln." (Can it ever be written 
save in reverence?) " I I have come to you because 
all night long since you left I could think of nothing 
else. I have not slept. I have been pacing the floor 



THE HEART OP LINCOLN 241 

until I could stand it no longer. You came to me last 
night in your bitter sorrow, and I treated you like a 
dog. That noble woman died after giving new life to a 
host of stricken soldiers, after giving back to the nation 
scores of sorely needed men, and now, when it pleases 
God to call her home to him I forbid the poor honor of 
escort to the man she most loved. Forgive me, colonel. 
Go to her. Take her back to your children, and when 
you have laid her away and comforted them, then 
return to us. Go, sir it is my order," and, wringing 
the soldier s hands, the President turns again to the 
cares and trials, the cruel anxieties of another day, but 
the deep-lined face, uplifted to the glory of the dawn, 
shines transfigured with a radiance indescribable, with 
who can say what infinite cheer and comfort and bless 
ing from on High. 



CHAPTER XIX 

KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 

"How are the mighty fallen!" at least in point of 
numbers. Still under the leadership of sharp-eyed, 
sharp-tongued Gibbon, the brigade has trudged away 
to South Mountain, conscious that it is now the ob 
served of many observers, and feeling not a little cocky 
in its new name. Manfully again has it grasped the hot 
end of the poker, being sent into the very jaws of 
Turner s Gap with Colquitt and his Georgians directly 
confronting it, and Evans raking the doubled line from 
the hill on the right. Again does the Seventh catch it 
hard from the flank, losing more than a third of its men. 
Again do the Black Hats sail in with their accustomed 
saucy vim and vigor, tieing the Hoosiers in the 
total of losses. Again are the big " Napoleons," the 
pets of Battery " B," lugged into line, side by side with 
the " Foot," and mightily do they bellow and roar in 
this resounding amphitheatre the eastward slope of the 
ridge. It is the second fierce fight in which these pow 
erful guns, manned by picked men from the brigade, take 
their share of hard knocks with the four battalions; but 
a fiercer fight is yet to follow only three days away 
one which welds the battery still more firmly to its sup- 



KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 343 

ports. On the far right flank, in front of Sharpsburg, 
across the sleepy Antietam, it comes in for its hardest 
pounding of all the stirring campaign. 

But by this time, mid September, as Lee s daring, 
determined followers halt on the heights of the old 
Maryland town, with the Potomac encircling them from 
northwest to south, the winding Antietam protecting 
their front, how cruelly are they, too, reduced in num 
bers ! Our old opponents, the " Stonewalls/ in their 
entire array can barely muster five hundred men. Regi 
ments are commanded by captains, companies by ser 
geants, and as it is with Jackson so it is with Long- 
street, whose brigades, like those of Kemper and 
Pickett, are cut to shreds, while some battalions are 
reduced to the front of a platoon. Yet these are the fel 
lows, less than forty thousand all told, who, backed up 
to the great river, with all their trains and all their 
wounded to care for, still confidently look to Lee and 
serenely face McClellan, whose force in men and guns 
is more than twice their own. 

With what intensity of interest and anxiety do we in 
Washington await the result of that inevitable grapple 
beyond the Blue Ridge. Hopeful tales we hear of cap 
tured despatches that betray the plans of those confed 
erates of Confederates the army and corps com 
manders of the South yet it has cost McClellan heavily 
to force a way through the Gaps. What may it not cost 
to assault in a chosen position so plucky an adversary! 
The old division, now first in the new First Corps, goes 



244 THE IRON BRIGADE 

in under its third commander in three weeks, for Fred s 
old general has been sent home on sick leave. Hatch, 
his gallant second, is severely wounded at South Moun 
tain. Doubleday it is who now takes the lead and, 
crossing the Antietam on the afternoon of the sixteenth, 
bears down from the extreme flank upon the silent, 
waiting foe. 

First in column as it circles the front, the old division 
moves in to the morning attack at the right of Hooker s 
embattled line, and right of the line of the old division 
is the doubled rank of the old the Iron brigade. It 
is the dawn of a dreadful day. 

In their front as they issue from the sheltering wood, 
not a mile away and to the west of the broad turnpike, 
gleam, at the crest of a gradual rise, the white walls of 
the old Dunker church, outlined against the foliage of 
a thick grove the West Wood. Over that gentle slope 
extends a great broad cornfield, its ungarnered crop ripe 
and yellowing, the brown tassels stirring in the morning 
breeze that drifts downward from the lofty heights across 
the Maryland stream. Another cornfield, not so large, 
stretches westward from the highway opposite the 
northward end of the first. A farm-house in a shaded 
enclosure stands on the east of the pike between the 
advancing blue lines and the yellow green of the waving 
corn. A barn and out-buildings face it on the opposite 
side of the pike. Other groves bound the cornfields 
toward the Potomac, backed by a ridge where Stuart s 
restless horsemen and Pelham s ready guns are lurking, 



KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 245 

hidden from our view. So are the crouching guardians 
of the groves and fields to the south. Again is the great 
organizer shoving his infantry in to the attack of an 
army in position, over ground unsearched by cavalry, 
though cavalry are with him in abundance, eager to be 
of service, but he knows not how to use them. East of 
the big cornfield, to their left front as they march, is 
still another grove, the East Wood, and in long, thin 
line, at right angles to the pike, stretching through the 
woods, through the cornfield, silently awaiting their 
coming foe, are aligned the very men they fought so 
savagely at sunset of that August evening barely three 
weeks back. Then as the sun went down behind the 
Bull Run range, Badger and Hoosier were clinched in 
deadly grapple with Virginia, Louisiana and Georgia. 
Now, ere the sun comes peeping over the Blue Ridge 
to the east, Badger and Hoosier, side by side, are strid 
ing straight up to the waiting lines of the same old 
commands. Ewell and Taliaferro, as we have seen, 
were shot out of saddle in the previous clinch. Lawton 
and Jones now lead in their stead, destined further to 
follow their lead ere half the day is done. Strange fatal 
ity it is, indeed, that of all the fifty brigades of McClel- 
lan s fighting force within range at the dawn of the day, 
it is the Iron Brigade, the one exclusively Western brig 
ade, that is to again encounter the flower of the South 
ern array, the " Stonewall " and its comrade brigades of 
Jackson s heroic corps. 
And, just as before, not a man of the hostile line is 



24G THE IRON BRIGADE 

seen when the guns begin the battle. Off to the left 
front, near the East Wood, a Southern battery spies 
the blue battalions issuing from the skirt of the north 
ward wood nearly a mile away, dressed on their waving 
colors, the skirmishers trotting well out to the front. 
Then loud bellow the guns and shriek the shells as line 
upon line, brigade on brigade, Hooker sends his new 
command, the new-born First Corps, in to its bloody 
baptism. The Confederate flank is covered by Stuart 
and his dashing horse batteries, and there is abundant 
room and more than abundant need for similar troops 
between Doubleday s right and the river, but not so 
much as a squadron rides where it may be of such in 
finite service. McClellan holds his horses east of the 
dividing stream, for again, as on the Peninsula, are his 
forces thus bestowed. Watching the scene from the 
Pry house, beyond the Antietam, with his telescope 
trained on the Miller fields a good two miles away, 
Little Mac observes from an easy chair. Tis the army 
that goes in a-straddle. 

Full five hundred yards, almost due south, march the 
doubled lines in blue, Meade s little division of Pennsyl- 
vanians alongside and east of Doubleday s. Hatch s 
old brigade is on the left of Gibbon s, Patrick in its rear, 
in support, and for a time the Sixth Wisconsin, at the 
post of honor, has the Hagerstown road on its right for 
a guide. But now comes a thin patch of woods and a 
turn only a slight turn in the line of the pike, and 
here, little by little, through pressure from the centre, the 



KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 347 

first company begins to edge out over the highway, the 
second follows, and by the time they are bursting through 
the barnyards and farm enclosures at Miller s, and the 
shells have changed to shrapnel and men are dropping 
fast, the entire right wing of the Sixth is across the pike 
and wading through that westward field, tall, many of 
them, as the waving corn, and despite the vicious spat 
ter of lead, just about as unbending. Still southward 
goes the long line of the corps, four brigades in the 
foremost rank, four coming up in their rear, and still 
those bellowing batteries alone appear in front. No 
infantry is visible. Then up the pike, just as at Gaines 
ville, comes galloping Battery " B," and into the farm 
yard it turns, and there, whirling the guns in line to 
the south, delivers its resonant answer. Telling talkers 
are these boomers of Campbell s in this fiery debate. 
The infantry lines are well forward now, the left just 
breasting the cornfield, so that the " spherical case " 
goes whistling over their heads and bursting among 
the Southern guns. The Sixth is just striding out from 
the cornfield and into the woods to the west of the road 
when, sudden as a thunderbolt, there bursts on the ear 
the crash of an infantry volley, and from front and right 
flank, so close that the smoke jets forth in their faces, 
a low-aimed lead storm shrieks through their ranks and 
down goes half the wing, many, too many, biting the 
dust. Then blaze the whole West Wood and the hedge 
row south of the cornfield, and all from an unseen foe! 
Flesh and blood cannot stand such a gale in the open. 



248 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Ducking, bending double, rolling, crawling, but turning 
to fire fast as they can reload, the survivors swing back 
to the highway, rallying instantly at the edge of the field, 
and there, flat on their faces, they, too, take vigorous 
hand in the fight, while Patrick s men, close at their 
heels, rush in to prolong the line to the right and fill 
the gaps at the front. Five minutes and both woods, 
east and west, and the intervening cornfields are in 
dense clouds of sulphur smoke, for Ricketts, too, has 
come up with his division on the left of the corps, and 
a battle of giants is on. 

But vain are the efforts of Hooker s brave men. 
Three fine, disciplined divisions he has led to the field, 
thinking to turn an exposed left flank, while Mansfield, 
with his new Twelfth Corps, supports the attack, and the 
main army, advancing in force from the line of the An- 
tietam, covers and holds the long Confederate front 
extending far to the south of the town. Just whom to 
blame nobody will say, but, not until Hooker s right 
division is swept by lapping fires and flattened out by 
the fierce storm of lead; not until Meade and Ricketts, 
farther to the east, have charged again in line with 
Doubleday s left; not until the cornfields are slashed 
as though with giant sickle and leveled to earth, and 
strewn thick with the dead and the dying; not until 
Doubleday, not whipped, but brought to a stand, is 
fairly battling for breath, do the brigades of Mansfield 
appear at the east, coming late into action, and even 
then by no means prepared. Closed in mass and with 



KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 949 

crowded intervals, they stride from the woods and strive 
to deploy. But many battalions are new and unskilled, 
and before the brigade can be brought into line, gallant, 
gray-headed old Mansfield drops dying from his horse. 
Williams succeeds to command ; but before Hooker half 
finishes giving his orders, he, too, commanding all 
troops at that moment west of the stream, is stricken 
and borne from the field, stripping it thereby of both 
corps commanders, and leaving the right to the care of 
men ignorant of McClellan s plans, and confronted by 
the best fighters in the Southern host. 

Oh the pity of it ! Half the horses of Battery " B " are 
stretched on the field in front of the farm-house. Full 
a third of the gunners are down. Campbell, the captain, 
is shot from his saddle. Half the right wing of the Sixth 
is gone. Half the commanders are now killed or 
wounded. Not a lieutenant-colonel is left in the Iron 
Brigade. Allen, Bragg and Bachman are borne from 
the line, the last named to his soldier grave. The lone 
effort is fruitless, save for its glories and the fierce pun 
ishment given the foemen in front. There, indeed, is 
destruction equal to this in the cornfields and along the 
Hagerstown pike. No wonder Old Jack bows his head 
in grief and supplication. Again he has lost both di 
vision commanders, Lawton and Jones being wounded. 
Again, as at Gainesville, has Starke taken command 
when his chief is borne to the rear, and now dies at his 
post in less than the hour, shot through by three bullets. 
So, too, falls Douglas, heading Lawton s brigade, and 



250 THE IRON BRIGADE 

with almost breaking heart Jackson sends word to his 
beloved general that half the commands of Lawton and 
Hays and fully one-third of Trimble s are killed or 
wounded, as are all regimental commanders but two. 
Thank God, tis their last fight with the Iron Brigade! 

With the rest of the battle we have nothing to do. 
Before breakfast is over at the Pry house, where sit 
Little Mac and the big staff, Hooker s fight on the right 
flank is over and done. Then another is started in front 
of the East Wood, and later others occur along the line 
to the south, and wherever a corps is sent in to attack, 
Lee scrapes up a corps to meet and repell it. Con 
certed action might have given the Union a needed, a 
much needed, victory, but concert there is none. One 
splendid and disciplined corps has been held in reserve, 
and when toward the last the serene young general-in- 
chief, never excited or hurried, never able to see flaw 
in his own dispositions, seemed yielding to pressure and 
about sending them in, he hearkens to the words of their 
brilliant commander, so said veteran regulars at the 
time: " Remember, General, I command the last reserve 
of the Army of the Potomac." 

And so night settles down and Lee s little army, 
superbly led, has beaten back in succession the scat 
tered attacks of McClellan s overwhelming force, sent 
in, so many at a time, to the end that, in spite of hard 
fighting and devoted courage on part of officers and 
men, the day is a failure and the field something fearful 
to see. All through the hours of darkness the surgeons 



KILLED IN FRONT OF THE GUNS 251 

are at work with the thousands of wounded. All 
through the following day Lee waits for renewal of the 
battle, but McClellan has had enough. With the com 
ing of another night, therefore, gathering up his 
wounded and prisoners, sending his trains ahead, the 
great Virginian silently moves his columns down to the 
fords of the Potomac, and by dawn of the nineteenth 
all are safely across. Lee has slipped away. 

No wonder the President s sombre eyes are clouded 
as he sadly studies the dread list of the slain. No won 
der he scans the bearded faces of the generals sum 
moned to meet him the day he closes his memorable 
visit to the field. Is there none among them who can 
take this splendid army and do something with it against 
these skilled fencers of the South? Men in overwhelm 
ing number, guns the best that money can buy, supplies 
in abundance of every kind, all these have been lavished 
on our leaders and to what end! No wonder, as he 
drives away, his face lined with care. 

There is significance in the greeting accorded the little 
soldier still in supreme command when he rides his lines 
a day after the battle. The corps of Porter, held 
throughout the combat in safe reserve, swings its caps 
and cheers with great enthusiasm. The corps of Sumner 
shouts with modified rejoicing. The men of Mansfield 
rise and salute in silence. The thinned battalions of the 
First Corps make no sign whatever. 

Witnessing this sight, Fred Benton contrasts it with 
another which it was his privilege to note the previous 



252 THE IRON BRIGADE 

day. Still serving at division headquarters, acting as 
inspector-general, he and other officers had been sent 
under flag of truce within the picket lines of the South 
ern army, to seek the wounded and to render aid. All 
about the barn and buildings of the Miller farm, where 
the brigade had rallied and hung so long, lay scores of 
stricken men for whom the surgeons were doing their 
best, but so very many seemed past help. Along the 
pike the Georgians, too, lay thick, and gray uniformed 
officers moved to and fro among them, or conversed in 
low tones, curiously scanning from time to time the two 
or three staff officials in blue who followed the surgeons, 
pencil and notebook in hand. Suddenly the talking 
ceased, for, issuing from a narrow roadway that trended 
westward from the pike, there came a tall, commanding- 
looking officer, gray-bearded, yet alert, a soldier who 
acknowledged with grave courtesy the salutes that 
greeted him on every hand. Men sprang to their feet 
and gazed at him almost in adoration. Even the 
wounded strove to rise. Some few hailed him with 
feeble, childish voices. As for Benton and his two as 
sociates, they needed not the little group of staff and 
orderlies to confirm them in their belief. They knew 
him at a glance the great Virginia leader and Benton, 
instantly, the others following, stepped forward and 
stood at salute. Lee saw it, and turning so as to half 
face the Northeners, with punctilious courtesy lifted his 
hat, then quickly reined back as a dust-covered, battle- 
stained battery came jingling out from the lane and, 



KILLED IN FRONT OP THE GUNS 253 

turning into the highway, pulled wearily on to where 
the spires of the Maryland town pierced the blue be 
yond the southward wood. Jaded and worn were the 
horses, black and powder-stained the men, and of a sud 
den one of these, a slender stripling, jogging along be 
side his gun, caught sight of the group of horsemen, 
darted from his place to where the commanding general, 
the picture of the soldier and the gentleman, sat in sad 
dle at the roadside, and there, with boyish laugh, held 
forth a grimy hand. " It s Bob," he cried. " Don t you 
know me, father?" And Lee, the cavalier, bent low 
and with love and tenderness, with who can say what 
pride and rejoicing, clasped the hand of the private sol 
dier in the Rockbridge Artillery, his gallant younger 
son. In what other army would one see the like of 
that! 

Then the general rode on toward the Dunker church, 
where still the men of Jackson lay in readiness, and then 
uprose rank after rank with mighty shout that marked 
his onward going adown the weary yet intenselj loyal 
line until lost within the distant walls of Sharpsburg. 
Despite the dire carnage of the day of battle, there beat 
no soldier heart in all the Southern host that was not 
true to Lee. 

Presently, as the time accorded for their sad mission 
had well nigh expired, Benton was aware of a young 
officer, in the uniform of the horse artillery, who had 
been chatting with comrades across the way, and now, 



254 THE IRON BRIGADE 

dismounting, stepped briskly toward him, lifting a jaunty 
forage cap. 

" Your pardon, sir," he courteously spoke. " Is this 
Captain Benton who visited Charlottesville not long 
ago? My name is Pelham," and there was just the 
suspicion of a smile in the keen young face. 

" Captive, but not captain," answered Benton, with 
responsive grin, though the mention of the name was 
something that put him on his guard. What was it 
young Winston had said about Maud Pelham and Rosa 
lie? This must be the boy captain of the name, of whom 
he had heard so much Jeb Stuart s crack light gunner. 

" Yes, I have cousins there," continued Pelham, as 
though reading Benton s thoughts. " But it is long 
since we met. You are the man, as I happen to know, 
who showed so much courtesy to Lieutenant Winston, 
as well as to Jack Chilton. Now you can do me a favor 
if you should see Dr. Chilton, and that is, tell him for 
me that the men at the front utterly disapprove the 
doings of that self-styled citizens committee at the rear. 
Those people," he went on disdainfully, " are too old or 
too feeble-minded to fight like men. They stab like 
women." 

" It will comfort them or rather the doctor to get 
such a message from you, Captain Pelham," answered 
Benton, almost eagerly, " and I shall see that he does 
get it. I shall write at once. You can do me a favor, 
too, if you will. An old school friend of mine, Paul 



KILLED IN FRONT OP THE GUNS 255 

Ladue, is a staff officer in Ewell s division. Give him 
a greeting for me, will you? " 

" Ladue," said Pelham, his fine features clouding in 
stantly. " I fear I heard Oh, Captain Lamar," he 
called, " what Lieutenant Ladue was it brought that 
note Wednesday morning to General Stuart? " 

" Paul Ladue, Eleventh Alabama," was the prompt 
answer. " Killed right here in front of the battery not 
half an hour afterwards." 



CHAPTER XX 

A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 

The autumn, the wasted autumn has gone, " the win 
ter of our discontent " indeed has come. For weeks 
the army hangs there inert and chafing along the Poto 
mac, while Lee and his bronzed veterans saunter away 
through the Shenandoah, " feeding on the fat of the 
land." Marveling at the inaction of McClellan, Stuart 
rides back with some eighteen hundred horse and two 
light guns and, of course, Pelham ; and, just as he did a 
few months earlier down on the Peninsula, jogs con 
temptuously clear round the bewildered and indignant 
divisions, laughing at the effort of Pleasanton to catch 
or others to head him. McClellan says his cavalry is 
too wearied and broken down to accomplish anything, 
and the President mildly asks what it has been doing 
to so fatigue it. Another correspondence of complaints 
begins, and finally ends at Warrenton, when the order 
comes early in November that severs once and for all 
McClellan s connection with the Army of the Potomac. 
He had done much to make it, God knows. He was 
great as an organizer and instructor. He had the faith 
and regard of most of the officers and the love of all the 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 257 

men. It was in battle and campaign that he failed them, 
not they him, for mortal man had never deeper devotion 
than was accorded Little Mac until he took the field. 
Even now, this sad November day, there are scores of 
officers and soldiers whose faces are furrowed with tears 
as they see him ride away. There are many commands 
that would gladly recall him. There are regiments that 
could not be made to cheer him after Antietam that 
mourn his going now, even in the hard-used First Corps. 
There are men right here in the Iron Brigade who de 
plore the ordered separation, but there is a higher power, 
a higher duty still, and, no matter what may be the 
sorrow of this parting, the Army of the Potomac would 
be faithless to McClellan and his teachings were it not 
loyal to the commander-in-chief, the President of the 
United States. Even in the bitterness of heart that must 
accompany submission to his soldier fate, McClellan 
himself strikes the keynote of that undimmed, unshaken 
spirit of loyalty above all things when he bids his old 
comrades farewell, and, in so doing, bids them be as true 
to his successor as they had ever been to him. 

Changes, too, have occurred in many a minor grade. 
The Fifth Corps mourns the loss of the brilliant, gifted, 
handsome soldier whose head is demanded as one result 
of the woful mismanoeuvers about Manassas. Old 
names appear at the head of grand divisions, as Burn- 
side calls the doubled corps. New names, compara 
tively, appear at corps headquarters. New brigadiers, 
a full crop, ride up from the roster of field officers, and 
17 



258 THE IRON BRIGADE 

not so many now hail from the ranks of influential but 
unskilled civilians. New regiments have been grafted 
on old brigades; new blood injected into old and tough 
ening veins. It is high time our friends of the Iron 
name had reinforcement, for, despite Wisconsin s praise 
worthy course of recruiting veteran commands as well 
as raising new ones, their ranks are wofully thin; so, 
as neither Badger nor Hoosier regiment comes to 
swell the Army of the Potomac, there is assigned to 
the old brigade, thereby assuring its distinctive Western 
character, a brand new, ambitious and, as it turns out, 
most pugnacious and rightful array of Wolverines, " all 
teeth and toe-nails," say the Badgers, who take them 
under advisement, and so the much-vaunted menagerie 
is complete again. 

