Skip to main content

Full text of "With sabre and scalpel; the autobiography of a soldier and surgeon"

See other formats


WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 
A SOLDIER AND SURGEON 

JOHN ALLAN WYETH, M.D., LL.D. 

UNIVERSITIES OF ALABAMA AND MARYLAND 

FOUNDER OF THE NEW YORK POLYCLINIC MEDICAL SCHOOL AND 
HOSPITAL, THE PIONEER ORGANIZATION FOR POSTGRADUATE 

MEDICAL INSTRUCTION IN AMERICA PRESIDENT OF THE FACULTY 

AND SURGEON-IN-CHIEF; EX-PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL 
ASSOCIATION, THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE, THE NEW 
YORK STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE NEW YORK PATHOLOGICAL 
SOCIETY, THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN SOCIETY, AND THE ALABAMA 
SOCIETY OF NEW YORK CITY; FORMERLY ATTENDING SURGEON TO 
MT. SINAI AND ST. ELIZABETH HOSPITALS; HONORARY MEMBER OF 
THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY AND OF THE TEXAS STATE 
MEDICAL ASSOCIATION; AUTHOR OF ESSAYS IN SURGICAL ANATOMY 
AND SURGERY; AWARDED THE FIRST AND SECOND PRIZES OF THE 
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IN 1878 AND THE BELLEVUE ALUMNI 
ASSOCIATION PRIZE IN 1876; A TEXT-BOOK ON GENERAL SURGERY; 
THE LIFE OF LIEUTENANT-GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST; 
HISTORY OF LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY AND THE CADET 

CORPS , A HISTORICAL ESSAY ON THE STRUGGLE FOR OREGON, ETC. 




JOHN ALLAN VVYETH, M.D., LL.D. 
From a photograph by Bradley, 1914 



WITH SABRE 
AND SCALPEL 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 
OF A SOLDIER AND SURGEON 



BY 

JOHN ALLAN WYETH 

M.D., LL.D. NV 



ILLUSTRATED 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

MCMXIV 






nv 



COPYRIGHT, 1914. BY HARPER a BROTHERS 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
PUBLISHED OCTOBER. 1914 

K-0 



TO 
LOUIS WEISS WYETH 

AND 

EUPHEMIA ALLAN 

MY BOAST IS NOT THAT I DEDUCE MY BIRTH 
FROM LOINS ENTHRONED AND RULERS OF THE EARTH; 
BUT HIGHER STILL MY PROUD PRETENSIONS RISE, 
THE SON OF PARENTS PASSED INTO THE SKIES." 

COWPER 



395349 



CONTENTS 



PART I 

CHAP. PAGE 

INTRODUCTION xiii 

I. THE TENNESSEE VALLEY MARSHALL COUNTY AND GUNTERS- 

VILLE IN ALABAMA i 

II. EARLY RECOLLECTIONS 5 

III. OUR VILLAGE BOYS 10 

IV. HORSE AND GUN 14 

V. MAJOR, THE VILLAGE KING LESSON FROM THE LIFE OF A NOBLE 

DOG 23 

VI. EARLY SCENES, RELIGIOUS AND OTHERWISE 30 

VII. THE ARISTOCRACY OF THE OLD SOUTH 37 

VIII. THE NEGRO AND SLAVERY IN THE OLD SOUTH 52 

IX. THE POINT OF VIEW HISTORY OF AMERICAN SLAVERY AND 

THE ABOLITION CRUSADERS SOME TRUTHS ABOUT JOHN 
BROWN AND THE SO-CALLED MARTYRDOM 74 

X. SOME FACTS ABOUT JOHN BROWN NOT GENERALLY KNOWN 94 

XI. A DISSERTATION UPON THE PERVERSION OF FACTS SKETCHES 

FROM THE BACKWOODS OF ALABAMA THE GRAPE-VINE 
TELEGRAPH THE LIARS TOURNAMENT THE SHERIFF S 
STORY OF "WHEN THE YANKEES FIRST CAME" . . . . 128 

XII. THE SNAKES OF NORTHERN ALABAMA 147 

XIII. MY YEAR AT COLLEGE THE GUNBOAT INCIDENT 160 

XIV. WITH MORGAN S CAVALRY THE CHRISTMAS RAID 1862-1863 177 

XV. FOURTH ALABAMA CAVALRY 197 

XVI. COVERING THE RETREAT FROM TULLAHOMA THE 27TH OF 

JUNE, 1863 210 

vii 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XVII. TULLAHOMA TO ALEXANDRIA ELK RlVER 223 

XVIII. CHICKAMAUGA, WHERE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE SOUTHERN 

CONFEDERACY WAS WON AND LOST THE REAL CRISIS OF 
THE CIVIL WAR 237 

XIX. SEQUATCHIE VALLEY CAPTURE OF THE GREAT WAGON-TRAIN 

A PRISONER OF WAR 265 

XX. PRISON LIFE IN CAMP MORTON HOMEWARD BOUND JOHN 

JONES 286 

XXI. AFTER THE WAR 313 

XXII. A MEDICAL STUDENT IN 1867 THREE YEARS IN ARKANSAS 

STEAMBOATING AND CONTRACTING 327 

XXIII. AT BELLEVUE MEDICAL COLLEGE WORK IN THE DIS 

SECTING-ROOM ASSISTANT DEMONSTRATOR AND PRO 
SECTOR TO THE CHAIR OF ANATOMY BEGINNING OF THE 
PRIZE ESSAYS IN SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY THE 
STUDY OF GREEK, GERMAN, AND FRENCH 1872-1878 . . 347 

XXIV. LONDON PARIS BERLIN VIENNA DR. J. MARION SIMS 

MT. SINAI HOSPITAL TEXT-BOOK ON SURGERY PRESI 
DENT NEW YORK PATHOLOGICAL SOCIETY BLOODLESS 
AMPUTATION OF THE SHOULDER AND HIP JOINTS VICE- 
PRESIDENT AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION LIFE OF 
FORREST 366 

XXV. THE TENNESSEE & COOSA How I FINANCED A RAILROAD 

AND SAVED A FORTUNE FOR A FRIEND REVISIT MY ALMA 
MATER WRITE THE LIFE OF FORREST 381 

XXVI. THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION THE MEDICAL SO 

CIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK THE NEW YORK 
STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 395 

XXVII. ITALY AND THE GREAT ST. BERNARD THE BONAPARTE 

TRAIL MARENGO 399 

XXVIII. MIND- READING OR THOUGHT-TRANSFERENCE THE VALUE 

OF SUGGESTION CHRISTIAN SCIENCE THE MIRACLE SAT 
LOURDES A MORMON EPISODE AND OTHER EXPERIENCES 414 

XXIX. RIGHT HANDEDNESS OR DEXTRAL PREFERENCE IN MAN 

ALSO SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE VALUE OF ENFORCED 

AMBIDEXTERITY 432 

viii 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXX. OCCUPATIONS OF A RETIRED LIFE BUILDING THE NEW 
POLYCLINIC HOSPITAL PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK 
ACADEMY OF MEDICINE AND OF THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN 
SOCIETY CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF 
THE UNION LEAGUE CLUB, ETC 444 

PART II 

I. FOUNDING THE POLYCLINIC 461 

II. LlGATION OF THE EXTERNAL CAROTID ARTERY 467 

III. BLOODLESS AMPUTATION AT THE HIP - JOINT AND AT THE 

SHOULDER 472 

IV. THE TREATMENT OF VASCULAR TUMORS (ANGIOMATA) BY THE 

INJECTION INTO THEIR SUBSTANCE OF WATER AT A HIGH 
TEMPERATURE 480 

V. DEMONSTRATION BY EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES ON ANIMALS AND 

BY OPERATIONS ON HUMAN BEINGS OF THE PROCESS OF 
PERMANENT ARTERIAL OCCLUSION AFTER OBLIGATION . . 486 

VI. CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY OF THE EFFECT OF STREPTOCOC 

CUS AND PYOGENIC INFECTION UPON SARCOMA 489 

VII. THE SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY OF THE TIBIO-TARSAL 

ARTICULATION, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO A MODIFICA 
TION OF SYME S AMPUTATION 495 

VIII. TRANSPLANTING SKIN FROM THE ABDOMEN OR OTHER PARTS 

OF THE BODY TO THE HAND OR FOREARM TRANSFERRING 

THE GRAFT BY THIS MEANS TO THE FACE, NECK, OR 
ELSEWHERE 498 

IX. CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE MOUTH, NASO 

PHARYNX, AND ANTRUM MAXILLARIS 502 

X. CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE BONES TRANSPLAN 

TATION OF THE PROXIMAL END OF THE ULNA TO THE DISTAL 

OF THE RADIUS IN AN UNUNITED COLLES FRACTURE ... 509 

XI. HIP-JOINT DISEASE TREATED BY COMBINATION OF HUTCHINSON S 

HIGH SHOE AND CRUTCHES AND SAYRE S LONG EXTENSION 

SPLINT 514 

XII. VERSES 520 

GENEALOGY 528 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

JOHN ALLAN WYETH, M.D., LL.D Frontispiece 

MARSHALL COUNTY COURT-HOUSE, GUNTERSVILLE, ALABAMA . Facing p. 2 

CHEROKEE MISSIONARY STATION, 1820 8 

"MAJOR" AND His PUPIL " 24 

A HUNTSVILLE MANSION OF THE EARLY DAYS " 48 

LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY, 1861 160 

SITE OF LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY 164 

THE "OLD BRICK CHURCH" 166 

JOHN A. WYETH, Co. I, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY 212 

LIEUT. JOHN A. GIBSON, Co. C, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY ... 214 

MAP OF THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA 239 

BATTLE-FLAG OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY 262 

STATUE OF DR. J. MARION SIMS, BRYANT PARK, NEW YORK . 370 

A CHAMOIS ON GUARD 402 

POLYCLINIC MEDICAL SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL, 34I-35 1 WEST 

FIFTIETH STREET, NEW YORK 462 

BUST PORTRAIT OF DR. JOHN A. WYETH, UNVEILED AT THE 

POLYCLINIC HOSPITAL, MAY i, 1914 4 6 4 

MY SWEETHEART S FACE " 520 



INTRODUCTION 

THE chief purpose of this volume is to record from per 
sonal observation something of the social, economic, and 
political conditions which prevailed in the South before, 
during, and immediately after the Civil War. It was my 
good fortune to have been born and reared in a section 
where the wealthy landed proprietors and slave-owners, 
the poorer whites, and the negroes came together. 

What is written of the delightful society of the aristoc 
racy of the old South at Huntsville would apply to hun 
dreds of other communities of that period below "the 
Line." It was only possible with the institution of slavery, 
and with the downfall of the Southern oligarchy it disap 
peared, never to be repeated. Washington, Jefferson, Madi 
son, Marshall, Wythe, Monroe, Mason, the Randolphs and 
Lees were among the products of that unique civilization. 
"There were giants in those days." 

In my native county the poor whites greatly outnumbered 
the rich slaveholders and their slaves. The negroes bap 
tized them contemptuously as "poor white trash." They 
were poor, comparatively speaking, but they were not trash. 
The vast majority were uneducated, many could not read 
or write; but they were as a class far from being ignorant, 
for they were "good listeners" and close observers of cur 
rent events. My father, whom they made at first county 
and later district judge, was idolized by these simple people, 

xiii 



INTRODUCTION 

and I fell heir to their affectionate guardianship. By the 
time I was fifteen years old I believe I was personally ac 
quainted with every one of these families in our county. 
Their homes were chiefly in the uplands or foot-hills or 
coves or in the sparsely settled plateau of Sand Mountain. 
The houses were of logs, some hewn, many of skinned poles, 
and some so primitive that the bark was left on. The roofs 
were of rived boards, not nailed, but held in place by split 
logs laid on as weights and reinforced here and there by 
stones. Some of the floors were of puncheons, others of 
planks; and not infrequently the kitchen, smokehouse, and 
other added shelters had for flooring the sandy earth. As 
might be inferred, their lives were simple, and in general 
they were obedient to law. They were, however, high- 
strung and quick to resent an affront, and their too ready 
appeal to the rifle and the hunting-knife in the settlement 
of personal differences was the chief exception to their 
common acceptance of the authority which the court-house 
represented. Very rarely, far back in some remote fast 
ness, an occasional mountaineer, who gathered inspiration 
from the sun which curved over his head each day without 
seeming to pay much attention to human regulations, or 
from the free air which the preacher told him "bloweth 
where it listeth," would conclude that the government at 
Washington had no right to prescribe in what form the corn 
which he raised with his own hands and on his own land 
should ultimately be marketed, and would proceed to distil 
it into whisky by the light of the moon. I shall never for 
get the feeling which was evident as one of these moun 
taineers remarked to me: "Your pap put me in jail once 
for moonshinin , but I never blamed him fer it. We all 
knowed he was a good man and done what he thought was 

xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

right." These poor whites were in the main religious, be 
longing to the Baptist or Methodist persuasions, and were 
much given to "protracted meetings," revivals, and ex 
hortations to secure conversions, which latter was defined 
as "comin through." 

They dressed with extreme simplicity, usually in cotton 
or woolen stuffs, raised, spun, woven, and tailored at home. 
The mild climate made it possible to go for at least nine 
months without shoes, and the one pair of brogans for the 
year was usually put on at Christmas. The young chil 
dren and boys to about the sixteenth year wore in summer 
time nothing but a single garment made like a long shirt, 
which came down to near the ankles and was slit on each 
side as high as the knees to allow freedom in walking or 
running. As they raised everything they ate, except sugar 
and coffee, it may well be said that their wants were few 
and easily supplied. 

At least three-fourths of the men who carried guns in the 
battle-line of the Southern Confederacy were of this class. 
They had no interest directly or indirectly in slavery, and 
would willingly have seen the negroes freed and colonized 
out of the country. The proportion of non-slave-owners 
in my own company and regiment was greater than seventy- 
five per cent. Colonel James Cooper Nesbit, 1 in his most 
interesting and instructive narrative, says: "My company, 
H, Twenty-first Georgia regiment, was recruited in north 
west Georgia and Alabama. The muster-rolls show one 
hundred and eighty-five names. All were non-slaveholders 
except myself. The parents of four owned one or two 
slaves, and the father of one of my lieutenants owned forty. 

1 Four Years on the Firing Line, p. 69. Imperial Press, Chattanooga, 
Term., 1914. 

XV 



INTRODUCTION 

This was the average of the Twenty-first Georgia and the 
Twenty-first North Carolina of the same brigade, and these 
two regiments made the best record of any in Stonewall 
Jackson s corps." 

The brave fight these men made was not for slavery. 
Their contention was that freemen had the inherent right 
to do as they pleased, and as freemen they would stay in 
the Union or secede, as the majority desired. They were 
then and are still clean-cut Americans, uncontaminated by 
contact or association with the restless, poverty-stricken, 
and discontented hordes of immigrants who are crowding 
our shores in these latter days either as anarchists, who, 
like shedding snakes, strike blindly and viciously at every 
thing which moves, or like the socialists, whose aim is seem 
ingly to bring all human endeavor to the common level of 
mediocrity. Should the safety of our institutions ever be 
endangered I prophesy that these men of the foot-hills and 
mountains of the South will be the strongest guarantee of 
law and order. 

At various periods in history (and doubtless before the 
records were preserved, for in his natural tendency to do 
foolish things on a large scale man is the same yesterday, 
to-day, and for ever) epidemics of insanity have appeared 
with results more unfortunate to moral and intellectual 
development than have followed the wide-spread infections 
of the body. 

The legend of the Tower of Babel; the numerous racial 
migrations ; the crusades and the war of the five great nations 
now in progress in Europe, each of which, claiming to repre 
sent a Christian civilization, is calling for divine assistance 
in robbing and killing, are examples. 

One such epidemic has visited our shores. In the agita- 

xvi 



INTRODUCTION 

tion for and against slavery in the United States, reason and 
conscience were finally dominated by fanaticism. There 
was a period in the decade from 1830 when by the judicious 
co-operation of the advocates of emancipation North and 
South a humane and practical solution of this momentous 
problem was possible. I ask attention to the fact that at 
this time there were in the eight largely agricultural and 
slave-owning counties of my native section along the Ten 
nessee River in Alabama eight active emancipation societies 
organized by Southern men, and that in Huntsville a former 
slaveholder edited an emancipation newspaper and was 
twice nominated for the Presidency of the United States 
on the abolition ticket; also to the fact that a single state 
freed negroes approximating in value one hundred million 
dollars without one penny of remuneration! 

I am firmly convinced that if instead of the nagging, irri 
tating, insulting, and finally insurrectionary and murderous 
meddlesomeness of the Northern abolitionists, the con 
servative and better portion had united in earnest and 
friendly co-operation with their brothers of the South, who 
proved their zeal and devotion to principle by the whole 
sale sacrifice of wealth and ease, the humane scheme of 
emancipation and colonization as set forth in the " Virginia 
Resolutions" would have been carried out and chattel 
slavery would have disappeared by peaceful means. 

That portion of the volume which relates to the Civil 
War is chiefly a narrative of the every-day life of a private 
soldier in camp, in battle, and in prison. A single experi 
ence namely, the battle of Chickamauga is discussed from 
the standpoint of speculation. In my opinion the Southern 
Confederacy was won here by desperate valor and lost by 
the failure of the commanding general to appreciate the 

xvii 



INTRODUCTION 

magnitude of his victory and to take advantage of the great 
opportunity which was his for the capture or destruction of 
the entire Union army in Georgia and Tennessee. Chicka- 
mauga, as I interpret it from personal observation and from 
careful study, marked the high tide of the Confederacy. 

I have been asked to describe the sensations or emotions 
which are experienced under the trying ordeal of battle. 
The courage, whether moral or physical, or the combina 
tion of both, which enables a human being to incur the risk 
of suffering and death is a common possession. I would 
guess that of every one hundred men in our regiment fully 
ninety-five would have done, or would have tried to do, 
more or less willingly, any duty required. The other five 
would shirk and exhaust ingenuity to keep out of gunshot 
range by feigning illness, or some temporary necessity, or 
lagging until a chance offered to dodge behind an obstacle 
whence only the file-closers could drive them to the firing- 
line. 

In very rare instances the sense of fear became so over 
whelming the victim would run away without regard to the 
commands to halt and the danger of being shot in the back 
by one s own men. 

Personally I never saw any one do this, but it did occur. 
The very unusual experience of the soldier who, when what 
was thought to be a dangerous charge was ordered and 
we were in the act of moving forward, stepped from the 
ranks and handed his gun to our captain and said he couldn t 
go in" is given in the text. Vanity, another name for 
which is "family pride," or the dread of being called a cow 
ard, will account in part for what is usually accepted as 
courage ; and yet admitting all this as a measure of human 
frailty, I have witnessed a great many instances of that 

xviii 



INTRODUCTION 

sublime quality of self-forgetfulness in the performance of 
duty which is the crystallization of virtue namely, true 
courage. Appreciating, as every normal human being must, 
the instinctive dread of suffering and the love of life, it is 
not difficult to realize the awful sensation which is expe 
rienced in the moments given for reflection as one marches 
calmly up to the point of danger. It must, as I take it, 
count as a supreme moment in existence. Once engaged 
and in the excitement of fighting, this sense of impending 
disaster is happily lost ; and to some there comes an exhilara 
tion which it would be almost permissible to term ecstatic. 

In my own case, in the first two or three minor engage 
ments I was not scared; in fact, the excitement or exhilara 
tion was rather enjoyable ; but this was the valor of igno 
rance." After I had learned what war really was I never 
went under fire without experiencing an overpowering sense 
of dread and fear, with the single exception of the incident 
of riding through the Union lines at Chickamauga, which 
is given further on. 

Part II is devoted mainly to my work as a surgeon and 
teacher. My aim has been to collect in concise form for 
convenient reference those original contributions which 
have been generally accepted by the profession. 

The Ligation of the External Carotid Artery as an accepted 
procedure dates from the publication of my essays on the 
arteries by the American Medical Association in 1878; 
the Bloodless Amputations at the Hip- joint and at the Shoulder, 
in 1889; The Cure of Otherwise Inoperable Vascular Tumors 
by the Injection into their Substance of Water at a High Tem 
perature; The Immunizing Effect upon Sarcoma of a Mixed 
(Pyo genie) Infection; The Demonstration of the Process of 
Arterial Occlusion after Ligation in Continuity, etc. 

xix 



INTRODUCTION 

Upon these, together with the introduction of syste 
matized postgraduate medical teaching in America, the 
author "rests his case" at the bar of posterity. That the 
Polyclinic gave an impetus to and was coincident with 
the great awakening in American medicine there can be 
no doubt. Once inaugurated, the movement practically 
compelled postgraduate study in the general profession, for 
it naturally followed, that when even a single practitioner in 
any community took advantage of the extraordinary facili 
ties which were offered for increasing his store of knowledge, 
public opinion, that insistent vis a tergo of human progress, 
compelled the others to follow. Not only has every city 
of importance in our own country established one or more 
postgraduate medical schools, but abroad (as in London) 
our system has been adopted. 



PART I 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 



THE TENNESSEE VALLEY MARSHALL COUNTY AND GUNTERS- 
VILLE IN ALABAMA 

FIFTH in size of the rivers in the United States, the 
Tennessee, rising in the mountainous regions of Virginia and 
North Carolina, flows in a general direction southwest until, 
at the great bend in northern Alabama, it turns northwest 
to empty into the Ohio. Although three-fourths of its 
course is within the boundaries of the state to which it gave 
its name, that section of the South widely known as the 
Tennessee Valley is wholly within the state of Alabama. 

Eastward and to the north, from where Lookout stands 
sentinel for the mighty Appalachian range, the numerous 
large tributaries fairly divide honors with the main stream, 
while to the west, after pitching over the great cascade at 
Mussel Shoals, it leaves the mountains and the picturesque 
valley through which it has flowed for two hundred miles. 

Emerging near Chattanooga from the narrow gorge 
through which it has worn its way, walled in by cliffs of 
stone so steep and high that from the channel their crests 
are at times not within the range of vision, this majestic 
river enters the beautiful Valley of the Tennessee. 

Winding in and out among the mountains on either hand, 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

some near, some far, for most of the year covered with ver 
dure to the steep cliffs which form their crests, opening here 
and there into fertile plains or densely timbered coves that rise 
as they recede to reach the summit of the distant heights, on 
past bold projecting bluffs which seem to block the way, wide 
fields of corn and grain and cotton which long before the 
frosts of winter fall shall be as white as snow upon the 
arctic plains, flows ever on this gracious gift of nature, bless 
ing with plenty my native Valley of the Tennessee. 

In 1802 the territory now included in the states of Missis 
sippi and Alabama was ceded by Georgia to the United 
States, and in 1819 Alabama was admitted to the Union. 
That portion of this new state lying north of the river 
had been opened for settlement a number of years, while 
to the south stretched the reservations of three great 
Indian tribes the Seminoles, nearest the Gulf of Mexico; 
then the restless, warring Creeks, and, closest in touch with 
civilization, the wonderful Cherokees. Lovers of peace and 
tactful, they were on living terms not only with their war 
like brothers, but friendly also with their Anglo-Saxon 
neighbors just across the Tennessee. Builders of houses 
and tillers of the soil, these Indians had made such progress 
toward civilization that they had in use a syllabic alphabet 
and a method of printing. Invented by Sequoyah, 1 this 
alphabet of eighty -five characters, each representing a single 
sound of their language, is pronounced by a writer in the 
American Encyclopedia to be the "most perfect alphabet 
ever devised for any language." 

While the Cherokees could not hold the Creeks and 
Seminoles to peaceful ways, they would not allow them to 



remarkable man died in 1843, It was with this tribe that Sam 
Houston lived before and after he became Governor of Tennessee. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

pass through their domain to harrow the white settlers north 
of the Tennessee. The massacre at Fort Mims, Alabama, 
on August 30, 1813, where four hundred men, women, and 
children were butchered, led to the annihilation of the Creek 
Nation at the battle of the Horseshoe Bend on the Talla- 
poosa in 1814, while the remnant of their allies, the Semi- 
noles, sought refuge in the impenetrable marshes of the 
everglades in Florida, where they still survive. For twenty- 
four years longer the Cherokees lingered in their native land, 
until by treaty in 1836 they marched to the West, and their 
former reservation was opened for settlers. 

When from a part of this Indian land the new county of 
Marshall was formed, Louis Wyeth, a young lawyer, jour 
neying by stage from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Pitts- 
burg, by steamboat down the Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky, 
thence by stage to Huntsville, Alabama, and on foot for 
the remainder of the way (for as yet there were only trails 
in the Cherokee purchase) , came to cast his lot with the 
other pioneers and to grow up with the country." 

He must have taken well with these men of the wilder 
ness, for they made him their county judge within the first 
years of his advent; and, although he did not long remain 
on the bench for he sought a wider field it may truth 
fully be said that throughout a long and useful career he 
judged these, his people, to whose welfare he devoted his 
life. In 1848 he founded the town of Guntersville at the 
south bend of the Tennessee, built at his private expense a 
handsome brick court - house and a well - appointed jail, 
which were his gift s to the county and the new town, which 
became and still is the county- seat. As a member of the 
state legislature he secured a charter for a railroad "to 
connect the navigable waters of the Tennessee and Coosa 

3 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

rivers, with the object of securing an inland system of trans 
portation between Mobile Bay and the vast rich region 
through which flowed the Tennessee and its tributaries." 
Of this railroad, which is now a part of the great Nashville 
& Chattanooga and Louisville & Nashville railroad systems, 
he was the originator and first president. 



II 

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS 

IT would be interesting to determine just when the brain- 
cells begin to register impressions that become fixed and 
are subject to the call of memory; and also with which of 
the senses these early registrations are associated. The 
brain is such an unreliable machine that the results of its 
operations require careful study and critical analysis before 
acceptance. Since older minds (which are considered ma 
ture) are known to entertain absolutely impossible schemes 
as fixed convictions, it is not to be wondered at that children 
are readily susceptible to self-deception. I have no doubt 
that many incidents retold as being the recollections of 
early childhood are nothing more than reflected images of 
word-pictures from older persons who really were witnesses. 
Only to-day a woman of more than ordinary brilliancy and 
of unquestionable sincerity assured me she remembered 
distinctly being held as a baby in her grandmother s arms 
when she was only a little more than one year old! 

It occurs to me that since children are almost wholly 
animal, their earlier brain-cell registrations should be as 
sociated with alimentation, and with those to whose per 
sonal ministrations they looked for comfort and protection. 
It would seem but natural that one s mother should come 
first of all things; but with myself, I am sorry to say, this 
is not the case. I was four years old when my memory of 
things began ; and my mother, who, as I now know, did little 

5 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

else but devote her time and thoughtful care to me, does not 
hold this precedence. My earliest recollection is of a burn 
ing house, and of Mack, one of our slaves, holding me seated 
on one of the front gate-posts, where I could have a good 
view of the conflagration. The date of this incident is 
known, and it enables me to determine that my brain-cells 
were not registering fixed impressions earlier than the fourth 
year. About this time I first straddled a horse and tumbled 
off, and that incident was indelibly impressed, as was a 
relation thus early established with Aunt Peggy, our negro 
cook, whereby without the knowledge of my mother, at 
about ten o clock every morning I found myself in the 
kitchen eating from a small wooden tray corn-bread crusts 
soaked in "pot-liquor," a very filling, greasy, and satisfying 
mixture, which, I learned later, was a common food of the 
negro children of the plantations. 

It is clear, then, as far as I am concerned, that the very 
first enduring impression was conveyed to the cells from the 
retina, through the so-called "sense of sight." The second 
was from fright, and fused with this is another impression 
which seems to indicate that the mind was commencing 
operations from within on its own responsibility. I very 
distinctly remember that as I was sliding off the bare back 
of the horse and was about half-way to the ground my good 
guardian Mack caught me and placed me again in position. 
Being scared, I asked him to let me get off and walk, but he 
was as inexorable as the law of gravitation. There was no 
getting out of it. I had to learn, and did learn, and from 
that time on I almost lived on horseback. This lovable 
slave not only taught me to ride, but he gave me a first 
lesson of inestimable value, which was, not to get scared and 
quit. The third registration, which, according to the "ani- 

6 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mal theory" just expressed, should have come first, was evi 
dently conveyed through the "sense of taste," or hunger. 
Now, the one to me incomprehensible feature of this 
retrospection is that up to this period, and even later, I 
have not the slightest recollection of my parents. I was on 
excellent terms with the cook, and between Mack and his 
ward there was established an affectionate association which 
had already a fixed place and never ceased; in fact, grew so 
strong as time went on that I never wanted to be away from 
him in daylight. 

At five years of age I was taken to school ; and here again 
fright comes in, for I doubt if any wretch riding toward the 
guillotine ever suffered more than did this victim of civiliza 
tion on this occasion. The teacher who preceded the pres 
ent incumbent had not spared the rod; in fact, had whipped 
two of his boy pupils so severely that his services were dis 
pensed with. Hearing all this from the older children, I 
supposed I would come in for my share from the new man, 
who was "part Cherokee." l 

"Mr. Dave" was, however, a mild-mannered man, and, 
while he kept a long hickory switch in the chimney corner 
near his chair, it was only a reminder of the possibilities 
which might follow bad behavior. The worst he ever did 
was to "thump" us on the head with the last knuckle of 
one finger, and usually we got this punishment for mis 
spelling a word or for some shortcoming in our studies. 
My first, and I believe only, experience came within a day 
or two after I began. The spelling-class stood in a row be 
hind one of the long benches. When a word went wrong, 
in order to have the correction indelibly impressed on our 

1 Descended from intermarriage between a Cherokee Indian and a white 
person. 

7 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

minds the culprit had to walk to where the teacher sat, 
project his small head in advance of the perpendicular, and 
receive thereon a thump which was light or heavy in pro 
portion to the gravity of the error. My offense was separa 
tion," and from that day to this I have never forgotten that 
it is dangerous to change the first "a" of the word into "e." 
I had been at school for some time, and was well turned 
into my seventh year, when on one memorable day I made 
a discovery which was worth more to me than the finding of 
a new world was to Columbus. I discovered my mother, and 
incidentally began to appreciate the fact that I had a father, 
although at this early period he occupied a position, to my 
vision, very much nearer the horizon than did my new 
ly discovered planet. The discovery came about in this 
fashion: a boy playmate lost his temper at something that 
happened between us, and in anger gave me a slap which 
I did not resent. At this juncture I heard a voice from a 
near-by window, and, turning, I saw my mother leaning out, 
her eyes flashing so that I could almost see the sparks flying 
and her cheeks as red as fire. In a tone about which there 
could be no misinterpretation, even by one who instinctive 
ly preferred peace to war, she asked me if the boy struck 
me in anger; and when I told her he had, she blazed up and 
said, "And you didn t hit him back?" My response was 
that father had told me it was wrong to fight, and that when 
another boy gave way to anger just to tell him it was wrong 
and not fight back. At this the blue bonnet of Clan- 
Allan went "over the border," and she fairly screamed: 
"I don t care what your father told you; if you don t whip 
that boy this minute I ll whip you!" And she looked on, 
and was satisfied when it was all over. I date my career from 
that eventful day; for I had come to the parting of the ways. 

