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Full text of "Trials of a staff-officer"

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TRIALS 



OF 



A STAFF-OFFICER. 



BY 

CAPT. CHARLES KING, 

AUTHOR OF "the COLONEL'S DAUGHTER," ETC. 



PHILADELPHIA: 

L. R. HAMERSLY & CO. 
1 89 I. 



Copyright, 1891, by L. R. Hamersly & Co. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

The Adjutant ii 

The Ordnance Officer 34 

At West Point 61 

The Telephone as an Adjunct to the National Guard . . 113 

Militia Inspections 132 

Militia Camps of Instruction 147 

Sham Battles 161 

The Advantages of One's Own Workshop 180 

How we elected the Mayor of Oglethorp 198 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/trialsofstaffoffOOking 



PREFACE. 



Odd experiences fall to the lot of every soldier. Even 
the subaltern who has spent the quarter of a century 
since the great surrender in plodding around after a 
platoon — and such has been the stagnation of promotion 
that the case is by no means imaginary — can tell of 
queer times in the reconstruction days; of cheerful badi- 
nage with mobs of women in the Brooklyn " Whisky 
War" when the troops were sent down to help the mar- 
shals break up illicit distilleries ; of rural hospitalities 
as they tramped through Pennsylvania during the big 
strike of '77; of perilous days on the Indian frontier; 
even of out-of-the-way sensations in out-of-the-way gar- 
risons; but, take it all in all, a junior in the line is apt 
to find life more or less monotonous. To break this he 
might well be tempted to try other duty ; but it is cer- 
tain that, were it all to be done over again with the view 
of seeking the path wherein life might be most placidly 
enjoyed, nothing Would tempt the present writer to quit 
the shelter of his tactical two yards from the rear rank 
for any staff position, unaccompanied by rank and emol- 
ument, the army could offer. Indeed, but for certain 
experiences gained, characters encountered, and scenes 
visited, " Mr. X." would be inclined to think he had made 
a big mistake in ever allowing himself to be assigned to 
other than troop duty, and nothing but the fact that he 
had been mercifully endowed with the faculty of seeing 



6 PREFACE, 

the humorous side of a scrape enabled him to get through 
some of those hereinafter referred to without an attack of 
nervous prostration. That he escaped that blow entirely 
is due to the consummate good luck which enabled him 
to steer clear of the one military maelstrom which would 
have swamped him utterly: He never had to be post 
quartermaster; though the mere fact of his having been 
ordered to temporarily take charge of the office of a sick 
comrade nearly resulted in his being proclaimed a felon. 
The trouble now is that, on looking over these 
sketches, — many of them written years ago, — Mr. X. is 
confronted with the fact that they fall far short of making 
those old-time " Trials" half as whimsical as they seem 
to him. With the best intentions in the world, and a 
readiness to undertake any duty or responsibility his 
superiors might unload on him, it must be seen that his 
capacity for getting into snarls and tangles was simply 
illimitable. The smallest item of rashness was cock- 
sure to develop into a mammoth of consequences when 
least expected. Who could have predicted that, when 
the judge-advocate of the court signed the memorandum 
receipt for stationery handed him by" the quartermaster's 
clerk at Jackson Barracks in '72, he was bringing upon 
himself a direful communication to reach him two years 
later when he lay wounded and helpless in far-away Ari- 
zona, and to say that his pay would be stopped if he did 
not immediately proceed to account for the following 
quartermaster's property, for which he was responsible, 
— to wit : 

One Inkstand. 

Mr. X. remembered that inkstand well. He had been 
the aide-de-camp who overhauled some of the bids for 



PREFACE. 7 

Stationery, and this particular inkstand was a blown-glass 
affair, about one inch in height, one and one-half inches 
across the base, and of a capacity of perhaps one-quarter 
thimble. They were furnished at a price of something 
in the neighborhood of six cents a gross, and were such 
a nuisance that the post quartermaster had determined 
to get rid of them at all hazards. So he unloaded one 
or more on every board or court that met at the barracks, 
and dropped the same number from his papers. Here, 
of course, is where the trouble comes in. One can " ex- 
pend" pens, ink, paper, etc., but cannot so get rid of what 
is only an inkstand in name. That must be taken up on 
regular papers and accounted for monthly, — at least it 
had to be in '72-74. The fact that this particular ink- 
stand was expended before the court was sworn — at the 
expense of a vagrant cat on a neighboring wall — has no 
bearing on the case. Mr. X. never thought of the brittle 
little box as a factor of possible magnitude in his future, 
but it seems the Quartermaster's Department at Wash- 
ington got riled at him for not making out a dollar's 
worth of papers for a mill's worth of goods, — thought 
him recalcitrant when he wasn't thinking of that business 
at all, but chasing Apaches for all he was worth, and so 
in his hour of need the blow fell. Fortunately there 
was a department commander to interpose betwixt him 
and the deluge. 

And then, talking of department commanders, who 
would have supposed that, when the genial and kindly 
chief of the Missouri, one stormy March morning in ''j6, 
absolutely forbade Mr. X.'s attempting to proceed from 
head-quarters to a Western post with his wife and child, 
and declared, " Never mind your leave expiring to- 



8 PREFACE. 

morrow ; we'll fix that here," that Mr. X. was piling up 
trouble again? We got to Riley a day late. Four 
months afterwards, X. and his regiment — cut off from 
all communication — were far up on the Rosebud, in 
Montana. For two weeks he had had no news from the 
dear ones at the distant Kansas post : the last news was 
bad. His heart was full of anxiety, yet leaped with 
eagerness when the word was passed that Jack Crawford, 
" the Poet Scout," had made a daring ride of it all by 
himself, had come out from Fetterman to join our scouts, 
and had brought the mail. " Anything for me, Jack ?" 
pleaded X., breaking in upon the group of letter-reading 
officers. " Yes ! One !" An official letter, big and por- 
tentous. An announcement that, for absence without 
leave for one day, Mr. X.'s pay would be stopped accord- 
ingly. Only this and nothing more. No telegram, no 
backward mail, — no consideration for the fellows cut off 
in the Indian country. Nothing to do but grin and bear 
it, and swear until the campaign was well-nigh over. 

Then X. got reported absent without leave, and had his 
pay stopped while actually traveling on duty with the 
general to whom he had been assigned as aide-de-camp. 
He had to go down in his pockets and pay for a raft of 
signal property he had never seen nor heard of, because 
he was ass enough to receipt to a fellow up in the Black 
Hills, who subsequently wrote that the names given some 
of the items were wrong, and he begged to submit the 
proper names. X. took up the "proper names" on his 
papers, and confidingly wrote to the chief signal officer of 
the mistake and said he would drop the old names from 
his return. The chief signal officer (as represented by the 
lamented Howgate) responded forthwith that there could 



PREFACE. 9 

be no possible objection to Mr. X.'s taking up the new 
names ; indeed, he would be expected to ; but as to drop- 
ping the old ones, he would do nothing of the kind — nor 
did he — until paid for. 

And then there was that matter of But here! 

The next thing Mr. X. knows he will be telling what is 
is in the pages that follow, to which the soldier reader — 
no one else could wade through them — is respectfully 
referred. 



TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 



THE ADJUTANT. 

Just when our staff duties began is perhaps a mat- 
ter of no importance. Major Sanger's comprehensive 
essay on " The Duties of Staff-Officers" had not then 
been written, but we had known that accomplished 
officer when he himself was adjutant, and had unhesi- 
tatingly adopted his system as one worthy of imitation. 
That was a great many years ago ; orders, regulations, 
customs of service, and the tactics of the three arms 
have undergone important changes ; but so long as 
human nature remains as it is and has been since crea- 
tion, so long will there be mistakes in the best-regulated 
families and stumbling-blocks for the most level-headed 
officials, civil or military. 

In the course of ten years it was our luck to encounter 
experiences varied if not valuable. We had been adju- 
tant for a dozen different C. O.'s in every section of the 
country; aide-de-camp to more than one pair of stars ; 
had acted as head of all kinds of bureaus, as adjutant 
and inspector-general, engineer, judge-advocate, military 
secretary, ordnance and signal officer, quartermaster, 
commissary, even as chaplain and surgeon, and with the 
profound conviction that our own shortcomings were 
many, there is grafted in our inner consciousness the be- 
lief that were a man possessed of the energy and snap 



12 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

of Sanger himself, the " paper knowledge" of Leonard 
Hay, the legal acumen of Gardner, the patience of Wil- 
helm, the reticence of Horace Porter, the energy of 
Nickerson, the courtesy of Audenreid, the buried pen 
of " Perfect" Bliss, and the imperturbability of " Bob" 
Williams, yet would he find at some time or other a com- 
bination of circumstances against which no experience 
could make him armor-proof, and of which the linesman 
pur et simple has no conception whatsoever. 

We all know what the adjutant should be, — a soldier 
in everything, in carriage, form, voice, and manner, the 
soul of parade and guard-mounting, the reliable authority 
on tactics and regulations, the patient student of general 
orders, the rigid scrutinizer of returns and rolls, the 
scholarly man of the subalterns, the faithful adherent 
and executive in spirit and in letter of the commanding 
officer. We all know how easy it is to formulate rules 
and regulations for his guidance on all matters of duty 
and routine in garrison, — we all know just what day the 
regimental return should reach Washington, the post 
return department head-quarters, the company papers the 
adjutant's office, but until we have tried to "run" the 
head-quarters of a frontier post and of a cavalry regiment 
in the heart of the Indian country, and the height of 
Indian campaigning, we have not, and Sanger had not, 
the faintest conception of the trials of staff-officers as 
exemplified in the case of the adjutant. 

Fancy, if you can, a regiment Situated just as we were 
on the 1st day of June, 187- Six of the twelve compa- 
nies scouting about on the Southern plains, the other six 
waiting for their turn, the colonel and adjutant off on 
leave, the lieutenant-colonel and quartermaster "running 



THE ADJUTANT. 1 3 

the regiment," and all of a sudden a big Indian war 
breaks out far to the north, and head-quarters with ten 
companies are hurried off to re-enforce another depart- 
ment, and from that day to the 15th of November not a 
glimpse do we catch of desks or papers. Colonel, adju- 
tant, and everybody is in the field in active pursuit of a 
still more active foe, and not a return has been made in 
all those months. Winter setting in, we are ordered to 
a post near the railway, and the colonel hands the adju- 
tant a bundle of letters, all harping upon the same string. 
The adjutant-general of the army informs the com- 
manding officer, in the final communication of his series, 
that the returns of the regiment for the months of May, 
June, July, August, September, etc., have not been re- 
ceived. " Your attention has been repeatedly called to 
the neglect," etc. (We got them in a bunch at the end 
of the campaign, but, being happily cut off from all mail 
communication during the summer, were spared the con- 
secutive infliction of letter after letter at the time.) " You 
will at once render the required returns, with such expla- 
nation as you may be able to give," etc. And with the 
official expression of the proper amount of astonishment 
and indignation at such apparent disregard of instruc- 
tions, the adjutant-general winds up with the customary 
information that he is the obedient servant of the colonel 
whom he has been flagellating. 

Opening the next series, we find a similar array of 
monthly remonstrances from the adjutant-general of 
the department from which we were sent in June. " For 

temporary service in the Department of the " was 

the language of the order by which we were hurried 
away, and though every vestige of the regiment is now 



14 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

far removed from his jurisdiction, the commanding offi- 
cer of our former field is jealously tenacious of his rights 
over us, and he too demands reports and returns, ex- 
presses his censure of our negligence in fitting terms, 
and, being debarred from remonstrating with our new 
department commander for our illegal detention, now 
that the war is over, takes it out in rasping our colonel. 

Then the adjutant-general of the Department of the 
, whom we have been " re-enforcing," takes his in- 
nings, and though one would suppose that his knowledge 
of our long isolation among the hostiles and separation 
from all baggage would prompt him to consideration, he 
bowls us over as remorselessly as the others. 

Finally, the adjutant-general of the division delivers 
his fire,, and to all appearances it would seem as though 
not the faintest realization of our actual condition had 
been vouchsafed to any one of these amiable autocrats, 
but that from the hazy distance of Washington or Chi- 
cago, through fragrant clouds of Havana smoke, from 
the sitting-point of easy office-chairs, those gentlemen, 
gazing dreamily over roof and spire, beheld us in unin- 
terrupted possession of our desks and retained papers, 
and with certainly nothing better to do than make out 
new ones. We haven't had time to unpack an inkstand ; 
the mud of the Yellowstone is clinging to our horses' 
fetlocks ; but the colonel unloads a trunkful of papers, 
and, with a brisk, " There, Mr. X., get all this straightened 
out as quick as possible," goes off to set his own house 
in order, and when he reappears it is with a draft of an 
order showing what he means to do towards straighten 
ing out the regiment. There is no question but that it 
needs it. For years past it has been little else than an 



THE ADJUTANT. 1$ 

agglomeration of companies ; every captain has run his 
machine to suit himself; no two company commanders 
adopted the same system ; drills, except by company 
mounted, were unknown ; and of the forms of parade, 
the intricacies of battalion movements, the nicer " points" 
of sentinel duty, the command was in absolute ignorance. 
Four hundred recruits had joined, and the confusion was 
chaotic ; but we had a new colonel, he had a new adjutant, 
both meant business, and the grind began. 

Reveille, 5.30 A.M. Breakfast immediately after. Stables, 
6 A.M. Sick-call and fatigue, 7.30. Boots and saddles for 
morning parade, 8 a.m. (mounted and in full dress). 
Adjutant's call, 8.20. Guard-mounting (mounted) imme- 
diately after parade. Drill-call (battalion drill, mounted), 
10.15. Recall, 11.45. Dinner, 12 m. Squad drill of 
recruits, 1.15 to 2.15 p.m. Company drill (dismounted), 
2.30 to 3.30 P.M. Stables, 4 to 5.15. Retreat and evening 
dress-parade (dismounted), sunset. Recitations of officers, 
Monday evening ; of non-commissioned officers, Tues- 
days and Fridays. Tattoo, 9 p.m. 

Now, the colonel meant to have things vigorously car- 
ried out, and started in himself by receiving the reveille 
reports in person, one officer superintending the roll-call 
of each company, and the adjutant that of the band 
and non-commissioned staff. Then everybody — colonel, 
major, adjutant, quartermaster, and band — went to stables 
morning and evening ; and it may be stated that there 
was some growling among the company officers at least, 
arising from the fact that their unoccupied hours were 
few. But we are portraying experiences in the adjutant's 
duties merely, and therefore return to him. 

The duties of this functionary outside of his office 



1 6 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

began at first call for reveille, when he sleepily arose 
and arrayed himself in stable-dress; made his way 
through the darkness to the band-quarters, some four 
hundred yards away; watched the roll-call of his " wind- 
jammers ;" then hunted up the colonel on parade, reported 
to him, and between reveille and stables had time to 
swallow a cup of coffee, and then see to it that the 
orderly trumpeter sounded stable-call sharp on time. It 
happened once or twice that those graceless young imps, 
the regimental trumpeters, would delay the call to give 
the men or themselves more time at breakfast, and the 
colonel ruled that the adjutant was responsible. Some- 
body had to be, and why not the adjutant ? 

From his office then the adjutant tramped down to the 
stables in the creek valley, six hundred yards away, and 
gave his attention to the grooming of his thirty-odd 
elderly grays, the " mount" of the musicians and non-com- 
missioned staff, and on completion of this duty he returned 
to the office in time to see sick-call sounded, start the 
clerks at their work, then hurry to his quarters for the 
change from his strongly-scented stable-rig to bath, then 
full-dress uniform, and his own breakfast before the sound 
of " boots and saddles" at eight should summon him to 
the saddle. Morning parade over, all other officers except 
the old and new officers of the day had time to get home 
and throw off helmet and double-breasted coats ; the 
adjutant, however, had to hold on for a long guard- 
mounting and a passage in review at walk and trot before 
he could do likewise. It was generally 9.15 to 9.30 
before ceremonies were over ; then he had barely time to 
change to "undress," rush to the office, and find his desk 
loaded down with papers of every kind, when drill-call 



THE ADJUTANT. 1/ 

would sound, and from then until noon he and his horse 
would be in a lather in the rapid movements required of 
them at battalion drill. From i to 2 he, with most of 
the other officers, had to attend recruit drill ; and, pro- 
vided he was willing to give up all idea of lunch or din- 
ner, the hours unoccupied by out-door duties in which he 
could hope to straighten out those papers were from 2 to 
4 P.M., at which latter hour he was again summoned to 
stable. 

With seven months' returns of every kind in arrears, 
with his desk littered with the routine papers of the day, 
with more than two hours' work in getting the morning 
reports, sick reports, ration returns, and requisitions for 
forage, straw, salt, etc., to fit into one another; with all 
the passes, applications for boards of survey, extra duty 
men, hospital cooks and attendants, fatigue details, letters 
to officers requiring explanation why, etc., endorsements 
on a hundred different papers, company returns to be 
scrutinized, colonel's letters to head-quarters of the de- 
partment, and the adjutant-general's orders, details, 
countersigns, etc., etc., the adjutant had far more than 
enough to fill every moment of those two hours without 
that hideous incubus of seven months' papers in arrears. 
The first thing that occurred to him was to ask the colonel 
for more clerks, — he only had three ; the last thing that 
occurred to him was to ask the colonel for more time. 
If the truth be told, the adjutant was as intent on the 
" setting up" of the six companies on duty at head- 
quarters as was the colonel himself, and thought papers 
a somewhat secondary consideration to getting the men 
(and officers) up to a thorough tactical proficiency ; he 
did not want to be excused from a single military duty. 
b 2* 



1 8 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

It was gall and wormwood to his soul to mark the 
slouchy carriage of the men, their clumsy salute, and 
the utter lack of steadiness in their ranks. It was ex- 
asperating to see the blunders of the non-commissioned 
officers for the first week of guard-mounting, and with 
all- his might he started in to straighten things out. His 
theory was, that in order to get the men up to the stand- 
ard the non-commissioned officers must be thoroughly 
instructed, but the colonel held the captains responsible 
for this, and, as bad luck would have it, every captain 
had individual ideas of his own to instil into the minds 
of his sergeants, as a consequence of which six totally 
different systems prevailed ; each captain thought his the 
best, and was fiercely jealous of anything that savored 
of interference. 

The colonel required weekly reports from his company 
commanders of the proficiency of their non-commis- 
sioned officers, and established a system of marks by 
which he could judge of their relative merit. This 
seemed all right to the one West Pointer among the cap- 
tains, was looked upon as a nuisance by some of the 
others, and absolutely denounced by one of the very best 
company commanders in the regiment, on the ground 
that " it reflected on the intelligence and faithfulness of 
the captain to require a report from him." It was simply 
marvelous to see into how many meanings the simple 
language of the tactics could be distorted, and how ob- 
stinately the adherent of each particular interpretation 
maintained the correctness of his theory. The recita- 
tions of the officers to the colonel had developed the 
fact that, as a rule, the higher the rank the less the 
knowledge of the subject ; but then, as Captain Canker 



THE ADJUTANT. I9 

remarked, " These West Pointers retain their school-boy 
habits, while we men who were educated in the school 
of war itself are not accustomed to this sort of nursery 
talk." And, as for the men, it may be said that in the 
saddle they didn't do badly, but when it came to foot- 
parades, guard-mounts and the like, " It was d d 

dough-boy work, and they hadn't 'listed in the cavalry 
for such." However, the colonel was bound to have 
dismounted parades, and the adjutant was bound to help 
him. It was ordered that for dismounted duty the sabre 
should not be worn, and the command should appear 
armed with the carbine alone. 

The first evening dress-parade was as chock-full of 
errors as it could well be. Nothing could induce the 
guides to quit their positions in ranks and come out on 
the line. Captains Canker and Curbit in the right wing 
looked daggers at the adjutant (who finally had to drag 
the bewildered first sergeants where they belonged), then 
dressed their companies to the wrong flank. Captain 
Hunger faced along the line instead of to the front as he 
aligned his men (and never could be brought to do it 
any other way afterwards), and Captain Snaffle savagely 
ordered a marker to " get out of the way of his com- 
pany," to the great perplexity of that functionary, who 
had been ordered by the adjutant not to budge until 
the command " guides posts !" In opening ranks. Cap- 
tain Canker, whose company was on the extreme right, 
almost refused to dress up on line with his lieutenant, 
who commanded the first platoon, and was heard ex- 
pressing deep indignation at the idea of a lieutenant, 
if he was adjutant, being permitted to give orders on 
parade to his superior officers. The "present arms" 



20 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

was fair, except that only half the officers (the younger 
half) executed the first motion at the command, " Pre- 
sent!" The manual was worried through after a fashion, 
and then the adjutant came marching in to receive 
the reports. As he glanced along the line to see 
what the first sergeants looked like, he was struck by 
the variety. The first sergeant of the first company, 
armed with the carbine, was standing at an order on the 
extreme right ; the second company's sergeant, armed 
with a sabre, was standing at a carry; the third com- 
pany's sergeant was resting the point of his sabre on the 
ground, like the officers; fourth company, sabre at a 
carry ; fifth company, sabre point down ; sixth company, 
sabre point up. The adjutant made mental note of it 
and of the intricacies that followed. At the command 
" First sergeants r one of the down-pointed sabres came 
up, but the others and the carbine on the right remained 
immovable. At ''To the front and centre/" five of the 
sergeants stepped to the front, some one, some two yards, 
but the man on the right held his ground. In response 
to a sharp " What are you waiting for, sergeant of first 
company?" from the adjutant, he shambled out (and sub- 
sequently explained that he was waiting for the com- 
mand " March !"), but so perturbed in spirit that he forgot 
the result of the company roll-call. At ''Report.'" the 
six officials expressed themselves as follows : 
" Company ' O,' present or accounted for. Sir'' 
" Company ' R,' all present or accounted for." 
^' ' T' company, present or accounted for, Sir." 
" ' U' company, all present, Sir." 
" Sir ! two privates are absent." 
" * X' company, all are present, sir." 



THE ADJUTANT. 21 

Not one of them had hit on the right form. 

At " First sergeants to your posts /" every blessed one 
of those sergeants faced outwards, and when they finally 
retook their positions in line two of them did so by turn- 
ing round and backing into position, one by facing to 
the left about, and only two by marching through their 
interval to the required yard and then executing the 
about face. 

And yet that night, when the colonel announced at 
officers' recitation that the adjutant had criticisms to 
make at the expense of all the first sergeants, four of the 
captains were ready to bet that theirs had made no mis- 
take, and the junior captain announced that he had spent 
an hour instructing his sergeant that day, and knew his 
couldn't have gone wrong. 

The adjutant, being given the floor, proceeded to state 
his case, but it was a characteristic of officers' recitation 
in the — tli that no man was allowed to express his views 
uninterrupted. There were always six or eight who burst 
into the most carefully-prepared opinion and complicated 
affairs to the uttermost ; consequently, long before the 
discussion which ensued on the very first issue was 
half over, tattoo sounded and the convention adjourned 
without decision, but the adjutant's "points" were 
these : 

1st. The men being armed with the carbine, the first 
sergeants should have been similarly equipped. The 
tactics clearly indicate such intention in paragraph 1129 
(dress-parade, dismounted). Here the captains to a man 
opposed him. No cavalry first sergeant was ever intended 
to carry a carbine, and the eventual decision of the colonel 
sustained the captains. In all subsequent parades of the 



22 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

— th the first sergeants marched with drawn sabre on the 
right of a line of carbines* 

2d. No first sergeant should drop the point of his sabre 
at "Order arms!" only officers and non-commissioned 
staff-officers being mentioned in paragraph 1075. 

3d. At " To the front and centre!" all first sergeants 
should step two yards to front and face to centre. 

4th. At ''Report!" nothing but the language of the tac- 
tics, and exactly that, should be employed, as, for instance : 

" Company ' A' present, or accounted for." Or, 

" Company ' A,' two privates absent." 

(" Well, that's just what Sergeants Finnegan, Bran- 
nigan, O'Grady, etc., said," was here heard from several 
company commanders.) 

5 th. At " To your posts !" not a man should stir, but wait 
for " March !" before facing outwards. Captains Curbit 
and Munger thought such tactics simply ridiculous. If 
the sergeants were not to move until "March !" returning 
to their posts, they should not budge until "March !", 
when coming to the front. and centre. The adjutant 
retorted with some asperity that he was not there to 
defend the tactics, — no man suffered more on their 
account than he did, — but he proposed to carry them out 
to the letter, whether nonsensical or not. Here Captain 
Snaffle sailed into the adjutant with, " You talk about 
sticking to tactics, and yesterday morning, by Jinks ! you 
* mounted' my best sergeant for not facing his platoon 
when wheeling marching in review at guard-mounting!" 

" Of course I did," says the adjutant. " We've ham- 
mered that point flat long ago. Look at paragraph 278, 
' Cavalry Tactics.' " 

* Eventually changed "by order." 



THE ADJUTANT. 23 

" I don't care," says Snaffle. " General Coach decided 
that sergeants should not face their platoons, and they 
were all drilled so until you became adjutant." 

" True enough ; but the colonel, not the lieutenant- 
colonel, commands us now, and that isn't the only point 
changed by the pageful." 

Then another captain concludes it time to give Aw dig. 
He and the adjutant have been pretty close friends, but 
it is a case of company commanders vs. the staff, and 
though in his innermost heart he agrees with the latter on 
all points thus far, he sees that the adjutant stands alone, 
and so has the political sense to join the heavy majority. 

" Well, ril tell you what you do in violation of tactics 
X. : you march the guard in review at undress guard- 
mounting." 

(Chorus of captains : " Yes, I was just going to speak 
of that," etc.) 

To which the sorely-assailed exponent of the modern 
customs of service responds that in the first place the 
adjutant is apt to do pretty much as the officer of the day 
directs in the matter of marching in review, but, to come 
down to a matter of fact, there had not been an undress 
guard-mounting since their arrival. 

" Mr. X.," says the captain, oracularly, " it has been 
undress guard-mounting every day this week." 

The adjutant begins to see the drift of his argument, 
so he questions, — 

" The weather has been bright and clear, has it not ?" 

" Granted." 

" We have had the band out every day, and it has 
played for everything, including a long inspection and 
' troop,' has it not ?" 



24 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" Very true." 

" The officer of the day directed the guard to be marched 
in review, didn't he ?" 

" Probably." 

"Then how was it undress guard-mounting, and why 
shouldn't we march in review?" 

" Because the men ivore overcoats /" 

Somehow or other in the dead silence that follows this 
announcement the captain becomes conscious of the fact 
that the donning of a winter uniform in these high lati- 
tudes does not necessarily prohibit the observance of the 
forms and ceremonies included in the tactics, and adds, — 

" At least, that's always been my idea of undress 
guard-mounting." 

But the snickering of some of the juniors and the 
ominous silence of his adherents of the moment before 
induce the captain to believe he had put his foot in it. 

Finally, it was decided by the colonel that in order to 
insure a thorough and uniform system of instruction of 
the non-commissioned officers on all " points" in the cere- 
monies, duties of guards, sentinels, and the like, the non- 
commissioned officers of the garrison should assemble 
one night a week and be " lectured" by the adjutant, who 
would decide all questions on which there might be a 
variance of opinion and instruction among the men. 
This proved a success. Within a fortnight the parades 
and guard-mountings, so far as the sergeants and cor- 
porals were concerned, went off without a flaw. It is 
true that there was deep-rooted and openly-expressed 
objection on the part of several of the company com- 
manders, who appeared to regard their sergeants as a 
species of personal property over whom no one else 



THE ADJUTANT. 2$ 

ought to have any jurisdiction ; and some of them went 
so far as to declare that they could have nothing more to 
do with the recitations of their men if such interference 
was to be tolerated ; but one of the most uncompro- 
misingly jealous of these gentlemen, having availed 
himself of the colonel's hint that he would be glad to 
have any of the officers visit the adjutant's school, and 
having sat a silent but deeply-interested listener to all 
that transpired through two evenings, fairly took the 
adjutant's breath away by accosting him with — 

" I've been a determined opposer of yours, X., in all 
this matter, but I say to you that this ends my last ob- 
jection. It's a capital thing, and I shall take occasion 
to say to every other company commander what I think 
of it." 

And he did, and, whether owing to this fact or not, 
things began to work smoothly. There was always a 
crowd to see guard-mounting, and eager, critical eyes to 
watch those six details as they came dancing out in 
double time. The utmost pride began to be manifested 
by the non-commissioned officers in the sharp, soldierly 
style in which the ceremony was conducted, and from 
the moment the call sounded to the last notes of the 
band after marching in review the strongest rivalry was 
visible between the companies, and almost every bright 
morning the chevron-wearers of the garrison, to a man, 
could be seen grouped about the barrack side of the 
parade closely watching every move and fiercely anathe- 
matizing the faintest display of awkwardness on the part 
of their comrades. 

■^•Finally, our guard-mounting began to be a source of 
pride to everybody, and visiting officers were always 
B 3 



26 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

hauled out to see it. Occasionally there would be some 
" soi-disanf authority on tactics from another post who 
had to have his say if he belonged to the regiment ; and 
as the adjutant never had an instant of time to devote to 
discussion, he generally succeeded in impressing every- 
body with the idea that he was an ill-tempered brute at 
best. 

" Say, X.," said one of these gentry one bright morning 
as the adjutant was hurrying through the knot of offi- 
cers always grouped about the office after guard-mount- 
ing, " hold on a moment ; I want to ask you something. 
Won't detain you a minute." 

" Blaze away, then, captain ; I have no spare time," 

" Well," and here the critic threw open his blouse, 
inserted his thumbs in the arm-holes of his waistcoat, 
and glanced impressively round upon the listening group, 
" what I want to remark is this : you run a very fair 
guard-mounting here, — I'll admit that; I don't know 
that I ever saw anything much better" (he had never 
seen more than a dozen files mounted in his life, and 
our guard comprised forty-eight men), — " but you don't 
have enough variety about it ; you do the same thing 
over and over again. Now, at our post," etc., etc. 

"Very probably you do introduce varieties at your 
post, captain, but where do you find them in the tactics?" 

" Well, Mr. X., you might make some little changes : 
for instance, after your guard passes the officer of the 
day it always wheels into line to the left and then ' fours 
right,' you know. Now, we make all manner of pretty 
changes there." (Chorus of " Yes, that's so. I've won- 
dered you didn't think of that.") And the critical cap- 
tain smiles patronizingly on the adjutant, who had been 



THE ADJUTANT. 27 

mounting guards long before this interrogator had 
stepped into his first commission. 

The adjutant is certainly testy and snappish : " Just 
look in your tactics, and you'll possibly be able to grasp 
the reason why we don't indulge in varieties on that 
point," and brushes past. 

Gradually they grew to let the staff alone where mat- 
ters of that description were concerned, but all the time, 
day after day, innumerable points were coming up, in 
which the universal custom was to sling metaphorical 
bricks at the adjutant, as though he were to blame. 
Who ever served at a post where the head-quarters clock 
was not the fruitful if undeserving source of half the 
lates and absences of the garrison ? What officer of the 
day who hurries out at the last moment buckling his 
waist-belt on the run does not calumniate the adjutant 
and declare he had purposely set that clock ahead ten 
minutes, when but a moment before the old officer of 
the day was swearing over guard-mounting's being ten 
minutes behind time and he was in a hurry to get to 
town ? And then the band at parade ! Even as Captain 
Curbit was assailing the adj utant after dismissal of parade 
over the slow time played in marching out, swearing 
that a three-legged stool couldn't keep step to such a 
grind, would not Captain Snafifie rush up like an explo- 
sion with " Look here, X. ! By Jinks ! there wasn't a man 
in my company could keep step marching in; it was 
fast enough for double time" ? and with the strains of the 
" Inman Line" or " Northern Route" still ringing in our 
ears, would not Canker, or some other gifted critic who 
could not tell Stabat Mater from " Taps," inquire when, 
by George ! that band was ever going to play anything 



28 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

but " Marching through Georgia" ? Was there ever an 
adjutant who did not think at some time or other that 
the meanest part of his duty was in running the band ? 
Was there ever a band that did not contain among its 
talented musicians some irreclaimable devotees to Bac- 
chus ? And, as a rule, are not the bandsmen apt to 
be the most fractious and unruly set in the garrison ? 
Music, that hath charms to soothe the savage breast, by 
some strange freak of nature develops an unhallowed 
taste for beer and a distaste for discipline among its 
chosen disciples, and rare indeed are the instances when 
the guard-house is not graced by the presence of some 
prominent instrumentalist, usually the snare-drummer. 
Yet such was our adjutant's zeal, and so thorough the 
understanding between himself and his charges, that for 
two wonderful months not a member of his band had 
been absent from roll-call or duty, not a man had been 
noticeably under the influence of liquor, and, as the colo- 
nel himself remarked, his horses were better groomed 
and cared for than those of the companies. But colonels 
cannot always be with us, and the adjutant who has 
thoroughly and faithfully served his chief finds himself 
suddenly thrown some day under the second in com- 
mand, who is rarely, if ever, thoroughly en rapport with 
the colonel. Within a week from the date of the latter's 
complimentary allusion to the discipline of the band, 
and during his temporary absence as witness before a 
court, the command devolves upon the next in rank at 
the post, and the adjutant, entering the office with his 
hands full of papers, is confronted by the sight of this 
latter functionary excitedly tramping up and down the 
room and haranguing a knot of a dozen officers in a 



THE ADJUTANT. 29 

manner suggestive of lively indignation. Suddenly the 
ad interim commander turns upon him with, — 

" Yes, sir ; and the remark applies equally to you, sir. 
Your band is utterly demoralized, by George ! — utterly 
demoralized, sir. This morning my breakfast was half an 
hour late, and, when I sent into the kitchen to hurry it up, 
there was my cook, sir, sitting on your bass-drummer's 
lap." And the senior officer glares upon the subaltern 
as though he were the medium through which the atten- 
tions of the goddess of the kitchen had been alienated 
from their proper object. Both the adjutant and the by- 
standers may and probably do consider that perhaps the 
charge of demoralization might be more aptly applied 
to the cook than the band, but they have the profound 
sagacity to keep such opinions to themselves until they 
get out of ear-shot of the office. 

But all this time those back returns still hang fire. 
Companies " P" and " R" have been hurried out on a 
midwinter's chase after the fleetest of Plain warriors, 
and are away up among the snows of the Big Horn 
Mountains. Their returns are not in, and the regi- 
mental papers cannot be finished until they are. De- 
partment and division adjutant-generals again assail us 
with mandates to furnish those papers at once. The 
adjutant writes imploringly to the captains of " P" and 
" R," and in the course of a month those gentlemen 
reply by inquiring indignantly how in the name of Jack 
Frost we expect them to make out returns with the 
thermometer thirty degrees below zero, and all papers 
three hundred miles away. " You come out here and 
catch these Cheyennes, and we'll only be too [adjec- 
tived] glad to come in there and make out papers." 

3* 



30 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

The adjutant has hunted the regiment high and low for 
more clerks, but every captain needs his own, no more 
are to had, and now the thoroughly wretched subaltern 
is sitting up until two and three in the morning working 
at those papers himself. In cheerful appreciation of his 
clerical labors a general court-martial is convened at the 
post, and the adjutant is assigned to duty as judge-advo- 
cate. Why this should be so passes all comprehension, 
but in nine out of ten cases when a court is ordered to 
meet at the head-quarters of a regiment, the discriminat- 
ing officials of the general commanding saddle the work 
of that court on the shoulders of the adjutant. It is bad 
enough in the infantry, but when it comes to the cavalry 
it is worse than imposition. 

The adjutant is getting, possibly, three or four hours 
of broken and troubled sleep now, and many a morning 
finds him dispensing with breakfast altogether. His 
three clerks are working diligently, when suddenly the 
enlistment of the first and best — the only reliable one 
among them — expires, and he takes his final statements 
and a good character with him on his way to a situa- 
tion where he can get ten times the pay for one-half the 
work. 

At last " P" and " R" return from their winter cam- 
paign, and by dint of vigorous spurring from head-quar- 
ters are induced to send in the needed returns in the 
course of a fortnight, and just as the adjutant places in 
the hands of his two remaining assistants a carefully- 
completed original of all the required papers, with instruc- 
tions to work night and day to copy them, " up comes 
an order" which sends the colonel hurrying Eastward 
to take command of troops assembling to suppress riots 



THE ADJUTANT. 3 1 

consequent on railway strikes, and the colonel directs 
the adjutant to leave all and not follow but accompany 
him on first train. The captain left in command prom- 
ises to see that the clerks work on those returns and 
mail them to the adjutant as fast as completed. In the 
course of a fortnight, as they don't come, the latter first 
writes, then telegraphs, and finally extorts a reply from 
the official pretty much as follows: 

"Dear X., — Both clerks got on a drunk soon after 
you left, and raised merry Hades. Put them in guard - 
house to sober off, and then set them to work under 
sentinel. They got the sentry drunk too, and he and 
Peck went off to town together and haven't been heard 
of since. Schmidt (the other clerk) swears he don't 
know where your ' originals' are ; says he thinks Peck 
built a fire of them when he was crazy drunk. 

" Yours, in haste, 

" CURBIT." 

The delights of civilization, the luxuries of " palatial 
hotels," the feting of grateful citizens who have wel- 
comed the Regulars right royally (as the only reliable 
protection against mob violence), are all forgotten ; the 
unhappy adjutant obtains immediate authority to hasten 
back to the frontier, and there, at head-quarters, he finds 
complete confirmation of Curbit's letter and his own 
fears. With only one clerk left, he goes drearily to work 
to repair damages ; all has to be done over again, but, 
by dint of ceaseless effort, he succeeds in the course of 
two weeks in making up most of the large array of 
missing papers. He is only two or three months be- 



32 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER, 

hind, and things are beginning to brighten, when the 
war-cloud that has been hovering over the Northwest 
for the last month spreads and gathers strength ; an 
Indian band, small but plucky, bidding defiance to the 
troops of the Pacific slope, is making a dash across the 
continent to gain a refuge among the sympathetic red 
men of the eastern plains. We have been back from 
"riot duty" just three weeks when one evening our 
colonel receives a telegram directing him to proceed by 
first train to a station in the far West, thence by stage to 
the Wind River Valley, there to organize a command to 
march to the very heart of the continent, the vicinity of 
the wild park of the Yellowstone, the entire regiment to 
follow him by rail and forced marches. The colonel 
hands it to his staff-officer with the simple remark, "You 
and I start at once," and the adjutant, eagerly welcoming 
the prospect of field-service, and almost savagely gleeful 
at the arrival of such admirable excuse for shortcomings 
in the regimental office, hurries off to make his prepara- 
tions for the ensuing campaign. 