Changes, too, have come to the staff, and, to Benton s 
blushing delight, he is called upon at Catlett s to " wet " 
a new commission, recommended by his old general 
and heartily approved by the new. It is Captain Ben- 
ton, additional aide-de-camp now, and he rides for the 
time being with a division commander famous for stay 
ing qualities, if not for urbanity, a man who is of the 
fight-to-a-finish mold, and would hang every rebel from 
Maine to Mexico. He is a fighter who knows neither 
fear nor forgiveness and who takes it amiss that one 
of his staff should mourn much over the fate of a rebel 
in arms, especially one who serves that arch-rebel Ewell 
and has no earthly excuse for fighting at all. We have 
had few as yet of these vehement patriots in high places. 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 359 

We have had far too many, storms Stanton in Washing 
ton, of those who would handle treason with gloves, 
furnish guards for the homesteads of hard-fighting 
chiefs on the Southern side, hold commerce and com 
munion through flags of truce with former comrades 
across the lines. "We must stop it, by heaven! " says 
Stanton, splitting a table top with one blow of his fist. 
" We must drumhead and shoot em," says Fred s new 
commander, " and I ll hang the first man of my staff 
that I catch." It must be owned that the general fights 
hard as he swears, which is saying a good deal, and 
means no doubt very much of what he says. He has 
heard much of Benton as a gallant staff officer, eager, 
reliable, tireless, a fellow that never wears out. The one 
thing against him is his training under " that soft-sided 
senior of his" (Fred s original chief), and his own known 
weakness for certain folks in rebellion. " He ought to 
be thankful Ladue s dead and buried," says this new 
leader of an old division. " And as for his Charlottes- 
ville friends, he d better steer clear of em all if he 
doesn t court trouble with me" 

" The winter of our discontent " indeed! With gloomy 
heart and sad anticipation Benton rides away through 
the leafless woods to the old familiar scenes about Fred- 
ericksburg. Word from Washington has brought him 
little comfort. Rumor of his commander s sayings has 
filled him with foreboding. Dr. Chilton, to whom he 
had written on almost any provocation and who had 
gratefully and promptly answered his Sharpsburg mis- 



260 THE IRON BRIGADE 

sive, giving young Pelham s message, now wrote not 
at all. " He seems sad and brooding," said Jack, in the 
one letter that young gentleman had managed to send 
through since his incarceration. Jack was well enough 
to resume duty and most eager for exchange, but nego 
tiations hung fire unaccountably, so said he, and Benton 
thought he knew the reason why. Lounsberry had been 
back again in Richmond over six weeks now, exchanged 
and restored to his old and influential post in the War 
Department. Lounsberry could be counted on to lose 
no chance to injure the Chiltons, father or son, and so 
long as it was possible he would block all plan to ex 
change Jack Chilton, thereby lending color to the stories 
spread abroad in Virginia that poor Jack rather tried 
to be caught and to stay caught, such hard fighting as 
his fellow Virginians had to do being little to his taste. 
It would have burned his heart out with fury had he 
known it, but few of us begin to realize the half of 
what is whispered to our detriment, else there would be 
deportation of sensitive souls or deserved destruction 
in the army of detractors. Jack was nearly mad with 
misery when told of Stuart s impudent dash at Cham- 
bersburg and the second circling of the Army of the 
Potomac. He was then just beginning to stump around 
quite comfortably. Elinor and the Squire had returned 
to the West, the former with red-rimmed eyes and 
pallid cheeks. No one knew how she had sorrowed 
over the sad news about Ladue. It was that, though, 
that seemed to break the ice of Rosalie s reserve, for 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 261 

now, for the first time, the Virginia girl read the secret 
of her Wisconsin would-be friend, and melted to her 
instantly. It was that, though they rarely spoke his 
name, that led to the letters now passing frequently be 
tween them. It was through that correspondence the 
sisterhood began that, despite trial and trouble, proved 
eventually so sure an alliance in time of need. 

But though Elinor wrote in many a page of her 
brother, and in only a few referred to Paul and then 
only as " he " or " him " Rosalie would write only of 
the latter. Ordinarily this would have led to resent 
ment and a breach. Now it did not, for what Rosalie 
had to say was stirring new hope into the sombre cur 
rent of the Western girl s monotonous life. Rosalie 
had amazed and rejoiced her, about the end of October, 
by the assurance that she believed Captain Lamar to be 
totally mistaken. It was true, she admitted, that Paul 
Ladue had not been seen with Ewell s division, but 
neither had Ewell, as yet for the latter had not become 
accustomed to a cork leg yet she had tidings from 
" friends " who, she would not say that Paul Ladue 
was still alive when borne from the awful front of Gib 
bon s guns, then belching canister in double rounds. 
" More dead than alive he looked," said her informant, 
but while she had no tidings of his present whereabouts, 
neither was there any record of his death. 

All this was presently sent to Fred on the Rappahan- 
nock, and made him the more eager to communicate 
with some one across that modern Rubicon some one 



262 THE IRON BRIGADE 

who could speak advisedly. But though there were 
places near the fords up stream where the cavalry ve 
dettes sat long hours in saddle, facing, and often within 
hailing distance of each other, the orders against com 
munication of any kind had become exacting, for it was 
evident that Burnside was marshaling his grand divi 
sions for a move. 

In the early summer time, when he hated to leave the 
front and longed to push on to Richmond or Charlottes- 
ville, Benton had been summoned to Washington. Now, 
when he longed to go to Washington, there was pros 
pect of a midwinter dash across the Rappahannock. 
News of the Chiltons was sorely disquieting. Rosalie 
would not write. Jack, in prison camp, could not, ex 
cept to kindred, and the doctor evidently shrank from 
writing. It was a winter of courts-martial at the Capi 
tal, and several such tribunals were in session, trying 
officers of various grades. Many new regiments had 
come and were held about the city until suitably drilled 
and disciplined. As a consequence the avenues again 
were alive with uniforms, the hotels crowded, and many 
thrifty households were " coining " money taking board 
ers. Mention has been made of Dr. Chilton s sister, 
with whom they were again dwelling after their return 
from the summer at the seashore. Being only moder 
ately well-to-do, and besieged with applications, she 
had yielded to pressure and let two of her rooms to 
officers sojourning in the city. Then one of these, or 
dered West, begged leave to present a successor, a 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 263 

major of a new regiment, who, being a " smart " lawyer, 
had been assigned to duty as judge advocate of a 
court for the trial of officers of rank in the volunteers. 
When the Squire wrote that McKinnon had been ap 
pointed major of a newly raised regiment and ordered 
with it to Annapolis, Fred Benton felt, so great was his 
antipathy, a vague sensation of annoyance and chagrin. 

Three weeks later when Colonel Goff, of the teenth, 

came down to pay the Iron Brigade a two-days visit, the 
young staff officer was confounded to hear that Major 
McKinnon had just found domicile under the same roof 
that shielded Dr. Chilton and the lady of his love. It 
meant mischief and Benton knew it. Yet, how could 
McKinnon, though he hated his former partner, the 
Squire, hated Elinor for her scorn of him, hated La- 
due for the preference she had ever shown that dreamy, 
sweet-natured fellow, and presumably hated him, Fred, 
How could McKinnon injure him or those he loved? 

A strange, uncanny freak of fortune, he tried to 
teach himself to regard it, and nothing more, but 
stranger still were the freaks not yet unfolded. Fred 
Benton was by no means the first nor by any manner 
of means the last soldier to learn that the presence of 
a secret and insidious foe, whether in camp or court, in 
the department of love or that of war, works untold in 
jury to the absent, and there is no foe more bitter than 
he who deals the original wrong. 

One bleak December morning Benton had ridden 
with his general down the river bank on the Stafford side 



264 THE IRON BRIGADE 

and sat watching the work of the engineers. The pon 
toon wagons were being run to the front, and many an 
officer and man looked at the heavy, ungainly boats and 
the long loads of balk and chess, then studied the dis 
tant line of heights across the stream, saying little but 
thinking much. Whoever sought to storm that crest 
had a precious job on hand, was an expurgation of the 
way in which the average veteran expressed his indi 
vidual views. Most of the generals and the staff were 
comparatively strange to our Badger regular. Most of 
them were Eastern men, and not quite so ready as he 
to think the Western brigade the peer of any in the 
army. He had kept his views to himself, as a rule, but 
had felt bound on a few occasions to take up the cudgels 
in defense of his comrades when he found them the 
butts for little shafts of malice or mischief at camp fire 
or mess table. The social atmosphere was far from 
being as congenial as in the little military family with 
which he entered service. He sorely missed the com 
panionship and guidance of Carver, especially. He 
sometimes sat in silence, marveling much at the con 
trast between the tone of talk in the old staff and this 
in the new. Under his own general, as he still thought 
of him, there was no such thing as criticism of superiors 
or condemnation of equals. Here in his new environ 
ment there was little else. The new division com 
mander, to whose service he was assigned, had confi 
dence, apparently, in the skill and judgment of but few 
men above him in grade, and of none that gave promise 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 265 

of rising to equal or higher rank. He fairly suffered at 
the sound of a word of praise for other generals deeds 
or methods, and Benton had enthusiastic liking for as 
many as ten, and this exceeded his commander s list by 
nine exactly. Brave, bumptious and vain, the chief was 
forever sneering or swearing at his fellows, and scowl 
ing on such of his staff as presumed to even favorably 
mention another leader. It had caused more than one 
unpleasantness at table. It had intensified the general s 
faint dislike for Benton ; for, unlike the rest of the staff, 
the young fellow would not sit and swallow whole the 
chieftain s scathing comments on other chiefs whom he 
had known, and thereby Benton showed how easy it was, 
with greater knowledge to have less wisdom. In fine, 
" the ^winter of our discontent " was wearing on our 
young staff officer in a dozen different ways, and one 
that hurt him much was that, when he most longed to 
spend his leisure hours with old friends of the Iron Bri 
gade, he could not, because it seemed to irritate the 
chief. Then they in turn seemed to feel the consequent 
defection, and twitted him with neglect of them because 
he d " got so high." Take if all in all, thought Benton, 
promotion had brought him anything but bliss ; and now, 
when he would have given worlds to get to Washington, 
not for worlds could he ask for even a week of leave. 
Burnside was planning an assault in force. Those pon 
toon trains, at half a dozen hidden points along the Staf 
ford shore, unerringly told the story. 

And while seated in saddle, shivering a bit in the raw 



266 THE IRON BRIGADE 

wind blowing from the distant Chesapeake, and wishing 
the chief would quit his comments on the orders of the 
corps commander and trot home to dinner, Benton 
caught sight of a little column of cavalry riding deject 
edly in from the far left flank. Horses looked jaded, 
men disgusted, and three or four prisoners in their wake 
looked worst of all. " Where d ye s pose those dam- 
fools have come from?" asked the general, cheerfully. 
" Captain," he cried, hailing the officer in command, 
" what you got there? " 

The officer touched his cap, turned out of column, so 
as not to halt the methodical march, rode up toward the 
general and said: " Prisoners, sir, taken by one of our 
scouting parties a few miles down, and sent in by us, 
for most of these horses with me have to be shod." 

By this time the greater part of the troop, in their 
ugly light blue overcoats, had plodded by, and the squad 
of prisoners came footing it wearily after. Foremost 
of these a tall, thin-faced, ungainly specimen, dressed in 
one of those self-same cavalry overcoats, glanced curi 
ously at the general from under his broad-brimmed 
slouch hat; threw a look over the blue-nosed, watery- 
eyed pair of orderlies at his back, and then on Benton 
and a brother aide, sitting a few yards aside; then in 
stantly a flash of recognition shot over his face, and he 
called aloud : 

" There, Captain. There s a gentleman who will vouch 
for what I say. Ask Captain Benton." 



A CRY FROM THE AMBULANCE 267 

It was our friend Jennings, he of the stone house and 
the Warrenton pike, and Jennings would not be denied. 
He plunged into a voluble story to the listening chief, 
despite the efforts of an Irish trooper to prod him for 
ward. 

" D you know him? " asked the general, shortly, as he 
turned to Benton. " He says you do." 

" I saw him once or twice, sir," was the guarded an 
swer. " I do not know him further than that he held 
General McDowell s pass and went in and out of our 
lines at will last summer." 

"And I m just as loyal as I was then," protested 
Jennings, " only they caught me down here trying to 
help some folks of mine that were sick and nigh starv- 
ing " 

But the general shut him off impatiently. He was 
giving ear to the words of the captain, who had ridden 
closer. 

" Colonel Hammond ordered his arrest, sir, because 
of papers in his possession, showing he was mixed up 
in the aiding of Confederates officers across the 
Potomac. They got one of em too weak to ride. He s 
in that ambulance yonder," and the dragoon pointed to 
the yellow-painted vehicle coming bouncing among the 
ruts and ridges of the frozen roadway. A faint moan 
issued from beneath the canvas cover as the driver 
reined up, and Benton, moved by compassion, urged his 
horse past the silent, passive column and peered in 



268 THE IR ON BRIGADE 

through the opening at the back. The next instant he 
was out of saddle, and the rear spring bent under his 
weight as he leaped upon the steps. Then they heard 
his voice in tones of mingled grief, joy and amaze: 
"Paul! Paul! Dear old boy, don t you know me?" 



CHAPTER XXI 

BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 

Over the useless slaughter of the field of Fredericks- 
burg it were best to draw the veil. Far down at the left 
flank the old brigade groped its way through dripping 
fog and lay in line of battle, having little to do but wait 
orders, and catching only occasional shots from the 
Southern guns along the heights. Old hands under fire, 
the veterans officers and men lay close and kept still. 
Their rifles could effect nothing against an enemy uphill 
and behind entrenchments. New hands, not yet used 
to battle, were not so quiet, and the gallant colonel of 
the great battalion of Wolverines, big almost as the rest 
of the brigade, thought it necessary to ride up and down 
his line, exhorting his men to steadiness in loud and 
powerful voice. " It lets em know I m here/ said he, 
to the expostulant commander of the next door regi 
ment. " I see," said the latter, as a volley flashed down 
from Early s fellows along the crest, " and it also lets the 
enemy. Your men will be steadier without the telling," 
which reasoning the colonel pondered over and ac 
cepted. He and his thoroughbreds were spoiling for a 
chance to show their neighbors from the adjoining 
States that they were quite as valiant as the vaunted 



270 THE IRON BRIGADE 

old brigade. " Give us half a chance," said he, " and 
then you look out for the Wolverines." 

But neither Fredericksburg, nor Chancellorsville, nor 
Virginia, nor even Maryland afforded the longed-for 
opportunity. Not until the desperate clinch far up on 
Pennsylvania soil not until the midsummer morning 
of the first day at Gettysburg did their time come, but 
when it came it proved a test the like of which had 
never been met before, even in that hard-fighting, hard- 
hammered command. 

Meanwhile, what had not befallen other actors in our 
story notably the Damon and Pythias of the ante 
bellum days, Benton and Paul Ladue. 

" Seems to have bout as many friends among the rebs 
as he has on our side of the line," had the division com 
mander remarked of Benton, though in a moment of 
exaggerated biliousness, the day after the retreat from 
the Southern shore. Everybody was in evil temper at 
the time. The repeated assaults on that entrenched 
and commanding line had cost fearfully. The army 
had fought and bled with all its old hopeless devotion. 
Even Burnside s fiercest critics had battled bravely for 
him on the field, but he had heard the hard things said 
of him by some, at least, of their number, and the army 
was to have another shaking up in consequence. Then 
Fred s new general had come in for a rasping from the 
corps commander, because the leading brigade took 
the wrong road in the rain and darkness, going back to 
the pontoon bridge, and so delayed matters over an hour. 



BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 271 

It happened that Benton had guided the division to its 
first position on the field; that he had been sent to find 
General Franklin; that when he returned with a mes 
sage from this latter officer, the division was in motion, 
and the commander had ridden off to speak with Gibbon 
or somebody else, and Benton followed, of course, in 
search of his chief, instead of staying with the head of 
column. Finding himself rebuked, the general repri 
manded Benton in the presence and hearing of officers 
and men. Benton s heart and temper being both sore 
and tried, he had replied with much spirit, if not subordi 
nation, to the effect that the message he was charged 
to deliver admitted of no delay; that if the general had 
been where he belonged there would have been no de 
lay; and that sooner than submit to such injustice he 
would ask to be relieved from staff duty forthwith, and 
wrote that very night to his old friend and general, then 
a member of an important military tribunal at Wash 
ington, begging his advice and intervention, and telling 
him, of course, the story of poor Ladue. 

But, being coupled with another, that story was now 
almost an old one at the capital, for thither had the 
poor lad been sent and Jennings with him; Paul look 
ing, indeed, " more dead than alive," for a strange, 
eventful history had been his ever since the dreadful 
morning north of Sharpsburg that stretched him sense 
less in front of Gibbon s furious guns. " Killed," said 
Lamar and other officers who saw him borne away in 
a blanket. " Mortally wounded," said the hospital at- 



272 THE IRON BRIGADE 

tendants who first ministered to him, back of the Dunker 
church, where reigned confusion inexpressible owing to 
the appalling number of those needing surgical aid. 
How he got there or beyond, Paul never knew until long 
thereafter. Stunned, as General Jones had been, by the 
explosion of a shell just over his head, and gashed 
across the breast by a whirling fragment of iron, La- 
due only recovered consciousness four days after the 
fight, when they told him he was in safe hands and the 
house of a farmer not three miles out of Shepherdstown. 
The ambulance team, frightened by a bursting shell, had 
toppled the driver out of his seat and run away, capsiz 
ing the crazy vehicle and distributing the human load 
along a country lane. That was the last of Paul Ladue 
for six long weeks, and when he came to the verge of 
recovery his comrades had gone long miles away. Union 
soldiers were on every side. Tender-hearted Virginians 
had carried him to their loft and there concealed and 
cared for him until he was well enough to move about, 
and in November, when he begged to be aided to rejoin 
his comrades, every pass and road southward was held 
and guarded. Odd as it may seem, the easiest, most 
practicable way for Southern soldier to go from the 
Potomac to his own people was by way of the North. 
The young men of the family were in Jackson s Corps. 
The old father was permitted to go to and fro, market 
ing at Martinsburg nearby, or Hagerstown over in 
Maryland. His wife and her younger sister, whose 
husband rode with Stuart, had relatives at Chambers- 



BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 273 

burg and Baltimore. Through these kind souls, civilian 
clothing was bought for their interesting captive, in 
whose welfare they had now an almost sentimental in 
terest, and by mid November Paul was safely under the 
roof of a well-to-do and most active Southern sympa 
thizer in the Monumental City. He and his were only 
too proud and happy to serve an officer of the Eleventh 
Alabama, and royally they entertained him and most 
skilfully planned his further movements, for go he 
would to resume duty; this, too, despite the pallor and 
lassitude that told he was still far from strong. 

These were details which Ladue could not reveal at 
the time. He had revived sufficiently to recognize Ben- 
ton and to speak feebly a few moments; but that very 
night, in the fog and darkness, was begun the building 
of the bridges, the crossing of the left grand division, 
and Fred could only leave his poor friend with the sur 
geons and hasten back to his duty. Four days later, 
when he would have ridden to the hospital camp in 
search of him, it was too late. Urgent orders had come 
from Stanton himself, the great and growing War Secre 
tary, to send the prisoner patient thither as soon as he 
could be moved. Jennings had already gone under 
strong guard, and all Benton could learn at the moment 
was that there had been a break from prison camp ; that, 
aided by residents of Baltimore and of Charles County, 
some Confederate officers had escaped to the Potomac ; 
and, while some of the party had succeeded in cross 
ing, one boat had been fired on and swamped. Two of 
18 



274 THB J RON BRIGADE 

the officers had been captured, one being poor Paul, 
who had been nearly drowned, and was found in a fisher 
man s hut not far from Mathias Point. Two of the 
party were still at large. Arrests of suspected civilians 
had been made, both in Washington and Baltimore, and 
certain secret service officials had been summarily dis 
charged by order of the Secretary, as being unworthy to 
hold positions of such trust and responsibility. 

" Stanton is a terror," said Fred s informant, a staff 
officer just from Washington. " He insisted on shutting 
out McClellan, just as Little Mac was getting a good 
hold and learning how to fight. He insisted on putting 
in Burnside, who loved McClellan and didn t want the 
command didn t think himself fit for it. He insisted on 
Burnside fighting, and Burnside bumped us up against 
a stone wall where we butted our brains out, and things 
have gone crooked every which way. God help the man 
that has to bump up against Stanton just now ! " 

This was the Wednesday following the furious storm 
of that Monday night of mid December, under cover of 
which the honest, loyal, but almost broken-hearted sol 
dier had withdrawn his silent army across the stream, 
with twelve thousand of its number sacrificed to the in 
sane demand to fight and satisfy the people that the 
Army of the Potomac could fight. It was now some 
thirty-six hours after Fred s serious difference with his 
division commander. He had sent the morning previous 
that urgent appeal to his old general to be set free from 
further contact with these things he almost loathed. 



BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 275 

He looked for answer within the week, and, taking ad 
vantage of the permission, coldly accorded him by the 
chief of staff, to be absent over night, he had gone, 
heavy-hearted, to his old friends of the Iron Brigade, 
and sought at their hands the sympathy and consolation 
to be expected of men who had themselves felt that the 
official atmosphere was frigid where once it had been 
so fair. And it was here, on Thursday morning, while 
breakfasting with the genial commander of the Black 
Hats and listening to his philosophic advice to " take 
things coolly " and that " all would come right," he was 
surprised by the coming of a cavalry orderly, splashed 
with mud, who bore a missive addressed by the adjutant- 
general of the division and marked " Immediate." With 
a word of apology to Colonel Fairchild and his officers, 
Benton tore it open, and two papers fell out. One read: 

"CAPTAIN BENTON: Enclosed just received. The general says you 
better come this way where the necessary orders will meet you, and you 
can get what luggage you need. There will be steamers going all the 
evening. 

41 [Signed] BREWSTER, A. A. G." 

The second was a telegram to the Commanding 
General, th Division, th Corps, and bore singular 
resemblance to one received on almost the same ground 
some seven months previous: 

"Secretary of War desires to see Captain Benton of your staff at 
once. Take first boat. Intermediate commanders notified. No delay. 

"L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General" 

"Well, well," said the colonel, "they have been 
prompt! You can get to Acquia by noon, can t you? " 



276 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Not if he goes back by way of Old Scoffer s," re 
marked a field officer, thoughtfully. " Fred, don t you 
imagine the chief wants to smooth things a bit before 
you tell Stanton all about it?" 