8 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

No one who knew my father ever doubted his physical 
or moral courage, for it was of that sublime type that held 
life as of secondary consideration where duty was involved, 
but his was the gift of gentle forbearance and kindly re 
monstrance to those who gave way to ungovernable and 
passionate word or deed. His was the way of the Nazarene 
and of that far-reaching wisdom of which the Proverb says: 
"Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are 
peace." 

My mother, too, was a Presbyterian, the daughter of a 
minister of that faith, tender and true to her convictions of 
duty. Peter didn t love his Lord any less because he was 
human enough to lose his temper and smite off the ear of 
the servant of the high priest. My mother and I chose him 
for our patron saint, and, turning aside from the path of 
peace, hand in hand we trod the rougher road which led 
up the hill Difficulty. Upon its summit we stood at last 
triumphant, and thence, her beautiful face lighted up with 
a heavenly smile, an eternal benediction, she left me and 
passed down into the valley. 

Time but the impression stronger makes, 
As streams their channels deeper wear. 

It was on one of her later birthdays I wrote : 

Deal gently with her, Time! These many years 

Of life have brought more smiles with them than tears. 

Lay not thy hand too harshly on her now, 

But trace decline so slowly on her brow 

That, like a sunset of the northern clime, 

Where twilight lingers in the summer-time, 

And fades at last into the silent night, 

Ere one may note the passing of the light, 

So may she pass since tis the common lot 

As one who, resting, sleeps and knows it not. 

Century Magazine, January, 1902. 
2 



Ill 

OUR VILLAGE BOYS 

BOYS are boys the world over, and we were boys; some 
good, some bad. None good all the time; none so bad but 
that if properly handled the germ of good in him could have 
been cultivated to an aspiration for the ideals of life and for 
usefulness. It is almost a maxim that children are what 
their parents make them. Even the influences of hered 
ity may in large measure be eliminated if carefully studied 
and the value of environment appreciated, for children, like 
chameleons, take readily the color of that which is about 
them. A left-handed child, or even an adult with a strong 
ly inherited tendency to use the off-hand, may be made just 
as clever with the opposite and unpref erred member by per 
sistent training. This has been very frequently demon 
strated. It is just as possible to make both members 
equally useful. This will be done in the years to come, and 
it will greatly increase both mental and muscular efficiency. 
What is true of a physical defect or deviation from the nor 
mal is just as true of a moral weakness. No one doubts 
that Ashanti infants transplanted to a Christian civili 
zation and reared with refined and cultivated children 
would cease to be cannibals and savages. The domestica 
tion of wild animals and fowls is complete evidence of the 
influence of environment. 

Among the boys of our village very few turned out bad ; 

10 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and had these few been surrounded in their homes by better 
example and received more kindly consideration and en 
couragement, even they would not have fallen by the way. 
Fully fifty per cent, of my playmates near my age perished 
in battle or from wounds or sickness contracted in the mili 
tary service of the Confederacy. Most of our time up to 
our fifteenth year, when as a rule we were sent away to one 
of the well-known colleges, was spent in the long sessions 
of the village school with its exacting duties. A week at 
Christmas and the months of July and August made up 
the vacation period. On holidays in the fall and winter 
months, when the river and creeks and forests were flush 
with game, we were hunters and became adepts in wood 
craft and the use of firearms. Often on Saturday nights, 
in the colder season, with the young negro boys, toward 
whom we white boys were always kind and considerate, 
with pine torch-lights and our dogs, we would roam the 
heavily timbered bottom lands hunting possums and coons, 
and at times on moonlight nights take our shotguns and 
seek out the wild-turkey roosts. With the full moon on 
cloudless nights we could even shoot turkeys, coons, and 
possums from the trees with the rifles, which carried only one 
ball. It was the practice to get the dark object between 
the marksman and the bright moon, sight into the moon, 
and slowly lower the barrel until both sights were darkened 
by the intervening black object, and at this moment touch 
the trigger. We were at home on horseback, and in the 
very warm days of the long summers we almost lived in the 
river, the temperature of which was several degrees warmer 
than the cold water which came in from the near-by moun 
tain streams. Few of us could remember when we learned 
to swim, and the practice was general, No one seemed 

ii 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

afraid of the water, nor was there ever a death by drown 
ing. I recall that one day in the late spring, when the 
water in the river was still cold from the melting snows 
in the Virginia mountains, and it was nearly to the top of 
the banks, five of our group deposited our scant wardrobes, 
which consisted of trousers, shirt, and hat (no one wore shoes 
in warm weather), in the hollow of a giant sycamore and 
swam across the Tennessee and back for the frolic of it. In 
going the six hundred yards across the strong current we 
were carried fully a mile below the starting-point, and in 
returning we were compelled to walk far enough up the 
river-bank to offset the force of the current. 

Life was not by any means all play and school with 
us. It was the custom with both rich and poor for every 
boy to do a certain amount of manual labor, plowing or 
other work in the garden, or chopping wood or hauling. 
The wealthiest planter in our county insisted that his 
sons work in the fields with his slaves a certain number 
of days each crop season. In one year I raised unaided 
a ten-acre field of corn. It was a wholesome custom, for 
it instilled in our minds an appreciation of the dignity and 
value of labor and made us acquainted with the use of 
various implements. My father refused to give me even 
the small * spending-money " a boy is supposed to be al 
lowed, but he gave me every opportunity to earn what I 
needed by my own efforts. My chief source of revenue was 
cutting wood in the forests near town which belonged to 
him, and hauling and selling it by the wagon-load to my 
various regular customers. With the money so earned I 
became an early subscriber to Harper s Magazine and Har 
per s Weekly. One of the family treasures which was lost 
when the Union soldiers burned our home was a much-appre- 

12 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

dated personal letter to me from one of the original "Broth 
ers" who founded the great "House of Harper." Thack 
eray and Porte Crayon were contributors to the Magazine 
then, and in the Weekly were appearing the illustrations of 
the Sepoy Rebellion in India. 

Thoughtful care was always given the selection of our 
teachers, and our community was fortunate in securing the 
services of Professor W. D. Lovett, of Zanesville, Ohio, a 
college graduate, well versed in the classics, an excellent 
mathematician, patient, insistent, and conscientious in the 
discharge of his duty. He was to me teacher and friend, 
and with his encouraging help and that of my father, him 
self at home with the classics, I was able in my fifteenth 
year to pass my college entrance examinations and matricu 
late at La Grange Military Academy in January, 1861. 



IV 

HORSE AND GUN 

THE boy of the old South learned to ride and to shoot 
almost as soon as he learned to walk. 1 I began to ride when 
I was only four years old, and at ten was the possessor of 
my own horse and gun. A saddle was not permitted to 
beginners. Stirrups were dangerous entanglements, and 
when we grew up to the saddle our stirrups had leather 
guards to prevent the ankle from slipping through and 
hanging. A blanket fastened on with a surcingle was the 
favorite seat. For years before I was big enough to get on 
a horse without sidling up to a stump or a fence I rode to 
the creek to water my horse, or straddled an evenly balanced 
sack of shelled corn and made the trip twice a week to the 
water-mill a mile away. 

I had also good practice in riding behind" one or the 
other of my parents, for the newness of the country and the 
absence of good roads made the use of buggies or carriages 
practically impossible and horseback the one reliable way 
of traveling or of visiting our neighbors. 

My first gun was a flint-lock rifle of the same death-dealing 

1 The girls of the South in my day were equally at home on horseback. 
Both of my sisters owned their saddle-horses, were fearless riders, and were 
expert with gun and pistol. On one occasion during the war, while all the 
men-folk were absent from the plantation in Lee County, Georgia, the negroes 
came running in great consternation to tell my eldest sister that a huge alli 
gator was eating the pigs at the barn down near the lake. With an accurate 
shot through the eye she killed the monster, which was over six feet in length. 

14 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

pattern as those used by the backwoodsmen of Jackson and 
Coffee on Wellington s Peninsular veterans at New Orleans. 
It was a dangerous weapon at the muzzle, and not altogether 
harmless at the other end. I could never entirely overcome 
the sense of nervousness at the flash of the powder in the 
priming-pan within a few inches of the eye. The bullet 
used was molded from bars of lead kept in stock at all 
frontier stores. The ball was laid in the palm of the hand, 
and the proper charge of powder was measured by pouring 
enough to make a pyramid which just concealed it. The 
powder was then poured into the muzzle of the barrel held 
perpendicularly. A bit of thick cotton cloth greased with 
tallow on the under side was laid over the muzzle, and the 
ball, placed on this, was pushed in until its top was level with 
the surface of the barrel, when the patch was cut smoothly 
across with a sharp knife. Incased in this lubricated cloth 
envelope, the bullet was pushed down upon the charge of 
measured powder near the touch-hole by means of a long, 
slender ramrod of tough hickory. The priming-pan was 
next opened and filled with powder, and the "striker" 
closed. The flint was so arranged that when the hammer 
was cocked and the trigger pressed a spring drove the flint 
against the striker and primer, forcing it open, and thus 
bringing the powder in the pan in contact with the igniting 
spark. These guns, now obsolete, soon gave way to those 
equipped with tubes for percussion-caps, and these in turn 
to our modern breech-loaders with percussion-cartridges. 

This early training to horse and gun will explain why the 
mounted troops of the Confederacy for the first two years 
of the Civil War were notably superior to the cavalry of 
the North. For the third year honors were about even, 
and after that to the end the advantage was on the Union 

15 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

side. It took the Federal cavalrymen about two years to 
become expert riders and marksmen, and as such they held 
their own with their opponents. By 1864, when the South 
was depleted of live stock, the impossibility of securing 
good mounts or of maintaining the efficiency of those in 
service placed its cavalry at great disadvantage; and when 
to the best of horses and seasoned veterans was added the 
equipment with the repeating-rifle, as against the single- 
barreled muzzle-loader of the Confederates, it is no wonder 
that the men who had followed Forrest and Wheeler and 
Stuart and Morgan to victory on practically every battle 
field in the earlier campaigns could no longer successfully 
resist the gallant troopers of Wilson and Sheridan. 

The hunting-season in the South began in the early 
autumn and lasted until March. In the wide ranges of 
uncleared woodland in the near-by mountains, and in the 
dense cane-brakes which grew in the rich bottom land of 
the Tennessee, there were wild deer and turkeys in great 
numbers throughout the year. I counted more than twenty 
of the beautiful animals in one herd within three miles of 
our village, and I have killed turkeys feeding in the fields 
and truck-gardens of our home. So plentiful were they at 
one time that during the breeding-season I have often 
heard, as I sat on our portico, the drumming sound made 
by the wings of the males when strutting. Squirrels, rab 
bits, raccoons, and opossums were abundant, while beavers, 
muskrats, and minks made their homes in the river s bank. 
Wild duck and geese came with the cold weather and re 
mained until spring. Of the migrating birds the wild 
pigeon was at once the most beautiful and wonderful. The 
story of these birds will seem in this day like a gross exag 
geration, and yet there are many persons still living who saw, 

16 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

as I have seen, the vast and countless flocks of these swift 
and graceful birds of passage as they whirred through the 
air on their southward flight, so massed that they cast a 
shadow like a thick cloud which shut out the sun, while the 
noise of their countless wings sounded like the roar of an 
approaching cyclone. As far as the eye could distinguish 
them their lines were stretched, and one flock would scarcely 
be out of sight before another followed. A favorite feeding- 
ground was the beech forest near our home, and one of the 
most wonderful sights I have ever beheld was the sudden 
and almost perpendicular descent of a vast army of these 
birds from a height of at least a mile to the tree-tops in 
the bottom lands. They simply let go, fell like snowflakes 
from the heavens, and alighted in such numbers that the 
limbs broke beneath the great weight. When the nuts were 
all consumed, or threshed off by the motion of their wings, 
the birds would swarm to the ground, many of them lost 
to sight in the foot-deep leaves which carpeted the earth 
beneath these giant trees. My father and I on one occasion 
picked up twenty-five pigeons killed by a single volley of 
our two shotguns his a double, mine a single barreled 
gun. I have no idea of the cause of their disappearance; 
but they, like the buffalo, are now practically extinct. As 
late as 1870 I saw them in the White River section of Ar 
kansas, as plentiful as they had been before the war in 
Northern Alabama. I am informed by a close student of 
ornithology that a reward of $5,000 for a pair of these birds 
has for three years remained unclaimed. 

In the cane-brakes and thickly wooded regions we hunted 
chiefly on foot, but for deer and turkey and for shooting 
quail, the horse was in common use, while for the rare 
sport of fox-hunting the gun was discarded, and the 

17 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

swift horses kept the hunters always close up with the 
hounds. 

When I became the owner of a saddle-horse it was my 
duty to feed and curry and take personal care of my mount ; 
and so when the war came on, and I rode away on my 
beautiful Fanny, we knew each other thoroughly and were 
as comrades in all the exciting scenes, the times of danger 
in battle and of trial, with long marches and short rations, 
and all the hardships of an active cavalry service. Horses 
are not unlike their two-legged masters in the variations of 
character and quality; and a well-bred animal feels and 
shows its distinction and superiority over a common plug 
as does the man of gentle breeding exhibit certain qualities 
that mark him as not of the common run. Fanny was 
not only the most beautifully formed horse I have ever 
seen, but she possessed an intelligence almost human and 
could be trusted in any emergency. A whip or spur she 
would not tolerate. I could ride and guide her anywhere 
without saddle or bridle. A word, a motion of the hand, 
or a slight inclination of the body gave to her quick per 
ception the direction and the gait. If the saddle was not 
comfortably adjusted she would stop and back one ear or 
the other to tell me where it pinched. 

I trained her to a running-walk, at once the easiest stride 
for horse and rider, and day after day she has averaged 
forty miles over roads and trails not easy as to going. I rode 
her twice from my home to Rome, in Georgia, seventy-five 
miles, in a day and a half. When it came to running she 
was like the wind, and in the long speeding to safety in our 
scouting expeditions, when speed needed stamina to make 
the goal of the picket -line, she showed her mettle. As long 
as I rode this graceful, coal-black creature unmarked save 

18 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

for a white star in the center of the forehead and a white 
ring on the nigh hind pastern I felt no fear of capture. On 
one memorable occasion she showed her heels and her rider s 
back in most satisfactory fashion to a squadron of Brown- 
low s Union Cavalry in a chase from near Triune to our out 
post, some four miles away. There are times in a soldier s 
life when, as Campbell expresses it, 

Tis distance lends enchantment to the view. 

In the Christmas raid through Kentucky in 1862, when 
in the crisis of the pursuit and hemmed in on all sides, 
we were forced to ride day and night for thirty-six hours 
through a merciless blizzard without stopping, and then, 
after a rest of six hours, went on to the end of our 
seventy- two hours forced march, there was not in that 
entire command of three thousand a horse more fit than 
"The Little Black" for that was her pet name in the 
regiment. 

In times of stress, when food was scarce and Fanny 
was hungry, I have often shared with her the roasting-ears 
of corn issued to me as my rations. At night, when we 
bivouacked, and the enemy was so near that every man 
must be ready to mount at a moment s notice, I would un- 
spring the bit from the head-stall, and as she ate her shelled 
corn from the saddle-blanket I would sleep holding the halter 
strap and knowing full well she would never tread upon 
or attempt to wander from her sleeping comrade. 

We Southerners rode with long stirrup-leathers, such as 
the vaqueros of Mexico and the cowboys of the plains and 
pampas use. The trained horseman with this seat is one 
with his mount. When it becomes necessary, the saddle 
pressure can be lessened by tiptoeing slightly in the stir- 

19 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

rups. The pigskin -covered, shallow -seated saddle of the 
English, with the short stirrup-leathers and the bobbing- 
up-and-down style of riding, is, from my point of view and 
training, awkward and tiring to both rider and horse. 

Our saddles were strong, and raised behind and in front, 
so that when firmly cinched one foot could be caught be 
neath the rim as the rider swung head downward on the 
other side to pick up any object from the ground. This 
we were trained to do with the horse at full gallop. At 
mounting we were equally expert, and from either side I 
could mount or leap entirely over my horse, and vault into 
the saddle from behind, with my pistol buckled around the 
waist, by placing my two hands on the horse s rump. 

I said good-by to my little Fanny on June 27, 1863, and 
I look back on this as one of the saddest experiences of a 
lifetime. It was the day of the battle of Shelby ville. From 
near Eagleville on the Triune turnpike our regiment, then 
on outpost duty, was ordered to retreat hurriedly to Shelby- 
ville. Near noon we stopped for half an hour to cool our 
horses backs and rest and feed. As there was no forage 
except grazing, I stripped my mount of saddle and bridle 
and turned her into a near-by clover -field to feed at 
will. 

When the bugle blew to saddle up I called "Fanny!" 
Tossing her head in the air with a whinny of recognition, 
she came to me at once. Leaping on her back without a 
bridle, I guided her by a movement of the hand toward my 
company s bivouac. As I approached there lay across the 
way the huge trunk of a fallen tree. I urged her to a canter, 
and she jumped over the log as I had trained her over 
hurdles before we began our war experiences. As she rose 
to take the jump the inner calk of the right fore shoe caught 

20 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in the bark and tore the shoe loose. Unfortunately, the 
forge and farrier had moved on ahead; and as the enemy 
were in sight and pressing us, I saddled and mounted and 
joined in the six-mile run to Shelbyville. Within a mile the 
flinty bed of the macadamized roadway had done its work. 
Fanny began to limp, and then to lag, as her hoof was split 
to the quick, and I dismounted and led her. As good luck 
would have it, the enemy did not press us, or I should have 
been lost. 

As I came up at last the regiment was in line of battle, 
and the enemy s line, a mile away, was in sight, evidently 
preparing to advance. As I mounted and rode into the 
line Major Taylor, seeing how lame my horse was, ordered 
me to the wagon-train and would not listen to my entreaty 
to let me stay. Dismounting and leading Fanny, now hob 
bling on three legs, and depressed beyond measure at the 
thought of being absent from the first big fight the regiment 
was to be engaged in since I had joined it, I made my way 
sorrowfully to the rear. 

Two or three hundred yards back I came upon a member 
of my company who told me he was detailed to guard the 
wagon-train. As he had a fairly good horse and seemed 
anxious to take care of one too lame to be in the fight, I 
changed horses and equipments; and, exacting a promise that 
he would take Fanny to my home in Alabama, where I could 
find her at the close of the campaign, I mounted and rode 
into the line of battle just as the firing began. 

The story of that fight, from two o clock to sundown, 
and the disaster which overtook me at its close is told else 
where. The great tragedy of it was, not that we were 
beaten or that I was left on the field, ridden down and over 
by the victorious enemy, but that I never again saw my 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

noble Fanny. The man to whom I intrusted her reported 
that she grew so sore of foot she could no longer move, and 
he had left her in care of a farmer in Tennessee. At the 
close of the war my first duty was to search for my little 
thoroughbred, but no trace of her could be found. 



MAJOR, THE VILLAGE KING LESSON FROM THE LIFE OF A 

NOBLE DOG 

IT is as true of dogs as of poets that they are "born, not 
made." Major was born great. Not that he had a proud 
pedigree. No more have poets as a rule: Shakespeare s 
father was a glovemaker; Milton s a scrivener; Spenser s 
a tailor; Keats s paternal ancestor kept a livery stable; and 
the father of Robert Burns made a very insufficient living 
as a gardener. 

The average poet, however, knew his father and here 
the comparison becomes embarrassing for Major. Genea 
logically he was classified as a mongrel cur, but genealogy, 
like the thermometer, does not always register correctly. 
The laws of heredity, like the laws of the universe, are as 
inexorable as they are wonderful and difficult of compre 
hension. Major was an illustration. Even as the planets 
of our system, after eons of divergence in space, come again 
in conjunction, so in this loved and faithful companion of 
my boyhood, born to be king of his kind in the village, 
there united by some mysterious alchemy certain ancestral 
strains, certain inherited qualities, which made him worthy 
of founding a dynasty. 

Cast in human form, he would have been another Forrest 
or Jackson, a natural-born soldier. Courage and strategy 
and tactics were of his mental make-up, and behind these 

23 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

qualities there was a magnificent endowment of muscle 
and bone which made them savagely effective. Like the 
" Wizard of the Saddle," who said, "five minutes of bulge 
was worth more than a week of tactics," Major believed in 
bulge. He always "showed fight," and never waited to be 
attacked. Forrest s one "general order" was: "When 
ever you see a Yankee, show fight. If there ain t but one 
of you and a hundred of them, show fight. They ll think 
a heap more of you for it." 

Now, Major was not particular about what the other 
village dogs thought of him, but he did enjoy a quiet stroll 
along a dogless highway. Even Cowper in his "Morning 
Walk" was not more fond of solitude, and as my fighter s 
reputation spread his meditations were rarely disturbed. 
At the zenith of his reign, if there was a canine in all the 
region round about his Judea upon whose skin he had not 
left the indelible register of his prowess, it was only because 
the other dog elected to keep between his hide and Major 
that distance which lent enchantment to the view. When 
after one of these occasional joy -chases in the wake of 
a fleet-footed vagrant he would return panting, with his 
dripping tongue hanging out of one side of his mouth, and 
come up to me to get the usual pat of commendation on his 
back, he would sit down on his hunkers and in very human 
fashion laugh at the comical figure the scared fugitive had 
cut. And it was funny enough to make even a dog laugh; 
for few things are more ludicrous than precipitate flight, 
whether there be two or four legs in action. In my sol 
dier days I took an active part in more than one cavalry 
stampede, in which for the time being my comrades and I 
parted company with our family pride, which is another 
name for courage. On these occasions, if on no other, I 

24 




"MAJOR" AND HIS PUPIL 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was inspired with the idea of leadership, and if the inspira 
tion was of brief duration it was only because the horse I 
rode was not equal to the occasion. As one after another 
the rattled troopers passed me in the wild scramble toward 
safety I had ample opportunity to observe the earnestness 
which characterized each individual s effort to annihilate 
distance. Notwithstanding the increasing proximity of the 
pursuers, I registered the ludicrous features of the situation, 
and many a time since then, with bullets and sabres elimi 
nated, I have laughed over these scenes. 

Somebody has said, or is said to have said, "All the world 
loves a lover," which is generally accepted as true. There 
is another saying that "Everybody sympathizes with the 
under dog." Elsewhere and in the abstract this may have 
been (or may be) true; but in our village it did not hold. 
When the bottom dog got on his feet, saw his chance, tucked 
his tail between his legs, and ran, every boy and man whose 
Christian mother or wife was not in hearing yelled at him 
in terms not found in the Westminster Confession, and 
added to the fugitive s intensity of purpose the quickening 
impulse of a stone or a brickbat. 

Naturally, Major became the pride of the village, his 
prowess the talk of the neighborhood; and I, his master, 
shone, albeit with reflected glory. We are all more or less 
influenced by environment and association, and little wonder 
it soon came into my mind that I among my kind must 
keep stride with my victorious dog. He expected it of me, 
and when on one memorable day I licked the bully of the 
playground, Major jumped all over me for joy. Victors 
on every field, Major and his master, like Alexander, sighed 
for more worlds. 

In a near-by settlement there was another fighting dog 
3 25 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of local repute; and one summer s day when the circus 
came to town, the boy who owned him and his crowd 
walked in to see the sights, bringing with them the redoubt 
able pup. My chum and I were engaged in watching the 
busy showmen put up the big tent, when the other boys and 
their champion came on the scene. He was a magnificent 
specimen of his kind, brindle-colored, well muscled, notice 
ably longer in body and neck, and some two inches taller 
than Major. He was evidently game to the core, for he 
no sooner saw my pet than he bristled up, fixed his eyes in 
tently upon him, and assumed that muscular tension pe 
culiar to the wolf and cat tribes when about to spring. As 
he and they approached, the circus men, seeing that some 
thing exciting was in the air, quit work and with the crowd 
of loiterers attracted by the "Greatest Show on Earth" 
turned their attention to the battle-scene. 

I recall distinctly that sinking feeling which often comes 
over one in the first few moments of an impending crisis, 
the issue of which is doubtful. I put my hand encourag 
ingly on my companion s neck, pulled his head against my 
leg, and said in a low tone, "Steady, Major." There must 
have been some quiver of the arm or tremor in the voice 
which betrayed my apprehension, for, while the other valiant 
knight was yet some thirty yards away, my champion 
turned his eyes reproachfully on mine with a look which 
said. "Watch me" I did watch him, and, to my surprise, 
for the first time in his life Major did not advance to meet 
the enemy. I knew later his keen intelligence had cau 
tioned him that this was the heaviest contract he had ever 
undertaken, and that strategy and tactics as well as cour 
age and strength would be needed to win. I did not know 
it then, and as the stranger boldly and deliberately aH- 

26 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

vanced I almost sank to the earth with shame and mortifi 
cation; for Major not only failed to meet him half-way, 
but stood there stock-still, seemingly not wanting to fight 
and wagging his tail in friendly fashion, as if he were about 
to greet a long-lost brother. So deceptive was this assump 
tion of friendliness, or timidity, or cowardice, that the other 
crowd of boys began to jeer and yell at the top of their 
lungs, "School-butter!" "Chicken-liver!" "Soak him!" and 
a lot of other objectionable constructions of nouns, verbs, 
and adjectives of origin as unknown as they were in 
sulting. 

It was just as this yell of exultation in anticipation of our 
discomfiture rose that the strategy of the master was dis 
closed. Unused to such a crowd and to such an unearthly 
noise, the invader turned his head for a moment toward his 
shouting mob of backers. This error sealed his doom; for 
in that instant, like a stone from a catapult, with lightning- 
like swiftness and with irresistible force, Major bounded for 
ward, striking full-breasted against the side of the neck and 
shoulders of the longer dog, bowling him over and on his 
back. The stranger did not hit the ground before his cun 
ning and savage foe had his throat and windpipe in the grip 
of a pair of jaws that never relaxed their hold until the 
bottom dog was half dead and hopelessly beaten, when 
we pulled the victor off. As Major shook himself and stood 
over his fallen foe in triumphant pose, ready to renew the 
attack, the crowd yelled and hurrahed again and again for 
him and me. Then we "town boys" laughed best, because 
we had laughed last. 

Major s star, ascendant from the day he entered the 
arena, reached its zenith in this month, when he was four 
years old and when Sirius was in its glory. From this on 

27 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

his story is briefly told, and I venture to apply to my faith 
ful friend, tried and not found wanting, a quotation from 
Froude s Sketch of C&sar : 

Everything which grows holds in perfection but a single moment. 

When the days of the sere and yellow leaf came on for 
this, my Caesar, the college days came on for me; and al 
though I did not suspect it then, I bade a long and last 
good-by to the home of a happy boyhood and to my loved 
and faithful dog. From college I went into the Southern 
army until the end of the Civil War, and when peace came 
there was no home, and Major had long since gone to the 
undiscovered country. After I had left, one of the slaves, 
ambitious to maintain the prestige of the absent member, 
brought into the fold a puppy, scion of my village king, 
who schooled him as a fighter, alas ! to his own un 
doing. 

As in the course of nature Major s muscles withered and 
his jaws became toothless his powerful and plucky son 
grew more and more resentful of the painful reprimands in 
flicted by his hectoring sire, and at last turned on him in 
mortal combat. I was told that when the servants pulled 
them apart the beaten but unconquered old warrior, stag 
gering to his feet, tried in vain to renew the hopeless combat, 
and then, with head erect and lordly mien, passed for ever 
from the scene. A week later they found him dead in the 
edge of a forest near the town. Victory or death was the 
lesson that came from the spirit of this dumb creature. 
The savagery which he exhibited was his by nature, uncurbed 
and unchanged by the impossibility of a higher intelligence. 
That of his master, whose heart now in ripe old age, and long 
before he had reached the years of maturity, was filled with 

28 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

regret that even in the wild life of the frontier and in the 
riot of restless boyhood he could delight in these tests of 
animal courage and skill and strength, had less in extenua 
tion. With all of this the moral of the lesson was not lost : 
"He who fights the battle of life to win or die, wins." 



VI 

EARLY SCENES, RELIGIOUS AND OTHERWISE 

WHILE a large majority of our early settlers were sober 
and law-abiding, it was inevitable that some lawlessness 
should prevail in the formative period of a community such 
as this in which I grew to manhood. Disputed pre-emption 
claims and other conflicts of interest led to feuds between 
individuals and families, in the settlement of which personal 
prowess and the bowie-knife or rifle were too often appealed 
to instead of argument or arbitration or reason and law. 

In partial extenuation of these brutal combats it must be 
said that they usually were open fights without unfair ad 
vantage; in fact, in all the earlier bloody history of Marshall 
County I knew of but a single instance where one man shot 
and killed another from ambush. I witnessed a number of 
these affairs, as they often took place in the streets of my 
native village, where the county and district courts were 
held, and where from far and near the people came to po 
litical conventions, or to vote on election days, or to take 
part in the annual muster of the militia. During the after 
noon of one election contest in which excitement ran high 
I saw a half-dozen different combats, while fully as many 
more, as I afterward learned, took place beyong my field of 
vision. 