Once again it is November before we return to head- 
quarters, desks, and papers, and once more seven 
months' returns are in arrears, once again the same 
grind commences and new complications arise. But, 
Merciful Powers ! the pages of the United Service are all 
too limited for the recital of half the features, exasperat- 
ing or comical, that go to make up the experiences of 
the adjutant of a cavalry regiment on the "frontier," 
Looking over Sanger's " Duties of Staff-Officers," and 
accepting as gospel truth his theories, drifting back over 
the tide of time to boyish days in the seaboard case- 
mate, where we youngsters were wont to hear him ex- 



THE ADJUTANT. 33 

pound on military duties generally, recalling the hopes 
and ambitions in his case so fully realized, we find our- 
selves wondering, /«r excmple, just what he would have 
said in his own vigorous English had his lot been cast 
in the cavalry and his carefully-prepared papers in the 
fire. 



34 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 

Not the officer de jure, the blessed possessor of a com- 
mission in that gilt-edged array of scientists, the Ord- 
nance Department, but the unhappy de facto ordnance 
officer who is detailed to perform the duties of that 
exalted station, but by no means to participate in any 
of the comforts, elegancies, agremens, etc., appertaining 
thereto. Just the same abstruse and incomprehensible 
reasoning to which we alluded in a previous article 
(The Adjutant) as impelling the department commander 
(through his assistant adjutant-general) to select the 
hardest-worked man in a garrison and make him judge- 
advocate of a general court, just that identical hang-for- 
a-sheep-as-a-lamb style of argument picked us out when 
adjutant and plunged us into an abyss of misery that, 
could it have been foreseen, would have led to our resig- 
nation on the spot. 

We were away up near the Platte when it began, so 
easily, so innocently, yet insidiously, as every other 
diabolism begins, that no human soul could have fore- 
told the sequel. " Mr. X.," said the colonel, one bright 
June afternoon, " we march early day after to-morrow, 
and the quartermaster wants arms for his teamsters; 
then we've got to arm these scouts, — yes, and mount 
them ; there's Bill and Louis Sans something and Sioux 
Pete, and — well, a whole raft of 'era. We've got to fit 
'em all out." 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 35 

Mr. X. replied that he had nothing but the arms and 
horse equipments of the non-commissioned staff and 
band, all in use, but added, with a wisdom beyond his 
years, " However, colonel, the quartermaster is in at the 
fort now ; all these men are on his papers, and they are 
with him drawing rations. Why can't he draw arms, 
equipments, and all that right there ? The commanding 
officer will issue on your order as district commander.l' 

"So he could," says the colonel, reflectively; "but he 
says he'd rather you'd do it." 

" Undoubtedly," replies Mr. X. " There isn't an officer 
in the army or out of it that wouldn't ; it's like the best 
place to have a boil. But I want to get those regimental 
returns started as soon as we get in." 

" You won't, then. I ordered every kind of desk and 
paper left back at Cheyenne ; we're stripped for action. 
Tell you what : you just issue orders appointing yourself 
ordnance officer of the Black Hills column, and get a 
regular outfit of what we need. That'll fix it." And, 
with the cheerful consciousness of having done his whole 
duty and relieved himself of a burden, the colonel turns 
in for a nap. 

Mr. X. obeyed orders, issued the order signed by him- 
self as acting assistant adjutant-general, then made a 
modest computation of what would be needed. Next day 
at breakfast time he showed it to the colonel, who cheer- 
ily remarked, " Oh, didn't I tell you ? I fixed all that. 
We're going to have a rousing campaign, and we've got 
to have an abundant supply. It'll all be out this after- 
noon, invoiced to me, but you sign the receipts. Then 
bust into it and equip everybody soon as you can. 
Here's the two doctors, and some more scouts ; and old 



36 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

Stamper, the paymaster, he's going, too, and Plodder and 
Hoofit, of the infantry. Fit 'em all out." 

Mr. X.'s appetite for his breakfast left him suddenly. 
" In for a penny, in for a pound," quoth he. 

Not until 4 P.M. did " the stuff" arrive at camp, and to 
X.'s unutterable horror three huge wagon-loads of bales 
and boxes were dumped around his tent and a brace of 
receipts, longer even than his face, were presented for his 
signature. 

" You don't mean this is all for me ?" he gasped. 

" Thim's the orders," was the comprehensive reply, 
and as scouts, teamsters, doctors, and " doughboys" had 
been waiting for hours for the promised equipment, 
Mr. X. had no alternative. With a few strokes of the 
pen he took the plunge into a purgatory which, begin- 
ning with the summer of the Centennial year, has held 
him in torment ever since, and only a merciful Providence 
can tell when he may hope for release. 

Just then the colonel rode into camp. " Issued those 
things yet, X. ? I want you to write some dispatches." 

" Here are the things, sir," said X., with a gulp, 
" only just come, but I'll write dispatches from now till — 
well, if you'll only hand that mountain of misery to 
somebody else." 

" There ain't another man, X. You'll have to do it. 
The clerk can write the letters." 

It is now 4.45 ; there are some twenty-odd parties 
waiting for supplies. X. hurriedly summons a soldier, 
whom the colonel designates as the proper man to assist 
him as clerk, and pitches in. X. takes the memoranda in 
his note-book, and the clerk hands out the items. Rifles 
to the teamsters, rifles and revolvers to wagon-masters, 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 37 

arms and horse equipments to the doctors and officers 
who are to " go along," ammunition to everybody. The 
number on each arm is carefully noted opposite each 
man's name. It is dark when they are supplied, and, 
meantime, X., being adjutant, has had to go off to guard- 
mounting and to obey two summonses from the colonel, 
Mr. Plodder, of the infantry, obligingly supplying his 
place in his absence. 

Suddenly Captain Snafifle appears. " X., why the mis- 
chief didn't you let me know you were issuing ordnance ? 
I haven't a decent lariat or side-line left in my com- 
pany." 

"There, X., don't you see?" says the colonel, trium- 
phantly ; " I told you we'd want all these things. Now, 
I've no doubt most of the other companies are in the 
same fix." 

It won't do for X. to say that the time that should have 
been attended to was the ten days we lay alongside a big 
ordnance depot at Cheyenne, where each captain could 
have supplied his company, and he well-nigh bites his 
tongue in two in his endeavor to hold it in. 

Now, as adjutant, X. issues orders to the company 
commanders to draw at once from the ordnance officer 
of the Black Hills column such articles as may be abso- 
lutely necessary to equip his company, by order of the 
colonel, and sends it round through the dimly-lighted 
camp. Snaffle's first sergeant promptly appears with the 
following: "Wanted, 38 lariats, 27 side-lines, 12 halters 
and straps, 8 curb-bridles, 15 saddle-blankets, 4 saddles 
complete," and behind him follow six soldiers, who dump 
an indistinguishable mass of " truck" in front of the 
adjutant's tent. 

4 



38 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

*' What's all this, sergeant ?" 

" Worn-out stuff, sir, the captain said I was to turn in 
to the adjutant and get his receipt." 

X. springs to his feet with an expletive. " Where is 
the captain ?" 

" Gone away to the fort, sir ; him and the colonel rode 
in together half an hour ago." 

It is now 9 P.M. We are to march at four in the morn- 
ing. The orderly sent around with the order comes back 
saying he " could only find one captain, Stand ; the rest 
were all up at the post saying good-by, and the first 
sergeants and men had all turned in." 

" I'll give you the new stores because I'm ordered to," 
says X. to the sergeant ; " but as for taking charge of all 
your unserviceable truck, it can't be done." And the 
sergeant and his party go off laden with the new and the 
old, just as Captain Stand himself appears with his ser- 
geant and a heavily-laden party. Their wants are the 
same as Snaffle's, and it takes another half-hour to dis- 
pose of them, in a similar manner, only Stand says he's 
going right in to the colonel himself and get X. ordered 
to receive his unserviceable stuff. " It can't be taken 
along," he says, not illogically. 

He does go, and when he gets back to camp at mid- 
night he brings a scrawl from the colonel to poor X. 
bidding him receipt to all the company commanders for 
their " unserviceable stores." With the view of possibly 
mitigating his adjutant's woes, he adds, " A mere memo- 
randum will do." Do ! Of course it will, — quite as 
much damage as an official receipt. 

We are to march at 4 a.m., as has been said before ; 
at 3.30 on the following morning the vicinity of the 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 39 

adjutant's tent looks like a junk-shop. He himself has 
had just thirty minutes' sleep, during which time he had 
a sentry over the piles of boxes and the litters of rope 
and leather. He is unrefreshed and even more aggrieved, 
for all the stuff is not in. Companies " O" and " S," whose 
captains had protracted their leave-taking until near re- 
veille, are still to be heard from. 

The colonel emerges from his tent brisk and cheery. 
" Great Caesar's ghost, X. ! What have you got here ?" 

" Haven't had time to find out yet. There's more to 
come, sir," is the adjutant's mournful response; and at 
the moment, as everybody else is snatching a hurried 
breakfast, the delegations from " O" and " S" arrive with 
their demands and contributions, and the notes of the 
" general" have sounded and tents been struck ere the 
adjutant has settled their hash, — he has had none of his 
own. 

" Sound ' boots and saddles,' " says the colonel, once 
more appearing. " You will go with the advance-guard, 
X. Of course you want to map the country towards the 
Cheyenne River." 

" Of course I want to, colonel ; but " And, im- 
petuously it must be said, poor X. sets forth that here's 
enough ordnance to stop his pay for ten years if it isn't 
cared for. 

The colonel checks him impressively. " Now, my dear 
young friend, don't get agitated. I've seen a heap more 
service than you have. You needn't trouble yourself a 
bit. Simply write an order to the commanding officer at 
the fort to receipt to you for the whole thing. Then make 
out your pencil memoranda, call upon the quartermaster 
for wagons, send your clerk in with it. There's the thing 



40 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

in a nutshell. Now, first write an order for Captain 
Munger with ' P' company to remain here at camp," 
etc., etc. 

It sounded soothing as — but this is no place for the 
poetic. Let us see how it worked. The " pencil memo- 
randa" and orders were soon made out, but not before 
the colonel with his command had started. The quarter- 
master was called upon for three wagons to carry 
the things back to the fort. " Three wagons ! Good 
God ! X., I've got to leave stores behind as it is ! I'm 
just going after the colonel now hard as I can to tell him." 

" Then say for me that all my ordnance is here on the 
open prairie without a guard, and I can't leave it until he 
sends relief!" shouts poor X., in desperation, while Pepper, 
the clerk, stands holding their horses. In twenty minutes 
the quartermaster is back, black in the face with wrath. 
" Why in perdition," he wants to know, " did X. get so 
much d — d stuff?" and then, with much interspersion of 
profanity, tells him that he is ordered to unload two 
wagons, send all the ordnance back to the storehouse in 
charge of Pepper, who was to return at once with the 
wagons, reload, and be sure and get to camp that night. 
"As for you, X., he says, ' Come on.' " 

The adjutant hands the orders and memoranda over to 
Pepper, bids him do his best, and, putting spurs to his 
horse, after a hard ride rejoins the colonel. The latter 
is savage about something, and receives him with, " I've 
needed you a dozen times here. You ought to have had 
that ordnance business finished last night." 

That night we camp at Rawhide Butte, twenty-five 
miles away, and after dark in comes Pepper. " Did you 
get receipts ?" 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 4 1 

" I did for the new stuff, sir ; but for all that load of 
old truck the ordnance-sergeant wouldn't take it, sir ; 
said he had positive orders not to." 

" Did you show him the orders of the district com- 
mander?" 

" Yes, sir ; but he said he'd have to wait till the com- 
manding officer got up, — that'd be eight or nine o'clock, — 
an' my orders from the quartermaster was to come right 
back wid the wagons, sir, an' " 

" And didn't you bring the unserviceable with you ?" 
says X., sepulchrally. 

" No, sir. I couldn't, sir : the quartermaster said I was 
to get right back and load up his things or they'd be 
stolen ; and them was his wagons, so I had to leave the 
stuff at the storehouse." 

" Inside or outside?" 

" Well, sir, outside, a'course ; the sergeant he was mad 
at bein' waked up at that hour, and " 

" That will do, Pepper." And X. turns away to have 
it out with the quartermaster. 

To cut short that initial experience, it is needless to 
say that when the count of that junk was made by the 
officials at the fort there was a shortage of articles, the 
money value of which (new) amounted to ;^S72.33, and 
X., through subsequent wanderings, never found out 
what became of them. 

We hunted Indians awhile along the base of the Black 
Hills. Then came tidings which brought us in to Fet- 
terman, where vast accessions of officers, recruits, and 
horses joined and marched Big Hornwards with us. A 
new colonel had taken command, and to meet the emer- 
gency ordnance stores had been ordered by telegraph 

4* 



42 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

from department head-quarters, and Mr. X. woke one 
morning to find himself responsible for three hundred 
more bridles, saddles, and halters, five hundred more 
blankets, side-lines, lariats, etc., besides one hundred re- 
volvers and no end of ammunition. 

" Mount all the infantry recruits," said the colonel. 
Then came innumerable new doctors, scouts, teamsters, 
wagon-masters. " Supply them all," was the order. 

We reached Goose Creek, at the head-waters of the 
Tongue, and there was General Crook, with a large com- 
mand, only waiting for our coming to launch forth and 
give battle to the hostiles over on the Rosebud, forty 
miles away. All one day was spent in getting ready, 
and our adjutant ordnance officer did not have time to 
call his soul his own. 

" Get out your boxes," was the order. " Every officer 
of the three regiments is to go mounted. Give to each a 
saddle, bridle, blanket, lariat, pistol, — anything he wants, 
— and take his mem. receipt." And while X. was doing 
it, and writing orders for his colonel between times, and 
trying to scribble some few brief lines to the anxious 
ones far away in Eastern homes, there came a host of 
company commanders from other cavalry regiments, 
hungry for new equipments, correspondingly eager to 
get rid of the old. X. appeals to the adjutant-general 
of the entire command. 

" Fit 'em out all you can," says that energetic official. 
"We just want to get this crowd into fighting shape 
quick, and then we'll waltz over to the Rosebud and get. 
blood by the bucketful." So more boxes are hacked to 
pieces, and for hours officers and men of three regiments 
of cavalry are going away to distant bivouacs laden with 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 43 

new equipments and coming back bowed down with junk. 
It is not improbable that on that August afternoon X. 
receipted for a thousand pieces of old rope as so many 
unserviceable lariats. He and Pepper were well-nigh 
distracted. Even the newspaper correspondents — some 
of them — had to be provided with saddles or blankets. 
Even the scouts who for years past had been proud of 
their old calibre 50's came in with authority to swap 
them for new 45's, "temporarily, of course," said the 
order; but who that ever knew a frontiersman would bet 
a bean on X.'s chances of getting those 45's back "after 
the battl».was over" ? 

(He didn't. It may as well be told here. Some scouts 
were discharged on the Yellowstone when X. was in the 
Black Hills. Some deserted in the Black Hills when X. 
was on the Yellowstone. Some, like California Joe, Blue 
Peter, and one other reprobate, shot one another to death 
in private rows over poker, and nobody ever could find 
their arms. One, and one only, was killed in manly, 
open attack on the foe, and for three months what became 
of his gun was a mystery ; then it was found in posses- 
sion of a discharged soldier, who had bought it from — 
but this, as the novelists say, is anticipating.) 

A glorious morning was the 5th of August, and a fine 
array the Big Horn and Yellowstone expedition pre- 
sented as, stripped for combat, it sallied forth to battle. 
Late the night before, X. had sought the adjutant-general 
again. " I've got about forty thousand dollars' worth 
of ordnance left yet, sir; I must have a guard for it. 
Excuse my mentioning such a trifle ; but even that 
amount would make a serious hole in my stipend." 

"Why, hang it all, X., just bundle it into the wagons. 



44 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

They are all to be left here. We won't be gone six days. 
We're just going to have one rousing old rattler of a 
tussle with these hostyles, and then we'll come back 
here and straighten out. Don't you see?" 

It was alluring, of course, but not so reassuring. How- 
ever, an order was obtained that the ordnance stores 
should be stowed in wagons designated for the purpose. 
All the wagon-masters, teamsters, some doctors, etc., 
were to remain behind ; but as adjutant of his regiment it 
wasn't to be expected that Mr. X. could hang back, even 
to guard that incubus of ordnance stores, when his regi- 
ment was going into action. The command started out 
buoyantly, with four days' rations in the haversacks, and 
enough to make up ten days in all on the pack-mules. 
X. went with them, and never set eyes on that ordnance 
again witil ten zveeks after, when what was left of it was 
trundled into his camp in the Black Hills. 

It seems that we did not find the Indians over on the 
Rosebud. They were a little farther on by the time we 
got there, and a good deal farther on by the time we got' 
to the next place. They led us a dance of eighteen 
hundred miles that summer and fall, and many a time 
did X. find himself wondering how it fared with that ord- 
nance. By the ist of September he was responsible for 
property scattered all over that portion of the continent 
bounded by the Missouri, the Platte, and the Rockies. 

Eventually these four or five hundred wagons moved 
round from the Big Horn by way of Reno, Fetterman, 
Laramie, and Hat Creek to the Hills, where they met 
us. Meantime, whenever a teamster lost his lariat, or 
wanted side-lines or a halter, or perchance a blanket or 
two, as the nights were growing colder, all he had to do 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 45 

was to go and help himself. Everything had been boxed 
up at the last moment at Goose Creek, but there wasn't 
an unopened box when they got to the Hills. Of course 
the tacit and honorable understanding which obtains 
among these gentry provided that they were to return 
these things; but as some got drunk and were left 
behind at Reno, and others got drunk and were dis- 
charged at Fetterman, and others got drunk and killed 
somebody at Laramie, they did not all remember such a 
trifle, and the same may be said of their arms. 

When the Big Horn and Yellowstone expedition 
reached the northern Black Hills in September, about 
one-third of its horses were gone, left dead with ex- 
haustion and starvation on the bleak prairies. As a rule, 
the saddle and " kit" was abandoned at the same time, as 
there were no wagons to put them in. When we started 
from the Belle Fourche to march southward, the general 
had succeeded in hiring a motley array of miners' teams 
to carry along rations, wounded officers, sick soldiers, 
and a beggarly batch of Indian prisoners. 

One morning, as the horses were still dropping by 
scores, X. came suddenly upon a holocaust of saddles, 
bridles, and other cavalry equipments. A sergeant and 
some men had heaped them in a huge pyramid and were 
working hard to make them burn. "What does this 
mean ?" said he. 

" Quartermaster's orders," said the sergeant. " Aban- 
doned property ; somebody ordered it fired, sir." 

X. thought of his tempting stores so many hundred 
miles away, and a bright thought struck him ; he had seen 
an empty wagon a short distance back, and hailing the 
driver, asked him where he was bound. " Damfino," said 



46 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

the Black-Hiller. " Quartermaster hired me yesterday 
on the Whitewood and told me to come along ; but I 
reckon he's clean forgot me. I ain't had a thing to do." 

In ten minutes X. had that wagon loaded up with every 
kind of horse equipment except blankets ; none of them 
had been left, for the nights were frosty and our men were 
suffering keenly. An old cavalry officer hailed him on 
seeing his occupation to inquire what he was doing. 
" Taking it up," said X. " There's no telling how short 
I'll be at the end of this campaign." 

" Well," said the veteran, " go ahead if it's to cover a 
shortage ; but if you think that by picking up and turn- 
ing in a few dozen saddles the ordnance people will let 
you off a few dozen side-lines, you're 'way off". If you 
were to save them a million dollars' worth of property in 
ten years' service and come out short a nickel on your 
own account, they'd grind it out of you ; that's my ex- 
perience." 

However, the wagon-load went far to balance the deficit 
on the Platte, and X. was enabled to take up and turn in 
some thirty-seven curb-bridles at Red Cloud later on ; 
but then teamsters had no special use for curb-bridles, 
and of all the items which had been stored in the wagons 
at Goose Creek, curb-bridles seemed to be the only one 
upon which heavy drafts had not been made. 

Now, the question was, how to recover those missing 
articles. At Goose Creek, by the directions of the ad- 
jutant-general, the stores had been placed in charge of 
the wagon-master of the train. X. sent for him and he 

came, — an entirely new man. " Where's ?" *' Him ? 

oh ! he was discharged at Reno. Leastwise I've been 
told so. I didn't come in charge of this train till they 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 47 

got to Laramie." That hope proved delusive. Next day 
X. tried the chief quartermaster. He was all courtesy 
and business, would do anything. X. suggested inspect- 
ing the five hundred odd teamsters and taking away 
every new side-line, lariat, etc. It started in one corral, 
and an irate regimental quartermaster had it stopped in 
no time. " He'd got those things himself at Fetterman." 
By the time the inspectors got to the other corrals nothing 
was to be found, old or new. Next day came orders to 
prepare for a new campaign or scout, and once again X. 
spent two days reissuing to the cavalry and receiving 
their used-up stuff by order. This scout amounted to 
nothing and was soon over, and, once in at Red Cloud, 
X. obtained authority to turn in all the stores appertain- 
ing to the Big Horn and Yellowstone expedition. 

Several wagon-loads were duly transferred at the maga- 
zine, and with all this burden off his mind X. gleefully 
looked at his memoranda only to find himself deep in 
the mire as ever, for, scattered all over the vast fields of 
our operations, were quantities of arms, horse equip- 
ments, etc., issued to officers, scouts, guides, teamsters, 
and the like, and no end of blankets, side-lines, lariats, and 
picket-pins, for which he had no vouchers whatsoever. 

Mr. Plodder, of the infantry, who had obligingly assisted 
him the opening night on the Platte, volunteered an ex- 
planation which in very small degree accounted for the 
shortage in the matter of lariats. " You see, X., so many 
men came along who wanted a ' halter shank' that night, 
and if those rope things weren't halter shanks I didn't 
know what they were," This was by no means consol- 
atory, though a number of cavalry officers appeared to 
derive an immense amount of fun therefrom. 



48 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

The expedition broke up at Red Cloud and scattered 
all over the department. With some six companies of 
the regiment, X. marched into a big post on the Union 
Pacific. The colonel was East on leave, the major was 
in command and only waiting for the return of some 
other field-officers to go on leave himself. An old colonel 
of cavalry was in command of the post when we arrived, 
and he was only waiting for our coming to take his de- 
parture on the six months' leave then burning in his 
pocket. War Department orders had made post com- 
manders the ordnance officers of their posts, and as such 
the old colonel informed our major that all the papers 
were made out and he was ready to transfer at once. 
His family were all in New York to sail on the steamer 
of a certain date, and he must be there to meet them. 
Our major explained that he too was expecting leave 
every day, that his colonel would soon be back, etc., but 
after some skirmising a result was arrived at satisfactory 
to them both. Mr. X. was hereby appointed ordnance 
officer of the post, and would relieve Colonel Blank at 
once. Now, X. knew very well that War Department 
orders made post commanders alone the parties respon- 
sible for ordnance and ordnance stores. " But," said the 
major, " the colonel will take charge as soon as he 
arrives, and, as you see, it is absolutely necessary for 
Colonel Blank to get away at once." The order was 
issued, and then came the transfer. In less than a fort- 
night X. had receipted for a whole arsenal. 

In an ordinary wooden building, surrounded by equally 
inflammable quartermaster's and commissary storehouses, 
were piled tier on tier of boxes containing equipments, 
infantry and cavalry, of every possible description. 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 49 

Another room of the same size was equally full of arms 
and ammunition. 

" The building is absolutely unfit for the purpose," said 
X.'s predecessor. " It has been condemned by a board 
of survey, and I have represented the great exposure and 
risk in having so many valuable stores in such a place, 
but all to no purpose." Everything was in as good order 
as such a jam could be in a building not more than sixty 
by twenty-five ; and the colonel, in turning over, said to 
X., " You will find our old ordnance-sergeant one of the 
most faithful men that ever lived. His word is truth 
itself." 

Just how or why so large an accumulation of stores 
had been sent to this particular post there was no time to 
explain. Our own colonel came back in a fortnight. X. 
informed him of the situation, showed him the huge array 
of stores, daily augmented by fresh arrivals from Rock 
Island ; the colonel pronounced it an imposition, said 
that if it were intended to make a supply depot of the 
fort he would insist on having a regular ordnance officer 
stationed there, and would write at once and make appli- 
cation ; which he probably did, for the ordnance officer 
arrived seventeen months afterwards. " Meantime, Mr. 
X.," said he, "you will continue in charge." 

This is how X. came to be running an arsenal and 
adjutant's office at one and the same time. We have 
seen something of how the latter worked ; now for the 
arsenal. 

It became apparent within a few days that the ordnance 

storehouse of Fort was intended as a depot of supply 

for the entire department of the Platte and a good deal 
outside of it. How very much easier, simpler, more sys- 
c d 5 



50 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

tematic it was for the commanding officer at Rock Island, 
with his array of instructed clerks and packers, to ship 
in bulk, three or four hundred at a time, the various kinds 
of ordnance stores that might be required on the frontier 
to the central post of that department ! What mattered 
it to the ordnance department that the labor of unpacking 
and repacking, distribution, and the infinite clerical labor 
required should fall upon one already overworked cavalry 
subaltern and one faithful old sergeant ? What mattered 
it that half the stores thus shipped had to be sent back 
in smaller lots over much of the road they had traveled 
in supplying the requisitions from interior posts, thus 
doubling the cost of transportation ? Yet this is exactly 
what did occur, and for eighteen months the whole work 
of supplying that large and most needy department fell 
upon the shoulders of that old sergeant, for never a bit 
of help did we get except an occasional man to assist in 
packing or unloading. 

All the troops of General Crook's command had been 
for months in the field, and without exception had to be 
resupplied company by company. Every day of the week 
brought requisitions from department head-quarters " to 

be filled from the stores at Fort ." Every week 

brought new loads of supplies from Rock Island, and, not- 
withstanding the fact that we were constantly shipping, 
by the end of December our storehouse was overflowing. 
In the item of ammunition there were over six hundred 
thousand rounds, and the colonel, alarmed at having such 
a prospective volcano in our midst, ordered it removed 
to the magazine. 

Being built for the convenience of the post, this maga- 
zine had been located exactly a mile and a half away 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 5 I 

and out on the open prairie. It was a brick shell, with 
a light roof and heavy door, evidently designed to oppose 
little resistance to an explosion from within or "pros- 
pectors" from without, but while it might be unsafe, the 
adjutant (acting ordnance officer) was glad to have addi- 
tional room in the storehouses, where now there were in 
the neighborhood of a thousand sets of infantry and 
cavalry equipments. The colonel ordered a guard for 
the magazine, but after a week of suffering through 
bleak, wintry, freezing nights the men looked so piteous 
at the detail for magazine-guard that he took it off. Then 
it was robbed. A party of citizens from the neighboring 
town sallied forth one bitter cold night and helped them- 
selves to what they could carry. X. tracked them through 
the snow back to town on the following day, and after 
some detective work succeeded in securing the arrest of 
one of the parties who had a lot of the stolen property 
in his cellar. He was nabbed by the United States mar- 
shal and duly tried before a jury of his peers. Just how 
many of that intelligent jury were concerned in the rob- 
bery itself is impossible to say, but the verdict was not 
guilty ; and it may be parenthetically remarked that the 
verdict of every jury in that enlightened borough in every 
case where a civilian was arraigned for crimes against the 
life or property of Uncle Sam's retainers, were it stealing 
a pistol, running off a horse, or murdering a soldier in 
cold blood, the verdict was similarly " not guilty." 

The guard was again placed over the magazine, duly 
supplied with a " banked" tent and abundant fuel ; then, 
to make room in the storehouses at the post, we moved 
some of the arms down to the magazine and were about 
straightening out the storehouses a second time when the 



52 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

troops commenced drifting in from Mackenzie's winter 
raid against the Cheyennes, and each command as it 
arrived deposited a wagon-load or more of used-up 
saddles, halters, side-lines, lariats, etc., and demanded 
receipts. In less than three weeks the east storeroom 
looked like ten junk-shops rolled into one. 

Meantime, we got into a row with the depot quarter- 
master. It usually happened that his wagons arrived 
with a load of ordnance just as " boots and saddles" was 
sounding for battalion drill, and the teamsters would 
come to X. for his receipts just as that much badgered 
ordnance officer, in his capacity as adjutant, was riding 
forth to form the line. " Mr. X.," said the quartermaster, 
"you keep my men waiting there day after day for 
several hours, and it's got to be stopped." X. tells him 
by all means to stop it, which doesn't satisfy the quarter- 
master somehow, and he writes officially to the colonel 
commanding to complain that his ordnance officer is 
neglecting his business and obstructing the public service 
by detaining quartermaster teams. The colonel knows 
perfectly well that his adjutant is "on the jump" from 
daybreak until — well, he doesn't begin to know how long, 
but all the morning at any rate, yet he summons him to 
hear what the quartermaster's complaints are. X. sug- 
gests that a good way out of it would be to relieve him 
from duty as an ordnance officer and put some one in 
who could devote twenty hours out of twenty-four to the 
matter. The colonel again concludes that it is an impo- 
sition, and decides to write another letter requesting the 
detail of a regular ordnance officer, X. meantime to re- 
main in charge and do the best he can. 

All this time there is that back business of the Bier 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 53 

Horn expedition to settle up, and X. is writing letters all 
over the country to officers who were connected there- 
with, in the desperately hopeless undertaking of getting 
possession of or receipts for the arms and equipments 
issued during the campaign to all manner of people, who 
were not to be found at Red Cloud and Laramie when we 
dissolved. It was a fortune in postage-stamps and time, 
but month by month the accountability was lessened, 
and X. began to feel vaguely encouraged. One day it 
transpired that a discharged soldier had a new calibre 45 
rifle. He was overhauled and questioned as to how he 
obtained it, and frankly stated that he had bought it from 
Pepper. This was a bombshell in the camp. Next it 
transpired that Pepper had forged his colonel's name to 
an application for his (Pepper's) discharge, on the ground 
of habitual intemperance, and Pepper, who had been 
under guard, was remanded to closer confinement, with a 
sentinel to accompany every movement of his outside 
the guard-house. Next, Pepper skipped away from the 
sentinel, and from that time to this has succeeded in 
evading recapture. The sentinel was tried by general 
court, but proved that he fired seven shots at the retreating 
form of Pepper, who could run like a deer, and the court 
was satisfied. 

Then, in the dead of night, some miscreants ran a 
wagon up to the storehouses, effected an entrance into the 
quartermaster's shanty and broke through the partition 
between that and the ordnance-rooms, and loaded up 
with such things as they could lay hands on. They 
were evidently in search of ammunition, and evidently 
too disturbed and hurried in their search, for they mis- 
took boxes of picket-pins for metallic cartridges, and 

5* 



54 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

hauled off several boxes of those useless pegs. It was 
some comfort to X. to reflect how they must have sworn 
when they discovered their blunder. " Where was your 
sentinel ?" we hear some " stalwart" exclaim. Bless your 
heart, sir, he was right there, if his statement could be 
believed ; but then, you see, he was guarding a huge 
coal-shed, a commissary storehouse, two quartermaster's 
storehouses, a saddler's shop, and some few loads of hay, 
and the night was dark as pitch. " He didn't see nor 
hear nuthin'." Neither did the other two. 

Boards of survey were running, three or four at a time, 
all that winter. They relieved X. So did the depart- 
ment commander, and so eventually did the ordnance 
department; but not without a kick or two. 

Once X. was ordered to " take up" again certain items 
which a board of survey had recommended that he be 
authorized, and that the department commander had 
authorized him, to drop, because, said the chief of ord- 
nance, it is not shown that the responsible officer exer- 
cised proper vigilance to prevent loss. This was em- 
barrassing, but eventually the bureau yielded the point, 
" under the circumstances," and the items remained 
dropped. 

Spring came, so did the summer of 'j'j, and all this 
time stores were coming too, and, in smaller parcels, 
going day after day, but no sign of relief was manifest. 
In July the great railroad riots took place, and the colo- 
nel was ordered eastward by first train to assume com- 
mand of the troops collecting at an important point, and 
the colonel ordered his adjutant to go with him. So, 
with parting injunctions to the faithful old sergeant to 
take charge in his absence, and have Captain Curbit sign 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 55 

all invoices "for Lieutenant X.," the ordnance officer 
turned his back on more than a fortune in stores, rushed 
off with his chief, and was gone three weeks. Returning 
and finding everything working smoothly, thanks to the 
ceaseless care and attention of his invaluable ally, the 
sergeant, he returned to his work of straightening out 
the Big Horn papers, when again came telegraphic 
orders sending colonel and everybody into the far North- 
west, by first train, after the Nez Perces. Once more 
the spectacle was presented of the ordnance officer 
abandoning his thousands and thousands of dollars' 
worth of stores in obedience to his orders, trusting 
everything to Providence and that crown-jewel of a ser- 
geant, and this time he was gone three months. How 
could a man in the Yellowstone Park be held responsi- 
ble for property in Southern Wyoming? "He should 
have transferred it before starting," your critic says. My 
pragmatical friend, it took a month to transfer that 
property when the transfer was made, and Mr. X. was 
ordered to leave " on first train." "Then he oughtn't to 
have been appointed in the first place." That is precisely 
our opinion. Moreover, we thought from beginning to 
end of that business that the ordnance department, in 
establishing that great magazine in the centre of the 
scene of Indian operations in ''j'S, should have decorated 
it with one of its own officers and a squad of assistants 
to back him. 

Of course there were some comical features in our 
experience. One of the liveliest cavalrymen in the de- 
partment was the gallant captain of the gray troop of 
the Second Cavalry. He and his men were always out 
scouting somewhere, and it so happened that in the 



56 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

summer of 1877 he had a mixed armament of Colt's and 
Smith & Wesson revolvers in his troop. A short time 
previous, X. had been ordered to send him five thousand 
rounds of Coifs revolver ball-cartridges, and did so. 
One blissful June morning the telegraph operator at the 
post darted in to X. with a dispatch from the chief ord- 
nance officer at Omaha. " Captain Egan reports that 
the cartridges you sent him will not fit his pistols. 
What's the matter?" Ten minutes after came another 
from " Teddy" himself: " Cannot use the cartridges; all 
too long." Then in came the colonel with a dispatch 
from department head-quarters, and a perturbed expres- 
sion on his face. " Mr. X., what is the matter with the 
cartridges sent Captain Egan? The adjutant-general is 
after us with a sharp stick." 

X. meantime has summoned the ordnance-sergeant, and 
that veteran glances over the papers and explains the 
matter in a dozen words, ",He's been trying to use 
Colt's revolver cartridges in his Smith & Wessons, sir," 
and so it proved. The " revolver ball-cartridge" is made 
to fit both the Colt and the Smith & Wesson, whereas 
the " Colt's revolver ball-cartridge" can be used only in 
the Colt. This information was telegraphed at once to 
the captain in the field and the explanation wired to 
Omaha, but meantime head-quarters had been racked to 
its foundation at a discovery of so alarming a nature. 
Dispatches had been sent all over the country to cavalry 
company commanders directing them to test their car- 
tridges in Smith & Wesson pistols and report, and not- 
withstanding our explanation an aide-de-camp was hurried 
out to investigate ; he arrived next day, looked at the 
two pistols and two styles of cartridges, remarked that 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 57 

it reminded him of the profound philosopher who had 
two holes cut in his door for his cats, a big hole for the 
big cat and a little hole for the other, and went back to 
Omaha. Shortly afterwards all Smith & Wesson pistols 
were called in and none but Colt's issued. 

We were constantly in receipt of telegraphic orders to 
ship stores at once to all manner of remote posts. One 
morning early came two dispatches : the first saying, 
" Ship by express, first train, to commanding officer Com- 
pany , Second Cavalry," so many carbines, slings, 

belts, pouches, etc., and half an hour afterwards a similar 
message to send just about the same things to the com- 
manding officer of another company, in all comprising 
arms, ammunition, and equipments for some fifty men. 
Mr. X. and his sergeant pitched in with vim, an orderly 
was hurried down to the depot to secure the co-operation 
of the quartermaster's teams and the express company, 
and by noon, when the Union Pacific train rolled in from 
the East, the packing-boxes were at the station to meet 
it. The proper invoices and receipts went with the 
property and others by mail to the designated officers, 
but the end of the quarter came and brought no receipts 
whatever. X. wrote to the company commanders, then 
'way up near the Wind River Valley, and requested that 
they be sent at once. One of them replied that he didn't 
get more than half the things specified in the invoice, 
and the other said pretty much the same thing, only 
worse. This wouldn't do by any means. X. knew that 
every item on the invoice was in those boxes, and so 
retorted. Then it transpired that the stores were re- 
quired to arm and equip a lot of recruits going up to 
join those companies under command of a lieutenant 



58 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

who had opened the boxes and distributed the arms, etc., 
on the raih'oad. X., therefore, sent him invoices and 
requested that he receipt, and by and by came the reply, 
" I'm not responsible for the stores at all. They were 
not invoiced to me. I simply took them to arm my 
recruits." And then the gentleman obligingly went on, 
" What you want to do is to make out certified invoices 
and send them in with your papers, etc., if they (com- 
pany commanders) will not receipt." X. could not see 
that point at all, and demanded that the officer who took 
the responsibility of opening and distributing should sign 
the receipts, but it was six months afterwards before they 
came, and then only on compulsion. 

At last, seventeen months after Mr. X. was placed 
temporarily in charge of those ordnance stores, all the 
real work having been completed, Indian campaigning 
being virtually over in the department of the Platte, all 
the troops having been supplied with new equipments to 
replace those worn out in the service, and the lull in 
business was enabling the ordnance sergeant to com- 
mence " straightening out" the contents of the store- 
house, the long-expected official of the ordnance depart- 
ment put in his appearance, and soon after him came 
thie squad of assistants, clerical and otherwise, without 
which no well-regulated ordnance establishment can 
be conducted, but which we were compelled to do 
without. The transfer of property began without delay, 
and in the course of six weeks Mr. X. stood relieved. 
He was behind in only one item of any consequence, 
and away ahead on general average. It is needless to 
say that the shortage stands charged against him, while 
there is nothing to his credit. 



THE ORDNANCE OFFICER. 59 

Now, we are painfully conscious that in all this long 
account of an experience as acting ordnance officer there 
is nothing entertaining or lively ; it is as solemn as a 
sepulchre, but so was the experience. We are portraying 
trials and tribulations, and from its inception to the still 
indefinite end this has been all vexation of spirit.* We 
look back over those massive monuments of retained 
papers, and wonder how we ever dared to go to sleep. We 
recall the constant, the incessant round of duties required 
of the adjutant from reveille until tattoo, attending morn- 
ing and evening stables, and all drills, besides his office 
and parade duties, and wonder what a genuine ordnance 
officer would have said and done under the circumstances. 
We recall the issue of stores " on memorandum receipt" 
under the peaks of the Big Horn and the pines of the 
Black Hills, and wonder why no ordnance officer was 
sent with Crook's command. We met one with Terry 
on the Yellowstone, but he was only out to see how the 
equipments worked in the field, had no property respon- 
sibilities, and was as free from care and as buoyant as a 
cork; but then Terry's people were housed in comfort, 
had carpets and barrels of bottled ale in their tents, and 
could support an ordnance officer, but we poor devils 
had neither tent nor change of raiment, and hard-tack 
and bacon were the daily bread of officers and men until 
we had to corne down to horse-meat. Looking back at the 
depot in charge of which we so unluckily stumbled, and 
compiling from our papers some figures of the work 
done, we find that, besides the incalculable worry over 
minor trifles, we had handled before the arrival of our 

* It was settled some time after the publication of this paper in the 
United Service. 