" Don t go back, Benton. Just let him sweat. It ll 
make him more civil another time," began an impetuous 
comrade, but stopped short at sight of the cloud in Ben- 
ton s eyes, the anxious look in the colonel s fine, clear- 
cut, soldierly face. It was the latter who spoke again, 
and without interruption, for already he had won the 
faith of even such martial iconoclasts as the Black Hats. 
" This means something more than a mere difference 
due to ill temper," said he. " You are wanted for a pur 
pose, Benton. Is it about Ladue, do you think? " 

Fred had already risen. " I shouldn t be surprised," 
he answered, thinking uncontrollably of the words of 
his Washington informant, " God help the man that has 
to bump up against Stanton just now! " 

Yet he rode back to headquarters and, surely enough, 
found his chief there, chafing and suspicious. " What s 
Stanton want of you?" he blurted out. " You haven t 
you didn t make a row about what I said Monday 
night, did you? We were all cross-grained then, and I 
didn t happen to think you had to look me up and so 
got lost." 

" I have certainly written to a friend at Washington 
asking for other duty, sir," said Benton firmly, though 
his anger had vanished and given place to sadness and 
anxiety. " I did not get lost, however. I obeyed or- 



BEARDING- THE LION IN HIS DEN 277 

ders, and under similar circumstances should do so 
again." 

" I ve told you I didn t understand the matter at the 
time or I shouldn t have said, perhaps, what I did," 
broke in Old Scoffer, both hurt and troubled. " If 
you re going to start in on your army career with the 
idea that you re never going to get hauled over the 
coals, you ve mistaken your profession." Scoffer knew 
he had been in the wrong. He wanted to undo the 
wrong. He simply didn t know how, and Benton 
wouldn t help him. 

" You say * perhaps, General, and that implies a lin 
gering doubt. So long as you think there was the 
slightest justification for your reprimand, there is not 
the slightest use of my trying to serve you." And so 
they parted enemies, if anything, and, preceded by the 
story of Old Scoffer s vehement assertion, enlarged, of 
course, in transit, that he " had more friends in the 
South than in the army," and without having taken the 
first boat or having opportunity to take counsel with 
his former chief, Benton reported the following day at 
the War Department, and, after an hour s wait and 
worry, was shown into the presence of the angering 
Secretary. 

It was a dull December morning. The rain had been 
pattering for hours. The streets were deep in mud. 
The flags hung limp and lifeless. The fog wreaths clung 
to roof and cornice and drifted low about the crowded 
portico without, and followed the splashed and dripping 



278 THE IRON BRIGADE 

men, boring their insistent way into the depths of the 
dingy old edifice. It was a day of gloom and despond. 
It followed close on the heels of dire disaster ; and, with 
the stories rushing in upon him of contention, disloyalty, 
and disruption at the front, the Iron Secretary was stung 
and goaded by the evidences of triumphant plot and 
treason all about him and among the cities safeguarded 
at the rear. Two prominent households within easy 
rifle-shot of his desk were now shown to have been in 
constant correspondence with leaders of the rebel cause 
at Richmond. Two families in Baltimore, hitherto un- 
watched, were found to have been connected with the 
recent escape of closely-guarded Confederate officers 
from a prison camp almost within sight of the flag at 
Federal Hill. One gallant staff officer, scion of a well- 
known and loyal supporter of the administration, stood 
accused of intimate acquaintance with several of the 
parties to the plot and of further knowledge of their de 
signs, and the heart of the Secretary was hot within him 
and hardened against this young staff officer of a fight 
ing corps, who, ushered into the severe and repellent 
presence, stood silently at guard, glanced one instant 
at the grave, bearded faces of the three officers in at 
tendance, and then, blue and unflinching, his eyes fixed 
almost in challenge on the massive, spectacled, glower 
ing front of the great patriot and statesman the force 
ful, dominant, War Democrat, Stanton. 

For a moment each studied the other, and the menace 
in Stanton s frown roused the spirit of fight in Benton s 



BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 279 

not too pacific temperament. " What business has a 
man to look at me as though he thought I ought to be 
hanged, no matter if he is War Secretary ? " was the 
question uppermost in the Badger s mind. His father, 
the Squire, had once trounced a brother-in-law for less. 
The bump of insubordination was rising even before the 
Secretary s first question. 

" How came you so late, sir? " 

And the bump was in his throat, as, flushing to the 
brows, the Badger answered: 

" Possibly because I was kept waiting an hour outside, 
sir." 

Stanton s veins seemed to swell to thrice their natural 
size, and his strong face, fringed by the iron-gray beard, 
turned almost purple. 

" You will be wise to keep your temper, young sir, 
if you wish to keep your commission. You owe your 
escape from rebel hands, I am told, to certain members 
of Dr. Chilton s family, of Charlottesville." 

No answer. 

"It is so, is it not?" 

" One member only, sir." 

" Lieutenant Ladue was your intimate friend at home, 
I believe." Stanton was tapping the desk with a long 
ruler now an ominous sign, said they who knew him. 

" He was, sir." 

" Was it to square accounts with the Chiltons you 
sought to shield him? " 



280 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" I have had to shield him in no way, sir. He had 
been brought here before I could see him again." 

Stanton actually smiled, but the smile was grim as 
any scowl. 

Then it was by helping young Chilton, was it?" 
And the professional cross-examiner tapped more 
swiftly on the table, and his eyes fairly blazed through 
the spectacles. 

Benton was boiling over now. 

" I never heard until an hour ago that he had got 
away, sir. I m g " 

" Glad, I dare say," said the Secretary, with sarcastic 
force. " We heard as much of you and more." Then, 
sudden as a steel trap, " What did you do with the 
papers you received from Ladue ? " 

This time there was no mistaking Benton s start of 
amaze. He was kneeling by poor Paul s side in the 
hospital tent, when with feeble, nerveless hand the boy 
had passed a little packet to him and faintly whispered 
his request. 

"What did you do with them?" demanded Stanton, 
and now the officers standing at the side of the room 
seemed to hold their breath. 

" Nothing, as yet," was the unlooked for reply. 

"Then you still have those papers?" and Stanton 
seemed rising from his chair. 

"Yes, sir," and Benton seemed ready to spring to 
meet him, with fight in every line of his face. 



BEARDING THE LION IN HIS DEN 281 

"Here?" and Stanton had dropped the ruler and 
gripped the arm of his chair. 

" Here," and Benton had the " touch-if-you-dare " 
look of a bull-dog watching a bone. 

" You may deliver them to Major Thorpe," said Stan- 
ton, as though the matter were settled, and the major 
accordingly, but uncertainly, advanced a step or two. 
He was fifty years of age, and Benton was barely half 
his years, but the elder little liked the look of the 
younger s eyes. 

" I may not, Mr. Secretary," and despite his wrath, 
something almost like a smile of amusement played 
about the corners of Benton s firm set lips. " Those 
letters concern only two people on earth, Ladue and 
.my sister. You may have my resignation this minute, 
but not her letters." 



CHAPTER XXII 

" CAPTAIN BENTON, YOT/RE A COWARD ! " 

" A spy in camp," was what the brigade said, when it 
heard the story that came from Washington, and " hop 
ping mad " was the brigade. Its fur had been rubbed 
the wrong way by the little flings of rivals, prompted 
by the pitiable envy that seems inseparable from any 
profession whose reward is mainly reputation. Its sense 
of subordination, too, had been tried by tales of sneer 
ing remarks made by General This or Colonel That, 
and it firmly believed that much of Fred Benton s pres 
ent trowble was due to the fact that he wouldn t stand 
hearing them abused, belittled, or maligned. In greatly 
exaggerated form, the rumor of his disagreements with 
his fellow staff officers and his " row with Old Scoffer " 
had gone the round of the regiments, to the end that 
Fred was now looked upon as a hero and a champion, 
even by the Black Hats, who rarely saw heroism in any 
body, who scouted the idea of needing a champion and 
who pronounced one general of the Army of the Poto 
mac, at least, a consummate ass. They were mad clear 
through when told he had declared Benton disloyal 
" had more friends in the South than in the army." 
Only a few weeks previous they had been pulling Ben- 



"CAPTAIN BBNTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 283 

ton to pieces among themselves, because of his ap 
parent neglect of them and preference for his new as 
sociates. Now they were all afire at the idea of any 
one abusing him, and there was wrath and wonder in 
camp when it was learned that by order of Stanton him 
self Fred Benton was held in close arrest, with the pros 
pect, said rumor, of being sent to that so-called Bastile 
of the war days Fort Lafayette. 

Why not? Was not a gallant general officer who had 
organized the first defense of the National Capital al 
ready there, vainly pleading to be heard against the ac 
cusations of unknown, even anonymous, foes? stripped 
of command and mured in that Chateau d lf of the New 
York Narrows, because there had been, a disaster, and 
some " pipe-inspired " private told a newspaper tale of 
having seen the general communing with rebels the day 
previous? Were not commissioned officers of the regu 
lar army who had fought superbly in battle after battle, 
suddenly and summarily dismissed the service by that 
imperious will, without so much as a chance to confront 
and confound the accuser, because of some story 
brought to the secretarial ear that roused the secretarial 
ire? Small comfort was it to the victim that the order 
of dismissal was later revoked. There to this day stands 
the unmerited blot on the record to the end that, long 
years after, it could be truthfully said by a journal de 
sirous of creating adverse feeling, " This officer was 
summarily dismissed the service in 186 ." 

And if generals and graduates could be thus con- 



284 THE IRON BRIGADE 

demned and confined without trial or hearing, what 
could a lone lieutenant expect, who had confessedly 
been the intimate friend of one Confederate officer, held 
to be a spy because caught in civilian dress after long 
weeks of domicile; who had visited that officer, held 
private converse with him, received important papers at 
his hands and refused to surrender them; who had, fur 
thermore, confessed that he had given material aid and 
comfort to another enemy, Lieutenant J. Bankheacl 
Chilton, when a prisoner in his charge after the affair 
of Gainesville; who had previously aided to escape one 
Dr. Chilton, father of the same, a resident of Charlottes- 
ville and supporter of the rebellion, then in possession 
of valuable information as to our forces and movements 
(no mention here, of course, of McDowell s authority); 
and who, having spent much time as a guest of the Chil 
ton family at Charlottesville, had been by them, through 
their influence at Richmond, sent back to our lines in 
order, doubtless, that he might obtain and furnish more 
treasonable information. 

Oh, a beautiful case was this worked up against Cap 
tain Fred Benton, A. D. C, if the rumors from the 
rear could be believed, and strange it was, indeed, 
that in the midst of all the wrath and despond in all 
ranks, there should appear at the camps of the Iron 
Brigade, shaking hands with brother officers and sol 
diers, that very able talker and genial fellow-citizen, 
Major McKinnon, and Mac had lots to tell. Growlers 
and most men were growlers that woful Christmas- 



"CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 285 

tide along the Stafford Heights who asked him why 
he wasn t with his regiment, were told that he was 
still on court-martial duty, but court had adjourned 
over Christmas. Growlers at first only growled when 
McKinnon tentatively began to talk about Benton and 
Ladue, but later they listened most men will and 
when he returned three days later to his court at the 
Capital and made report to certain confidential officers 
at the Department, it must be admitted that, though he 
took back with him far less of compromising character 
concerning Benton than he expected and hoped, he left 
a lot behind him. 

But then came the " mud march " in which even the 
elements joined forces with the disaffected of the gen 
erals, as well as the enemy, against that most unhappy 
soldier at the head of the army, and in the overwhelming 
slough of despond, McKinnon s mud slinging might 
have been forgotten. The weather had been fine up to 
the moment Burnside essayed his move; then came the 
deluge; and when the old brigade got back to its camps 
and scraped off the tons of sacred soil still clinging to its 
boots, there was no one having other weight who could 
go to Washington and tell the great War Secretary he 
was utterly mistaken as to Benton. For far less than 
that temerity had men been exiled to Santa Rosa or 
Ship Island. Fred s first general was a stranger to Stan- 
ton, and his appeal for speedy justice for his former 
aide-de-camp was ignored, as coming, so McKinnon 
said, from the man that guarded rebel property and 



286 THE IRON BRIGADE 

abandoned positions that he was bidden to hold. 
McKinnon, of course, could not be expected to know 
the real truth or to tell it if he did. 

And all this time there lay at the Old Capitol prison, 
awaiting needed evidence to prove him a spy, a very 
luckless young soldier, Paul Ladue. All this time there 
fumed and chafed, confined in arrest to the limits of 
Greble Barracks and the adjoining square in which were 
the officers quarters, Captain Fred Benton, A. D. C, 
forbidden to see Ladue, and well-nigh forbidden to be 
seen by anybody save secret service specimens detailed 
for the purpose. All this time, persisted the brigade in 
saying, there must have been a spy on Benton s words 
and deeds while with the division, and who could be the 
spy? All this time there came no tidings of that other 
escaped prisoner of war, Jack Chilton. All this time 
not once did Dr. Chilton and his devoted and sorrowing 
daughter step forth for air or sunshine that they were 
not " shadowed." All this time there was a man that 
could have thrown light on the situation, but most un 
accountably had he disappeared Jennings, he of the old 
stone house, captured by cavalry near Mathias Point in 
the act of succoring or aiding escaping prisoners, and 
sent, with Ladue, almost in shackles, to Washington. 
Jennings was again at large, and the Department de 
clared it knew not whither he had gone. He had been 
released, was the explanation well because it would 
appear that he had only done what humanity dictated 



"CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 287 

helped and nursed a half drowned, half fever-burned, 
half dying man. 

Then the Squire came out from the West, and that 
lusty patriot happened to be at odds with State officials 
over some regimental appointment. A hot correspond 
ence had led to a coldness between him and a certain 
senator. The great President was now confronted by 
new and direful problems Burnside had demanded the 
dismissal of several of his generals or else his own. A 
new chief of the army had to be chosen at this crisis of 
its history. A great corps commander, McClellan s 
stanchest friend and supporter, had been sentenced by 
court-martial of his peers to be cashiered and forever 
disqualified. Two others, inimical to Burnside, the 
President was asked to disgrace, together with generals 
of minor grade. The very climax of Lincoln s cares 
seemed to have come. No wonder the mighty captain 
could not anchor his craft in the rush of the rapids, and 
lower a boat for the little boy s apple. No wonder he 
had no time to personally investigate the case of Ben- 
ton s beloved son. " The new housekeeper," he said, 
" would quit without notice rather than submit to inter 
ference." With sorrowing, suffering, anxious heart he 
let Burnside go, and set Burnside s fiercest critic, himself 
to lose his head a few weeks later, in Burnside s place, 
and then the great, loyal, triple-tried army went in again, 
with overwhelming numbers, to round up that thin gray 
line along the southward heights. Again the fords were 
ribboned with the pale blue columns, as a dozen great 



988 THE IRON BRIGADE 

divisions circled the Confederate left. Again did Jack 
son dare to drop everything at the front, swing clear 
round the outermost line and come crushing in on an 
astonished and bewildered flank. " Never," say the Con 
federates, and God knows they know, " did the Yanks 
fight harder than at Chancellorsville " that is, those 
who fought at all, for only a fourth of their entire array 
were given a chance, but again "Back to the fords!" 
was the order, and, cursing their luck and praying for 
a fair fight and no favor, back the fourth time went the 
army. Then came the summer, the race for the Poto 
mac, and the rush at last to the high-water mark of 
rebellion on the shores of the Susquehanna. 

But meantime there had been a scene or two at Wash 
ington, never mentioned in the chronicles of the day and 
in the midst of alarms and distractions such as Washing 
ton had never known before. Such matters as the pub 
lic cowhiding of an army officer almost in front of the 
White House would be " scare-headed " from Maine to 
Manila to-day, but the papers had no space for it then. 
Squire Benton had touched up McKinnon s new uniform 
to the tune of thirty lashes before the police could step 
in and spoil the sport, and only in a local journal and 
one or two in the far West was the affair referred to. 

Paul Ladue, convalescent, had been twice subjected to 
rigid questioning with the hope of establishing the guilty 
connivance in his escape of a certain Baltimore house 
hold, as well as a certain Union officer, and with the 
result of establishing nothing beyond the fact that even 



"CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 289 

in his weakness he had more strength and " sand " than 
the prosecution. Then he was tendered release on 
parole, for long investigation had failed to unearth a 
thing to warrant detention as a spy. 

A romantic turn in the tide of affairs had come when 
a certain senator called on the Secretary and offered to 
show that the incriminating papers which Benton had 
refused to surrender and which Miss Benton now would 
be willing to show, if necessary to save the prisoner s 
life, were personal letters and nothing more. Stanton 
knew this, probably, as well as the senator, but was 
wroth that any one else should know it, and furious 
that an officer should dare refuse to surrender them, 
no matter what or whose they were. Then Ladue s 
Baltimore friends had sent word across the line that 
Ladue was to be tried as a spy and hanged whether 
convicted or not, and an Alabama brigade declared in 
reply that they would hang the first Yankee lieutenant 
they caught if a hair of Paul s head were injured. 

One thing, it was said, that had made Stanton so 
forceful a prosecutor in the past was the ease with 
which he could always persuade himself of a prisoner s 
guilt, the jury following as the night the day. Some 
thing had to be done, he had said, to stop this whole 
sale transmission of state and military secrets to the 
enemy, and a victim was demanded. He had mured 
this Confederate officer, caught in civilian dress, in 
Old Capitol prison, and if he wasn t a spy, then he 
." must have neglected his opportunities and deserved 
19 



290 THE IRON BRIGADE 

to be hanged." What made Stanton so hot against 
Ladue was that so many women, clergymen, church 
people, and others took to pleading for the lad. Then 
it was that McKinnon began to find favor at the 
War Department. Then it was that Captain Benton s 
limits were restricted instead of being enlarged. Then 
it was that soft-hearted surgeons at the Old Capitol 
hospital were replaced by men of sterner stuff. Then it 
was that the Chiltons were notified that they must leave 
Washington forthwith, and the Squire, bursting with 
wrath at being forbidden to see the doctor and his 
daughter, had had brief conference with Fred, now al 
most fretting his heart out at the barracks; had learned 
through an officer of rank in the regular service that 
beyond possibility of doubt Major McKinnon was at the 
bottom of all these new and most oppressive orders; 
had gone to the White House with a demand to see the 
President; had been promised an opportunity immedi 
ately after cabinet meeting that afternoon; had met 
McKinnon sauntering down the avenue in company 
with a fellow soldier-lawyer, and had hurled himself 
upon him then and there, to the end that the major was 
picked up and carried to Willard s, the Squire escorted 
to the police station, and the interview didn t come off. 
It is recorded of the President that when told of the in 
cident that evening, his sad face brightened for the first 
time in a week. " I wonder if the Squire would let me 
make him a general," said he. " At least he fights." 



"CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 291 

That night a soldier of the regular service did a thing 
that, had Stanton known it at the time and it s a won 
der he didn t would doubtless have sent that soldier to 
close arrest, if not to a cell. He was an officer of rank, a 
gentleman of gentlemen, and a fellow beloved of his fel 
low men. Entrusted with an order to see that Dr. 
Chilton and daughter were safely sent to the steamer 
for Old Point Comfort, a suitable guard going with 
them, he had called on the kindly old Virginian late in 
the afternoon. He knew something of the Chiltons and 
much of their story, and was not the man Stanton would 
have sent to work his will. Already their few prepara 
tions were complete. The order for their removal had 
been sent the previous day. A revulsion of feeling, such 
as young Pelham had predicted after Antietam, had 
surely set in at Charlottesville, for many a wounded lad 
from the front had had his say against the croakers and 
scandal-mongers at home, and it was believed that now 
the doctor would be glad to go. Moreover, it was 
known to just two officers at Greble Barracks, not three 
squares from the modest roof that had given shelter 
to the doctor and his fair, sad-faced daughter, that a 
sum in gold sufficient for their needs had been placed 
in the doctor s hands through the sister already men 
tioned. But, so far from being glad to go, both doctor 
and daughter had shown grave embarrassment at the 
tidings, and this despite evident effort. There could be 
but one explanation of that Jack Chilton was still 
North, unable possibly to travel, and concealed by faith- 



292 THE IRON BRIGADE 

ful friends. So long, therefore, as he was this side of 
the now closely-patrolled Potomac, the Chiltons could 
not bear to go. 

There had been a brief, courteous talk. The officer 
deeply regretted, he said, to have to be the means of 
carrying out the order, but he would call with a carriage 
at 8.30. Was there anything he or his wife could do for 
Miss Chilton? 

" There is, sir," answered a voice at the folding doors, 
behind which two voices women s had been heard in 
earnest, almost excited conversation, and with cheeks 
flushing through their pallor and eyes that flashed de 
spite evidence of recent tears, Rosalie Chilton swept 
quickly into the room. " We hear that Mr. Benton 
Squire Benton too, has been arrested and my aunt 
will not admit of anything but I feel that it is to him 
we are indebted for most generous aid. Major, I wish 
to see him, to thank him, to tell him something as 
his daughter is not here. Can that be arranged before 
we go? " 

" If a possible thing," said the major, well knowing 
the Squire was out on bail by this time, and would cer 
tainly come in person. All the same, he told his wife 
at dinner of Miss Chilton s request and, what had not 
that keen-witted army woman already known or sur 
mised? 

" He cannot leave barracks," said she, on the spot, 
"but you can invite him here to your quarters; then 



"CAPTAIN BENTON, YOU RE A COWARD" 293 

bring them here on the way to the boat and leave the 
rest to me." 

"He cannot leave! Why, my dear, he isn t in bar 
racks. The police " begins the major, obtusely. 

" Major! You ask Captain Benton here and and 
no questions," interposes madame with severe and 
superior wisdom. " Then bring her to me." And 
light begins to dawn on the master and he obeys. 

That evening it was late in winter and keen a car 
riage whirled past the guarded gateway of the barrack 
square and drew up at the quarters of the commanding 
officer, a rented, furnished house across the street. The 
major stepped forth, tendered his hand to an agile, slen 
der girl who stopped one instant to kiss the gray-haired 
gentleman beside her, then followed her soldier escort 
to the doorway, where, with eyes that shone and cheeks 
that colored and lips that puckered and hands that 
clasped in sympathy and compassion unspeakable, a 
warm-hearted wife and mother met the motherless girl 
and drew her in. The major went back to the doctor; 
the lady led her guest to the parlor door and ushered 
her into the dimly-lighted, cosily-warmed and closely- 
curtained room; then vanished, and, for the first time 
since that night at Charlottesville, Fred Benton stood 
face to face, alone, with the girl he so fondly and so 
sadly loved. 

And when he, in infinite yearning and love, stepped 
eagerly toward her, his eyes shining, his hands out 
stretched, the furred hood fell back from her flushing 



294 THE IRON BRIGADE 

face, revealing it in all its dark and queenly beauty. 
Her eyes, too, flashed, as in amaze, and then in anger 
unspeakable she recoiled. One instant she glared at 
him, then spoke : 
"Captain Benton, you you re a coward!" 