The business center of our village was confined to a single 
street, on either side of which for some two hundred yards 

30 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the stores and shops were located. One of these stores, 
with a roof that sloped away from the street, the comb or 
highest portion of which was parallel with the edge of the 
sidewalk, was a favorite rendezvous for our crowd of boys, 
who never willingly missed those exciting scenes. Upon 
one pretext or another we would manage to get away from 
home and climb to our gallery on Kinzler s grocery. This 
point of vantage not only gave us a commanding view of 
the street, but it possessed another attractive feature, for 
we could peep over the edge and see all that was going on 
with nothing but our eyes and the tops of our heads in 
danger. Whenever a gun was pointed our way, or a badly 
aimed stone or stick flew too high, we had only to slide back 
a few inches and duck our heads to be safe until the gun 
went of or the missile had passed on. The casualties on one 
occasion included one man killed and a large number laid 
up for repairs. 

Another personal encounter that came under my observa 
tion was a fight between two men, for each of whom even as 
a small boy I had formed a warm friendship. Passing along 
the sidewalk on an errand to my father s office, I came upon 
my two friends in excited conversation standing on a plat 
form or open porch which served as entrance to a candy- 
shop where I was a frequent visitor. As I stood within 
a few feet of them the proprietor of the shop, a very small 
but wiry man, stepped back quickly, drew a single-barreled 
pistol from his pocket, and pointed it at the other larger 
man, saying, "If you take a step toward me I ll kill you." 
The big man did not advance. He said, "I am unarmed; 
but if you ll wait I ll be right back, and we ll settle it." 
With this he hurried across the street to a dry-goods store 
and asked the merchant for the loan of a pistol, which was 

31 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

refused. He then picked up an ax, which he held in his 
right hand. With the other he seized the top of a wooden 
packing-box, and holding this in front of his chest and 
abdomen as a Kaffir would hold his pavise, or rawhide shield, 
to ward off a thrust from an assagai, he walked straight 
toward his adversary. 

Meanwhile the small man was standing at the edge of 
the platform, pistol in hand, and pointing now directly at 
the big miller, who was advancing at a fast walk. The 
one thing which made the most vivid impression on my 
mind of what happened here was the self-cocking feature 
of the pistol. As the man pulled the trigger I saw distinct 
ly the hammer rise just before the flash and noise of the 
explosion. I had never before seen a " self -cocker." My 
big friend interposed the box-top, through which the bullet 
passed before it buried itself in the muscles of his broad 
chest, where it remained many years, to the day of his 
death. As it struck him he staggered back with the ax 
slightly raised, whereupon the other fighter hit him a stun 
ning blow with the heavy barrel of the empty pistol. By 
this time some other men had come up and separated the 
combatants. 

This pioneer settlement was about as active and violent 
in matters of religion as in the occasional settlement "out 
side the law" of personal differences. Of the various sects 
the Baptists and the Methodists were aboutoequally divided 
these two outnumbering all the rest. I do not think there 
was a single Catholic in our community, and only one 
family of Episcopalians, while our immediate family fur 
nished the Presbyterian contingent. 

When my father founded the present village of Gunters- 
ville he gave a spacious lot to each sect, to be deeded 

32 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

when a house of worship was erected ; but up to the break 
ing out of the Civil War, in 1861, there was not a single 
church edifice in the town. The school-house, the court 
house, and later the large Masonic Hall were used for 
Sunday services. Our preachers were all " circuit riders," 
and occupied the pulpit in turn, all the sects attending to 
swell the congregation. There was Sunday-school from ten 
to eleven o clock in the morning, preaching from eleven to 
twelve, and again by candlelight, to which each family 
contributed a candle and a sconce, or holder, which was 
fastened to the wall. 

The Baptists were spoken of as the "Hardshell" and 
"Foot-washing" sects, and were believers in total immer 
sion; and the congregations of this particular church cele 
brated once or twice a year the ceremony of foot-washing. 
The creeks or the Tennessee River furnished holes deep 
enough for immersion, which usually took place in warm 
weather, while a piggin of water and a towel served the 
parson or assistants who performed the foot-washing rite. 

At certain times, usually in the late summer months, in 
the periods of comparative leisure in a farming community 
after the crops were "laid by" and before "gathering-time," 
would be held what were called "protracted meetings" or 
"revivals." When the attendance proved too large for the 
meeting-house the congregation would move out under the 
shade-trees; or more frequently great arbors made of the 
branches of thick-leaved trees would be hastily constructed. 
The negroes spoke of these as "Bresh-Harbor" revivals. 

The "circuit-riders," so called because they were desig 
nated to preach in a circuit of several counties, traveled 
their rounds on horseback, as the roads were new, ill kept, 
and often impassable to any kind of vehicle except the 

33 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

crude, heavy wagons drawn by oxen. At these protracted 
gatherings the exercises lasted three or four days, and when 
the excitement ran high a longer time was utilized until 
the supply of "mourners" and "converts" was exhausted. 

The assistants to the leading clergymen were known as 
"exhorters," selected, it seemed to me, on account of their 
cleverness in appealing to the emotional qualities of their 
hearers. Most of them had good voices, and at certain 
periods in their exhortations to all who had not been con 
verted to come up to the mourners bench, confess their 
sins, and be saved, they would at the psychological moment 
break forth in some one of the many revival songs which 
rarely failed to fire the train of religious fervor or hysteria 
which the preacher s sermon and his own preliminary ex 
hortation had prepared for explosion. 

Of one of these songs I recall a verse or two : 

Jesus my all to heaven is gone; 

Glory halleluiah! 
Him whom I fix my hopes upon; 

Glory halleluiah! 

His track I see and I ll pursue; 

Glory halleluiah! 
If you get there before I do, 
Tell all my friends I m coming, too; 

Glory halleluiah! 

And so on for a number of stanzas. When the song be 
gan he would leave the place in front of the pulpit, where 
he had been standing, and rush along the aisles, shaking 
hands vigorously right and left with all in reach, and call 
ing them by name as "my brother" or "my sister" there 
being as a rule about three sisters to one brother. There 
was a very large lady in our village easily moved to tears 

34 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and hysterical sobbing, who usually gave way first and, 
like Abou ben Adhem, led all the rest. By the time the 
sermon was over she was about ready for the outburst, 
and when the exhorter broke loose with his "Glory halle 
luiah" song she would clap her hands violently together 
with a resounding smack, sway her body back and forth, 
and scream out at the top of her high-pitched voice: "Bless 
the Lord ! Bless the Lord ! Oh, my Jesus !" And with this 
she would follow on the trail of the exhorter, crying out to 
her two sons, about eighteen and twenty-two respectively, 
to "Come to Jesus." These young men, knowing their 
mother s weakness, found it convenient to sit near the door 
or an open window, through which a quick exit was pos 
sible when she began a rush for them. 

I remember on one occasion one of the boys reached the 
door and escaped, and the dear old lady cut the other off 
from that exit only to see him leap through a window 
at least six feet from the ground. With twenty or thirty 
mourners kneeling before the parallelogram of benches ar 
ranged for them just in front of the pulpit, many of these 
sobbing, the exhorters singing and shaking hands in and out 
among the congregation, and a half-dozen hysterical women 
shouting as loud as they could scream, confusion reigned. 
There was one young man whose fondness for alcohol caused 
him to fall from grace with recurring regularity, and his way 
of restoring himself to divine favor was to confess his errors 
at these revivals and ask to be taken back in the fold. He 
immortalized himself with the smaller boys in our neighbor 
hood by breaking out on one occasion in an ecstasy of song 
which, as far as I knew, was entirely original. As the ex 
horter was on his rounds, Jasper leaped from his seat, grasp 
ed him by both hands, and, jumping up and down, not un- 

35 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

like the movements of a turkey-gobbler in the early spring, 
chanted : 

The devil is dead, and I am glad; 

Glory halleluiah! 
He ain t got the soul he thought he had; 

Glory halleluiah! 

My parents, being Presbyterians, did not wholly approve 
of these excitable religious demonstrations, and I did not 
attend as many as I should have liked. Their minister, who 
always stayed at our house, did not reach us in his circuit 
oftener than once in four or five weeks, and the intervening 
Sundays I spent in familiarizing myself with the Westmin 
ster Confession of Faith, the religious section of the New 
York Observer, and Alexander s Sermons, one of which I 
was called upon to stand up before the family and read aloud. 
How long each one of these effusions of the good old Prince 
ton theologian seemed! Visiting in 19 13, in one of the pri 
vate rooms of the Polyclinic Hospital, a grandson of their 
author, himself eminent in the affairs of the metropolis, I 
was answered with a smile when I told him I rejoiced at 
last to have an opportunity of taking revenge on the family 
for the wrongs I had suffered at the hands of his grand 
father. 



VII 

THE ARISTOCRACY OF THE OLD SOUTH 

IT would be difficult to imagine a society more cultured, 
hospitable, and delightful, more in harmony with that defi 
nition of gentlefolk as " those whose rule of conduct is 
consideration for others," than that to which, thanks to 
my mother, I found admission in the community of Hunts- 
ville in the days of the old regime. This may savor of 
exaggeration or prejudice, or perhaps of conceit; but in 
the larger view which has come from reading and travel, 
and an association of more than forty years with many of 
the noblest and best of the metropolis, nothing like it has 
come to my knowledge. Such a society was possible only 
with the institution of slavery; and when slavery ended it 
ended never again to be reproduced. The people composing 
this society were almost wholly descended from the cav 
aliers of Virginia, many of the earlier settlers coming di 
rectly from the tide-water section of the Old Dominion; 
others indirectly, from Kentucky and Tennessee and North 
Carolina countries which were stocked by the Virginia 
overflow. 

In the spirit of adventure, and with the wealth in slaves 
inherited from their fathers, these hardy scions of a noble 
race passed over the mountains, pre-empted the rich valley 
of the Tennessee, and established there a New Virginia. 
Twelve miles north of the Tennessee River, in the upper 

37 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

reaches of a rich agricultural section, where the spurs of the 
Appalachian range begin to hem it in from the north, at the 
base of a picturesque limestone cliff, there gushes from the 
earth a spring of crystal water. It is of such volume and 
force that it sets in motion the powerful machinery which 
carries unlimited luxury into every home. Upon the sum 
mit of the bluff which overlooks this marvelous spring and 
the far-reaching valley through which the silvery stream 
flows toward the great river, one of those restless pioneers, 
John Hunt by name, built his cabin of cedar logs in 1806 
and claimed the region roundabout. There was no Ala 
bama then only Indians and wilderness. The area which 
now forms the states of Alabama and Mississippi was 
ceded in 1802 by Georgia to the United States. The fact 
that the Cherokee Indians had lived there from time be 
yond the memory of man and still claimed the land did not 
matter to John Hunt. He was friendly with the aborigines, 
and sent his Calebs and Joshuas back to civilization to 
spread the news of the rich Canaan, and others just as hardy 
and just as hungry for land joined him. The discreet 
Cherokees, children of the great Sequoyah, wisest of all the 
Indian tribes, realizing that the better part of valor was 
discretion, and seeing that the white man was surely crowd 
ing him out, ceded in 1819, for a price, all their claims north 
of the Tennessee River, and in the same year Congress 
made of Alabama a sovereign state. 

Huntsville had not waited for this. Indians or no In 
dians, it was a town already, having incorporated itself in 
1811 ; and in 1812, the year that our second war began with 
England, when Napoleon s Grand Army was freezing to 
death in Russia, and one year before the great Tecumseh 
passed along the Creek Path in sight of these settlers log 

38 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

defenses and made those speeches which stirred the red 
men to the massacre of Fort Mims and to other bloody 
deeds, Huntsville was publishing The Madison Gazette, the 
first newspaper printed within the limits of the present state. 
The first sessions of the legislature were held here, and 
but for its location in the extreme northern end of the state 
it would without doubt have been the permanent capital. 
It remained, however, the political capital and the social 
and commercial center of one of the most enterprising and 
productive agricultural communities in the New World. 
For more than a hundred miles in all directions the rich 
owners of vast estates whose work was done by slaves, and 
the humbler settlers who came in covered wagons and cleared 
their small farms and tilled them with their own hands, 
everybody, except the outlaws and the rowdies, who haunt 
ed the wilderness for refuge, made of Huntsville even in 
these earlier days the Mecca toward which all eyes were 
turned. The wealthier people built their homes and churches 
here, established in 1812 the famous Greene Academy, a 
college-preparatory school, whence to La Grange College, or 
Henry and Emory, or William and Mary, or the University 
of Virginia, or Princeton, or elsewhere in the then far-away 
world their sons went for their finishing studies. The 
Huntsville Seminary (Presbyterian), where my mother and 
her daughters were educated, and the equally famous and 
popular Female College (Methodist), were other institutions 
of learning which won for this beautiful city the well- 
deserved name of the " Athens of the South." The country 
was so new, the atmosphere and environment so inspiring to 
endeavor, that, instead of yielding to the softening influences 
of wealth and the luxury which the institution of slavery 
implied, the men of this period turned their attention to 

39 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

active pursuits, to the excitement of politics, to manufac 
turing and commercial enterprises, and to public improve 
ments. Theirs was the first cotton factory in the state, 
and probably in the far South, established in 1832, the ma 
chinery being run by the water-power of Flint River. The 
magnificent macadamized roads, which stand to-day as 
models of highway construction, were built by them while 
yet the crack of the Indian s rifle was heard in the near-by 
brakes. 

In this delightful society, through years of peace and 
prosperity and happiness, my mother had lived from in 
fancy to the fullness of a noble womanhood; hither came 
Louis Wyeth, a young lawyer, just turned of twenty-seven, 
and already appointed by the state legislature judge of 
the new county of Marshall, carved out of the Cherokee 
country, and lately opened for settlement. Thence went this 
man and woman, whom God had joined and nothing but 
death could part, to their new home in the wild and sparsely 
settled region to the south, from which as yet the Indians had 
not wholly departed. John Allan, her father, had graduated 
from the University of Georgia in 1807. In addition to the 
Greek and Latin classics ; he had mastered the French lan 
guage, and, supplementing his college course with another 
in theology, he made himself familiar with Hebrew litera 
ture. Having been admitted to the ministry, and having 
married the daughter of a soldier, who in recognition of his 
services in the war for independence had been granted a 
rich estate in the blue-grass region of Tennessee, he accepted 
the call to the Presbyterian church in Huntsville. From 
the pulpit, and in his professorship of the classics in the 
Greene Academy, he became a power for good, and died 
at his post, universally beloved and lamented. 

40 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Naturally, the home of such a family as his became a 
center of the refinement and culture of the community, a 
rally ing-point of the remarkable group of men and women, 
many of whom as they grew to maturity found high places 
in the esteem of mankind and later wrote their names in 
history. First of all, as the memory of these earlier days 
flashes through my mind, there comes a woman, the girlhood 
and lifelong friend of my mother, Virginia Tunstall, de 
scended as were almost all of them from the cavaliers; 
later to be more widely known as the brilliant leader of 
society at the national capital in the decade that preceded 
the tragedy of 1861-65, as the w ^ e f Senator Clement C. 
Clay, Jr. The story of that unique period is known to all 
readers of our native literature in a most fascinating book 
by Mrs. Clay, A Belle of the Fifties. Still holding, in 1914, 
the sway she could not relinquish if she would, the sole 
survivor of the brilliant throng of whom I write, one can 
fitly apply to her that unsurpassed compliment of Shake 
speare to womanhood: 

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale 
Her infinite variety. 

The Clays all came from Virginia. The famous orator 
was from Ashland, near Richmond, and I have always felt 
a touch of pride that my kinsman, George Wythe, discov 
ered Henry Clay, educated him, and trained him in the 
law. Clement C. Clay, the elder, from Halifax, in the Old 
Dominion, came to Huntsville in 1811, served many terms 
in the legislature, and was governor and United States 
Senator. Clement C. Clay, Jr., his son, "to the manner 
born and native here," with his university degree, succeeded 
his father in the United States Senate, and was the first 
4 41. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Senator elected from Alabama to the Southern Confeder 
acy. His history, even down to the long and wearisome 
and unjust persecution of imprisonment in Fortress Monroe, 
is known to all. The record stands without a stain. And 
here Jere Clemens, lawyer, legislator, soldier of the Mexican 
War, Senator of the United States, and, beyond all such 
ordinary distinction to my youthful mind, author of Ber 
nard Lite, Mustang Gray, and The Rivals; or, the Days of 
Burr and Hamilton. How many a tallow candle that I helped 
my mother mold have I seen melt away as I read and re 
read these "romances, couched in gorgeous diction and 
abounding in thrilling episode," when I should have been 
absorbed in the brain-racking exercises of algebra or geom 
etry! A college man of La Grange and the State Univer 
sity, handsome of feature and proud of carriage, no won 
der the maidens of the land fell victims to his charms. 
Virginia Tunstall was not alone in the list of young girls 
whose hearts beat faster at first sight of this "Romeo of 
Madison County." 

Let her tell it in her own inimitable way : 1 
"It was to my Uncle Tom that I owe the one love sorrow 
of my life. It was an affair of the greatest intensity while 
it endured, and was attended by the utmost anguish for 
some twelve or fourteen hours. During that space of time 
I endured all the hopes and fears, the yearnings and de 
spairs, to which the human heart is victim. I was nearing 
the age of fifteen when my uncle one evening bade me put 
on my prettiest frock and accompany him to the home of a 
friend, where a dance was to be given. I was dressed with 
all the alacrity my old mammy was capable of summoning, 
and was soon ensconced in the carriage and on my way to 

1 A Belle of the Fifties, Doubleday, Page & Co., 1904. 
42 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the hospitable scene. En route we stopped at the hotel, 
where my uncle alighted, reappearing in a moment with a 
very handsome young man, who entered the carriage with 
him and drove with us to the house where he, too, was to 
be a guest. 

"Never had my eyes beheld so pleasing a masculine 
wonder! He was the personification of manly beauty! 
His head was shapely as Tasso s (in after life I often heard 
the comparison made), and in his eyes there burned a ro 
mantic fire that enslaved me from the moment their gaze 
rested upon me. At their warmth all the ardor, all the ideals 
upon which a romantic heart had fed, rose in recognition 
of their realization in him. During the evening he paid me 
some pretty compliments, remarking upon my hazel eyes 
and the gleam of gold in my hair, and he touched my curls 
admiringly, as if they were revered by him. 

"My head swam! Lohengrin never dazzled Elsa more 
completely than did this knight of the poet s head charm 
the maiden that was I. We danced together frequently 
throughout the evening, and my hero rendered me every 
attention a kind man may offer to the little daughter of a 
valued friend. When at last we stepped into the carriage 
and turned homeward the whole world was changed for 
me. 

"My first apprehension of approaching sorrow came as 
we neared the hotel. To my surprise, the knight was will 
ing, nay, desired to be set down there. A dark suspicion 
crept into my mind that perhaps, after all, my hero might 
be less gallant than I had supposed, else why did he not 
seek this opportunity of riding home with me? If this 
wonderful emotion that possessed me also had actuated 
him and how could I doubt it after his devotion through- 

43 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

out the evening? how could he bear to part from me in 
this way without a single word or look of tenderness? 

"As the door closed behind him I leaned back in the dark 
est corner of the carriage and thought hard, though not 
hardly, of him. After a little my uncle roused me by say 
ing, Did my little daughter enjoy this evening? I re 
sponded enthusiastically. 

" And was I not kind to provide you with such a gallant 
cavalier? Isn t Colonel Jere Clemens a handsome man? 

"Ah, was he not? My full heart sang out his praises 
with an unmistakable note. My uncle listened sympa 
thetically; then he continued, Yes; he s a fine fellow, Vir 
ginia, and he has a nice little wife and baby. 

"No thunderbolt ever fell more crushingly upon the un 
suspecting than did these awful words from the lips of my 
uncle. I know not how I reached my room, but, once there, 
I wept passionately throughout the night and much of the 
following morning. Within my own heart I accused my 
erstwhile hero of the rankest perfidy, of villainy of every 
imaginable quality; and in this recoil of injured pride 
perished my first love dream, vanished [the heroic wrap 
pings of my quondam knight!" 

With all his charm of manner and handsome face, this 
gifted man fell short of his opportunities. The judgment of 
Jacob upon his first-born son might well apply to him! 
"Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel." Although a 
member of the Secession Convention, signing the ordinance 
which carried his native state into the Southern Confed 
eracy, and accepting the chief command of all the Alabama 
forces when hostilities were declared, he resigned later, and 
when the armies of the North occupied Huntsville he went 

44 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

over, "foot, baggage, and artillery," to those making savage 
war upon the people among whom he was born and reared 
and to whom he owed the distinction that had been accorded 
to him. His kinsman, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), 
joined the Confederate cavalry as a lieutenant, and de 
serted, as did Henry M. Stanley, the noted explorer. 

From Virginia also came John W. Walker, a Princeton 
graduate, and the first United States Senator from Ala 
bama, and his two sons, Richard and Pope, born in Hunts- 
ville and schooled at Greene Academy and at the Univer 
sity of Virginia and at Princeton; the former a Confederate 
State Senator, the latter the first Secretary of War in the 
Confederate cabinet. Gabriel Moore, lawyer, governor, 
Congressman, United States Senator, and James G. Birney 
were Huntsville men. The latter, with my mother s father, 
John Allan, organized the first "Society for the Emancipa 
tion of Slavery" in Alabama, published a newspaper found 
ed to advocate the cause of abolition, and was the nominee 
on this ticket in 1840, and again in 1844, for the Presidency 
of the United States. 

Also came hither Reuben Chapman, of Caroline County, 
Virginia, lawyer, legislator, governor, and Congressman. I 
remember my father reading to me a letter from this famous 
politician, asking his advice as to whether or not he could 
safely vote for an appropriation then before Congress for 
a certain sum of money to construct an experimental tele 
graph line from Washington City to Baltimore. My father 
advised him to vote for it by all means, but added, "You 
need not hope to be re-elected if you do." 

Dr. Henry Chambers, from the Old Dominion, the only 
member of the medical profession ever elected to the Senate 
of the United States from Alabama, was a practising physi- 

45 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

cian here. James White McClung, the brilliant and dissi 
pated orator; William Smith, who was offered and declined 
an associate-justiceship in the Supreme Court of the United 
States ; Silas Parsons, of the state Supreme Court ; Colonel 
Robert and Dr. Thomas L. Fearn, the Erskines, Mastins, 
Popes, Coles, Brandons, Facklers, Donegans, Lanes, Acklens, 
Garths, Irbys, Russells, Newmans, Mathewses, Leftwicks, 
Calhouns, Phelans, Beirnes, Hales, Weedons, and Pattons, 
and many others were of this extraordinary community of 
pioneers in which my parents moved. The list would not 
be complete did I not mention Robert C. Brickell, the 
famous chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and his 
associate in law, Septimus D. Cabaniss; also Peter M. Dox 
and Wm. M. Lowe, members of Congress, each of whom was 
bound to my father by the ties of personal friendship. 

Into this community I made my first entrance when I 
was nine years old. I had learned the story of Aladdin, 
and now I felt as if his lamp was mine. Born in a log cabin 
and reared in the country of the Cherokees, as yet little more 
than a wilderness, I knew nothing of the outer world except 
what I had gathered from conversation with my parents. 
The sun which rose over the high mountains an hour s walk 
from our home, and went down behind the range which 
shut in our beautiful valley on the west, measured the 
limits of my horizon. The near-by hills and valleys and 
streams and woods made up my world. I knew the trees 
in the forests and the animals and birds, wild and tame, 
before I knew the names of the human beings coming in 
ever-increasing numbers into the newly opened territory. 

My father made frequent journeys away on errands con 
nected with his law practice, and every year my mother made 
a visit of a few weeks to her old home and girlhood friends 

46 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in Huntsville, and this time I was to go with her. We took 
the steamboat Lookout, which puffed and whistled and 
churned the water into huge waves that went surging from 
underneath the great stern wheel, which turned over so 
fast and made such a mighty splashing. Captain Matt 
Todd, whose boat it was, took me on the roof he called 
it the "hurricane-deck" and held me as I leaned over to 
watch the water fly from the strokes of the paddles, or 
"buckets," and then into the pilot-house, where the man 
at a smaller wheel turned it one way and then another, 
always busy and watchful, as our boat plowed between great 
rocks that we could see down below the surface, or sunken 
logs or "sawyers" (loose, half-submerged logs), or swept 
around a bend in the beautiful river. Great cliffs of stone, 
with cedars clinging to the fissures in the rock, rose up on 
one or the other side so high at times I wondered if any 
body ever climbed to the top. 

On we went, by great plantations of corn and cotton; and 
every now and then the deafening whistle blew, and the big 
bell rang, and the noisy wheel stopped as we swung around 
bow up-stream and tied to the bank to take on or put off 
travelers and freight. At the mouth of Flint River, where 
the shoals were bad, the good Lookout went aground, and 
a great rope hawser had to be taken ashore and fastened 
by one end to a big tree while the other was wound around 
the capstan until our boat was pulled back into the channel. 

From Whitesburg Landing we drove the twelve miles to 
Huntsville in a stage-coach. The road was so wide and 
white and hard I wondered if it was the same kind of earth 
we were used to. No dust, no stumps for the wheels to 
bump over, no loose rocks, and no mud-holes. Then my 
mother told me of a Mr. McAdam, who taught people how 

47 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to build good roads of crushed stone, and how "her people" 
had learned to do this long ago. Near sundown we climbed 
a high hill, and from the top of this I saw ever so many 
houses clustered together, and one with a great round dome 
high above the others, and farther on a steeple even higher 
still. They told me one was the court-house and the 
other, my mother said, was her father s church. We had 
no court-house where we lived, and up to this moment I 
had never seen a church. There were preachers at times in 
Marshall, "circuit-riders" who came to our village every 
once in a while, usually on horseback, with their sermons 
and belongings in a pair of saddle-bags, preached and held 
"revivals" in our log school-house, and in summer-time 
under brush arbors. 

Somewhere, in a street with great houses stretching away 
on both sides as far as I could see, our stage stopped, and 
we got out. I remember the high iron fence, and the gate 
that opened into the park-like yard, and the smoothly mown 
blue grass, and ever so many shade- trees on either side of 
the long brick walk which led up to the mansion. The 
servants took our luggage, and Colonel Fearn and his dear 
wife came out to welcome my mother. They called her 
by her school-girl name, and she spoke to them as "Robert" 
and "Mary," for they had grown up together. Even 
Caledonia, the seamstress, who had been lady s-maid to her 
young mistress in their younger days, courtesied and took 
my mother s hand as she said, "Howdy, Miss Phemie." 
I wondered why Carter (I can t spell it as Colonel Fearn 
pronounced it, for he had the tide- water accent), the butler, 
wore a red waistcoat and a blue coat with shiny brass 
buttons; and I was told that was his livery. The wide 
front portico was nearly as large as all of our little house at 

48 




A HUNTSVILLE MANSION OF THE EARLY DAYS 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

home, and the great white columns went up two stories to 
the roof; and inside there was a maze of rooms and wind 
ing stairs and strange, old-fashioned furniture bureaus and 
tables, and beds with long posts which reached to near the 
ceiling, and had tops or testers, with curtains on the sides. 
How strange it all was, and a lonesome feeling came over 
me, and I wanted to go back home! 

I remember vividly that when we went to the supper- 
table I saw for the first time a silver fork, and it felt so awk 
ward as I tried to eat with it that I boldly asked Colonel 
Fearn if I couldn t have "a sure-enough fork instead of a 
split-spoon." He laughed louder than I thought he ought 
to as he said: Carter, go to the kitchen and bring that 
child another fork." 

Another great surprise was in store for me when I dis 
covered up in our room that there were pipes which carried 
cold and hot water, and that we didn t have to go to the 
spring with a bucket and bring it in by hand. I learned 
later that there were hydrants on the corners of all the 
streets, and I soon learned that by pushing down on the 
handle and slipping a pebble above it I could keep the clear 
stream flowing until the gutter was as full as the spring 
branch at home; and one day a rude policeman took the 
pebble out and stopped the water from wasting, with a 
threat to arrest me if I did it again. But the greatest sur 
prise was in store for me when I saw what I was told was 
gas-light ; no wick or candle or lamp, just light ; and there 
was nothing to do but to turn a brass key and strike a 
match. What a wonderful new world all this was to a boy 
of nine years who had never before been out of sight of his 
home in the backwoods! 

I shall never forget those Huntsville gardens and the 

49 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

beautiful flowers. These we had at our home; for my 
mother watched and cared for her rose-bushes and flower 
beds with her own hand, and, as I was always with her, I had 
learned their names ; but here the grounds were very large, 
and this garden was laid out like a big Chinese puzzle. 
There were tiny paths that led in all directions, with dense 
rows of box along the edges, and the beds were grouped in 
all sorts of fantastic shapes, and down at one end stood a 
small house all of glass windows where they put things away 
in cold weather to keep the frost from killing them. Farther 
away was the vegetable garden, for there were no market- 
houses in those early days, and every home provided for 
itself; and back of this, opening on an alleyway which 
cut the block in two, were the spacious stables for the milk- 
cows, horses, and carriages. 

As we entered the church the next Sunday morning I 
found myself in the largest room I had ever been in, with 
row after row of benches enough, it seemed to me then, to 
seat all the people in Marshall County. On the high wall 
at the end where the preacher stood was a tablet, and in big 
letters was written my grandfather s name, and when he 
was installed as pastor, and the date of his death. When 
the minister said the prayer I started to kneel down as we 
did when my father had family prayers at home, but here 
they all stood up to pray. What was just as strange as 
this was the way he gave out the hymn, which he read verse 
after verse all through before any one began to sing. At 
our "meetings" the preacher alone had a hymn-book, and 
he gave out only two lines at a time, which was as much 
as he thought the congregation could remember, and then 
when they had sung these he would go on with more until 
the whole hymn was finished. 

50 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When the Huntsville minister read the last verse, a half- 
dozen young people stood up over in the corner of the church, 
and as they began to sing there sounded with their voices 
the soft, low tones of some to me strange instrument 
(the organ), and such heavenly harmonies as I had never 
dreamed were in the world. No wonder my mother loved 
to come to Huntsville, and no wonder I looked forward 
after this first visit to the many I was to make, and did 
make, in the years which followed, until I felt at home, and 
knew by face and name all of these delightful people, the 
like of whom I shall not look upon again. 

Their "literary circles," the yearly college commence 
ments" in which they took such justifiable pride, and, above 
all, as I grew older and better able to appreciate them, the 
great political debates in which the foremost men of that 
period figured in the tournaments of oratory, were among 
the great attractions to this exceptional community. It 
was here, in 1859 or 1860, in the shade of a beautiful grove 
of oaks, where thousands of people were gathered, I sat 
for four hours and had no thought of the lapse of time as 
I listened to the fiery argument in favor of secession by 
William L. Yancey, then famous as one of the greatest po 
litical orators of our country. 