6o TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

relief the quantity of ordnance and stores tabled here- 
with : 

Received. Distributed. 

Rounds of ammunition .... 1,550,000 1,054,015 

Rifles and carbines 2,304 1,116 

Revolvers 1,754 755 

Sabres 1,664 728 

Infantry equipments i,543 ^>35l 

Cartridge-boxes and pouches . 2,565 896 

Holsters 1,806 1,146 

Haversacks 2,000 873 

Bridles 3,082 1, 979 

Halters and straps 1,911 1,79^ 

Lariats 2,301 2,290 

Nose-bags 1,300 672 

Saddles 1,069 9^2 

Surcingles 1,264 1,082 

Saddle-blankets . ; 1,799 1,776 

Side-lines 2,400 2,184 

We may be in error, but are constrained to the belief 
that in that table alone the amount of stores is not so 
trivial as to be beneath the dignity of the ordnance officer 
de jure, and we are confessedly so pig-headed that to this 
day we cannot be brought to see the propriety or justice 
of picking out a cavalry adjutant, requiring him to attend 
to every item of his own duty in garrison or in the field, 
and yet to control and become pecuniarily responsible 
for such an array of ordnance work and ordnance stores 
as that. 



AT WEST POINT. 6 1 



AT WEST POINT. 

Now, if you please, those readers who are not yet 
bored to death with Mr. X.'s tribulations in the roles of 
adjutant and ordnance officer will follow him back some 
ten years or more and take a peep at the Military Acad- 
emy during a critical period of its history. It may be 
objected that what happened to Mr. X. then and there 
cannot be regarded as a staff affair, and Mr. X. admits 
the point as well taken ; but under the general title of 
these sketches he had purposed to show some of the 
troublous experiences of a subaltern when out of his 
tactical groove in the line of file-closers, and a detail at 
West Point was one of them. 

Not but that he had more or less of an enjoyable time 
there. The Academy is by no means an unpleasant 
station; but in the light of subsequent events Mr. X. 
cannot help thinking how very much better a time he 
could have had if mighty experiments were not attempted 
just at that period. 

To begin with, it was with sentiments of unmixed 
satisfaction that Mr. X. received, one bright August 
morning, an intimation from the commandant of cadets 
that he had applied for him as an assistant in the depart- 
ment of tactics ; and a few days later there came an order 
in due form directing him to proceed to West Point and 
report to the superintendent thereof for duty. 

For some years previous Mr. X. had served as a sub- 

6 



62 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

altern in a " swell" light battery under a choleric captain, 
who was more explosive than the best percussion-shell 
in the market ; then, having served out his apprenticeship 
in the light, he had been duly transferred to a heavy bat- 
tery, whose commander was as easy-going and lax as the 
other had been capricious and exacting. The new duties 
were slow and distasteful after the life and vim of the 
mounted service, and Mr. X. was wondering how long he 
could stand it, when the detail reached him. West Point 
was thronged with visitors when he arrived and found 
himself, with some twenty new assignments, attending 
the closing party of the season. 

In something like a fortnight those officers and families 
who, having been ordered thither during the war, and 
having been left there ever since, had begun to look upon 
West Point as a bit of personal property, were well-nigh 
ready to move out and give pl&ce to the new comers. 
Mr. X. being a second lieutenant, the junior of his de- 
partment and unmarried, was happily relegated to a room 
in the barracks adjoining the cadet company which he 
was assigned to command, and consequently could look 
on in philosophical amusement at the little tiffs and 
feminine spats which accompanied the movings out and 
in of the married households. A few weeks more served 
to accustom him thoroughly to the new and very light 
duties; and having become a member of the mess, Mr. 
X. prepared to spend an enjoyable winter. 

Entering the library one sunny September morning, 
Mr. X. came suddenly upon a group of strangers of 
martial mien despite the garb of civilians, and, in response 
to an inquiry, directed the spokesman to the superin- 
tendent's office. Next, the superintendent's orderly made 



AT WEST POINT. 63 

his appearance with the superintendent's compliments, 
and would the lieutenant be so good as to step there a 
moment, Mr. X. stepped as requested, and found the 
superintendent affably entertaining the group. " Oh, 
gentlemen, let me present my young friend, Captain X. ; 
Sir Francis Famous, Captain X. ; Major Freeman, Captain 
X. ; Captain Bellairs, Captain X. I deeply regret, gentle- 
men, that my engagements are such that I cannot accom- 
pany you, and that I knew nothing of your coming ; but 
Captain X. will do the honors for me, I am sure. Captain, 
these gentlemen are of the British army, and eager to 
see all that there is at West Point ; I have given orders 
that the buildings and rooms should be opened to you." 
And the superintendent smiled sweetly and confidingly 
upon Mr. X., upon whom he had never lavished more 
than mere official notice up to that moment. 

Mr. X. accepts his charge, blushing at the unexpected 
brevet, and presently marshals his transatlantic warriors 
out of the urbane presence of the commander. He finds 
the Englishmen pleasant, chatty fellows, full of curiosity 
and interest, scrupulously returning the salutes of sen- 
tinels, soldiers, and cadets who happen to pass, and 
touching their hats respectfully as they walk under the 
flag. X. conducts them through the model-rooms, the 
drawing-academy, museum, mess- and riding-hall, bar- 
racks, and ordnance-yards, then scrambles with them 'way 
up to Fort Put, where the view strikes them simultaneously 
as being awfully jolly, then down again among the bat- 
teries, around " Flirtation," and thus having consumed 
some two or three hours, and being not a little heated 
and dusty, X. winds up with the cool shades of the 
officers' mess, and regales his friends on Bass, brandy 



64 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

and water, and cigars. They do it on their side of the 
water, and expect it here. Presently they are joined by 
our genial Colonel Bullock and several subalterns, who 
are duly presented to the trio of British, and invited to 
join them in refreshments. They add materially to the 
entertainment and to its final expense, but Mr. X. feels a 
professional pride in having his guests suitably received ; 
and, as they are obliged to go back to New York by the 
afternoon train and cannot stay to dinner, they cordially 
accept his invitation to lunch, and three or four jovial 
souls among the married officers conclude they would 
rather lunch informally with the Englishmen at the mess 
than go home to dinner. 

Now, it must be here explained that, though by no 
means in its infancy in those days, the officers' mess at 
West Point was controlled by a set of rules and regu- 
lations that might have been concocted for the guidance 
of the pupils of a small boarding-school; and one of 
those rules was to the effect that any officer who intro- 
duced friends to the mess-table, or invited them to par- 
take of its hospitality, should be charged individually 
with the cost of their entertainment. Mr. X. knew it 
perfectly well, and knew also that in the English service 
there was an especial fund for the entertainment of 
visitors, and doubtless all foreign officers supposed that 
the same civilized custom obtained at the Military Acad- 
emy of the United States. However, to go on. When 
it comes time for the gentlemen of Her Majesty's service 
to start for the train, they are duly escorted to the ferry, 
and depart, evidently delighted with their visit, and pro- 
fessing unbounded hopes of " seeing all you jolly good 
fellows at the Rag one of these days, you know." 



AT WEST POINT. 65 

About a fortnight after, Mr, X. encounters the superin- 
tendent, who accosts him cheerfully with, " Oh, Mr. X. ; 
just the man I wanted to see. I've had a pleasant letter 
from Sir Francis Famous, in which he expresses his 
great appreciation of the courtesies extended to him 
here, and he desires to be remembered to you. It seems 
he is a very distinguished cavalry officer, and I am grati- 
fied that we were able to show him so much attention." 
Mr. X. mumbles something to the effect that he is 
charmed to hear it all, and while abstractedly wondering 
wherein his commander had shown the distinguished 
cavalryman so much attention, is recalled to his senses 
by the next remark : " By the way, he mentions that 
there are two or three other young fellows of his ac- 
quaintance coming up next week ; you just look out for 
them, will you ? and see that they have a — well, show 
them all the attention you can." 

Sure enough, another week brings two more young 
Britons with honest, sun-tanned faces and a keen zest for 
sight-seeing. One has been serving in India, the other 
at Hong-Kong, and together they are " doing" the United 
States on long leave. Having first paid their respects to 
the commanding officer,-^that formality which the Eng- 
lish soldier never neglects, — they are affably entertained 
by that functionary while his orderly hunts up Mr. X., 
who happens to be on his way to the riding-hall, and 
thither conducts his new acquaintances, not, however, 
until he has heard the superintendent express his great 
regret that previous engagements prevented his inviting 
them to dine that day, " but his young friend. Captain X.," 
etc., to which one of them blushingly murmurs, " Oh, 
e 6* 



66 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

thanks, thanks," and the other, " Ah — to-morrow, per- 
haps ?" which last the superintendent does not seem to 
hear. These two are tiptop young soldiers. They are 
delighted with the cadet riding, but disgusted with the 
McClellan saddle, which does not seem to suit their cross- 
country seat when they try it ; but they go riding with 
X., and do the rounds of the Point, and are introduced 
to many of the officers at the mess, and dine there with 
X. and his friends, where we duly drink Her Majesty's 
health in unaccustomed and rather fiery sherry, and when 
bedtime comes they have accepted the invitations of X. 
and a brother officer to rough it in the barracks with 
them ; and so they, too, spend three days or so at the 
Point, and go off well pleased, at least with what they 
saw ; and this time X.'s brother officer, a poor infantry 
sub., insists on sharing expenses. It is not long after 
this that the superintendent smilingly informs Mr. X., 
one bright autumn morning, that, in his opinion, " one 
good turn deserves another;" and as Mr. X. is wondering 
what his good turn deserves, the superintendent proceeds 
to develop a new and entirely original interpretation of 
the saying. " You did very nicely by those Englishmen, 
Mr. X. Now, here is a party of French naval officers 

commg up to-day, and as I know you speak French " 

" Indeed, I don't, sir," says X. " Well, everybody says 
you do ; and, at all events, you seem to have more savoir- 
faire than the others (last month's mess-bill was a stun- 
ner, thinks Mr. X. ; now what will this one be ?), and I 
will be glad to have you take them in hand. You have 
nothing to do to prevent it, have you ?" he asks as a 
clincher; and so Mr. X. becomes the entertainer of half 
a dozen elaborately polite Frenchmen, who accept the 



AT WEST POINT. 6/ 

supposed hospitality of the mess as freely as that of 
their own would have been tendered. 

Now, this sort of thing may strike the average reader 
as a very trivial source of tribulation, but it had its 
attendant drags, and by and by the thing worked itself 
into a first-class millstone-around-the-neck. For two 
mortal years visitors — English, French, German, Aus- 
trian, and Russian — kept arriving at the Academy, and 
time and again Mr. X. had to listen to the same apology 
from the superintendent, and the same intimation that 
his young friend Captain X. would do the honors. Time 
and again these parties had to be entertained ; and, 
though one thousand dollars a year was placed in the 
hands of the superintendent for the entertainment of 
visitors to the Academy, tJiat presumably went to the 
Board of Visitors in June, and the politicians who voted 
it when they dropped in for a visit. These were the 
days when superintendents were not generals, and had 
no attendant aides-de-camp to help them through the 
mill, and so Mr. X. was utilized ; and while he could not 
and would not ask the mess to defray these expenses 
of entertainment, and while it rarely happened that 
members thereof came forward and volunteered to share 
them with him, he soon found, to his ineffable disgust, 
that there were some two or three men who generally 
dropped in when foreign visitors were there, who were 
sure to be presented and to accept invitations to join in 
the inevitable refreshments, and then to go off and say 
that that fellow X. was burning his candle at both ends, 
and would soon find himself swamped. As for the 
superintendent, it probably never occurred to him that it 
cost X. a cent. 



68 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

X. was somewhat ruefully contemplating a mess-bill 
and treasurer's account of the usual dimensions (for him) 
one morning in early spring-time, when a brother officer 
of the engineers dropped in for a chat. " What do you 
think of the news ?" was the first remark that seemed 
to possess more than a languid interest for either 
party, " Haven't heard any worth thinking about," was 
the reply. " Didn't you know two niggers had been 
appointed cadets ?" said one. " No; but I'm not in the 
least surprised," said the other. " Well, it is true ; I 
heard it at the supe's office ten minutes ago." " Supe," 
be it known, is the irreverent abbreviative by which the 
average West Pointer in those days was wont to desig- 
nate the magnate in command. That evening, at mess, 
the subject came up for discussion during dinner, and so 
completely had the thing been foreseen, and so utterly 
was it looked upon as a matter of course, that, except 
among the very youthful members present, no comment 
whatever was made. In that party of twenty-five or 
thirty officers it is probable that few were able to tell 
anything of the political opinions of their comrades, and 
there was not a man in the mess who could have classed 
all of them. Some had been reared in the Democratic 
faith, more had risen from the ranks of the Republican 
party ; but among them only one creed was recognized 
in the days of which this chronicle may treat, — loyalty 
to the general government. 

Mr. X. does not propose stopping to portray the virtue 
or credit of the circumstance, but, whatever might have 
been the individual opinions of the officers on duty at the 
Military Academy at that time as to the advisability of 
starting the lately enfranchised in the race for commis- 



AT WEST POINT. 69 

sions in the regular service, they took the fact that repre- 
sentatives were duly entered by proper authority as all- 
sufficient. As judges, stewards, etc., it was simply their 
duty to see that this new and very dark horse had a fair 
show, and the only question in his (Mr. X.'s) mind at 
this day is whether they did not overdo it. 

There was no discussion at all. The youngsters held 
their tongues and listened when the few words of advice 
were spoken by the seniors, and then went off and said 
no more about it. One officer whose father was a strong 
pro-slavery man before the war did say, " Well, it's a free 
country. Uncle Sam owns the craft and hires me as one 
of the crew; I'll handle any freight he chooses to ship, 
but he's loading the old boat down to the guards this 
trip, sure." But there wasn't a man that more conscien- 
tiously strove to do his duty when the " freight" came 
than he. There was only one sentiment. It is the 
nation's school, and we are here to teach to the best of 
our ability any and all scholars the nation may send. 

So much for sentiment, now for narration. One bright 
June morning our burly and vastly popular commandant 
assembled by order his four company commanders, — 
" tactical officers" they used to call us, — and among these 
was Mr. X. 

On all occasions when it was necessary to be impressive, 
" Old Harry" was wont to assume a tragic profundity of 
voice, an awful solemnity, — severity of mien that to the 
uninitiated was something superhuman. It would cause 
a cadet coming into that presence as a culprit for the first 
time to quake in his shoes, while the little rascals of 
drummer-boy orderlies, who were used to it, would be so 
convulsed with suppressed laughter and their efforts to 



70 ■ TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

keep straight faces that they would half the time bolt 
from his presence with no idea of the message on which 
they were sent. It was something that would bring out 
half the battalion giggling around the company officers' 
tents to hear the colonel arraigning his cadet officer of 
the day. The air was as full of boom, rumble, roar, crash, 
and bang as Mark Twain's description of a thunder- 
storm, and yet Mr. X. can recall that when he for the 
first time listened with stunned faculties to a reprimand 
administered to him as cadet adjutant, and it was dawning 
upon his dazed brain that a mistake in the morning re- 
turn of the battalion was a crime akin to forgery, and 
that his chevrons were to be torn off by the roots in 
thirty seconds more, all of a sudden the hurricane ceased, 
a blessed calm stole upon the storm-swept features of the 
colonel and over the senses of the stripling standing 
attention before him, and a mild and benignant voice, 
coming Mr. X. wondered from where, cooed forth, 
" There, youngster, that's all I've got to say ; now go off 
and think no more about it!' This w^as 'way back in cadet 
days, and in Old Harry's first year in the commandant's 
office. It is five years afterwards that he has summoned 
us thither again, and though the skies have changed, 
grim-visaged war smoothed his wrinkled front, the genial, 
winning, lovable old imposture is the same as ever ; he 
has something impressive to say, and as usual proceeds 
to work himself up to the proper frenzy, — his heart is too 
soft for the task. 

Knowing him well, we four are seated before him in 
solemn silence, with decorous and respectful glance. A 
shock-headed drummer-boy, Bohrer, is clumsily fum- 
bling at the strings of the curtain, trying to let down the 



AT WEST POINT. 7 1 

shade. Bohrer is the personification of awkwardness, 
and on him no amount of " setting-up" ever took effect. 
No word is spoken as the commandant gloweringly 
watches his victim, for he is always storming at that boy, 
and letting him have double the length of time at supper 
to pay for it. At last his patience is exhausted. Like 
the resonant roar of the " light twelve" his voice thun- 
ders, " Boy !" and the hapless orderly dropping his work, 
starts at the word, and faces the colonel. " Out with ye !" 
And the youngster tumbles for the door. 

Then Old Harry reviews us with a frowning gaze. 
One after another, slowly and deliberately, he looks us 
completely over, and we as solemnly look back at him. 
Then, slowly and majestically, he rises to the full height 
of his six feet four, and expands his powerful chest ; then 
from the depths of his lungs, slow, measured, ominous, 
detonating in rumbling basso profundo, we hear the 
words, " Gentlemen, the crisis has come 1" 

Well, nobody seems to be disturbed somehow ; all look 
as though they expected it of course, but no one for a 
moment ventures a remark. Meanwhile, sterner and 
sterner the regards of our ponderous chief take us in. 
At last, finding this sort of thing oppressive, one of our 
number, a Kentuckian, who has small reverence for per- 
sons and no sense of dramatic propriety, lapsing naturally 
into the vernacular of the blue-grass country, cheerfully 
pipes up, " Well, I s'pose you mean the nigger," and that 
furnishes Old Harry with his cue. He well-nigh blazes 
with pent-up consternation, but delivers his fire with 
telling effect. The mere use of such a word as nigger 
may cost a man his commission hereafter ; but, to boil 
down the lecture to a point, we receive explicit instruc- 



72 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

tions as to how those young gentlemen of color are to 
be received, protected, and cherished, and by noon of 
that day the pioneers of their race, two in number, are 
safely lodged in an airy room in that portion of the cadet 
barracks devoted to all new-comers, and the press of the 
nation rings with the news that the colored cadet is a 
fact. 

Before they had been there ten days we had, as a 
matter of course, an outrage. Up to that time there had 
been no sign of turbulence among the cadets. There 
was great curiosity on their part to see the new-comers, 
but, thanks to their color, those two young aspirants were 
not subjected to the tormenting system of initiation then, 
and for years previous, in vogue at the Academy. As 
they arrived the " plebes" were duly marked by vigilant 
eyes from the barrack windows, and immediately after 
breaking ranks after dinner that day, or certainly after 
supper in the evening, those who had reported since the 
previous day were surrounded by an eager knot of 
" yearlings" and badgered with questions : " What's 
your name, plebe ?" " What State do you represent ?" 
" Ohio ?" " Great Scott ! fellows, look at this plebe ; says 
he represents the State of Ohio." " Do you aspire to the 
command of troops ?" " You do ? Jeewhillikins ! if here 
isn't a plebe who aspires to the command of troops ! 
Look at him," " You don't ? Then what in blazes did 
you come here for?" All very rough and reprehensible 
sans doute, but leveling, sir, leveling, as all good dem- 
ocrats would have the Academy of the nation. 

The stern, Argus-eyed cadet corporals on duty over 
the new cadets were overpoweri.ngly intolerant of the 
faintest blunder the unsoldierly muscles of the novices 



AT WEST POINT. 73 

were sure to make, and wrathful commentaries were as 
sure to follow ; but all this, and much more, the Africans 
gazed at but took no part in. Few cadets seemed to take 
more notice of them than a prolonged stare, and their 
cadet instructors corrected their blunders in as few words 
as possible, and strove to set them right without fuss of 
any kind. 

It could not be said that they were ignored, for they 
were the centres of attraction ; and so far as officers of 
the tactical department were concerned, all were on the 
qui vive to see that they were unmolested. The two 
were a curious contrast : one a chuckling, bullet-headed 
little darky from Mississippi, whose great eyes would 
wander from object to object as though in search of 
something to excuse the cachination for which his soul 
was longing ; the other a tall, slim, loose-jointed, cadav- 
erous party, with arms and legs of extraordinary length, 
and an indescribable complexion, chalky-white, except 
in spots where the tan struck through, and occasional 
deeper blotches of brown ; little, beady, snake-like eyes, 
high cheek-bones, and kinky hair. No. 2 was the per- 
sonification of repulsive gloom, while little Mississippi 
seemed looking everywhere for a chance for fun. 

In those days the cadets all repaired to a room in the 
barrack basement to have their shoes blacked, and some- 
times just before parade or inspection the whole corps 
would be swarming thither. One morning the new 
cadets were crowded in there, the Africans among them, 
and the first outrage upon the colored cadet was alleged 
to have taken place. 

According to the combined statements of the colored 
gentlemen from South Carolina and Mississippi, the for- 
D 7 



74 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

mer acting as spokesman, the latter unhesitatingly cor- 
roborating by eager nods and gestures, the circumstances 
were substantially as follows : When it came their turn 
to step upon the shoeblack's bench they had been 
roughly hustled off, with much abusive language, by 
their white classmates (no " old cadets" were present), 
and upon their remonstrance and reassertion of their 
rights to have their shoes blacked in their turn, they 
had been seized by the throat, hurled against the wall, 
and held there by certain young gentlemen, whose names 
they gave, who at the time drew bowie- and large pocket- 
knives, and threatened, with much frightful and profane 
emphasis, to cut their hearts out, and then drove them 
from the room. 

The whole story looked plausible, if not probable. 
New cadets were always examined on arrival, to see that 
none had pistols or knives in their possession ; a system 
that had been adopted of necessity in the days when the 
chivalry " ran" the institution, and it was not exactly 
credited that bowie-knives had been brandished ; but the 
colored gentlemen were emphatic and reiterative, the 
Mississippian going so far as to blurt out, " Yes, sah ; 
an' — an' pistols, too — six-shooters," 

An instant investigation was ordered, and half an hour 
from the time the outrage occurred three officers were 
taking testimony in a barrack room. 

Possibly because of the fact that he had been reared 
in the faith of abolitionism, and had been taught the 
crime and shame of slavery from babyhood ; possibly 
because he represented a name that was identified with 
the sending forth of the first colored troops raised in our 
Northern land during the late Rebellion (the scene is 



AT WEST POINT. 75 

commemorated in the admirable painting at the Union 
League in New York City), it fell to Mr. X.'s lot to be 
the recorder of that investigation, and he entered upon 
the duty with every conviction in his mind that the story 
was true. It was just what he had been dreading, and 
here was the time to take the stitch that might save nine 
and prevent all future affairs by securing prompt punish- 
ment of the first offenders. 

First to be examined were the two complainants. 
Hitherto they had simply backed up one another's ver- 
sion of the affair ; now they appeared singly, South Caro- 
lina leading, and very glibly and vindictively he gave his 
testimony, and unflinchingly submitted to cross exami- 
nation. He had done nothing whatever but simply 
suffer the assault. Then came little chuckle-head from 
Mississippi, and, deprived of the supporting presence of 
his spotted associate, it became evident at once that he 
was all afloat. Every time he told his story it differed in 
important detail from his previous attempt. Mr. X. 
argued that he was naturally excited and " flustered" by 
the circumstances of the morning, and secured time for 
his witness to " think over the matter for a while," though 
the board of investigators very properly declined to 
allow him to have a chance to compare notes with the 
gentleman from South Carolina, so he was temporarily 
relegated to a room by himself Meantime, the six new 
cadets mentioned in the accusation as being prominent 
in the outrage were examined one by one. Their stories 
fitted together with exact nicety, nor had they had time 
to concoct one. The instant after the affair took place 
all the implicated parties were placed under surveillance. 
Six or seven eye-witnesses to the transaction were then 



yo TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

examined, and to a man the white cadets testified that 
while there had been some elbowing and shoving be- 
tween New Cadet and the gentleman from South 

Carolina consequent upon a misunderstanding as to 
whose turn it was, no other violence took place, hardly 
a word was spoken, and there was no time for any out- 
rage, as the South Carolinian loudly and excitedly called 
to the Mississippian to follow him the instant he stepped 
back or was shoved back from the bench, and together 
they had hurried from the room, shouting, " Noiv we'll 
see we get our rights," upon which the white cadets had 
indulged in some laughter, doubtless derisive; but one 
and all agreed that not a hand had been laid on the 
colored boys, not a knife had been drawn, and beyond 
the " Who are you shovin' ?" remarks naturally to be 
expected under such circumstances, there had been no 
bad language of any kind. Cross-examination failed to 
shake their statements in the least. 

Then the South Carolinian was recalled. This time 
the whi|e portion of his skin looked ghastly, his beady 
eyes flitted in quick furtive glances from one face to 
another; he gave his version of the affair a third time, 
stolidly, sullenly, as though he knew every word was 
questioned and yet was bound to stick to it. He had 
his lesson pretty well, but slipped on several minor 
points in cross-examination. When the discrepancies 
were pointed out to him, he bit his lip, apparently strove 
to enlarge a knot-hole in the floor with the toe of his 
boot, and muttered that that was all he knew about it ; 
he declined to say any more. He was sent to his room 
and the little Mississippian called in. He broke down at 
the second question, hung his head, giggled, stammered. 



AT WEST POINT. TJ 

chuckled, experimented with his boot-toe on the same 
knot-hole, and then threw up the sponge with an air of 
evident relief. 

Q. " Do you mean to say that your previous statement 
was untrue ?" 

A. " Ye— es, sah." (Chuckle.) 

Q. " Then no knives were drawn ?" 

A. " No, sah." 

Q. " Then, did the cadets lay hands on you or Mr. 
, or not ?" 

A. " No, sah ; they didn't touch us." 

Thereupon one of the investigating officers popped in 
with this question : " In plain words, was or was not 
your whole statement a deliberate lie ?" 

Mr. X. informed the gentleman from Mississippi that 
he need not answer that question, this was a mece pre- 
liminary investigation to see whether or no further pro- 
ceedings would be necessary ; but Chuckle-head was on 
the stool of repentance and wanted to make a clean 
breast of it. He unhesitatingly asseverated that he had 
been lying ; that he and his associate had been put up to 
the whole performance by letters from colored friends 
and carpet-bag politicians, who told them to go ahead 
with any story they liked and they would support them. 
And so the bubble burst. 

A few days more sufficed to close the academic career 
of the little Mississippian. He was unable to pass the 
preliminary examination for admission and dropped out, 
but the South Carolinian started fairly. Liar or no liar, 
the government was bound to give him a chance, and just 
as though his soul were unspotted with guile his instruc- 
tion began. For three long and eventful years the aca- 

7* 



78 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

demic system was drained by the suppuration kept up by 
this poisoned blade of the entering wedge with which 
its enemies had hoped to render it asunder. Then the 
foreign matter fell out through its own decay. 

Of all the low, tricky, vindictive bipeds that walked 
the earth, it would have been difficult for the " friends of 
the movement" to have selected a specimen better quali- 
fied to carry out their plans. Time and again he was 
court-martialed for offenses for which a white cadet 
would have been sent out neck and crop ; but though 
found guilty and sentenced to dismissal, and though the 
high authorities at Washington were compelled to admit 
the absolute justice of the findings and sentence, and to 
stamp them with their approval, yet was the whole gov- 
ernment of the United States so committed to this polit- 
ical e;^periment that the Secretary of War was compelled 
to announce in general orders that " the policy of the 
administration could not admit of the dismissal of this 
cadet at the present time" (or words to that effect), and 
directed his restoration to duty. The darky felt his 
importance, and acted accordingly. He would vent his 
hatred on the old cadets (who ignored him) by kicking 
their shins as he marched behind them in ranks, — a pro- 
ceeding they could not resent at the time, and reporting 
him did no good ; he would deny or excuse it on the plea 
of accident ; it was useless to court-martial, and if other 
means were resorted to — well, here's what followed : 

Sitting in his office as the battalion came marching 
back from supper one winter's evening, Mr. X. noticed 
some stir and disorder in Company " A" as it broke 
ranks; a moment later the colored cadet rushed into his 
presence all excitement. 



AT WEST POINT. 79 

" Mr. X., I claim your protection. I am in fear of my 
life." 

Mr. X. assures the claimant that no harm shall come 
to him, and requests further explanation. The darky 
states that on breaking ranks he had been violently 
assaulted by Cadet Dillard (let us say), pursued to his 
room, and there beaten and abused until he made his 
escape and flew to the officer in charge for succor. 

Mr. X. sends an orderly for Cadet Dillard, who 
promptly appears, — a tall, soldierly Kentuckian. " You 

are accused of having assaulted Cadet on breaking 

ranks. What have you to say ?" 

" It is true, sir. I'm sorry, but I could not help it. 
He was kicking me all the way from the mess-hall. He 
had done it time and again, and at last I lost my temper. 
He ran as we broke ranks, and I was foolish and furious 
enough to follow and cuff his ears for him. He isn't 
hurt, sir, half as much as I am." (That was evident, as 
Dillard limped, and hadn't a mark.) 

" Very well, Mr. Dillard ; go to your quarters in ar- 
rest." And the Kentuckian, humiliated in the very 
presence of his tormentor (Mr. X. uses the word ad- 
visedly), faces about, and goes direct to his enforced 
confinement. The feeling gained ground among the 
cadets at that time that the institution was run solely in 
the interest of the colored man, and that Mr. X. was a 
" nigger worshiper." 

A year before this occurrence, in making his inspec- 
tion of the cadets' mess-hall at dinner-time, Mr. X. 
noticed that there was no " commandant of table" among 
the cadets seated with the gentleman from South Caro- 
lina. " Where is Mr. Hayden ?" (let us call hhn) asked 



80 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

Mr. X. of the cadet corporal at the end of the table. 
The young fellow looked embarrassed, and replied that 
he thought he was somewhere in the mess-hall. 

The " commandant of table" was a cadet lieutenant of 
Company " A," that to which the colored cadet belonged, 
and it was the duty of this young officer to preserve 
order at his table, and to see that all cadets were satis- 
factorily supplied with the rations to which they were 
equally entitled. Some recent newspaper articles had 
asserted that the new colored cadet was starved, de- 
liberately deprived of food and drink, and so the " officers 
in charge" were constantly hovering about his table to 
see that nothing of this kind could happen. Only a few 
days before, the new cadet squads had been broken up 
and their members distributed among the company tables. 
In a few moments Mr. X. came upon Cadet Lieutenant 
Hayden seated at a table in another part of the hall, and 
ordered him to go at once to his own place. 

" Mr. X.," says the cadet, respectfully, but in evident 
excitement, " I saw the superintendent yesterday, and Jic 
promised me that this matter should be settled, so that I 
wotdd not have to sit ivith the colored cadet." 

Probably Cadet Hayden so understood the superin- 
tendent, but it made no difference in the final result. 
Mr. X. reported the dereliction of duty to the command- 
ant of cadets, and that night at parade the cadet lieutenant 
was shorn of his sword, plume, sash, and gold lace, and 
returned to the ranks side by side with the colored 
gentleman near whom he had declined to sit and eat. 

Now, Mr. X. liked that cadet; furthermore, Mr. X. 
liked some young ladies who also liked that cadet, and 
of course, when this affair took place, there were several 



AT WEST POINT. 8 1 

highly- cultivated dames and damsels of very good Repub- 
lican parentage or connections who looked askance at 
Mr. X. from that time forth as a man who wanted to 
make " their Hayd" sit and eat with a low negro. 

Many a good laugh have we had when roughing it 
together on the Yellowstone (Hayden and X. being the 
we in question), for, whatever may have been the disgust 
of his friends, H. was too good a soldier not to know 
that it was purely a matter of duty on X.'s part. 

These incidents are mentioned merely as specimens of 
the efforts made to enforce the rights of this pioneer of 
the colored race at the Academy. That Mr. X. was 
thrown more constantly into disagreeable relations with 
somebody or other in consequence of the principle in- 
volved was simply characteristic of the ill luck which 
pursued him. He it was who most frequently unearthed 
such lapses of discipline and, reporting them, secured the 
punishment of the cadet and the undying hatred of that 
cadet's friends. 

Such letters as used to come in those days ! Ku- 
Kluxism was then in its heyday in the South, and the 
vile, misspelled, profane, obscene, and abusive epistles 
that were constantly received by the commandant, and 
frequently by Mr. X., the gentle reader would not care to 
see in print. We laughed at those bristling fulminations 
from the land of cane and cotton ; but every now and 
then came letters from men of education, — gentlemen 
who propounded a series of questions, — who wanted to 
know whether we did not think we were teaching that 
darky to believe himself a heaven-born superior. Would 
we really introduce him to our own wives and sisters? 
Admitting his political rights, was it wise in the govern- 
/ 



82 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

ment to seek to educate the negro to a position of com- 
mand ? etc., etc. All traps to " draw us out." 

It was easy enough to answer and say that officers at 
the Academy were not there to decide whether the action 
of the government was wise or not, and that so long 
as their official relations towards the cadets, white or 
colored, were those prescribed by law and regulations, 
their personal opinions were of no earthly consequence 
to any one. 

But swarms of people kept coming to the Point and 
poking their noses into everybody's affairs, on the general 
plea of interesting themselves in the welfare of that 
colored cadet. Reporters were buzzing about the post 
incessantly, but their feats of impudence and mendacity 
would require a volume. Next to them in rank as nui- 
sances came the strong-minded women, and the American 
editions of the genus Stiggins, who claimed to represent 
the Methodist or Baptist faith. Somehow or other Mr. 
X. was incessantly detailed to meet and receive these 
gentry, the members of the Press, Sorosis, and the Pulpit, 
and an awful life they led him. There was no matter 
beneath their notice, — there was no subject into which 
they did not pry. The Academy was at their mercy 
now, for under cover of the interest which all American 
citizens were supposed to be taking in the colored cadet, 
these harpies of modern civilization swooped down upon 
the post, and even the personal homes of the officers' 
families were invaded by them in their hungry curiosity, 
" It is the property of the nation, sir," as one ponderous 
divine remarked, "and the public demands accurate 
information as to its internal management." 

Mr. X. tried to be polite to the reporters, — some of 



AT WEST POINT. 83 

them deserved it too, — and generally, after showing them 
over the post, as he was directed by his superiors, he 
offered them the refreshments of the mess. One day he 
had three of them in tow, and was as civil as could be to 
each and all. Three days after, the superintendent sent 
for him, and proceeded to read the following extracts : 

" Through the courtesy of the efficient superintendent. General , 

your commissioner was escorted around the post, taken to the cadet bar- 
racks, and very hospitably entertained by Lieutenant X., a young officer 
of marked intelligence and ability, who seemed eager to open every 
avenue of information, and who promptly answered all inquiry bearing 
upon the much-vexed question of the colored cadet. Subsequently, 
Lieutenant X. introduced us to a number of officers stationed at the 
Point, and it was impossible not to recognize the courtesy of manner 
which distinguished them, and the utter freedom from that hauteur and 
snobbishness which has been alleged to be their characteristic." 

" Now, that's all very well, Mr. X.," said the chief; 
" but now look here ; this is what the Moon says :" 

" The superintendent somewhat gruffly turned us over to the tender 
mercies of a beardless stripling, whom he introduced as Lieutenant X., and 
who lost no time in impressing your reporter with the fact that to strut and 
swagger in a tight-fitting uniform was about the extent of the information 
he had acquired in a four years' schooling at the nation's expense. This 
pigmy second lieutenant professed to believe that the colored cadet had 
been fairly treated by the officers, but was unable to point to any circum- 
stance as sustaining his argument ; and finding it impossible to extract 
any useful information from such a source, your reporter desisted. . . . 

" Subsequently, and doubtless with the hope of securing the favor- 
able notice of the Moon, your reporter was escorted to the officers' club- 
room, where a party of consequential young dandies, without an 
unmortgaged dollar in their pockets, were regaling themselves with 
brandy-smashes and thirty-cent Partagas. No wonder justice is not to be 
obtained for the scholars chosen by the voice of the people to represent 
them at the nation's academy, when its instructors are selected from so 
vapid, empty-headed, and bigoted a class of young snobs." 



84 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" What did you do to offend the Moon man, Mr. X. ? I 
thought you had sense enough to be civil to these d — d 
nuisances," says the superintendent. 

Mr. X. says he does not know ; the three of them were 
together, and he treated them exactly alike. " Better 
send somebody else around with the next batch," he 
suggests. 

Two days after, the Moon man comes up again, and X. 
and others refuse to recognize him, whereupon a brother 
journalist volunteers this explanation : " We are not 
responsible for these things ; what we come here for is 
simply the facts in the case, then when we get back we 
color them tip zvliiclicver way we are told!' So much for 
the reporters, 

Of the swarm of visitors then attracted to the Academy, 
it may be said that they were guided by the Press as to 
the objects of interest to be seen at West Point. Monu- 
ments, trophies, battle-flags, the pictures, the library and 
museum, the lovely scenery, were passed over with dis- 
paraging comment and blase indifference, — a new order 
of things obtained ; and as a result of constant obser- 
vation, Mr. X. is able to state that among all the parties 
whom it was his delight and privilege to show around 
the Point, nine out of ten would eagerly desire to see, 
first, the colored cadet ; second, Fred Grant ; after that, 
anything as it came along. 

This tendency on the part of our visitors gave rise to 
some harmless pleasantries on the part of their military 
cicerones. Cadet Hayden, aforementioned, whose dark 
complexion rendered plausible coloring to the deception, 
was not infrequently pointed out by his comrades as the 
genuine colored cadet, and Fred Grant and the colored 



AT WEST POINT. 85 

gentleman were made to do duty for one another a dozen 
times. " You see," explained Lieutenant Wag, of the 
engineers, " this is so thoroughly democratic an institu- 
tion that one cadet is just as good as another, and I 
really know very few of them apart." To allay all 
possibility of acrimonious criticism on the part of 
avowedly strong levelers of any distinction between 
races, it was found a safe and soothing expedient to point 
out the commanding officer at parade, or else the drum- 
major, when the customary inquiry came for the colored 
cadet. People who could actually go away and say they 
had seen the despised African in positions of absolute 
prominence and command were always glad to do so, 
provided neither themselves nor their remotest relations 
were among his supposed subordinates. 