CHAPTER XXIII 

GETTYSBURG 

The spring had come and gone, the flowers were in 
blossom and bloom, but the voice of the turtle had not 
yet been heard in the land. The sword of Lee led again 
to the border. The spirit of Jackson had fled to the 
skies. Grimmer than ever, old Ewell now ruled at the 
head of the famous " Foot Cavalry " Corps, foremost in 
the dash for the Susquehanna. All Washington, as so 
frequently happened, was in turmoil, all Richmond in 
transports of joy. Under the same tried and trusted 
leaders, save that Jackson was gone, the arms of the 
South swept on to invasion. Under the new, sore-tried 
and little-trusted leaders the arms of the North were 
reversed in pursuit. Hooker had quit, as he said, in 
disgust, declaring no man could plan and fight with a 
string to his shirt-tail and Stanton and Halleck a-pull 
at the string. Reynolds, calm and sagacious, soldier 
and fighter, had been tendered command, and politely 
declined. Meade, his subordinate, stepped over his 
head, since Reynolds would none of it, and with prayer 
and misgiving picked up the reins dropped by Hooker 
in sight of the Maryland shore. And the same hard 
fighting, hard marching, hard swearing, hard used old 



296 THE IRON BRIGADE 

army hove in sight of the stream that had given it its 
name, and one corps, at least, had lost nothing by the 
change. The First Corps, the fellows now wearing the 
ball on their caps, were well content with their leaders. 
With Reynolds to command them, and the men they best 
knew at the head of divisions and brigades, they asked 
no favor beyond a fair fight, and none were more eager, 
hopeful, urgent than they of the First Brigade of the 
First Division they who wore the red disk and of 
these were our impudent friends of the Black Hats, still 
topped by the feathered felt and breeched with the dark 
blue and ready as ever to pick a fight with the foe or 
flaws in the armor of less favored battalions. 

A shout had gone up one day on the Rappahannock 
when the word went the rounds that Fred Benton was 
back. Suddenly had he appeared in their midst just 
before Chancellorsville, and royal was the welcome 
they gave him. Sad, pale, careworn, aged as he looked, 
he was there, " on deck " again, and they hailed him as 
one who had stood their friend and defender, who had 
suffered much on their account, and most magnani 
mously did they agree to forget that they had ever 
maligned him not so easy a thing to do as it may ap 
pear at first sight, it being a frailty of the average post- 
adamite to feel bound to make good a calumny. 

But Benton had changed, said they, as a result of the 
first week of watching. He had grown silent and stern, 
if not sour. He seemed filled with restless, feverish en 
ergy, and no sooner was the main army back from 



GETTYSBURG 297 

Hooker s first essay as chief in command, than he sought 
and obtained permission to go scouting with a small 
force of cavalry among the by-roads and lanes of the 
down-stream counties. More than the limit of the law, 
the prescribed forty days, had the orders of the War 
Secretary held him in limbo, all the time clamoring for 
a hearing, a trial by court-martial anything to enable 
him to face his accusers and put an end to that military 
lettre de cachet business then, and sometimes thereafter, 
the resort of the powers martial when witnesses weak 
ened. Released and ordered to resume duty with that 
military modification of the Scotch verdict, " Not guilty, 
but don t do it again," Benton came back to the front, 
burning with wrath at the foe at the rear a foe per 
sonal, official and professional, whom he felt must be 
McKinnon. He was not allowed to know at the time, 
nor to see until long after, the extent of McKinnon s 
intrigue against him or of its reaction on McKinnon 
himself. Only one officer witnessed the scene, a 
week after the Chiltons, father and daughter, had been 
returned to the Southern lines, when Stanton de 
manded of the major that he prove his case or there 
after hold his peace. He had " fooled away a whole 
month," said the Secretary, " filled it with vague charges 
and failed on the specifications." They sent him away, 
ostensibly to straighten out a legal tangle in Kentucky, 
not yet blessed with the benefits of martial law; then, 
when McKinnon was beyond reach, sent for Benton. 
Of course he did not see the Secretary. A placid, 



298 THE IRON BRIGADE 

baa-lamb, soft-spoken staff officer had been told what 
to say. Benton s associations had been ah unfort 
unately compromising, and, while his conduct on duty 
had not been called into question, at a time of such 
public peril the Department held that its officers should 
be ah be above suspicion, or at least show a disposition 
to relieve themselves from blame, and Captain Benton s 
ah refusal to surrender papers confessedly given him 
by a Confederate officer had added much to the gravity 
of the case against him. "What case?" demanded 
Benton, fiercely. " Well, perhaps that was putting it 
rather ah strenuously," said the officer. " What is 

meant " "Oh, damn it!" burst in Benton, most 

improperly, " what is meant is that you know I ve 
been accused without rhyme and reason that you dare 
not let me meet my accusers, and you won t give me 
fair hearing," and for this inappropriate outburst he de 
clined to apologize. For another week, therefore, it 
looked as though, after all, he might get a trial; but it 
ended in his being ordered to quit Washington forth 
with, and to report for duty to his old general at York- 
town, where he fumed and fretted till April, when sent 
to Annapolis with prisoners. Then, a battle being im 
minent, he was permitted to report to the general com 
manding the Army of the Potomac, and thither he went, 
and, so far as the battle was concerned, might better 
have stayed and fought it out in the rear, for his corps 
was held in leash, had little to do, and that left Benton 
more savage than ever. 



GETTYSBURG 299 

In heart, in pride, in spirit he had been sorely hurt. 
In heart by Rosalie Chilton s astounding accusation and 
the impossibility of getting the faintest explanation. 
After her impetuous outburst she had whirled about and 
rushed to the waiting carriage, demanding of the aston 
ished major that he take her at once to the boat and, 
even in captivity, it seems, her imperial highness was 
wont be obeyed. From that day to this no word had 
come from her, even through Elinor, now mournfully 
writing that poor Mr. Ladue seemed lapsing into passive 
imbecility, happily indifferent to any fate that might be 
fall his son, and Elinor was grieving her heart out, 
though she would not say it, at thought of Paul still 
mured in military prison. 

In pride, professionally, Benton had been stung to the 
quick; for in spite of the fact that so much of his heart 
had gone to the South, his duty, his sword, his spirit, 
mind and will were all sworn to the service of the Union, 
and most faithfully, even brilliantly at times, had he dis 
charged himself of every detail entrusted to him. It 
was his old general at Yorktown who strove to set him 
right, who had urgently written in his behalf to officers 
at court, and, when there seemed no prospect of stirring 
service in that neighborhood, had suggested his transfer 
to the staff of a fighting division at the front. In this 
way had the order been obtained; and then, on his join 
ing at army headquarters, Benton, at his own request, 
had been sent to duty with the latest commander of the 
old division, which was how he again got in touch 



300 THE IRON BRIGADE 

with the Black Hats, and came to be with the grand old 
brigade the day they " had the time of their lives " in 
almost desperate battle over their beloved boomers, the 
guns of Battery "B." Then and there, most heartily, was 
the right to full fellowship with their veteran comrades 
accorded the Michigan men. Most gloriously was it 
won. From this time on Badger and Wolverine stood 
on the same plane. 

O what a day was that first of July ! warm, soft, sun 
shiny, the roads still puddly in places as from recent 
rains no dust to choke the hurrying columns, no thick 
clay mud to clog the wheels or load the worn brogans. 
Through the radiant, smiling, peaceful Pennsylvania 
country side, so deep a contrast to battle-scarred Vir 
ginia, along graded roads, past pretty cottage home 
steads and wide slopes of ripened grain and tempting 
orchards and cattle-dotted fields and fallows; past run 
ning brooks and rock-bedded streams, whence the can 
teens were lifted brimming and sparkling with fluid sel 
dom seen in the runs and branches that gully the " Sa 
cred Soil," past cool spring houses and darksome wells 
where the one black feature of the stirring march 
thrifty, low Dutch farmers stood scowling, exacting trib 
ute of a dime a dipper from the thirsting men, and so 
fattening on the need of their defenders. Halting now 
only for catnaps by the roadside, with their brave, bril 
liant Reynolds ever spurring on in the lead, they of the 
First Corps swept northward in the wake of the cavalry, 
listening eagerly for the distant booming that should 



GETTYSBURG 301 

tell that Buford had fanged the quarry and was holding 
on till they, the hunters, should come to give the coup 
de grace. 

Even before the earliest sunbeams came glinting 
through the eastward wood, Reynolds had called on his 
men; and, rousing from their bivouacs along the Em- 
mittsburg pike, they rolled their blankets; swallowed 
their steaming, soldier coffee; formed ranks along the 
roadside, and presently went tramping away northward 
between moist, smiling fields and orchards, heading for 
the distant towers and steeples of the quaint, placid 
little Pennsylvania town, nestling between the wooded 
hills that seemed to hem it in. Somewhere up that 
charming valley their leaders knew John Buford to be, 
for he and his sun-tanned troopers had been thrown 
ahead to cover the advance and find the army of Lee, 
well known by this time to be concentrating to meet 
them. 

Years and experience have taught the leaders of the 
Army of the Potomac something of the true use of 
cavalry, and there is no more of the blind groping of the 
old days. They know that Longstreet s whole corps is 
camping about Chambersburg, across the South Moun 
tain range to the west. They know that Hill is between 
him and Cashtown, the first village of importance to the 
west of Gettysburg. They know that Swell s foremost 
divisions have struck the line of the Susquehanna, only 
to be recalled to meet the spirited northward sweep of 
Meade s far-spreading corps. They know that these 



302 THE IRON BRIGADE 

men of Reynolds lead the van of the main army, and will 
doubtless be the first to reach and back the cavalry 
when those searching horsemen find and tackle the foe. 
What they do not know is, that from west, northwest, 
north and northeast these converging columns are all 
headed for that same little Pennsylvania town, march 
ing to concentrate on Gettysburg, and that this, the 
First Corps of the Army of the Potomac, is destined 
within three hours to be thrust square in between those 
swift-closing jaws, and compelled, as Buford says to his 
own men, to u fight like the devil " until the rest of the 
army can reach it in support. The Eleventh Corps is 
not far behind them; the Twelfth is away, over a dozen 
miles to the eastward, along the Baltimore pike; the 
Fifth and Sixth still farther to the southeast, a long 
day s march at least; the Third is down by Taneytown, 
ten miles behind. It is to be a First Corps fight, then, 
unless the Eleventh can help, if they happen to run foul 
of Johnny Reb this July morning, and that Johnny is near 
they learn from Buford s couriers, galloping back with 
news for Meade. A whole swarm of shoe-hunting Con 
federates had come through Cashtown the day before, 
bound for a raid on the Gettysburg shops, but fell back 
at sight of an apparition in the valley to the south 
strong squadrons of Union Horse trotting up the Em- 
mittsburg pike, bent on being first at the fair. Petti- 
grew, Confederate commander, knows his slim ranks are 
no match in point of numbers for Buford s sturdy dra 
goons, backed by their batteries of horse artillery, the 



GETTYSBURG 303 

pride of the cavalry corps, and wisely he waits for morn 
ing and the support of Heth s whole division. Then 
they ll give the troopers a whirl that will remind them of 
a year back in Virginia. 

In far better fettle and discipline is Lee s brave army 
than when it tried the conversion of Maryland ten 
months before. Only in two points is it less to be 
feared Stonewall Jackson is dead and Stuart s cavalry 
is as good, or bad, as lost. For once in his life that 
brilliant and daring leader of Horse is of no use to his 
commander. Through some error of judgment he has 
gone far to the east and has been cut off from commu 
nication. When he reaches the Susquehanna he finds 
Ewell has fled, so pushes on to Carlisle in the Cumber 
land valley, and thus for two long days, the first two 
days of the great and decisive battle of the war, he and 
his hard-riding troopers are lost to Lee. For once 
the Army of the Potomac has its eyes and its wits at 
the front when the eyes, at least, of the Army of Vir 
ginia are away to the rear. At breakfast time in 
Gettysburg, this morn of the first of July, Heth s di 
vision of A. P. Hill s corps of the Army of the South 
comes " bulging " ahead, without the accustomed 
screen of cavalry skirmishers, and is brought up stand 
ing by the challenge of Calef s light guns, planted 
squarely in the middle of the Cashtown pike, and the 
simultaneous uprising of squadron on squadron north 
and south of the road Devin s and Gamble s gallant 
brigades of famous John Buford s division, and there, 
like a bull dog Buford holds them two mortal hours, 



304 THE IRON BRIGADE 

until Reynolds, with his foremost men, comes spurring 
up the eastward face of the ridge, joins Buford at the old 
Lutheran Seminary, and notes that the main lines of 
Heth s Division, north and south of the pike, are just 
forming for advance to the attack in force, all that pre 
ceded having been the work of strong skirmish lines; 
and now begins in grim earnest the greatest and most 
momentous battle of American history. 

First to reach the field in support of Buford s hard- 
fighting Horse is the First Division of the First Corps 
of the old Army of the Potomac, and the first brigade 
to come swarming up the slope is led by old graybeard 
Cutler, whom we saw at the head of the Sixth Wisconsin 
in its maiden battle on the Warrenton pike, while, fol 
lowing close at the heels of the foremost and, obedient 
to Reynold s orders, breasting the height to the south 
of the Seminary, stride the five battalions of the Iron 
Brigade, the biggest not quite five hundred, the others 
barely three hundred strong. White-haired Wadsworth 
rides at the head of the little division. That s all there 
is of it, these two brigades, led by those two far 
Western brigadiers, barring the batteries that ever go 
with them but the blue-blooded old Gothamite in com 
mand swears he wouldn t swap it, small as it is, for the 
strongest division in the whole army and he means it. 

It is a sight never to be forgotten, that which greets 
their eyes as the Black Hats come popping up over the 
ridge. The seminary grounds and the farm enclosures 
along the line of heights are quite thickly wooded, but, 
to the west of them, the fields are cleared and cultivated. 



GETTYSBURG 305 

Another ridge, not quite so distinct, rises in front of 
them, perhaps five hundred yards away, and the two 
ridges seem to converge at a wooded cone to the north, 
Oak Hill they call it, while beyond that low rise to the 
west the ground falls away rapidly into the valley of a 
swift little stream, Willoughby Run, bordered on the 
east, squarely in front of the Iron Brigade, by a grove of 
sturdy young trees, the only screen between their swift 
advance and the long line of forest half a mile away to 
the west, stretching north, almost to the Cashtown pike, 
and south to the Hagerstown road, and that westward 
forest is all alive with flashing bayonets aligned on the 
little red battle flags, the division of Heth in battle array, 
reaching almost from pike to pike, with one brigade 
thrown out " in the air " to the north, and pushing dar 
ingly forward to sweep the stubborn troopers, fighting 
dismounted, out of the way. It is barely quarter past 
ten, as Reynolds for the last time looks at his watch; bids 
Doubleday, who has galloped forward for orders, to 
" back " Wadsworth at the seminary and extend his line 
to the right; then, calling on Meredith, points to that 
forward grove at the brook side, " Seize it," he says, 
" before the rebels can reach it! " Then with the Sixth 
in reserve, with a full-lunged shout in its throat and fire 
in its eye, the old brigade breaks into a run, Fairchild 
with the Black Hats in the van a five-hundred-yard 
race for the goal field, staff and commanders cheer 
ing them on, and Reynolds noble Reynolds spurring 
swift in the lead, riding down to his soldier fate. 

20 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 

Of Heth s division, we have said, are these at the front 
fellows that never yet have happened to " sample " 
this Western command Heth s division, with the bri 
gades of Archer and Davis in the foremost line. The 
former has started his Tennesseeans down the slope, 
Alabama supporting, and is feeling his way to the front, 
for that wood looks ominous. Skirmishers say Gamble s 
dismounted troopers, who have held it two hours against 
their best shooting, are strengthened now by infantry, 
thrown forward by old Cutler s first line, which can be 
seen stretching out over the pike, relieving Devin s worn 
men, and letting them scurry back to their waiting 
horses. But Archer sees that in so doing, Cutler has 
thrust its right flank " into the air," that Davis, with 
his Mississippi battalions, is sweeping upon and around 
it, and is already in turn far in advance of his own 
fellows; so, most eagerly, Archer orders forward, for 
ward, and the gray lines leap at the word. Beautifully 
the battle opens for the cause of the South. Cutler s 
men, in their eagerness to relieve Buford s thinned and 
wearied defense, have rushed full six hundred yards out 
into the open, and Davis catches them in flank with 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 307 

his yelling Southerners; wheels his Mississippians to 
their right, Cutler barely having time to slip his skir 
mishers out of the clutch, then onward come the 
Johnnies, full tilt for the guns of Hall, unlimbered in 
place of Calef, on the Cashtown pike. Then two won 
derful things happen and two new feathers go to the 
cap of the Iron Brigade. 

It is Fred Benton s luck this day of days to be riding 
with Reynolds as the corps commander spurs to the 
front. His own staff is scattered all over the field, some 
gone to hurry up Howard and Sickles, some to lead 
Doubleday s brigade through the tangle of lanes at the 
foot of the ridge, some out to the right where Cutler s 
New Yorkers are most sensibly falling back toward the 
ridge at the rear. So Reynolds has borrowed an aide, 
and Benton, burning with joy and excitement, rides after 
him into the grove, just in time to see Archer s foremost 
line come gallantly sweeping down the opposite slope, 
straight at the shivering wood, for under their volleys 
leaves and twigs are showering the heads of the few 
defenders, and these latter are nervously squinting 
about them in search of supports. "Hang on, men! 
Keep up your fire! Meredith s right behind you!" 
shouts Reynolds, as he darts swiftly in among the trees. 
" Hang on, men ! " goes the word from center to flank, 
but things look risky out there to the right where Cut 
ler s ranks are drifting back, and the crash of Mississippi 
volleys, enfilading the front, and the shells shrieking 
from the slope of Oak Hill echo the volleys of Archer s 



308 THE IRON BRIGADE 

quick-firing, fast-coming lines. Through the thick veil 
of sulphur smoke, pierced by red flashes, grim faces are 
peering square into the wood, and eager young captains 
are urging onward their men, and in all the crackle of 
shots and the hoarse-shouted commands, no wonder 
they hear not the dull, muffled sound of the dancing foot 
falls, as, fourteen hundred strong, the charging ranks of 
the Iron Brigade come on with a rush. The east edge 
of the wood is reached by the leaders on the right of the 
line, just as the Southern force bursts through the battle 
smoke and into the brook; but even as these latter reach 
the wood, and Archer is cheering them forward, he is 
amazed to see his wing reeling back, and a blue-capped, 
blue-bodied human wave curving round the southward 
end of the straggling timber, rolling over, engulfing, 
sweeping before it in amaze and confusion by tens, 
twenties, and then all together the right of the line. 
Before he can issue an order or strengthen a single bat 
talion, Fairchild and the Black Hats have burst through 
the sheltering grove in his front, and sprung like tigers 
on his halted and astonished line; while Badger, Hoosier 
and Wolverine, swinging round him from the south, com 
plete the demolition of the brigade. He and his men 
are swamped in a twinkling. He anft half his force, six 
hundred at least, are prisoners of war, while the rest are 
chased to the rear by Meredith s men. First facer for 
Heth as he glares from the opposite woods, where Petti- 
grew and Brockenbrough are aligned in support. For 
him, however, there is comfort to the north of the pike, 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 309 

for there has Davis swept the field and is bearing down 
on the Union guns. Now is the time to support him, 
but Wadsworth is too quick. Archer disposed of; the 
Iron Brigade halted and reforming under Reynolds sown 
eyes in grim business fashion, too, as though the gath 
ering in of six hundred Johnnies was not much of an 
exploit with Meredith fronted now to stand off Heth, 
should his second line sweep to the aid of the first, the 
general commanding turns to succor the right. He has 
seen the trouble in a single glance; has seen, too, the 
way out of it; and as Fowler, with the old Brooklyn 
Fourteenth, they that kept up with the cavalry on the 
first forced march to Fredericksburg, now changes 
front under fierce fire and faces the new attack from the 
north, Fred Benton, all athrill with excitement, goes 
spurring over to where the Sixth Wisconsin stands in 
reserve, and in another minute, obedient to orders, that 
stalwart battalion, at his charger s heels, is " double- 
quicking " away over the fields to its right in support 
of the men from the City of Churches, now in sore need, 
for those lank Mississippians have swept forward into 
the long cut of the unfinished railway, and, flat on their 
bellies against the southward slope, are pouring their 
fire into Fowler s men, hoping to crush them as they 
have well nigh exterminated Harney s New Yorkers 
the I47th before help can come. 

A fatally good place is a railway cut to shelter a line, 
when the foe stands fast and contents himself simply 
with shooting. A fatally bad place it is when the foe 



310 THE IRON BRIGADE 

won t stand at bay, but comes charging full tilt in spite 
of the fire, and that, to the amaze of Davis, is just what 
these infamous Badgers are doing this day. With an 
onward rush no mere muzzle loaders can possibly check 
when firing " oblique," the Sixth comes sprinting down 
the slope from the southeast, its right companies swing 
ing out, so as to sweep the cut from end to end, taking 
the Mississippians in turn square in the flank, its left 
striking at the eastward half of the line, and between 
them, almost in a twinkling, doubling up and driving 
together, huddled, helpless, sheep-like, one astonished 
battalion. Then, what with blazing down from the 
southward bank, charging home from the eastward 
mouth, driving in with butt, bayonet and brawny arms, 
while the Brooklynites rush, cheering, to finish the work 
to the west, Davis s fighters are fairly trapped. Down 
go the red battle-flags. Down go the rifles in answer 
to shouts of surrender. There s nothing else left them. 
They can t fight where they are. They can t force their 
way out of the cut. Some dozen, perhaps, bending 
double and ducking, manage to scurry off to the west. 
Some few crawl back to their fellow battalions to the 
north, but General Joe Davis has lost two of his colors 
and all but a few men of two misguided regiments; 
and here, too, has the Iron Brigade done more than its 
full share. Wadsworth is almost weeping with joy 
at the sudden stem of the torrent and the magnificent 
stand of his little division, while Doubleday, seldom 
given to praise, is wringing that veteran s hand in hearty 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 311 

fashion, as he reins in a moment at the west front of the 
seminary. Doubleday s own men now are fast hurrying 
up in support of the First Division, Rowley and Roy 
Stone sending in their brigades straight for the halted 
line and the rescued guns to the north and along the 
smoking fringe of wood, and there is soldier triumph 
mingled with no little anxiety, as these war-tried leaders 
scan the westward fields and note through their glasses 
the long columns in gray stretching far back toward the 
horizon and along the Cashtown pike, all telling the 
coming of supporting thousands. Gladly they welcome 
the sight of the waving colors of Howard s corps, press 
ing northward in the valley behind them, and Doubleday 
laughingly greets his fellow West Pointer, the crest 
fallen Archer, just brought back under guard, and Roy 
Stone s jubilant voice rings out the watchword of the 
Second Division, "We ve come to stay, boys!" in an 
swer to the shout of the Iron Brigade, " Hold the woods 
to the last? Where ll you find men to do it, if we can t?" 
and Private Pat Maloney, " G " Company, of the Black 
Hats, who had personally nabbed the Confederate briga 
dier, gets his own word of commendation ere he goes 
back to his own gallant death. And all seems hopeful, 
brave and buoyant despite the heavy losses of the fore 
most regiments upon the field, when a cavalry officer 
comes galloping in from the right, whither Devin s 
brigade has been sent to guard the flank of the line. 
"Where is General Reynolds?" he asks. "Whole di 
visions are coming there to the north!" Where, in- 



312 THE IRON BRIGADE 

deed, is General Reynolds? An aide-de-camp is spur 
ring at swift trot through the maze of unlimbering 
batteries. His face is white, his lips are pale beneath the 
grimy mustache. Men cease their excited chatter at 
sight of him, but he has word for none until, reaching the 
little group where stand the division commanders, he 
springs from his saddle, turns loose his wearied horse, 
and they read ill news in his haggard eyes ere, with 
soldier salute, he briefly says : " General Doubleday, you 
command, sir General Reynolds is dead." 