VIII 

THE NEGRO AND SLAVERY IN THE OLD SOUTH 

THE negro of the South in the days of slavery so little 
resembles the "colored citizens" of half a century later 
that we of the earlier period scarcely recognize in him the 
descendant of those of his race with whom we were once 
so happily associated. The charm of manner, the pride of 
family the "quality," as they so aptly termed it the sen 
timent of loyalty, affection, and trust which characterized 
the relation between these faithful, patient, submissive, and 
happy creatures and the "white folks" in the "big house" 
is now only a memory. 

For nearly two hundred miles the fertile valley of the 
Tennessee, in which I was born and grew to manhood, was 
a succession of plantations tilled almost wholly by slaves. 
On some of these the owner lived and superintended in per 
son the laborers, while on others an overseer took charge 
for the master, whose home was in some center of culture, 
usually where there were schools or colleges which the chil 
dren attended. 

As child and boy I played and romped with the younger 
negroes belonging to my parents and neighbors; visited the 
various plantations, and knew intimately scores of this race 
living under the various conditions of slavery; and I know 
that with very rare exceptions the negroes were treated 
with great kindness and consideration. They were well 

52 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

fed, housed, and clothed, and when ill had the best avail 
able medical attendance. Had human sympathy been en 
tirely absent, the protection of valuable property would for 
selfish reasons have assured this fostering care. They were 
happy and contented, and proved their gratitude by an 
affectionate loyalty and an efficient and profitable service. 
To my mind, in no other way can there be explained that 
wonderful exhibition of devotion in those millions of slaves 
toiling away on the home plantations during the four years 
of the war which their absent owners were waging for their 
continued enslavement. And this notwithstanding the knowl 
edge which was general among them that the success of the 
Federal army meant for them freedom! 

As there were no white domestic servants in the South 
and no freed negroes in Alabama, since the law required 
that all emancipated slaves should be transported to a free 
state or exported to Liberia, my parents, both of whom 
favored emancipation, bought for house service two families 
of negroes, each consisting of the father and the mother and 
their children, some twelve or fifteen in all. They were as 
near being members of the family as was possible in the 
kindly relation of master and mistress and slave. When 
"Mack," our majordomo, was taken seriously ill, a room was 
given him, not in his own comfortable house, but in our 
residence, where we thought he could be more carefully 
watched. His wife, a woman of fine character, was a sec 
ond mother to us as children. We called her "Mammy," 
and when our own mother was not at hand we knew to 
whom to look for our needs. 

When in later unhappy years the war came on and I was 
about to mount my horse andjide away to take my place in 
the ranks, and said good-by to my mother and my father, 

53 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

I knew that back in the kitchen this devoted black woman 
was waiting for me to come to have her blessing; and there, 
with her arms around "the boy she had brought up" 
for I was not yet eighteen years old I had the only " crying- 
spell" of the parting scene. I said, "Mammy, the chances 
are you won t see me again, and I know you will take good 
care of all the folks at home." She said she would; and 
she was true to her word, even refusing, as did all of our 
slaves, to go away when the Union army occupied our sec 
tion and offered them their freedom from bondage. 

It was my father s custom to have family prayers, and 
the negro children were required to be present, the only dis 
tinction being that we sat on chairs and they had stools 
or small ottomans. Physical punishment was unknown 
except when the parents switched their own children for 
cause. I cannot imagine a more mutually satisfactory ar 
rangement than such servitude under such humane condi 
tions. There was a very great deal of this sort of relation 
ship in our section, and, as I believe, throughout the entire 
South. There was another side to the picture, however; 
for the system did allow of cruelty and inhumanity, and, 
though this was very rare, it could and did exist at times, 
and it was the knowledge of this fact that made so many 
of the best people of the South emancipationists. 

The number of slaves belonging to a single plantation 
varied in our section from ten to twenty-five or fifty, rarely 
exceeding one hundred. While I knew personally every 
slave-owner in our county and a great many of the slaves, 
it so happened that I spent more time and became more 
intimately acquainted with the management of the estab 
lishments belonging to my cousin, Mr. James A. Boyd, in 
Madison County, where I frequently visited, remaining for 

54 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

weeks at a time, and that of Dr. Sydney Harris, a retired 
physician who lived on and managed his own plantation 
near our village. His residence known in plantation par 
lance as "the big house" or "the white-folks house" 
made of smoothly hewn logs with chinking filling the inter 
stices, all painted in white, with large halls and passage 
ways, stood on a slight elevation or hillock, surrounded by a 
grove of oak and hickory trees, which almost hid it from view 
as one approached through the half-mile of open road which 
led from the front gate through the fields of cotton, corn, 
and grain. 

Beginning some seventy -five yards to the rear in the 
same grove, and arranged in two parallel rows, each with its 
spacious yard and vegetable garden, were ranged a dozen 
or more comfortable whitewashed log cabins of different 
sizes to accommodate the various families of slaves. Still 
farther back were the stables and the barns, the gin-house, 
the cotton-press, and the fields for pasturage. It was the 
duty of the head-man, the most trusted and capable of the 
slaves, to be up early to see that the work-animals were 
properly fed and curried; and at daybreak the horn blew, 
calling all hands to breakfast. By sunrise the plows and 
hoes were going, and kept busy until twelve noon, when a 
blast from the horn sounded the hour of rest and dinner; 
then back to the fields till sundown. 

There was no white overseer or slave-driver on this place. 
One of the negroes was in charge to see that each did his 
duty. On rainy days there was plenty of indoor employ 
ment, such as spinning and weaving, making or mending 
harness and shoes and repairing the wagons, for every big 
plantation had its blacksmith and carpenter shop, ran spin 
ning-wheels and looms, and made most of its clothing. When 

55 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the crops had been gathered, the winter supply of wood was 
cut and hauled in ; and the thousand and one odds and ends 
of keeping a great estate in order and in getting ready for 
the next crop were attended to. The physical and moral 
welfare of these slaves was carefully looked after by the 
good doctor and his gentle and cultured wife. 

After the work of the day was over, the negroes were re 
quired to remain on the place, and usually from fatigue and 
the necessity of rising early they were in bed an hour after 
dark. On Saturday nights singing and dancing were per 
mitted in the cabins, and, by special permission in writing, 
visits could be made to neighboring plantations. The con 
stable of each township or "beat" was the official patrol, 
and had authority to punish by arrest and whipping any 
negro slave found "after an hour by sun" away from his 
home without a written and signed "pass and repass." 
The form was : Pass the bearer to and from the plantation 
named between eight and twelve o clock to-night." (Dated 
and signed by the owner.) 

This precaution was taken to prevent vagrancy, to keep 
the laborers in good condition for work, and to guard against 
the possibility of conspiracy and insurrection. While the 
relations between the white people of the Tennessee Valley 
and the negroes were in every respect, as far as I was able 
to judge, kindly and mutually trustful, the Southern people 
had learned from the occasional outbreaks, and especially 
from the midnight massacre of women and children in the 
Southampton uprising in 1831, that watchfulness was as 
essential a guarantee of safety as kindliness. 1 

1 Nat Turner, the instigator and leader of the Southampton massacres, was 
the trusted head-man and overseer of his owner. The kindly relations of 
owner and slave were exemplified in his case. On the day of the night when 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The negroes of our section were so well behaved that 
punishment of any kind was almost unknown. I never 
heard of a negro being whipped by the patrol in our county, 
and knew of but a single instance where a rawhide was 
used in chastisement. A negro man who had done some 
injury to another received thirty-nine lashes on his naked 
back from the constable of our town, under an order of the 
court. With the enterprising curiosity of a boy, I climbed 
the jail-yard fence and witnessed this performance. The 
first half-dozen lashes were severe enough to cause the un 
happy victim to cry out, and after that only the form of the 
law was carried out. 

It was on the occasion of one of my earlier visits to the 
plantation of my cousin, Mr. James A. Boyd, in Madison 
County, that I first witnessed a "corn-shucking." In 
gathering the corn the ears were pulled from the stalks and 
piled in pens near the cribs. The negroes on one plantation 
were privileged to invite those of other places near by to 
come at dark on Saturday night. A bonfire was built at 
a safe distance, by the light of which the men and the women 
ranged themselves around the corn-piles and began to strip 
the shuck, or husk, from the ear, to the cadence of their 
African chants and weirdly melodious singing. One of the 
number, by reason of his greater accomplishments, took 
the part of leader, and from the top of the heap sang out 
or chanted a line of a verse often improvised. When he 



he began his murders he feigned illness, and the lady to whom he belonged 
cooked and carried to his cabin the food she thought would be best for a sick 
man. He repaid these kindly acts by slipping into their room at dead of night 
and knocking her husband and herself in the head with hatchet or ax and 
braining her baby against the fireplace. Details of this insurrection will be 
given in the chapter devoted to the movement for the abolition of slavery 
and the Harper s Ferry attempt at servile insurrection. 

5 57 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ceased, the chorus of from fifty to one hundred voices would 
take up the refrain and carry it in a strange and varying 
cadence of sounds without words, which typified joy or 
sorrow, or an emotion in full sympathy with the sentiment 
expressed by the leader. 

I can recall only a few of these lines, and wish I could 
transcribe the music. For instance, the leader would sing: 
"I m gwine away to leave you," and, as this was suggestive 
of the sadness of parting, the chorus would begin in a low 
moan, which, rising and falling, would for a minute or two 
be carried to the fullest tone, and then die away so grad 
ually one could scarcely say just when it ceased. Then the 
leader would chant in tones a little less tinged with sadness : 
"I m gwine to de happy islands!" And, as this suggested 
the consummation of a dream of rest, the chanting of the 
chorus was more cheeringly rendered. 

On these occasions extraordinary liberties were per 
missible, and not infrequently, as the white people of the 
premises were listening, the bold leader would by suggestion 
open the way for a holiday, or a barbecue, or a dance, or 
extra Christmas vacation, when they visited relatives and 
friends on other plantations. For example: 

Marster an Mistus lookin mighty fine 
Gwine to take a journey; gwine whar day gwine; 
Crab-grass a-dyin , red sun in de west 
Saturday s comin , nigger gwine to rest. 

And much more in this happy vein. Meanwhile every 
one was busy stripping corn, throwing the ears into the 
winter crib and packing the shucks in the rail pens. It 
took usually about three hours for the many hands to strip 
all the corn raised on the place, and then theie was a 

58 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

supper with all sorts of home-made edibles, especially 
pumpkin pies, sweet cakes, and persimmon beer, a refresh 
ing, unfermented beverage which the negroes made from 
this fruit. 

Among the articles of diet peculiar to the negroes on the 
great plantations were the "ash-cake," the "hoe-cake," and 
the "Johnny-cake." The two first named were made of 
corn-meal dough. For hoe-cake the dough was spread or 
"patted " thin on the smooth surface of a hoe and held close 
to the fire until it was cooked brown. The other was 
wrapped in corn-shucks, leaves, or brown-paper, and buried 
under the hot ashes and embers until it was well baked or 
roasted. The Johnny-cake was made of wheat-flour dough, 
with "shortenin" (some form of grease or fat) in it; and 
this, as with the hoe-cake, was spread thin on a hickory 
or an ash board and baked before the coals. Many a time 
I have shared these to me then delicious breads with my 
friends and playmates of another race. 

The real fun began with the dancing. The banjo and 
the fiddle made up the orchestra, and there were accom 
panists who "patted" with the hands, keeping accurate time 
with the music. In patting, the position was usually a half- 
stoop or forward bend, with a slap of one hand on the left 
knee followed by the same stroke and noise on the right, 
and then a loud slap of the two palms together. I should 
add that the left hand made two strokes in half-time to 
one for the right, something after the double stroke of the 
left drumstick in beating the kettle-drum. In rare in 
stances I have seen the triangle in these crude orchestras 
or trios, and have heard that before the triangle came into 
vogue the dried and resonant jaw-bone of the ox or horse 
was used this way, the sides being rhythmically struck with 

59 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

a rib. I have no doubt of this, for I learned from one of 
their songs, handed down by repetition, probably, from pre- 
American sires, these lines: 

Oh, de jaw-bone walk, 

And de jaw-bone talk, 

And de jaw-bone eat 

Wid a knife and fork: 

I laid my jaw-bone on de fence, 

And I hain t seed dat jaw-bone sence. 

When on these occasions the crowd was very large, they 
would divide and go to the cabins in smaller parties, or the 
big floor of the gin-house may have been selected. Strange 
to say, they did not relish dancing on the ground, in the 
manner of the American Indians; and I think this can be 
explained by the negroes instinctive love of rhythm, which 
the Indian does not seem to possess. The shuffle of the 
feet, in many instances unshod for in warm weather they 
would pull off their shoes to keep their feet cool could not 
be heard as distinctly on the ground as on a plank floor or 
a tight puncheon. 1 I have often seen them dance on the 
bottom of a wagon-bed, which made an excellent sounding- 
board. The dances were primitive and gave opportunity 
for great activity; and when two danced alone, whether of 
the same sex or not, the object seemed to be to determine 
which could outdo the other. As the "steps," or gyra 
tions and contortions, not only of the body and the legs, but 
of the arms and the hands, grew more violent and rapid, 

1 A puncheon was the flat surface of a split log, smoothed with an ax and 
pinned to the joists to make the floors of the rude cabins constructed before 
sawmills were introduced. Sometimes they became loose, and rocked or 
rattled when trod upon. When the negroes would dance a pas de deux, a tight 
puncheon was selected, and the two danced forward and back on this single 
slab. Hence the common expression, "Hunt your puncheon," when some 
thing fixed or solid or sure was desired. 

60 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the spectators would begin to pat and shout words of ap 
proval or kindly criticism, until at last one of the contes 
tants gave up and the victor was hailed as the "best man." 
At midnight the frolic ended, and the visitors returned to 
their several homes. 

The banjo was the real musical instrument of the South 
ern negroes, not the fancy silver or nickel rimmed article 
with frets seen now on the minstrel stage or in the 
shops, but a very crude device, which I believe to be of 
native origin, notwithstanding the name is said to be 
corrupted from the Spanish bandore. The most primitive 
instrument was made from a large gourd with a long, 
straight neck or handle, shaped like those of smaller growth, 
used commonly then for drinking - dippers. The bowl of 
the gourd was cut away on a plane level with the surface 
of the neck, the seed and contents removed, and over this, 
like a drumhead, a freshly tanned coonskin was stretched, 
fastened, and allowed to dry. The five strings of home 
made materials passing from the apron behind over a small 
bridge near the middle of the drumhead were attached to 
the keys in proper position on the neck. 

I learned to play upon a banjo which one of our slaves, 
who was a very good performer, helped me to make, when 
I was about eleven years old. The rim was made from the 
circle of a cheese-box. A calfskin soaked in lime solution, 
which removed the hair, was tacked while wet over one sur 
face of this, while the stem was carved from a suitable piece 
of soft poplar. I was extravagant enough to import four 
catgut strings and a wire bass, which excited no little curi 
osity, as they were the first ever seen by our negroes. To 
the uninitiated there would probably be some surprise at 
the quality of the music or harmony even if crude which 

61 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

could be produced by playing on this primitive instrument. 
11 Billy," my teacher, accompanied his various tunes with 
songs rendered with no ordinary skill at least, that was the 
verdict of his pupil. One of these "selections" was a great 
dancing-score entitled "Jimmie Rose," and no one with any 
love of music, or even an ordinary sense or appreciation of 
rhythm, could keep his feet still as Billy "waked to ecstasy," 
not "the living lyre," but our home-made banjo. 
The song was something in this strain : 

Jimmie Rose he went to town; 
Jimmie Rose he went to town; 
Jimmie Rose he went to town; 
To commodate de ladies. 

Fare ye well, ye ladies all; 
Fare ye well, ye ladies all; 
Fare ye well, ye ladies all; 
God Ermighty bless you. 

And so for an hour or more my instructor would continue 
with the exploits of his hero, Jimmie Rose, while the others 
in twos or fours danced away, "cutting the pigeon- wing, " 
"the back-step," "the double shuffle," and other steps which 
required not only a keen sense of keeping time with the 
music, but agility and muscular power of a high order. 

The real negro music as I knew it was, as one would ex 
pect, simple and crude, and quite unlike that which modern 
negro minstrelsy has made popular. One of the best-known 
"jig," or short-step, banjo and dance tunes was called 
"Juba." 

Juba dis and juba dat; 
Juba kill a yaller cat. 
Juba up and juba down; 
Juba runnin all aroun . 

62 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Ole Aunt Kate she bake de cake; 
She bake it hine de garden gate. 
She sift de meal, she gim me de dust, 
She bake de bread, she gim me de crust, 
She eat de meat, she gim me de skin, 
And dat s de way she tuck me in. 

Another piece much in vogue was: 

Sugar in de gourd; when you want to git it out, 
Way ter git de sugar out roll de gourd about. 

There was one old-time tune called "Johnny Booker," 
which I learned very early from the negroes, and I believe 
it to have originated with them. It had a swing and go to 
it which suited the banjo as played by the plantation negro 
that is, "over-hand," and not "guitar fashion," as almost 
all are taught now. 

I went down de back ob de fieP; 

A black-snake cotch me by de heel. 

I cut my dus , I run my best; 

Run my head in a hornet s nest. 
Oh! do, Mr. Booker, do; Oh, do, Johnny Booker, do; 
Oh do, Mr. Booker, Johnny Booker, Mr. Booker, Mr. Booker, Johnny 
Booker, do! 

Another popular song referred to the "patrol," which the 
negroes styled "patter-rollers": 

Run, nigger, run; patter-roller catch you; 
Run, nigger, run; it s almos day; 
Run, nigger, run; patter-roller catch you; 
Run, nigger, run; you d better git away. 
Dis nigger run; he run his best; 
Stuck his head in a hornet s nest. 
Jump d de fence and run frew de paster; 
White man run, but nigger run faster. 

There was an embellishment of this "star" selection which 
may be of interest. After playing the music of the chorus, 

63 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Billy would pause, lay the banjo across his knees, and speak 
in about this style, preluding his remark with one of those 
long-drawn-out grunts or weirdly intonated expressions 
of great surprise which only the African seems to enjoy: 
"Golly! folks; I went to see Miss Sal last Sat day night. 
Sal s a handsome gal, too, no ceptions to dat. I ain t more n 
had time to spress myself on de occasion when Sal say, 
Looky dar, Peet! Looky whar, Sal? Look at dat patter- 
roller peepin frew de crack! " Then a second long grunt 
or ejaculation of surprise. 

"Golly! chillun; dis yer nigger riz as quick as a nigger 
could convenient; jumped frew de winder, fell ober de 
wood-pile, knocked de wood into short sticks, an took down 
de road fas as my laigs could go, an de white man he tuk 
airter me, an* ebery jump I make de white man say" (then 
he would sing) : 

"Run, nigger, run, patter-roller ketch you," etc. 

"Sech a gittin up-stairs I nebber did see," and "Susanna, 
don t you cry," were also banjo tunes of more modern origin. 
I can recall only a single verse and the refrain of the latter: 

I jumped on board de telegraf, 

An floated down de ribber. 

De lectric fluid magnified 

An* killed five hundred nigger. 

Oh, Susanna, don t you cry for me, 

For I se down in Alabama wid de banjo on my knee. 



Still another: 



Ole Aunt Dinah she done got drunk; 
Fell in de fire; kicked up a chunk. 
De red-hot coals got in her shoe 
Good Lord! how de ashes flew! 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

"Nellie Gray," "Ole Dan Tucker," "Jordan am a Hard 
Road to Trabbel," "I se Gwine on Down to Lynchburg 
Town," and scores of other pieces of more modern produc 
tion were in vogue, and popular with the negroes. 

In addition to their love of melody they were fond of 
story-telling, and many a night I have slipped off to Mammy 
Tildy s cabin to sit by her at the kitchen hearth and listen 
to the weird stories of ghosts and other "skeery" things, 
until. I was afraid to go alone in the dark the very short dis 
tance between her door and the porch of our house. Joel 
Chandler Harris has done much to popularize the negro 
folk-lore stories, but I do not recall that he dwelt upon the 
pantomime accompaniment which was a part of some of 
these dramatic recitals. 

By way of illustration I will repeat a story which I learned 
from a very superior member of his race, a coal-black negro 
with clear-cut features after the type of physiognomy of the 
African East Coast. "Uncle Henry Moore" was one whose 
ability and character obtained for him the confidence of his 
master and of the entire community, and, with the excep 
tion of the franchise, he was granted about every privilege 
that the ruling whites enjoyed; with all of which, together 
with freedom from responsibility and taxes, he should have 
been, and I believe was, a happy and contented being. He 
did not even require a "pass" at night, and he could come 
and go at all hours without molestation. He was a frequent 
visitor with our servants, and I never tired of listening to 
him. This is one of his stories, entitled, "Uncle Efra m and 
de Lord": 

"Ole Marster come along down de quarter one dark night, 
and dess as he was passin Uncle Efra m s cabin he heered 
de ole man a-prayin so loud and so e rnes -like, he dess say 

65 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to hisself : Tse gwine ter stop and listen ter what Efra m s 
a-sayinV So he walk up on hes tiptoe an* put his eye ter 
a hole in de chinkin , an dar was Efra m down on hes knees 
a-prayin and a-supplicatin to de good Lord, an he say 
an ole Marster he heared ever word he say Lord, 
hear de pra r ob old Uncle Efra m, for he tired o livin in dis 
yer worl whar de grass grow so fas and de sun shine so 
hot, and de nigger do all de wu k, and ole Marster he dess set 
aroun* in de shade; and O Lord, come down and take 
Uncle Efra m inter Abraham s bosom, whar dar ain t no 
grass a-growin an de sun don t shine like a bresh-heap 
a-burnin . Yes, Lord, come down right now! 

"An when old Marster hear dat he say to hisself, I gwine 
ter try Uncle Efra m ; an so he knock free times wid de 
butt en ob his walkin -stick on de side ob de cabin, and 
when Efra m hear de knockin he stop a-prayin , an he say, 
Who dat knockin ? An ole Marster he dess change hes 
voice, an he say pow ful slow, It s de Lord come down to 
answer Efra m s pra r! An de ole nigger was dat skeered 
he didn t know whether he los his hearin or not, an* he 
holler out loud, Who s dat you say you is ? An ole Marster 
he say ag in, It s de Lord come down to take Efra m to 
Abraham s bosom ; and by dat time Efra m was a-shakin 
all over like he have a chill, an he say, a-tremblin , Look 
here, Lord; Efra m don t live her no mo he done move 
away! " 

All through this recital Uncle Henry s voice would be 
modulated to suit the meaning he wished to convey, and 
every gesture and movement was in sympathy with the 
text. He would kneel down to show how Ephraim prayed, 
and then get up and walk to the door, open it, lean outside, 
knock three times on the wall, and then imitate from with- 

66 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

out in the dark the voice of the Lord. By this time the 
children in the half-circle about the fireplace for all the 
cooking was done then on the open hearth would be in 
such a condition of excitement that I for one would not 
have been surprised to see the Lord walk right in and 
snatch Black Mammy and me (for I was sticking so 
close to her He would have had to take us both), and flit 
away to plant us in Abraham s bosom. I might add pages 
of negro folk-lore stories and of incidents associated with 
the life of the slave with us, but what I have already said 
is enough to show the true relation of the negro slave to the 
white people of our immediate section. I will add one very 
remarkable experience connected with this race, for fear 
there may be made of it no other published record. 

Three miles from our village, at a plantation known as 
" Beard s Bluff," on the Tennessee, there lived a Mr. 
McLemore, who owned a negro called "Cap." He was 
about twenty-five years old when I first remember him; 
dark brown or almost black in color, and of normal devel 
opment physically, with the exception of his eyes, which 
were unusually prominent (exophthalmus) and opened wider 
than I had ever observed. The almost constant rolling 
movement of his eyeballs, which, as it seemed to me, he 
could not fix steadily on any object, gave him an uncanny 
expression. In fact, he was mentally defective in the or 
dinary sense, and had to be cared for as if he were a child. 

As his parents were field-hands, at work on the plantation 
during most of the day, the kind master had built a cabin 
for them in the yard of his own home, where the helpless 
boy might be cared for while the mother was absent. 
When he was about fifteen years old Mr. McLemore noticed 
one day that the boy who had been shelling the grains from 

67 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

an ear of corn had arranged them decimally i. e. , in squares 
of ten rows, each row containing ten grains. He stopped 
for a moment and said, Ten times ten makes a hundred, 
ten times one hundred makes one thousand." The negro s 
face lighted up with a look of surprise or joy, and he re 
peated the words of the master, who then repeated the 
numerals, and soon discovered the boy s wonderful apti 
tude for figures and for calculation. Although he never 
learned to read or write, he developed into one of the most 
remarkable mathematical machines I have ever known. 
He would solve instantly problems in multiplication which 
would take me an hour or more to work out and prove. For 
instance, he was given this example : 

"Cap, the hind-wheel of a wagon is five feet in diameter; 
it is forty miles from here to Huntsville. How many times 
will it revolve in going that distance?" As the proposition 
was being given out his eyeballs would turn upward, and, 
with the lids half closed, only the white portion was visible. 
By the time the last word of the questioner was spoken he 
would begin with the answer, which was invariably correct ; 
and after the last figure was named his eyes would open 
as he politely added "Sir" to each answer. Time and again 
I have tried to catch him in the multiplication of the most 
confusing figures, such as 789, 687, 431, and so on, by the 
same figures rearranged. Though the answer ran into 
quadrillions, it made no difference to him, for he gave the 
correct answer immediately. In the course of time many 
well-known persons, teachers, professors of mathematics, 
and others came to investigate this phenomenon or to 
satisfy curiosity. He would have been as profitable on 
exhibition as was Blind Tom, another negro prodigy, but 
his kind-hearted and proud master would not permit his 

68 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ward to be carried around as a money-making show. When 
the war was over, and the various county-seats of the South 
ern states were garrisoned by negro soldiers (to keep us 
" rebels" in subjection), the white captain of the company 
stationed at Guntersville, under the operations of the fa 
mous "Freedman s Bureau," had himself appointed guar 
dian for "Cap," and was preparing for a tour of exhibition 
when the negro died of cholera. 

I have always regretted that his brain could not have 
been submitted to the careful study of a competent anato 
mist. As he was mentally deficient in the ordinary sense, it 
is probable that certain brain cells, which in the average 
human beings are arranged to carry on the various functions 
of this puzzling organ, were crowded into his mathematical 
center, enormously developing it. 

In Blind Tom s case the center of music or harmony 
was the seat of this extraordinary development. From 
what I could see in the study of this wonderful creature, I 
felt that in some way the secret was related to the decimal 
system. Dreaming, sometimes, I have dared to think that 
perhaps the brain of this poor, helpless negro was more 
nearly attuned to the universal harmony than ours, which 
we deem normal ; more nearly in touch with that mysterious 
influence which holds planets and systems in unchanging 
relationship, with that eternal influence which we of our 
time and limited knowledge * call God and know no more ! 

Another phase of slave life in Alabama may be illustrated 
in a brief sketch of "Uncle Dan Gilbreath," a pure-blooded 
negro of the prevailing East Coast or Somali type. He 
and his master were of the same age and had grown up 
together on the plantation. They had played and hunted 
and fished in their younger days in constant companionship. 

69 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When the young man came into his inheritance he gave 
Dan all the privileges of a freeman. Far from abusing the 
confidence and affection of his master, he was industrious, 
conscientious, and had developed a fair degree of business 
ability. It was not to be expected that a slave who, as the 
other negroes expressed it, had "growed up in de white 
folks house" would labor with the field-hands, but none 
the less Dan made himself useful and profitable. 

Years before the Emancipation Proclamation, which was 
at first only effective in theory, and even before the collapse 
of the Confederacy, which made all slaves free, Dan had 
earned enough money to ransom himself, but he was too 
wise in his generation to accept freedom with the risks of 
exportation to Liberia, for such was then the law. There 
was never a public occasion which would draw a crowd 
to the county-seat at which Uncle Dan did not appear 
driving his yoke of steers with the two-wheeled cart with 
melons or fruits or some enticing article of food or drink. 
When fruits were out of season he had the art of making 
chicken-pies, ginger-cakes, and cider or persimmon beer, 
which made him famous in every nook and corner of the 
county. The allurements of freedom or of "reconstruction 
politics" could not seduce Dan from his loyal appreciation 
of the white people who had always shown him kindness. 
Respected by all classes, he lived to a very old age. In 
common with his race he possessed a keen sense of the ludi 
crous and the ability to describe humorous or exciting inci 
dents. I am tempted to give in his own language as near 
as I can remember it his description of a personal experience 
when the Federal artillerists first turned their guns on our 
quiet village. 

The incident I am about to relate occurred on the 

70 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of July, 1862. That portion of Alabama north of the Ten 
nessee River had been occupied by the Federal armies. 
The Confederate pickets held the south bank, and the vil 
lage of Guntersville was a mile still farther south, yet in 
full view from the high bluff on the north side of the river. 
By a night march a regiment of Union infantry, half a 
regiment of cavalry, and a section of artillery reached the 
river opposite the town, and from a commanding height 
had two six -pounder Parrott guns in position and trained 
upon it. 

When daylight dawned the villagers bestirred themselves 
in peaceful unconsciousness of the storm impending. An 
hour later, Uncle Dan, seated upon the cross-plank of 
his two-wheeled ox-cart, drove down Main Street, which, 
running north and south, was for half a mile in plain view 
of the Union artillerists across the Tennessee. Like his 
master, Dan was of the "old school." The former still 
held to the customs and costumes of the Virginia planters 
from whom he had descended; and Dan, who fell heir to the 
costumes, sat erect and proud, clad in the long-tailed, blue- 
cotton, brass-buttoned frock coat which he had received 
from his owner. Farther on he turned aside and drove his 
panting team for shelter from the hot July sun into the cool 
shade behind the big brick edifice which served not only as 
county and district court-house, but as town hall, Masonic 
lodge, and a place in which wandering one-night Thespians 
could give their entertainments. 