One rainy morning Mr. X. was putting the first class- 
men, whose graduation was near at hand, through a 
lively exercise in the riding-hall. Bareback and with 
stirrups crossed the cadets were leaping their horses over 
hurdles, and slashing at leather heads with their sabres, 
to the nervous admiration of numerous visitors in the 
gallery. Then the seniors withdrew, and the second 
classmen appeared, and they, too, performed various feats 
in equitation, to the delight of the lookers-on. At the 
close of the second drill, as Mr. X. was leaving the hall, 
he was accosted by the spokesman of a large party 
of what appeared to be students of some theological 
seminary. The spokesman was tall, pompous, gray- 
bearded, and impressive. " Sir," said he, while he pointed 
his cane square at his victim, and his satellites, male and 
female, listened in wrapt attention, — " sir, permit me to 
detain you one moment. I observed that the colored 



86 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

cadet was not among your pupils this morning. At what 
time does he receive his instruction in horsemanship?" 

" Not at all as yet ; he is only a fourth class " 

" I thought as much : I said as much," broke in the 
spokesman, while his flock admiringly held their breath 
and watched the demolition of the victim with all apparent 
delight. "You exclude this young man from participa- 
tion in equestrianism, as you do from other rights too 
numerous to mention, simply on account of his color; 
and yet, I suppose you consider that you are doing your 
duty as an instructor at the Military Academy," etc. 

Mr, X. was allowed no opportunity to explain that not 
until their second year at the Academy were any cadets 
instructed in riding. The ecclesiastic had the floor, and 
did not propose to yield it until he had exhausted the 
subject. Life and temper were both too fleeting to stay 
and listen. Mr. X. beat a retreat. 

But now we come to another and very different source 
of tribulation. Mr. X. approaches the subject with all 
diffidence, if indeed that diffidence do not fall short of 
absolute timidity. In all the time he was on duty at the 
Academy, in all the varied experiences there encountered, 
there was one trial in face of which superintendent, com- 
mandant, the academic staff, and the tactical department 
shrank in common, — the ambitious mamma of an only 
son, that son being a cadet. 

Time was when the fact of being the only son of a 
widowed mother was valid ground for exemption from 
military duty, and, in the light of events herein chronicled, 
Mr. X. declares it to be his conviction that at the Mili- 
tary Academy it should constitute absolute ground of 
exclusion. 



AT WEST POINT. 8/ 

In nine cases out of ten that solitary chicken of the 
fussy old hen has been petted, spoiled, and pampered 
from babyhood. His digestion has been ruined by the 
sweets and lollipops demanded by his infantile majesty 
and all too readily accorded by his over-indulgent parent ; 
his frame is feeble and puny, because his boyhood has 
been passed on the periphery described, with the maternal 
apron-string as a radius ; his temper and disposition are 
querulous, exacting, and tyrannical. He has known no 
rough schooling among boys of his age ; he has never 
learned either independence or self-denial ; he has been 
reared, the tender, sensitive plant, by his nurses and his 
mother, whom he has alternately cajoled and bullied; 
and yet just such a weakling as this sometimes takes a 
notion into his head that he would like to go to West 
Point and be a soldier. Doubtless there is a scene when 
he announces this fact to mamma, but she has too long 
been accustomed to yielding to Sammy's every whim, 
and, after a few days of tears and entreaties, she suc- 
cumbs. Such a mother is never without influence at 
Washington. Pertinacity will accomplish as much there 
as elsewhere, and in the days whereof we write every 
year brought on two or three mother-escorted boys to 
take their initiation. Generally the appointment was 
wrung from a reluctant but powerless President. Be 
that as it may, they were sure to arrive every June. 

Other boys came sturdily alone, went at once to the 
adjutant's office, reported, and were turned over to the 
commandant of new cadets for drill ; but with Sammy 
and his mamma it was different, and they, mind you, are 
merely representatives of a class. They go to the hotel, 
from which point madame dispatches a bell-boy with her 



88 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

card to the superintendent and other officers, for, depend 
upon it, she has come armed with letters of introduction 
to half a score of them, and nothing will satisfy her but 
that she may personally present her aspiring son to each 
and every one. Nor will she permit him to " report" 
until this ceremony has been effected. Then, when he 
does go, she marches protectingly by his side, and, up to 
the very moment when he is ushered into the cadet bar- 
racks, never leaves him, and then only to return to the 
hotel to plot and plan for his interests. Within twenty- 
four hours she has succeeded in making the acquaintance 
of every man and woman on the Point who can have the 
faintest influence over Sammy's future career as a cadet. 
She button-holes the commandant with long stories of 
the heroic deeds of Sammy's ancestors, and of the 
passion for a military life that beset him from earliest 
boyhood. Somebody remarks that the boy looks pale 
and feeble, and that the surgeons may reject him, where- 
upon she descends upon those luckless " saw-bones" 
(with letters), and besieges them individually and col- 
lectively with dissertations upon Sammy's superb consti- 
tution, — " never had a sick day in his life," and as for his 
muscular development, why, Doctor Hammond, whom 
you must know, has always said it was marvelous in a 
boy of his age, etc., etc. In the days of which we write 
it was the custom to start the new cadets on their drill 
as fast as they arrived ; the examinations came later, and 
on the very next day after his reception at barracks 
Sammy made his appearance in a brown linen jacket 
three sizes too large for him, and a squad of lusty 
youngsters, fresh from the farm, whose ruddy faces and 
clear eyes only served to make his sallow complexion 



AT WEST POINT. 89 

look the more ghastly in comparison. Of course madame 
was on hand, following every movement of that squad, 
and the miseries of Sammy when undergoing the process 
of " setting up" were too much for her. She seized upon 
the officer in charge with voluble protestations. It was 
a shame to require her boy to go through such gyrations ; 
he had been drilled all his life ; he took all the prize 
medals at Churchill's school, and the Seventh Regiment 
used to send for him to come and teach their companies — 
or squads, which was it ? it was hideous to make him 
drill with those hobbledehoys ; he was perfectly com- 
petent to take his place at once among the old cadets at 
parade : pointing him out as he came awkwardly stum- 
bling over the heels of his front-rank man marching down 
to supper, and wondering that in the sallow, hollow- 
cheeked, and hollow-chested lad no one seemed to detect 
the latent martial heroism of which she so volubly assured 
them. In one class there came three such boys with three 
such mothers, and then there was a little relief, for they 
soon grew to cordially hate one another, and that gave 
them something else to talk about ; but 'tis of the repre- 
sentative madame mere we are speaking now. The officer 
who had been assigned the duty of superintending new 
cadet squad drills began to dread the rapidly- recurring 
hours for that exercise. She was sure to be there, to 
" corral" him somewhere, to petition for Sammy's relief 
from such unnecessary humiliation as to have to drill 
with a lot of raw boys. Sammy plainly didn't like it, 
and betvveen-times was to be seen wandering dismally 
about the Point with his mamma, pouring his plaint into 
her ready ears. Then she began to assail the commander 
on the subject. It was in vain that official patiently 

8* 



go TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

assured her that no cadet ever entered West Point, much 
less was ever graduated, without having to go through 
the same rigorous drill. She persisted that it was unne- 
cessary with Sammy, — " he was the very best scholar 
at Peachlawn Military Academy," though the fact was 
patent to all who cared to look that the boy was slouchy, 
stooping, and awkward in the last degree : he seemed to 
have no elasticity whatever. Then madame declared 
that his health was suffering from the cruelty and severity 
of his cadet drill-master, and called attention to his own 
pallor and the cadet's flushed countenance. The latter 
was having by far the harder time of the two, for 
" Sammy's" stupidity was ruining the appearances of 
his squad and all chance for corporalship. Madame 
desired to have her boy excused then on the ground of 
ill health, and had well-nigh succeeded, when it was 
whispered to her, malheiireiisemeiit, that this would lead 
to his being declared physically disqualified when he 
came up for examination before the surgeons. Realizing 
that a false step had been made, madame eagerly sought 
acquaintance with the surgeons, and pumped them full 
of information as to the vigor of that youngster's boy- 
hood, explaining that he had never known a sick day 
(though the poor fellow subsequently admitted he had 
been well-nigh raised on medicines), and that his droop 
and pallor were due entirely to mental distress at being 
so ignominiously treated. Sammy got through after a 
fashion ; was launched into the troublous sea of " plebe" 
camp ; was soon recognized as an out-and-out " tender- 
foot;" drills, guard, and "police" were too severe for 
him. Once inside the lines, he was safe, and now madame 
developed the fact that from babyhood something had 



AT WEST POINT. 9 1 

been the matter with his heart, or his lungs, — or was it 
his liver ? Sammy's longest walks were to the hospital 
to get excused : recognized by the other cadets as inva- 
lided, he was let alone, and his heaviest burden was the 
sick-book. Through his Plebe year he crawled in much 
the same fashion, suffering from some mysterious malady 
when it came his turn for guard duty, refusing the solid 
fare of the mess-hall at supper, and requiring the more 
dainty dishes to be had at " the Dutchman's." Sammy 
was generally to be found there after evening parade, but 
alone, — the only cadet in the battalion, probably, who 
had the face to partake of Mrs. Renner's good cheer 
without a sharing comrade. Both his examinations and 
his examiners were superintended by madame, whose 
tongue by this time was known and feared all over the 
vicinity. Young officers whose misfortune it was to have 
to instruct Sammy, and, as a consequence, to spur him at 
times to make him keep pace with his comrades, began 
to find themselves mysteriously losing ground in friend- 
ships and in hitherto cordial relations with neighboring 
families. Months or years after, in many cases, the ex- 
planation was given : ** Well, I heard, from what I then 
considered good authority, that you had said," etc., etc. 
(needless to explain that there was a lady in tJiat case). 
But madame was a ruthless enemy. Her motto was, 
" Either for or against me," and the instructor or cadet 
who was not in some way actively bolstering up the 
nerveless ' cause of her nondescript was handled mer- 
cilessly as woman's tongue and ingenuity could devise. 
Why was it that Mr. X.'s company was the one of the 
four into which these hen-governed striplings seemed to 
fall ? Luck ; nothing but luck, of the worst kind. Were 



92 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

he to live a thousand years he could never forget the 
scene after parade the bright June evening when the cadet 
officers' appointments were published, and Sammy's name 
was not among them. 

" Hell (hath) no fury like a woman scorned," unless it 
was madame when some twenty young gentlemen of 
Sammy's class were decorated with corporal's chevrons, 
but none for Sammy. What made it worse was that 
eight of the twenty had been chosen from Mr. X.'s com- 
pany. Nearly all his " yearlings" had been appointed, 
but not Sammy. For a year the boy had gone through 
such duties as he could not get excused from, in a style 
more dead than alive : he was always dismal, slow, and, 
for a cadet, slovenly; always late at roll-calls, sleeping 
through reveille, having contraband eatables in his room, 
in his clothes-box, candle-box, or up the chimney ; his 
belts were never trim and fresh, his accoutrements were 
always dusty or shabby. With more clothes and far 
more money than his companions, he never succeeded 
in imitating their trim, soldierly, faultless dress and 
carriage ; he was always blundering on drill, going half 
asleep on parade, and twice narrowly escaped being 
caught asleep on guard; yet the blessed mother-eye 
could see naught but perfection, and rage was in her 
heart and malice on her lips when she saw him unap- 
pointed. 

" May I ask, sir, upon what principle you select your 
corporals?" demanded she of the unhappy Mr. X., as 
that young officer was vainly striving to dodge past her 
at the hotel that evening. The halls were swarming 
with people, and, as madame had already been ventilating 
her opinions on the subject previous to his arrival, Mr. 



AT WEST POINT. 93 

X. found that a dozen or more maliciously delighted 
listeners were gathered within ear-shot. " Perhaps," she 
continued, not waiting for his reply,— " perhaps you 
would have us understand that principle doesn't enter 
into the matter at all." X. humbly protests that only 
the superintendent has power to appoint, and that she 
must appeal to that magnate for information; but the 
device is too transparent. She knows well enough that 
the recommendations of the company commanders are 
the basis of selection, and goes on with her tirade. " It 
is time the War Department was informed of the out- 
rageous system of favoritism and partiality some officers 
maintain here. I suppose you would have had your 
colored protege made first corporal, — ha-ha-ha !" and 
with a fine burst of derisive laughter she sweeps victori- 
ous from the scerte. 

" Well, X.," says the commandant, cheerily, next 
morning, " I hear the panther clawed your eyes out last 
night," and all the tactical department joins in the laugh 
at the junior's expense. " All right, gentlemen, laugh 
ahead," is the lugubrious response; "your turn will 
come." 

But it did not seem to. Being the junior, Mr. X. 
found that it fell to his lot to have unpleasant duties 
thrust upon his shoulders which the seniors objected to, 
and Sammy was not the only mamma's boy who was 
handed over to his care. Sammy was enough of a trial, 
however, — when taken in conjunction with the Panther, 
— to eclipse all others. Once a third-class man, his 
career of contemptuous disregard for regulations fairly 
began. Lates, absences, dirty belts, boots, floors, etc., 
rapidly rolled up against him, and many a time did 



94 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

Mr. X. figure as reporting officer. " He is persecuting 
my boy on every possible occasion," said the Panther to 
the professors. " He is always sneaking around to catch 
him at something, and reporting him on suspicion if he 
cannot," was her way of putting it to the ladies. (Bless 
their hearts ! they always told Mr. X. of it for fear she 
would say it to him herself) " He prowls round the 
barracks at midnight when gentlemen are asleep, just to 
see if he cannot get an excuse to inspect Sammy's 
room," was another allegation. 

Night inspections of the cadets' rooms were required 
once a week, at least, of the four company commanders, 
the object being to see that the cadets were present, that 
no lights were burning after ten o'clock, that no cooking 
or " visiting" was going on. Great hands the cadets were 
in those days at getting up contraband suppers in their 
rooms, stewing oysters or " hash" over the gas, and spill- 
ing the unlawful comestibles in greasy confusion on the 
floors ; and of all such accomplishments Sammy was a 
tireless exponent. There was more of it going on at all 
times in his room than anywhere else. " He could not 
bear the coarse food of the mess-hall," mamma explained, 
" and needed the delicacies to which he had been accus- 
tomed." So it often happened that Sammy was caught 
in flagrante delictu and promptly demerited. There was 
nothing vicious in it, per se, and other cadets caught in 
the same way took their demerit marks and three or four 
" punishment tours" without a murmur; but this Sammy 
declined to do. Cadets in addition to their "demerits" 
were awarded by the superintendent on the weekly 
punishment list two, three, or four " extras," as they were 
called, or a similar number of confinements. The " extra" 



AT WEST POINT. 95 

was a nuisance. On Saturday afternoons at two o'clock 
all cadets awarded that punishment appeared equipped 
and armed as sentinels, and each was assigned a post or 
" beat" in the area of barracks, up and down which he 
must silently walk until time for evening parade, — some- 
times four hours. X. remembers to have seen as many 
as sixty or seventy of the corps so disporting themselves 
in the long spring afternoons, and, while few utterly 
escaped them, there were some cadets who were always 
there. When Sammy had tried two or three of these 
and still had a dozen to " walk off," he decided that the 
thing was an imposition. So mamma's services were 
called into requisition. She was making her head-quar- 
ters somewhere around New York just then, and took 
to coming up on the noon train. Then Sammy would 
get a permit excusing him from " extra" because of his 
mother's sudden arrival, she having to go back in the 
evening. This worked well for a fortnight, but between 
times the youth was rolling up more of them, and the 
commandant called the superintendent's attention to the 
fact that while other cadets were serving out their pun- 
ishments Sammy was getting off scot free ; so it was 
ordered that when excused on Saturday he should walk 
Sunday afternoon. This was an unchristian barbarity 
that no mother could stand ; there were a number of 
cadets whose array of punishment " kept them on" both 
days, but the Panther was up in arms by first train and 
interviewed the superintendent. That boy " had been 
brought up in the shadow of the church, and should not 
be forced to see his day of rest turned into a tread-mill," 
she argued; "he had always observed it as a holy day." 
The superintendent grimly pointed to the record for 



96 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

a Sunday within the month whereon Sammy, excused 
from church by reason of headache, had worshiped and 
glorified by tearing around the resounding halls of bar- 
racks with two cavalry sabres, " hived" for the occasion, 
clattering after him, and making the peaceful morning 
hideous by rolling the policeman's iron buckets down the 
iron stairways, to the great discomfiture of the " plebe" 
sentinel on the lower floor. The Panther of course 
declared this statement to be a malicious invention of 
Mr. X.'s, — who was the reporting officer, — but the evi- 
dence was against her. She left in some discomfiture, 
but in no wise conquered. Then we heard of her in 
Washington, and pretty soon Sunday extras were stopped ; 
but the superintendent substituted two confinements for 
each extra. A cadet confined for punishment was com- 
pelled to remain in his room from 2 p.m. until first drum 
for parade on Saturdays or Sundays. All Sammy's Sun- 
day extras being converted into confinements, placed him 
on the list of victims for months to come, with a number 
of Saturday punishments still to walk off and " more 
a-coming." Finding it impossible to get excused before- 
hand from these Saturday tribulations any longer, Sammy 
resorted to another dodge. He would take his post at 
two o'clock, walk till 2.30, then call for the corporal of 
the guard for relief, and present himself pale and depressed 
to the officer in charge for permission to go to the hos- 
pital and get excused as too ill to stand it. After a few 
successes, this game was blocked by the order that a 
cadet should not be considered as having served his 
punishment tour unless he " walked off" the allotted 
number of hours. 

Spring came, and mamma with it, to stay a while. A 



AT WEST POINT. 97 

room had been set apart next the commandant's office, 
in which relations of cadets could see them during study- 
hours for ten minutes, or so, on making their wishes 
known to the " officer in charge," and on Saturdays and 
Sundays cadets on extra or confinement were allowed to 
meet relations when the latter arrived, but were limited 
to fifteen minutes. 

One balmy Saturday late in April, Mr. X., being officer 
in charge, had disposed his skirmish-line of extra men 
in the area, and was in conversation with Captain San- 
ford, when the latter, glancing out of the window towards 
the sally-port, exclaimed, " Great Scott ! X., you're in for 
it, — here comes the Panther. Good-by, old fellow : take 
care of yourself," and was off like a shot. Another 
minute, and the orderly ushered in madame, majestic, 
formidable, basket-laden. " I wish to see my son ; the 
superintendent has deigned to grant his permission, sir," 
was her only remark to Mr. X., who could not escape, 
but now went to give the necessary orders for Sammy's 
temporary release. When the fifteen minutes were up it 
was necessary to send a messenger to remind the youth 
that orders were orders. X. knew that if he did it there 
would be the devil to pay, but his instructions were 
explicit. Sammy went ruefully back to his post, and 
madame whisked her heavy silks past the cap-raising 
officer in charge with no more notice than a glare ; but 
didn't she haul his unhappy name in the mire for all time 
thereafter ? 

It was Sammy's last extra, though. Madame never 

left the Point until she had succeeded in persuading the 

surgeons that her boy's health absolutely demanded his 

release from such punishment : so they advised that his 

^ g 9 



98 TRIAI.S OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

extras be changed to confinements, and they were. Then 
she sailed in to prove that he was suffering for lack of 
exercise, and that he must not be confined to his room 
in the afternoons ; but the authorities held that if he 
needed exercise he ought not to be so constantly excused 
from drills as he was, on plea of headache, and the con- 
finements stuck. Then madame left us again for a brief 
spell, — we knew not whither she had gone, — but May 
was then with us. Sammy and his classmates were wild 
with excitement over the near approach of the long- 
expected ten weeks' furlough to which those who had 
behaved themselves would be entitled after the June 
examination, and we prayed that she might not return 
meantime. But she did, and in a hurry too. 

One night Sammy was missing. An inspection at 
1 1 P.M. revealed the fact that he was not in his room, nor 
did his room-mate know where he was. According to 
regulations, the cadet officer of the day was routed out 
and ordered to " inspect for him every half-hour." This 
young officer in the performance of this duty was com- 
pelled to sit up all night, and was swearing mad when, 
just before reveille, Mr. Sammy sauntered into the area 
of barracks. 

"Where the mischief have you been, Sam? Don't 
you know you're ' hived absent' ? Here I've been after 
you ever since taps." 

Sammy turns white, for he knows that he is in for a 
scrape this time. It means dismissal, unless he can say 
he was not off cadet limits. That morning at nine o'clock 
the cadet adjutant was seen to leave the commandant's 
office, go to his own quarters, and presently reappear in 
his full uniform, with plume, sash, and sword. Every 



AT WEST POINT. _ 99 

cadet in the corps knew what that meant : somebody to 
be placed in arrest. The adjutant made a bee-Hne for 
" C" Company's quarters. His sword was heard clinking 
against the iron stairs up to the third floor, a door opened 
and closed, then the sword came clinking down again. 
The erect cadet figure stalked back to the first division, 
and when Bentz's bugle summoned the sections to form 
for second recitation at 9.30, the whole battalion knew 
that Sammy was caged. 

Next morning the commandant was summoned over 
to the superintendent's office. In ten minutes he returned 
to his quartette of assistants. " Well, gentlemen, Mrs. 

has come, and, X., you've got to go and see her. 

She's waiting for yoiL at the liotel" 

" Was there a man dismayed ? 
Not though the soldier knew 
Some one had blunder'd. 
Theirs not to make reply, 
Theirs not to reason why, 
Theirs but to do and " 

X. often wondered what his sensations would be when 
ordered to charge a battery. He thinks it a bagatelle to 
such duty as was assigned him, and so sought to tem- 
porize. Hadn't he been thrust into this particular im- 
minent deadly breach as often as was his due ? Wasn't 
it some one else's turn ? " Perhaps so," says the command- 
ant, " but, you see, she got Sammy's telegram yesterday, 
— she has just arrived, too much prostrated, she says, to 
come to the superintendent, and he won't go. In fact — 
hang it ! X. — the boy's in your company, and you've got 
to go and explain the matter to her." 



100 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

X. goes on his mission with sinking heart. Half-way 
up to the hotel he catches sight of the prostrated lady 
marching up and down the piazza. As he enters the 
inclosure she faces him and halts [liorresco referens ! I see 
her yet) : his face is pale with dismay, hers with pent-up 
wrath. A crowd of curious visitors is idling about the 
porticoes, and madame sweeps forward like a Meg Mer- 

rilies in black. " Good-morning, Mrs. ," falters poor 

X. " Good morning, sir, indeed ! What have yoii done 
to my boy T' 

Ah well ! Years have rolled by since then, and no 
especial pleasure is to be derived from this reminiscence. 
Mr. X. decides to dismiss it with the brief conclusion 
that, odd as it may appear to those who have worn the 
cadet gray, our Sammy escaped without court-martial. 
Nothing could exceed the energy, vim, and final success 
of that indomitable woman. For three days and nights 
she flew back and forth between the Point and Wash- 
ington. Then it transpired that Sammy had been guilty 
of no unavoidable breach of discipline, — the poor boy 
had been suffering from an attack of palpitation, or pa- 
ralysis, or something of the heart. The night was hot 
and sultry, not a breath of air stirring, and so, unable to 
sleep in barracks, " he had wandered out on the plain 
and spent a wretched night in pacing to and fro," all of 
which with much earnestness and volubility madame had 
repeated again and again to every one in authority, and 
with telling effect. Sam wrote an explanation setting 
forth that he had not been off "cadet limits," but vouch- 
safed no further remark ; all that was left to mamma. 
Some comment was excited by the fact that he had not 
gone to the hospital, his invariable resort at such, and 



AT WEST POINT. 10 1 

many other, times, as also by the spontaneous reply of 
the cavalry sentinels when questioned the next day that 
none of them had seen anything of any cadet on the 
plain that night. But shortly after madame's arrival she 
was informed of this statement of the sentinels, and 
within ten hours Privates Kelly and Mulligan remem- 
bered that as they were coming home on pass, about 
midnight, they saw a cadet leaning against a tree over 
near the flag-staff, apparently sick, and McFadden, of the 
second relief, come to think of it, saw a young feller in 
the old mortar-battery sitting there two hours nearly. 
The case was decided in Washington before it was fairly 
opened at the Point, and, unless it was Mr. X., nobody 
suffered. Indeed, as the Panther fiercely assured the 
denizens of the Academy, " The thing never would have 
occurred at all if it hadn't been for that horrid little 
martinet," which every mother, except one, accepted, 
doubtless, as gospel truth. 

As Mr. X. previously remarked, madame was only the 
type of a class. We had many very like her, though 
not quite so bad. Sammy's mother was the acknowl- 
edged leader of the lot, and she was the terror of the post. 
The mere announcement of her arrival at the hotel was 
sometimes sufficient to cause the superintendent to take 
to his bed, and the post-surgeon to betake himself to 
New York, for the latter was a martyr to her intermina- 
ble harangues about that delicate chest, or throat, or 
something or other with which her bantling was afflicted, 
and by reason of which he should be excused from duty. 
Once the junior doctor had the temerity to suggest that 
as Sammy was, according to her account, such a physi- 
cal wreck, it would be impossible for the medical board 

9* 



102 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

to " pass" him on his graduation ; but it was the most 
unhappy remark " Squills" ever ventured, for he had 
bearded a lioness in her den, yea, even in the defense of 
her sickly cub, and ere long his life was made a burden 
to him, and his reputation, personally and professionally, 
began mysteriously to run down-hill. 

Thackeray makes old Major Pendennis hold to the 
creed of never trusting, above all, never offending a 
woman, and Mr. X. strove in solemn earnest not to 
offend this one, but all to no purpose ; he was a repre- 
sentative of the tyrannical and outrageous system by 
which Sammy was brought to punishment, and so — fell 
under the ban. It would be useless to describe here the 
ingenuity with which she pursued him, or the scrapes in 
which he became involved. Years have elapsed since 
then, Requies<^^3'^' in pace. 

Soon after our pioneer African's admission to the 
Academy a change had taken place in the position of 
commandant of cadets. Our genial old Harry, after five 
years of valuable service, had been relieved, and the 
summer of 1870 brought with it the new incumbent. We 
were in camp when he arrived, and he was soon domi- 
ciled in our midst, as much at home as though he had 
been among us for a year. Professionally, and by name, 
he was known to every soldier, regular or State guards- 
man, throughout the United States. Personally, he had 
but slight acquaintance with the officers of the tactical 
department, only the senior and junior having ever met 
him before. Mr. X. is well aware that now he diverges 
far from the original channel of these articles, and that 
what follows is in no way appropriate to the title, but, 
writing of West Point in and after 1870, he can think of 



AT WEST POINT. I03 

nothing without thinking of Upton, and, thinking of him, 
it is hard not to write. 

It was in 1866 that X. first knew him : the general was 
then at West Point busy with the preparation of his first 
system of tactics, and X., a young enthusiast on such 
subjects, hving close to him in the " officers' angle" of 
barracks, was accustomed to spend many an hour listen- 
ing to the exposition of his plans. He had not known 
the general a week before the conviction dawned upon 
him that Upton possessed three characteristics to an 
almost abnormal extent, — frankness, nervous energy, 
and tireless application. The close acquaintance and 
friendship that followed years afterwards served only to 
strengthen that conviction. He came to us in deep 
mourning in 1870; the recent death of his dearly-loved 
wife had thrown a pall over his life and hope, but it was 
evident that he had determined so to environ himself 
with incessant occupation as to crush out any possibility 
of morbid mourning. He was even gentler, more sub- 
dued in manner than when X. knew him four years 
before, and though the winning smile was rarer by far, it 
was none the less kindly and genial when it came. Up- 
ton's smile was something that in all these long years 
of separation X. has never forgotten. His eyes were 
fully as much involved as the firm mouth under its heavy 
moustache; indeed, Upton's eyes were more indicative 
of his mood than the mouth, for that was almost hidden. 

The first thing the corps of cadets discovered with 
reference to Upton was that he was desperately in earnest. 
He detected a certain element of " slouchiness" among 
the upper class men, and set to work to crush it out. 
X. well remembers the horror and indignation with 



104 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

which certain first class men received the order to attend 
" setting-up" drill until they could learn to carry them- 
selves erect. Some begged permission to remonstrate 
with their new commandant, but they might as well have 
talked to the statue of Sedgwick. In ten days the corps 
had settled down to the dismal realization that here was 
a man over whom they " couldn't come it" in the least. 

X. had served under and known several commandants, 
but none like Upton. He was by long odds the strictest 
and most exacting. He was the firmest in his convic- 
tions and the most immovable in his decisions. Once 
determined on a certain move he would carry it through, 
even at times when he knew that, had he to do it over 
again, his course would have been different. He was 
never disheartened, never out of patience, and X. never 
saw him out of temper. Being in mourning that first 
summer, the general rarely went anywhere, and spent his 
evenings in camp. It so happened that X. too was 
something of a hermit then, and in this way they were 
thrown together; acquaintance ripened into friendship, 
and that continued until the rude disruption at the hand 
of death that came this spring. X. turns sadly enough 
to his huge scrap-book, wherein grouped together are a 
number of letters, some of this very year, in the utterly 
indescribable chirography of the general, — Rufus Choate 
hardly wrote a hand more unpicturesque, — and there too 
is a heavy envelope bearing his superscription and ad- 
dressed to the Presidio, across which are the simple 
words, "Too late." All last winter (i 880-81) we had 
been in correspondence about the revision, — the revision 
that now will never trouble him more. 

After camp was over and Mr. X. with the battalion 



AT WEST POINT. I05 

moved into barracks, the general filled his house with 
company, relatives of his wife and their friends, and so 
it happened that he was often compelled to give up his 
own room. Many and many a night in the winter of 
1870 and 1871 has he appeared at X.'s rooms in the 
angle, where his bed was always ready for him. That 
was his harbor of refuge when crowded out by his own 
hospitality ; and here it was that the friendship ripened 
almost into intimacy. The first night he came was but 
the pattern of all that followed. We talked for half 
an hour or so, then Upton quietly arose, took from his 
breast-pocket a small Bible, seated himself near the lamp 
and read in silence awhile, and then when ready for bed 
he knelt in prayer, and continued on his knees a long 
time. In all the nights he spent with X. this was never 
neglected, for Upton was as fervent and earnest in his 
faith as he was in every detail of his duty. 

The corps did not like him. Cadets seldom do like an 
officer who is thorough in the performance of his duty. 
The graceless young scamps dubbed him " the Christian 
soldier," as though there were a possibility of reproach 
in the combination of terms, and taxed their brains to 
invent doggerel rhymes at his expense, which they sang 
when they thought he could hear them and not detect 
the singers ; but of all this buffoonery Upton was to all 
appearance serenely unconscious, no word or sign ever 
betrayed that he even heard the words. There were 
certain cadet traditions and customs that had existed in 
his day, and in 1870 still obtained in the corps, against 
which he declared vigorous war, and thereby intensified 
the feeling against him among the cadets. They could 
not but respect him, he was so fair, square, and utterly 



I06 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

impartial, but they disliked him all the same for his re- 
lentless discipline, Upton knew this perfectly well, and 
never made the faintest change or concession to alter the 
sentiment He was as strong and independent a man as 
ever lived, and, whether among the cadets or his officers, 
unswerving in the enforcement of regulations. 

There was only one point in his mental armor that did 
not seem absolutely impervious. Allusion has been made 
to the fact that he ordered all cadets, from first class men 
down, who were not erect and soldierly in carriage to 
attend setting-up drill, and Upton himself was not erect. 
There was a decided roundness of back between the 
shoulders that gave him almost the appearance of being 
stoop-shouldered, a fact quickly seized upon and exag- 
gerated by the cadets. In those days he was thin and 
spare, and his face, deeply lined and seamed, was soldierly 
in the last degree, but the moment he rose to his feet the 
defect in his back and shoulders became apparent, and 
he knew it. On horseback it was worse yet. Upton was 
what is called a loose rider ; he used one of the huge 
saddles, with schabraqiie and housings such as were 
affected by the general officers during the late war, and 
" rode over the pommel." Bending way forward as he 
did, the stoop of the shoulders was exaggerated, and he 
never appeared to so little advantage as when in the 
saddle. Whether his wounds were the cause of this or 
whether the defect was constitutional X, never knew, but 
that Upton was conscious of it he feels convinced, be- 
cause the general told him he knew it, and that the 
general was sensitive about it he feels assured, because 
the general spoke to him of it frequently. 

Speaking of his wounds reminds X. that in the whole 



AT WEST POINT. 10/ 

time he knew Upton he never once heard him allude to 
them, and only once or twice did he ever mention his 
service in the field. Once X. asked him about his cele- 
brated charge at Spottsylvania on the loth of May, when 
with twelve picked regiments he pierced the rebel centre 
and captured the guns in his fi-ont. Said Upton, " Well, 
that day I called up the officers and told them that from 
the moment we started I wanted to hear not a word from 
any one of them except ' forward ! forward !' " but Upton 
never could be got to say what he thought of Mott's 
failure to support him. 

We had frequent visitors that summer ; lots of men of 
our service came up, and occasionally they were officers 
of about Upton's time as cadet. One incident, as illus- 
trative of his modesty or indifference, X. will never 
forget. The commandant's tent ^as a great place for 
fighting battles o'er again, though he himself rarely, if 
ever, could be induced to speak of his own. One day 
six or eight of us were gathered there, and the floor was 
held by one of those blatant gentlemen who, having 
graduated before the war (and in this instance before 
Upton), and having had just as good a chance as the 
gallant band of ambitious young lieutenants who rose 
to be generals, had preferred the safety, ease, and slow 
promotion of mustering and disbursing duty, and whose 
only brevet was for the farcical service of the " recruit- 
ment of the armies of the United States." 

For some reason or other gentlemen of this stamp 
always found it necessary to talk more loudly about the 
war and to be more savagely critical in their remarks 
than the fellows who had been all through it, and also 
there was a strong tendency on their part to disparage 



I08 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

the services of the successful men, and attribute the pro- 
motion over their heads of such soldiers as Mackenzie, 
Upton, Merritt, Custer, Webb, and the like to political 

influence. So Major was holding forth this day 

about luck in the line, and the rest of us were sitting 
around listening rather disgustedly, when he startled us 
with this : 

*' Well, now, Upton's another instance. Of course, I 
don't mean to say but what you fought all right when 
you got a chance, Upton, but you won't deny that there 
were fellows who went through the whole war with 
the regulars, stuck to their regiments or batteries, got 
wounded time and again, and only got a brevet ; but here 
you are a lieutenant-colonel and never got a scratch T 

Considering the fact that Upton had been wounded 
three times in three different engagements, he might have 
been excused for a pointed reply, but he only smiled 
quietly, as he sat writing at his desk, and said, " Well, 

, there are lots of men who think just as you do 

I've no doubt." 

Where that colored cadet was concerned Upton did 
even more than his whole duty. He considered that the 
integrity of the Academy was involved in the experiment, 
and was determined to see that the unprepossessing 
South Carolinian had fair play. All through that long 
academic year of 1870 and 1871 he was incessantly on 
the alert, the faintest complaint of the darky led to 
immediate and thorough investigation, even though pre- 
vious experiences had established the fact that he was 
an outrageous liar, and we, the commandant's assistants, 
were held to a rigid accountability in all matters relating 
to the gentleman of color during our tours as officer in 



AT WEST POINT. IO9 

charge. One afternoon late in the fall of 1872, in speaking 
of the matter, the general suddenly exclaimed, " Do you 
know, X., I'm beginning to believe that the trouble with 
that darky is that we've made altogether too much of 
him ?" and therein the general had hit the nail upon the 
head. 

And yet there was an occasion on which the gentle- 
man from South Carolina had been roughly handled, and, 
had it been allowed to leak out at the time, no doubt the 
magniloquent press of the country would have expanded 
the affair into the longed-for outrage, but it didn't leak 
out. Mr. X. believes at this day that when the thing 
happened only three persons were cognizant of the facts 
in the case: ist, the colored cadet himself; 2d, an ad- 
mirable and most efficient officer then on duty at the 
A^cademy; and, 3d, Mr. X. The first named never saw 
fit to allude to it, probably because he had the deep 
sagacity to know that here at least he could not, even by 
implication, charge the assault upon a' cadet, and because 
the facts in the case would hold him up to deserved scorn 
and derision ; and as for the two officers, the first may or 
may not have mentioned it to other friends besides Mr. 
X., but not until long after did the latter speak of it to 
anybody. 

It happened in this way. One bitter night in February, 
1 87 1, when the thermometer was away below zero, the 
sudden alarm of the long roll from the guard-house 
tumbled the battalion of cadets out of their beds and 
into their ever-ready " reveilles."* Those members of 



* A term given by cadets to the old uniforms and loose easy shoes 
into which they jump just in time for the early morning roll-call. 

10 



no TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" B" and " C " companies living on the third and fourth 
floors found themselves almost suffocated by a thick 
stifling smoke, and Mr. X., tearing down the iron stairs 
six at a leap, found the area of barracks a broad sheet of 
light, and the whole " Dialectic" Hall in the very middle 
of the barracks a mass of flames. We had the old Phila- 
delphia double-decker out in a few seconds and a stream 
into the south window, while the Cadet Hook and Ladder 
Company ran its light scaling-ladders from the roof of 
the barrack porch to the windows above and brought 
down the young fellows who could not make their way 
through the smoke ; none too soon either, for in three 
minutes the flames were raging along right and left 
through the fourth story, and eating their way with in- 
credible fury and rapidity over the entire length of the 
barracks. That was a dismal night. Dozens of the 
corps had escaped with only the clothing they could 
seize at the moment : all were soon coated with ice. 
Every man had his appropriate duties to perform, either 
on the brakes of the hand-engines, manning the hose 
lines of the steamers, or the ladders, or bucket lines ; few 
had gloves, many only their shell-jackets, but all along 
until broad daylight those plucky boys toiled unflinch- 
ingly; wet, frozen, scorched, smoke-blinded by turns, 
every man was at his post, and the chief engineer of the 
department as then organized at West Point smiled 
grimly, as he stood with Upton directing the streams in 
the glare of the flames at the angle, when the general 
said, " Who wouldn't be proud of the corps of cadets 
if he could see them to-night ?" 