Dead! Shot down in the moment of triumph and 
victory! picked off by a sharpshooter bent on aveng 
ing the facer to Heth ; falling stark in his tracks, without 
sign or sound; killed instantly, never knowing probably 
whence came the blow, there in the McPherson wood 
lies the hero of heroes of this first day s fight, his grief- 
stricken officers gathering about the senseless clay. 
Dazed for the moment, they can only kneel, these men 
of his sorrowing staff, and lift the grand head from the 
ground and gaze imploringly into the sightless eyes. 
All effort vain! In the lull of the fight that follows the 
catastrophe of the day, they bear the honored body 
sadly to the rear and place it in the waiting ambulance 
at the Seminary. Then some one says that Howard 
must be told that he is the senior general up with the 
army and Doubleday orders one of his own aides to 
go in search of him. At 10.30 all was triumph and re 
joicing in the gallant line of the First Division. Cutler s 
men, far out on the right, were cheering " Tommy " 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 313 

Devin s troopers, and being cheered in return. Down 
by the Run, I^lack Hats and Hoosiers were swapping 
chaff and congratulation with the Wolverines, but a 
pall has dropped on the smoking field. With the death 
of their heroic leader comes the turn of the tide. 

Short hours of respite have the men of the West. 
Heth has had quite enough for the present. With four 
brigades at the front he has been hurled back by two, 
and wisely he waits for the coming of comrade divisions, 
now deploying far to his rear and slowly advancing to 
restore the day. Nine fresh brigades are these thus 
sighted, as the midday sun beats hotly down on Double- 
day s lines, and he hasn t a man to send in support. 

And now, far out to the right and rear, while two bri 
gades of Robinson s Division prolong Cutler s line to 
ward Oak Hill, the boom of cannon grows incessant, 
and signal men in the Seminary tower are flagging des 
perately. More men are needed! More men are 
needed! Howard s corps, the Eleventh, is once more, 
at one o clock, facing the very same veterans that swept 
it from the field at Chancellorsville, and that seem bent 
on doing the same thing here. Leaving Von Steinwehr 
with his little division to occupy as a " rallying point " 
the heights to the south of the town and Howard 
seems to have felt it in his bones that such a point would 
be needed the one-armed general has pushed on 
through Gettysburg, sent Schurz and Barlow out to the 
north, with orders to hold Ewell in check Ewell, who is 
bearing down upon them from northwest, north and 



314 THE IRON BRIGADE 

northeast, from the Carlisle, Harrisburg and York 
roads, leading Jackson s old Foot Cavalry, the corps 
that hardly knows what it is to stop for anything. And 
now, even as Doubleday s thin lines are bracing for the 
shock of Hill s fresh attack and the westering sun be 
gins to shine in the faces of the men that so superbly 
battled through the morning, and Heth is gathering up 
his beaten brigades and herding them into the sheltering 
woods to the west of the Run, there come direful tidings 
from the right of the line, yes, even the right rear, that 
Schurz is losing his hold on the northward front; 
that his foreign-born, foreign-bred brigadiers are giving 
way before the natives sweeping down upon them in 
those long gray lines. Just as at Chancellorsville, one 
sturdy O hio brigade McLean s command now led by 
Ames is making stanch but futile stand against the 
onward rush of Early and Gordon, for everything in 
blue between them and the right of the First Corps, a 
mile to the west, is going adrift. Every command in 
Schurz s division is now in full retreat. In yelling 
charge, five Georgia battalions have burst through to 
the left of the Buckeye line, and Dole s brigade is now 
between them and the town. Not only does Ames find 
that he must fight two ways at once, but brigade after 
brigade is now pushing for that huge gap in the Union 
line. There is no earthly help for it, the right flank 
of the hard-fighting First Corps must swing back, hing 
ing on the left of Paul, the gallant little general blinded 
for life by a single bullet as he gathers in his sturdy men. 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 315 

The torrent of Ewell s fierce attack has breached the 
flimsy bulwark of Howard s left defense, the foreign 
legion, and, carrying all before it, is sweeping on, re 
sistless, toward the panic-stricken town. 

Then comes the crisis of the day for the men of the 
Iron Brigade. Nine field batteries, unlimbered on the 
slope beyond the Run, are shelling the westward front 
of Seminary Ridge. Nine brigades have been deployed 
cross country, and extending far to the north, so as to 
join hands with Ewell s right near Oak Hill, and far to 
the south as the Hagerstown road, are now, at three 
o clock, bearing down to envelope the grim " stayers " 
of Doubleday. Here, about the McPherson wood where 
Reynolds fell, raging old Meredith and gallant Roy 
Stone hang desperately to their ground, fighting with all 
the mettle there is in them and their indomitable men. 
But Roy Stone is soon terribly wounded. Wistar, who 
springs to his sword, is shot in the face. Meredith is 
crushed under his falling horse. Fairchild s arm is 
smashed at the elbow; and Stevens, his lieutenant- 
colonel, is instantly killed; so Mansfield, the major, 
takes hold of the Black Hats. Morrow, heroic colonel 
of the Wolverines, with every one of his field and staff 
officers, sooner or later, is shot. One after another 
five Michigan sergeants are killed while keeping aloft 
the sacred colors. Hoosiers, too, and the Seventh 
Wisconsin are fearfully pelted. Chapman Biddle s 
brigade, on their left, is hurled back. Baxter is fairly 
swamped out to their right, and, farther still to the 



316 THE IRON BRIGADE 

north, Ramseur, Rodes and O Neal, with a triumphant 
host of yelling Confederates, have doubled Robin 
son s desperately battling division; have broken its 
back and swept its fragments away; and, with despair 
in his heart, Howard realizes that the day is lost, that 
only by the fiercest righting and the best of luck can he 
hope to save the remnant of Reynolds s left wing that 
all the morning held so grandly, and so spurs away to 
Steinwehr to halt and reform the broken Eleventh at 
that natural line of defense on the heights to the south 
of the town, leaving to Doubleday the stern duty of 
drawing off his men. 

Then it is that the Iron Brigade, still clinging to the 
McPherson wood, gets the word to fall back to its right 
rear, covering the Cashtown pike. There it is that their 
blessed boomers have been unlimbered, and under " old 
man Stewart s " eye are still blazing defiance at the 
swinging battle-flags coming triumphantly forward 
down the road. There it is that they find their com 
rades of the Sixth Wisconsin sternly facing the coming 
storm despite the fact that everything seems sweeping 
away beyond them; and Dawes, their acting colonel, 
pointing backward into the low ground, shows to the 
brigade commander s astonished gaze that even Gettys 
burg is practically lost, and through that town lies their 
line of retreat the only way to save those precious 
guns. 

Four o clock, and still the batteries of Hall and Stew 
art, with three hard-pounded brigades, hold their ground 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 317 

on the ridge, while the valley behind them is fast filling 
with Ewell s madly exultant men, driving Howard s 
beaten divisions before them. To hang on longer is 
simply madness. Beginning at the right, therefore, 
stern and silent, the devoted brigades give ground 
slowly, still facing the foe, still firing low and well. 
There is no shaking the nerve or discipline of these fel 
lows of Doubleday. The crush comes as the streams 
of wounded thicken at the outskirts of the town, merg 
ing with the fugitives of the Eleventh Corps, and the 
roads and streets are blocked by batteries, ambulances, 
stray caissons and ammunition wagons, all in full re 
treat. The pinch of the fight, the crowning hour of the 
day, the bloodiest battle of all the forty hours of thrill 
ing combat, is here on the slope to the north of the 
Seminary, where, from the teeth of the foe, from the 
midst of their slaughtered horses, the men of the West 
essay to drag and save their pets, their comrades in 
every fight and field, the black-mouthed, smoking, 
heated, still thundering guns of Battery " B." 

" Limber to the rear! " rings the order at last, when 
half the horses, at least, are shot. " Limber to the 
rear ! " echoes the order along the pike, where three of 
Hall s guns are dismounted, where Stewart, " the oft dis 
tinguished," as Doubleday calls him, has replaced these 
by three of his own under his junior lieutenant Davison; 
but Davison, after sweeping with canister Scales s charg 
ing " Tarheels," is shot from his horse and borne from 
the field, It s all up with those guns if the Badgers 



318 THE IRON BRIGADE 

can t save them! Two caissons are smashed; one is 
blown into flinders, and as many brigades as Stewart 
has guns are coming, yelling and crowding and volley 
ing up the slope. Scales is hurling his North Caro 
linians on Morrow s bleeding Wolverines, and Morrow 
himself, while waving the colors, wrenched from the 
dying grasp of the seventh bearer shot down, is him 
self knocked in the head by whizzing bullet and dragged, 
raging, from the thick of the fight. Davis and Daniel, 
two fighting Southern brigadiers they, are riding 
madly among their powder-stained men; driving them 
on in the face of those stubborn wild Westerners; point 
ing their swords at the crippled guns, where men are 
straining at the wheels and slashing at the harness of 
the slaughtered horses. "Get those guns!" shriek the 
leaders. " Square accounts for the battle-flags lost in 
the cut ! " But, between the surging rush of Carolina, 
Mississippi and Georgia, with the supporting Virginians 
of Brockenbrough at their back, and that battle-scarred 
battery limping slowly away down the pike, there still 
interposes that stern, indomitable, magnificent line in 
blue all that is left of the Iron Brigade as, front to the 
foe, closing ever on its colors, volleying steadily, defi 
antly, unflinchingly into the very face of its outnumber 
ing* yet respectful, pursuers, it backs away over the 
ridge, leaving over a third of its membership strewing 
its tracks, another third having already been borne 
bleeding away toward the town, and so, as the sun goes 
down on the tremendous day, so, slowly, steadily, 



THE FIGHT FOR THE GUNS 319 

wrapped in clouds of its own battle smoke, the Western 
brigade descends to the plain, the Sixth last to halt in 
the streets of the town and to cheer to the echo the 
cause of the flag, while the guns once more unlimber, 
on the rise of Cemetery Hill, as though daring the foe- 
men to come on and take them. No wonder the Bad 
gers grip hands with the Wolverines, they that remain. 
Almost five hundred the Michigan men went into the 
fight by the side of the veterans. Only one hundred 
are left in line when at last the day is done. Fully three 
hundred have been shot down on the field; some few 
have been captured. In officers alone their dead out 
number those of the rest of the brigade. Of the Black 
Hats surviving there stand now but seventy. 

"And they might have cut you off entirely /* says 
Doubleday, as he rides among the remnants, halting 
along the wooded hillside, east of their rescued guns. 
" Buford saw, what you couldn t see through the smoke, 
that two brigades were > sweeping down south of the 
Seminary to intercept you. He formed his squadrons 
to charge. They saw it, by Jove ! and halted and formed 
squares to resist him, and that saved you. Captain 
Benton, I wish you would ride over and present my 
compliments and thanks to General Buford. He s just 
moving off past that stone farm-house yonder down in 
the valley." And so ended the day. 



CHAPTER XXV 
LADUE S LAST RETREAT 

In the two great days that followed there was little 
to do for the little left of the Iron Brigade. Planted 
by Wadsworth at the point of Gulp s Hill, it grimly 
watched the movements of Ewell s men, its old-time an 
tagonists, and when these gentry ventured forth to feel 
their opponents, they were received with due military 
honors and sent back satisfied that the weak point of 
the line was not there. Sore-hearted over the loss of 
so many cherished comrades, yet confident that their 
valor had not been vain, the survivors hung silently to 
their assigned position, and awaited developments. 
Many, most of them, indeed, slept through that sum 
mer night like wearied children, while the scattered 
corps, far to the south and southeast, were toiling 
through the soft moonlight, straining every nerve to 
reach the field in time to meet the foe on the morrow. 

And, when that morrow came, Benton was early in 
saddle and away to the left of the line in hopes of tid 
ings of their headquarters wagon gone astray, as such 
wagons so often would, with the mess and camp kits of 
the general and the staff, and as Hancock s Second 
Corps came trudging in past the Round Tops after their 



LADUE S LAST RETREAT 321 

all-night march, it was his good fortune to meet two 
old-time comrades, soldiers he swore by, Carver, now 
serving with Hancock, " the superb," and Haskell, that 
prince of adjutants, now chief of division staff and 
through them he heard news that even in the excite 
ment of the afternoon and the tremendous doings of the 
following day, kept him perturbed in mind and sorely 
troubled. He had never been reconciled to his treat 
ment at the hands of the Secretary. He had never 
ceased charing in spirit over the wrongs and aspersions, 
as he persisted in regarding them, to which he had been 
subjected. He realized that under existing conditions 
nothing more than half-hearted acknowledgment of 
error could be looked for, but he had determined that 
the moment things settled down and the Department 
had time to attend to something besides the momentous 
affairs of the nation, he would demand justice or, as he 
was spunky enough to say, " give them something to 
pay for the punishment already given " to him. Mean 
time he meant so to conduct himself in the field that 
there, at least, he should stand above suspicion. Then 
through men of weight he might secure attention to his 
case. And now both Wadsworth and Doubleday had 
spoken in heartiest praise of his behavior throughout 
that heroic battle of the first day. So far so good. 
What he longed for, on one hand, was a chance to square 
accounts with McKinnpn. What he hoped for, on an 
other, was opportunity to teach that disdainful girl how 
deeply she had wronged, as well as affronted, him. Pas- 

21 



322 THE IRON BRIGADE 

sionately in love as he had been, it was a new experi 
ence, or he could never have persuaded himself in his 
pride and anger that her power over him was ended 
that her queendom was gone. 

He would have known better had he had time to ana 
lyze the chagrin and pain and jealousy which possessed 
him all the long hours that followed his morning talk 
with these staff comrades of the Second Corps. It 
seems that three days before, on the 2Qth of June, while 
they of the Second were pushing cautiously northward 
through Maryland, on the right flank of the army, they 
were made aware that a column of cavalry was passing 
around them from the south, passing between them 
and Washington, and that while they were swinging 
through Uniontown, across a little branch of the Mo- 
nocacy, the cavalry were trotting through Westminster, 
only five miles from their flank. " Gregg s Division, of 
course/ said they who saw through glasses the far- 
distant column. " Gregg, not much! " said Haskell, who 
had ridden out toward Union Mills on a scout of his 
own. " It s Jeb Stuart with his whole outfit and not 
a little of ours. He must have been helping himself 
every mile of his way from the Potomac." And this, 
indeed, proved to be the case; for, as they lay in the 
fields about Uniontown that night, there reached them 
a rueful, crestfallen little party of officers, gathered in 
by Stuart at the crossing of the Baltimore pike. Two 
were field officers who from convalescent hospital were 
striving to overtake their regiments; the third was 



LADUE S LAST RETREAT 333 

Major McKinnon, ordered to report without delay to 
the commanding general, Army of the Potomac; and 
McKinnon, it seems, had also been convalescing in 
Baltimore, but not from wounds. These three, with 
their light luggage, had been pounced upon at a wayside 
tavern by a roistering troop of Stuart s flankers, and 
dragged before this cavalry commander, who, seated 
on the porch of a pretty homestead in the heart of the 
village, was watching his booty-laden columns as they 
jogged on northward, and receiving the reports of m s 
scouts. One of these parties presented the three cap 
tured officers just as another, represented by an eager 
subaltern, was finishing his description of the Union 
force about Uniontown. At a gesture from Stuart, the 
young officer ceased and stood in silence as, very cour 
teously, Stuart invited his captives to be seated while an 
aide took their names, regiments, etc., and as McKinnon 
gave his there was sudden sensation. The young cav 
alryman sprang forward, seized McKinnon s hand, 
shook it effusively, and, to the amaze of every one pres 
ent, exclaimed : " General Stuart, I am sure, sir, you will 
treat this gentleman with every possible consideration. 
It was he, sir, who so nobly defended my father at 
Washington when Secretary Stanton would have sent 
him to Fort Warren and Rosalie, too, for that matter. 
It was Major McKinnon, sir, who pleaded their cause 
with the Secretary and had. them returned to Charlottes- 
ville. It was he, sir, who in other ways most generously 
aided them." 



324 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" I am glad to hear it, Jack," said the bearded general, 
evidently warming toward the Westerner who had so 
befriended his kith and kin. " Of course you re sure 
of it?" 

"Sure of it, sir? I had it from father and Rosalie 
both! They had supposed that they were indebted 
or rather that their helper was a very different person, 
a man whom they had befriended; but that all turned 
out to be an error." And the upshot of it all was, said 
Haskell, " that Stuart sent the three to our lines, es 
corted by Captain Winston, the two other officers pa 
roled until exchanged, but McKinnon, by Jove, released 
with Stuart s compliments, and it s my candid belief, 
damn him, that Mac would a heap rather be in Wash 
ington on parole than out here on duty. Shouldn t 
wonder if Stuart took his measure before he let him 
slide." Manifestly Haskell didn t fancy McKinnon. 

One thing for Benton to ponder over, therefore, was 
the question how on earth had McKinnon in so short 
a time been able, even though he had the run of the 
house, to persuade that usually clear-sighted girl to the 
belief that he had used such powerful influence in their 
behalf, and was really their lavish benefactor. 

But there was still another thing to add to his chagrin 
and perplexity. There had been little conference be 
tween McKinnon and the two Badger staff officers 
both knew and neither trusted him but Colonel Ken- 
nard, one of the paroled pair, talked frankly with them, 
told all he had seen of Stuart and his devil-may-care 



LADUB S LAST RETREAT 325 

command, and much about this young Confederate offi 
cer Chilton, " Because," said Kennard, " I heard Chil- 
ton say to McKinnon he was praying that he might yet 
meet Captain Benton. There was a Union man he d 
shoot on sight! And Winston said Amen!" " Now, 
Fred," said Haskell, as he called for his horse, " I ve 
got to ride the lines and get the reports; but, we ve got 
McKinnon up with the army at last, and soon as we re 
through with this business, we ll nail him." But evi 
dently it was business first in Haskell s eyes. 

So between being in Stanton s bad books and those 
of these young Virginia gallants and of Rosalie herself, 
it must be admitted that Fred Benton felt all the fates 
were against him. He had two burning desires as, to 
ward nine o clock, he threaded his way through the 
swarm of arriving batteries, men and horses looking 
worn and haggard after the all-night march, and rode 
slowly back to Wadsworth: one was to meet McKin 
non and brand him as the author of the slanders that 
had so marred his prospects, personal and professional; 
the other was in some way to wring from Chilton an 
explanation of his violent threat. It would certainly 
throw light on the cause of Rosalie s furious denuncia 
tion. Little did he dream how soon he should be spared 
the need and through what sad, strange circumstance. 

All America knows the main story of that second 
day s grapple when, but for Warren s generalship and 
the heroism of Weed, Vincent and their fellows of the 
Fifth Corps, the fierce fighters of Hood would have 



326 THE IRON BRIGADE 

gained their lodgment on the Round Tops and the en 
filade of the Union line. That, like Pickett s tremen 
dous assault on the third day, overshadowed everything 
occurring at the flanks. But for this there were deeds 
done along the stony, wooded, northward slope of 
Gulp s, and far out in the open fields beyond Wolf Hill, 
that would be ringing in song and story to this very day, 
for Ewell made desperate attempt to gain the heights 
and the Baltimore pike behind them; and Stuart, miss 
ing until after sundown of the second day, strove as hard 
to make up for lost time in his splendidly conceived 
cavalry dash on our right and rear, just as Pickett led his 
mighty Virginians to wedge the Union center the 
grand crowning effort of the closing day. Had Ewell 
won the heights, Gettysburg would have been written 
in the catalogue of disaster. Had Stuart swept in 
among the ammunition trains, battery wagons, field 
hospitals and reserves at the rear while Pickett was 
piercing the front, nothing could have restored the field. 
But again the tide had turned. Ewell left scores of his 
best and bravest under the muzzles of the Springfields 
along the boulder-strewn slope. Stuart was snared and 
trapped, engulfed, overwhelmed, and finally swept bodily 
from the field, never again to charge on Northern soil. 
Between the twilight of the second of July that wit 
nessed Swell s bloody assault and the dawning of that 
black Friday of the Lost Cause the third day some 
thing had happened to give new heart to Jackson s old 
men. The " Stonewall " brigade was there still, almost 



LADUE S LAST RETREAT 327 

at the extreme point of the long fish-hook of the Con 
federate line, lurking in the woods down in the low 
ground between the rocky point, where crouched the 
survivors of Wadsworth s division, and the forest-cov 
ered heights off to the eastward, where cavalry guidons 
Union cavalry had been flashing in the last rays of 
the setting sun. Somewhere out in the dim fields to 
the north and northeast there was stir and excitement 
even in the wearied bivouacs of Ewell; and, under the 
starlight, eager to satisfy his general s restless desire to 
know what it all meant, Fred Benton had crept out to 
the front, taking a leaf from Haskell s primer, and hop 
ing for a side scout of his own. But everywhere he 
found the same conditions: whispering officers, com 
manding the foremost line, pointed out that they were 
bent back like a hoop, connecting with the left of 
Greene s division of the Twelfth Corps, and that, as 
though in a ring, the defenders of the hill were utterly 
hemmed in, save to the southwest, by lines of unseen, 
wary, vigilant Johnnies, for every man that ventured 
down in hopes of filling his canteen at the running 
stream at the foot of the slope, had failed to return. 
They were nearly surrounded, yet safe so long as they 
stayed where they were. Early was planning, evidently, 
an assault at dawn. 