Before he could unhitch his oxen preparatory to making 
the usual display of his melons the unexpected had hap 
pened a flash of lightning from a cloudless sky. Not even 
the blast from Gabriel s trumpet sounding the Day of Judg 
ment could have startled the villagers or Uncle D:i:i rricve 

r* 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

than this unlooked-for boom of a cannon, the reverbera 
tion of which, while waking the echoes upon the mountain 
sides, was accompanied by the whiz of a shell which rent 
the air above the housetops, exploding with deafening noise 
and sending its whirring fragments to the ground. 

The white citizens of the village knew what was at hand 
and stood not upon the order of their going, but fled for 
safety to a deep ravine which crossed Main Street near the 
upper end of the village. 1 There a hundred or more women 
and children were huddled against the northern slope of the 
hillside when Dan flashed by in flight so meteor-like and 
swift and in demoralization so complete that he did not 
know whether he was running or flying, living or dead. I 
can do no better than repeat the story as nearly as possible 
in Dan s own language: 

"When de fust shell busted I was dat skeered I mighty 
near drapp d dead. I look up quick for thunder, but dar 
warn t no cloud in de sky, an I knowed den it warn t a 
storm a-comin , but I didn t have no notion o what it wuz 
till anoder one dess like it come a-whizzin high up. Dat 
en hadn t more n blowed up when Jedge Lott he run out o 
de Probit Office bar headed an in his shirt-sleeves, an he 
holler out, Run, everybody de Yankees is a-shellin ! 
When I hyeah dat I kinder come to, an I say ter myse f 
de cou t-house walls is mighty thick, an de Yankees is a 
mile off on de oder side o de ribber, an when dey sees dey 
ain t nobody hyeah to fight back dey gwine ter git tired an 
quit shootin , an den I kin take my cyart an go on home. 
Bless my soul, chile, befo de words was out er my mouf 
sumpen done hit de cou t-house bout ha f-way up, an one 

1 Mrs. S. K. Rayburn and another citizen were killed by shells, and another 
wounded; all non-combatants. 

72 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

whole side o de wall jump . away from whar it wuz, an* 
de brickbats dey scatter dess like a drove o pa tridges. 
Some ob em hit me, but mos ob em hit de steers, an dey 
broke in er run, an dess as dey wuz a-startin I sez to my- 
se f, Dis ain t no place fer me ; so I lit inter de waggin, 
an away we went, lickerty-split. Dem steers wuz dat 
skeered dey couldn run true, an dess as we swung round 
inter de street, one wheel it hit de corner pos ob de gro 
cery stoah, an de cyart turned bottom side up an frode 
me an de watermillions plum inter de middle ob de road. 
Dar warn t no time for foolishness, so I riz a-runnin , an 
Icf de steers standin dar wid de yoke turned an de water- 
millions still a-rollin , and I tuk up de street so fas I dess 
fairly shuck myse f loose from de face ob de earth. An , my 
Lord! honey, dem blasted Yankees dey seed me a-runnin , 
an dey p int de cannon at me as I kep right on up de 
street, an de shells kep a-hittin de groun closer an closer 
ter me, some er-bouncin , an some er-bustin , an some er- 
doin bofe at de same time an er-kickin up dus an grabbel 
till I thought in my soul I nebber would git ter de top o de 
hill by de ravine. By de time I got dar an struck de slant 
gwine down, I wuz so skeered an wuz a-workin my laigs 
so fas dat I warn t sho but what I d plum lef de groun , 
fcr when I look back, dar wuz de tails o my coat a-standin 
straight out behin me dess like dey wuz wings. Den I shot 
pass de wimmen an chillen a-scrouchin down in de ravine, 
an I holler out dess as loud as I cud holler, White folks, fo 
de Lord s sake, tell me, is I runnin or is I flyin ? Some 
o de white people say, Stop, Uncle Dan; dar ain t no danger 
heah, an dat make me know I wuz still a-livin ; but, Lord 
bless yer, chile, my laigs was dat deaf dey couldn t hear 
em; an dey kep right on." 
6 



IX 

THE POINT OF VIEW HISTORY OF AMERICAN SLAVERY AND 

THE ABOLITION CRUSADERS SOME TRUTHS ABOUT JOHN 

BROWN AND THE SO-CALLED MARTYRDOM 

IN the discussion of slavery and the movement for its 
abolition in the United States one may be open to the criti 
cism, however trite, that one s convictions depend largely 
upon the point of view. While my viewpoint is Southern, 
it is that of one convinced early in life of the moral wrong 
and economic unwisdom of chattel slavery. 

My father was born and reared in a Northern com 
munity, and his training and early associations were with 
those who believed in universal freedom. My mother came 
of a family of Southern emancipationists. Her father, John 
Allan, a Presbyterian minister, liberated his slaves, his six 
children jointly signing the articles of manumission. In 
association with James G. Birney, who twice preceded Fre 
mont and Lincoln as the nominee for the Presidency on the 
Abolition platform, he organized in Huntsville, Alabama, 
one of the early societies of Southern emancipationists, and 
published there an abolition newspaper. There were in 
1835 eight emancipation societies organized in seven of 
the wealthy and populous agricultural counties in the 
Tennessee Valley in northern Alabama. In Lawrence 
County, where one of these existed, an uncle of mine, David 
A. Smith, in 1838 liberated all of his slaves and transported 

74 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

them to, and provided them with homes in, Morgan County, 
Illinois. 

The gravest of the many errors made by the Northern 
abolitionists was their failure to appreciate the strength and 
the possibilities of the Southern emancipation movement. 
It was undoubtedly well under way and gaining strength 
steadily. The example and teaching of Washington, Jef 
ferson, Madison, Monroe, the Randolphs, and a host of the 
great leaders of Virginia, to whom the whole South looked 
for guidance, had exercised a profound influence on the best 
minds of the slave-holding class. My kinsman George 
Wythe not only freed his slaves, but, in order to show the 
possibilities of the race, gave one of his young negro lads 
a classical education. This influence was widely felt in 
North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. In 
1827 the legislature of Alabama enacted a "law forbidding 
the importation of slaves for barter or hire." As early as 
1722 the Virginia assembly had authorized private eman 
cipations, and in 1778 this assembly prohibited slave impor 
tations, imposing a fine of five thousand dollars for each 
offense. Ballagh, in his history, says, "Virginia had thus 
the honor of being the first political community in the 
civilized world to prohibit the pernicious traffic." After 
Virginia in 1784 ceded the Northwest Territory to the 
United States, her delegates in Congress were the leading 
spirits in securing the adoption of the ordinance for ever 
excluding slavery from that vast empire. 

At the close of the Revolution there were less than three 
thousand freed negroes in the state. By 1810 there were 
more than thirty thousand. By 1860, despite the deporta 
tion of thousands whose masters had freed them and settled 
them in Liberia and elsewhere, nearly sixty thousand freed 

75 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

negroes still remained. Mr. Ballagh, author of The History 
of Slavery, estimates that Virginian planters had manu 
mitted up to that time, " without a penny s compensation, 
one hundred thousand of these bondsmen," the money 
value approximating one hundred million dollars. Of this 
period W. Gordon McCabe, in his careful review 1 of this 
subject, says: "Unfortunately, when the hopes of Vir 
ginia emancipationists were highest during the famous 
session devoted to Slavery Debates the rabid abolition 
ists of the North, through secret emissaries, flooded the 
state with abusive and incendiary pamphlets calling on the 
slaves to rise and re-enact the horrors of Haiti and San 
Domingo. One of these the notorious Walker pamphlet 
referred to Haiti, the glory of the blacks and the terror 
of tyrants." Then came the Southampton Insurrection, 
in 1831, an event of horror which created intense excite 
ment throughout the South. Speaking for Virginia, McCabe 
says: "The reaction was immediate, even the strongest 
antislavery advocates were disgusted and repelled, and the 
movement collapsed." In the campaign of vilification 
which dealt this stunning blow to the Southern emancipa 
tionists the Genius of Universal Emancipation, edited by 
Benjamin Lundy, of Baltimore, and the Liberator, founded 
by William Lloyd Garrison in Massachusetts, were promi 
nently aggressive. Passing from words to deeds, the "Un 
derground Railroad," a numerous, active, and wealthy or 
ganization, the outspoken business of which was the unlaw 
ful enticing away of slaves, began its operations. These 
openly disregarded the Constitution (the basis of the 
Union), which guaranteed protection in property of slaves, 
and by mob -rule and the enactment of state laws per- 

1 London Saturday Review, March 5, 1910. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sistently and successfully set at naught the laws of Con 
gress. 

Then came the armed invasion of Virginia by John 
Brown and his band of outlaws, and with this effort to arm 
a servile race and repeat the Southampton Massacre on a 
large scale secession was made possible and the hope of 
peace was gone. Living as I did through this period of 
intense excitement, a close observer of events as they were 
happening, I am convinced that but for this murderous 
foray the leaders of secession in the South could not 
have carried Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and 
Alabama out of the Union; and without these there 
would have been no Southern Confederacy and no Civil 
War. 

Slavery was already doomed, and a bloody war was not 
necessary for its extinction. 

A large majority of the Anglo-Saxon South did not own 
a slave, and had no selfish interest in perpetuating slavery. 
Fleming, the historian, says that as late as 1860 a majority 
of the white people of Alabama were opposed to slavery. 
They realized that the verdict of the higher civilization was 
against it; and, although the movement for emancipation 
which at one period was gaining a strong and influential 
backing in the slave-holding section was temporarily checked 
in the resentment which followed the mistaken policy of the 
militant abolitionists of the North, it could not have been 
long deferred. 

Mr. Benton said in the United States Senate in 1829: "I 
can truly say that slavery, a hereditary institution, de 
scended upon us from our ancestors, has but few advocates 
or defenders in the slave-holding states, and would have 
fewer if those who have nothing to do with the subject 

77 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

would only let us alone." 1 I have no doubt that but for 
this meddlesomeness to which Bent on refers, the Southern 
people, aided by the kindly sympathy of their Northern 
kinsmen, would long before this have carried out a humane 
plan of emancipation, giving the African race a home of 
their own in a "territory where, secure from external 
dangers, they would enjoy civil and political liberty." 
(Report of the Virginia Committee.) How much better 
for both blacks and whites would this have been than the 
long, bloody, and cruel war, which, as I maintain, only the 
aggressive abolitionists made possible. 

The introduction of negro chattel slavery in the North 
American colonies dates from 1619, when a Dutch ship sold 
to the settlers along the James River, in Virginia, a small 
cargo of slaves. There followed other consignments, dis 
tributed along the Atlantic coast, until by 1700 African 
slavery existed in all of the thirteen original colonies, these 
aliens forming then about one-sixteenth of the entire popu 
lation. Vessels owned chiefly by skippers from New Eng 
land and New York took up the profitable traffic, with 
Newport and Bristol, Rhode Island, as the chief ports of 
distribution in the North, and Charleston and Savannah 
in the South. Although in the more fertile sections of 
New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey negroes were 
purchased in considerable numbers by individual owners 
for work upon the larger plantations, in New England and 
in the states north of Maryland in general ownership was 
more frequently limited to a single slave or to one family, 
the members of which performed the duties of house-ser- 

1 With this conviction, Benton would doubtless have approved Wendell 
Phillips s assertion that a New-Englander s definition of hell is a place 
where every man has to attend to his own business. 

78 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

vants. It soon became evident that the rigorous climate of 
the North was unsuitable to the profitable employment of 
a race born and reared under tropical conditions and sud 
denly subjected to the long winters, the frosts and snows of 
the North Atlantic colonies. 

In the lower temperate zone and nearer the equator in 
the southern settlements, where a semitropical climate 
prevailed, profitable employment for negroes was found; 
and hither, in obedience to the inexorable law of demand 
and supply, the system of slavery gravitated. 

It has been stated with great positiveness by certain 
writers that the introduction of the cotton-gin, invented by 
Eli Whitney in 1794, by giving renewed impetus to the 
cultivation of cotton, increased the demand for slave labor 
as a necessity for its production and added largely to the 
money value of slaves. In view of the fact that for the 
thirty-six years following this invention the annual increase 
in the number of bales produced was less than thirty thou 
sand, I am not willing to accept the statement. In 1800 
the output was two hundred and ten thousand bales, and the 
million-bale mark was not reached until 1830. Meanwhile, 
during the forty years from 1790 to 1830, the number of 
negro slaves increased from seven hundred thousand to 
two millions. As the African trade ceased in 1807, it may 
be inferred that conditions in the South were favorable to 
procreation in this alien race. The market price of negroes 
had risen from fifty to one hundred dollars, in early colonial 
days, to about five hundred dollars in 1830, and they con 
tinued to become more valuable, until by 1860 a " prime 
field-hand" brought from one thousand to fifteen hundred 
dollars. Other causes than cotton must be looked for to 
explain the rise in value. That the negro was not essential 

79 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to the cultivation of this great crop has been amply demon 
strated in late years by the millions of bales produced an 
nually in vast areas of the South where only white labor is 
engaged. What is true of cotton is equally true of rice and 
cane, and but for the unfortunate presence of the blacks 
the Southern country would long ago have swarmed with 
white laborers of the same intelligence and thrift that have 
created the wealthy, prosperous, and thickly populated 
Northwest. 

Notwithstanding the fact that slavery had existed in 
practically every nation of the earth since the dawn of his 
tory, and that even in the early settlement of America white 
persons from Great Britain had been sold and indentured 
as slaves to the colonists, yet the vast majority of these 
hardy pioneers had sought the wilderness for a greater lib 
erty than the older civilization allowed, and it was to be 
expected that from the very beginning African slavery would 
meet with strong protest and formidable opposition. Theirs 
was the broad and just contention that, however humane 
ly practised, chattel slavery was wrong; that involuntary 
servitude was repugnant to the instinctive love and natural 
right of liberty ; and that ownership as a chattel to be leased 
or sold permitted the infliction of bodily punishments and 
the enforced severance of the family relation which were 
cruel and inhuman. 

As far back as 1641 Massachusetts forbade the importa 
tion of African slaves, and Rhode Island followed her sister 
colony s example in 1652; but these regulations could not 
then be successfully enforced, and the traffic and slavery 
continued for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. 
In 1688 a society of Friends in Pennsylvania made public 
protest against the growing practice of slavery, but it was 

So 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

not until 1775 that the first abolition society was formally 
organized (in Pennsylvania), with Benjamin Franklin as 
president. 

The first state to enact emancipation was Vermont, 
which in 1777 freed all slaves at majority (twenty-one years). 
Pennsylvania followed in 1780, fixing the age at twenty- 
eight; and Massachusetts in the same year freed all slaves 
without regard to age. New Hampshire in 1783, Rhode 
Island and Connecticut in 1784, New York in 1799, and 
New Jersey in 1804 enacted schemes of gradual emancipa 
tion. In 1807 Congress absolutely forbade the further im 
portation of slaves into the United States. 

By 1820 slavery, formally recognized by the Constitution, 
the compact of union, which guaranteed protection to slaves 
as property, was accepted as a permanent institution in the 
states then existing south of the Mason and Dixon line, 
although at the North the antislavery organizations had 
already grown in numbers and influence to formidable 
proportions. In this year slavery first came prominently 
before the American people as a political issue. The pro- 
slavery politicians, in the effort to counteract the growing 
influence of the champions of emancipation, succeeded in 
having Missouri admitted as a slave state. The opposition, 
however, was strong enough to compel a "Compromise," 
which, while permitting slavery in Missouri, excluded it 
from all the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of a line 
which from the Mississippi River followed westward the 
36 30 degree of north latitude, which line was the south 
ern boundary of Missouri. 

A period comparatively free from agitation followed the 
Missouri Compromise from 1821 to 1836, when Texas, 
having declared its independence of Mexico, asked to be 

81 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

taken into the Union as a slave state. The antislavery 
advocates, North and South, resisted this proposition so 
successfully that the Lone Star State was not admitted until 
1845. In 1854, under the leadership of Stephen A. Douglas, 
of Illinois, the spokesman of Democracy, North as well as 
South, the proslavery politicians made the fatal blunder 
of reopening the fight for the further extension of this 
institution in the territories, and, although they succeeded 
in repealing the Missouri Compromise and in passing the 
Kansas -Nebraska bill, which in substance left it to the 
bona-fide settlers to determine by popular vote whether 
or not slavery should be permitted in the states to be ad 
mitted, they sealed their own doom. 

It was this action which precipitated the "Kansas con 
flict" and made of this territory for several years the battle 
ground between the contending forces of slavery and anti- 
slavery. In this period the generally accepted laws of 
God and man which are supposed to govern a Christian 
civilization were in large measure suspended, and the so- 
called "higher law" was substituted. It seemed a ready 
transition from the enthusiast to the zealot, from the zealot 
to the fanatic; and these, given as of old to the wildest 
exaggeration of their own importance in the reformation 
of their kind, flattering themselves into the delusion that 
they were ordained of God for the accomplishment of a 
great and self-imposed purpose, ran amuck in bloodshed 
and robbery. "Bleeding Kansas" became the storm-center 
of the great controversy, around and over which since 1820 
the darkening clouds of sectionalism had been gathering ; 
and from this center, in ever-widening circle, spread a cy 
clone of insanity which swept over North and South alike 
in its maddening progress. Reason, like a lightship parted 

82 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

from its moorings, was carried away to be lost in the stormy 
sea of differing opinions. Forbearance and charity and 
kindly argument as to right and wrong gave way to reck 
less and passionate assertion and to the bitter speech of 
prejudice, and conscience became dulled to that de 
plorable degree which permitted the end to justify the 
means. 

Out of this turmoil emerged a weird, red-handed specter 
in human form whose name but for his lawless deeds in 
Kansas would never have crossed the boundaries of that fair 
State had he not become the agent in one of the most 
nefarious plots recorded in history. A group of men of 
intelligence, position, and wealth aided him in the armed in 
vasion of a peaceful and law-abiding community. Brown s 
purpose was the treasonable capture of the United States 
arsenal and the appropriation of government property to 
an unlawful purpose, the robbery of the houses of law- 
abiding citizens, and murder. He sought to incite a wide 
spread slave insurrection and the consequent massacre of 
thousands of helpless women and children. This wicked 
deed, known as the Harper s Ferry Raid," made secession 
possible and brought on the Civil War. 

The world knows that the active leader of this enterprise 
was John Brown. It may not know that among those who 
very substantially aided him were such men as Gerrit 
Smith, George L. Stearns, Theodore Parker, Dr. S. G. 
Howe, Frederick Douglass, F. B. Sanborn, Judge Thomas 
Russell, T. W. Higginson, Edwin Morton, and F. G. Mer- 
riam. Those who aided Brown practically all denied any 
intention to incite a servile insurrection; yet for what other 
purpose did Brown carry one thousand pikes than to arm 
such slaves as could not yet use the guns to be taken by 

83 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

force from the United States arsenal? The civilized world 
cried out at the shame of it. Brown had declared it 
were "better that a whole generation of men, women, 
and children should be wiped out than that slavery 
should endure." He also said after his capture 1 : "I knew 
the negroes would rally to my standard. If I had only 
got the thing fairly started, you Virginians would have 
seen sights that would have opened your eyes, and I tell 
you if I was free this moment and had five hundred negroes 
around me I would put these irons on Wise himself before 
Saturday night." He had said to Frederick Douglass, 
"When I strike, the bees will swarm." What more positive 
evidence of Brown s purpose than is set forth in Gerrit 
Smith s letter of August 27, 1859, only a few weeks before 
the invasion of Virginia: 

"It is perhaps too late to bring slavery to an end by 
peaceful means. The feeling among the blacks that they 
must deliver themselves gains strength with fearful rapid 
ity. The South would not respect her own Jefferson s pre 
diction of servile insurrection, and is it entirely certain that 
these insurrections will be put down promptly? Will tele 
graphs and railroads be too swift for even the swiftest in 
surrections? Remember that telegraphs and railroads can 
be rendered useless in an hour. Remember, too, that many 
who would be glad to face the insurgents would be busy 
transporting their wives and daughters to places where 
they would be safe," etc. To this letter Sanborn adds: 
"He knew what Brown s purpose was, and his last contribu 
tion of money to Brown s camp-chest was sent about the 
time this letter was written" (page 545). And what else 
could Dr. Howe have in mind than an insurrection of slaves 

l Life and Letters of John Brown. By F. B. Sanborn. Page 572. 

84 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

when he wrote that he trembled at the fate which might 
befall his friend in the South ? 

Strongest of all the evidence, to my mind, is the action 
of many of Brown s backers, who promptly fled beyond the 
borders of their own country the country to whose laws 
they owed obedience. True, they had begun their course 
with an earnest and laudable purpose, and at first by open 
and honorable methods of protest and argument sought to 
free the slaves in the South. Under the excitement of a 
passionate antagonism they had advanced by rapid strides 
from enthusiasm to zeal and from zeal to fanaticism, which 
in many cases blinded their perception of right and justified 
in their minds even horrible and bloody means for the ac 
complishment of the end they had in view. 

When the news was heard of the failure of Brown s ne 
farious plot, Gerrit Smith retired to an insane asylum at 
Utica, New York. As late as 1874 he attempted some ex 
planation. Still later, when Sanborn notified him of his 
probable utterance on the subject, he wrote: "If you could 
defer your contemplated work until after my death you 
would lay me under great obligations to your kind 



ness." 



Scarcely less pitiable was the position of Dr. S. G. Howe. 
Referring to a visit, shortly before the John Brown raid, to 
Wade Hampton s plantation, he said he shuddered to think 
of what might have happened to these people, of whose 
hospitality he had been lately the recipient, as a result of 
this foray into the South. Dr. Howe promptly went to 
Canada. He wrote on November 4, 1859: "Rumor has 
mingled my name with the events at Harper s Ferry. That 
event was unforeseen and unexpected by me." When, at 
last, he appeared before the Mason committee he tried to 

3s 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

convince them that the last fifty dollars he gave went 
toward the purchase of the Thompson farm for Brown. 1 

Commenting on Dr. Howe s conversation in the summer 
of 1859 with John Brown, Mrs. Adams, Brown s daughter, 
writes: "It was after father had become weary and even 
discouraged with begging for money and men to carry out 
his plan that he made up his mind to confiscate property 
that the slave or his ancestors had been compelled to earn 
for others property that he needed to subsist on. At a 
former time when Dr. Howe was parting from father, he 
gave him a little walnut box with a fine Smith & Wesson 
revolver in it. I have it still." "Now, in making this gift, 
Dr. Howe fully expected Captain Brown to break the law 
against carrying concealed weapons, and possibly the com 
mandment Thou shalt not kill " (Villard, pages 181-2). 

George L. Stearns fled to Canada, and later, according 
to Sanborn, twisted the truth out of shape in his efforts to 
square his conscience and escape indictment. The Rev 
erend Theodore Parker remained abroad, and died there. 
This exponent of the Divine Law in a letter to Judge 
Russell, dated April, 1857, wrote as follows: 

"Mv DEAR JUDGE, If John Brown falls into the hands 
of the marshal from Kansas he is sure of the gallows or 
of something worse. If I were in his position I should shoot 
dead any man who attempted to arrest me for those alleged 
crimes; then I should be tried by a Massachusetts jury 
and be acquitted." Then, with the exquisite capacity for 
dodging which many developed at about this time, he 
added: "P.S. I don t advise J. B. to do this; but it is 
what I would do." 

The high regard for morals and law which prevailed in 

1 John Brown, Fifty Years After. By Oswald Garrison Villard. 

86 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Massachusetts at this period in the minds disordered on the 
subject of slavery is evident in this letter from a preacher 
to a judge. Edwin Morton hastened to inform Sanborn 
that important letters had been "buried under a brick 
walk leading to Mr. Smith s door," and then took refuge in 
Switzerland, where at length he died. 

Judge Thomas Russell s activities seemed to have ceased 
when he did not accept his friend s offer of "two hundred 
and fifty dollars and a good big fee besides in personal 
property," which Brown had accumulated overnight from 
the silver and valuables of Colonel Washington and other 
citizens south of Mason and Dixon s line. Frederick 
Douglass lost no time in crossing the boundary-line between 
Canada and the United States, and found a residence with 
the Atlantic Ocean between him and his native land. Francis 
J. Merriam alone demonstrated in a measure the courage 
of his convictions by venturing as far as the Maryland side 
of the danger-line when the attack was made, whence with 
Owen Brown (also with the wagon-train) he ran away at an 
early and propitious moment and escaped over the moun 
tains. F. B. Sanborn, instead of following the object of 
his obsession to glory and the grave in Virginia, fled to 
Canada. Venturing back to the Concord Circle, when he 
and his friends thought the danger had passed, he was 
arrested by officers of the law and released (not by a mob 
only "one hundred and fifty men and women present") 
by the Massachusetts construction of justice and law. 

In the New York Evening Post, March 15, 1878, Sanborn 
lays bare some facts connected with this scheme which it 
would appear he had hesitated to make public until every 
body else concerned was dead. 

He writes: "My own first knowledge of the plans of John 

87 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Brown for invading the South and forcibly emancipating 
slaves, the same plans he afterward attempted to execute 
in Virginia, was obtained from Brown in Gerrit Smith s 
house at Peterboro, February 22, 1858, and in the presence 
of Mr. Smith himself, with whom I discussed them fully 
on that day, the following day, and again on the 24th of 
May, 1858, at the Revere House in Boston. We two Mr. 
Smith then sixty-one years old, and myself a little turned 
twenty-six on the 23d of February, 1858, at about the hour 
of sunset, did deliberately and earnestly engage with each 
other that we would stand by and support John Brown in 
his undertaking. Up to the day of John Brown s capture 
at Harper s Ferry in October, 1859, that engagement was 
faithfully kept. 

"Neither of us, probably, was ever fully or coolly con 
vinced of the wisdom of his scheme. At no time during the 
nineteen months between February 19, 1858, and October 
1 8, 1859, did Mr. Smith cease to aid the plan. When he 
wrote me that as things now stand it seems to me it would 
be madness to attempt to execute it (May 7, 1858) he had 
just given money to aid it, and within a month afterward 
he gave money again. He allowed Brown to take the re 
sponsibility of failure. Such was then my opinion, and when 
Smith met at his own room in the Revere House, Boston, 
May 24, 1858, with Theodore Parker, Dr. Howe, George L. 
Stearns, and myself, to decide whether Brown should be 
allowed to go on at that time, Mr. Smith was an active par 
ticipant in the discussion. It resulted in sending Brown 
back to Kansas until such a time as he could more safely 
undertake his Southern campaign. It was understood that 
Brown should go to Kansas for the summer and autumn of 
1858, but should be aided to begin his Southern campaign 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in the winter and spring of 1859, when two or three thou 
sand dollars should be raised for him by Messrs. Stearns, 
Smith, and the rest of us. In accordance with this agree 
ment, in the following spring, April, 1859, Brown presented 
himself at Peterboro after delivering his twelve forcibly 
emancipated Missouri slaves in Canada and received from 
Mr. Smith there a subscription of four hundred dollars. 
With some of this money Brown paid in part for his pikes 
at Collinsville, Connecticut, to arm the slaves of Virginia. 

"Again, in August, 1859, when Brown wrote me from 
Chambersburg that he still wanted three hundred dollars 
with which to begin the attack, I sent his letter to Smith, 
who at once sent Brown a draft for a hundred dollars on 
the State Bank of Albany. I am certain that this was sent 
with a full general knowledge of what Brown would do 
with it. How, then, could Mr. Smith, G. L. Stearns, and 
Dr. Howe deny, as they all did, that they knew of the 
Harper s Ferry attack simply because they did not know, 
or guess, that Brown meant to begin it? We expected 
he would go farther west, into a region less accessible, where 
his movements might escape notice for weeks except as 
the alleged acts of some marauding party. In this respect, 
and in this alone, as far as I know, he changed his plans of 
1858, which he fully explained. Being called to testify at 
Washington, the two last named (as they both J told me) 
found the questions of the Senate committee so unskilfully 
framed that they could without literal falsehood answer 
as they did. I do not say they were justified in this, but 
such was their own opinion. Probably Gerrit Smith also felt 
justified at the time in making public statements which 
told a part of the truth, but not the whole. He was not a 

7 * Stearns and Howe. 

89 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

witness at Washington, being an asylum patient at Utica; 
but in 1860 and again in 1867 he published papers which, 
had I seen them in manuscript, as I did that of 1874, I 
should have protested against their publication." 

The Southern people were fully alive to the significance 
of this attempt by John Brown and his sympathizers in 
the North to arm and liberate the slaves. Had they suc 
ceeded the enterprise would have led to a wide-spread ser 
vile insurrection. Of several such uprisings in Virginia the 
details of one shall be here given. The leader of this in 
surrection was a negro, Nat Turner, thirty-one years old, 
who had been kindly reared in the Turner family of South 
ampton County, Virginia. 1 He had been taught to read; 
he professed religion, became a preacher of the Baptist 
sect, and was intrusted as overseer of the work and in 
the management of the other slaves on the plantation. Of 
the kindly nature of the treatment to which he was ac 
customed it is known that upon his feigning sickness on 
the Sunday of the outbreak the wife of his owner carried 

1 Professor William S. Drewry, 2 after a most exhaustive study of the 
matter, shows that undoubtedly this fanatical negro, of more than ordinary 
intelligence, had been informed of the uprising of the slaves in Haiti and 
San Domingo, and had persuaded himself that the success of that insurrection 
could be repeated in the Southern states. In 1793 a crowd of refugees es 
caping from Haiti arrived in Baltimore, bringing with them about six hun 
dred slaves. Some of these refugees settled in Southampton County. In 
1800 and 1 80 1, and in succeeding years, rebellious slaves in various sections of 
Virginia confessed that they had been inspired by the hope that the upris 
ing in Haiti might be successfully repeated. Of these earlier outbreaks, the 
one in Henrico County in 1800 was the most formidable. Moreover, the 
militant abolitionists of the North were active in encouraging the negroes to 
insurrection. Benjamin Lundy, of Baltimore, editor of the Genius of Universal 
Emancipation, published and circulated in 1828 a detailed history of these 
various insurrections, and in 1830 the celebrated "Walker Pamphlet" was 
secretly distributed, urging the negroes to remember Haiti, "the glory of the 
blacks and the terror of tyrants." 