And yet there was a shirk. With the exception of 
certain picked men who belonged to the " crack" hose 



AT WEST POINT. Ill 

company, then commanded by Cadet Captain Wetmore, 
and including among its pipe-men such adventurous 
spirits as " Tony" Rucker, Davenport, and Birney, all the 
"A" company cadets belonged to the hand-engine, and 
had worked manfully at the brakes until the freezing of 
the valves had rendered their machine useless, when 
their first sergeant called them off, and their officers 
formed them into bucket lines up the halls of barracks. 
Then it was that the word began to be passed, " Where's 
the nigger?" No other cadet was missing, — he was 
known to be safe, for he lived on the ground-floor, and 
early in the fight had been seen completely equipped in 
overcoat, arctics, gloves, and even ear-mufflers, a marked 
contrast to the majority of his white comrades, who, 
having turned out in the first things they could lay their 
hands on, seemed to scorn any addition until they had 
that fire under control. It was about two o'clock when 
the alarm sounded, and from that time until somewhere 
about five not a soul had seen him. The chief engineer, 
moving from point to point, noting the work of his men 
and " verifying their presence," called upon the soldierly 
cadet captain of Company " A" for his report. " Every 
man present, sir, and at his post except the n — except 
Mr. Smith,"was the reply, and then it seems that the chief 
muttered something uncomplimentary to the African, 
and went off about his business. But another officer 
hearing of the matter, and being a fellow who could 
stand no nonsense, bethought himself of the fact that 
not fifty yards away lay the gymnasium, cozily warmed 
by steam and softly saw-dusted as to its floor. He said 
nothing, but repaired thither at once ; the door was closed 
but unlocked ; he opened it and quietly entered. All was 



IL2 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

dark and still save where a faint hissing in a far corner 
indicated the location of the steam-coil, and to that 
corner he groped his way, stumbled over something 
curled up close to the heater, bent down and lifted that 
something gently but firmly by the ear, calmly escorted 
that something (by the same means) to the door, and 
then with one vigorous kick vis a tergo sent the colored 
cadet flying out into the area of barracks, and for once, 
anyhow, justice was done the pioneer of his race at the 
military academy of the nation. 

In the light of the intense satisfaction he derived from 
hearing of this incident the Radical Republican, Mr. X., 
forgot that there were such things as tribulations for 
officers at West Point. He may not have related the 
outrage just as it occurred, but as he remembers it after 
this lapse of years, and with its recital gladly brings this 
paper to a close. 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. II3 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT TO THE 
NATIONAL GUARD. 

The riot alarm struck just at 8.45 as Mr. X. was 
trudging his way down to the armory. Late as mid- 
night there had been a conference. The mayor, the 
sheriff, the governor of the State, the general manager 
of the biggest railway of the Northwest, the adjutant- 
general of the State, — one of the finest soldiers it has 
ever been Mr. X.'s lot to be associated with, and of 
whom he wrote in a previous paper, — and finally Mr. X. 
himself The governor knew and had reason to know 
that the civil authorities could not control the situation. 
The mayor and the sheriff — both Germans — thought 
that they might control the mob by some native elo- 
quence of their own. We — the governor, the adjutant- 
general, and Mr. X., now a colonel and aide-de-camp on 
the staff of the governor — had convictions to the con- 
trary. We knew the civil authorities could 7tot control 
the mob, and that nothing short of the sharp arm of the 
National Guard would put an end to the lawlessness and 
riot. 

The mob — mostly Germans and Polanders — had swept 
through the valley of the Menomonee, cleaning out the 
railway shops, driving workmen from their benches, 
threatening death to any man who dared to work after 
their demand, " acht stimde" (eight hours), had been acted 
upon by the employers — unless in their interest. The 



114 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

great Allis works — the finest in the West — were closed 
because the mob threatened the workmen, and the civil 
authorities were powerless to protect them, and the 
mammoth rolling-mills far down towards the South Point 
were to be the next object of attack. 

Out in the Menomonee Valley worse things prevailed. 
There lay the great shops of the Milwaukee and St. Paul 
Railway Company, every man driven from his bench, the 
round-house, the machine-shops, the repair-shops, with 
a thousand plucky employes ; yet, having no organiza- 
tion, no leader, no arms, they had been driven from their 
places by a mob of frenzied Polanders and " low Ger- 
mans," and the municipal authorities, with a reserve of 
fifty police, and the county magnates, with the sheriff 
and his posse coinitatiis, and the Teutonic eloquence of 
the two combined could effect nothing. Neither one 
would risk his political chances by declaring war against 
the vagabonds that had already despoiled the city's fair 
name. Neither dared to call in certain aid against the 
German name ; both knew that, while at the outset the 
strike was begun by honest but misguided workmen, in 
less than twenty-four hours the strikers were re-enforced 
by all the thugs, thieves, and blackguards that could be 
found in a population of two hundred thousand, — mostly 
foreigners, — and, above all, that they were now being 
hourly incited by the furious speeches of avowed Anar- 
chist leaders to proceed at once to the enforcement of 
their demands by the application of the torch and their 
own peculiar explosive, dynamite. It was known and 
well known that the Anarchists had been drilling under 
arms for weeks ahead, and the mayor himself knew, five 
days before the great parade, under the red flag, of the 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. II5 

2d of May, that every pawnbroker's or second-hand 
shop in town had been gutted of its arms. 

Knowing well the evil elements in the population, 
strenuous efforts had been made for some time before- 
hand by our adjutant- general to get the National Guard 
into shape for business. We had three pretty good 
regiments in the State and one battalion of infantry of 
four companies in the metropolis. But a crack troop of 
cavalry and a light battery manned by an admirably- 
drilled complement of cannoneers, all dashing young 
Americans, were our local main-stays. Of course we 
were balked by demagogue politicians in the Legislature, 
and the governor himself was for a long time reluctant 
to believe that there was any necessity for this prepara- 
tion. He showed the stuff he was made of, however, 
one night at a convention of the officers of the National 
Guard, when Mr. X. had inflicted upon them a long 
lecture on riot duty. No sooner had the lecturer finished 
than up rose the commander-in-chief Six feet three in 
his stockings, with a head and mane and beard like a 
gray lion, massive and impressive, the biggest man of 
the hundreds in the senate chamber. 

" Gentlemen," he shouted, " I want to say one thing 
right now. Colonel X. is all right except in just one 
point, — in his instructions and warnings about the way 
you receive orders from mayors and marshals and 
sheriffs. Don't you worry about that! Whenever the 
time comes for you to tackle a mob in this State, I'll be 
thar as quick as you can, and you'll get yoiw orders from 
vie!' 

The applause that greeted the chief was deafening ; 
but could we have looked ahead a brace of years and 



Il6 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

seen how superbly that stalwart promise was to be re- 
deemed, the dome of the capitol would not have stood 
the uproar. 

However, as the spring of 'S6 wore on, the adjutant- 
general at the capital and Mr. X. in the metropolis were 
in almost daily communication. 

The latter was advised to keep constant watch on the 
situation, and the days were rare when he was not riding 
through the very large districts occupied by the Po- 
landers and the socialistic Germans, and sending his 
conclusions to his superior. The detectives willingly 
told him all they knew, but the chief of police (a Ger- 
man of most kindly and affable character, who had 
recently stepped into the position with no knowledge 
whatever of police or detective work and no aptitude for 
either, but simply because the mayor, a German, wanted 
a German in that place) deprecated all rumors of threat- 
ening meetings among the Germans, and as the governor 
had, among his political advisers and henchmen at the 
capital, several Germans (and one of the lowest of low 
Germans) on his staff, it seemed impossible for the 
adjutant-general to induce him even to order the ammuni- 
tion so desperately needed at the metropolis. (We had 
not three rounds per man of rifle, carbine, or pistol am- 
munition. As for the battery, they had neither shell nor 
canister.) 

A shrewd politician was the old chief He did not 
mean to let any man brand him as an intimidator; but, 
just at the fag end of April, he concluded to drop in 
and take a look for himself, and what he saw and 
heard seemed to bring about instantaneous change. 
He whisked back to the capital and wired at once to 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 11/ 

Rock Island for ball cartridge enough to clean out a 
corps d'armee — provided they hit. Even then, however, 
he did not mean to show his teeth. Mr. X. got orders 
to meet the first instalment at the station as the train 
came in, and there, with some stout drays in readiness, 
that officer received several innocent-looking dry-goods 
boxes, variously inscribed " overcoats/' " blankets," etc., 
but the draymen wondered at the marvelous weight. In 
an hour more the veteran quartermaster-sergeant of the 
" Light Horse," with the assistance of one man, had 
knocked those boxes to flinders and lugged their con- 
tents down into the vaults of the armory, — and only 
three men knew that thirty thousand rounds were ready. 
On Sunday, May 2, with red flags innumerable, the 
Anarchists, Socialists, and — sorry day for them that ever 
they took up with such company — thousands of Knights 
of Labor, made their big parade. At the fine stone armory 
of the Light Horse, — which they built themselves, as 
the State declined to, — in the quarters of the troop and 
of that gallant Irish company, " The Sheridan Guard," 
a couple of dozen quiet men in civilian dress looked 
grimly from the windows, making no reply to occasional 
demonstrations of hatred and defiance from the proces- 
sion. No disturbance occurred; no one interfered with 
the picnic; but the next morning the riot burst forth 
with the rising sun all over the manufacturing districts, 
and in twelve hours our fair city was in the hands of a 
howling mob, with a German mayor, a German sheriff, 
a German chief of police, whose force was largely made 
up of Germans, and all of whom owed their positions to 
the preponderance of German voters, as our sole legal 
barrier against anarchy and ruin. 



Il8 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

At eight o'clock that night Mr. X. was drilling the bat- 
tery in the use of small arms with which to defend their 
wooden armory, far up-town and close to the " Polack" 
settlements (shell and canister still they had none), and 
at ten he received a dispatch to report at once to the 
governor, who was hastening in by special train. 

It was about midnight that the conference aforemen- 
tioned was going on. The governor was eager to take 
hold at once, but could not unless the local authorities 
begged his aid, and this, after much "palaver," they 
finally declined to do. 

It was about i a.m., therefore, that the general manager, 
whose shops, round-houses, etc., had all been cleaned out, 
and whose elevators, rolling-stock, etc., were now threat- 
ened, called in his division superintendent. 

" Then it is understood, gentlemen, that we can have 
no further protection than you have given us thus far?" 

The mayor and sheriff began to explain that they 
looked for better things on the morrow, but finally ad- 
mitted that no further force was to be used. 

" That ends it, then." And he turned to his assistant: 
" Give orders to close up everything, Mr, Collins." 

" Very good, Mr. Miller." 

And so the conference ended. 

All the same, we had our orders for the morrow. And 
sure enough, about 8 o'clock a.m. the civic authorities 
threw up the sponge and fled to the governor for aid, and 
at 8.45 all over the city the fire-bells were clanging, as 
aforesaid, the stirring riot alarm. X. made a quick run 
for the armory and was getting into uniform in the 
officers' room, while the troop was rapidly assembling in 
the riding-hall and the Sheridans were darting up the 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. II9 

Stairs to their quarters on the second floor. Then the 
telephone in the office began its " R-r-r-r-r-r-ring," and 
just then in came the chief and the adjutant-general. 
The first news was that the " Polacks" were threatening 
the battery armory. The guns were in danger, and be- 
tween listening at the 'phone with one ear and to arriving 
officers with the other, the governor's first order was to 
have those guns run down here as quick as possible. 
Mr. X. was put in command of the troop, battery, and 
the infantry at the Central station. In forty minutes 
every command in town was reported by wire as ready 
for duty at its armory. 

An orderly sent to the battery armory came back on 
the run to say they couldn't move their guns because 
they had no horses, and Mr. X. was in saddle in short 
order and trotting northward with a few troopers to 
"stir them up." It was a quick case of " man the pole, 
splinter bar, and wheels." Then the guns were in the 
street and rolling leisurely down-town, a small guard was 
left with carbines and abundant ammunition, and, with 
cannoneers somewhat blown and vastly astonished, those 
guns were soon parked in the big riding-hall. Mean- 
time, the Fourth Battalion, under its German major, had 
rapidly assembled and been whirled off by special train 
to " Bay View," where a great mob was already gathering 
about the rolling-mills; a knot of excited citizens were 
clattering around the governor; an expert " telephonist" 
was at the instrument rapidly transmitting messages to 
and from the chief or adjutant-general. Every company 
of the First Infantry, as far out as Darlington on the line 
of the Southern branch of the railway, fully one hundred 
and fifty miles, had reported ready and only waiting for 



120 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

the cars ; some were already en route. We knew that by 
3.30 we would be re-enforced by at least four companies, 
with others coming close on their heels ; but meantime 
said the excited citizens, what was to become of the AUis 
works, the stove-works, the great flour-mills, the mag- 
nificent elevators, and, above all, the breweries? Mobs 
were gathering around each and every one, so declared 
each new arrival, and X. and his cavalry were kept on the 
jump whisking around town and exploding these canards. 
There wasn't a mob at any one of these points that a 
platoon couldn't have larruped. But at one of the great 
German gardens there w^j a throng, — half honest arbeiter, 
half " toughs," — listening to blood-curdling harangues 
from their leaders, and these fellows we reconnoitred from 
time to time, while solid ranks of police stood near the 
gates. 

Down at Bay View the battalion — very badly handled — 
had been drawn within the gates by a species of march 
by the flank in single file through a crowd that followed 
them with imprecations and brickbats and nearly over- 
whelmed the rearmost company, which was composed, 
oddly enough, mainly of Polanders, but of a better class. 
A dozen panicky shots were fired which seemed to set 
everybody to running, and our expert at the telephone 
was kept dancing and shouting at the instrument for a full 
half-hour, when suddenly the thing joined the strikers 
and refused to work. 

" Our line's cut, sir, between here and the Central," 
was the quick report. 

" Run up another, and be lively," said the chief. 

Then came the order for Mr. X. and the cavalry to 
speed forth again, this time to tackle a gang at the rail- 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 121 

way depot, where they- were gathered with the evident 
idea of making it lively for the in-coming troops. We 
found them ugly, blasphemous, and obscene, but not 
dangerous. The first platoon cleared the needed space 
in ten seconds without firing a shot or delivering a whack 
with the sabre. The other three formed facing outward, 
so that we had a big, clear rectangle three hundred yards 
long, and here in fifteen minutes formed the arriving 
infantry and a mysterious little four-wheeled wagon. 
" Verdamptes mitrailleuse r exclaimed one of the scowlers 
on the sidewalk. We were off for the armory in a 
moment more, covering the broad streets from curb to 
curb, but the mob did not follow with so much as a 
pebble. 

Except a brief disagreement between a battalion of the 
First Infantry and an overwhelming gang that had driven 
the police " galley west," nothing of consequence occurred 
in town that afternoon or evening. Fast as the troops 
arrived they were sent to important points, — one little 
detachment out to the railway shops ; a stronger one, 
four companies, to the Allis works ; others to re-enforce 
Mr. X. at the Central station, which, said the police, the 
rioters meant to attack in force and rescue the ringleaders 
and rioters " run in" during the day. 

But the main anxiety was about Bay View as the late 
hours of the evening came round. 

Whatever the German major might think, he had two 
or three timorous parties on his staff who were perpetually 
wailing over the telephone that their position was most 
hazardous ; the mob was all around them in heavy force ; 
burning freight-cars, etc. Couldn't more troops be sent? 

The governor learned by ten at night that furious 

F II 



122 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

meetings had been held in various resorts on the South 
Side, and that a genuine uprising had taken place among 
the Poles, who, in response to the rabid harangues of 
their leaders, resolved to march in full numbers on the 
following morning, strip the insolent militia of their arms, 
and drive them into the lake. As a consequence, two 
American companies appeared on the right of the bat- 
talion line, making six in all, when the vast mob, waving 
the flags of anarchy and of some socialistic society over 
their heads, came thronging into view on the morning of 
the 4th of May. 

Meantime, the governor, over the telephone, had had 
brief converse with the commander. We were, indeed, 
" getting our orders from him," and they were brief and 
explicit, — 

" If that mob marches on you in the morning, open fire, 
sir, and drive 'em back." 

It so happened that Mr. X. was in the office the next 
morning when the worn-out orderly at the telephone 
suddenly called for the governor. 

" Message from Bay View, sir. The mob's advancing." 

The chief sprang to the instrument and sung out, 
" Hullo ! Hey ? That you, major ? What do you say ? 
They're coming, are they ? Then give it to 'em ! Fire 
at once !" 

And with one volley the back-bone of local anarchy 
was broken. 

There was tremendous uproar and excitement that day 
in our city. The mobs were everywhere, but the main 
body was gathered at their big garden on the West Side. 
Mr. X. had only the troop and two companies of infantry 
with him when at two o'clock the police telephoned that 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 1 23 

they were completely overwhelmed at that point ; that 
they were being fired on and driven, and they wanted 
" all the help that could be sent them." 

" Now, I want this thing stopped for good and all," 
said the chief. " Here, X., take the Light Horse and 
what infantry you have and wind it up." 

In fifteen minutes we were there. The Light Horse 
pulled the police out of the hole they were in ; the 
infantry silently and sternly drove back the howling gang 
until we had all the space we needed and complete com- 
mand of the position. The mob fell back a block away 
in every direction. Some stones were thrown, but none 
reached us. Then we got up the patrol wagons, made 
sudden* dashes into the mob, gathered in man after man 
until we had the carts crammed three deep with cowed 
or cursing " toughs," but never a move was made to 
rescue them. Never another stone was thrown. Every 
time a platoon of horse started up either street, away 
would go the crowd full tilt ; the big garden had not an 
occupant, and we had not had to pull trigger once. 
Finally the little command rode back through streets 
crammed with rioters an hour before and brought its 
cart-loads of " toughs" to the police station. That night 
in Chicago was the tragedy of the dynamite bomb in 
Haymarket with the slaughter of so many brave men, 
but when we got back from the garden we had the local 
leaders and the orators behind the bars, and our mob 
had played its last card. 

All the same, the guard had to be kept up. The 
governor left for his hotel ; the adjutant-general was sud- 
denly called to the capitol, and Mr. X. was left suprem.e 
at head-quarters, and was ass enough to tell the worn-out 



124 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

telephonist he might go until morning. Not until this 
eventful night did he learn the real character of the tele- 
phone as an adjunct to military operations. He had had 
no sleep for thirty-six hours, and meant to get it now. 
Guards, sentries, pickets, and patrols were all provided 
for. The captain of the Light Horse moved in with 
him, and on a couple of cots they stretched themselves, 
boots, spurs, and all. Then it began, — 

R-r-r-r-r-ring ! 

Up jumps Mr. X. and seizes the "ear trumpet." 

" Hello !" 

" Oh — all right. That's you, X. How're you all 
getting on ?" comes back in the sonorous voice of the 
governor. 

" All serene. Every man asleep except the guard." 

" Well. A report has just come to me that Caldwell's 
command out at the car-shops " 

Plkt. Whr-r-r-r-r-r ! 

And the governor's firm tones are suddenly replaced 
by a shrill, distant, high-pitched feminine communi- 
cation, — 

"An' I just told her that I wouldn't stand it from her 
or any other " 

Mr. X. grasps the crank with indignant hand : 

R-r-r-r-ring ! 

A voice, sweet and placid — feminine of course — re- 
sponds, — 

" Ye— es ? What is it, Armory ?" 

" I was just receiving a very important message from 
the governor and was cut off in the midst of it." 

" From whom ?" still sweetly. 

" From the governor." 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 1 2$ 

" Ye — es ? What governor ?" 

" Why, good Gbeg your pardon — the governor of the 
State, Governor R . Find him right off." 

" Where was he ?" 

" Don't know. Try the hotel." 

" Who shall I say wants him ?" sweeter yet. 

" Colonel X., at the armory." 

" W/ia( at the armory?" 

"No matter!" (vehemently). "Just tell him the 
armory only got part of his message. I'll stay right 
here." 

Presently the same sweet, placid voice, — 

" All right, here's the governor." 

Next, explosively, " And if you allow such a thing to 
occur again you'll never hear the last of it." 

Mr. X. (aghast). — " Why, what in blazes has gone 
wrong, governor ?" 

" Good Lord ! That you, X. ? Thought I was still 
talking with those blankety idiots at the Central. Why, 
they've cut me off three times to-night in the midst of 
important matter " 

" Well, — pardon me, — but there's no telling how soon 
they'll do it again. What were you saying about Cald- 
well ?" 

" Great Scott ! Didn't you get that ? Why, I directed 
you to " 

"Armory! Armory! Are you through yet?" It's 
the sweet voice at the Central. 

" Through ! Not by a — (gulp) — good deal. Give me 
the governor again." 

Three minutes anxious waiting. Then, sweet as be- 
fore, — 

II* 



126 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

"Armory, are you there? Oh! Well, the governor 
isn't there any more. He's gone away !" 

Mr. X. makes a jump for his sabre, and the stalwart 
captain of the Light Horse tumbles out of his blanket 
with the query, " What's wrong?" 

" Don't know. You stay here in charge. I've got to 
find the chief." 

A cab whirls Mr. X. over to the hotel, and there he 
finds the governor, beaming. He is surrounded by 
prominent citizens congratulating him, and by reporters 
taking notes. He comes forward at once to greet his 
staff-officer. 

" Did you get my message ?" 

" No, sir. It seemed impossible." 

"Well, it's all right as it turned out. Some railway 
people hurried in to tell me the mob were firing their 
cars in the valley and that Caldwell was unable to pre- 
vent it, but the manager had his own telephone, and 
found out that there was nothing in it. The town's full 
of rumors." 

" Then, if there's nothing else, governor, I'll go back 
to my post." 

" All comfortable up there ?" 

"Well, the men are, but I've a mind to take an ax 
and demolish that infernal telephone. I apprehend we're 
to have a lively night with it." 

Back to the big armory. In the riding-hall and stables 
seventy horses, in the troop quarters sixty-five men, and 
in the battery-rooms as many; in the drill-hall and 
company-rooms nearly three hundred infantry, all peace- 
fully resting from their labors. In the head-quarters 
office, the liveliest monologue, interspersed, like the 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 1 27 

conversation of old Mexican War Patten, with vivid 
blasphemy. It is the stalwart leader of the Light Horse 
who holds the floor — and the telephone. 

" Here, take this thing !" he says, as X. enters. 
" Damned if I don't believe the Central has swapped 
with the lunatic asylum to-night. — Hey ? What did 
you ask ?" And again he addresses the conscienceless 
instrument. Pause, while Mr. X. throws off his sabre 
and gauntlets. " No ! But you can just tell the man- 
ager that if we are cut off again to-night while important 
messages are coming or going, I'll be hanged if we don't 
send a guard over there and take possession ourselves. 
Now give us Bay View again. Here's Colonel X." 

" What's wrong at Bay View, captain ?" asks X., as 
he takes his station at the instrument. 

" Why, they report firing. I couldn't make out where ; 
and right in the midst of it some d — d newspaper chips 
in to know if we've got one of their reporters here as a 
prisoner. I had just time to say I'd find out right off, 
and if we had we'd hang him, when they were switched 
off and the commander at the Allis works asked if we had 
any information of a mob's coming that way and " 

" Hold on a moment," says X. " What is it, Central?" 

" Oh ! I beg pardon," the sweet voice again : " I 
thought this was the armory. Never mind." 

" It is the armory," yells X., in desperation. " I've 
just got back." 

But the sole reply is a distant " Whr-r-r-r-r-r-r — 
Plckr 

R-r-r-r-r-ring — r-ring — r-r-r-ing-ing, trolls the bell in 
response to vigorous twirling, and presently — that in- 
domitably sweet voice, — 



128 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" Ye — es ? That you, Armory ? Thought you'd gone." 

" Gone ? We can't go ! Now, for goodness' sake, 
give me Bay View — quick !" 

" Bay View ? Why they've been talking the last half- 
hour, and finally got disgusted because you wouldn't 
answer. I'll try what I can do." 

A few moments' suspense ; then, " Yes. Here they 
are." 

" Hello, Bay View ! What's the matter?" 

"Why, Colotiel X., we've been trying to get you the 
last twenty minutes. This is Major A., of the staff. The 
outposts and sentries towards town report heavy firing 
about the Allis works and " 

Plkt! "Armory ! Here's somebody who must speak 
with you at once." (The sweet voice again.) 

" Drive ahead," says X., all a-quiver. " It's the Allis 
works, no doubt, and they're attacked." 

A shrill small voice : "Armory! Armory! Can't you 
answer ? I've been trying to get you all night." 

" Here we are ; but for Heaven's sake be quick." 

" Well— who is this ?" 

" Colonel X." 

" Colonel who ?" 

" Colonel X." 

" Well, I don't know whether you're the gentleman 
Mrs. Ferguson wanted to speak with or not. She's got 
company now down in the parlor. I'll run and see. Just 
you hold the line a " 

''Hi! Central!" shouts X. "Shut off that gabbling 
idiot and give me the Allis works — quick." 

"Shut off whatr (sweetly). "Please speak a little 
lower and stand just a little -farther back." 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. 1 29 

" Oh, never mind. Ring up the Allis works at once." 

Presently the Allis works. 

" Major, is everything all right. Have you had any 
trouble?" 

" Nothing 'cept half a dozen toughs tried to set fire to 
the fence. We rounded 'em up before they knew it. 
Another two tried to disarm one of my sentries. He 
knocked one of them silly with a ' butt to the front,' and 
the other's lying here with a " 

" Pardon me, but have you had an attack ? any firing — 
any approach from a mob ?" 

" No such luck ! I wish to goodness they would 
come." 

Then for an hour brisk inquiries and answers to and 
from the various detached posts, only to find that there 
had been no firing, n6 aggressive move. Then midnight, 
and the post-commander finds himself worn out. 

" Central !" he calls. 

" Ye — es," sweetly. 

" We are about used up now. Please give positive 
directions that except it be important military business 
we are not rung up again to-night." 

"Very well. I'm tired too, and go home in five 
minutes ; but I'll see you are not disturbed. Good- 
night." 

And then Mr. X., played out, with a sigh of mingled 
weariness and relief, throws himself upon his bunk. The 
big captain rises, takes his sabre, and says, — 

" Hope to goodness you can get a little rest now. I'm 
going out to look after my guards and outposts. Back 
in half an hour." 

One more message presently routs Mr. X. out again. 



130 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

A high city official warns head-quarters that immense 
crowds have attended all the " indignation meetings" 
held throughout the city, and mean to assault the armory 
in the morning to release their prisoners. " They have 
dynamite." 

" So have we — lots of it. Good-night." 

Finally, drowsiness, oblivion — then, R-r-r-r-r-r-ing 
. . . r-r-ring! Loud, urgent, imperative. One bound 
takes Mr. X. to the telephone. 

" Hello !" 

" Oh, Armory ! I'm so glad to get you at last." (The 
voice is feminine, but pleasant, motherly, benevolent.) 
" I tried to get you several times this evening, but when 
I could get the wire you were busy, and when you 
responded I had visitors whom I could not well leave." 
(Ah ! Mrs. Ferguson herself at last.) " I wanted to 
inquire about Willy Simpson. His mother and I are old 
friends, and she telephoned me to say she had to leave 
town, and please to have a motherly eye over him in case 
of injury or trouble." 

" No man of that name in this command has been 
Wounded or injured in any way, madame." 

" You're sure of that, are you ? I couldn't go to bed 
without knowing, and my friends have just left me — but, 
who is this ?" 

" Colonel X., madame." 

" Oh, yes. Well, you know Willy, of course." 

" I regret to say I do not — personally. What does he 
belong to ?" 

" Indeed, I'm not sure ; but its the military — the militia, 

you know. If Captain S were there, perhaps he 

could tell." 



THE TELEPHONE AS AN ADJUNCT. I3I 

Enter at this instant Captain S from his tour of 

inspection, and X. gladly hands over the case to him. 

" What can I do for you, Mrs. Ferguson. This is 
Captain S ," begins the one-sided colloquy. 

" Willy Simpson, did you say ? No, I don't know him. 
And you say you don't know what he belongs to ?" 

" H'm ! Yes. We've got as many as five hundred. 
There's the Light Horse, the battery, and about six 
companies of infantry. I don't see how you could speak 
with him to-night." 

" Oh, yes ! He must be here ; but you wouldn't ask 
me to wake every one of the five hundred up to inquire 
if he was Willy Simpson ?" 

" No, madame ; I'll do it in the morning, but I cannot 
now. It is simply impossible." 

" Very well, madame, good-night." 

" See here, now, Central, that's enough of that sort of 
thing for one night, — and don't you forget it !" 

Then, with a comical grin on his tired face, the captain 
turns to Mr. X. 

" What do you suppose the blessed old lady routed 
us out at this hour for?" 

Mr. X. is at a loss to conjecture. 

" She says she must write to ' Willy's' mother the first 
thing in<the morning, and she wants to be able to tell her 
that the pies she sent him were safely received." 

R-r-r-r-r-ing ! 



132 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. 

It was in the spring of 1885 that Mr, X. was notified 
by the adjutant-general of the State that, in addition to 
his duties as aide-de-camp, he was named assistant in- 
spector-general, and would be required to make the 
inspections as prescribed by law that season. We were 
still a " granger" State. The old militia laws were, many 
of them, still in existence ; but, like the militia, hardly 
in force. Our legislators were men deeply imbued with 
the idea that these new organizations, springing up and 
drilling assiduously, were nothing but revivals of the 
old "ante-bellum'' target companies, whose sole object 
was to parade the streets in swell uniforms, and have an 
occasional ball or picnic. We had wrestled hard with 
these Solons, and had striven to make them understand 
that here in the Badger State we were endeavoring to 
bring about the renaissance so thoroughly accomplished 
in Pennsylvania and other commonwealths in the East. 
We wanted to organize the Guard on a business basis ; 
disband the show companies ; abolish the old swallow- 
tailed coats; introduce uniform instruction and disci- 
pline ; make the command, in short, available for duty. 
But it was uphill work. Ours is a mixed community, 
and the representatives of the people were, of course, 
mixed in equal proportion, — so were their ideas. It 
seemed impossible to get most of them to understand 
the situation. " If the boys want to git uniforms and 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. 133 

play soldiers let 'em pay for 'em, that's what I say. The 
people ain't a-goin' to do it," said the member from 
Koshtovvoc, as he banged the table with his fist and 
looked triumphantly around upon his colleagues, sure 
of support and applause. 

That patient and diplomatic official, our adjutant- 
general, explained, however, that the riots of 'j^ had 
taught Pennsylvania the need of a disciplined State force. 
Ohio had learned the bitter results of neglect in the 
destruction of Cincinnati's court-house and records, with 
lamentable bloodshed as an accompaniment. Chicago 
had twice been at the mercy of her thugs and black- 
guards, and had to call for regulars to help her out of 
the mire. We did not want that said of our metropolis. 

But the satirical Solon was not to be alarmed by 
" modern instances." " I don't fear anything of that kind 
here," he said. " The good sense of the people will 
stand between us and harm. We have no rioters and 
thugs." (Sixteen months afterwards our metropolis was 
in the hands of a mob of anarchists, socialists, etc., and 
the civil authorities begging for troops.) " If there's 
any trouble here we'll just call out the old Grand Army 
of the Republic boys. They'll settle it." And in so say- 
ing the orator from Koshtowoc winked at his associates 
on the committee and nodded to the note-taking reporter. 
That remark was warranted to "make him solid with 
the boys" in his district. And so our committee fell 
back with distinct sense of defeat. 

All the same, the adjutant-general was not the man to 
give up. It was a holy cause ; and if we couldn't get 
what we ought to have, we would do the best with the 
means at hand. 

12 



134 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

At this time the authorized force of the State con- 
sisted of thirty-four companies of infantry, a troop of 
cavalry, and a battery of light artillery. The support 
allowed them was three hundred dollars a year, each, for 
armory rent, and five dollars per man for uniforms. 
Three regiments were formed of ten companies each, 
and in our city one battalion of four companies. The 
law required each company to be inspected once a year 
between the ist of May and the ist of November, at its 
own station and in its own armory; and, with admirable 
economic spirit, provided that the officer making the 
inspection should receive no pay whatever, but might be 
reimbursed by mileage for the necessary traveling ex- 
penses. 

Deeply interested as he had been in the troops of his 
State in the days when he was big enough to be made 
marker of the First Regiment, long before the war, Mr. 
X. had read the newspaper accounts of these annual 
inspections with unflagging zeal, and had high expecta- 
tions accordingly. 

It had been the custom for some years for different 
staff-officers to inspect the commands nearest their 
homes, and as many or most of these gentry were 
selected because of some political " pull," and rarely 
because of any knowledge or experience in the military 
art, it is perhaps easy to account for the similarity be- 
tween the journalistic accounts of these ordeals. One 
will suffice for the lot. We quote from the Daily Re- 
porter : 

" MILITARY INSPECTION AND DRILL. 
"Last night the Guards were formally inspected and reviewed by 
General Blank, of the governor's staff. The company under Captain 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. 1 35 

made a splendid appearance as it filed into the drill-room, and, as each 
man answered ' here,' and brought his musket down with a bang when 
the orderly called his name, every spectator felt a thrill of pride at their 
martial bearing. 

" After the drill, which was executed with the precision of veterans, 
the silent manual and the drum-tap movements being especially fine, the 
general addressed the boys, highly complimenting them upon their disci- 
pline and efficiency, and congratulating the citizens of our thriving town 

upon having so admirable a band of defenders. Captain made an 

appropriate reply, and Orderly called for three cheers for the gen- 
eral, which were given with a will. Then, headed by Zimmerman's band, 
the Guards marched to Tony Schlaeger's, where speeches, songs, and 
foaming lager wound up an enjoyable evening. 

" Confidentially, the general told our reporter that he had never seen 

anywhere such precision in drill, and that the Guards could not be 

excelled even by the famous Seventh Regiment of New York City." 

When the general inspected the Rifles at Washabaw 
the following evening, he appears to have been similarly 
impressed by the sight of that fine command, so said the 
Washabaiu Joicrnal. And so in like manner were the 
various staff-officers, until the spring of '82, when we got 
a war-horse for a governor and an energetic soldier for 
adjutant-general. 

Barring a possible, and most natural, leaning to the 
Grand Army of the Republic, and an unflinching faith 
that, with a squad of his old boys, armed with the old 
gas-pipe of a muzzle-loader, he could clean out a whole 
company of these new-fangled things, the Executive did 
pretty well by his troops, and the adjutant-general did all 
the inspecting that year and for a year or so later, he 
being by law adjutant- and inspector-general of the State. 
Then, having paved the way, he called in Mr. X., and 
that officer began to work on the lines indicated, and 
for the first time had an opportunity of visiting at their 



136 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

quarters the Guards and Rifles and other commands of 
whose efficiency the local press had spoken in such 
glowing terms. 

There was a time, years before the war, when, with 
broad white crossed belts, glittering breastplate, and low- 
hung cartridge-box and bayonet scabbards, with high 
bear-skin shakos, and the slow, stately movement of 
Scott's tactics, the old swallow-tailed coat looked well ; 
but to see a swallow-tailed coat with loose trousers, no 
cross-belts, no tall shakos, nothing but a waist-belt and 
a forage-cap, the thing seemed incongruous in the last 
degree ; but that was the way Mr. X. found many of the 
companies of the State when he made his rounds in 1885. 

As luck would have it, one of the first companies 
visited was the " Veteran Rifles," which had been pro- 
nounced by General Blank, three years before, the equals 
of the New York Seventh, and, quite possibly, had so 
considered themselves ever since. 

The captain met the new inspector with a fine flourish 
at the door of the armory, and informed him that the 
boys were ready whenever he chose to appear. The 
inspector told the captain that he would like him to dis- 
miss his company, and then let him see the first sergeant 
form it and call the roll. Ranks being broken, the first 
sergeant gave the command, " Fall in, Veteran Rifles !" 
and the men took their places in rank, not without con- 
siderable pushing and an infinite amount of looking 
about, laughing, and talking. The file-closers made no 
attempt to check this performance, the lieutenants fell in 
with the file-closers, and the captain stood with folded 
arms where he could look on, but in no way did he 
interfere with the work of the omnipotent " orderly." 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. 137 

That official stepped down the Hne, and not being satis- 
fied with the positions of some of the men, took them 
severally by the sleeves of their coats, dragged them out 
of the column of files, towed them to some other point. 
and squeezed them in. Finally, having the men placed 
in accordance with his ideas, the first sergeant gave the 
command, " Left face ; support arms. Attention to roll- 
call." And the first name called was that of Captain 

, next Lieutenant Brown, then Lieutenant Jones, and 

each of these commissioned officers obediently and 
promptly answered " here" at the beck of the first ser- 
geant. 

When the captain was requested to give his authority 
afterwards for this somewhat unusual method, he replied 
that they had always done it, and that nobody had ever 
found fault with it, and it was considered the proper 
thing. 

After the inspection, which went off without any fur- 
ther remarks on the part of the inspecting officer, who 
preferred to see how things would go without any inter- 
ference, the captain gave the command, " Rest;" and Mr. 
X. proceeded to jot down in his note-book the number 
of men not properly shaved, boots not blacked, dirty or 
torn gloves, coats not buttoned, fancy neck-ties, jeweled 
scarf-pins, and other unorthodox points which had at- 
tracted his attention. 

A reporter stepped up and blandly inquired what he 
thought of the boys, and the inspector informed the 
reporter that he could tell more about it when he got 
through with them. 

During the inspection several men, chewing tobacco, 
were expectorating freely over the floor, and exchanging 



138 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

remarks with their comrades in the line as to the ap- 
pearance of certain of the spectators and the somewhat 
unusual movements of the new colonel. 

The captain was then directed to put his company- 
through the manual of arms, part of which was very 
prettily done. The firings were unique, especially the 
loadings. Firing by company was certainly a simul- 
taneous performance. Then the captain " ordered arms," 
and gave his men another rest. 

" You have only given the firing by company, captain," 
said the inspector. " Let me see them fire by file." 

" Well, colonel, that's something we've never prac- 
ticed," said the captain. " There's nothing soldierly in 
that ; there's no snap or unanimity in it, and it only 
demoralizes the boys to give them things that they don't 
do exactly together." 

" Never mind, captain ; give the commands for firing 
by file, and let's see what they will do." 

But the captain didn't know how to give a command 
for firing by file, neither could he give the commands for 
the oblique firings, nor for firing kneeling, and, fortunately 
for him, firing lying down was not demanded. 

The movements of the company in columns of fours 
and platoons were next required, and here it was found 
that the captain, though possessing a fine and ringing 
voice, was utterly independent of the tactics as to his 
commands. They were a mixture of Scott, Casey, and 
Knight Templar or broom-brigade tactics, Mr. X. couldn't 
tell which, and finally he stopped the captain and told 
him that that was very pretty so far as it went, but that 
he would like to see some movements that would test the 
knowledge of the company. 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. I 39 

So long as the company was permitted to " gang its 
ain gait" and put up an exhibition or " go-as-you-please" 
drill, the movements were certainly so smoothly done that 
the array of spectators applauded vigorously, and Captain 
looked flushed with success despite the short- 
comings in the firings. Presently the company executed 
on right into line from column of fours in very pretty 
style. Each set as it halted making a soul-stirring stamp 
that reminded Mr. X. of the hussar " orderly" who de- 
livered all the messages in " La Grande Duchesse de 
Gerolstein." Then, with a simultaneous bang, arms were 
brought to the order. The room shook with applause, 
and the captain, mopping the perspiration from his 
brow, triumphantly accosted the inspector with, " How's 
that ?" 

Mr. X. thought it was all very pretty, but ventured to 
inquire where the stamp was found in the pages of Upton. 
The captain did not know, but considered it an improve- 
ment on the tactics. " You don't object to our doing 
anything better than the book, do you ?" he asked. 