By half-past ten, however, comparative silence reigned 
at the right flank. The famous conference Meade with 
his corps commanders had been held in the Leisler 
farm-house in rear of the center. The word had gone 



328 THE IRON BRIGADE 

the rounds, to the joy of every soldier heart, that the 
new commander meant to stand and fight, and if Lee 
could muster no more men than these already thrown 
in, he might hammer the lines in vain. They did not 
know, perhaps, that, away over in the woods back of 
Willoughby Run, Heth s whole division was still nurs 
ing the wounds received in the first day s battle but 
would be ready on the morrow, and that Pickett s mag 
nificent command of Virginians would all be there to 
strengthen the lines to .the west. Now, if only Stuart 
and his pet brigades would but stay lost, so that no fear 
need be felt for the far right flank, all would indeed be 
well! 

But would Stuart stay lost? Could he have got 
so far away as not to be found and by this time returned 
to the army; and when he came, would it not be from 
the north, and thus bring him in on the very flank they 
were now defending? Tired as he was Benton could 
not sleep for thinking of the disclosures made through 
Haskell. Twice he had crawled from his grassy bed, 
underneath an ambulance, and gone out along the front, 
crouching among the watchful pickets. There was no 
change in conditions, they whispered. The slopes were 
still covered with the lurking enemy, though no moving 
thing could be seen. Toward half-past two a staff offi 
cer from Meade stumbled in and roused the general 
wanted to know if anything had been heard of large 
bodies of cavalry out to the north, and Wadsworth was 



LADUE S LAST RETREAT 



compelled to report that it had been found impossible 
to ascertain. 

But, when the aide left, Benton could stand it no 
longer. Alone and afoot, after a word with his gray- 
haired chief, he slipped out of the circle and away to the 
Baltimore pike. This he followed southeasterly nearly 
half a mile, greeted occasionally by low-toned challenge 
of sentry; but other officers were hurrying swiftly to and 
fro, and there was little detention. As early as three 
o clock he found himself following a patrol down a rocky 
pathway toward the creek, and, learning from outlying 
sentry there that no force seemed to be in his immediate 
front only a few pickets, Benton explained that he 
wished to crawl out far enough to be beyond the sound 
of trampling hoof and rumbling wheel at the pike, that 
he might listen the better. The sentries demurred, but 
finally decided to take the chances and let him go. And, 
creeping from bush to bush to avoid the moonlit spaces, 
less than half an hour before the dawn he had succeeded 
in gaining fully four hundred yards out toward the 
northeast, and there low voices warned him to lie still 
and listen. He was either on or within the Confederate 
picket line, and had much to learn and little time. 

And then, hardly breathing, as he crouched close to 
the trunk of a spreading tree, somewhere among the 
leafy shades along the slopes of Wolf Hill a whip-poor- 
will began his farewell hymn to the flitting night and, 
just as on that April morning among the heights of the 
Hedgeman, faint and sweet, soft yet stirring, so far out 



330 THE IRON BRIGADE 

to the north that the performer doubtless thought it be 
yond the range of inimical ears, a cavalry trumpet began 
to sound the martial reveille, stilling the mournful plaint 
of the feathered herald of the dawn, and stirring some 
nearby watcher to instant, even profane, remonstrance. 
" Damn that infernal dash-dashed idiot," stormed a low, 
half-choked voice. " He ll tell the whole dash-dashed 
Yankee army our fellows have come! Go back there, 
sergeant, and tell our trumpeter if he dares to toot a 
horn I ll murder him." 

Then somebody rustled off through the bushes, and 
somebody else spoke. " Some of Hampton s crowd, I 
reckon. How long d the general want us to stay out 
hyuh?" 

" Till Ewell attacks at dawn. Then we ll mount and 
look out for Gregg. His people are out here to the 
east of us. Stuart ll get after them, you bet, as soon 
as it s light." 

"We haven t got a horse that can more n stagger. 
All worn out, I tell you," protested the second voice. 

" No more n theirs are. Jennings met us back there 
on the Hanover pike, and I heard him tell Fitz Lee 
Gregg s horses were all played out " 

" Jennings be damned! " broke in a third voice, im 
petuously, and Benton started at the sound. It was 
Chilton s beyond shadow of a doubt. Chilton again 
with his old regiment, and these with him were doubt 
less officers of Fitz Lee s brigade, scouting, probably, 
well in front of the cavalry lines, yet proving that Stuart 



LADUE S LAST RETREAT 331 

was there at last, and could be counted on to make 
things lively in the morning. And Jack disapproved of 
Jennings, did he ? Small blame to him ! And Jennings 
was way up here in Pennsylvania, playing informant for 
both forces again, and doubtless getting big pay from 
ours ! It was high time to slip back and give warning, 
but getting back was slow and tedious, even perilous 
work. The dawn was breaking when, in bedraggled 
garb, Benton made his way across the plateau to the 
farm-house on the Taneytown road, where officers and 
orderlies were thickly grouped, and where he found his 
own gray-headed general in the circle about the com 
mander. Before Benton had time to whisper half his 
explanation, Wadsworth s tired eyes flamed with eager 
light. 

" Here s the very news to prove it, General ! " he 
cried. " Captain Benton, of my staff, is just in from 
that front. Stuart is there and Ewell means to at 
tack " 

" How do you know Stuart is there ? " demanded 
Meade, whirling sharply on the young officer. The 
most courteous and polished of gentlemen at other 
times, Meade was irascible in the extreme in battle. 

" I heard voices, sir, one that I well knew, an officer 
of the First Virginia, heard them say that Fitz Lee 
was there, and that Stuart would settle Gregg, and that 

Ewell would attack at dawn " But even as he spoke 

came confirmation of his words. In the dim light of the 
dawn, the guns of Greene and Geary had suddenly 



332 THE IRON BRIGADE 

opened on shadowy gray lines, issuing from the opposite 
woods, and Wadsworth sprang for his horse. But the 
commander signalled Benton to remain. " You have 
done a gallant deed, Captain, and have brought me most 
valuable information," were his words a moment later; 
" It shall not be forgotten." 

Yet Benton was surprised late that afternoon when, 
after the din of the most terrific cannonade ever heard 
on this continent, and, after daring and determined at 
tack, Pickett, Ewell and Stuart all had been repulsed, 
Pickett with dreadful loss, there came a message 
summoning the aide-de-camp to Meade s headquarters. 
He was faint with the fearsome sights encountered on 
the way, for all the field was one vast hospital. A sym 
pathetic staff officer gave him a nip from his flask, and 
then pointed to where a little group of prisoners were 
gathered back of the farm-house. Several were slightly 
wounded. All were sad and weary, but there was none 
he knew. An orderly led him toward a rude wagon- 
shed beneath which knelt four officers, surrounding a 
prostrate figure. " He asked for you," said a surgeon, 
briefly, and one glance at the face of the stricken soldier 
was enough. Never heeding the others of the group, 
never even seeing them, with a cry, half stifled, of 
mingled anguish and amaze, Benton threw himself on 
his knees, and clasped the cold, nerveless hand, feebly 
lifted to greet him. The failing eyes lighted up one 
moment in love, recognition and relief, then closed in 
agony, as a spasm of dreadful torment seized the fragile 




Benton thrust his left arm 

under the fallen head. Page 333. 



LADUB S LAST RETREAT 333 

form. " Paul Paul my God ! " was all that Benton 
could murmur, for a great sob choked his utterance, 
and a surgeon hurriedly brushed before him and held 
a little silver cup to the twitching lips of his patient. 
" Mortal, yes," was his whisper, as the poor lad, ex 
hausted, lay for a moment in a deathlike swoon. Then 
the stimulant seemed to revive him a bit. The dark 
eyes slowly opened and fixed on Benton s quivering 
face. A flicker of setting sunbeam, breaking through 
the smoke still drifting over the field, threw for an in 
stant almost a halo of rosy light about the dark, damp 
hair, and gave a touch of warmth to the sweet, yet pite 
ous little smile that played, oh, so short a moment, about 
the almost girlish lips, and then they moved : " Bless 
you, old boy ! " and every whisper seemed to come 
with a gasp " I heard I knew you d never give up 
her letters. Where s McKinnon?" And here the 
poor lad seemed drifting away again. Benton thrust 
his left arm under the fallen head and strove to raise it, 
while once more the surgeon placed the cup to the 
parted lips; and, noting the name, a staff officer turned 
quickly and said a word to a waiting soldier. It was 
another minute before the swooning lad reopened his 
eyes. The end was swift coming, for their light had 
fled. Two other forms had joined the silent group, un 
covering in the awful presence. But Benton saw noth 
ing but the loved face heard nothing but the labored 
breathing of his friend and comrade whose young life 
had known such cruel sorrows, whose early death was 



334 THE IRON BRIGADE 

so surely due to the malign influences that had turned 
him, all unwilling, against the flag that once at least he 
had loved so loyally. And now, in spite of soldier reso 
lution, big tears fell from Benton s brimming eyes and 
plashed on the fragile hand still fondly clasped in his 
own. It seemed to rouse the dying boy. He looked 
yearningly up into the face of his sorrowing friend, just 
as somewhere down the field to the south, noting the 
disappearing sun, some bugler had softly begun to play, 
slowly and solemnly, the vesper hymn of the army, the 
salute to the departing day, the soldier signal to repair 
to quarters and to set the watchers for the night the 
stately call known the wide world over as the " retreat." 

One moment poor Paul seemed to listen, his breath 
coming fast and painfully ; then some one, well meaning, 
yet mistaken, bent and questioned : " You asked for 
Major McKinnon. Did you wish to speak " 

" McKinnon ! " whispered Paul. " McKinnon? " and 
now a shudder seemed to seize the wasting form. " Tell 
him for me I know he stole my letters. Tell him I told 
Rosalie every word he said of you was a cowardly 
lie." 

And not until the dead hand in his was cold and stif 
fening did Benton know what caused the strange move 
ment and sensation in that silent, awe-stricken group as 
Ladue s last words were spoken. Almost inaudible, 
they had reached the straining ears of four who bent 
to listen, and of one who, standing, would gladly have 
been deaf to them. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 

Once again had Lee s valiant army slowly retired to 
the Potomac and leisurely recrossed, superb even in de 
feat. Just as after Antietam, the cabinet, the committee 
on the conduct of the war (that remarkable annex to our 
military system) and countless critics all over the North, 
stormed at the Army of the Potomac because it seemed 
to follow at respectful distance, content to let the erring 
brethren go in peace. The man who felt it most that 
the beaten enemy should again succeed in getting away 
was the one who said the least Lincoln had no rebuke 
for Meade who, smarting and sensitive under the lash 
of Halleck and Stanton, asked in his turn to be relieved 
of that vexatious command, but could not be accom 
modated. "The plum was so ripe," was all that the 
patient President could say, " it seemed a pity not to 
seize it." But no one save those that tried it knew the 
cost of seizing Confederate plums. Stern and defiant 
the disciplined ranks in gray turned and faced every es 
say to moiest them, and another winter closed in on the 
armies in Virginia, with the same old stream the Rapi- 
dan for their dividing line. 

For a time the tide of war swept to other fields, and 



336 THE IRON BRIGADE 

all eyes were focused on the West. Matters in the im 
mediate front of Washington seemed to stagnate, while 
within they seethed. A curious state of affairs existed, 
a condition of divided responsibilities that resulted in 
Lee s being allowed to detach a third of his force under 
Longstreet to help crush the Army of the Cumberland 
at Chickamauga, and so set us back another six months 
on the road to victory. Then came the final resolution 
of the great War President, that as he and Halleck and 
Stanton had long tried, without success, the business of 
" bossing " armies in the field, it was time to turn the 
whole thing over to a single stage manager. Then came 
Grant and the beginning of the end. 

Meantime, how fared it with Fred Benton and his 
fellow workers in the war drama ? Gettysburg, with all 
its solemn triumph, had left them sore at heart. The 
old brigade had trudged back to its former fields along 
the Rappahannock, bereft of many a loved and honored 
comrade, and in the relic of one regiment, at least, there 
was genuine sorrow over the death of him who wore 
the gray. There was comfort in the Sixth that it was in 
front of Geary s line, not theirs, that Ewell s fated young 
aide-de-camp should meet his mortal wounds. There 
were eyes that blinked beneath the worn visors of the 
caps of faded blue, in sympathy with the grief in Ben- 
ton s haggard face. All that was mortal of Paul Ladue 
they laid away on the bank of the little stream by which 
he fell, soldiers of the Sixth his pall-bearers, officers 
and men his mourners, and the Montgomerys from the 






WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 337 

old home city, his funeral escort, though they could 
hardly muster a squad. The few papers and memo 
randa in his possession, his watch and forage-cap and 
sword, were placed in Benton s charge Benton who had 
stooped and kissed the peaceful, up-turned face ere they 
lowered it from sight of all, and had reverently clipped 
away a lock of the dark, wavy hair for that anxious- 
hearted girl at home, praying, all unconscious of her 
new sorrow. The three volleys flashed over the slender, 
wasted form. No soldier honors were omitted because 
of the garb he wore. They knew well that but for the 
treachery of one, and the unreasoning violence of others 
of their own people, this might never have been, and, 
whether or no, it was all ended now: rancor, enmity 
and strife forgotten in the contemplation of the wrongs 
dealt his name both North and South. Yet only to a 
limited few was it told that, after all, that soldier death 
was mercy. The doctors said it saved him from long 
months of suffering that he could hardly have lived 
another year. Distress of mind, confinement and illness 
had so racked the fragile body that he was a doomed 
man the day they sent him back, exchanged, to Newport 
News, to rejoin his one-legged old division leader in 
time for his last essay on Northern soil. 

And there at Gettysburg he slept, awaiting the ending 
of the war, while the clouds lowered thicker and thicker 
about the heads of those whom he had so loved. Fred 
Benton, twice named in official reports for most gallant 
conduct on the field, and recommended for the brevet 



338 THE IRON BRIGADE 

of major, found himself again summoned to Washing 
ton, this time a witness before a military commission 
for the trial of one Peter Jennings, civilian, for whose 
apprehension with a whole skin the First Virginia Cav 
alry stood ready to pay a round sum and the " Stone 
wall " to supplement it with another, each claiming prior 
right to perforate or sear that skin at sight. The Vir 
ginians swore he was a double-dyed traitor, informer 
and spy that he sold information to the Federals, and 
had betrayed Ladue of the Eleventh Alabama into their 
hands, even while Stanton and others at the War De 
partment were ready to swear the tall Virginian s life 
away to the charge of giving information to the rebels 
of the plans, movements and numbers of the Union 
forces. Now, What, asked Benton, could they want of 
him? 

Among the papers in poor Ladue s possession was the 
original draft of the report he had written the com 
manding officer of the Eleventh Alabama of his flight 
across the Potomac and capture by Union cavalry near 
Mathias Point. Not until he reached a certain farm 
house near Port Tobacco did he know who were the 
officers escaped from prison camp near Annapolis, and 
his joy was great when Jack Chilton appeared among 
them Chilton mad with eagerness to make the cross 
ing, the others disappointed that the boats provided 
were so pitifully small Ladue, suffering from some 
kind of ague, with remittent fever, now almost too weak 
and ill to make the attempt at all, yet determined to go 



WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 33$ 

on. He and Chilton were ferried over on a dark, wintry 
night, and landed at a fisherman s house t hree miles 
below the Point, and there, to his infinite concern, Paul 
found that he had lost his pocket memorandum book, 
well nigh filled with notes concerning the troops about 
Shepherdstown, Hagerstown, Chambersburg and so on 
round to Baltimore, also certain sketch maps of field 
fortifications and the like, all of which he felt confident 
would be of value to General Lee. Then there were 
private papers in the book of vast importance to him 
if to no one else. A racking chill had come on as the 
result of exposure to the raw night wind, and Jack and 
the fisherman secreted him in a barn, rolled blankets 
about him and poured Virginia peach brandy down his 
throat. Then Chilton deliberately went back to Mary 
land in search of the missing property, sorely against 
his better judgment, but he could not permit Paul to 
go in his weakened state, and going himself seemed the 
only way. Thereby he escaped capture by the cavalry 
piloted by Jennings, as they since had grown to believe, 
though, sanctimonious and sorrowful, the long Vir 
ginian had arrived an hour ahead of them and, claiming 
to be a doctor, was taken to Ladue s sanctuary in the 
hayloft, and was there captured ( ?) with him. When 
searched, Ladue was found to have no incriminating 
papers about him a disappointment to his captors and 
obviously a puzzle to Jennings for Ladue heard him 
whispering with the officer in command. The last Paul 
had seen of Chilton was that December night, but later 



340 THE IRON BRIGADE 

he learned that he had been compelled to remain in hid 
ing many weeks in Charles County before the vigilance 
of the Federals was again relaxed and he could finally 
effect his escape. Ladue never dreamed they were 
again within hailing distance of each other just before 
the last sunrise of his own dreamy, gentle, sorrow-laden 
life. Then there was a letter, unfinished, for Elinor, 
which Fred had sealed and sent to her, and it was 
through her, four weeks later, that he learned that Paul 
well knew he had not long to live, and had really hoped 
to meet a soldier s death in front of the charging line. 
One longing he had, he owned, that would probably 
never be gratified that of branding McKinnon as a liar 
and a thief, for young Larry OToole, he that used to 
sweep out and sprinkle the store and had enlisted as a 
drummer in the Montgomerys after Paul s banishment, 
had strayed in search of forbidden luxuries just before 
Chancellorsville, his pockets filled with poker winnings, 
and Stuart s men had nabbed him and run him off to 
Richmond where Ladue was sent to tell the story of 
his experiences, and here was favored with O Toole s 
account of McKinnon s bribing him to purloin those St. 
Louis letters. With this confirmation of his theories 
burning within him, Paul had gone to Charlottesville, 
spending one day with the Chiltons and hearing from 
the doctor a strange story of McKinnon s generosity to 
them and kindness to the imperiled son. Rosalie had 
listened in silent acquiescence until Paul burst in with 
vehement denunciation of the whole story told them 



WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 341 

of McKinnon s treachery to him and his hatred of the 
Bentons, told them of Fred s devoted friendship, and 
then came a strange part of the letter. Elinor copied 
it verbatim : 

" Miss Chilton grew more and more excited as I talked, and finally 
whirled on me with How can you speak of devoted friendship on 
part of a man who planned to capture you both and was only balked by 
by Jack s going back for your old note book! Then she rushed out of 
the room, and I had to go right on to Gordonsville and could only write 
to her that, that too, was probably one of McKinnon s slanders, and there 
wasn t a word of truth in it that no one was more amazed than Fred 
when they brought me in. I ve not yet heard from her, but I shall, and 
Jack shall know the moment I can find him." 

" Was it not strange that that same old notebook, which she risked so 
much to send to me that night Fred caught her at the stone house, 
should later have been the means of saving Jack ? She found it in the 
breast pocket of my new uniform coat at Henry s, and glancing through 
the pages saw the sketches and memoranda I had even then been 
making ; supposed it was of vast importance, something that we ought 
to have and, fearing it would fall into the enemy s hands, bethought 
her of Jennings and Judge Armistead; slipped into my uniform, and 
Fred has probably told you the rest." 

So there it was at last: the story of her daring and 
devotion unnecessary, perhaps, and misdirected, but 
daring none the less and Benton, had he but opened 
hi^ heart to Paul in the few days they were together 
at the Chiltons, might have known it all! There then 
was that mystery solved, and McKinnon, furthermore, 
had been unmasked, and was even more of a black 
guard than they had deemed him. Now, at least, must 
Rosalie know how utterly in her wrath she had wronged 
the man whose devotion to her she surely could not fail 
to realize, yet not a line from her had found its way to 



342 THE IRON BRIGADE 

Elinor. There was some comfort in the belief that now 
she knew, but how he longed to get at McKinnon for 
further comfort ! That, however, was out of the ques 
tion. Major McKinnon had gone with the Twelfth 
Corps to Chattanooga ; had indeed left the Army of the 
Potomac with despatches, it was said, and certainly with 
despatch, within two hours of Ladue s dying accusa 
tion. It was no place for him about Meade s headquar 
ters after that. 

And now that queer customer, Jennings, was also 
under the ban, was he ? And they needed Benton s evi 
dence Benton whose brevet hung fire for reasons he 
could not understand Benton who didn t love the war 
office and who well knew he had found no favor in the 
grim, deep-set eyes behind those comprehensive spec 
tacles. There was little he could really tell of Jennings, 
though he had never forgotten that story about the 
Indiana sergeant seeing Rosalie toss the packet to him 
in the rush and excitement at the stone house. If that 
story were true she must have thought him faithful at 
the time at least. That fateful notebook, filled with 
Paul s clever topographical sketches and his daily 
memoranda what had not Rosalie dared in her effort to 
send it to safe hands ! What sacrifice had not Chilton 
made in recrossing the Potomac that wintry night in 
hopes of recovering it ! Yet, had not that very crossing 
prevented, not procured, his recapture? That note 
book, as Ladue had written, had really been "the 
means of saving Jack." Where was it now? thought 



WHAT A LETTER REVEALED 343 

Benton, as once again he caught sight of the unfinished 
dome of the great white capitol. A very valuable bit 
of property the little volume might be to Southern chief 
tain again invading Maryland with an army at his back 
and a very dangerous one for Southern officer to be 
caught with if alone ! 



CHAPTER XXVII 

LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 

Gettysburg had thinned the grand old First Corps 
into the proportions of a small division. Consolidation 
became the watchword, and, with Reynolds dead and his 
successors devoid of influence, it had none in power to 
preserve its autonomy. The Second, Fifth and Sixth 
Corps retained their badges and their name. The Elev 
enth and Twelfth, sent to the West, were " telescoped " 
and called the Twentieth. The Third had lost its grip, 
with Sickles s leg, at Gettysburg, its way, with 
French s head, at Mine Run, and finally its place and 
name, being distributed to fill the gaps in other organi 
zations. As for what was left of the First, most of it, 
under gray-headed Wadsworth, went as the Fourth Di 
vision to the Fifth Corps, our old friends of the Iron 
Brigade ruefully shedding the blood-red disk and deck 
ing their caps with the Maltese cross. And so, faithful 
to the end, they hewed their way through the Wilder 
ness, hard hit many a time, but ever landing, catlike, on 
their feet, even though so many of the old leaders were 
gone. Brave, silver-haired Wadsworth, after heroic ef 
fort against Longstreet, died at their head in the crash 
of the sixth of May, Cutler taking the division, and 



LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 345 

Bragg, another graduate of the Sixth, the brigade, and 
holding it longest of all. Few they were when they 
readied the James, mourning with all their hearts for 
Haskell, killed in command of his new Badger regiment 
in the awful attack at Cold Harbor. With Warren they 
rounded the gray line at Five Forks, Hallon Richard 
son, heading the Seventh, receiving the shot meant for 
their major general, and finally, bursting from the 
southward woods below Appomattox, they helped to 
bar the last gateway of Lee s beaten army. Then they 
marched back to droop their riddled, crape-laden colors 
for the last time before the head of the nation in the 
grand review at Washington and, with final handclasp 
from Hoosiers and Wolverines at the parting of the 
ways, went home to lay those tattered flags within the 
walls of their own white capitol, with never a stain or 
shadow on the record of their defenders. 