2 The Southampton Insurrection. The Neale Company. Washington. 
QO 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to his cabin some specially prepared articles of food for the 
supposed invalid, to whom the family were attached. As 
Mrs. Turner slept that night with her infant at her side, 
she and her husband were slain with axes, and the baby s 
brains were dashed out against the brickwork of the fire 
place. Two other children, boys of about twelve and 
fourteen, were fatally struck on the head as they slept. 
Having wiped out this family at dead of night, Nat and 
his seven negro accomplices armed themselves with the 
guns belonging to his dead master, mounted themselves 
on horseback and rode to the home of Mr. Francis, a 
bachelor brother of the woman they had just slain, called 
him under the pretext that there was a message for him, 
and, as he opened the door, killed him. Mrs. Reese and 
her son William were the next victims of the ax, and Mr. 
James Barmer, being hit on the head, fell limp and uncon 
scious and was left for dead, but ultimately survived a life 
long cripple. Three miles away to the farm of Mrs. Eliza 
beth Turner they rode quickly, and she, Mrs. Newsom, and 
a Mr. Peebles were murdered. The company of negroes 
now numbered fifteen, nine of whom were mounted. Mr. 
Henry Bryant, his wife and child, and his wife s mother 
died next, and these were followed in short order by Mrs. 
Whitehead and her son Richard, three daughters, an infant, 
and the grandmother. One of the daughters, fleeing to es 
cape, was pursued by Nat Turner, who beat her brains out 
with a piece of fence-rail. Harriet, another daughter, suc 
cessfully concealed herself beneath the mattress in a box- 
bed, the only survivor of this family. About sunrise, as 
they were proceeding to the next farm, they met Mr. Doyle 
in the road and killed him. Mrs. Williams and her little 
child and two small boys were then butchered. Another 

91 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Mr. Doyle, Mr. John Barrow, George Vaughan, Mrs. Levi 
Waller and her child, Martha Waller, Lucinda Jones and 
eight other school-children, Mr. Williams and wife, Miles 
and Henry Johnson, Mrs. Warrell and child, Mrs. Vaughan, 
her son and niece, Mrs. John K. Williams and child, Mrs. 
Jacob Williams and three children, and Mrs. Edwin Drewry 
were among the other victims of this horrible slaughter. 
Drewry, the historian, says this is not the complete list. 

Only a few of these victims were shot. The negroes were 
not accustomed to the use of firearms. Axes and hatchets 
and grubbing-hoes were preferred as weapons. The pikes 
John Brown had made, which philanthropists like Stearns, 
Gerrit Smith, Sanborn, and their associates had paid for, 
were well suited to the purpose these conspirators had in 
mind. In the course of the trials which ensued for none 
of these murderers was lynched it was shown that the razor 
was used to despatch only one person. The head of a small 
boy, who ran up to one of the negroes he knew and asked 
him to take him up behind him for a ride, was completely 
severed from the body by a single stroke of an ax. Some 
few armed themselves with scythe-blades; all robbed the 
dead; and finally nearly the whole of this murderous gang 
became drunk. 

They had gone about their bloody work in cunning fash 
ion. The region was not thickly settled. The farm-houses 
were so far apart that the screams of the frightened and 
dying could not be heard at the place the negroes were next 
to visit; then, having killed every one, they rode hurriedly 
to the next house. In this way the bloody work went on 
all through the night, and it was only after broad daylight 
that some one escaped and began to spread the alarm; so 
that the remaining women and children fled to the woods 

92 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to hide themselves, and the men and lads began to gather 
to put down the desperate rabble. It so happened that a 
neighbor escaping galloped along the road shouting to each 
household as he passed the great danger of remaining in 
doors. 

In one of these homes was then living Mrs. John Thomas, 
and as Nat Turner s band was seen approaching she and 
her fifteen-year-old son narrowly escaped the common doom 
by running, closely pursued, into the dense forest, where 
they were safely concealed. By this narrow margin was 
saved the life of the one human being who, in my opinion, 
defeated the Southern Confederacy and saved the cause of 
the Union in the crisis of the Civil War on the field of 
Chickamauga, where the independence of the South was 
won and thrown away. That fifteen-year-old boy was 
George H. Thomas, who lived to be the "Rock of Chicka 
mauga." 

By noon the white men of the country had rallied under 
arms, and soon killed, captured, or dispersed the negroes. 
The ringleaders and some fifteen others were tried, con 
victed, and hanged. Thus ended the sickening slaughter. 
Haiti and San Domingo had been imitated. 

John Brown treasonably and murderously led an armed 
invasion of this same state to liberate and arm the slaves 
and subject the helpless women and children to a repetition 
of these scenes of horror on a more extended scale. The 
heartless fanaticism of the antislavery agitation is indi 
cated in Sanborn s Life and Letters of John Brown. Upon 
receipt of the news of this massacre at the home of Brown 
in Ohio, Squire Hudson exclaimed: "Thank God! I am 
glad of it. The slaves have risen down in Virginia!" 



SOME FACTS ABOUT JOHN BROWN NOT GENERALLY KNOWN 

HAVING failed at every one of a half-dozen different voca 
tions to make a living for his family and himself, a rolling 
stone so mossless that at the age of fifty-five he was abso 
lutely bankrupt in fortune, and no less so in honorable 
reputation, John Brown turned up in Kansas in October, 
1855, in the r61e of a professional Free-soil agitator in the 
employ of Mr. Amos A. Lawrence, Secretary and Treasurer 
of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, of which Mr. 
Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts, was the president. It is safe 
to say that had his antecedents been known to these hon 
orable gentlemen, they would not have given him employ 
ment or furnished him the money to pay his traveling-ex 
penses to the territory (without which he could not have 
made the trip), for as soon as his misconduct there revealed 
his true character and this was soon in evidence they re 
pudiated him and publicly denounced him as unworthy of 
confidence and respect and an injury to the free-state cause. 

Disappointed and embittered at the age of fifty-five, "fit 
for treason," looking for "spoils, * and ready with whatever 
" stratagem " was required to secure them, he, with scant 
regard for the laws of God and man, began the mad career 
of crime which in the course of four years of robbery, 
bloodshed, and murder, carried into untimely graves three 
of his sons and one son-in-law and ended on December 2, 
1859, in his legal execution at Charlestown, Virginia. 

94 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Born in 1800 of poor and respectable New England 
parents, who moved in 1805 to Hudson, Ohio, where there 
were scant opportunities for schooling, John Brown learned 
to read and write, and later in life acquired a working knowl 
edge of surveying. Here he worked at tanning and survey 
ing, then moved to Pennsylvania, thence to Portage County, 
Ohio, where he speculated in lands which "did much to 
injure his standing and business credit," l tried public con 
tracting, at which he failed, and went into bankruptcy. 

On July ii, 1836, he was sued on a debt of six thousand 
dollars, and his surety, a Mr. Oviatt, was forced to pay the 
debt. Brown made a bond to Oviatt, to secure him on a 
piece of land he had traded for, but without recording the 
deed. When the deed was finally recorded, without notice 
to Oviatt, to whom he was under every obligation of honor, 
Brown mortgaged the land to two other men." Mr. Vil- 
lard says: "This transaction bears an unpleasant aspect." 
In 1837 he moved back to Hudson, Ohio, and went into the 
business of breeding race-horses, and changed in 1838 to 
the cattle and sheep raising business. In one of a number 
of suits brought against him about this time, which was de 
cided against him, he resisted the process of the law. With 
his three sons, John, Jason, and Owen, he barricaded him 
self in a house on the land in question and held unlawful 
possession until the sheriff with a posse compelled them to 
vacate and placed them in the jail at Akron, Ohio. 

"On June 15, 1839, Jhn Brown received from the New 
England Woolen Company at Rockville, Connecticut, the 
sum of twenty-eight hundred dollars, through its agent, 
George Kellogg, for the purchase of wool. This money he 

1 John Brown, Fifty Years After. By Oswald Garrison Villard. The most 
reliable history of this subject yet printed. 

95 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

purloined for his own benefit, and was never able to redeem. 
Fortunately for him, and very probably convinced that their 
chance of securing the return of all or a part of this money 
was better with the defaulter at large than in the peniten 
tiary, the company exercised leniency toward him, in re 
turn for which he promised, in 1842, after passing through 
bankruptcy, to pay the money from time to time with 
interest, as Divine Providence might enable him to do." 1 
Although he lived twenty years after this transaction and 
robbed much, none of the stolen money was ever repaid. 

Villard states: "On the records of the Portage County 
Court of Common Pleas at Ravenna, Ohio, are no less than 
twenty-one lawsuits in which John Brown figured as de 
fendant. Thirteen were actions brought to recover money 
loaned to Brown, singly or in company with others. The 
remaining suits were mostly for claims for wages or pay 
ments due or for nonfulfilment of contracts. Judgment 
against Brown was once entered by his consent for a nominal 
sum. In ten other cases he was successfully sued, and judg 
ments were obtained against him. A serious litigation was 
an action brought by the Bank of Worcester to recover on a 
bill of exchange drawn by Brown and others on the Leather 
Manufacturers Bank of New York, and repudiated by that 
institution on the ground that Brown and his associates 
had no money in the bank. When judgment against Brown 
and his associates was rendered it was for nine hundred 
and seventeen dollars and sixty -five cents." 1 Mr. San- 
born says 2 that when he questioned Mr. Simon Perkins, of 
Akron, about Brown s wool -growing and wool- dealing, he 
replied, "The less you say about them the better." In 
1841 Brown hired out as a sheep-tender at Richfield, Ohio; 

1 Villard. 2 Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 57. 

96 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

went back to tanning in 1842 ; and gave it up once more in 
1844. In 1846 he was settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, 
as a wool-dealer, in association with the Mr. Perkins men 
tioned above, and in 1849 made a trip to England in con 
nection with this business, failed, and caused his partner a 
loss of forty thousand dollars. Suit was brought against 
Perkins & Brown for sixty thousand dollars for breach of 
contract. The case was tried in 1853. According to Vil- 
lard, it was settled out of court, "counsel deeming it wiser 
to compromise than to face a jury." From this time to his 
death, in 1859, ne had no business and no visible means of 
support except "gifts made to maintain him as a guerrilla 
leader in Kansas or as a prospective invader of Virginia." 

Five of Brown s sons, John, Jason, Owen, Frederick, and 
Salmon, chips of the old block, able and willing to com 
mit murder and rob defenseless settlers in a new country, 
squatted on lands in Kansas in the spring of 1855, and here 
their father joined them in October, I855. 1 The excitement 
over the struggle between the proslavery and the free-state 
partisans in the territory was already great. In all prob 
ability the most important factor in finally winning Kansas 
as a free state was the New England Emigrant Aid Com 
pany, chartered in February, 1855. The head and prime 
mover in this far-sighted measure was Mr. Eli Thayer, who 
represented Worcester in the Massachusetts legislature 
and later was a member of Congress. Of this company 
Mr. Amos A. Lawrence, for whom I believe the city in 

1 As an index of the character for thrift and industry of these sons of Brown 
it may be stated that John, Jr., was thirty-four years old; Jason, thirty-two; 
Owen, thirty-one; Frederick, twenty-five; and Salmon nineteen; and all 
they had to show for their lives to this time were eleven cattle and three 
horses. They were worthy sons of their sire, and went to Kansas ripe for the 
era of plunder and murder in which they moved with much success. 

97 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Kansas is named, was the treasurer, and it was he who 
paid Brown to go to Kansas to take part in any activities 
which might requite the use of Sharp s rifles, or "Beecher 
Bibles," as the markings on the boxes specified. A man of 
blameless life, whose reputation for cautious speech and 
perfect truthfulness is unquestioned, Mr. Lawrence said 
before the Massachusetts Historical Society in May, 1884: 
"When Eli Thayer obtained the charter for the company, 
Dr. Robinson was chosen territorial agent. It was to 
support the party of law and order and make Kansas a 
free state by bona-fide settlement. Charles Robinson had 
the requisite qualities to direct this movement. He was 
cool, judicious, entirely devoid of fear, and in every respect 
worthy of the confidence reposed in him by the society and 
the settlers. He was imprisoned, his house burned, his life 
was threatened, yet he never bore arms or omitted to do 
what he thought to be his duty. He sternly held the peo 
ple to their loyalty to the government against the arguments 
and the example of the higher-law men, who were always 
armed, and who were bent on bringing on a border war. 

"But what shall we say of John Brown? His course was 
the opposite of Robinson s. He was always armed, he was 
always disloyal to the United States government, and to 
all government except what he called the higher-law/ 
He was always ready to shed blood, and he always did shed 
it without remorse. 

"It fell to me to give John Brown his first letter to Kansas, 
introducing him to Governor Robinson and authorizing 
him to employ Brown and to draw on me for his compensa 
tion, if he could make him useful in the work of the Emigrant 
Aid Company. But very soon Governor Robinson wrote 
that he would not employ him, as he was unreliable and 

98 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

would as soon shoot a United States officer as a border ruf 
fian. When he was a prisoner at Harper s Ferry I wrote 
to Governor Wise, advising his release on the ground that 
he was a monomaniac and that his execution would make 
him a martyr. John Brown had no enemies in New Eng 
land, but many friends and admirers. He was constantly 
receiving money from them. They little knew what use 
he was making of it, for he deceived everybody. If he had 
succeeded in his design at Harper s Ferry of exciting a ser 
vile insurrection the country would have stood aghast with 
horror." 

Eli Thayer says in the Kansas Crusade (page 189) : "John 
Brown induced Mr. Amos A. Lawrence to furnish him 
money to pay his expenses to Kansas. It was easy for any 
one who professed a desire to aid in the work of making 
Kansas a free state to secure his entire confidence. But 
his confidence was sometimes abused, notably in the case 
of John Brown. Mr. Lawrence furnished him the money 
which enabled him to pay his fare to Kansas, late in 1855. 
Subsequently he contributed for his use in the territory, 
and for traveling outside of it, many important sums. He 
also furnished about one thousand dollars to pay a mort 
gage on Brown s home at North Elba, New York. For one 
or two years he regarded Brown as an honest man and an 
aid to the free-state cause. At length, however, he learned 
how his confidence had been abused, and from that time 
no one ever denounced the Pottawatomie assassin in more 
vigorous English." 

Mr. Thayer says further: "The Republican convention 
which nominated Lincoln for the presidency in 1860 named 
John Brown as one of the greatest of criminals. 

"When Brown made his invasion of Virginia, and during 

99 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

his trial, conviction, and execution, I was a member of Con 
gress, and had the means of knowing the opinions of members. 
There was not one of that body who considered his punish 
ment as unjust. A few, however, were of the opinion that 
it would have been better to have put him in a mad-house 
for life. This would have prevented the grotesque efforts 
of a few of his sympathizers and supporters to parade him 
before the country as a martyr. 

"John Brown arrived in Kansas nearly two years after 
the conflict there against slavery began. He was a great 
injury to the free-state cause and to the free-state settlers. 
He said, I have not come to make Kansas free, but to get 
a shot at the South. He wished to begin a civil war. He 
never had any property in Kansas which might be subject 
to retaliation and reprisal for his crimes. Skulking about 
under various disguises and pretenses, he left the free-state 
settlers to suffer further numerous outrages. At length 
they compelled him to leave the territory. 

"To the above should be added the robbing of slaves in 
Kansas, the stealing of horses, and about four thousand dol 
lars worth of oxen, mules, wagons, harness, and such valu 
ables and property as he could find. He was a merciless 
and most unscrupulous jayhawker. . . . After his midnight 
murders the people about Ossawatomie assembled to ex 
press their indignation. Here on most friendly terms were 
the free-state men and the slave-state men. In the over 
shadowing gloom of such a terrible crime all partisan issues 
were forgotten. John Brown, with characteristic lying, de 
nied that he was present at this massacre or that he had 
had anything to do with it. No fact in history is now 
better established than that he was the father of the 
crime and leader of the assassins." 

100 



WITH SABRE AN D i SG AL P E : b 

Mr. Thayer says further: "He came to me in Worcester 
to solicit a contribution of arms for the defense of some 
Kansas settlements which he said he knew were to be at 
tacked. Not doubting his word, I gave him all the arms I 
had, in value about five hundred dollars. Under the same 
false pretense he received another contribution from Ethan 
Allan & Co., manufacturers in this city. These arms 
were never taken to Kansas, but were captured at Har 
per s Ferry. Under the same false pretense of assisting 
the settlers, he procured funds from several New York 
merchants." 

Mr. Thayer says that after the raid in Missouri, in De 
cember, 1858, when William Cruse was murdered, Brown 
stole about four thousand dollars worth of property and 
valuables, along with eleven slaves; and then, in order to 
make them useful for the purpose of securing funds, he 
took from December to April to get his liberated slaves to 
Canada. He sent agents in all directions to solicit aid. 

In an editorial comment on Mr. Thayer s statement, the 
New York Sun of November 27, 1887, says: "Mr. Thayer 
speaks from intimate personal knowledge; describes John 
Brown as a felon or a fiend, a robber, murderer, and 
traitor, and gives instances of his conduct to justify 
the truth of his description. Abraham Lincoln in his 
famous speech at Cooper Institute agrees with Mr. Thayer 
in ranging John Brown with the monomaniacs who resort 
to assassination for the cure of what seem to them social 
or political evils. Orsini s attempt on Louis Napoleon and 
John Brown s attempt at Harper s Ferry were in their 
philosophy the same. These words expressed a sentiment 
so general in the North that the first Republican leader felt 
it necessary to speak so emphatically. At that time the 

101 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

abolitionists, always a small and detested body of fanatics, 
had reached the firm conclusion that their only hope lay 
in the dissolution of the Union. They were out and out dis- 
unionists, trampling on the Constitution at their meetings 
as a league with death and a covenant with hell, and de 
claring that there was no issue of any importance except 
the dissolution of the Union. They were therefore quick 
to make John Brown a martyr to their cause. These are 
doubtless the facts of history, and Mr. Thayer does the 
public a service in calling attention to them at a time when 
anarchists are attempting to justify their savagery by 
pointing to John Brown as a great moral hero whose mem 
ory is revered by his countrymen and honored by the whole 
world." 

I have quoted these men of high character and unques 
tioned veracity because they were men of strong conviction, 
who believed that Kansas was a battle-ground where under 
the law a stand-up fight might be made in the open, and 
with guns if need be, between the opposing forces of sla 
very and antislavery. They were wise enough to see that 
carrying hardy farmers and planting them as tillers of the 
free soil was the one legitimate and logical way of doing 
what Thomas Jefferson of Virginia tried to do namely, 
prevent the extension of slavery into the territories. These 
men were in personal contact with John Brown, and they 
knew him. Eli Thayer was of such prominence in his day 
that, according to the New York Independent of December 
16, 1875, "Charles Surnner said in January, 1857 : The state 
of Kansas should be named "Thayer." " 

In 1910, at a meeting of the veterans of 56 in Kansas, 
Colonel O. E. Learnard, of Lawrence, made an address from 
which what follows is taken. While I felt sure, from the 

102 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

tone of the protest, that its author could say nothing that 
was of doubtful truthfulness, I wrote to a brother physician 
in Lawrence, Dr. George W. Jones, making proper inquiry. 
He assured me that Mr. Warren, a former State Senator; 
Mr. Brooks, once member of the legislature; Mr. Kennedy 
and Captain Huddleston and Colonel Learnard were in 
every respect among the foremost citizens of the state. Of 
Colonel O. E. Learnard, the noblest Roman of them all, one 
cannot say too much in praise of his noted integrity. A 
man who has had about all the honors the community could 
give him is now in retirement, universally respected. Colonel 
Learnard was an abolitionist Republican." 

In the address entitled "John Brown s Career in Kansas," 
Colonel Learnard said: 

"At the meeting of this association two years ago I was 
to have made some remarks in relation to John Brown and 
his career in Kansas, but was unable to do so on account of 
ill health. Since then I have given the matter very little 
thought until the recent much - heralded event at Ossa- 
watomie, 1 by and through which was revealed a stated 
purpose to pervert the facts in the interest of a mawkish 
sentimentality that deliberately ignores and derides well- 
authenticated history. 

"The late Joel K. Goodwin, in a letter to Governor Rob 
inson, said: The sickening adulation and offensive slobbers 
over some of the imaginary saviors of Kansas to freedom 
which have passed the lips of ministers and laymen, lec 
turers and politicians, editors and essayists during the past 
thirty years has added little to the truthfulness of history 
or the healthy education of the young men and young 
women of the state.* Under the circumstances it seems 

1 In reference to the address of ex-President Roosevelt. 
103 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

pertinent that at least some of the salient facts of the mat 
ter should be stated, and I do this from no motive or wish 
other than a vindication of the truth of history. It is con 
ceded at the outset that most of the early settlers, those 
who were cognizant of the facts, most of whom were par 
ticipants in these events, did not, and do not, share the 
sentiments which have recently been expressed as to the 
character and achievements of John Brown. I have al 
ways thought that some of us who survive think they know 
better. Of those who have passed away I readily recall 
General Thomas Ewing, Marcus J. Parrott, Colonel W. Y. 
Roberts, Colonel Campbell, Colonel C. K. Holliday, General 
R. B. Mitchell, Guilford Dudley, George A. Crawford, 
Senator Alex. McDonald, Colonel Blood, C. W. Babcock, 
Lyman Allen, B. W. Woodward, Judge Emery, General 
G. Deitsler, and Joel K. Goodwin indeed, the list might 
be extended almost indefinitely. 

"Those present here to-day, Mr. Morrow, Paul R. Brooks, 
Scott Kennedy, your president, Captain Huddleston, and 
others who were active participants in nearly all the stirring 
events of 56, of my personal knowledge these gentlemen 
can speak for themselves. The claims made for John 
Brown are that he was the savior of Kansas to freedom, 
that he inspired the organized armed resistance to border- 
ruffian aggression, and was its master spirit and guide. 
Each and all of these claims on his behalf I unhesitatingly 
and absolutely repudiate and deny. 

"The first organized and armed resistance was in what is 
designated as the Wakarusa War. Governor Robinson 
was chief in command, and General Lane second. John 
Brown had but recently arrived, and on the strength of the 
representation that he had fought in the battle of Platts- 

104 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

burg in the War of 1812 a representation, by the way, 
that was absolutely false he was given the nominal com 
mand of a small squad of men. 

"During that brief and bloodless campaign John Brown 
spent most of his time in faultfinding and growling about 
the camp, particularly of the Topeka company; so that 
they ordered him to get out and stay out. This statement 
is made on the authority of the late Guilford Dudley, for 
a great many years a prominent and well-known resident 
of Topeka, who was a member of the Topeka company. 
John Speer, in his Life of General Lane, referring to the 
treaty that closed the Wakarusa War, says: The conflict 
was remarkable for the harmony among the free-state 
leaders. I heard of no disagreement except Brown, who 
was bitter against any settlement/ 

"And this same habit of growling and faultfinding char 
acterized all his later relation to the free-state movement 
and its leaders. During the spring and summer of 1856 
John Brown was only occasionally about Lawrence, and only 
for brief periods, and at no time did he have a command 
here. He was here on the i4th of September. I saw him 
a little after noon as twenty-five of us mounted men started 
to locate the Missourians, about whom all sorts of rumors 
were afloat. I saw no more of him that day, and I know of 
no one who did. The only free-state forces employed that 
day other than our twenty-five horsemen, who occupied 
the outpost southeast of town until the troops came, was 
a small company under the command of Captain Joseph 
Cracklin, stationed out in Earl s addition, and some mem 
bers of the Cabot guards, and other citizens in the stone 
fort on the hill. I saw Brown at Rock Creek camp and one 
or two other times during the summer. When Lane pro- 
8 105 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

posed to me to make the demonstration on Leavenworth 
that summer he coupled with it the suggestion that Brown 
accompany us. I replied that I was willing to make the 
trip, but that Brown could not go with us; and, of course, 
he did not. 

"Most of his operations were in the border counties of 
Kansas and Missouri forays, night alarms, and frighten 
ing peaceful citizens. Generally his raids were fruitful of 
plunder. A proslavery man, or even a free-state man who 
did not accord with his views and methods, had no rights of 
person or property that Brown respected. This condition 
continued long after the free-state issue was settled and the 
territorial legislature was in the hands of the free-state 
men, as well as the administration of local affairs in the bor 
der counties. Indeed, a condition of disquiet and appre 
hension prevailed to a greater or less extent in the border 
counties until Brown left Kansas for good. 

"His achievements for the most part were of the order 
of that noted by Professor Spring, as follows: At St. Ber 
nard, five miles from camp, a successful proslavery trader 
had a miscellaneous store, filled with dry-goods, clothing, 
drugs, groceries, firearms, hardware, boots and shoes. A 
necessitous company of guerrillas could scarcely be expected 
to neglect so favorable an opportunity to supply their wants 
at the expense of a Southerner. Certainly the company 
camped on Middle Creek did nothing of the kind. About 
nightfall, June 3d, such is the drift of the testimony before 
the Strickler Commission, "part of a company commanded 
by one John Brown, armed with Sharp s rifles, pistols, 
bowie-knives, and other deadly weapons, came upon the 
premises and attacked and rushed into the said store!" a 
sudden condition of affairs so warlike that the employees 

106 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

were deterred, threatened, and overpowered by the des 
peradoes, who demanded a surrender of the goods and 
chattels, threatening immediate death and destruction 
should the slightest opposition be offered. Finding the 
prize richer than they had anticipated and their appliances 
for transportation inadequate, the gang returned in the 
morning and resumed operations. They evidently left 
nothing to be desired in point of thoroughness." 

Redpath, in his Life of John Brown, says : " Brown then lay 
down by our side and told us of the wars and trials he had 
passed through ; that he had settled in Kansas with a large 
family, having with him six full-grown sons; that he had 
taken a claim in Lykens County, Kansas, and was attending 
peacefully to the duties of husbandry when the hordes of 
wild men came over from Missouri and took possession of 
all the ballot-boxes, destroyed his corn, stole his horses, and 
shot down his cattle, sheep, and hogs, and repeatedly threat 
ened to shoot, hang, or burn him." Commenting upon this, 
Dr. George W. Brown, who has written some of the most 
accurate of Kansas history, and who lived a great part of 
it, says: "Need we write, even at this distance in time from 
those occurrences in Kansas history, that probably there 
was not one word of truth in all that statement? Old John 
Brown had participated in no wars; he never settled in 
Kansas with his family, hence did not have any six sons with 
him in that family; he never entered any claim in Lykens 
County, Kansas, nor anywhere else; he did not attend to 
the duties of husbandry; he was not in the territory until 
six months after the Missouri usurpation of the ballot-boxes. 
The only horses he ever owned, save the one he drove 
into the territory, were stolen, and the same is true of 

107 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

his blooded stock, his sheep, and his hogs, if he had 
any." 

The late General J. K. Hudson, for many years editor 
of the Topeka Capital, and one of the foremost writers of 
the West, said in the course of an editorial in the Topeka 
Capital: "There is not written in the annals of Kansas 
a single incident that reflects credit upon the intelligence 
of John Brown, his industry, his integrity, or reveals a single 
admirable quality of heart or mind. Kansas has been wont 
to veneer the character of John Brown with excessive 
praise. It has habitually spread upon his memory the 
spittle of effulgent adulation. Isn t it about time to take 
the measure of his true value as a citizen? Isn t it about 
time to admit the truth, which is that he was a loafer, a 
brawler, a disturber who did nothing to his own credit 
and who scattered misery with the hand of a sower?" 

As to the alleged "battle of Ossawatomie," August 30, 
1856, John Brown, in a letter to his wife recently published, 
stated that he had had a hard fight with the Missourians, 
whom he had defeated, their killed being estimated at from 
seventy to eighty men. Dr. Updegraft, in his speech at 
the dedication of the John Brown monument, fixed the 
number of killed at from thirty to forty and the wounded 
from seventy-five to one hundred. The well-authenticated 
facts are that not one of the Missourians was killed, and 
only three were wounded by gun-shots. 

Judge Robinson, for years a prominent citizen of Paola, 
who wrote the history of Miami County, verifies this state 
ment, and adds: 

"When I came to the battle of Ossawatomie, wishing to 
be historically correct, I spent a good deal of time investigat 
ing the subject; and, while my sympathies are and always 

108 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

have been with the defenders of Ossawatomie, and I should 
have been glad to have had the Missourians routed or cap 
tured, sentiment cannot be used in making history facts 
are required." 

Colonel William Higgins, formerly secretary of state for 
Kansas, and at present postmaster and post commander 
of the G. A. R. at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, then a boy who 
was present on the occasion as a teamster in the Read, or 
proslavery, command, says: "Two of the gunners were 
wounded, and one man with a bad shot in his left arm. The 
two wounded gunners were conveyed back to Missouri in 
a wagon, while the other wounded man was able to ride his 
horse. This covers the total loss and damage sustained 
by the border ruffians, while but two of the free -state 
men were killed, and they on the picket -line in the 
morning." 

These were Fred Brown and George Partridge, the only 
authenticated victims of the engagement. Mr. Higgins 
adds: "While the fires were still burning the roll was called, 
and every man that marched to Ossawatomie was accounted 
for; not one killed or missing." 

Captain J. M. Anthony, brother of Colonel D. R. An 
thony, a resident of Ossawatomie at the time, in a letter to 
the Leavenworth Times recounting the incidents of the 
occasion, said: "A few shots were exchanged. When 
pressed by the enemy there was no orderly retreat, but a 
general skedaddle, every man for himself John Brown 
with the rest." He adds: "I went down to the barnyard 
to milk the cow, having had nothing to eat since breakfast, 
and while milking saw Brown advancing up the ravine. 
When about twenty-five feet from me he stopped and called 
out: Hello! Is that you? I replied that it assuredly 

109 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was. He then asked me about the day s engagement, 
seemingly entirely ignorant of the result, and, like Dr. 
Updegraft and everybody else, thought the whole com 
munity had been killed." 

As an example of the reliability of any statement emanat 
ing from John Brown or any member of his family the fol 
lowing extract is taken from a letter of Brown s printed in 
Sanborn s book and dated Lawrence, Kansas Territory, 
September 7, 1856: 

"On the morning of the 3oth of August an attack was 
made by the ruffians on Ossawatomie, numbering some four 
hundred. At this time I was about three miles off, where 
I had some fourteen or fifteen men. These I collected with 
some twelve or fifteen men, and in about three-quarters of 
an hour I attacked them from a wood with thick under 
growth. With this force we threw them into confusion for 
about fifteen or twenty minutes, during which time we 
killed or wounded from seventy to eighty of the enemy, 
as they say. Four or five free-state men were butchered 
during the day in all. I was struck by a partly spent 
grape, canister, or rifle shot which bruised me some but did 
not injure me seriously. Hitherto the Lord has helped 
me, notwithstanding my afflictions." 