" No," said Mr. X. " But unluckily the President seems 
to have a prejudice against it, and the Secretary of War — 
two of them, in fact — prohibits any exercise or evolution 
not embraced in the tactics." 

" Well," answered the captain, " we haven't introduced 
any ' exercise or evolution' in that stamp. It's pretty, and 
it pleases the boys and catches the crowd, like the twelve 
counts in load. It makes 'em take more pains with their 
drill." . 

" All the same," responded Mr. X., " it should not be 
done, simply because it isn't in the tactics." 

" Well — but look here, colonel," responds the crack 



140 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

drill-master of Pecatonica County. " I don't question 
your authority in the least, and that stamp shall be 
stopped, but, if you are going to prohibit our doing any- 
thing on drill that is not affirmatively prescribed in the 
tactics, how the mischief am I to get the men's heads up 
again after rest on arms? Paragraph 91 don't provide 
for it, and if we carry out that iron-clad rule we'd have 
the whole company hanging their heads like so many 
naughty boys, after they had come to the carry. How 
can I get my lieutenants in front of their platoons when 
I'm moving in double time, company front, and want to 
break " 

The inspector fairly chuckles : " Captain , I'm de- 
lighted to see you are so close a student of the tactics. 
Don't ask me to supply their shortcomings, but stick as 
close to the text as you can without being guilty of 
manifest absurdities. Now, by the way, I notice that all 
your movements have been by the right flank. It has 
been fours right, right by platoons, on right into line, 
right forward, fours right, etc. Now let me see some 
movements the other way." 

" Well, now, colonel, we never do that," said the 
captain, with a laugh. " You see it kind o' breaks the 
boys all up. You can 'get there' just as quick by the 
right flank, and then they always know just what to 
expect, and do it in handsome style." 

" V^e\\, can you 'get there' just as quick? Suppose 
I tell you to place your company ten yards to the left 
and rear of its present position, and facing in the same 
direction, how would you do it in the quickest way ?" 

" Face it to the left. Then by the left flank, march, 
halt, and about face," answered the captain, triumphantly. 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. I4I 

" Well, that would certainly be one way of doing it ; 
but I meant that you should utilize the sets of fours. 
The tactics do not contemplate marching any distance 
in a column of files. Men are almost sure to lose 
distance." 

" Mine don't ! They can march a mile lock-stepped 
like so many convicts. Here ! I'll show you." And the 
captain whipped out his sword and was about to call his 
company to attention, but the inspector told him ocular 
demonstration would be unnecessary on that point. 

"Just execute these movements, captain;" and Mr. X, 
jotted down on a card, " Fours left; then left front into 
line. Fours right about ; then left forward, fours left. 
On left into line. Left by platoons ; then form company 
to the front." 

The captain shook his head as he looked at the card. 
" I'll try it, if you say so," he said; "but the boys will 
think it's mighty queer." 

Evidently they did, for in two minutes the Rifles were 
tangled up in a hard knot and confusion was worse con- 
founded. A little later, when the company was straight- 
ened out and marching gallantly in column of fours 
" right in front," the inexorable inspector told the captain 
to form line to the right front. Obediently that officer 
shouted, " Right front into line !" but, true to their years 
of practice, the men obliqued to the left and came up on 
the wrong flank. 

" Try it again, sir," was the order ; and this time, 
though with much hesitation and some disorder, the line 
was formed. 

Up comes a prominent citizen, an old soldier, a gallant 
war veteran who proudly wears his G.A.R. badge, and is 



142 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

a local authority on all matters military. He has been 
loudly condemning the captain's astonishing " break" to 
a knot of crestfallen friends of that officer, and the re- 
porter of the local paper is jotting down his words. A 
young gentleman in the neat uniform of the State Uni- 
versity battalion ventures to put in a word in the captain's 
defense. " It is perfectly right according to tactics," he 
says, " to form line to front either by right or left oblique." 

"Bah! I never heard of such a thing! Any old 
soldier will tell you that when the right is in front you 
must come up on the left, and when left is in front you 
come up on the right. Here ! I'll prove it by the 
colonel," he says ; and a rest having been ordered in the 
mean time, the old major comes up to prove his point, 
and the crowd follows. 

" I've just been telling these gentlemen the captain 
made a big mistake in several of those orders. It was 
his fault that there was confusion. The company tried 
to do it right." 

" No, major; the captain's orders were according to the 
present tactics " 

" But I learned my drill over twenty-five years ago. I 
was in the regular army before I went in the volunteers, 
and I knotv it's wrong." 

Mr, X. has no time to explain that he, too, learned the 
drill twenty-five years ago, and was in the regular army. 
The veteran shouts his views for the benefit of his fellow- 
citizens and then bursts indignantly through the crowd 
and makes his way out of the building. It is his con- 
viction, and doubtless that of the populace, that the in- 
spector is an ignoramus who knows nothing whatever of 
the tactics. Indeed, the reporter is all prepared to " show 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. I43 

him up" in the local paper, but, luckily for the reputation 
of that unfortunate officer, the editor himself is a looker- 
on, and it occurs to him to make some inquiries and to 
" search the scriptures military." 

There is no parade to the music of Zimmerman's band, 
no speech-making at Schlaeger's, no cheering the in- 
spector. He leaves town to go to the next station, leaving 
behind him a community impressed with the idea that he 
has put their pet company in a very wrong light, and 
knows nothing whatever of his business. 

But next year the Rifles drill just as well by the left 
as by the right flank. The men have found out there are 
two ends to the company and that there is a heap more 
to the tactics than was supposed. The inspector is re- 
ceived without enthusiasm, of course, for the populace 
maintains that he has just ruined the drill of that com- 
pany. " They used to come to every motion of the load 
exactly together. They could fix and unfix bayonets 
just click, click, click — like that. It was ten times better 
then than it is now, and they would stand no chance 
whatever in a competitive drill." 

Distinctly, then, in standing up for the abolition of all 
the old militia ways, Mr. X. was undergoing the trials of 
the reformer as well as one of those of the staff-officer. 
Pretty much every company had some especial " fad" 
which it had long cherished and was bound to protect at 
all hazards. Most of them had a beautiful flag, — pre- 
sented by the ladies, or voted at a fair, or won at a com- 
petitive drill, — and they wanted to parade this flag at 
inspection, color-guard and all, and could not cheerfully 
acquiesce in the ruling that only on battalion formation 
could colors be allowed, and then only one. Another 



144 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

company turned out in white cravats, the bows tied out- 
side the dress-coat, and swore they had " regular army 
authority for it." O ye regulars ! How was it, what 
hapless inspiration possessed ye, that no less than eight 
officers of a gallant regiment should have had their 
cabinet-sized photos taken — -each man in full uniform — 
with a white cravat tied outside the coat ? Mr. X. recog- 
nized the pictures, but refused to recognize the authority. 
The officers of another company appeared in mounted 
officers' helmet cords, and said the by-laws of the com- 
pany authorized it ; others wore buff gauntlets on foot 
duty. A favorite manoeuvre of some organizations was 
to open files in column of fours and then at the command 
" Knapsack rest!" carry the rifle horizontally at the back 
of the neck, both hands holding it in that position. Of 
course there were a dozen accurately and admirably 
drilled companies, but it was uphill work to try and 
eradicate all these and a thousand other " milish" pecu- 
liarities from the others. The adjutant-general was 
backing the inspector just as far as he could, however, 
and knew far better than did Mr. X. the difficulties in the 
way. Whenever the latter had occasion to " score" an 
organization pretty heavily, its friends, especially if it 
happened to be commanded by German officers, would 
immediately rush to the governor and complain and even 
threaten. " The boys won't stand it," they said, and it 
was intimated pretty plainly that if the staff-officer was 
allowed to find fault with the " Germanias" or the " Bis- 
marck Guards" or the " Prinz Karl Rifles" the old 
governor need look for no "votes" from their districts 
if he came up for re-election, and that astute feeler of the 
public pulse was not a little discomposed. 



MILITIA INSPECTIONS. I45 

Once, after an exhibition o^ almost total ignorance of 
the tactics on part of the captain and lieutenants of one 
of these commands, the inspector was cautioned by a 
civil official to " be very careful what he said about that 

company, Tkcy are all but three of them ," and the 

official gave the name of the political party then in power. 
Mr. X. said he could not see what that had to do with 
the question of their efficiency or non-efficiency as State 
troops, and the gentleman replied that while it should 
have nothing to do with the question, it did have a great 
deal. 

Another officer, found to be grievously ignorant of the 
tactics, excused himself, because his men " were working- 
men and couldn't get around." Mr. X. pointed out that 
the best-instructed company in the district, if not in the 
State, was made up entirely of workingmen, and that in 
any event that was no excuse for the captain's ignorance 
of his own duties ;" but the reply was too much for the 
inspector. 

" Well, you see it's this way, colonel : I'm so worried 
all the time lest they should go wrong that I can't think 
of my own commands." 

Then what a time we had when getting rid of the tail 
coat ! What a " kick" there was when first it was an- 
nounced that new companies must adopt the uniform of 
the regular service and nothing else, and old companies 
would be required to provide themselves therewith as 
soon as their original dress should be worn out ! Yet 
when those neat, soldierly, dark-blue tunics with the 
white pipings and facings appeared on guard and parade 
in camp, the prejudice disappeared. Three and four 
years ago the cry was that " they were trying to make us 
G i 13 



146 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

like regulars." Two yea*rs ago they themselves were 
beginning to try to look like regulars, and could not fast 
enough learn to carry themselves as befitted their new 
dress. And finally, last year, in his report to the Secre- 
tary of War, based on the observations of a most ac- 
complished regular sent to observe the work of each 
regiment in camp, the adjutant-general of the army was 
able to incorporate these words : " I believe that the 
Wisconsin National Guard will compare favorably with 
any State troops in the country. The personnel of the 
troops is excellent. The officers composing the staff of 

the g9vernor " But spare our blushes. " Most of 

the regimental field-officers also saw service in our late 
war. The company officers are mostly young men, — 
zealous, active, and efficient." 

Last year when General Sherman rode along the line 
of neatly-clad infantry, cavalry, and artillery, all in dark- 
blue service dress, with only white helmets and white 
gloves to break the sombre effect of the utter lack of 
plume or tinsel, and saw among their officers men who 
had followed him to Atlanta and the sea, he said they 
looked for all the world " like business," and that has 
been our end and aim for years past. 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. I47 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 

We turn now from the inspections required of each 
individual company by the State laws, and come to their 
performance under canvas when assembled by battalion. 
It was a long time before we could extract from our 
legislators a sum for the purchase of sufficient tentage 
for the encampment of a ten-company regiment; and 
that it was finally obtained for the purposes of the Na- 
tional Guard was an achievement made possible only, it 
would seem, by the agreement that the tents should at 
all other times be at the service of the omnipotent Grand 
Army of the Republic. The reasons for this assertion 
will appear later on. Camp equipage at last having been 
obtained, — wall tents of excellent size and quality for 
line officers and men, hospital tents for the field and staff, 
— the next thing was to decide the matter of camp- 
grounds. By this time the infantry had been organized 
into three ten-company regiments and one battalion, the 
regimental districts being mapped out with a view to 
rapid mobilization, — the First Regiment along the south- 
ern border of the State, the Second along the eastern 
upper half, the Third the western upper half, and the 
Fourth, a four-company battalion, being stationed in the 
metropolis. • 

It was decided by the powers that were that, for the 
time being, regiments should encamp within their dis- 
tricts and on such tracts as could be found in the neigh- 



148 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

borhood of the large towns or cities. The first year's 
encampments were largely experimental, for Mr X.'s 
share in them was confined to the practical instruction 
of the cavalry troop, an unusually good one. But the 
camps resulted in the retirement of one or two war vet- 
erans who, it was only too evident, looked upon the 
whole matter as a huge joke. The year following, at 
the invitation of the adjutant-general, Mr. X. accom- 
panied him on his rounds of the different camps for the 
purpose of conveying such practical instruction as was 
necessary, and before he had been at it an hour, the dis- 
covery was made that a big job had been loaded on his 
shoulders. Officers and non-commissioned officers, as 
a rule, wanted to know how things should be done, and 
were quite willing to learn, provided little time for prac- 
tice was necessary. There were some, to be sure, who 
came to camp perfect gluttons for work and instruction, 
— could not get enough of it. Others, and rather a large 
number, looked upon the thing in the light of a social 
picnic, and wanted to spend hours in showing their 
friends about the camp, or in visiting them at their homes 
in town. And herein was encountered the first lesson. 

The regimental officers were allowed to^select the 
place of encampment, as has been said, from among the 
towns and cities of their own district, and the choice 
went, as a rule, to the " highest bidder." The State pro- 
vided tents; but fuel, straw, board-floors, bedding, po- 
licing camps, expenses of band, cooks, kitchens, etc., 
had all to be borne by the regiment. It was represented 
to the towns-people that the presence of the regiment in 
camp would draw a big crowd from the surrounding 
country, and thereby boom the local markets. The 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. I49 

bankers, brewers, " butchers, bakers, and candlestick- 
makers" were therefore invited to contribute to an en- 
campment fund, as a return for which the regiment agreed 
to make a street parade on at least one day, and have 
attractive military exercises going on in the camp at all 
times. Whatever Mr. X. may have thought of this way 
of conducting military operations, he had to make the 
best of it, and work as well as he could with the tools in 
hand. The first lesson was somewhat memorable. The 
Third, a fine, large regiment, was in camp ; he had wit- 
nessed the review and dress-parade, and then, at officers' 
school, was called upon to point out the errors. The 
general effect had been very good, but individual errors 
had been many. 

Seated in a semicircle around the colonel's tent were 
now the officers of the regiment. Within the marquee 
was the governor with a dozen prominent personages, 
and fifteen to twenty deep around the officers was a dense 
crowd of towns-people, rustics, and the rank and file of 
the regiment, all good-naturedly and cheerily interested 
in the coming proceedings. The adjutant-general briefly 
explained what he had called upon Mr. X. to do, and 
Mr. X., trying not to look aghast, inquired if it was ex- 
pected that he should proceed to make his criticism of 
the officers in the face of that great crowd, and was told 
that there did not seem to be any way of getting rid of 
them. He next asked the colonel commanding if school 
couldn't adjourn to the space in rear of his tent, and four 
or five sentries be sent to keep it clear. " Certainly it 
can be, if you like ; but the crowd will come too, if that 
is what you are thinking about. Go right ahead, colonel ; 
sail right into them, right here ;" and, there being no 



150 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

help for it, Mr. X. sailed in accordingly. The first thing 
was to point out to the officers that most of them had 
their swords on " wrong side before" at this moment, 
the guard being to the rear instead of to the front, as it 
should be with the three-ringed scabbard. Next, that 
very few of them looked towards the reviewing officer 
in passing ; then, that few had executed the first motion 
of the " present" at the command, and that most of them 
had saluted with the hand in tierce instead of quarte, as 
prescribed by the tactics when they lowered their blade. 
" Take my sword and show them how it should be done," 
requested the adjutant-general; and Mr. X. illustrated. 

Now, many readers have doubtless been to see the 
great cycloramas of Gettysburg, Mission Ridge, Atlanta, 
Shiloh, Bull Run, etc., and have listened to the lecturer 
when he made his explanation of the paintings. Their 
luck has been better than that of Mr. X. if they have not 
at least once or twice been compelled to hear sarcastic 
interruptions on the part of some grizzled veteran with 
watery eyes, weather-beaten nose, a Grand Army of the 
Republic badge on his manly breast, and an expression 
of profound contempt on his countenance. On no less 
than three occasions has Mr. X. known the lecturer to be 
compelled to cease his flow of eloquence and request 
silence on the part of the veteran who was interrupting 
him with remarks to the effect that " It was the Two 
Hundred and Twentieth Illinois (or the Five Hundred 
and Eleventh Pennsylvania) that took that battery ; it 
wasn't the Two Hundred and Fiftieth New York at all. 
I know it ; I was there ; I was the first man in that bat- 
tery," etc. You have all heard the old saying of the 
white horse and the red-headed girl. Mr. X. never goes 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 151 

to one of those lectures now without looking around for 
the interrupter as soon as the lecturer begins. And so 
with his own first practical lecture to the officers of the 
Third Regiment. No sooner had he shown the position 
of the sword in the salute than up spoke a grizzled vet- 
eran in the crowd, " That ain't the way zue done it, by 
thunder !" The crowd tittered, and the governor's be- 
nevolent features relaxed into a broad smile (out West, 
where the old-soldier element is far stronger in propor- 
tion to population than in the East, it is always the safe 
thing for the politician to laugh with the Grand Army of 
the Republic-man). The colonel commanding looked 
vexed, and undoubtedly he was thinking that this was 
hardly the proper place in which to conduct an officers' 
school, but, what was to be done ? He arose and said, 
"The crowd will please keep order; Colonel X. is in- 
structing these gentlemen in the proper handling of their 
swords, and must not be interrupted." 

"Let him do -it right, then," says a veteran in the 
throng; "you can't teach me nothin', by thunder! I am 
a man of war, I am. I have fought in sixteen pitched 
battles. I ain't any damn play-soldier, either," etc. 

The veteran unquestionably holds the fort. It's the 
first audience, perhaps, he has had since the day he was 
mustered out, and he does not propose to lose the occa- 
sion. The crowd is with him ; so, evidently, is the com- 
mander-in-chief. It's no use explaining to the three sur- 
rounding counties that the tactics require the backs of 
the hands to be down instead of up in the salute with 
the sword ; if the tactics say so they are all wrong. The 
veteran of sixteen pitched battles " knows a damn sight 
better," as he says, and as he does not hesitate to say. 



152 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

We got through with the officers' school that morning in 
rather a fragmentary way, and it was the same thing in 
teaching practically their various duties in the afternoon, 
or when sounding the different calls for the drummers. 
The crowd and the Grand Army of the Republic-man 
swarmed over the camp and took full possession. There 
was no use in " kicking against the pricks." Of course 
Mr. X. could and did suggest to the colonel commanding 
that the populace ought not to be allowed to roam all over 
camp at all hours of the day, and that enlisted men should 
be kept aloof from the officers' schools, but the people 
didn't think so, and that settled it for the time being. 

Before camp was over we had things in better shape. 
There were hours when the officers could be assembled 
in the rear of the colonel's tent and drilled practically in 
all manner of points in which they needed instruction. 
But during the first two or three years of our State en- 
campments the colonels could not be brought to issue 
and enforce the orders by which the camp and the 
parade-grounds should be kept free from incursions on 
the part of the populace. Of course the Grand Army of 
the Republic-man was there in force on all occasions, 
giving the crowd the benefit of his views as to the absurd- 
ity of trying to make soldiers nowadays anyhow. " Me 
and a half a dozen of the old boys could clean out this 
whole outfit," would be his frequent assertion. Clamor- 
ing aloud, too, to the colonel to show them how to " form 
square" on battalion drill, and when civilly informed by 
that officer that no such movement was known to modern 
tactics, loudly proclaiming his contempt for a regiment 
that didn't know how to form square. " Give me your 
sword, and I'll show 'em how." 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 1 53 

Mr. X. used to ride around and watch all this, and 
laugh until his sides were sore, but powerless, of course, 
except by advice, to bring about a better state of things. 
A year later, when vested with some authority in the 
premises, he caused orders to be issued that no " out- 
siders" should be allowed in the body of camp except 
between parade and tattoo, and that enlisted men should 
not appear in rear of their company officers' tents except 
when summoned thither on duty. In this way we had 
some order in camp, and a certain degree of privacy at 
the officers' schools, but — at what a cost ! One day a 
pompous old Teuton drove his buggy straight up to the 
sentry's post and was going on into camp, when the 
guard seized and held his horse. " County judge," he 
shouted, but to no avail. The officer of the guard civilly 
told him that even officers of the regiment could not 
drive in there; they must go around to a designated 
point in rear of the field-officer's tent, and offered to 
escort him thither. But the old man was furious ; it 
seems that he was rarely in his sober senses, and no ex- 
planation availed. He owned a newspaper, and to the 
office thereof he drove in hot haste ; and the very next 
issue of that paper was one continuous lampooning of the 
colonel commanding and of Mr. X. Of course, there 
were many in the populace who sympathized with him. 
Nine-tenths of the men, women, and children saw no 
reason at all why they should not be strolling around the 
tents at all hours of the day, or at night either, for that 
matter; nor was it solely among the " middle and lower 
classes" that this idea prevailed. Will Mr. X. ever for- 
get one lovely summer morning, when the cavalry were 
in camp on the shore of our most picturesque lake. The 



154 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

trumpet had just sounded the first call for reveille. He 
wanted to see in what shape the men fell in for roll-call, 
and Mr. X. tumbled out of his blankets, and, fortunately, 
into boots and breeches before stepping into the front 
portion of his abode, which was a large double wall-tent 
overlooking the company's street. Here, to his dismay, 
were seated two prominent society ladies, under the 
escort of the pastor of their church. " Ah, Mr. X.," said 
the imperturbable ecclesiastic, "good-morning; these 
ladies have seen so much of the pomp and circumstance 
of glorious war that they were eager to have an idea of a 
little of the stern reality, and I bantered them into an 
early visit." Stern reality, indeed ! There were the 
troopers tumbling out of their blankets in all manner of 
costumes except full dress. Mr. X. himself could only 
dodge back into his own sanctum for another garment 
or two, all the while inwardly expressing his views as to 
the lack of common sense in the church militant. He 
never could say what he thought of the gentleman him- 
self, — he who piloted that party in search of the stern 
realities of camp life, — but what didn't he say to the sen- 
try who had let them enter before morning gun-fire ? 
Some of the oddest " breaks" made by our officers, by 
the way, must be laid at the door of the chaplain. One 
most excellent divine having announced his intentions of 
attending camp with the regiment, was assigned to a 
tent with the field and staff. Fancy the consternation of 
the colonel and the sensations of Mr. X. when the rev- 
erend gentleman marched in with his wife and three 
daughters, and gravely proceeded to furnish the tent for 
their occupation. Mr. X. had no authority here; the 
colonel expressed to every one of the officers — but the 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 155 

chaplain — 'his astonishment at the proceeding, yet had 
not the grit to point out the impropriety thereof to the 
gentleman himself. The chaplain's family slept in camp 
the entire week, and doubtless learned a great deal about 
the art of war which they had never dreamed of previ- 
ously. Yet the old gentleman was not so much to 
blame. He had heard what was the actual case, that in 
some of the regiments the colonels had been accom- 
panied by their wives and family, and doubtless held that 
the presence of the fair sex would have a restraining in- 
fluence on the language of the camp, as indeed it would, 
could everybody but remember at all times that the 
ladies were right there within hearing. But unluckily 
most men were too busy and had too many other things 
to think of to keep that perpetually in mind. How odd 
it seemed to Mr. X. to note the furnishing of the field- 
offlcers' tents in those days, — big bedsteads, bureaus, 
mirrors, carpets, centre-tables, and " what-nots." But it 
had to be, so said the officers, so long as we camp 
around the towns and cities, and so it resulted that, at 
one of the State conventions five or six years ago, Mr. 
X. urged the purchase of a tract of land in the centre of 
the State, at least ten miles from any town, and at last, 
and only a year ago, we got it.* But before that time 
came our camps had steadily becom-e more soldierly and 
our sentries more like the real article. Guard duty is, 
after all, the hardest thing to teach new troops, and an 
immense amount of labor and patience is required. Mr. 
X. thought we had some remarkably well-informed 
officers by the time the third summer came, and you can 



*In iJ 



156 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

fancy his amazement when, one morning, a sudden 
shower came pouring down ; the corporal of the guard 
started out with a rush, and the next thing anybody 
knew, he had whisked off the entire relief, every blessed 
sentry on post, and came running into the guard-tents 
with them at double-quick. Mr. X. went down to those 
guard-tents in seven-league boots, and the officer of the 
day received him with a bland smile, and was evidently 
pleased with the rapidity with which the corporal had 
performed the feat. He frankly confessed that he had 
ordered the relief taken off for the fear of spoiling their 
uniforms, and was rather astonished at the order by 
which the relief was immediately reposted, and in double 
time too. 

At another camp, and in another regiment, the officer 
of the day was missing. The colonel was asked if he 
had given him permission to leave camp. No. Never- 
theless the guards were positive that the officer had 
gone " over to the park," indicating a pleasure resort 
some little distance away, and there, to be sure, he was 
found, having a pleasant time with some civilian friends, 
and professing total ignorance of any military impro- 
priety in the performance. 

Once in a while we had some experiences that were 
purely laughable and that did us all good. Perhaps the 
best of these was one that occurred at the camp of the 
Third Regiment, at Chippewa Falls, where we had a fine 
ground, excellent arrangements, and most agreeable 
neighbors in the people of this thriving little city. Un- 
luckily it stormed furiously most of the week, and all of 
the roads and fields were speedily turned into quagmires. 
Everything had been arranged for a ball, which was to 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 1 57 

occur on the last evening of our stay ; and as the time 
drew nigh, the mayor and his committee were fluttering 
about enveloped in water-proofs and a not unnatural 
state of excitement. It had been settled that six car- 
riages, all that could be obtained for so perilous a service 
as the frequent transit from camp to town over such fear- 
ful roads, were to leave camp at 8 p.m. with the mayor, 
the committee, and such officers as were ready, and 
then be sent back for another load. It was estimated 
that in three trips all the officers in camp, including the 
governor's staff, could be thus transported to the hall 
where the ball was to take place. About sixteen "young- 
sters" went off with the first round. Then the mayor 
and committee waited for the array of generals and 
colonels expected with the next. Nine o'clock came ; 
nine thirty ; the ball was waiting, but not another officer 
appeared, and " His Honor" was rabid with excitement. 
None of the carriages had returned to the hall ; yet an 
inquiry developed the fact that big loads had been 
brought in town, and deposited at a neighboring hotel. 
The mayor darted around there through the pitiless 
storm, but not an officer was to be found. The billiard- 
room and the parlors were packed with jovial non-com- 
missioned officers and privates on pass apparently, but 
not a shoulder-strap was visible. At last, at ten o'clock, 
some drenched jehus drove up to the hall with panting 
and bedraggled steeds, and a number of gold-laced offi- 
cials stepped solemnly forth from the dripping carriages. 

" What on earth has kept you all this time ?" de- 
manded the mayor. 

" I am sure I cannot tell," said one of the generals. 
" We waited nearly two hours for carriages." 

14 



158 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" Great Caesar's ghost ! driver, didn't I tell you to go 
right back to camp and load up those officers, until you 
had them all here ?" 

"Certainly you did, Mr. Mayor, I have been hauling 
colonels and majors through the mud until this town 
must be just busting with them. You said I could do it 
all in three trips. Damn me, if I ain't made a dozen. 
My poor horses are all tuckered out." 

And then at last it all leaked out. The night was 
dark as pitch. The moment the drivers got back to 
camp, and before they could get within fifty yards of the 
head-quarters tents, they were stopped by a host of 
gentlemen with the capes of their overcoats drawn up 
over their heads, and (in the Badger State officers and 
men of the line wore overcoats of the same pattern and 
finish) a martial voice hailed them with " Here we are, 
driver; stop just where you are; jump in, major ; tumble 
in, colonel ; tumble in " 

" Oh ! after you, general ; I beg After you." 

" Not at all, sir ; not at all ; it is too wet to fool about 
trifles; jump in; jump in. Load up those other car- 
riages now, fast as you can. Now to the hotel with this 
crowd as quick as you can get there." 

And in this way the jolly sergeants, corporals, and 
rank and file of the gallant Third had loaded up carriage 
after carriage as it arrived in camp, while their superiors 
waited, with such patience as they possessed, among the 
dismal, dripping, tents of officers' row. 

The joke might have gone on until the camp was 
empty of enlisted men had it not become too big to be 
kept; and finally the officer of the guard discovered 
that he had been passing out about one hundred of 



MILITIA CAMPS OF INSTRUCTION. 1 59 

the rank and file for carriage-loads of commissioned 
officers. 

As there was only tentage enough for one regiment, it 
followed that our canvas had to be shipped from point to 
point about the State, and in this way some loss was 
bound to occur. All marking, cutting, or defacing of 
the canvas in any way was of course strictly forbidden, 
and both at the beginning and end of each regimental 
camp it was Mr. X.'s custom to make the rounds to 
inspect tents for the purpose of fixing responsibility in 
case of damage. At first, of course, in the exuberance 
of their spirits, " the boys," as they preferred to call 
themselves, would decorate by means of candle-smoke, 
or crayons, their camp abode with certain inscriptions, 
such as " Saints' Rest," " Drummers' Delight," " The 
Wicked Four," etc. ; but one summer seemed to suffice 
to teach them better. Two years afterwards, just before 
striking tents at the tap of the drum, as had been taught 
the men, Mr. X., in company with the colonel and his 
quartermaster, inspected every tent in camp, and found 
them all clean, in good condition, with the exception of 
some old marks which were well known and recognized. 
What was his surprise, therefore, two weeks afterwards, 
when making the rounds the first day of the camp of 
another regiment, to find that a number of the tents had 
been defaced in a very flagrant way, and a number of in- 
scriptions, far from elegant, appeared all over the canvas. 
There was only one way of explaining it : When not in 
use by the National Guard the tents were shipped from 
one part of the State to another, in order to let the old 
" Grand Army" boys have their camp-fires, reunions, and 
post camps, — and the manner in which they were deco- 



l6o TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

rated by the veterans was a sight to see. Mr. X. made 
this circumstance rather a prominent feature in his report 
of the summer encampments of that year, but that was 
one portion of his report which never found its way in 
print. This is why he said earlier in this article that it 
seemed only on condition the camp equipage should be 
at the service of the Grand Army of the Republic that 
it was possible to secure an appropriation for its purchase 
by the State. Goodness knows they were welcome to 
it fifty times over, if they would only return it in proper 
shape. 



SHAM BATTLES. l6l 



SHAM BATTLES. 

How many readers have had the experience, good or 
ill, of taking part in furious combat under what Dickens 
described as a " galling fire of blank cartridges," and 
helping some State fair, " grand military pageant," or 
similar catchpenny enterprise, to stagger to its legs, res- 
cued from the " snowing under" it doubtless deserved by 
the promise of " the whole to conclude with a realistic 
and magnificent sham battle by the entire assembled 
force, — regulars, volunteers, and national guard ?" 

Time was when the regular, from the safe distance of 
the frontier, could afford to laugh at these affairs and 
wonder what people could see .in them. They were no 
more like the real thing than brevet to actual rank ; but 
little by little as the centre of population shifted westward 
with the Star of Empire, and Congressmen sprang from 
the newly-organized districts and began to have influence 
— big or little — in shaping the affairs of the nation, and 
what had been frontier posts were overlapped by the 
people, and the regular and the State troops began to eye 
each other askance, there sprang into life a new money- 
making scheme by which shrewd financiers saw means 
of depleting the pockets of a whole community and 
replenishing their own by advertising, in flaming posters 
all over the Northwest, a vast aggregation of military 
attractions ; reviews, parades, camps of hundreds of the 
finest organizations in the country; competitive drills of 
I 14* 



1 62 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

regiments, battalions, and companies ; charges of cav- 
alry ; thunderous salvos of artillery, etc. Fine militia 
companies were tempted to come by promise of big 
money prizes, and certain battalions, batteries, or troops, 
of regulars were ordered to go by a department that, 
properly enough, did not wish to " lose touch with the 
people." 

Goodness knows the regulars, officers and men, were 
glad enough to go, and do almost anything to make 
themselves known to fellow-beings and fellow-citizens, 
whose sole conception of the officers and men of the 
United States army was derived from a casual reading 
of the sneers of the Chicago papers and the squibs of 
other journals no better informed than those of the once- 
called " Garden City," but who thought it wit or wisdom 
to follow their lead. And wherever the regulars went, 
and whatever was to be done, they entered con amore 
into the spirit of the thing, and won among the populace 
hosts of friends, and from the projectors of the enterprise 
a world of gratitude. "We'd have been swamped utterly 
if it hadn't been for you fellows," as Mr. X. heard the 
business manager say to a group of old frontier comrades 
time and again, and, indeed, the statement was not exag- 
gerative. 

But what comical times we had ! What wonderful 
skirmishes and battles were those we fought among the 
crested bluffs of Dubuque, along the " Cold Spring" 
grounds, back of the Cream City, and, last of all, over 
the barren flats behind that far-spreading, all-absorbing, 
and fiercely-democratic metropolis of Chicago ! In 
some particulars the experiences were identical in each 
place. In some places we encountered new and original 



SHAM BATTLES. 163 

views on the part of the public as to the fine points of 
modern war-waging. In one respect they were all 
alike : the Grand Army man we had always with us, and 
in his glory, too. In the " grand-stand," on the outskirts 
of the crowd, and invariably the most conspicuous per- 
sonage in his vicinity, the battle-scarred veteran or the 
hospital " beat," as the case might be, was sure to have 
a prominent position, and to be taking frequent occasion 
to inform the crowd that " me and a half-dozen of the 
old boys, with our Springfields, could clean out a whole 
regiment of these fellows, with their new-fangled guns." 

There was another point in which marked resemblance 
was at once apparent. With enterprise genuinely Ameri- 
can, no sooner was it announced that the sham battle 
would take place on certain grounds than the populace 
swarmed forth and took possession thereof, and before 
the sham fight could come off, as per advertisement, a 
genuine tussle was sometimes necessary before the lurid 
spectacle could begin. 

Perhaps the liveliest example of this sort of thing 
occurred at the first encampment of the Wisconsin 
troops in rear of the city of Milwaukee. There were 
perhaps fifteen hundred infantry under canvas, a fine 
troop of cavalry, some guns and gunners from the State 
capital, and these were all provisionally brigaded to- 
gether for the time being, and four battalions had been 
organized from the foot-commands. There had been 
daily parades, guard-mountings, occasional reviews, and 
a big demonstration through the streets of the city, 
headed by the governor and his staff on horseback. The 
great field was known as the Cold Spring Course, and 
its entire area was surrounded by a high board fence ; 



164 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

not SO high but that ambitious boys could scale it; not 
so impenetrable but that it could be burrowed under or 
squeezed through in a thousand places. And after the 
regular military work was done, a " hippodrome" enter- 
prise had been resolved upon. A new armory was 
needed for a crack organization ; the State couldn't build 
armories at all or allow money enough even to pay an 
insurance policy on a poor one; but the soldier-boys 
had got their heads together and determined on some 
plans to raise money, and this was one of them. A 
business manager had been found ; blank cartridges by 
the million had been provided ; huge posters had been 
distributed all over Wisconsin, and fringed a surrounding 
belt in the other States ; prizes were offered for the best 
drilled companies from anywhere ; " regulars" were ob- 
tained as judges and staff-officers ; and, on the last great 
day of the feast, a sham fight of colossal proportions 
was to take place, all of which could be viewed for a 
very moderate price of admission. The fame of the 
thing, as has been intimated in a previous article, was 
trumpeted to the far East, and Harper's Weekly's liveliest 
wielder of chalk and crayon was dispatched to the scene 
to gather illustrations. The weather had been gorgeous 
and the crowds generous, so " the management" looked 
forward with comfort to the proceeds of " battle-day," 
and probably were not much disappointed when they 
gazed on the tumultuous sea of people swarming along 
the race-track and gradually possessing themselves of 
the entire enclosed space except the tented rectangle at 
the far western end, where doubled sentries kept the 
camps tolerably secure against being bodily drifted off. 
" Did you ever see such a crowd ?" said the manager's 



SHAM BATTLES. 165 

junior partner, an hour before the time announced for 
the battle to begin. " We must have taken in ten thou- 
sand dollars already." 

" We haven't taken in ten hundred," said a flushed 
and excited messenger from the great gate, arriving at 
the instant. " This crowd has come in from a thou- 
sand holes in our three miles of fence,, and they keep 
a-coming." 

It was then that the " manager," rueful and wrathful, 
bestrode his gray steed and whipped his way through a 
surging host of people, and presently* appeared in front 
of the canvas head-quarters of the commanding general. 

" My God, general ! I've got to have about a thou- 
sand sentries right off The crowd is busting in that 
big fence on all sides, and I'll have a tremendous bill 
to pay and no money to do it with. How quick can I 
have 'em ?" 

" Well, Mr. Ferguson, you've got two regiments out 
now. The sentries all around inside the race-track are 
trying to keep that space clear for the sham fight, and 
you have a battalion outside the fence to keep people 
off the high ground to the south of us. Where are the 
sentries to come from ?" 

" If we can't get 'em any other way, I'll have all those 
on guard around the track. I've got to stop this ' hook- 
ing in' right off, anyhow, or we'll have all Milwaukee on 
this ground in half an hour, and nothing to show for it 
but damages," said the man of affairs, dolefully. 

And so Mr. X., who was adjutant-general of the camp, 
was bidden to mount his horse and order the immediate 
changes required by the head of the combined civil and 
military financial management, and, not relishing the job 



l66 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

in the least, Mr. X. proceeded to carry out his orders. 
In half an hour the fence was lined with sentries, who 
speedily drove back every man or boy struggling over, 
under, or through that barrier, but to do this required 
nearly the entire force now under arms and awaiting the 
signal to form for the coming battle. It also necessitated 
the removal of all but about one hundred sentries from 
along the race-track fence, whose duty it was to keep 
the crowd from bulging through and occupying the field. 
Meantime, the grand stand and spectators' " bleaching- 
boards" were more leisurely filling, for extra halves and 
quarters were demanded for accommodations thereon, 
and the vast space intended for carriages was slowly 
crowding with vehicles of every description. Mr. X. 
didn't like the idea of changing those sentries one bit, 
but " orders are orders," and he had to carry them out. 

And now, before going further, a glance at the plan of 
action and the ground itself may be needed. The space 
inclosed by the mile race-track was fairly level. The 
west end was covered by closely-packed tents of the 
camp, the east end was diversified by a grove of hand- 
some trees, and about one hundred yards back from 
the judge's tower, just opposite the grand stand, was 
a dense growth of shrubbery and underbrush, form- 
ing a copse which was entirely impenetrable. Between 
this copse and the stands all was clear and open ; behind 
and beyond the ground was also unencumbered, and 
from the stands a good view could be obtained. Every- 
thing had been lavishly advertised, including a rough 
sketch-map of the position, and as outlined by the press 
the plan of battle promised some realistic features and 
fine spectacular effect. 



SHAM BATTLES. 1 6/ 

Fresh from his triumphs at the Dubuque encampment, 
a gallant soldier of the regular infantry had come in from 
the frontier to plan the grand attack on the camp of the 
" W. N. G.," at Cold Spring, and in person to conduct 
the assault. The defense was intrusted to Mr. X. him- 
self The last time he and "the major" had sniffed the 
fumes of battle together was the damp, misty morning of 
Crook's withdrawal from the Indian villages which he 
had captured at Slim Buttes the previous day, and to the 
major in question and to Mr. X. had been assigned the 
duty of burning every stitch of Indian property that 
couldn't be carried away. That was blinding, beastly, 
wretched work, for everything was so drenched with 
rain it was hard to get fire to take hold. But before they 
got half through their " sham " duties among their friends 
and fellow-citizens, this summer afternoon at Cold Spring, 
both these rival commanders were ready to wish they 
were back in the smoke, mud, and sharp skirmishing 
around the Sioux villages. 