But the story of several who set forth with them was 
still unfinished. Fred Benton, who had ridden with 
their battling line on many a bloody day, came not 
homeward with the few survivors. A strange fortune 
had been his after Wadsworth fell. There had been 
many a reason, as has been told, for believing that the 
tall Virginian, Jennings, had played a double game from 
first to last that he had served the purposes of several 
officers of the Confederate government even while re 
ceiving the pay and protection of the United States; 
and, though it was he that revealed to the secret service 
the fact that two young officers, Chilton and Ladue of 



346 THE IRON BRIGADE 

the Confederate Army, could be captured by sending 
cavalry to the fisher s hut below Mathias Point, and 
though it was through this information that Ladue had 
been caught, Stanton had abundant ground for suspect 
ing the guide, had had him watched and later arrested. 
Benton s evidence had little helped the prosecution, 
however, and when the young officer was again sum 
moned to the War Department and again questioned 
as to his relations with the Chiltons, he finally " fired 
up," as the President himself expressed it later, and de 
clared the line of inquiry a reflection on his loyalty and 
integrity. Stanton so hated the rebellion that he seemed 
to hold no officer above suspicion who did not hate 
everything connected with it, and Benton could not be 
made to hate the Chiltons any of them or to look 
with anything less than love on the memory of Paul 
Ladue. 

So he came back from Washington in time for the 
Mine Run affair, boiling over again with wrath at the 
way he had been badgered. Stanton as much as inti 
mated that Benton knew Jennings to be false to his obli 
gations, and was shielding him as had striven to de 
fend the Chiltons and Ladue. " No man can serve two 
masters, young sir," said the stern Secretary, " and you 
can t properly serve your country and shield those in 
rebellion against it. I ve seen too much of this disposi 
tion on your part, and if I see any more of it I ll break 
you!" 



LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 347 

Words were these to be well remembered in the light 
of later events. 

No wonder Benton was aflame with indignation, and 
narrowly did he escape court-martial for the hot wrath 
f his reply. He demanded a court of inquiry but to 
no purpose. There was little evidence but his own. 
He continued to serve with Wadsworth, who, from hav 
ing been more than half inclined at one time to share 
Stanton s views, had now reasons of his own for differ 
ing radically with that Tremendous Power, and took 
up the cudgels for Fred in his vehement fashion, and 
might have gotten into serious trouble of his own had 
it not been for the shot that ended it all that bitter day 
in the Wilderness. Then Benton was transferred for a 
time to the headquarters of the cavalry corps, and rode 
with Sheridan to Yellow Tavern, where the plumes of 
Stuart went down at last, and the brilliant leader of the 
Southern Horse was borne away to die within the walls 
of the weeping city, and here it was, after Yellow Tav 
ern, Fred Benton had one of the oddest, yet most oppor 
tune, meetings of the war. 

It was a soft, moonlit night in May. The dead and 
wounded still lay in numbers on the field of the stirring 
fight. The lines had surged hither and yon during the 
late afternoon. Three Confederate officers, unhorsed 
and captured, had been brought to Sheridan s camp fire 
near the Richmond road, and in one of these Benton 
instantly recognized young Winston, wearing now the 
braid of a major of cavalry. The recognition was mu- 



348 THE IRON BRIGADE 

tual, and Benton s well-filled flask was brought into re 
quisition at the instant. Soldiers sink their enmity at 
such a time. The blue and the gray were soon in 
cordial chat, but Benton saw the Virginian was in deep 
chagrin. A question as to Lounsberry s whereabouts 
was all that was needed, and Winston launched at once 
into a tirade. There never was such infernal luck, he 
said. For months three men had been hounding that 
fellow to get an accounting from him on a matter that 
that well, Pelham s sister had been engaged at least 
believed herself engaged to Lounsberry ever since 
early in the war, yet in January came the announcement 
of his approaching marriage to a widow of wealth and 
social position in Charleston. He had tricked Maud 
most damnably, said Winston, and Floyd Pelham, the 
very young fellow who was so nearly killed trying to 
save Lounsberry out there near Gainesville, a captain 
now and only twenty, had been trying to get a fight 
out of him, and so had Jack Chilton, but Floyd had the 
best claim, and now Lounsberry had actually been 
nailed. He had come to Stuart with despatches and 
Pelham had slashed him in the face with his gauntlet. 
A meeting had been arranged for to-morrow morning. 
He, Winston, was Pelham s second, and would almost 
give his parole, were such a thing possible to an officer 
of Stuart s cavalry, to get back to the Confederate lines 
and bring that fellow to book. 

" You owe him a grudge as well as Maud Pelham s 
kinsmen," said he. " Sooner or later he s got to fight 



LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 349 

or funk. I can t be there to second Pelham, and now 
there s no telling when any of us can get at him." 

"Why not Chilton?" asked Fred. 

" Chilton ! " and Winston flushed with embarrass 
ment. " Chilton has just been sent away on other 
duty." 

" With his wounded leader and kinsman to Rich 
mond?" hazarded Fred. 

" No o," was the halting reply. In fact Winston 
could not say whither he had gone. 

It seemed long indeed before any of those who owed 
Lounsberry a grudge were enabled to " get at him." 
But there came a time, and not to those that wore the 
gray, but to Benton, still serving with Sheridan, still 
wearing the blue, still praying for a break in the strain 
ing lines that circled the still defiant Capital, a break 
that would permit him to ride again to Charlottesville 
where he had left the silken sash, to say nothing of his 
heart, in the hands of that proud, impulsive Virginia 
girl. Even through Elinor, neither word nor sign had 
come from her in all these long months. 

Grant had crossed the James and invested Petersburg, 
when to shake him loose, if possible, by the old device 
of scaring Washington, Early was sent down the Shen- 
andoah Valley, with twelve thousand men and orders 
to stir up Maryland. Stir accordingly he did, until the 
arrival of the Sixth Corps from the James and the ap 
proach of the Nineteenth warned him he could not too 
soon drop it all and scurry back. He had come close 



350 THE IRON BRIGADE 

enough to sight the spires of the Capital City and put 
Stanton into a fume. He had displayed remarkable 
knowledge of all our works and ways, and had found 
time to substantially reward certain farm people near 
Shepherdstown and to shake hands with not a few en 
thusiastic sympathizers who came flocking out from 
Baltimore to meet him. No wonder Stanton was wroth ! 
Then Early harked back, leaving just a few of his men 
cut off by a sudden rush of Union cavalry, one of these 
a young captain of his own staff, an almost invaluable 
officer. It seems that he had dared to ride too far to 
visit and thank certain people Who had won his grati 
tude on a previous and more extended visit. This time 
it was not so easy to get away across the Potomac. He 
was still in hiding when Grant sent Sheridan to put a 
stop to further use of the Shenandoah Valley as the 
highroad to invasion of the North. Stanton growled 
at the order. Sheridan was too young, said he, for so 
important a command, but the President had seen 
enough of the policy of interference at the rear with 
the fighters at the front. Grant s choice was sustained, 
and. speedily justified itself. With Sheridan went Fred 
Benton. 

The Sixth Corps had followed Early across and fought 
him sharply in the Blue Ridge. Some of the wounded 
were still lying in farm-houses, and sorrowful women 
were busily caring for these as best they could, for most 
of their medical men had gone with the army. One 
warm August evening, as Benton came riding down 



LOUNSBERRY S LAST STING 351 

from a scout among the beautiful heights that border 
the valley on the east, he stopped to water his horse at 
the public trough in front of a village tavern, and while 
his half dozen troopers were resetting saddles and ex 
changing laughing, low-toned comment over the dis 
favor in the few feminine faces visible, his quick eye 
caught a glimpse of three forms that, coming suddenly 
from a leafy side street, had stopped short at sight of 
the blue-jackets and, after a moment s hesitation, had 
turned back the way they came. One, an elderly clergy 
man, gave his arm to a gentlewoman, evidently bowed 
with care and sorrow. The third form was that of a 
girl, slender, graceful, and in her walk there was some 
thing vaguely familiar to Benton s eyes, even before he 
noted that she wore a drab felt hat, broad-brimmed and 
feathered. There seemed no houses in the little hamlet 
that warranted the presence of people of such evident 
station, and Benton followed to the corner, saw the trio 
hold brief conference, saw the young lady bow her head 
as though in acquiescence, then enter the gateway of an 
unpretentious little home, while the other two walked 
slowly on. He had seen just enough to rouse both 
memory and interest. Quickly he crossed the street, 
followed along a hedge of rose bushes, turned sharply 
through the gate, and face to face at the trellised porch 
met the girl whom he had first seen sauntering along 
that leafy side street at Charlottesville in the spring of 
62. Bearded, bronzed and stalwart as he was to-day, 
she saw nothing to remind her of the pallid prisoner 



352 THE IRON BRIGADE 

of the Chiltons, and only indignation at his intrusion 
blazed in her cheeks and eyes, but, in spite of gallant ef 
fort, she struck her colors at his very first word, when, 
with uphtted torage-cap he bowed and calmly addressed 
her: 

" Miss Pelham, I believe, whom I had the pleasure 
of seeing at Charlottesville. I hope your brother is not 
wounded and here." 

Then he repented him of his cruelty when he saw her 
sway and stretch forth her hand for the support of the 
railing at the steps. " Pardon me," he continued, his 
blue eyes fixed on her almost ashen face, " but nothing 
less could have brought you here, and, pardon me 
again, but I must enter," and he moved as though to 
pass her by. Instantly, almost in terror, she grasped 
his arm. 

" No ! Oh, no ! " she cried. " I give you my word ! 
My brother is not here ! " 

" Then I am more than glad," said Benton, for it all 
seemed to flash over him in the instant, and, despite her 
clinging hands and almost frantic appeal, he sprang up 
the steps and into the open doorway. There was a 
simple little country parlor, furnished with round center 
table and horsehair sofa and chairs, with those old- 
fashioned worsted mats upon the table and the little 
mantel-shelf, supporting ornaments of painted china 
and a gothic wooden clock. Beyond this parlor lay a 
little inner room, a bedroom, as he could easily see, with 
a window opening on the vines and berry bushes in the 



LOUNSBBRRY S LAST STING 353 

back yard, and on the bed, gaunt, fever-stricken, and 
gazing up at the startled, colored mammy, acting as 
nurse, and then into the face of the blue-uniformed in 
truder, lay the wreck of the one personal enemy Fred 
Benton was aware of in all Virginia all that was left 
of Scott Lounsberry. 

And as the soldier paused there at the doorway, in 
utter silence the eyes of the two men met, Benton s 
blazing blue fire, Lounsberry s glaring with fever and 
hate. Then, throwing aside her feathered hat and the 
light wrap that she carried on her arm, Maud Pelham 
sprang past the Union officer and stood almost defiantly 
facing him. 

" You shall not take him touch him ! " she cried, in 
tones intense and low. " He is terribly wounded. He 
has done you no wrong ! " 

Benton looked upon her in blended wonderment and 
pity. If what Winston said were true, what was she 
doing here? Instinctively he had removed his cap and 
stood before her bare-headed. At least she had been 
Rosalie s friend and playmate in the days before those 
cruel complications had arisen before this now stricken 
man, actuated by who knows what passion of pique and 
longing for revenge, had broken up that friendship. 
Almost in sadness Benton began to speak. 

" He tried hard to harm me and he made you the in 
strument," he said. " Did you not know that note was 
meant to lure me into a trap? Did you not know that 
his men were waiting there to seize or possibly to kill 
me?" 23 



354 THE IRON BRIGADE 

From the bed there came a feeble yet almost fiendish 
cackle of horrid laughter, and the girl s wild, dilated 
eyes that at Benton s words were staring at him, turned 
in sudden anguish and alarm to the fevered man, whose 
voice quavered in a sneer of mingled hate and triumph. 

" You got away, thanks to her, and her meddling, but 
he won t by God he won t! They ve got Jack Chil- 
ton hard and fast this time a spy with a hatful of in 
formation and they ll hang him within the week ! " 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

SURRENDER 

The fever that followed the serious wounds received 
by Major Lounsberry was in itself sufficient to end the 
earthly career of even a stronger man. Two days after 
Benton found him that fever was gone, but so was the 
last atom of his strength. Those two days he tossed in 
delirium, watched by one unhappy, but devoted girl and 
that faithful old Mammy, and visited at such intervals 
as her own failing strength would permit by his heart 
broken mother. Word of his peril had reached Char- 
lottesville soon after the sharp fight at Snicker s Gap. 
Early s retreating force had striven to bring him along, 
but, between the torment caused him by the jolting of 
the ambulance and the persistent attacks of Union cav 
alry, they had had to leave him by the way. Mrs. 
Lounsberry and the venerable rector of their church 
started within six hours of the receipt of the news, by 
which time all Charlottesville had heard of it, and al 
most the first to come to the stricken mother was the 
girl her son had wronged. A strange meeting was that, 
and stranger still was one but half an hour later when 
Rosalie Chilton appeared, and two Virginia girls who 
had not exchanged a word since the first days of the 



356 THE IRON BRIGADE 

war, and neither of whom had been a visitor at the 
Lounsberrys for many a moon, buried their differences 
with that sorrow-laden mother, and set their own quar 
rel aside that they might be of service to her and to a 
soldier of the South in the hour of such affliction. More 
over it was in Dr. Chilton s old carriage, with Dr. Chil- 
ton s old horses and driven by Black Dan, that the 
journey to the distant front was made. This was no 
time to speak of the cruel things said by the Louns- 
berrys of Dr. Chilton and Rosalie after Benton s escape. 
The grave had closed over the proud, impetuous head 
of that now doubly bereaved household. Ill fortune 
had followed the father s death, and much of his little 
estate had been sold under the hammer. Small comfort 
had the handsome prodigal proved himself at that or 
any other time, but much had he promised as the result 
of his approaching marriage. There had been a memor 
able interview between the mother and that wronged 
and trusting girl when at last Maud Pelham s forebod 
ings were realized. There had in fact been a violent 
scene, for Mrs. Lounsberry had sought to shield her 
son and at Maud s expense. But that, too, was all ig 
nored now. The other engagement had been broken 
summarily two weeks after Yellow Tavern, for one of 
Wade Hampton s staff, sent home wounded, had told at 
Charleston how Floyd Pelham had struck Lounsberry 
and why. There had been weeks in which Maud Pel- 
ham would have met Lounsberry only with scorn and 
contempt, but that was before his comrades sent him 



SURRENDER 357 

to Coventry, and never again after news of his serious 
wound. Though all Gharlottesville knew that he had 
been false to her, she went to his mother the instant she 
heard the tidings, and with her on the anxious journey 
that followed. 

They were searching the impoverished little village 
under the heights, hoping somewhere to find ice to allay 
that burning fever, when the sight of blue-jacket cavalry 
sent them back and Benton followed. They, who over 
and again had forgotten and forgiven the sins of the 
stricken man, were amazed when, early next morning, 
a Federal officer drove over from the distant camps be 
yond the foaming Shenandoah and unloaded at their 
humble doorway, not the expected and hated guards, 
but a box of ice, packed in sawdust, and certain supplies 
from the commissariat. Then, while a brace of soldiers 
were attending to these, a gifted young physician on 
Sheridan s staff was gravely studying the tossing pa 
tient. Nor did dharity end here but details are un 
necessary. The mother accepted all with wondering 
and tearful gratitude, the almost hopeless girl with 
humbled and sorrowing spirit, and even the doomed 
soldier himself, when consciousness returned, was too 
weak to resent or to refuse, and so childlike and broken 
that he could only bury his haggard face in the poor 
mother s breast and sob out the story of his shame and 
contrition. 

It was through Sheridan s lines and Benton s help 
they bore him away to his last resting place when the 



358 THE IRON BRIGADE 

solemn struggle was over. It was at Charlottesville 
again that Maud Pelham and Rosalie met beside the 
grave, and that later, on her knees, her face buried in 
the lap of the once imperious queen, a poor, humbled, 
heart-broken girl sobbed out in turn her own sad story 
and Lounsberry s confession, little dreaming that it 
would send still another to her knees, praying not alone 
for mercy for the repentant dead, not alone for the 
rescue, the safety, of a beloved brother, but even for 
heaven s blessing on an enemy to Virginia and the 
sacred cause the soldier she had so cruelly wronged. 

" He s past prayin for, bedad ! " said the captain 6f 
the Montgomerys, of Benton, about this time, the cap 
tain and most of his men being at home on veteran fur 
lough. " Ould Stanton s got the devil s own grudge agin 
him fur turnin up in time to spoil a hangin all on ac 
count av Ladue that s dead." It was hardly a felicitious, 
yet surely a concise, way of settling the story. At no 
time during his incumbency was the great War Secretary 
in so evil a mood as during that summer of 64. Grant 
and Sherman had both pushed southward in the face of 
furious fighting, yet gold had soared to flights hitherto 
unknown, so had the list of casualties, and a great 
political party, having pronounced the war a failure, set 
perhaps the greatest failure of the war at the head of 
their ticket and started a campaign to down the Presi 
dent beloved of the people. Then the conduct of affairs 
in the field had slipped from Stanton s hands. A greater 
than Halleck or he was now in calm, masterful, imper- 



SURRENDER 359 

turbable control, while the head of the Department of 
War had perforce to be content with managing matters 
at the rear, where, it must be t&wned, enemies were al 
most as active as over the line. Many a military head 
he hit that summer and fall summarily dismissing even 
regulars without the form of a trial sometimes im 
prisoning " suspects " without sign of a warrant, some 
times sending whole families into exile, and at all times 
being as overcharged with explosive shock as a bulging 
thundercloud sailing in search of object at which to 
launch a bolt. The illimitable humor and patience of 
the President, coupled with the unalterable conviction 
of the Secretary himself that ruin would follow were he 
to resign, stood between the latter and open rupture 
with his incomparable chief. He would have hanged 
Jack Chilton before the end of the August moon if it 
had not been for Lincoln s restraining hand. Proof? 
What more proof was wanting? Had he not a second 
time and both times in disguise visited notorious 
Southern sympathizers within our lines? Was not the 
notebook found in his possession filled with memoranda, 
sketches, etc., of our field works and forces in Mary 
land? What if he did say he never penciled a line of 
them ? Anybody would say that ! The President, said 
he, was " soft-hearted as a summer squash in Septem 
ber." The President wanted to see young Benton 
again, did he ? What was this story about Benton s ap 
pealing to Sheridan for safe conduct through the lines 
for rebel families with rebel dead? Stanton was quite 



360 THE IRON BRIGADE 

in the mood to carry out his threat of " breaking " Ben- 
ton then and there, but rather ruefully was he realizing 
that he would have to take back another order, dismiss 
ing summarily a most gallant young regular, and Stan- 
ton hated to take back anything, right or wrong. How 
ever, he refused to order Benton to Washington, saying 
that a battle was imminent, that Sheridan needed every 
man of his staff, and meekly the President succumbed till 
the fight was over and then it was Sheridan, not Stan- 
ton, who sent in our aide-de-camp, with hearty praise 
for his pluck and a shot through the shoulder. Win 
chester settled the matter for good and all. The Presi 
dent shook the other hand of the tall, bearded Badger 
and offered him two weeks leave and a chance to go 
home until his arm was out of the sling. Benton begged 
instead for a chance to see Chilton, and the charges 
against him, and that very day drove Stanton to the 
verge of apoplexy, for when shown the fatal note-book 
he said he knew it well and could swear it was all the 
work of Paul Ladue and not that of Jack Chilton. Ben- 
ton could not lift the gate of Lafayette, whither poor 
Jack had been sent, but he shattered all chance of their 
lifting the prisoner at the loop of a rope, and this news, 
too, went by devious, but still speedy ways to Char- 
lottesville, where again, on her knees, by her father s 
bedside, with her arms about that father s neck, Rosalie 
Chilton thanked God for his mercies, and then found it 
harder than ever to begin the letter she had long meant 



SURRENDER 361 

to write to Elinor Benton, even though now the sending 
of it might be impossible. 

One more ride had Benton near the Iron Brigade, 
after long months of separation from them, after many 
and many a day and night in saddle, mud and rain, in 
sleet and snow, up the Shenandoah, down the James 
River Canal, around Richmond, and then, amidst volleys 
of chaff and catcalls, around the rear of the entrenched 
Army of the Potomac and out into the dripping woods 
about Dinwiddie. One vehement, relentless, resistless 
day and night ride there followed, along a tormented 
flank, and then, that soft, sunshiny April morning, after 
the weeks of gloom and rain, the curtaining cavalry 
drew aside, revealing to the now hopeless eyes of the 
great Confederate leader the barrier ranks of the Fifth 
Corps the Iron Brigade in their midst. And then, the 
historic surrender ended, while the blue columns 
tramped leisurely northward past the scenes of their 
fiercest endeavor, one command, following the line of 
the old Virginia Central, found itself, late in April, 
marching sturdily into Gordonsville, long time the 
abiding place of grim, unrepentant old wardog Ewell 
and their veteran antagonists of Jackson s famous corps. 
Some of these fellows, in worn gray uniforms, were at 
the station even now, two of them shaking hands with 
a tall staff officer in blue. " We hoped to have Jack here 
by this time, Major," said Winston. " His release was 
ordered soon as General Grant got back to Washing 
ton, but he had to stay because of other matters," and 



362 THE IRON BRIGADE 

a flush of deep embarrassment burned on the Southern 
er s cheek. Even then they could not without grief and 
shame refer to the great tragedy that stilled even the 
joy of dawning peace, and hushed forever the voice of 
him who, with malice toward none, had never failed in 
boundless charity for all. Jack, though given his liberty, 
found himself still in need of War Department clearance 
papers that, in all the horror of those mid April days 
and the excitement of the chase for fugitives, were pos 
sibly inadvertently withheld. And so it happened that, 
with other sorrow-stricken Virginians, he was still under 
detention at Washington, while every nook of the river 
counties was being searched, and that it should be his 
lot to encounter still further annoy. A steamer from 
down the Potomac brought in three wounded men, vic 
tims of a possibly avoidable affray between a searching 
party and certain fisher people whose huts and sheds 
had been too suddenly visited in the darkness that pre 
cedes the dawn. Shots had been exchanged, due, it 
was claimed, to the confusion and excitement; but the 
tall, lank, woe-begone civilian who guided the party and 
got three serious wounds as his share of the casualties, 
swore he had been singled out for vengeance because 
he had been the means of breaking up more than one 
well-planned escape of Confederate prisoners. It was 
Jennings, and Jennings before breathing his last wished 
to see Captain Chilton, who swallowed his repugnance 
and went; for, in common with most of his people he 
believed the stricken man a two-faced spy and the seller 



SURRENDER 363 

of information which he probably was, yet hoped to 
play his game to the last and induce Chilton now to be 
lieve it was the dead and defenseless Lounsberry that 
threw the cavalry on Ladue that night below Mathias. 