The simple facts above given are from sources no sane 
person will question, and this distortion of truth by John 
Brown, which his biographers use as a text for a sermon on 
one of his greatest and most heroic battles for free Kansas, 
demonstrates the force of the maxim that there is but a step 
from the sublime to the ridiculous," which is still further 
emphasized when we reflect that the people of Kansas have 
been deceived into erecting a monument on this battle 
field, on one side of which is blazoned the "Heroism of 

no 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Captain John Brown, who commanded at the Battle of 
Ossawatomie, August 30, 1856 ; who died and conquered 
American Slavery at Charlestown, Va., December 2, 



It may be illuminating to quote from a letter from Mr. 
Richard Mendenhall, a Quaker (Sanborn, page 326): "I 
next met John Brown again on the evening before the battle 
of Ossawatomie. He with a number of others was driving 
a herd of cattle which they had taken from proslavery men. 
He rode out of the company to speak to me when I play 
fully asked him where he got those cattle. He replied with 
a characteristic shake of the head that they were good 
free-state cattle now." 

Governor Charles Robinson, in his Kansas Conflict, says 
(page 330) : "The only battles in which Brown was engaged 
were at Black Jack and Ossawatomie. At the first Captain 
Shore had nineteen men and Brown nine. Shore with his 
men attacked Pate from the open prairie and drove him 
into the ravine, while Brown took to the ravine at once and 
was not in sight of the foe at all. Shore also went into the 
ravine, and shots were exchanged for several hours, till 
Captain J. B. Abbott appeared in sight of the enemy with 
his company, when Pate surrendered. This is substantially 
the part played in this battle by Brown." 

The truth is that Brown s most famous engagement, and 
one that will be remembered when Black Jack and Ossawa 
tomie are forgotten, took place on the night of May 24, 
1856. On this night, accompanied by his four sons Owen, 
Frederick, Salmon, and Oliver, his son-in-law Henry Thomp 
son, a Jew named Wiener, and Townsley, a settler, about 
two o clock in the morning he took from their beds and homes 
three men and two lads, one under age, and made his sons 

in 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and the others cut these to death in a manner almost too 
horrible to be believed. That their leader and his gang were 
careful of their own lives is attested by the statement of 
Salmon Brown, one of the murderers, who wrote later: 
Soon after crossing the creek some one of the party knocked 
at the door of a cabin. There was no reply, but from within 
came the sound of a gun rammed through the chinks of the 
cabin walls. At that we all scattered. We did not disturb 
that man" (Villard). They next proceeded to the cabin of 
William Sherman, knocked, and the door was opened. 
James Harris in his testimony before the committee of 
Congress swore: "I took Mr. William Sherman out of the 
creek and examined him. Mr. Whitman was with me. 
Sherman s skull was split in two places, and some of his 
brain was washed out by the water. A large hole was cut 
in his breast, and his left hand was cut off except a little 
piece of skin on one side." Sanborn says: "When the 
bodies of the dead were found, there went up a cry that they 
had been mutilated; but this was because of the weapons 
used." Ordinarily it would seem that two gashes through 
the skull from which the brain was oozing might suffice 
without the extra thrust on the side and lopping off of the 
hand. 

Another of the victims was a Mr. Wilkinson, who was the 
postmaster at Shermansville (now Lane), and also a mem 
ber of the territorial legislature of Kansas. Mrs. Wilkin 
son in her testimony said that she was sick in bed with the 
measles ; that she begged them to let her husband stay with 
her, as she was helpless. "The old man [Brown] who seemed 
to be in command looked at me and then around at the chil 
dren, and replied, You have neighbors. They then took 
my husband away. One of them came back and took two 

112 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

saddles. The next morning Mr. Wilkinson was found. I 
believe that one of Captain Brown s sons was in the party 
which murdered my husband. My husband was a quiet 
man and was not engaged in arresting or disturbing any 
body." 

Three Doyles, father and sons, one of the lads under age, 
were also murdered. John Doyle, a son of the murdered 
man, testified : "I found my father and one brother, William, 
lying dead in the road about two hundred yards from the 
house. I saw my other brother lying dead on the ground 
about one hundred and fifty yards from the house. His 
fingers were cut off, and his arms were cut off; his head was 
cut open, and there was a large hole in his breast. William s 
head was cut open, and a hole was in his jaw, as if made by 
a knife; and a hole was also in his side. My father was 
shot in the forehead and stabbed in the breast" (page 160). 
This done, the horses and saddles of the dead men were 
taken along and, according to Sanborn, traded off in 
northern Kansas. 

John Brown denied killing any of these men with his own 
hands, and yet a pistol-shot was fired, and Doyle was found 
with a bullet through the forehead. Salmon Brown says 
that Owen and another killed the Doyles ; and Villard adds, 
"By a process of elimination it is apparent that the other 
could only have been himself." Salmon Brown will not 
positively state that his father fired this shot, but admits 
that no one else in the party pulled a trigger. He is at a 
loss to explain why the shot was fired. He said Doyle was 
dead; it was probable that the old man fired into the dead 
man s skull for additional moral effect. 

Of this affair Andrew Johnson said in the United States 
Senate: "Innocent and unoffending men were taken out, 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and in the midnight hour fell victims to the insatiable thirst 
of John Brown for blood. Then it was that he shrank from 
the dimensions of a human being into those of a reptile. 
Then it was, if not before, that he changed his character to 
a demon who had lost all the virtues of a man." 

Professor L. W. Spring, in his Kansas, says: "John 
Brown s statements were sufficiently evasive to deceive 
members of his own family and personal friends who long 
denied that he led the foray. The five squatters upon 
whom he laid a tiger s paw were not exceptionally bad men ; 
and the squatters, without distinction of party, denounced 
the deed as an outrage of the darkest and foulest nature, 
by midnight assassins who murdered and mangled them in 
the most awful manner. To this must be charged most of 
the havoc and anarchy in which the Kansas of 1855 weltered. 
It set afoot retaliatory violence, and finally issued in a total 
military collapse of the free-state cause." 

Villard says (page 264) : "Between November i, 1855, and 
December i, 1856, about two hundred people are known to 
have lost their lives in the anarchical conditions which pre 
vailed, and the property loss in this period is officially set 
down at not less than two millions of dollars. However 
superior in character and intelligence and industry the 
free-state emigrants indubitably were in the beginning, 
there was little to choose between the border ruffians and 
the Kansas ruffians in midsummer of 1856. The Whipples 
and Harveys and Browns plundered and robbed as freely 
on one side as did the Martin Whites, the Reids, and the 
Tituses on the other, and there was not the slightest differ 
ence in their methods." 

Concerning the Pottawattomie murders, the governor of 
the territory (Shannon), on May 31, 1856, wrote to the 

114 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

President of the United States: "The respectability of the 
parties and the cruelties attending these murders have pro 
duced an extraordinary state of excitement in that portion 
of the territory which has heretofore remained compara 
tively quiet" (Villard, page 169). 

Major John Sedgwick, who later won undying fame as 
commander of a corps in the Army of the Potomac, reported : 
"Five men were taken out of their beds, their throats cut, 
their ears cut off, and their persons gashed more horribly 
than our savages have ever done. I sincerely think that 
most of the atrocities have been committed by the Free-soil 
party, but I cannot think that they countenance such acts 
that is, the respectable class" (Villard, page 169). 

Mr. Adair, a Free-soiler, when Owen Brown, who with his 
brother Salmon had cut the Doyles to death, asked to stay 
all night, said to him: "Get away get away as quickly as 
you can. You are a vile murderer, a marked man." 

"I intend to be a marked man, shouted Owen, and rode 
away on one of the murdered man s horses" (according to 
Mr. Villard). 

John Brown, Jr., was deposed from command of a com 
pany (Villard, page 151) because a man rode into camp in 
great excitement, saying, "Five men have been killed on 
Pottawattomie Creek, butchered and most brutally man 
gled, and old John Brown has done it." Jason Brown says: 
"This information caused great excitement and fear among 
the men of our company, and a feeling arose against John 
and myself which led the men all to desert us." 

Villard says (page 187): "From the ethical point of 
view John Brown s crime on the Pottawattomie cannot be 
successfully palliated or excused. It must ever remain a 
complete indictment of his judgment and wisdom; a dark 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

blot upon his memory; a proof that, however self -controlled, 
he had neither true respect for the laws nor for human life, 
nor a knowledge that two wrongs never make a right." 

Biographers of Brown, notably Sanborn and Redpath, 
disclaimed his reponsibility or participation in this crime 
until the proof was so positive that even the former ac 
cepted it. He then justifies the murders as "executions" 
in which his hero became judge and jury, holding midnight 
sessions of about one minute each for each defendant 
"brief but sufficient trials," as he beautifully expresses it. 
Sanborn s qualifications for his self-imposed task may be 
judged from his treatment of this incident. Redpath, an 
other "reliable" historian, says he was twenty-five miles 
away. The retaliatory killings at the Marais des Cygnes 
were not "executions," but murders! The poet Whittier, 
who sang of the Marais des Cygnes outrage, could not tune 
his lyre to the measure of the Pottawattomie. The wrong 
ox had been gored. The zealots of abolitionism were so 
far lost to the sense of justice and to truth itself that 
they made of themselves the apostles of misrepresentation. 
Witness Longfellow s "The Slave in the Dismal Swamp" 
and Whittier s "Barbara Frietchie," recited by thousands 
of impressionable school-children and read by many more 
thousands of older persons who may never know the truth 
and will accept this version of an incident which occurred 
only in the imagination of the poet as an indictment of the 
Southern soldier and of his section. 

I know from a brother physician, an honorable member 
of my profession and of this same family in Frederick, who 
assured me that his aged relative never saw Stonewall Jack 
son or a single Confederate soldier, and that when the poet 
of New England sang of her as leaning out of the window 

116 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

waving her country s flag in Jackson s face and daring him 
to shoot, she was a block away, hopelessly bedridden. Her 
joints were stiffened to such a painful degree that not only 
was it impossible for her to get out of bed and walk, but 
she could not even have stood upright had she been placed 
on her feet! 

As late as November 10, 1913, this often resurrected false 
hood arose again from the dead through the medium of the 
New York Sun, and was again temporarily laid to rest by 
Professor W. Gordon McCabe, of Richmond, Virginia, with 
the timely aid of Mr. Valerius Ebert, of Frederick, Mary 
land. The original was published in the Baltimore Sun: 

SIR, I have just read a communication in the Sun, purporting to 
set forth certain facts in relation to the life and character of the late 
Barbara Frietchie, the heroine of Whittier s celebrated war poem. It 
may be proper to state that I am the nephew of Dame Barbara, and 
had the settling up of her husband s estate in the capacity of ad 
ministrator. 

This necessarily threw me into frequent communication with the 
ancient and venerable dame. Barbara Frietchie, my venerable aunt, 
was not a lady of twenty-two summers, but an ancient dame of ninety- 
i>ix winters when she departed this life. 

As to the waving of the Federal flag in the face of the rebels by 
Dame Barbara on the occasion of Stonewall Jackson s march through 
Frederick, truth requires me to say that Stonewall Jackson with his 
troops did not pass Barbara Frietchie s residence at all, but passed 
up what in this city is popularly called "The Mill Alley," about three 
hundred yards above her residence, then passed due west to Antietam, 
and thus out of the city. 

But another and stranger fact with regard to this matter may be 
presented: the poem by Whittier represents our venerable relative 
(then ninety-six years of age) as nimbly ascending to her attic win 
dow and waving her small Federal flag defiantly in the face of Stone 
wall Jackson s troops. Now, what are the facts at this point? Dame 
Barbara was, at the moment of the passing of that distinguished general 
and his forces through Frederick, bedridden and helpless, and lost the 
power of locomotion. She could at this period only move as she was 

117 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

moved by the help of her attendants. These are the true and stern 
facts, proving that Whittier s poem upon this subject is fiction, pure 
fiction, and nothing else, without even the remotest semblance or re 
semblance of fact. 

VALERIUS EBERT. 
FREDERICK CITY, MARYLAND, August 27, 1874. 



Such is the explicit testimony of one who could "speak 
with authority," and such must be reckoned the real "truth 
about Barbara Frietchie." 

This same otherwise lovable man is also responsible for 
another unpoetic untruth, "Brown of Ossawatomie," which 
served its purpose of aiding to establish his martyrdom 
viz., the kissing of a negro baby as he was walking to the 
gallows, which deed, according to the standard ot zealots, 
cleaned his record of all misdeeds. Even Sanborn now ad 
mits it could not have taken place; and, in fact, nothing of 
the kind did occur. 

Brown s next notorious expedition was over the border 
in Missouri on December 20, 1859. "With him were a 
well-known horse-thief, Pickles by designation, Charles 
Jemison, Jeremiah Anderson, Gill, Kagi, and two young 
men named Ayres, besides one or two others. At midnight 
Hicklan s (a slave-owning citizen s) door was quickly forced 
by men with pointed revolvers, and he was informed of 
the mission of the raiders. Gill, one of the raiders, says: 
Watches and other articles were taken; some of our num 
ber proved to be mere adventurers, ready to take from 
friend or foe as opportunity offered " (Villard). 

Mr. Hicklan testified: "Nothing that was taken was ever 
recovered. I learn that it was stated by John Brown that 
he made his men return all the property they had taken 
from me. This is not true. They did not give anything 

118 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

back. Brown said to me that we might get our property 
back if we could; that he defied us and the whole United 
States to follow him" (Villard, page 368). 

"Besides the negroes Brown took from the Lawrence 
estate two good horses, a yoke of oxen, a good wagon, har 
ness, saddles, a considerable quantity of provisions, bacon, 
flour, meal, coffee, sugar, etc., all the bedding and clothing 
of the negroes, Hicklan s shotgun, overcoat, boots, and 
many other articles belonging to the whites. From Larue 
were taken five negroes, six head of horses, harness, a wagon, 
a lot of bedding and clothing, provisions, and, in short, all 
the loot available and portable" (Villard, page 369). 

Meanwhile Stevens s expedition had released but one 
slave, and that at the cost of the owner s life. David Cruse, 
a wealthy settler, had a woman slave whom the Daniels 
party wished to take along. Stevens had hardly entered 
the house when he said he thought Mr. Cruse was reaching 
for a weapon. He fired instantly, and the old man dropped 
dead. Stevens, who was hanged at Charlestown with Brown, 
freely admitted the killing, though it weighed heavily upon 
him. The Cruse family charged wholesale looting of the 
house, the taking of two yoke of oxen, a wagon-load of pro 
visions, eleven mules, and two horses. John Brown says of 
this expedition that a white man who resisted the liberation 
was killed; and Sanborn adds, "He left Kansas pursued 
by United States troops." 

On pages 370, 371 Villard says: "Naturally, the death of 
Mr. Cruse created great excitement in Missouri, for, Stevens s 
narrative to the contrary notwithstanding, he ranked as a 
peaceful, law-abiding citizen, accustomed to minding his 
own business. This murder instantly imperiled the safety 
of all the Kansas settlements near the border line, for it was 

119 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

wholly unprovoked and without a shadow of the usual 
apology that Cruse had been guilty of outrages upon the 
people of Kansas. Finally, for this crime the President of 
the United State offered a reward of two hundred and fifty 
dollars for the arrest of Brown and Montgomery, and the 
governor of Missouri three thousand dollars for the cap 
ture of Brown." Sanborn admits that even in Kansas he 
was "proscribed." Villard also says that "Brown, on 
March 25, 1859, sent from Ashtabula, Ohio, one hundred 
and fifty dollars, part of the proceeds of the sale of the 
horses taken from the Missouri farmers to his family at 
North Elba." Part of this particular fund paid for a yoke 
of oxen for the Brown family. 

In this period as a fugitive from justice he lived under 
various aliases: Isaac Smith, Shubel Morgan, James Smith, 
and Nelson Hawkins. Naturally he writes, "I am advised 
that one of Uncle Sam s hounds is on my track." 

It will amuse students of the art of war after reading 
Xenophon s Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and Napoleon s 
disastrous march from Moscow to the Berezina, to follow 
the historian Sanborn s detailed description of the retreat 
of Captain John Brown from the plantations he had robbed 
in Missouri to Detroit, Michigan, and thence across the 
river to Canada. Although Xenophon came home a loser, 
he was in pretty fair shape, considering the difficulties he 
had to encounter. Napoleon lost about everything; but 
Brown, like a rolling ball of snow, gathered as he went. 
This from Sanborn: 

"The retreat from southern Kansas with his freedmen, 
and particularly the first step of his journey, was one of 
the boldest adventures of Brown. With a price on his head, 
with but one white companion, himself an outlaw, with 

120 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

their property loaded into an odd-looking wagon drawn by 
the cattle taken from the slave-owner in Missouri, Brown 
pushed forward in the dead of winter, relying on the mercy 
of God and on his own stout heart." * 

The "himself an outlaw" was Whipple, alias Stevens, 
who murdered Mr. Cruse, and who was hung at Charlestown. 
It took Brown nearly three months to pull through. 

Eli Thayer, who had employed Brown until he learned 
his real character, says that he stole on this expedition some 
four thousand dollars worth of property, and instead of 
going directly to Canada, which he could easily have done 
in two weeks, as no one hindered him, he dawdled along in 
all sorts of meanderings, working everybody for any and 
every thing he could get, sending agents in all directions to 
excite sympathy for the poor captive slaves, and incidental 
ly to get money for John Brown. The retreat led through 
Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan to Canada. 

"At Muddy Creek, with only twenty-three white men 
and a dozen negroes, he put to rout a marshal with eighty 
men, chased them six miles, and brought back four prisoners 
and five horses. The captain told the prisoners they could 
proceed on foot. Their horses were retained for prudential 
motives! and given to the brave Topeka boys" (Sanborn, 
page 485). It may be recalled that in the great battle of 
Ossawatomie Brown reported some seventy of the enemy 
hors de combat, when not a single man was killed. 

The Kansas strategist acquired an item of "one hundred 
and thirty-eight dollars in cash received on his private ac 
count of J. H. Painter." Also something from Gerrit 
Smith, who, having "heard of his foray in Missouri," wrote 
to friend Sanborn as follows (page 483) : 

1 Sanborn s Rhapsody, page 484. 
121 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

PETERSBORO, January 22, 1859. 

"MY DEAR SIR, I have yours of igth. I am happy to 
learn that the Underground Railroad is so prosperous in 
Kansas. I send you twenty -five dollars, which I wish you 
to send to our noble friend, John Brown. The topography 
of Missouri is unfavorable. Would that a spur of the Alle- 
gkany extended from the east to the west borders of the state." 

The italics are in the original, and are significant, as they 
refer to the proposed invasion of the South to arm the 
negroes. Villard says Brown sent his wife one hundred 
and fifty dollars from the proceeds of the sale in Ohio of 
the horses stolen in Missouri. But these were insignificant 
sums when compared with the amount contributed by the 
New England contingent. Mr. George L. Stearns, one of 
the militant group of abolitionists, was a gold-mine for the 
"hero and martyr." How much he worked this placer for 
it is impossible to determine; but, being needy, as was his 
wont, he wrote and read at the psychological moment to 
Mrs. Stearns s "Old Brown s Farewell," the last lines of 
which are: "I am destitute of horses, baggage- wagons, 
tents, harness, saddles, bridles, holsters, spurs and belts; 
camp equipage, such as cooking and eating utensils, blankets, 
knapsacks, intrenching-tools, axes, shovels, spades, mattocks, 
crowbars; have not a supply of ammunition; have not 
money sufficient to pay freight and traveling expenses ; and 
left my family poorly supplied with common necessities." 
The dear lady says: "I wish I could picture him as he sat 
and read, lifting his eyes to mine now and then, to see 
how it impressed me." Mrs. Stearns was won over, very 
much won over, as was her husband, for "when breakfast 
was over he [Mr. Stearns] drove to the residence of Judge 

122 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Russell and handed Captain Brown his check for seven 
thousand dollars!" 

Discredited in Kansas by reason of his unlawful meth 
ods, disowned by such honorable antislavery leaders as EH 
Thayer, Amos A. Lawrence, Governor Charles Robinson, 
O. E. Learned, and a host of men whose names are the 
synonyms of honor, integrity, and truthfulness; dismissed 
from their service and pay as unworthy of confidence or 
respect; an outlaw, with rewards for his apprehension 
offered by the President of the United States and by the 
Governor of Missouri; a fugitive from justice, slipping 
about under various aliases; an Ishmaelite with no possible 
means of a living for himself and the pitiable family he had 
long neglected, except what he might obtain from the 
wealthy zealots among the militant abolitionists or appro 
priate by violence, John Brown was now in a position to 
undertake even a venture that might involve some risk. 
Like Macbeth in more ways than one, he was so hopelessly 
advanced in bloody deeds twas just as easy to go on as to 
recede. He had had in mind what his historian dignifies 
by calling it an " invasion of the South" for the liberation 
of the slaves. It might or might not involve a wide-spread 
insurrection and a repetition on a grand scale in many re 
mote communities of Nat Turner s massacres in Southamp 
ton. He had said it was better for a whole generation of 
white men, women, and children to be wiped out rather 
than slavery should continue. He knew what had been 
done in Haiti, San Domingo, and in Virginia. Mr. San- 
born, who conspired with him, and who more than all others, 
perhaps, is responsible for this apotheosis, regales us with 
the record of loud shouting, " Thank God, the negroes 
have risen in Virginia at last!" when the news came to 

123 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Hudson, Ohio, about Nat Turner s murderous insurrection. 
Will the reader calmly and dispassionately think of this, 
and then read the appalling story, only a part of which is 
given in this book. 

It is stated that Brown had thought of going down the 
Mississippi to near the Louisiana line, where the negroes 
were ten to one more numerous than the whites, but in all 
probability he abandoned this project as the chances of 
escape in case of disaster would not be so good at such a dis 
tance from the Mason and Dixon line. No one who care 
fully studies each step of his career at this crisis can doubt 
that he had no idea of being caught or of dying. Had he 
been a really brave man and of heroic mold, ready and 
willing to die for the liberation of the slaves, nothing would 
have been easier than to have gone down the Ohio and 
the Mississippi in a trading flatboat, in which his guns and 
pikes and men could have been readily concealed, or on a 
raft of logs, which would have disarmed suspicion, and to 
have opened his campaign of "arming the slaves" where it 
was feasible. He knew that in 1811 in St. John s Parish, 
in Louisiana, the negroes, unaided from without, had risen, 
and that it took a week to put the insurrection down. With 
a white leader and his armed company and guns, and pikes 
for those who didn t know how to shoot, what a great suc 
cess he might have made of it! 

The truth, as I believe it, is that John Brown was a 
craven at heart. He and his two sons ran away from the 
click of a gun from the inside of a cabin when they were 
calling unsuspecting men and boys to the door and, finding 
them unarmed, hacking them to pieces with cleavers in 
order not to raise an alarm in that bloody night on the 
Pottawattomie. There is undoubted testimony that he 

124 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ran at Ossawatomie, from which he emerges as a hero at 
the hands of the martyrists. Read Brown s report of this 
great battle, with its sixty or seventy of the enemy slain, 
and then read the truth, that not one of the enemy was 
killed, and that there was "a general skedaddle, John Brown 
with the rest," and you begin to get the measure of a colossal 
fraud. He evidently expected to escape into the moun 
tains and then to his harbor of refuge in the North in case 
of failure at Harper s Ferry. "He and his men had studied 
the country carefully and knew it a hundred times better 
than any of the inhabitants. Every avenue of escape was 
noted" (Sanborn, page 556). It was the measure of a cow 
ard to take helpless citizens and hold them as hostages in 
constant danger of being shot to protect himself in the 
engine-house, in which, from a port-hole, he, rifle in hand, 
was killing or trying to kill his assailants. He had refused 
to surrender, saying, "I prefer to die just here," but when 
the crisis came what did he do? 

"One lone man, Lieutenant Green, of the United States 
Marine Corps, forced his way through a small aperture 
made by a ladder used as a battering-ram, jumped on top 
of the engine, and stood a second mid a shower of balls. 
Singling out John Brown, he sprang at him, having no weap 
on but a small officer s sword which bent double with the 
first thrust or blow, when Brown fell down, with his head 
between his knees, permitting Green to maul him with the 
bent weapon, and offering no resistance whatever!" 

Brown was at last face to face with a fearless man, armed 
as he was; he had boasted he preferred to die just here, but 
when he had the opportunity to fight he behaved as stated 
before in the words of an eye-witness, one of the hostages. 
If there is a suggestion of the heroic in this, I fail to dis- 

125 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

cern it. Even after he was caught red-handed he did not 
abandon hope or the effort to escape the just penalty of his 
crimes. He offered Judge Thomas Russell (among others), 
who was in the conspiracy, two hundred and fifty dollars 
"and personal property sufficient to pay a most liberal fee 
to yourself " to come and try to get him off, and in his anxiety 
he added, "Do not send an ultra abolitionist!" They had 
taken Colonel Washington s silver and watch, and probably 
other valuables. Brown had no personal property beyond 
what he had obtained illegally. To Senator Mason he spoke 
falsely when he said he furnished most of the money for 
his expedition, and that he had killed no man except in fair 
fight. Standing by and ordering his sons to kill his victims 
was not killing unfairly, as he interpreted it. 

Of the trial, Sanborn, his rhapsodist, says: "He was ably 
defended." Brown said: "I feel entirely satisfied with the 
treatment I have received on my trial. It has been more 
generous than I expected." He was sentenced to be exe 
cuted on December 2, 1859. Then and only then when 
all hope of escape was gone, came the pose of martyrdom. 
Sanborn sounds the slogan when he says : * But he soon be 
gan to see that his mistake" (in not running earlier) "was 
leading him to his most glorious success, a victory such as 
he might never have won in his own way." A deluge of 
letters flowed from the Charlestown jail to all points of the 
compass but one pathetic appeals of a dying man, of a 
poor man with a helpless family, of a man who had lost 
three sons and a son-in-law and was himself soon to be 
judicially murdered by slave-owners, and all because he had 
tried to free the slaves. 

Nobody stopped to think that one of his dead sons, 
Frederick, was a murderer in Kansas before he in turn was 

126 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

murdered by a proslavery preacher who got the drop on 
him; that Owen, Salmon, and Oliver, and son-in-law 
Thompson cut some of the Pottawattomie helpless and 
unarmed victims into slices with cleavers; and that the 
leading candidate for martyrdom had a long and varied 
career of deception, embezzlement, robbery, and murder. 
Oh no! The maxim of Napoleon, the great master in the 
art of pulling the wool over men s eyes namely, "Not 
facts, but sentiment and imagination, if you would rule 
mankind" was the motto of the crusade of martyrdom. It 
spread like wild-fire among the militant abolitionists of the 
North; it appealed to thousands who never stopped to 
reason, only to sympathize. It found a ready lodgment in 
the "Concord Circle of Authors." On December 2, 1859, 
at the hour at which the execution was to take place at 
Charlestown, with time allowance carefully calculated, the 
circle began at Concord the Crusade of Martyrdom. San- 
born furnished "A Dirge"; Alcott read the "Martyr s Ser 
vice" and quoted appropriately from Solomon, David, the 
Psalms, and Plato; Thoreau chimed in with selections from 
the poets, and the Reverend E. H. Sears "offered prayer." 
Alcott, in his Diary, notes: "The spectacle of a martyrdom 
such as his must needs be, will be greater service," etc., etc. 
But it was left to Mr. F. B. Sanborn to settle the matter in 
this rhapsodical outburst: "From the crucifixion at Jeru 
salem a light sprang forth that was reflected back without 
obstruction from the ugly gallows of Virginia. John Brown 
took up his cross and followed the Lord, and it was enough 
for this servant that he was as his Master!" 



XI 

A DISSERTATION UPON THE PERVERSION OF FACTS SKETCHES 
FROM THE BACKWOODS OF ALABAMA THE GRAPE-VINE 
TELEGRAPH THE LIARS TOURNAMENT THE SHERIFF S 



ALTHOUGH born a Presbyterian and brought up with a 
Bible and the Westminster Confession in either hand, I 
must own up to a mental reservation in accepting the defini 
tion of a lie as the wilful perversion of fact." I would 
rather define a real lie as perversion of fact with intent 
to avoid an obligation or to harm another. Deep down 
in its heart the human family believes that there are mo 
ments when lying is a near virtue. Judas told the truth 
when he gave his Master away, while Peter perverted fact 
three times with such a rising inflection that his last whopper 
started the cock crowing and yet we all despise the man 
who told the truth and applaud the liar. 

If I ever write a book and dedicate it to one of the dis 
ciples, I shall not forget Peter. He was human enough to 
get mad and to qualify his nouns with forcible adjectives, 
and even went so far once on a time as to cut off the ear 
of the servant of the high priest. Then, too, Peter believed 
in himself. How we all look up to a man who has the cour 
age of his convictions! He wasn t willing to let any living 
man get ahead of him, so when the Master came near to 
the boat walking across the surface of the water, as if 

128 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

it were the Mall in Central Park, Peter said, "I can do it 
if He can," and overboard he went. Alas for Peter! the 
law of gravitation refused to be suspended in his case, and 
he had to shout to his Master for help and swim until it 
was at hand. 

It may be that I lean toward the twisting of facts because 
I am a doctor. In my profession we often feel justified in 
deceiving our patients, especially when the truth might 
contribute to their mental or physical undoing. The fact 
that we are caught at it does not discourage us or stop the 
practice. I was on one occasion "sitting up" with a very 
dear and very sick friend, the late Dr. J. Marion Sims. He 
was suffering acutely, and begged so persistently for a hypo 
dermic injection of morphine that I said at last, in affected 
sincerity: "Well, if you will have it, I ll give it to you; but 
you must take the responsibility, for you know Doctors 
Loomis and Janeway have forbidden it." 

He said he would, and so I went through all the forms of 
sterilizing the solution and the instrument, inserted the 
needle and gave him nothing but plain water. The light 
was turned down, and I went back to the cot by the bed 
side, feigning sleep, but listening. In a few minutes I heard 
a whisper calling me. He said: 

"How much morphine did you give me?" 

I put on my best Presbyterian face and, looking him 
straight in the eye, said, "A fourth of a grain." 