As set forth in the papers, the attacking force was to 
appear through a gap in the fence at the east end, and, 
hidden from view of the camp by the copse and grove 
to run its artillery up to the right and left ; to deploy its 
infantry in support of the guns, and then to open sudden 
and furious fire. The alarm and the long roll were to 
sound at once over on the tented field ; the guns of the 
defenders were to reply with all speed and uproar. Paper 
shells were to be kept bursting on high and shrieking 
realistically through the air, and as Mr. X. was to have 
four guns to the major's one, the latter was to allow him- 
self to be temporarily silenced. Then Mr. X. was to ad- 
vance the infantry from his left wing across the open 



l68 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

field between camp and the copse in spirited attempt to 
capture the westward guns of his friend the major, but 
was to be driven back in confusion by the withering fire 
from the rifles of the supporting force. A rally, and re- 
newal of the attempt with increased numbers was to re- 
sult in similar disaster, and Mr. X.'s left wing, finding 
the enemy in front too strong, was to retire to the general 
line and resume sharp artillery practice; and the right 
wing, which up to this time was only menacing the 
major's gallant left in sufficient force to prevent his send- 
ing re-enforcements through the grove to his assailed 
flank, was now destined to assume the offensive in good 
earnest. 

First a heavy skirmish line was to push out; then a 
strong line of battle was to sweep down upon the major's 
guns ; two big battalions were to concentrate their fire on 
one little one, drawn up in full view of the grand stand 
and stretching from the judge's tower across in front of 
the copse; this was gradually to crumble and give way 
before the storm, and then Mr. X.'s whole line was to 
advance cheering and at the run ; the cavalry were to 
come sweeping down with the general advance, close to 
the race-track, and then, as the major's left began sifting 
away, with bugle-blast and stirring war-cry and flashing 
sabre and rushing steed, the Light-Horse was to charge 
down past the open-mouthed populace, dash through the 
guns like Custer's troopers at Winchester, and go hack- 
ing and hewing among the dispirited infantry of the foe, 
who were to throw down their arms and beg for mercy 
in full view of the ladies in the big pavilion, and the 
horsemen were thus to be the heroes of the day. Then, 
with his left crushed and shattered, the major himself 



SHAM BATTLES. 169 

would have no alternative but to come forth and grace- 
fully tender his sword to the triumphant foe. It was 
most magnanimous in the planner of the plot thus to 
designate himself to play the part of the vanquished. 
Perhaps, however, he knew what the result was going to 
be. It read, like the French army returns in 1870, all 
very well on paper. Now, let us see how it turned out. 

At 3.30 P.M., as advertised, the attacking force was to 
appear through an eastern gate, and carefully conceal its 
march upon the distant camp. At 3.45 the head of the 
column did reach the prearranged gap in the fence, but 
that was as far as it got, for the time being at least. 
There was no corresponding gap in the dense array of 
wagons, carts, carriages, omnibuses, etc., wedged all over 
the circular sweep of track in front. But there was no 
hurry any more than there was need of bothering about 
concealing their movements from the encamped foe half 
a mile to the west. Neither could see the other with 
glasses of " hextra million power." The entire inter- 
vening space — the field of battle itself — was now occupied 
by the populace, and some thirty thousand friends and 
fellow-citizens jubilantly roamed or squatted over the 
plain where by this time the skirmish-lines should be at 
work, and over whose green sward the 12-pounders 
should now be belching forth their thunder. 

The manager sat in the judge's tower a picture of per- 
turbation. Orderlies, messengers, police, " Pinkertons," 
and stray guardsmen had been dispatched through the 
throng. On the one hand were the crowded seats of 
paying spectators who were clamoring for the show to 
begin ; on the other — on the great field — swarmed the 
gleeful many, — " hoi polloi" — not one in ten of whom had 
H 15 



170 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

paid a dime to get in, and yet they were masters of the 
situation. 

" If you don't clear this field and retire to the race- 
track the battle can't come off!" roared Mr. Ferguson, 

" Den give us our money back !" yelled a gang of 
gamins in the crowd, — and the crowd cheered delight- 
edly. The manager fumed and raved. Finally he 
mounted and came cantering into camp, where Mr. X. 
and the gallant defenders were placidly waiting to be 
attacked. 

" What are we to do, by thunder ?" says Mr. Ferguson. 
" That crowd covers every inch of space you were going 
to fight over. Can't you get 'em off?" 

" Haven't men enough in camp to begin to try. Fast 
as we shove 'em to one side they'll swarm in on the 
other. Here — I'll show you," says a field-officer of 
infantry whose battalion happens to be in readiness. 
Deploying four companies as skirmishers, he makes a slow 
wheel southward. The crowd laughs, rolls slowly back 
until it becomes dense ; then refuses to budge. Mean- 
time, the space just vacated is promptly occupied by 
other enterprising citizens, and after ten minutes' lively 
skirmish-drill the field is practically full as ever. It 
dosen't mend matters to tell Mr. Ferguson that if he 
hadn't taken the sentries away in the first place the 
crowd wouldn't be here now. He knows that. 

But an unexpected ally appears. Black clouds have 
been gathering. There is vivid flash and thunder clap; 
then a sudden deluge. The heavens descended in a torrent 
that in five minutes swept that great inclosure clear of 
every unfeathered biped and leveled many a tent with the 
earth. The mob had fled to the State-fair buildings, — the 



SHAM BATTLES. 17I 

Stables, horse-sheds, stands, benches, — and, even then, 
thousands were soaked to the skin. Thanks to Jupiter 
Pluvius, the field was ours. In ten minutes it ceased as 
suddenly as it began. Then the sentries lined the rail 
fence at the track, and from camp to copse we held the 
ground. So, too, had there been a stampede of all open 
vehicles down at the east end. Thousands of visitors 
of both sexes were drenched, but there was no use in 
retreating farther. The sun came out bright and warm. 
The major and his daring column dragged their guns 
through the dripping fields. The thunder of the heavens 
was suddenly answered by the hoarse bellow of the light 
twelves. The bugles in camp rang out " to arms," and 
the blue puffs of bursting shells scdXiercd papier-mache in 
powdery fragments upon the upward-gazing faces. No 
sooner was the major's line established than he was 
backed up by the populace. Whatsoever might be local 
prejudice or sympathy, the major was now bound to have 
the best of it. No concentration of blank-cartridge fire 
could ever drive him back. All Milwaukee was wedged 
in behind him ; hack and hansom, cab and carriage, men, 
women, and children ; a solid mass of eager humanity, 
moist, dripping, but determined, now re-enforced his line. 
It was now all he could do to hold his own against his 
backers. Under that surging impulse from the rear a 
headlong charge on camp — a total revolution of the pro- 
gramme — seemed far more probable. 

Bang and roar went the big guns; pop and rattle the 
little ones. The skirmishers danced out to the front; 
and then, in spite of probable annihilation, refused to 
go dancing back until their officers dragged them. 
Stretcher-men, duly detailed, scurried forward to pick up 



1/2 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

v/arriors presumably dead, who became suddenly resur- 
rected and declined to be taken to the rear. All this, 
however, occurred on the side farthest from the crowded 
stand and pavilion, and people were only moderately ex- 
cited, for on the south side of the field, where now were 
packed the throngs, only a long-range artillery duel and 
some scattered skirmish fire was going on. 

Now came the second stage, and down on the major's 
fated left bore the heavy battalions of the right wing; 
and no sooner dia the line of battle move to the front 
than, as at the east end, the crowd came tumbling over 
the scattered sentries and streaming out upon the field. 
Mr. X., to his disgust, was re-enforced by a cheering and 
enthusiastic mob of fellow-citizens, who came chasing 
after his line, bound — since there was no danger in it — 
to be in at the death. Detaching his cavalry with orders 
to scour up and down, over and across the fields in his 
rear, so that if the foe were compelled, by force of circum- 
stances, to stand their ground, instead of yielding it, as 
prearranged, he at least might have a line of retreat open, 
Mr. X. galloped on after his right wing, now hotly en- 
gaged, and burning powder at the rate of a barrel a 
second. Vast clouds of the " villainous saltpetre" rolled 
on high and obscured the opposite line. Swells, in light 
wagons, and lovely dames, in carriages, finding it impos- 
sible to see through the battle-smoke, came whipping 
down the course behind the foot-throng and reached a 
gap where stalwart policemen and guards, with fixed 
bayonets, had, up to this time, prevented any one from 
squeezing "between the lines." Through here the cap- 
tured guns were to be dragged, — when we got them, — 
but just at this moment all four of them together let go a 



SHAM BATTLES. 1/3 

thunderous " fire by battery." A dozen teams took fright, 
became uncontrollable, and, despite guards and police, 
veered in through this very gap, and the next thing that 
the triumphant right wing knew, there came, charging 
through the battle-smoke, — What ? The elephants of 
Hannibal ? the war-chariots of Darius ? No ! Half a 
dozen snorting, racing teams, bounding carriages, and 
affrighted occupants suddenly appeared, as suddenly 
whirled about, and again became swallowed up in smoke ; 
and as nothing on earth could live in front of such a 
blast of lead in open field, and, as the foe as well as the 
luckless charioteers would have been blown out of exist- 
ence by this time, " Cease firing" was sounded, shouted, 
yelled, and finally enforced. And then, at last, as the 
smoke cleared away, and people were revealed chasing 
after stray hats, — chimney-pot and Gainsborough, — and 
others hanging on to the heads of affrighted horses, and 
others still picking themselves up and limping out of the 
way, there stood the opposing line, its last cartridge 
gone, its position no longer tenable from a military point 
of view, and no longer " vacatable" from any other. 
Unable to retreat, the heroic left, with fixed bayonets, 
grimly faced the coming foe, bent on dying like the 
Twenty-fourth at Isandlhwana. 

Mr. X. sent an aide-de-camp around by the race-track 
to remind the commander of the inimical left that he 
was whipped, and really must fall back so that he could 
be annihilated by our now impatient dragoons, according 
to programme. Meantime, the two opposing lines glared 
at each other like pugilists between rounds. The aide 
came dashing back across the " zone of fire" with the 
information that the major was deeply sensible of the 

IS* 



1/4 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

fact that he oughtn't to hold his position, but he simply 
could not fall back. If relief weren't sent him in two 
minutes he'd have to fall forward in deference to the pop- 
ular impact, — vis a tergo, — in which event, said he, Mr. 
X. and his bold dragoons had better get out of the way. 

" The guard surrenders, but cannot die," says the aide. 
" Shall I turn the cavalry loose on the crowd ?" 

" No ; they might get lost, and we want them for dress 
parade. Go and tell Major George, who commands that 
staggering battalion, that I'll give him one last volley, 
and they must all drop in their tracks." 

" Then the crowd will bust over them and come at us," 
says the pessimistic aide. " We won't have time even 
to yell ' Police !' " 

" Then we can but die in our tracks. There's no re- 
treat. The crowd behind is as thick as it is in front." 

" Can't we slip out between 'em and let the two crowds 
come together?" suggests the aide. 

" Wouldn't do. A sham fight was advertised. They'd 
sue the management for breach of contract if they got a 
real one. Give a general feit de j'oie, and then tell every 
man to yell, ' Both sides whipped.' " 

A moment more of crashing musketry, blinding 
smoke, and deafening cheers. When the clouds rolled 
by a tumultuous mass of perspiring soldiery was revealed 
tossing caps and helmets skyward and yelling triumph. 
Thanks to the populace, the battle of Cold Spring was 
declared drawn. 

Then we tried it for the benefit of another gift enter- 
prise in Chicago ; and here, under the pretentious title 
of " Grand International Military Camp," etc., a big 
aggregation of bandsmen and militia assembled from all 



SHAM BATTLES. 1/5 

over the West, and the War Department had been in- 
duced to order a light battery, a troop of cavalry, and a 
battalion of infantry from the regular service thither for 
duty. Sham battles were promised every afternoon, and 
some of them were ludicrous in the last degree. 

To begin with, the crowd, as in Milwaukee, swarmed 
over the " Pinkertons" and police before the troops ap- 
peared, and when we came forth to do our deeds of 
daring before the ladies in the grand stands and pa- 
vilions, the managers rode vainly to and fro through the 
populace imploring it to fall back to the seats provided 
for its accommodation all around the edges of the battle- 
field ; but you might as well reason with a herd of 
buffalo as with a Chicago crowd. It is never so happy 
as when in mischief Where one man out of ten would 
have enjoyed seeing the military display, nine out of ten 
thought it bigger fun to bother the " Pinkertons," whom 
the populace of the Garden City hate as rats do a terrier. 
Argument, entreaty, and threats of " no game" being 
alike useless, the police being only a handful in face of 
such numbers, the commander of the regulars was ap- 
pealed to, and presently out came the blue skirmish-lines, 
steadily deploying at " arms port," in face of the throng, 
and then the masses slowly yielded, retired to the 
benches and the fences, and, after much bother, having 
cleared the field and turned the crowds over to the 
police and the local sentries, the regulars were recalled 
to take their places for the thrilling combat, and in ten 
minutes the crowd was out in the field again. Cavalry 
charges were rendered impossible. The infantry banged 
away at each other through the intervening mob, and 
everybody laughed until he or she was tired. 



1/6 TRIALS OF A STAFP-OFFICER. 

That evening the management insisted that we must 
have brigade dress parade, as advertised. The " regular" 
commander said he would not undertake to parade and 
keep the crowd back too. If the " management" would 
handle the crowd, he would handle the troops. The 
management bit its finger-nails and scratched its head, 
and again appealed to the crowd to fall back, — " You 
can see just as well at the seats." But the crowd stolidly 
grinned and stood. Then a troop of regulars rode forth 
and slowly and civilly as possible for the third time 
herded the throng back to the fences and the benches ; 
the grand stands and pavilions applauded ; the Pinkertons 
and a line of sentries — not regulars — were placed in pos- 
session. A distinguished war veteran rode forth to 
assume command of the "line of masses," now forming; 
six battalions of foot^ the light battery of the Fourth 
Artillery, and a swell cavalry battalion made a handsome 
show as it faced Chicago. For a few minutes the crowd 
of " unwashed" was held within bounds ; but no genuine 
American, of Irish or other descent, conceives that he 
can suitably see anything so long as some other Ameri- 
can is nearer the object than he, and little by little police, 
Pinkertons, and sentries were impelled linewards, and 
when Mr. X., as adjutant-general, galloped out to salute 
the commanding officer with the present of the entire 
command, he couldn't find his chief; he was swallowed 
up in the crowd. 

Next day and the next we took matters in our own 
hands ; established sentries before the crowd got there, 
and managed to have a clear field. Still there were 
absurd features. One day was to be devoted to a realistic 
Indian massacre, since Chicago couldn't be satisfied 



SHAM BATTLES. 1 77 

without painting the camp red and having something 
genuinely " bluggy," A lot of New Mexican aborigines 
were there, fellows who were about the color and size of 
the Apache, and matched him about as a cat does a cata- 
mount. A gallant major of Wisconsin infantry, who had 
won the hearts of the whole " regular" contingent, was to 
figure as a bearer of dispatches, and was to be summarily 
dispatched by Apaches ambuscaded in the rocks (bales of 
hay), and scalped in sight of a shuddering grand stand. 

The government policy of sending a company to 
"punish" a tribe was then to be fully illustrated, and 

Captain , of the Twenty-third, was to show how he 

and his company used to take the war-path in Arizona, 
where indeed many of their number had bitten the dust 
but a decade or so before. These were to be appro- 
priately slaughtered by surrounding hordes (there were 
about forty-five of the " Lagunas"), who were then to 
indulge in a wild and ungodly revel and scalp-dance, to 
be interrupted by a furious charge of cavalry (regulars 
in full-dress uniform in deference to the wishes of the 
management), whereat they were to scatter all over the 
"prairie" and be pursued to their lairs, rallying quickly 
and in turn overcoming the luckless troopers, and finally 
the forces of a whole department, like those of Arizona 
after the squad of Geronimo, were to be launched on the 
Indians. There would be a surround, a terrific combat, 
a final surrender, and, with the plain covered with 
corpses, it was hoped the crowd would go home satis- 
fied. Most of the troops by this time had gone, dis- 
gusted. The regulars, being under orders, had to stay 
and help out the management. 

Well, that fight was a stunner, albeit carried out with 



1/8 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

Startling variations from the advertised programme. 
Nothing could have been more realistic than the Badger 
major's headlong tumble from his galloping horse, 
nothing more dramatic than the scalping act and war- 
whoops of the Indians ; nothing more disciplined than 
the " die-in-your-tracks" business of the designated vic- 
tims of the gallant Twenty-tliird; nothing more blood- 
curdling than the wild war-dance of the warriors around 
their prostrate foes. 

But there ended the lesson. Intoxicated by the cheers 
of the crowd, and fired by the taste of imaginary blood, 
our savage allies concluded to fight out the rest of the 
thing on their own lines, instead of those of the pro- 
gramme. When the troopers came dashing on the scene 
from behind the bluffs (a big wooden bullet-stop), the 
wild warriors faced them like heroes instead of scattering 
like sheep. Bear-with-a-hole-in-his-tail was knocked 
endwise by Lieutenant A.'s rushing charger, He-that- 
shuns-fire-water (a truly remarkable savage) was flattened 
out by a whack from the back of Lieutenant S.'s glit- 
tering sabre, and Wolf-stones-in-his-belly rattled for an 
hour after the back-somersault he turned when colliding 
with Sergeant Murphy's steed. But they and their 
comrades were on their feet in an instant, banging away 
with blank cartridges at the bewildered troopers, dancing 
and yelling like all possessed. The cavalry, having 
no orders to slaughter, fled in some confusion, as the 
only means of saving their horses' hides from scorch- 
ing. Then hundreds of infantry, re-enforced by marines 
and " blue-jackets" from the United States steamer 
" Michigan," marched forth upon the field, — the gallant 
ensign in command of the latter bestriding a calico pony 
captured from the foe, — and this overwhelming force 



SHAM BATTLES. 179 

bore down upon the Apaches and poured sheets of fire 
upon them, and still they danced and sang, yelped and 
clattered, and still refused to die. The crowd roared 
with laughter and delight; the "management" swore a 
blue streak ; the sailors and marines fired away their last 
cartridge and begged to be allowed to board the enemy. 
The Wisconsin major, tired of being dead and scalped 
every three minutes, dragged himself behind a hay-bale 
to die for the sixth or eighth time, and at last the troops 
" slowly and sullenly" withdrew, leaving the Apaches 
masters of tlie situation. Whereupon, having still some 
cartridges, and unlimited fight among them, these noble 
red men turned to and banged away at each other until 
the manager begged them to clear the field for parade, 
whereupon again the crowd set up a yell of " Shoot the 
manager !" and the battle of Washington Park came to 
an end by that official's unconditional surrender. 

Yet, it was a newspaper man who came tearing up to 
the office to criticise this brilliant spectacular effect. 
Rodney's battery had been quietly " hitching in" for 
parade as the affair was being fought out, and slowly 
marched in on the track beyond the field in time to 
witness the fag end of the fight. It had no more to do 
with the " shindig" than a light battery — as such — ever 
has to do with Indian warfare,* but the representative 
of the Chicago press thought otherwise. 

" It was a swindle," said he ; " that battery was within 
easy range and it never fired a gun." 

We haven't had any sham fights since, and if Mr. X. 
is consulted, we won't have any more. 

* This was written before the Hotchkiss gun had become a prominent 
feature in frontier battle. 



l8o TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORK- 
SHOP. 

For reasons set forth several years ago in the first of 
his numerous papers on "The Trials of Staff-Officers," 
Mr. X. was compelled to do a good deal of regimental 
work at night and beneath his own roof. In the first set 
of quarters occupied by him, at Russell, there was a 
" linter" on the east side of the cottage, separated from 
the parlor by the hall-way and comparatively isolated 
from the " social" side of the premises. Thanks to a 
six months' campaign in the field, when no returns 
were made, and during which time a new colonel and 
a new adjutant had been "sprung" on the regiment, 
everything in the office was in arrears. The colonel 
found the command wofully uninstructed in drill and 
garrison duties, though there was no discount on its 
work in the field, and he and his new staff-officer were 
kept mighty busy, especially the latter, in drills and cere- 
monies of every kind. We were very short of clerks, 
could get no more without depriving company com- 
manders of theirs, and so Mr. X. tried by hard night- 
work to make up the deficiency. As he was required to 
be out at reveille and at work all day, it can readily be 
seen that only a minimum allowance of sleep was accorded 
him, and frequently three hours was the utmost he could 
hope for. Mr. X. knows now that no one man could 
accomplish what he attempted that year and that he was 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. l8l 

an ass to try ; but try he did, and one of the prerequi- 
sites was a " den" where he could work undisturbed. 

We had a charming girl visiting us that winter. All 
the bachelors at the post were paying her devoted atten- 
tion. There was not an hour from guard-mounting to 
midnight that some of them were not infesting the 
premises, and Mrs. X. not infrequently had to order the 
laughing crowd out of the house when midnight came, 
declaring that her friend and guest must be allowed a 
few hours' rest between visits. 

There was a piano in the parlor and a guitar. There 
was fun in full blast every evening, but the adjutant 
would come in from tattoo roll-call and then shut him- 
self up in his shop and scratch away at the various books 
or papers, striving to be oblivious to the merry laughter 
across the hall. By and by one big fellow, whose detail 
as post commissary enabled him to " get the bulge," as 
they expressed it, on the others, came to having the field 
to himself during the hours when the regiment was 
absorbed in morning drills, and one day the wife of his 
bosom demanded of Mr. X., " Well, are you never going 
to express an opinion about the engagement ?" 

" What engagement ?" asked Mr. X., blankly, for every 
moment of his time had been given to his work, and he 
had seen nothing going on under his very nose. 

" Why, our engagement," was madame's reply, the tone 
whereof fully indicated her proper vexation at the imbe- 
cility of her lord. 

" I thought that was rather an old story," says Mr. X., 
haplessly. 

" Oh ! How can you be so — stupid ? Don't you see ? 
Haven't you heard ? Is it possible you haven't suspected 

i6 



l82 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

's engagement ? She accepted him four days ago, 



and they both think it so queer you haven't congratu- 
lated them." 

" Great Scott ! Let me go and do it now ;" and Mr. X. 
makes a rush across the hall and into the parlor and over 
to the sofa, where sits enthroned a bewitching brunette 
with sparkling eyes and flushing cheeks and flashing 
white teeth, who smiles up at him as he says, — 

" How blind I've been ! My dear girl, you don't know 
how glad I am to hear it. With all my heart I wish you 
joy, and — Billy, old man," and here Mr. X. turns on a 
brother cavalryman and wrings his hand hard, " you're a 
lucky fellow if there ever was one. Just don't I con- 
gratulate you !" 

But Billy's face is one of gloom, and Mrs. X.'s visage 
portends a storm. " Why, aren't you the happy man ?" 
blunders Mr. X., in continuation. 

" I regret to say I'm not," says Lieutenant Billy, in 
tones sepulchral, and then Mr. X. is remanded to prison 
and properly lectured. It seems Billy wanted to be, but 
wasn't. She was promising to be a sister to him, and 
expressing the conventional hope that, as Mrs. Somebody 
Else, she might still number him as one of her dearest 
friends, when X. appeared, like an old mole just bursting 
forth from the moist and loamy earth, dazzled and blinded 
by the sudden sunshine. 

But the real happy man was not allowed much hap- 
piness, after all, in that garrison. His defrauded friends 
and comrades made common cause against him. There 
was a bachelor ranch next door, — a bachelor mess, — 
whereat " the boys" all congregated right after retreat, 
and from which he invariably made his escape just as 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 1 83 

soon as he could satisfy the demands of hunger, and 
then his well-known step would be heard on our piazza 
without, and our bonnie guest would be borne from our 
own dinner-table to grant her accepted just a moment 
or two of precious tete-a-tete before his troubles would 
begin. Before the rest of us could finish our coffee, bang 
would go the gong-bell at the door, and our darky 
maid would usher in the grinning quartermaster, a most 
eligible bachelor, and " Good-evening, Mrs. X. ; good- 
evening, Miss Blank," would be his laughing salutation 
as he entered. " Thought you might be lonely this 
evening, so I dropped in early. Hello, old man ! You 
here, too ? Why, if I'd known that, now, I could have 

gone on to Colonel K 's. Mr. X. gone over to play 

whist yet, Mrs. X. ?" 

" No, he's in the den, but he goes in five minutes. Did 
you want to see him ?" for madame has a soft spot in her 
heart for the luckless lover, and wants to secure him a 
moment or two of bliss in answer to his imploring gaze, 

" Oh, no — no, just wanted to know, so as to time my 
visit up there after the card-party gets out of the sitting- 
room. I can stay a whole half-hour yet." 

And he does ; and when, at last, he takes his leave he 
slips into his own abode next door. " Your turn now, 
Bobby," he says to the nearest youngster, goes on about 
his other calls, and Bobby trots in to X.'s forthwith, and 
he spends his half or three-quarters of an hour chatting 
blithely with Miss Blank, and totally ignoring the black 
looks and sullen mien of his big comrade. 

Then he goes, and the third relief, in the person of 
another sub., comes in ; and so they keep it up until X. 
comes home from the general's whist-table at eleven and 



184 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

betakes himself to the den for work, and there he finds 
his cherished friend, the accepted suitor, striding up and 
down the narrow confines of that apartment, biting his 
nails in wrath, and blaspheming at the rate of a dollar a 
second, — if the regulations on that subject were ever 
enforced. His half a dozen merciless chums have suc- 
ceeded in making the evening a hell to him, as he doesn't 
hesitate to say, and even at this late hour in come two 
more of the gang. 

" Saw your lights burning in the parlor, Mrs. X., and 
thought we'd just drop in to say good-night," they ex- 
plain. " Why, where's S ?" And S , in the den 

with Mr. X., grits his teeth and swears anew. It was all 
great fun for them, keeping this up night after night, but 
as the damsel had soon to go eastward, whither her 
adorer could not then follow, it was no lark for him. 
Neither did it help the adjutant in his labors. 

But even that invaded sanctuary was better than the 
next. We were " ranked out" of those quarters presently 
and forced into a set without a " linter," and here Mr. X.'s 
den was fixed at the rear end of the hall, — a space about 
eight feet by seven, — and here was the table on which 
were his books, papers, pens, rulers, etc., and here he 
strove to do his night-work, only to discover that a desk 
which is used as the baby's playground by day is but a 
mess of confusion at other times. Somehow or other 
there was no such thing as getting the coveted workshops 
after that. It was worse still when we went on university 
duty and boarded in two rooms. It did not improve 
when we took up our abode on the shores of a lovely 
inland lake, and, having retired from active service, Mr. 
X. found that his pen was all he had with which to eke 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 185 

out a scanty income and earn a home for the wife and 
olive-branches. There were several of the latter now, 
and dollars flew from his hands faster than he could 
amass them. For a time there was a nook in the garret, 
a dark corner far aloft in the big house of an indulgent 
relation, where X. had a refuge and where he could work 
uninterruptedly, so long as he could stand the fumes of 
the kerosene lamp, — there was no other light but a gas- 
jet in the shop, — and between the gloom and the close 
atmosphere it wasn't the liveliest place for composition, 
but it was generally far above the danger of interruption, 
and that was the main thing for a fellow whose ideas did 
not flow spontaneously at all, but had to be dragged out 
by the roots, as it were. It was up in this dark and 
gloomy, but most acceptable, den that X. wrote and 
studied, grinding out a big book of some eight Jiundred 
pages for an Eastern publisher on some " Famous 
Battles" of history, and finding some happiness in the 
ten weeks' wrestle which resulted in the production of 
" Marion's Faith," — the first sequel to " The Colonel's 
Daughter." Then we were able to move into rather 
pleasanter quarters as a household, though still crowded 
in the winters, while the summers were spent up under 
the beautiful bluffs of Lake Pepin, and at last, — at last 
came the time when the longed-for roost of our own 
seemed a possibility. 

" What makes it loveliest of all," said placens uxor, as 
she glanced about her cozy little parlor and library 
(" Between the Lines" had furnished our pretty nook 
" from turret to foundation-stone"), " is that now at last 
you have your own den shut off from the rest of the 
world, and there you can work utterly uninterrupted." 

16* 



1 86 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

It was alluring. It did look plausible. Aside from 
the deep, deep thanksgiving that filled his heart for such 
a bright, cheery, homelike nest for the wife and little 
ones, there was a heart-felt sense of gratitude that here 
he might be able to delve at the trade which force of 
circumstances had assigned him, and be free from the 
score of interruptions that beset him elsewhere. The 
selected "den" overlooked the children's playground at 
the back of the house. It also overlooked many of the 
neighbors' back yards, the tennis court of our small club, 
the lake-side drive of the metropolis, and beyond, the 
sparkling, dancing waves of old Michigan. " There's 
inspiration for you !" was the daily declaration of the 
lady friends whom Mrs. X. delightedly brought up to 
show over the premises, and in course of time the test 
was to be made. 

We got into our prized possession simultaneously with 
a lively tomkitten, whom the children promptly adopted 
and the servants welcomed as sure to bring luck. We 
spent a fortnight getting settled, and by the end of that 
time Mr. X.'s den was indeed a joy to him. The walls 
were hung with maps of old campaigns, photographs of 
dozens of fellows of the regiments we had known and 
served with, trophies from the far frontier, spurs, sabres, 
field-glasses, belts, the old aignillette and shoulder-knots 
of the adjutancy. A big flat desk, with abundant drawers 
and pigeon-holes, was placed where the east light would 
be at the scribbler's left ; the ponderous revolving book- 
case was at the other hand. Shelves and stands were 
built on every side for such volumes as were professional 
or most frequently needed, and then X. was ready to 
begin at a yarn for a long-suffering publisher, who was 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 1 8/ 

politely but positively upbraiding him for not getting to 
work before. 

" Dunraven Ranch" was the first story attempted, and 
Mr. X. fondly hoped, and Mrs. X. confidently prophe- 
sied, it could be done in a month. " The Deserter" 
had only taken three weeks. " From the Ranks" was 
written in four, and that was sufficient, said her ladyship, 
to prove that the new story could be done easily and 
readily in just as short a time, now that at last X. had 
his den. 

And this is the way it worked : Breakfast is over on a 
bright June day. The schools have closed. The chil- 
dren of the neighborhood appear to be congregated in 
our seventy-five by fifty back yard, and a very pretty 
and picturesque lot they make. There are over a dozen 
little maids of every age, from five to fifteen. There are 
no boys except tiny scamps of three and four summers, 
X. junior among them. They are playing " puss in the 
corner," and the game is in full blast. Mr. X. in spirit 
is away on the Llano Estacado, telling, or trying to tell, 
of a race with the Rossiter hounds. The fun grows fast 
and furious in the playground. Some girls cannot laugh 
without screaming, cannot catch or be caught without 
ear-piercing shrieks. X. cannot bear to spoil their fun, 
and cannot work ahead so much as a line within earshot 
of such a racket. He compromises ; gets up and closes 
the windows and resumes his seat and pen. But he 
cannot so soon get back to Texas. " Let's see, where 
were we? 'The stream bent southward just at the 
point where he had first caught sight of the horseman, 
and ' " 

Rat-tat-tat on the door. " Come in !" 



1 88 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" Oh, Mr, X., the man's here about the carpet !" 

" What carpet ?" 

" I don't know, sir. He says Mrs. X. was at the store 
yesterday." 

" Where's Mrs. X." 

" Gone to market. She said she'd be back in ten 
minutes." 

" Then tell him to wait ten minutes." 

To the desk again. And back to the banks of the 
Monee in pursuit of the thread of the yarn. It proves 
illusive. Row in the back yard. A Babel of childish 
voices. Lamentations and general excitement. The 
Abigail from the kitchen vainly endeavors to restore 
quiet. For a minute X. remains in the Pan-handle of 
Texas hunting for that thread ; but the wails from this 
particular back yard, in the Cream City, fetch him 
forthwith. Down goes the pen. Up goes the window. 
" What's the matter, daughter ?" 

" Maudie Wilkins threw Birdie Jones's hat over in the 
next yard, and now she won't go and get it." 

" She pulled my doll's shoes off, an' she's got 'em," 
says the accused Maud, who stoutly declines to come 
into the garden of our neighbor and recover the vanished 
hat. 

■ " I didn't," bawls Birdie. If Birdie grows up with that 
voice, she'll be a joy to her husband, thinks Mr. X. He 
never had much luck in settling the quarrels of women 
and children, and the buffets of past experience warn him 
not to try. 

" Evangeline !" — this to the kitchen goddess below, 
who, like Frank Stockton's Pomona who longed to be 
called Clare, was ambitious as to her Christian name, 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONES OWN WORKSHOP. 1 89 

and was probably only Angle originally, but the process 
of evangelization began when she came to live with us, — 
" Evangeline, will you kindly step next door and recover 
that hat, and give Birdie an apple, or a watermelon, 
something to stop that awful gap." 

Evangy vanishes. So does Birdie, howling. The 
prospect of so tame a recovery of the ravished head-gear 
is not soothing to her wounded spirit. Her soul's in 
arms and eager for the humiliation of Maud. She can 
be traced out across the street, up the walk on the west- 
ern side, across the place with the lofty name beyond, as 
in the old days we could follow the " Armenia" miles 
through the Hudson highlands by the echoing toot of 
her steam calliope. The children anticipate reprisals 
from the quarter whither she has gone. Maud scuttles 
homeward to escape the excoriation that Birdie's mother 
is said to administer, and presently she comes. There's 
a ring at the bell, a knock at the den door. 

" Mrs. Jones is here, Mr. X., and wants to see you. I 
told her Mrs. X. was out." 

" Did you tell Mrs. Jones I was very busy ?" groans X. 

" Yes, sir ; but she says she must see somebody." 

Now, we don't know Mrs. Jones at all except by repu- 
tation, which is one reason we know her no better. She 
is not, so to speak, in our set. She has four children 
who do not go to school with ours, and who are not 
congenial playmates. Indeed, some of our little friends 
who are school-mates of our kids, and who eagerly wel- 
comed us to this charming neighborhood, have received 
parental injunctions not to play with the Jones girls at 
any time. But the little Joneses are all-pervading. De- 
spite their unpopularity, they go everywhere, and wher- 



190 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

ever they go there is sure to be a row. It seems they 
have few toys or playthings of their own and are pos- 
sessed of the acquisitive faculty in marked degree. They 
were prompt to call and welcome us on the day of our 
arrival, and have been from that time to this the most 
sociable of our neighbors. Mr. X. has been surprised to 
find the quartette pulling over the books in the library 
before breakfast-time on more than one occasion, and 
pending the appearance of our little people out of doors, 
the Joneses have not infrequently possessed themselves 
of the tricycle, bicycle, doll carriages, express wagon, 
etc., etc., and contented themselves therewith for hours 
while our lambkins lamented. Stringent measures 
have resulted in their exclusion from the house when 
unbidden, but who could single out two or three of a 
group of children and forbid them the playground ? 

Yet wheresoever they go there is trouble, and what- 
soever may be their own misdeeds, the uproar with which 
they rush around the block to the maternal arms brings 
her promptly to the rescue, and the tale of inflicted 
wrong sends her forthwith to the scene. Mrs. Jones is 
here to demand satisfaction. And the police patrol is a 
mile away. Good-by, Dunraven; good-by. 

Mr. X. regains his den in half an hour, wilted. But 
for the coming of Mrs. X. he couldn't have regained it 
at all. That woman has the soul of a Desaix. She heard 
the one-sided battle from afar. She marched au canon 
forthwith. Mrs. Jones is in tears and the midst of a 
terrible tale of her little Birdie's sweet, shy, sensitive 
spirit that shrivels under harshness or injustice. The 
child had loved mine so. Here at last she had found 
playmates who could understand her, sympathize with 



THE ADTANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. I9I 

her. Mrs. Jones had been so happy in seeing how 
eagerly her children had rushed forth each morning to 
spend the day at the X.'s, and now, like all the others, 
the X.'s too were turning against her precious lambs. 
Especially the lamb that had thrown herself howling 
like a fog-horn out of the yard with the doll shoes in 
her pocket. But that was accidental, as Mrs. Jones tri- 
umphantly established after denying their presence there. 

The row has cast a damper over the spirits of the 
children, and a wet blanket over the Llano Estacado. 
It was a blaze of sunshine there at ten o'clock. Now at 
10.40 it seems to be pouring. Mrs. Jones has gone, for 
she found it more difficult to hammer her views into the 
head of the lady of the house, but her spirit hovers 
over the den. Presently up comes Mrs. X. " She won't 
come here again," she says. " Now, what can I do for 
you down-town ?" 

" Bring me a bull-dog, the ugliest you can find, and 
tie him at the front door. Must you go ? I've written 
only ten lines in two hours." 

" I've got to. There's that sewing-girl coming to- 
morrow and the material not yet bought, and the Blakes 
and Walkers come to tea to-night and I haven't a thing. 
I'll give orders you are not to be disturbed for anything." 
And the lady of the house departs in that serene confi- 
dence which so many housewives seem to have when 
new at the business, that all that is necessary is to order 
and folks obey. She is gone but ten minutes, and X. is 
traveling back to Texas slowly. The children are again 
at their play, though less noisily, and X. ventures to 
leave his window up again. A hand-organ is heard in 
the distance. Blessed relief. " Money for the monkey ? 



192 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

Yes, my child, gladly. Here's a whole dime. Keep him 
and the crowd a block away as long as you can." Ring 
at the bell ; knock at the den door. Evangeline with a 
telegram : 

" Sorry to disturb you, but the boy says ' it's collect.' " 

" It isn't. It's paid. He's a young swindler. Tell 
him so." 

The dispatch is from publishers : " Anxiously awaiting 
manuscript. When will it be here ?" 

Back comes Evangeline. " It's the answer to be paid ; 
and he wants car-fare for coming so far up-town." 

" He will spend it in peanuts and chewing-gum. He 
would never ride. He couldn't stop and play marbles 
if he did. It is paying a premium on dawdling; but 
here goes. Give him a dime, and shut the door." 

Back in two minutes. " Is there no answer ? Man- 
ager said not to come back without it." What answer 
can I send ? Ten lines in two hours. More. It's eleven 
o'clock. There go the cathedral bells now. " When 
will the manuscript get there ? I don't know. At this 
rate, never. Tell him so. Stay ! Tell him two o'clock 
next spring, that's as definite as I can make it. And 
shut the door." 