It was Southern lead, however, that ended Jennings s 
career, and he, at least, had he lived, could never have 
set foot again on Virginia soil. 

These things they told Fred Benton that soft April 
evening on the way up to Charlottesville, as the sun was 
sinking behind the Ragged Mountains, and the Rivanna, 
bank full, came rushing and foaming down from the 
beautiful Blue Ridge. They led him from the wreck of 
a railway, through bowered streets, to the gate of an old 
Virginia homestead, where leafy trees clung thick and 
protecting about the columned portico and the wide- 
spreading eaves. There these two war-trained young 
cavaliers, still wearing their uniforms of gray, left him 
for a brief hour, and went their way to answer many a 
question, doubtless, from the lips of loved ones, not so 
entirely absorbed in their own bliss as to feel no interest 
in the possibilities of another affair. Every girl in Char 
lottesville had at least one lover in the war. Some had 
many more than one. Some, alas, had lost the only one. 
Was it like that Queen Rosalie should care for none? 
Queen Rosalie she was again in the hearts of many of 
her old coterie, but imperious, wilful, domineering no 
longer changed to one and all, as all could see. 

The trees and shrubbery were ringing with a riot of 
melody as Benton softly closed the gate behind him and 



364 THE IRON BRIGADE 

stood a moment, waiting for his heart to cease the 
violence of its throbbing. Blue birds, wrens and orioles 
were piping in final frolic before the close of day. The 
hedge rows and the lofty boughs alike seemed thrilling 
with life and ecstasy and song. Only the old white 
mansion was still. The broad doorway to the lower 
hall stood invitingly open. An easy chair, cushioned, 
stood close beside it, and other chairs, with a footstool 
or hassock, an old gray traveling shawl and a book or 
two were scattered about. A venerable horse, wheezy 
and sedate, was cropping the grass and switching at 
gnats under the blossoming fruit trees on the southward 
side. The locusts drooped over the old fence along the 
cross street, where that feathered, drab felt hat first 
caught Benton s weary eyes. But on this lovely, breath 
less evening no human form appeared, no human voice 
was heard in concert with the vesper hymn of the myriad 
songsters of the air. Purposely had Benton given no 
hint of his coming. Indeed, to whom should he send 
word? Why should he send to any one? Why, in 
deed, should he have come at all? 

Three years before, this very month, he had escaped 
in the darkness of midnight from these surroundings, 
and it was Rosalie who pointed the way. Two years 
before, this very month, she had driven him forth from 
her presence, or turned from him in a fury of disdain, 
with insult on her lips, with wrath and contempt in her 
flashing eyes. Surely, encouragement he had none ; yet, 
the moment military duty would permit, here again he 



SURRENDER 365 

stood, the knight, the champion, the lover she had 
spurned, and never again even by faintest sign had 
summoned. 

He wished her not to know of his coming. Men who 
deeply love and deeply long for answering symptom 
throw to the winds their every chance in coming her 
alded, for the fondest woman, given time and warning, 
is a consummate dissembler. The warmest heart will 
coat itself with ice impenetrable. No, he meant to take 
her by surprise as completely as Gordon s fellows had 
amazed the men of the Eighth Corps that dark dawn 
under the shadows of old Massanutten, and only to Win 
ston at Richmond had he spoken of the possibility of his 
stopping over a day at Charlottesville. Half a dozen 
girls, however, knew of the presence of the invader be 
fore Rosalie Chilton, but none learned it in just such a 
way. 

A few minutes Benton stood there in silent reconnois- 
sance. He might have seized the old-fashioned brass 
knocker at the door and brought somebody in answer 
to the summons, but that would have spoiled the sur 
prise. He bethought him of that old arbor in the gar 
den, and wondered if he could pass the windows and 
the kitchen without attracting notice. Then, looking 
about him, and drawing closer to the shelter of the vine- 
shaded portico, he saw that the placidly grazing horse 
had uplifted his venerable head, and, with ears on end, 
was regarding, evidently, some approaching object ; 
then, with low and welcoming whinney, moved slowly 



366 THE IRON BRIGADE 

through the fruit trees as though to meet some one still 
beyond the field of the soldier s vision. Then it was that 
Benton for the first time realized that this was old 
Pyramus, the horse that three years before had safely 
borne him through the woods and by-roads to the moun 
tain cabin, thence on to the gaps of the Blue Ridge, on 
from Rivanna to the Rapidan, and again to Bucklands 
and the final rescue north of Bristoe, only to be turned 
loose and abandoned to the pursuing gray-coats when 
poor Hector sank exhausted, crippled, and begging not 
to be left to the vengeance of the foe. Pelham s friends 
must have restored the old horse to his owners, yet now 
the veteran was being made at home here at the Chil- 
tons . How came that? 

Fred would have gone instantly to renew acquaintance 
and reward his old four-footed friend with caress and 
praise, but someone else was crossing the lawn, with a 
white hand extended, palm uppermost, before her some 
one in white dimity, though Benton didn t know it from 
damask, and cared nothing what it was, save that the 
waist, at least, clung to the queenly form he was so 
thrilled to see. The voluminous skirt was doing its best 
to balloon without the aid of a " skeleton"; for crinoline, 
being the height of fashion, was contraband of war, 
scarce hi the South as cinchona; but these were details 
of which Benton took no note. There had been a time 
when he fully intended that, not so much for what she 
had said in her wrath as for what she must have be 
lieved of him, this proud, imperious, wilful girl should 



SURRENDER 367 

be made to feel that he, too, could rebuke, but at sight 
of her and the weariness and lassitude with which she 
moved, all this seemed vanished into the air. All that 
he now saw, heard, felt, knew, was that it was she, 
Rosalie, who, only half a dozen rods away, lovely as ever 
in her dark beauty, yet pathetically changed, had thrown 
one arm about that scrawny, grizzled, equine neck, and 
stood softly stroking the lean old head, softly murmur 
ing to the unheeding ear and nestling the warm velvet 
of her cheek upon that unresponsive jowl all that 
sweetness thrown away upon a superannuated steed that, 
ignoring sweets incomparable, nuzzled about her 
rounded neck and arms in quest of lump sugar, long 
since a forgotten luxury. Rosalie s back was toward 
the intruder in blue, as, no longer hesitant, he went 
striding under the trees until almost within arms length 
of her, Pyramus, the while, regarding him with mute 
and placid curiosity, with neither hope nor fear. And 
here the soldier stood and looked on hungrily a moment 
at priceless caresses, for any touch of which he could 
almost sell his soul, and listening to low, murmurous 
words of tenderness and affection that, lavished on him, 
would have turned grief or suffering to instant ecstasy. 
The sight thrilled him, even while it fired his soul with 
envious greed. And then, and then came further mur 
mured words, at sound of which his heart stormed at its 
heaving bars, and fairly leaped in mad delight and pas 
sionate, rejoiceful love. Gracious heaven, could he be 
lieve his senses! 



368 THE IRON BRIGADE 

" Dear old fellow dear old fellow ! Did anybody 
think I d let him be sold to strangers, after all he d done 
for me and mine ? Good old Pyramus ! Good old 
boy ! " And all this with petting, patting hands, with 
that soft cheek still nestled against the long, brown, 
bony muzzle. " He d do it all over again, wouldn t he ? 
He d bring him back back to me if only I hadn t " 
And then both white arms were clasped about that pre 
posterous neck, and the dark tresses of the girl were 
bowed against and mingled with the grizzled, tangled 
mane of her one confidant. The lovely face was hidden 
from the worshipping eyes of blue, but only for an in 
stant. In daring and delight and overmastering love, 
with caution thrown to the winds, and pride and resolu 
tion totally forgotten, Benton sprang forward, one low 
cry of " Rosalie " on his lips; seized; tore loose the clasp 
of the clinging arms, and, despite amaze and struggle 
and breathless protest, just as on that wondrous night 
at the old stone house, he strained the slender, panting, 
swaying form to his breast; and just as he did not then 
do, rained kiss after kiss on the velvet of that flushed, 
tear-wet, astonished cheek ; yes, dared even in his 
strength and glory and delight to turn the now furiously 
resisting head upon his breast until the wild, dilated eyes 
were staring into his ; until the rosy, panting mouth was 
so close to his quivering lips that denial seemed utterly 
in vain ; then down he swooped upon the prize. But 
with one superb, supreme effort, she tore herself from 
his embrace ; stood one instant, panting, speechless, with 



SURRENDER 369 

hands uplifted against him, waving him back ; with eyes 
that flashed and commanded and refused to melt even 
at sight of the passion and pleading and bewilderment 
in his face. 

" I could not help it," he began. " You must know 
how I love you, and when I heard " 

" Heard ! " and up went the hands in impotent wrath 
and protest. "How dare you listen? Oh! Don t I 
know what " but then the torrent of her words was 
stemmed by the sight of the changing light in the deep 
blue eyes, and all in a second she saw them clouding 
again as in pain and amaze they had clouded the bitter 
night of her impetuous, inexcusable attack two years 
agone. Yes, and his face was paling, his lips setting. 
He was seeing her again as time and again in mind s 
eye he must have seen her unjust, ungrateful, unrea 
soning, in face of all that he had done and endured for 
her and for those she loved. And then O heaven! 
with pain, disappointment, yet with conviction convic 
tion that she was after all not the Rosalie he had loved 
and worshiped in spite of herself, but the Rosalie she 
really was proud, passionate, ungrateful, unjust; yes, 
utterly unworthy he had dropped his strong hands and 
was slowly turning surely turning away. Now he 
would go and never know how she had suffered for 
the sin. Now he would go and never dream how 
she had prayed for forgiveness and for him and for 
the time when she could tell him all. And now he 
he had come all unannounced and had startled and 
24 



370 THE IRON BRIGADE 

stunned her, and heard heard her weak, unmaidenly 
words, and, ah, there was the rub! would think, would 
surely think that she knew he was there, and so was 
only acting a part to lure him back. Oh, the shame, 
the bitter shame of it ! But none the less was he 
going, and this time it might be for good and all. It 
was more than she could bear. It was the last and 
cruelest stroke of the evil fate that had so long hounded 
and pursued her. It broke the last prop of her stub 
born womanly pride, her long-tried, failing strength, 
and for the first time in her daring, fearless, resolute life, 
Queen Rosalie threw out nerveless, groping hands for 
aid, and, sudden as the stroke of heaven, went crashing 
down. 

O blessed sun that sank behind the Ridge and would 
not see! O blessed songsters that, trilling their last 
good-night, would suffer no other sound. O wise old 
Pyramus to wander off beneath the blossoming trees 
and give place to him who sprang, too late to seize ; who 
knelt and, defiant of hygienic laws, lifted the bonnie, 
swooning head; clasped again the now pliant, yielding 
form, pressed kiss after kiss upon the soft, unresponsive 
but unresenting lips, and plead and prayed and called 
on heaven and on her until, with faint sigh, the fluttering 
breath returned, and then the dark eyes slowly opened, 
and one moment seemed ready again to blaze with the 
battle fire of the South, but that presently took refuge 
beneath the white flag of their own, long-lashed lids, and 



SURRENDER 371 

with another sigh, with a soft glow stealing slowly up 
over rounded throat and cheek and even to the snowy 
brow, the beautiful, humbled face turned fairly toward 
him and buried itself in the blue of the broad shoulder. 
Like that of Appomattox, it was the surrender of utter 
exhaustion. 

They were standing two hours later in the dusk of 
the old portico. There had been a blessed, yet almost 
solemn, meeting at the bedside of the aging father, and 
all the story of that lamentable month two years earlier, 
with many a tear had been told. With the Squire and 
Elinor returned to the West there was no one to warn 
them against McKinnon, who from the very first had 
seemed to gain the guileless doctor s confidence. It 
was Chilton s childlike belief that every well-mannered 
man was a gentleman until proved otherwise, and it was 
not long before McKinnon knew all about them and all 
about Jack. It had been Rosalie s growing belief that 
her aunt must have had help, and that Squire Benton 
or his son was the helper; but at the last her father 
amazed her with the admission that he had given his 
personal note to McKinnon for money to be sent to Jack, 
and for other needs. Little by little her intuitive aver 
sion to the man had given way before his apparently 
unobtrusive courtesies. He had never hinted at such 
a thing as a quarrel with the Bentons, father or son. 
He never referred to them except guardedly until La- 
due s recapture and Jack s narrow escape. Then he 



372 THE IRON BRIGADE 

had told her aunt, to whom he had been kindness and 
helpfulness itself, that the plan was known to the Secret 
Service, that Benton and Ladue had been still in covert 
correspondence; that Ladue wished to make it appear 
that he was striving to rejoin his regiment, while in 
point of fact he planned to be again captured and con 
fined where he could escape the dangers of the battle 
field, and the expedition to capture him and Jack was 
guided by information furnished by Benton himself 
Benton, who had been under a cloud and hoped by the 
capture of Confederate officers to win his way back to 
favor. Rosalie had indignantly refused to believe at 
first ; had even had a fierce verbal affray with the major, 
who brought the Virginian, Jennings, to prove a truth 
that, as McKinnon put it, he " never thought could 
reach her ears or it should never have escaped these 
lips." An eloquent man was McKinnon, and music was 
in his voice and mischief in his soul. Benton had 
planned, he said, to capture Jack, and Jennings there 
stood ready to swear to it. Then, before she had time 
to recover herself, she had been ushered into that cosey 
parlor, and had come face to face with the man who filled 
her thoughts. It all looked like design on his part, and 
in her wrath and doubt and bitter trouble, she had 
hurled her accusation and fled. But, long before La- 
due s visit to Charlottesville, she had begun to suspect 
both McKinnon and Jennings. After his coming she 
had known no moment of peace, yet, how could she 
write or tell him whom she had so outraged? Of what 



SURRENDER 373 

use was it? He would forget it and her in course of 
time 

" Does this look like it? " asked Benton. 

They were standing by the open doorway. She had 
brought down to him the beautiful sash he had left with 
her when he rode away, for this very night he must re 
turn to Gordonsville and join his chief for the morning s 
march. Meantime he had been winding it about her, 
the silken folds clinging to the dainty white dimity, and 
now, having thrown the tasseled ends over his arm, had 
seized her soft hands and was looking down fondly, won- 
deringly, in that almost unrealizing, unbelieving bliss of 
newly requited love. 

" Does this look like it that for two years I should 
have been making every effort to reach you, only to 
be stormed at as if I had sinned past pardon in hav 
ing clasped you here ? " and raising her little hands 
he held them firmly upon his breast, the creamy white 
upon the dusky blue. Then, one hand being quite big 
enough for that purpose, he stole his right arm round 
her and drew her closer. The sound of slow, meas 
ured footfalls and soft voices could be faintly heard 
along the shaded street. Some of her coterie were 
surely coming to scout the approaches if not actually 
to seek the presence of their erstwhile queen. Not 
that they would interrupt for worlds ! They only wished 
to see. And through the summerlike stillness of the 
night, afar down at the railway station, the sputtering 
hiss of steam told that the iron horse was waiting im- 



374 THE IRON BRIGADE 

patient for the start. " It may be weeks before I can 
hope to reach you again," he murmured, "and isn t 
that Georgia Scott s voice ? " A swift upward glance of 
the soft, dark eyes said yes, and though for an instant 
they fell again, it was but for an instant ; there was 
something so compelling in the glow of his. 

" Then " said he, speaking and bending lower. 

" Then what ? " she murmured, persistingly insistent 
on being told, though her head drooped again. 

" Then it s time for some token of surrender, is it 
not ? " And now, loosing the little hands, leaving them 
self-clasping on his breast, he wound the other arm 
about and drew her closer still. 

" I don t quite " she dimpled, her soft cheek sink 
ing on her own hands, her tiny ear catching the loud 
beating of his heart, a vagrant tress fluttering in the 
breath from her parted lips. 

" You do, I think," he answered, half smiling. 
" When a soldier surrenders he gives up his sword. 
When a girl surrenders she should give up her lips," 
and holding her more firmly, he bent yet lower, seeking 
with wordless eagerness the sweet symbol that he 
craved. But she nestled closer still where he could not 
see her glowing face, and the answer camej half stifled, 
after a moment of shy silence : 

" You re not magnanimous like your commander. 
He would not touch the sword of General Lee." 

"I see!" and this very slowly, " and you prefer 
that I should be like General Grant?" 



SURRENDER 375 

No answer, verbal at least. Even queens are women 
and would be wooed. He should be made to know this, 
even when both heart and lips said yield. But the fates 
were against her. Silvery laughter and soft voices 
sounded close at hand now. Ah, some were happy, 
even in the shadow of the great surrender, since there 
were still loved ones left for the sweet home-coming. 

" It is Georgia," whispered Benton, " and, as I live, 
Kate Falconer! They ll be here in a minute and I ll 
be gone. Rosalie, do you remember that night three 
years ago when you said now or never ? " 

One moment of fluttering heartbeat of latent, 
still smouldering rebellion, then at last surrender. 
Slowly and with down-cast eyes the queenly head was 
raised. One swift look into his glowing face, and the 
white arms stole about his neck ; the rosy mouth uplifted 
and, meeting the fervent pressure of those bearded, 
eager lips, in its own sweet way, gave answer. 



LENVOI 

Three years later, in the early spring of 68, we were 
steaming back through Mississippi Sound, en route for 
New Orleans by way of the Rigolets. It was an exquisite 
morning, and the land breeze was laden with the fra 
grance of the magnolias and soft with the balsam of the 
Southern pine. The steamer darted swiftly through the 
placid blue waters, bearing among other passengers a 
little party of officers and ladies, returning from a brief 



376 THE IRON BRIGADE 

visit to Mobile. Carver was there, captain and brevet 
lieutenant-colonel in the regular service, and still with 
Hancock, who was then commanding the Department 
of the Gulf. Benton was there, holding like rank with 
his old friend of the staff; and with Benton, seated on 
the upper deck, was Rosalie, looking fondly into his 
face at times, then again, with earnest interest, on an 
other pair, talking in low tone together at the bows. It 
had been a solemn pilgrimage, this mission to Mobile. 
They had gone thither to lay away all that was mortal 
of Paul Ladue, transferred from the rocky banks of the 
little stream in far-away Pennsylvania to the shady nook 
where, all night long in the moonlight, the mocking bird 
sang in this land of his boyhood and his devoted love. 
Gathered about his final resting place were few indeed 
of his kith and kin, but the tempered sunshine fell on 
fair women and brave men of both North and South 
the blue and the gray all enmity stilled, please God, 
forever. And of those who stood with tear-dimmed 
eyes, as a bugler of the old Eleventh Alabama sounded 
the soldier s lullaby over the fresh-heaped mound, Eli 
nor Benton had laid a little spray of lilies of the valley 
on the lowering casket. It was a gray-sleeved arm, for 
the old uniform was seen on one or two veterans, that 
drew her gently away and led her, bowed and reverent, 
from the burial of her earliest love. It was the same 
arm on which she was leaning now, as she stood gazing 
down upon the dancing waters under the forefoot, and 
it was on these two, Elinor and brother Jack, that 



SURRENDER 377 

Queen Rosalie looked with brimming eyes ; then, ques 
tioning, up into her stalwart husband s face. 

But for whom did not Queen Rosalie scheme and 
plan? Was it not she who, when the Pelhams had to 
part with old Pyramus, sold a precious ring to buy him ? 
Was it not she who found place after place among the 
officers for young Pomp, well nigh spoiled in the ex 
altation of being his own master ? Was it not she who 
pleaded for Hector, faithful to her husband through 
many scenes, yet sometimes lax in duty through the 
fascinations of New Orleans? The old home at Char- 
lottesville had gone to other hands after the doctor s 
peaceful death in 66. Jack had previously settled down 
to hard work in New Orleans and, like many another 
manful young Southron, was winning his own way in 
the paths of peace. Life seemed vested with new inter 
est to him, however, since the coming, early in the win 
ter, of Aunt Elinor to stand sponsor on a very interest 
ing occasion, and if Rosalie Benton had a wish still 
ungratified it was one that bade fair soon to be num 
bered with others of the past. Her soldier Fred was 
proud and happy in his profession, a success, despite all 
prophesies of Stanton to the contrary and all pleadings 
of the Squire to quit and learn the law. Her baby boy 
had no peer in army circles in the South. Her brother, 
after one serious illness during the yellow fever the pre 
vious autumn, was in the best of health and the height 
of hope and spirits. Always a frequent visitor at their 
bright army home at the old barracks, he had become 



378 THE IRON BRIGADE 

practically a day boarder, as he expressed it, since the 
advent of Aunt Elinor. The war, that left its scars on 
so many a soldier frame, seemed to have bequeathed no 
bitterness to the men who battled in the field. They 
that fought so manfully in the smoke-shrouded ranks, 
either blue or gray, had no stomach for the post-bellum 
warfare waged in Congress and convention by unter- 
rified orators of the McKinnon type men so seldom 
heard of on the fighting line that only when the war was 
over did we begin to realize the valorous zeal that 
burned unquenchable in their breasts. McKinnon had 
gone no more to the old home city. He scored bril 
liantly a while in Georgia after the war, prominent in 
the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees and Abandoned 
Lands, then went to Congress on the carpet-bag 
ticket, but only for a term. We heard of him in Mexico 
in 69, head of some colonization scheme that soon 
dwindled into smoke, then lost track of him entirely. 

As for the old brigade, the few remaining forms are 
bent ; the beards are thinned and grizzled ; the old and 
honored leaders have almost all been gathered to their 
fathers; only one or two of those that, rising with it, 
won and wore the star of command, still move and 
have their being. But as year follows year, the few 
survivors gather to tell again the tales of Gainesville, 
Gettsyburg and the awful Wilderness, and to crown with 
love and loyalty the names of those that made them and 
led and lived with them through all that heroic struggle 
for national life, there rings ever a sentiment second 



SURRENDER 379 

only to the faith and fealty they owe the Flag : Bound 
less is their belief in the men that wore the blue ; bound 
less, also, is their soldier admiration for the men that 
wore the gray. 



THE END