Back to the valley of the Monee at last. The cloud- 
shadows are sailing over the pampas. The cattle far 
towards the horizon are browsing slowly down to water. 
The Indian ponies on the slope beyond the Cheyenne 
village are sleepily switching at the flies that swarm in 
myriads about them. The 

" Ow-w-w — Wa-a-a-h. 0-eee — Go ivay ! Wa-a-a-h. 
0-hoo-oo — I won't! Wa-a-a-a-h ! f 

Down-stairs, three at a jump. It's the voice of my 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 1 93 

little Benjamin, the lamb of the flock, my baby boy. 
He comes toddling through to the back yard, sur- 
rounded by a swarm of sisters, cousins, friends, all sym- 
pathetic, all soothing, all voluble in explanation, all 
unavailing. 

" What's the matter, my precious little man. Come 
right to dad and tell him." 

" I want ma-amma. That n-na-asty old Rover f-frowed 
me in the mud. Wa-a-a-h !" 

Rover is our neighbor's dog, big and playful, devoted 
to my son and heir. It takes time, much time, to con- 
sole the little man and more to repair damages. It is 
11.30 when X. gets back to " Dunraven." It is 11.35 
when a note is handed in. 

"Dear Captain X., — 

" We have a little fancy-dress party to-night, and my cousin, Mr. 

H , of Chicago, has unexpectedly arrived, and, as luck would have 

it, without a costume of any kind. He is just about your size, and I told 
him I knew you would be only too glad to let me have for him the uni- 
form you lent Harry for the theatricals last year. We will take the best 
of care of it, and be so much obliged. Please send it by bearer. 

" Yours sincerely, 

" E. v. B. B . 

" P.S. — Oh, yes, and please send the helmet with the lovely plume, 
and the high boots, and the sword. Also the gauntlets. 

" P.S. — And woicld you mind letting us have the white summer dress, 
if not too much trouble?" 

Lord no! It's no trouble at all. Some of the traps 
are up-stairs in the garret, some down in the cellar. 
Can't the boy come this afternoon when Mrs. X. is 
home? No. He is only a "lightning delivery" boy, 
and once is enough. It is 12.30 by the time X. roots 
these things out, and he has just packed them, in one 
in 17 



194 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

shape or other, into the wagon when the three-quarter 
strikes, and Evangehne meets him, — consternation in her 
eye. 

" Mr. X. ! Didn't Mrs. X. order whitefish for tea to- 
night? They've sent up a big trout." 

" Whitefish, of course. Go over to the Hartwell's 
with my comphments, and ask if you can telephone to 
the fish-market to send for this trout at once. We don't 
want it. We must have whitefish. And I must get back 
to my work." 

Again at the den. Again screams of dismay from 
the children. No Evangeline to answer their frantic cries. 
My eldest daughter flies up the stairs. 

" What is it, my Brownie ?" 

"Oh, papa! Could you come to the cellar? Prince 
Purr-Purr has got his head caught in an empty tomato- 
can and can't get it out, and he's nearly wild." 

So am I ; but I fly to the rescue of Prince Purr-Purr, 
— who is the household cat and pet. The process of 
extrication is not pleasant for Purr-Purr, and he makes 
it lively for me. I am tempted to leave him caught as 
he is, but the entreaties of the children prevail. His 
claws have gashed one hand and added to the excoria- 
tions on my temper. It is after one when I get to the 
desk. Meantime, Evangeline has returned with the in- 
formation that she cannot get the fishmonger. It is also 
time for the children's luncheon. We dine — or rather 
tea — late to-day, for friends are coming to try Lake 
Superior whitefish, and the villain has sent us trout. X. 
gives up. The manuscripts are pitched into the bottom 
drawer, and a street-car takes him down-town. " Simply 
a mistake on the boy's part," says the imperturbable 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 1 95 

vender of fish, poultry, and game. He has left your 
whitefish at the Comstocks, and their trout with you. 
Why didn't you telephone ?" 

" Couldn't get you, was Central's explanation. Will 
you kindly bless that boy for me?" And X. goes home, 
ruffled in spirit and sore athirst and an hungered. Mrs. 
X. is exhibiting the den to a lady friend as he returns, — 
all her lady friends, at one time or other, seem to have 
come to see the house. 

" Oh, Captain X.," says the enthusiastic visitor, " I've 
just been telling Mrs. X. how lovely it all is ; but this — 
this is perfectly charming. What inspiration you must 
find here, — the lovely rippling waters, the gleeful shouts 
of the children, the " 

But Mrs. X. sees that the other side is uppermost in 
her husband's mind just now, and laughingly inter- 
poses, — 

" Why don't you get a telephone, and have peace ?" 
she says, when the story of the morning is told. " You 
wouldn't have had to go at all." 

Now, it was one of Mr. X.'s stipulations that we 
shouldn't have a telephone when we got the little home. 
— He had had some experiences with it. — But we've got 
one now. It isn't in the den, but I hear it the Lord only 
knows how many times a day. It is of no earthly use 
to me, for the electric cars came in with it, and whenever 
I want anybody down-town, the only way I can get them, 
as a rule, is by the street-car. On the other hand, 
nobody seems to have any difficulty in getting us, — 
especially those who don't want us at all. A dozen 
times a day am I summoned to the instrument by its 
sharp ring. 



196 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" Hello !" 

" Hello ! Is that Saint Mary's ?" 

" No saint at all. It's Captain X." 

" Oh (disgustedly), I didn't want yoii. Central ! 
Ce-e-e-ntral ! Can't you get me St. Mary's?" and the 
shrill, feminine voice holds the line. 

X. was hard at work and behind time, as usual, the 
other day, when there game a vigorous ring. It was the 
steward of the club who called. 

" Captain X., Colonel Bbbbleton wants particularly to 
see you, and " 

" Colonel who?" 

" Colonel Bbbbleton, from Chicago." 

" Spell it." 

" I can't." 

"Ask him to come to the instrument." 

"He isn't here. He's just gone out. Says he'll be 
back in half an hour, but wants particularly to see you." 

Now, X. had just missed one old chum who was pass- 
ing through town. He had heard from another back 
number of a retired soldier, like himself, that a distin- 
guished member of the division commander's staff was 
likely to come to town in the course of the month, and 
was eager to meet him, and so had dropped him a line 
to be sure and call him up at the club when he arrived. 
X. dropped his work, boarded a car, and shot down- 
town. Colonel Bbbbleton hadn't returned, said the 
steward, but he was so particularly anxious to see Mr. 
X. that he had telephoned. A full hour did X. wait, and 
then the gentleman came, — a total stranger. 

" Oh ! Is this Captain X. ? I am Colonel B , of 

the Mulligan Mound Military Academy, Illinois. I pro- 



THE ADVANTAGES OF ONE'S OWN WORKSHOP. 1 9/ 

pose bringing my cadets up here for a parade next week, 
and I had heard of you as one of the military men 
hereabouts, and thought you might be able to tell me 
where I'd find a drummer who wouldn't charge me too 
much." 

Mr. X, told him, and went back to his den, wondering 
what some colonels were made of. 

" O for a lodge in some vast wilderness !" It took 
four months instead of four weeks to finish " Dunraven," 
and it well-nigh finished the writer. But that was some- 
thing our readers could perhaps have borne with equa- 
nimity. 



17* 



198 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLE- 
THORPE. 

Never mind the real name of the place ; it is just possi- 
ble that the State Central Committee might not care to 
have the story brought home to them, even after the 
lapse of so many years. They certainly were not over- 
anxious to have it spread broadcast throughout the land 
at the time, although the individual members derived no 
end of comfort from the incident, and there was much 
poking of one another in the ribs and exploding into guf- 
faws of delighted laughter, and sudden cessation thereof 
and straightening of faces into an expression of preter- 
natural gravity and innocence when certain of the oppo- 
sition happened to come around the corner. It was long 
after the trying days of the reconstruction period, and 
the army had been relieved from its detested duty of 
" supervising" elections in the Sunny South ; but it was 
before the resumption of Democratic supremacy through- 
out the cotton-growing States, and when in some, even 
many, parishes or counties the colored voters still out- 
numbered the whites as many as twenty to one, and the 
nominees of the lately-enfranchised were cock-sure of 
election, provided their constituents exercised the right 
of suffrage. There were districts in the South where the 
so-called shot-gun policy had dissuaded many darkies 
from attendance at the polls. There were towns and 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 1 99 

cities where blacks and whites were nearly balanced in 
point of numbers, and where, as a consequence, they 
were almost solidly arrayed one against the other; and 
the question at issue was not whether a Republican or a 
Democrat would be chosen, but whether the white or the 
black man was to " rule the roast" in that community. 

And this was practically the situation at Oglethorpe in 
the lovely autumn of 188-. Counting in the suburbs of 
Congo Creek and Ashantiville, the population of the old 
Southern city was not far from sixty thousand. Leaving 
out these charming settlements, the number of souls in 
the city proper was probably forty-five thousand, with the 
preponderance in favor of the whites ; but, leaving out 
the city proper and counting only the suburbs, no whites 
could be found among the residents, except within the 
walls of the lunatic asylum, which stood close by the 
river-bank and within the confines of Ashantiville, yet 
somewhat removed from touch with its thronging hovels. 
Possibly it was a shrewd appreciation of the political 
opportunities thus presented which had prompted the 
Legislature, in the days of what the local press termed 
" Senegambian supremacy," to decree that these two sub- 
urban villages, with their teeming, moss-grown old 
quarters, should be attached to the city proper ; not that 
any perceptible increase in the municipal revenue would 
result thereby (indeed, the opposite effect was noted from 
the start), but that the intelligence and patriotism of 
Congo Creek and Ashantiville might be brought to bear 
upon all important questions arising in the town, espe- 
cially in the biennial election of mayor and councilmen. 

Little by little as the personal complexion of the Legis- 
lature had changed from the all-pervading black of the 



200 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

early '70's to the general Caucasian white of the early 
*8o's, so, too, had the political hue undergone transfor- 
mation from radical Republicanism to a very evenly mot- 
tled House, and a Senate in which the Caucasian rejoiced 
in a majority of two. Those modern distractions of 
Northern politics embraced under the heads of Labor and 
Prohibition parties were unknown to Oglethorpe. There 
were but two factions in the field, and when the Demo- 
cratic Central Committee began to look the ground over 
and prepare for the fall elections of 188-, hope died in 
their bosoms, for the metropolis of their fertile State 
seemed to be more densely populated with presumable 
Republicans than at any time in its previous history. It 
was to be a most important election for Oglethorpe. The 
city credit had suffered severely in the past. The 
" carpet-bag" mayors and councilmen had run things to 
suit themselves, greatly to the detriment of the 
merchants, property-owners, and responsible citizens of 
the once beautiful and attractive town. Matters had been 
going from bad to worse, and at last the representative 
men of the neighborhood arose in their might and de- 
clared that now the time had come to call a halt. The 
Legislature could not be induced, as yet, to undo the old 
act and divest Oglethorpe of those parasitical suburbs. 
Indeed, there was ground for the belief that certain legis- 
lators, whose seats were insecure, were conniving at an 
active scheme of colonization, and that swarms of negroes 
who had no earthly chance of voting across the borders 
of " a remarkably neighboring State," where the shot-gun 
policy obtained in full force, were now descending upon 
Congo Creek and Ashantiville, and who the dickens 
could distinguish them, either in feature or statement. 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 201 

from the duly-qualified electors of the Oglethorpe dis- 
trict? Active canvassers assured the Democratic Central 
Committee that the adult male population of the out- 
skirts had nearly doubled in three weeks. The day of 
registration had come, but that of redemption looked 
farther off than ever. One of the most irreclaimable 
scalawags on earth had been nominated by accla- 
mation as the candidate of the " carpet-bag" party for 
mayor, and a dozen lively Ethiopians had been selected 
to run for the common council. On the other hand, 
the white citizens, who were permanent residents, had, 
irrespective of party, named good old Judge Fournier as 
their standard-bearer, and had issued a fervent appeal to 
all good men, white or black, to vote for this incor- 
ruptible gentleman and statesman, and to down the 
Hebrew importation who had bought, as was well 
known, the nomination of the convention. 

But if the committee felt blue and discouraged before 
the completion of the registration, they were well-nigh 
hopeless after it. Congo Creek, Ashantiville, and a few 
colored districts in town showed an increase of nearly 
two thousand duly-qualified electors over the rolls of two 
years back, and every mother's son of them was ready to 
swear he had lived there over eighteen months and pro- 
posed to make Oglethorpe his home. Under existing 
laws the Democrats on the board of registration had to 
content themselves with verbal expressions of doubt and 
derision : they could not interfere. 

" No, suh," said Major Carter, or, as he called him- 
self, " Cyahtah," one of the leading Democrats on the 
board, " it's no use kicking against the pricks. We can't 
prove what we believe, and the way things look now 



202 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

these confounded niggahs will outvote us about two to 
one in all but four wards, and the judge will be swamped, 
I tell you, gentlemen, if that infernal Jew is elected 
mayor of this city I'm going to quit." 

" Ain't there no way of persuading them to vote the 
right way or else have business elsewhere, like they do 
over across the line ?" asked Captain Beaufort, who pre- 
ferred the vernacular of his people to the King's English 
of any other section ; and he jerked his head backward 
to indicate that he meant the " remarkably neighboring 
State" aforementioned. 

" N-no, suh ; we tried something of that kind six years 
ago, and got the federal government down on us in less'n 
no time. N-no, suh ; we can't afford anything like in- 
timidation. And no power on earth can prevail with 
those benighted creatures against the statements of such 
infernal scalawags as are their political file-leaders." 

" Well, can't they be bought ? — the leaders, I mean ?" 

" Dassent try it, suh. You see you have to buy up 
the whole gang, for if you leave one out he peaches on 
the others, and then the whole election is thrown out. 
There ain't money enough in sight to buy more than a 
dozen of them, and that wouldn't do at all. N-no, suh, 
we can't beat and we can't bribe ; I'm blessed if I know 
what we can do." 

" Registration all perfectly regular ?" 

" Yes, suh. And every niggah in Oglethorpe and a 
whole raft from outside have got their registration papers, 
while some of our people wouldn't register at all. Said 
'twas no earthly use, and I reckon they're pretty near 
right." 

Mr. Alfred Forno, a high-bred, handsome young fellow 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 203 

of twenty-six or seven, who had sat a silent listener, 
put forth his hand at this juncture, took up one of the 
registration blanks from a pile lying on the table, and 
curiously studied it, whistling softly to himself as he did 
so. It was a stiff card about four by two inches in size 
and bore a printed legend to the effect that the bearer, 

" , of number , street, age years 

months, was duly registered at the office of the 

precinct, ward of the city of Oglethorpe, on 

the day of October, and will be entitled to vote at 

the polling place of said precinct, said ward, on Tuesday, 

November 3, 188 , on personal presentation of this 

certificate." 

Mr. Fomo, still softly whistling, turned this card over 
and over in his long slender fingers, gazing dreamily 
through the smoke of his cigarette at a highly-colored 
poster on the opposite wall. Finally, he arose and began 
more attentively to study the poster, carelessly tossing 
the blank registration card back upon the table. Major 
Carter and his friend, the captain, meantime contin- 
ued their despondent chat. After a while, Mr. Forno 
turned. 

" Every niggah got one of these hyuh things ?" he 
queried. 

" Every adult male and not a few legal infants, suh," 
was the answer. " But who could swear to a niggah's 
age ? I reckon there's a raft of boys not more'n eighteen 
that are entitled to vote by the fiat of that board" (he 
called it bode, but the reader might not know what on 
earth he meant). " Every man who votes has to hand 
in his registration certificate when he tenders his ballot ; 
that's our law over hyuh. How is it in Alabama ?" 



204 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

" VVell-1, we haven't got quite so methodical as yet," 
answered Mr. Forno, with a quiet smile. " Our system 
is simpler and somewhat more elastic. Now you've 
got just three weeks in which to meet this situation, 
as I understand it. Can't you see any way out of the 
trouble ?" 

" Not a vestige of a show, suh. Why ? Do you ?" 
And Carter looked up with sudden hope and interest ; 
so did Beaufort ; so did one or two gentlemen who had 
been silent, but despondent, listeners. They all knew 
Forno. He was already a distinguished man in the legal 
profession, and his fame had carried him on many a 
mission beyond the borders of his own State. 

" Possibly," he answered. 

" No intimidation ; no hoodoo business ; no bribery 
and corruption ; all fair and above-board, Fawno ?" 

" Perfectly." 

" Well, I just tell you, suh, that Oglethorpe will build 
a monument in your honor if you'll just show us how 
to get out of this fix." 

" What majority does the registration indicate as prob- 
able?" 

" Not a head less than twenty-four hundred, — all nig- 
gahs, suh, with more coming." 

" Well, now, does every one of these hyuh fellows 
hold his own registration certificate, — this sort of thing, 
I mean ?" And Mr. Forno picked up the card again. 
" Or are they held by the ward bosses?" 

" There are two or three precincts where the bosses 
have them, out there in 'Shantyville and Congo particu- 
larly ; but we bluffed that game in town. Out there of 
cose there's no use trying. The cyahpet-bag bosses just 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 20$ 

run things to suit themselves. They march their mokes 
up to the polls in single file and give each man his ticket 
and his cyahd as it comes his tuhn to vote. No, suh ; 
hyuh in town we insisted that the cyahd should be 
handed to the ownah and nobody else." 

Mr. Forno whistled softly to himself a moment. 

" What's to prevent one of those bosses getting a 
winning ticket in the Louisiana lottery next week, and 
being given money enough to go to N'yohleans to 
collect ?" 

" Well, how is that going to help ?" 

"In this way: he won't be able to collect; he won't 
have money to get back with, and you can start some 
likely niggahs from town up to Congo and 'Shantiville 
with the story that he was bought up, certificates and all, 
and now they wouldn't be able to vote unless they could 
get their papers back from the other bosses. It would 
go like wildfire. Everybody knows they're the most 
credulous people on the face of the globe." 

" But it seems to me, Mr. Fawno, 'twould be easier to 
get those certificates away from the bosses, if that's your 
game, than it would be to induce each individual coon 
to lose his." 

" That depends, major, on how much campaign fund 
you've got, or can raise. How much have you?" 

" Well, we can easily make it five thousand for a sure 
thing, but at this moment we haven't more than two 
thousand left." 

" Then take my advice. Invest fifty dollars, or a little 
more, perhaps, in sending one of those Congo bosses 
off to N'yohleans to collect a five-thousand-dollar prize. 
Start the suburbs, in about ten days or so, on a raid 

i8 



206 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

upon the other bosses to get personal possession of their 
certificates. They're all regularly stamped and num- 
bered and have corresponding stubs in the registration 
office books, haven't they ?" 

" Yes, suh, of cose." 

"All right, then. You just see that as much as pos- 
sible every colored voter in Oglethorpe has his own 
cyahd by the 25th of this month ; and have, say, four 
thousand dollars ready. It won't take that much, prob- 
ably, but I want to be sure of being able to carry out 
my promise. And I'll bet you the best dinner Victor 
can lay out next Mardi Gras — a dinner for ten — that 
Judge Fournier is elected." 

" Done, suh ! done ! and make it for fifteen, and I'll be 
overjoyed to lose," exclaimed Major Carter, excitedly. 
" But, you must excuse me now, Mr. Fawno ; I'm blessed 
if I can see how you'll do it, — that is, awnestly." 

" I give you my word, major, that there will be no 
intimidation, no influence brought to bear other than the 
personal predilection of the citizen of African descent. 
He shall be a free agent in the matter. Is it a bet ?" 

" Of cose it is, suh, of cose it is ; anything you 
say." 

And that night, having finished his business in Ogle- 
thorpe, Mr. Forno journeyed back to Montgomery. 

Somewhere about the middle of the next week the 
Hon. Alphonse Beaudet, recently member of the Legis- 
lature for the third assembly district in Oglethorpe, a 
colored gentleman of considerable pretensions as an 
orator and moderate ability as a barber, a leader among 
his kind, and the holder of some four hundred registra- 
tion certificates, suddenly left Oglethorpe. Indeed, it 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. • 20/ 

may be said, he secretly left, for Mr. Beaudet was a man 
of refined, if not extravagant, tastes. He had been a 
body-servant in the halcyon days of Southern supremacy 
in Congress before the war; had become imbued with 
many of the traits and fancies of his master ; and his 
fondness for purple, fine linen, and the flesh-pots of 
Egypt was accompanied by a lack of collateral with 
which to defray expenses. In fact, despite Mr. Beaudet's 
personal, professional, and oratorical graces, he was a 
marked man in the community, so much so that had it 
been known that he contemplated removal, even tempo- 
rarily, from the limits of Oglethorpe the resultant ne 
exeats would have made up in numbers and energy all 
they might lack of legal existence. There was not a 
colored shopkeeper, there were few tailors, hatters, shoe- 
makers, haberdashers, whose books were not graced by 
the accounts of the Hon. Mr. Beaudet when he was most 
prominent and looked upon as a permanency in the 
Legislature of the State of his nativity. But politics has 
its ups and downs like everything else, and Beaudet had no 
more successfully "called the turn" in i88- than he had 
at faro the previous year. " Craps" he never descended 
to until after the reverses to which allusion has been 
made ; " craps" and the barber-shop came in together ; 
" craps" and the Louisiana lottery swallowed the earnings 
of the shop, which were fair, — much fairer than the games 
he played. Beaudet was on his last legs financially and 
politically, when one afternoon there strolled in a Mr, 
Sullivan, a young Irishman well known in convivial and 
political circles ; and Mr. Sullivan ostensibly came for a 
shave. Casually, however, he drew forth and began 
studying a slip on which was printed what purported to 



208 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

be the winning numbers of the monthly drawing of the 
Louisiana lottery. This instantly attracted the operator's 
attention. 

"Draw anything, suh?" queried the orator barber, in 
his blandest manner. 

" No, d — n it 1 Beaudet, I never do. I've been buy- 
ing for years, — never pulled a cent yet. I had a chance, 
too. Old Sweeny down here tells me he had two of the 
winning numbers in his shop and sold 'em both. The 
lists have just reached him; this is one of 'em. One 
ticket he sold drew five thousand dollars, the other an 
approximation prize. He can't for the life of him think 
who bought 'em, and he's trying hard to get hold of 'em 
now so's to buy 'em back, you know, before the fellow 
finds out what a prize he holds." 

" What number won the five thousand dollars ?" asked 
Beaudet, with trembling lips. 

" No. 43,787," answered Sullivan, referring to his list. 
" D — n it, man ! Look out, you'll cut me !" 

" My Lawd ! Mr. Sullivan, I beg pardon, suh, — it's, it's 
only a scratch. My Lawd ! Y-you sure 'bout that 
number? Let me just look." 

"Sure? Course I am! Why, you lucky dog! have 
you got that number? Sh ! Don't let a soul know, 
Beaudet, for they'll be down on you in a minute. Here ! 
don't, don't sell it at a discount here. You take my 
advice ; you go right on to Orleans and collect it," 

" My God, suh ! I— I— I'd just like to go, but I ain't 
got a cent, Mr. Sullivan, — not a cent, suh ! I'd — I'd be 
willing to pay mighty handsome for just enough money 
to take me there." And Beaudet looked appealingly in 
his customer's face, while big drops of sweat started out 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 20g 

on his yellow-brown forehead. " Hyuh, suh, hyuh's my 
ticket. Ain't that the number ?" 

" Right enough, Beaudet ! Gad, sir, you ought to 
make sure of that ! Ton my word, I've a good mind 
to " 

"Oh, if you only would, Mr. SuUivan, I — I — I'd do 
most anything for you." 

"Well, you'd have to sneak off, Beaudet. Those cred- 
itors of yours are legion. If they found out that you'd 
won a prize they'd suck you dry. You've just got to 
gather it in, bank it over there or at Mobile, then come 
back here without a word to anybody, pay off each man 
so much and promise the rest. Why, it would set you 
all right again, wouldn't it? Er — when could you 
go? 

" Go to-night, fust train, suh, if I only had thirty or 
forty dollars, enough to take me on to N'yohleans. I'd 
pay it right back, Mr. Sullivan, 'deed I would, and more 
too ; I'd give a hundred for fifty." 

" Pshaw! I'm no Jew. You're a pretty decent sort of 
a nigger, Beaudet, if you'd only let politics alone. Now, 
if you'll swear not to tell a soul that you are going, I'll 
tell you what I'll do : I'll have a ticket to New Orleans 
all ready for you at the depot at eight to-night and ten 
dollars for expenses. It won't do for you to buy the 
ticket ; that would give you dead away, see ? Don't take 
any baggage. Better leave your watch here, too. 
Perhaps I ought to have that, — I need security of some 
kind in case of an accident to you." 

And Beaudet only too eagerly assented to everything. 
That night he was whirling away over the rice-fields, too 

excited to sleep. 

i8* 



2IO TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

A week, ten days, passed by. Beaudet failed to re- 
turn, and all manner of stories were in circulation in the 
suburbs. Fiery meetings were being held by the negroes, 
and they were making furious demands upon the bosses 
for personal possession of their registration cards. Mat- 
ters came to a climax on Sunday, the 25th of October. 
That night Major Carter wired Mr. Forno, at Mont- 
gomery, that the voters of Ashantiville and Congo 
had overwhelmed the bosses and obtained their cards. 
" Four thousand ready" was the significant close of the 
dispatch. 

Meantime, Mr. Forno had not been idle. A big "tent 
show" had been " marching through Georgia" in Sep- 
tember, and then, having exhibited in Alabama, and 
being billed at Augusta, was bound thence to Aiken, 
Lexington, Columbia, Spartanburgh, etc. Advance 
agents were already preparing to " paper" the rural dis- 
tricts adjoining those lovely old Southern towns, when 
they were called off by telegraph and ordered to concen- 
trate forthwith at Oglethorpe. All Tuesday night the 
paste-brushes were flying, and on Wednesday morning 
Oglethorpe — suburbs and all — was ablaze with highly- 
colored posters, big as a barn-door, full of illustrations 
of acrobats, ground and lofty tumbling, magnificent feats 
of horsemanship, daring trapeze acts, bewilderingly beau- 
tiful equestriennes, georgeous cream-colored chargers, 
trick ponies and mules by the dozen, and — O joy to the 
colored heart ! — a big brass band and three talented 
clowns. All Wednesday, all Thursday, all Friday, all 
impatience the thronging colored colonies of Oglethorpe 
flocked about these posters, with bulging, wistful eyes 
and watering mouths. " Two grand performances only, 



HOW WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 211 

to be preceded by a street procession Saturday morning. 
Two grand performances Saturday afternoon and even- 
ing. Admission for adults, with reserved seats, one 
dollar. General admission, seventy-five cents. Children, 
fifty cents." 

"The management, yielding to the solicitation of 
prominent citizens of Oglethorpe, has at great expense 
cancelled its dates in the interior in order that it may pre- 
sent to its host of friends in the metropolis of the South- 
eastern States its coruscation of new, daring, bewildering 
stars now embraced in the catalogue of its unparalleled 
attractions. But in view of the heavy cost involved in so 
sudden a ch'ange of plans, the management is compelled 
to rsasQ, for this occasion only, the scale of prices. Elegant 
and commodious accommodations will be provided for 
all, but the customary twenty-five-cent admission, 
hitherto accorded the colored populace, is reluctantly 
withdrawn." 

As not one darky in a dozen among the inhabitants 
of Congo and Ashantiville had so much as a quarter, 
this really made little difference. What did make it 
hard was the fact that while he might possibly earn a 
quarter 'twixt now and Saturday, it was only by extra 
hard work that he could hope to get seventy-five cents, 
and extra hard work was something not to be thought 
of Then, too, what good was a circus without a quarter 
for whisky and " goobers" ? It was hard lines on the 
colored folks, and their orators made the most of it in 
the big meetings held Wednesday and Thursday nights. 
Here was a manifest effort to deprive the poor -colored 
man of his rights. Here was outrageous oppression 
and wrong on the part of the whites. Things looked 



212 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

almost like a riot, especially when it began to be spread 
abroad among the colored folks that never, never had 
there been seen such a circus in the South. It was the 
finest thing going. All day they swarmed in front of 
the blazing posters. All Friday night hundreds of men, 
women, and children hung about the big square while 
the tents were being pitched and the wagons came trun- 
dling in ; and then, when Saturday morning dawned, 
Congo Creek and Ashantiville streamed into the broad 
thoroughfares of the city. During the parade the band, 
in its lofty gilded chariot, was surrounded by a thousand 
enthusiastic blacks ; the banquette was jammed with 
eager black faces, with shining white teeth. The pro- 
cession was the finest ever seen of the kind in Ogle- 
thorpe, and there was not a moke in all the metropolis 
who wouldn't have bartered his pet hoodoo charm for a 
ticket, when a strange rumor began to fly from lip to lip, 
— a new announcement. 

" The management, unwilling to deprive so large and 
intelligent a body of citizens of the opportunity of wit- 
nessing this transcendently beautiful performance, has, 
at the last moment, decided to place on sale single 
tickets admitting one colored gentleman and lady at the 
greatly reduced price of one dollar, — a concession not 
accorded to any citizens except those of color. Gentle- 
manly agents will immediately appear upon the streets 
to personally see to it that our colored friends have every 
opportunity of purchasing." 

Fifteen minutes later a still wilder rumor was afloat, 
and Congo Creek and Ashantiville were racing up one 
another's heels in frantic haste to reach those agents. 
" Atiy gentleman temporarily out of funds will be provided 



now WE ELECTED THE MAYOR OF OGLETHORPE. 213 

with one of these tickets on depositing as seairity his regis- 
tration card." 

Few white folks appeared at those magnificent per- 
formances either Saturday afternoon or evening. They 
couldn't get within a hundred yards of the entrance if 
they tried ; but they didn't try. Congo Creek, Ashanti- 
ville, and the colored precincts of Oglethorpe were on 
the ground in overwhelming numbers. The big tent 
could hardly hold the solid masses of dusky humanity. 
The performances went off with much eclat. The throng 
slowly drifted forth as the last act was finished and the 
canvas began to be lowered over their very heads ; and 
while the circus men packed their wagons and " folded 
their tents like the Arabs," the management slid over to 
the Jasper House, where Major Carter and a friend or 
two were sipping Clicquot in a private room. Two 
satchels of dingy, malodorous, but valuable registration 
cards were dumped upon a table and gingerly counted. 
Two fat wads of greenbacks were popped into those bags 
in their stead. The management drank to the success 
of the State Central Committee, and, slyly winking, 
departed. 

There was frantic raving among the orators of 
Ashantiville at the meetings of Sunday and Monday 
nights, in which Mr. Beaudet, just back from a freight- 
car trip from New Orleans, took prominent part. And 
when the polls were opened Tuesday at sunrise, the 
inspectors of election sorrowfully shook their heads 
when man after man poked an anxious black face into 
the window, protesting he " done lost his cyahd" and 
wanted to vote all the same. The books, he pleaded, 
proved that he was registered. It was all useless. It 



214 TRIALS OF A STAFF-OFFICER. 

might be allowed, said the inspectors, " if it weren't for 
the law." 

Judge Fournier was triumphantly chosen by a majority 
of three thousand over his Hebrew competitor, and at 
Major Carter's dinner at Victor's next Mardi Gras there 
was a shout of laughter when the story was told of 
" How we elected the Mayor of Oglethorpe." 



THE END. 



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HAS ACCOAPLISHED. 



A REVOLUTION IN THE PICTORIAL PRESS. 

Great Illustrations, Great Articles, and a Weekly 
Epito7ne of the History of Nations. 



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IN less than a year of existence The Illustrated American 
has safely established itself at the head of the pictorial 
press, and the best assurance of its excellence in the future is to 
point to its achievements in the past. What class of the com- 
munity remains unsatisfied? And all that The Illustrated 
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means to do. It has surprises for its readers which it would 
be premature to disclose. We Avill only say that the year just 
opened will be rich in pleasures to those who subscribe to this 
unique publication. 

fin flmepiean Paper for the flmepiean People. 

Vol. v., No. 50. Mr. George I. Seney's Collection. 

Twenty-seven pages of Artistic and Elegant Reproduc- 
tions of the Principal Paintings. 

Vol. v., No. 52. The Poultry Show, Madison Sq. Garden. 

-Vol. VI., No. 53. The Brayton Ives Collection, on 
Exhibition about February 20. 

Vol. VI., No. 54. The Dog Show, Madison Sq. Garden. 

Vol. VI., No. 55. Sherman Memorial Number. 

A BEAUTIFUL AND VALUABLE ADDITION TO THE LIBRARY-TABLE. 
Price, 25 cts.; $10.00 per year. 



ILLUSTRATED AMERICAN PUBLISHING CO., 

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Popular Military Novels 

by Capt. Chas. King, U.S.A. 

In press, and to be published soon, " Captain 
Blake," a new story, with Illustrations. 



5?3Pi 



5^?t 






" As descriptions of life at an army post and the vicissitudes, trials, 
and heroisms of army life on the plains in what are called ' times of 
peace,' the novels of Captain King are worthy of a high and permanent 
place in American literature. They will hereafter take rank with Cooper's 
novels as distinctively American works of fiction." — Army and Navy 
Register, Washington, D. C. 

The Colonel's Daughter. Marion's Faith. 

i2mo. Extra cloth. 1^1.25. i2i'io. Extra cloth. J1.25. 

Starlight Ranch, and Other Stories. 

i2mo. Cloth, gi.oo. 

Kitty's Conquest. 

i2mo. Extra cloth. ;Ji.oo. 

Laramie; or, The Queen of Bedlam. 

i2mo. Cloth. $1.25. 

The Deserter, and From the Ranks. 

i2mo. Extra cloth. Ji.oo. 

Two Soldiers, and Dunraven Ranch. 

i2mo. Extra cloth, gi.oo. 

"Captain King has caught the true spirit of the American novel, 
for he has endowed his work fully and freely with the dash, vigor, 
breeziness, bravery, tenderness, and truth which are recognized through- 
out the world as our national characteristics. Captain King's narrative 
work is singularly fascinating." — St. Louts Republic. 

For sale by all Booksellers. Sent, post-paid, on receipt of price, by the 
Publishers, 

J. B. Lippincott Company, 

715 and 717 Market Street, Philadelphia. 



IN THE GOLDEN AGE. 



THE 

CRYSTAL 
BUTTON. 






ADVENTURES OF 
PAUL PROGNOSIS 
IN THE FORTY- 
NINTH CENTURY. 



BY CHAUNCEY THOIS^AS. 

81.35. 

"This story was written in the years between 1872 and 
1878, and, although having a remarkable similarity in general 
scheme to Mr. Bellamy's book, is entirely different, dealing 
mainly with mechanical and material development. The 
author is especially fitted to write of mechanical progress, 
being one of the ablest mechanics and inventors of the present 
time. The all-important point of the book is its theory of 
the simple but effective means by which the world finally 
attains a higher civilization. The Crystal Button, the emblem 
of truth, gives a fitting title to the book. Upon the founda- 
tion of truth, through the influence of the individual, the 
family, social life, and finally through the grand consolidation 
of all governments, an ideal life is realized. . . . The book 
will create a marked sensation; it gives the reader a more 
attractive world of the future than has yet been presented." 
— Boston Traveller. 

" Bellamy is outdone. Here are bigger and grander con- 
ceptions,— a wider field,— more glorious things. We pity the 
reader of this book who has pressing engagements ; for some- 
thing will have to give way when he begins to read, which 
will not be intermitted till he is done. If any one wants to 
see 'sunlight and good-morning in the forty-ninth century,' 
let him read this ' Button.' "— Western Christian Advocate. 



*^* For sale by all Booksellers. Sent by mail, post-paid, 
on receipt of price, by the Publishers. 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO., 

BOSTON. 



NOSn^ REKDY. 



4- 



^. 4^ airistaas = BinnFP. 

EDITED BY 

Capt. Chas. King, U.S.A. 

Paper, 200 Pages. 12mo. PMee, 50 Cents. 



Lisr 0F ceNrRiBaroRs. 

Introduction By Capt. CHAS. KING, U.S.A. 

The Adjutant's Story " Capt. CHAS. KING, U.S.A. 

The Senior Lieutenant's Story . . " Lieut. THOS. H. WILSON, U.S.A. 

The Senior Captain's Story . . . . " Capt. EDWARD FIELD, U.S.A. 

The Junior Captain's Story ....'• Capt. HENRY ROMEYN, U.S.A. 

The Colonel's Daughter's Story . . " Miss CAROLINE F. LITTLE. 

A Captain's Story " Capt. W. C. BARTLETT, U.S.A. 

The Quartermaster's Story . . . . " Mr. EDWARD L. KEYES. 

The Major's Story " Major WM. H. POWELL, U.S.A. 

A Guest's Story " ALICE KING LIVINGSTON. 

The Colonel's Story " Col. H. W. CLOSSON, U.S.A. 



^^HESE stories are all of military adventure. They are 
J- supposed to be told over the walnuts and the wine at a 
dinner given by the Colonel of the regiment. 

The publishers venture the assertion that no book of the 
kind, published here or abroad, excels in literary merit or 
exceeds in typographical beauty this dainty volume. 

The picture on the title-page was drawn for us by Mr. T. 
S. SuUivant. 

L R. HAMERSLY & CO., Philadelphia. 

Trade supplied by the J. B. Lippincott CoBtipany. 



ESTABLISHED 1879. 



THE 

UNITED SERVICE 

A MONTHLY REVIEW OF 

MILITARY AND NAVAL AFFAIRS. 



The United Service is not devoted strictly to teclinical 

subjects. Fiction, Poetry, Stories of Adventure, Remlnis- 

censes of the War, all find a place in its pages. Captain 

Charles King, contributes a monthly paper. All 

the contributors to the "Colonel's Christmas 

Dinner" write regularly for the United 

Service. Typographically there is no 

handsomer Magazine published. 

Specimen copies will be sent 

on receipt of five 2c. stamps. 



published by 
L. R. HAMERSLY & CO., 

1510 Chestnut St., Phila. 

Price, 35 Cents. $4.00 per Annum. 



Van HpuTEN's 

Cocoa. 

'' Best & Goes Farthest." 

The Standard Cocoa of the World. 

A Substitute for Tea & Coffee. 

Better for the Nerves. 

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K^°°It only needs a single trial to convince any one of the superiority of 
Van Houten's Cocoa. Please insist upon Van Houtp:n's and tdho. no 
substitute. It is put up in 1-8, 1-4, | -2 and I lb. Cans. B3r=If 
not obtainable, enclose 25c. in stamps or postal note to either Van Houten 
& ZooN, 106 Reade Street, New York, or 45 Wabash Ave., Chicag-o, and a 
sample can will be mailed postpaid, if you mention this publication. 
Prepared only by Van Houten & Zoon, Weesp, Holland. 124 




Tony Weller, 



RARE BOOK 
COLLECTION 




THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT 

CHAPEL HILL 

Wilmer 
1257 



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