Quick as a flash he said, "Wyeth, you re a liar, and you 
know it!" 

I wrote on the chart, "Diagnosis correct." 

Lawyers, too, are said at times to wander from the straight 
and narrow path of truth. On one occasion a group of this 
profession, in selecting a site for the county court-house, 

129 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

requested a Baptist preacher to officiate in dedicating this 
bit of earth to its great purpose. He opened the services 
by asking those present to join in singing that well-known 

hymn 

Come, trembling sinner, view the ground 
Where you shall shortly lie 

If Bobby Burns is to be believed, even our clerical friends 
occasionally part company with facts. In that irreverent 
poem entitled " Death and Doctor Hornbook," he says: 

Some books are lies frae end to end, 
An some great lies were never penn d; 
E en ministers they ha e been kenn d, 

In holy rapture, 
A rousing whid at times to vend 

An nail t wi Scripture. 

Even a soldier may find it necessary to protect himself 
by a false statement. In one of my war-time experiences 
I had to go into the Union lines on an urgent errand. The 
night was dark, and the little light which the stars were 
shedding was shut out by the overhanging forest and the 
dense undergrowth, which grew right up to the edges of the 
narrow country roadway. Suddenly as I struck the enemy s 
pickets my horse shied, and as I gave him the spurs I recog 
nized the dim outlines of two men as they sprang to one 
side to keep from being run over. Our interview was brief, 
and very hurried on my part; but had I told those two 
pickets the truth as to who I was and what I was up to, 
the reader would have been spared the present infliction. 

The definition once given, that "a lie is an abomination 
in the sight of the Lord, but an ever-present help in time of 
trouble," might apply to such a situation. There is cur 
rent a positive, comparative, and superlative classification, 

130 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

as lies, damned lies, and statistics. In my boyhood days 
down in Alabama you might be called a liar, and survive 
with something of character and reputation by promptly 
replying, "You re another"; but when in a moment of 
excitement or anger one boy called another a "damned liar" 
he had to fight or go to Texas. No boy ever took that in 
sult and retained the respect of his playmates, or even of 
the grown-ups in that community. Whenever one of our 
crowd took it into his head that he wanted a fight with 
another boy, all he had to do was to call him a "damned 
liar," and the fight was on. The only delay was in a rapid 
exfoliation of hat and coat, and in summer-time the hat 
alone was in the way. I suppose boys are alike the world 
over, and in these engagements the usual rules of warfare 
were enforced. You could pull hair, and hit with your fists 
anywhere above or below the belt, smash a nose or blacken 
an eye or two, clench and wrestle and bang away until one 
or the other "hollered," but you dared not choke, scratch, 
bite, gouge, or kick. If you were guilty of one of these 
reprehensible practices the onlookers intervened and declared 
the victim the victor, and from that time on the offender 
was an Ishmaelite, with every hand against him. 

Modern society recognizes very properly the "white lie," 
which is accepted as a distortion of fact, not only without 
intent to do an injury, but often to avoid wounding the 
sensibilities, or to amuse, and thereby benefit, another. 

One of the cherished memories of my youth is that of 
an intimate association with a man some fifteen or twenty 
years my senior, who was endowed by nature with such a 
keen sense of humor, coupled with a genius for invention 
and exaggeration, that his companionship was always wel 
come. With the straightest face and in the most earnest 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and impressive way he would tell of the most impossible 
happenings. Up to a certain age I believed everything he 
told me, and when it dawned upon my awakening reason 
that I was the victim of a romancer I felt something of the 
same sickening sense that came over me when I first learned 
that Santa Claus really didn t come down the chimney. 
All the same, I loved and admired this gentle, gifted, blue- 
eyed, and soft-voiced old friend, who long ago knocked at 
the door of heaven; and if St. Peter knows a good thing 
when he sees it (and I think he does), James Swiverly is on 
the inside. If I am ever lucky enough to get there with 
him I ll lay aside my harp at any time to hear him talk. 
At heart this man was truthful and the soul of honor. He 
became the most popular man in our county, constable of 
his beat, sheriff, and a member of the legislature. He was 
of humble origin and uneducated. The district in which 
he was born was for many years represented in Congress 
by a statesman who boasted that there was no use for 
an education beyond the three R s readin , ritin , and 
rithmetic. In frontier days for we grew up in the 
Cherokee country of northern Alabama the school facili 
ties in Honey-Comb Cove were limited. In all probability 
neither his opportunities nor his aspirations carried him 
beyond the simpler forms of spelling. 

In addition to his genial disposition, which brought him 
in friendly touch and sympathy with every man, woman, 
and child in our county, it may be that something of his 
political success was due to a serious lameness which in 
capacitated him for physical labor, and when the war came 
on barred him from military duty. One leg was fully six 
inches shorter than the other, and, as he made no attempt 
to correct the inequality by wearing a high shoe, his limp- 

132 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ing gait made of him a rather grotesque figure as he went 
bobbing up and down. With a boy s curiosity I asked him 
how it happened that one of his legs was so much shorter 
than the other. We were walking down the village street 
side by side in our usual familiar conversation. As I made 
this inquiry he stopped short and, looking earnestly down at 
me, turned and led the way to the back of one of the stores 
his look, manner, and tone indicating that what he was about 
to say was in the nature of a confidential communication. 

When we were by ourselves he said: "John, I don t like 
to brag about myself in public; but I don t mind talking to 
you, if you won t tell it." I told him I wouldn t. In a 
tone so serious that I believed every word, he said: "It 
come about in this way. When I was a-growin up ther 
wasn t nobody in Honey -Comb could lift as big a load 
as me. One day a lot of us fellers was a-standin in front 
of Rickett s store when a feller drove up with a bushel 
bag plum full o buckshot. He said he d bet a dollar I 
couldn t shoulder the bag, and I took him up. It wasn t 
no trouble for me to shoulder a bushel o shot, but, as bad 
luck would have it, my left foot was a-restin on a rock and 
couldn t sink into the ground as the other one did, and the 
heavy weight drove that hip-bone half a foot up into my 
body, and it s stayed thar ever sence." Before I could tell 
him how sorry I was that the rock happened to be under 
his foot, he forestalled the expression of sympathy which 
he saw coming by adding: "After all, son, it ain t so power 
ful bad as a feller might think, specially in turnin over 
ground with a mold-board plow. I just keep my long foot 
down in the furrer and the short one up on the land, and 
it ain t half so tirin as bein in Marshall County one second 
and up in High Jackson the next." 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

In later years, after the dawn of his political career, he 
turned this seeming misfortune to his further advantage, 
for, as he said, it gave him a chance to meet all classes of 
people on their own level. "When I m a-talkin to the peo 
ple in The Gap or over in Honey-Comb, I git down 
among em on my short leg, familiar like; but when I m 
up here in town with the upper ten, like your pap, I rise 
up on my other foot, and thar I am." 

In those earlier days, before civilization moved into Mar 
shall, there were no cattle laws, and at times not many of 
any other kind except those which the rifle and the bowie- 
knife enforced. Everybody s hogs ran loose and oftentimes 
strayed away into the woods and became wild. More than 
once in my hunting expeditions I have had to climb a tree 
or retire precipitately before the onslaught of a savage sow 
on guard over her litter. When the mast in the forests 
was scarce these omnivera would play havoc with the corn 
fields, gardens, and orchards of the settlers, and great care 
was necessary to build tight or close fences. Jim said: 
"John Kennedy s razorbacks was so poor and thin they 
laughed at fences and palings and went through them as 
if they wasn t there. Even tying knots in their tails couldn t 
stop em. Howsomever," he added, "old Ben Swords got 
the best of em. He went up on the side o the mountain 
whar the chestnut-trees growed twistin , and split rails 
enough to fence in his peach-orchard. Well, John, you d a 
died laughin to a seen how foolish them shotes looked 
when they struck them cork-screw rails, and went in and 
come out on the same side." 

He furthermore assured me that down in Parch Corn 
Cove a friend of his raised so many hogs he couldn t take 
time to mark them with "a hole in the left ear and an under- 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

bit in the right, " so he changed his registration to a "smooth 
crop for both ears, and mowed em off with a scythe-blade." 

Jim Swiverly was not the only man in politics in Mar 
shall County. At one time or another about everybody I 
knew who wore breeches was running for something, and 
with some of our people this was a continuous performance. 
I remember one man well along in years when I was just 
getting big enough to go with my father to the barbecues 
and musters and other large gatherings held after the crops 
were "laid by," who at every convention in the absence of 
any one else to present his name would mount the stump 
when it was possible to get it before another candidate 
pre-empted it and announce himself as a candidate for 
governor. He did this so often that everybody knew him 
by the nickname of "Governor Hutton." 

An opportunity such as this could not escape the observa 
tion of Jim Swiverly, and there went the rounds the story 
that after repeated failures the candidate determined upon 
suicide. As Jim stated the facts: "The Governor wasn t 
a-goin t have no flash in the pan in his case; so he bought 
him an inch rope, a big dose o arsenic, a quart o turpentine, 
and a box o red-headed matches, loaded his old Derringer 
so full the bullet stuck half out of the muzzle, and then, to 
make things shore, he got in a skiff and paddled out in the 
river, under a leanin wilier, to hang himself. He tied the 
rope round the tree, slipped the noose over his head, said 
his prayers, swallowed the pizen, poured the turpentine over 
his clothes, struck a match and set himself on fire, cocked 
his Derringer quick, stuck the muzzle agin the side of his 
head, kicked the boat out from under him, and blazed away. 
Well, by doggie, his head was that hard the bullet glanced 
off and cut the rope in two, and Gov, he drapped inter the 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

water, which put out the blaze and strangled him till he 
coughed and thro wed up the arsenic, and would you be 
lieve it? the river was so shaller he couldn t drown, and 
he waded to the bank plum disgusted, shook himself like 
a wet dog, and swore By - , he d be a candidate for life ! " 

More than once I ve listened to the story of the " Liars 
Tournament," held around the red-hot stove in Kinzler s 
grocery in Christmas week when "Tom and Jerry" and 
"egg-nog" were half-price to everybody, and free to all ac 
cepted entries. It was on such occasions that James Swiver- 
ly, self-appointed master of ceremonies, autocrat, and um 
pire, rose on his long leg to his greatest height. I can hear 
him now making the opening address to the crowd of eager 
listeners, seated and standing about the warm fire, all 
seemingly unmindful of the stifling air which was only 
spasmodically relieved when an inrush of cold wind an 
nounced another accession to the throng. 

"Feller-citizens: This meetin is called to settle the ques 
tion as to who s the biggest liar in Marshall County. It s 
a momentous question. Everybody knows it s as full o 
liars as a watermillion is o meat. Some of us is born liars 
and can t help it; some of us learned it young, and has 
stuck close to it for a livin ; and some few, natterally truth 
ful, have bin obliged to lie to save emselves from drowning 
and taxation. I ve bin assessor five years, and I know what 
I m talkin 1 about. Thar s a power o candidates for the fust 
prize, and it ain t bin no easy job to thin out the rows to a 
good stand. Fur be it from me to intentionally hurt any 
feller s feelin s, but after prayerful consideration thar s jest 
three that s stayed in for the last heat. Them s Ben Weeks, 
Jack Holder, and Ezekiel Burgess. We ll hear first from 
Mr. Weeks." 

136 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Ben arose and with modest mien faced the stove and the 
half -encircling throng, and spoke as convincingly as his 
monotonous low drawl would permit: 

"Boys, you know thar s allers bin feelin betwixt Parch 
Corn and the settlers over in Honey-Comb Cove, specially 
in the matter of watermillions. As it was me that come out 
ahead in the raisin contest, it got spread over the North 
Side that what I said about it was made outen whole 
cloth. Now, thar is liars in this county, as the sheriff says, 
and thar ain t as many of em down in Honey- Comb as 
thar used to be before he moved up to the county-seat, but 
thar s enough yit for a farmin community. I m a forty- 
gallon Baptist and the father of sixteen childen, all bap 
tized exceptin the last set o twins, and they ll be put under 
when the circuit-rider comes around, and what I m a-goin 
to-tell you is the plum truth, and if any man disputes it 
thar ll be a vote missin in his beat at the next election. 

"When Kernal Cobb was a-runnin for Congress and 
was around shaking hands and I tell you he was so per- 
tickerler not to slight anybody that he d wake the babies 
up in their cradles to git a chance to tell their mammies 
how purty they was he tole me he had my name down at 
Washington for a package o garden seeds. Shore enough, 
next spring they come along, and among em was one big, 
fat-lookin watermillion seed. He sent word that it was a 
new kind, and powerful sca ce, and cost the gov mint five 
dollars a seed, and I must be very pertickerler to plant it 
whar the ground was rich and give it plenty of water and 
lots of room. Well, I fenced in a half-acre by the spring 
branch, riched the bed, and planted that seed. It come 
up next day, run out just one shoot, and on the end o that 
thar come a great big yaller blossom. And now, gentle- 
10 137 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

men, comes the queer part of what I m a-tellin you. In 
stead o waitin a week to shed that blossom, that darned 
watermillion growed so fast it pushed it off in one night, and 
from that time on tell frost it was all we could do to keep 
outen the way and not git run over. It growed so fast you 
could see its shadder gittin bigger every minute of the day. 
When it was three weeks old it thro wed the fence down, 
dammed up the spring branch, and made for the house, and 
all hell couldn t stop it. When the logs begun to keel over 
and the roof was a-fallin in, me and my wife and childen 
cut a door in one end of the watermillion and moved in, and 
lived on it tell a week before frost, when we met a drove o 
hogs eatin thar way through from the other side; and we 
had to move out and go and live with my wife s pap, whar 
we ve been a-livin ever sence." 

When the applause died out and Ben had resumed his 
seat Jim said he would reserve "all p inted comments until 
the other contestants had spoke," but there was a semi- 
malicious smile of satisfaction, which may have sprung 
from Cove rivalry, when he added, "If all of what we ve 
jest heard was as true as the last part of it, it ought to be a 
chapter in the Bible." By the time the laugh and the 
muffled comments on Ben s relations to his father-in-law s 
corn-crib had ceased Mr. Jack Holder was on his feet. 

"I m not a church member," he announced, "and as far 
as I know I ain t never been really baptized, for my folks 
was only sprinklers; but I m a thirty-second degree Free 
mason and a full-fledged Know-nothing, and I ve got a 
discharge paper from Gineral Fremont and Kit Carson, 
certifying that what I seed in Arizony, when we marched 
thro thar on our way to Calif orny in 1853, was as true as 
the Book of Exodus. When we fust started out from Mis- 

138 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

souri it looked like we was goin to have nothin but a long 
walk and lots o fun, but the farther west we went the 
thinner the grass got, and when we got over the Rockies it 
give plum out. When we hit the edge of the desert every 
body was ordered to fill up with water and to tote all he 
could, for Kit said thar wasn t a drap to be had for one 
hundred miles of the hot and petrified forests we marched 
through. Talk about your pillar of cloud by day! Why, 
gentlemen, the childen of Israel never raised such a dust 
as we did a-windin in and out among them rock trees. 
Thar they stood, just like they wuz before they turned to 
stone, and they must have turned powerful quick when the 
change come, for on every petrified tree thar wuz petrified 
limbs, and them limbs wuz thick with petrified leaves which 
never thro wed a shade, and the most surprisin thing of it 
all wuz that a-settin all over them limbs was thousands 
of petrified birds, and every darn bird was a-singin a petri 
fied song/ 

Amid a considerable clapping of hands and a scattering 
fire at the square sawdust - spitbox near the stove, Jack 
found his seat, while Jim remarked: 

The Good Book tells us that when Lot was a-runnin from 
Sodom after the fire broke out, his old woman looked back 
and was turned into a pillar of salt. As Judge Shorter said 
in his charge to the jury in the case of Feemster agin 
McShane, I don t intend to draw any invidious distinctions, 
but in my opinion it would a bin a great blessin to this 
country if Truthful Jack had looked back and been turned 
into a standin committee of one and had stayed out in 
Arizony a-listenin to petrified birds a-singin petrified songs 
till Gabriel bio wed a petrified blast on his petrified horn." 

There was nothing of mock modesty or assumed humility 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in the mien or tone of Ezekiel Burgess, a veteran of the 
Mexican War, as he arose and with military precision made 
two steps forward to the open place in the circle, took off 
his hat, saluted the sheriff, and then, looking squarely into 
the face of a large chromo of the Father of his Country 
which adorned the wall of the saloon, said: 

"Gentlemen, like George Washington, I have served my 
country. When the call for volunteers was made to repel 
the Mexican invaders of the Lone Star State I offered my 
humble services, and they were accepted. When we reached 
the Rio Grande General Taylor rode up to me and said, 
Zeke (he always called me that when we were alone) get 
on your horse and swim across and make a scout, and come 
back and tell me how many of Santa Anna s men there are 
over there. I found a low place in the banks and got 
across, and went ten or twenty miles and never saw a sign 
of their men, until just as I was riding around a bunch of 
chaparral two hundred Mexican lancers dashed out and 
came yelling right at me. There was nothing left for me 
to do but to break for the river at the nearest [point and 
trust to luck in hitting a low place. As I came up to it at 
full speed I saw, to my horror, that I had struck a high bluff 
where it was at least one hundred and fifty feet straight down 
to the water. By this time the lancers were so close and 
coming so fast I could almost feel their sharp points between 
my shoulder-blades. Now, gentlemen, there are times in a 
man s life when he who hesitates is lost; and, as I realized 
it was sure death to stop or turn, I shut my eyes, said my 
prayers, stuck my spurs into my faithful horse s sides, 
and over the precipice I went horse and all a hundred 
and fifty feet down into the Rio Grande." 

As Ezekiel lowered his eyes from the calm face of George 

140 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Washington, repeated his salute, and started to resume his 
seat, the sheriff said, "Will Ezekiel Burgess inform this 
crowd how long it took him to come up after that dive? * 
The veteran, unable to conceal his contempt at such a ques 
tion, turned only a moment to reply: "Come up, Mr. 
Sheriff? Come up? I never did come up; I m there yet!" 
And as he ceased, amid applause which shook the saloon 
to its underpinning, the chromo of George Washington fell 
with a crash to the floor. 

Startled by the outburst of applause at the way Ezekiel 
had downed the sheriff, and before the vote could be taken, 
Ben Weeks jumped to his feet and, with eyes turned heaven 
ward and both hands raised in the same general direction, 
in a pleading tone shouted: "Boys, like Moses of old, I m 
a-holdin my hands up to ask fer a word more. If thar ever 
wuz a time when friendship and jestice could jine hands to 
help Ben Weeks, it s right now. My repertation down in 
Parch Corn Cove is at stake. Up to now over on our side 
of the river no man has ever worked with as long a pole as 
me or knocked down as many high persimmons. If this 
vote is agin me, the chances is ten to one that my wife s 
pap 11 turn us out, and I ll have to go back to work to 
make my own livin . While I scorn the idee of usin* un 
due influence, I want to tell yer that I saved eight bushels 
of them watermillion seeds, and they re soon to be distributed 
in Marshall County, free, gratis, fer nuthin ." 

As Ben seated himself the sheriff arose and remarked 
that, as Mr. Weeks had added "a codicil to his will," if the 
other candidates desired to speak any "last words" they 
now had the chance. Without rising or even uncrossing 
his legs, and with a voice of such subdued tone that it gave 
the impression of despair, Mr. Jack Holder said, "I pass." 

141 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Not so with Colonel Ezekiel Burgess, who stood erect and 
with a gesture which included the whole audience in its 
sweep said: "Mr. Sheriff, to draw one card to four aces 
would be an act of deception to which a survivor of the 
Mexican War could never stoop. Gentlemen, I stand." 

And Ezekiel Burgess passed into history as the biggest 
liar the Cherokee country of northern Alabama had ever 
produced. 

When the war came on, in 1861, Jim had grown tired of 
being sheriff, and ran for the legislature, and was elected, 
of course, for nobody could beat him. By the spring of 
1862 the Confederate Army of the West had been driven 
back to the south side of the Tennessee River, which then 
became the dividing-line of the opposing hosts. Gunters- 
ville, my native town, was situated about a mile from the 
southerly bank of this noble stream. When Huntsville, 
some forty miles to the north, became the headquarters of 
the Union forces, communication for us with the outside 
world practically ceased. The steamboats could no longer 
run, the stages and mail -riders were discontinued or be 
came so unreliable that we could learn little of what was 
going on, and war news was eagerly desired. In this 
emergency my friend again rose to the occasion and estab 
lished what he termed "the grape-vine telegraph." He 
said, "The Yankees may burn our steamboats, tear up our 
railroads, cut our telegraph wires, and stop the mails, but 
there ain t enough of em left to strip the grape-vines from 
the trees along the river-banks, and as long as they last 
there ll be plenty o news." He justified himself by saying: 
"Whether it s so or not don t make no difference; for the 
people is starving for news, and one kind is jest as good as 
another." Over those wireless lines, long before Marconi 

142 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was born, came volumes of the most impossible happen 
ings, as interpreted by the fertile brain of our proprietor 
and sole operator; and by the few at home, mostly old 
men or cripples and wounded soldiers on furlough who 
gathered daily at the post-office, where the operator made 
his headquarters, they were heard with a smile, for no bad 
news ever came that way. The Confederacy was always 
victorious and its diplomacy invariably prevailed. 

On the occasion of the Mason-Slidell controversy the ir 
repressible operator reported that Mason was coming back 
with the whole British navy to raise the blockade, while 
Slidell and the Emperor Napoleon at the head of a million 
French soldiers were marching by way of Moscow and Bering 
Strait to take the United States in the rear. Before the 
cyclone of active hostilities struck my native village and 
wiped it out with fire and sword I had gone to the wars, 
and for three years I lost sight of my old friend. When I 
saw him again during the period of reconstruction the scep 
ter had departed from Judah and the ruler s staff from 
between his feet. Old in body, broken in health and 
fortune, he was living the song of "Tarn o Shanter" 

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn, 

What sorrows thou canst make us scorn! 

My last recollection of him is the ludicrous story told in 
one of his moments of sobriety, or semi-sobriety, of a panic 
and stampede in which he took an active part upon the 
occasion of the sudden and unexpected visit of a company 
of Ohio cavalry to our village. 

The Federal commander at Huntsville had been informed 
that the steamer Paint Rock was hid away in a creek which 
emptied into the Tennessee near Guntersville, and he deter- 

143 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mined upon its capture. Guided by a native scout, and 
crossing the river near Huntsville, an all-night ride over 
the mountains brought the Union cavalry upon the unsus 
pecting villagers about nine o clock on an April morning. 
At this period there were no soldiers in town, and but few 
men, and these were non-combatants, either too old for 
military duty or exempt by reason of physical defects. When 
the advance-guard of the Federals reached the head of the 
main street a dozen troopers dashed at full speed down this 
highway through the village, paying no heed to anybody, 
their object being to seize the steamboat at the river-landing 
beyond. All unconscious of what was about to occur, the 
sheriff, the village doctor, and a wealthy, pompous, and very 
portly planter, who had seen some service in the Mexican 
War, were sitting on the open platform in front of the doc 
tor s drug-store, which served also as the post-office and 
headquarters of "the grape-vine telegraph." Trusting to 
memory in the repetition of a narrative tinged, no doubt, 
with the exaggeration which a ludicrous incident invites, 
and may, on occasion, justify, this was the story: 

"I ve been skeered lots o times in my life, and bad 
skeered, too, but I never come so near being paralyzed all 
over at once as I was the mornin them dod-blasted Yankees 
dashed round the corner and come a-tearin down Main 
Street so fast and so sudden-like that before a feller could 
say Jack Robberson they was right on top of him. 

"We all knowed they was over in Huntsville, but nobody 
ever dreamt they d cross the river below and come on us in 
the back way. Howsomever, that s jest what they done, 
and at the wrong time, too, for Kernel Jim was right in the 
middle of one of his big war talks. I disremember whar he 
left off, for he was a-facin up the street, and me and Doc 

144 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was a-lookin the other way, and he seed the Yankees fust. 
You see, Kernel Jim was askin if thar was any news, and 
I says nothin more than Lee and Stonewall Jackson had 
whupped em ag in and had tuk Washington City, and Jeff 
Davis was a-movin over from Richmond so he could keep 
closer to em. With that the Kernel says: That s the 
only way to end the war whup em, and keep on a-whup- 
pin em, and drive em into the Atlantic Ocean, and drown 
em, or corral em away up in Cannedy, and hold em thar 
till winter-time comes on and freezes em to death. - w Fight 
em, just like we fout the Mexicans at Buny Visty. The 
more them lancers charged, the firmer we stood our ground, 
and when we got em a-goin we never let em stop long 
enough to git thar wind. Thar s whar General Beauregard 
made the big mistake at Shiloh. If he d a kep on another 
hour he d a drove Grant into the Tennessee. My motto 
is to keep on a-fightin em. One Southern man can whup 
five Yankees any day, and if they ever try to take our 
town we ll And right here Kernel Jim stopped a-talkin 
so short off I knowed somethin more n common had 
happened. 

"I was a-lookin straight at him, and as he shut up his 
eyes popped wide open, and he riz and jumped over me and 
Doc and flew out o sight into the narrer passageway be 
twixt the drug-store and Kinzler s grocery. Four hundred 
pounds o dead weight wasn t interferin with Kernel Jim s 
quick action. As I was a-noticin the way he was behavin 
I heard a roarin sound like a drove o horses a-runnin 
away, and, turnin round, thar was the whole road blue 
with Yankees, and they was right on top of us. Talk about 
being skeered! When I tried to git up my legs wouldn t 
work, and I slid off my cheer onto the platform and rolled 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

into the street. By this time the Yankees was gone, and 
everybody else was gone but me. Then my legs come back, 
and I run into the alleyway, and thar I seed the comicalest 
sight I ever seed in all my born days. Skeered as I was, I 
jest had to laugh, for thar, at the back o the house where 
the underpinnin had sagged down and narrowed the pass 
age, was Kernel Jim wedged in so tight he couldn t move 
one way or t other, and Doc was jest a-clearin him with 
one o the highest jumps I ever seed. 

By this time I was a-movin so fast I couldn t check up, 
and I riz on my long leg and tried to clear the Kernel like 
Doc, but I fell short, and my knees hit him right between 
his shoulder-blades. Just as I struck him he hollered, Oh, 
Lord! I m shot plum through with a cannon-ball, and then 
he went to prayin same as if he d been a church-member, 
and as I crawled betwixt his legs and cleared the openin he 
was still a-supplicatin . By the time I got through Doc was 
nearly out o sight, and I hollered to him to wait for me, 
but the louder I hollered the faster he went, and if it hadn t 
been for one thing I never could a cotched him. When we 
come to the side o the steep hill back o town, as good luck 
would have it, I struck the slant with my short leg on the 
upper side, and then I went by Doc like he was a-standin 
still." 

How the Colonel extricated himself from his unfortunate 
position was not included in the story as it was told to me. 
It may be that the whole thing was evolved from the fertile 
mind of the loquacious sheriff. In any event, its repetition 
furnished merriment for many a day thereafter, and no 
doubt helped to lighten some of the sad hours of that un 
happy period. 



XII 

THE SNAKES OF NORTHERN ALABAMA 

WHAT I have to say of snakes is based entirely on per 
sonal observation and experience, and not on a scientific 
study of these vertebrates. Much that is absurd or untrue 
or grossly exaggerated has been uttered concerning snakes, 
and it would seem as if the human family, taking its cue 
from the Garden of Eden on serpents, and from Jonah and 
one of the parables on fish, had exercised a free license in 
speaking of these creatures. In the early settlement days 
there were a great many snakes of different kinds in Marshall 
County; but now, owing to the clearing of the land for 
cultivation and the common warfare of extermination, they 
are comparatively rare with the exception of the water- 
moccasin. The snakes that run their prey down and catch 
it with their teeth, and when necessary kill it by constriction 
and crushing, are not venomous, and when fully grown are 
comparatively long (three to six or seven feet), slender, and 
graceful in motion. Some of them move with surprising 
rapidity. The "coach- whip," a very dark-brown, almost 
black serpent, so called because it looks as if it were a platted 
coach- whip, I have seen flash across the road so quickly 
that if the track it left in the dust or sand was not there as 
a witness one might doubt the testimony of the eye. By 
reason of their alertness they are rarely killed. While 
snakes are in general repulsive, this particular one may 
almost be said to be beautiful. Their nests, or dens, were 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

usually in the ground, in recesses or caverns left by the 
decay and disintegration of the long, large roots of dead 
trees. When frightened they glide almost like a flash of 
lightning for their holes and do not seem to notice the pres 
ence of any body coming between them and the refuge they 
are seeking. This fact would seem to account for the super 
stition, especially among the negroes, that a coach-whip 
would attack a man. Like all other animals, these will al 
ways run if they see a way to escape, and fight only when 
cornered or wounded and desperate. 

The rattlesnake comes nearer to being indifferent to the 
presence of man than any other creature of its kind. I have 
seen coach-whips fully six feet in length. As they move so 
swiftly, they are apt to give the impression of being much 
longer than they are. The blacksnake, also a constric 
tor, is quite common in Alabama, is long, graceful, and 
moves with remarkable swiftness, leaving a track or 
trail only slightly sinuous. In fact, as it propels itself 
by the transverse movable scales across its belly, to 
which the abdominal and lateral muscles are attached, 
its progress is almost in a straight line, as with the 
common earthworm. This latter, however, elongates 
itself, fixes its anterior extremity, and then draws up 
its rear portion in a straight line, which the snake does 
not. The short or stubby and usually venomous snakes 
leave a sinuous or serpentine trail, showing that they 
propel themselves by the use of their large lateral muscles 
rather than by the abdominal or transverse scale layers. 
I infer from this that they are nearer in evolution to the 
vertebrates with legs. These move much slower than the 
constrictors. They lie in wait for their prey, and kill it by 
striking with their poison-injecting fangs, usually holding 

148 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

on to it until it soon dies from the venom which is rapidly 
absorbed in the blood. 

The saj ing "Be ye wise as serpents* is not without a 
meaning as applied to some of the snake tribe, for I have 
often observed their cunning when out for prey. I was 
seated on a log on a hillside in an open, shady woodland 
while hunting. Hearing a rustling above, I turned to 
see coming toward me a black racer four or five feet in 
length, and leaping for dear life about twenty feet ahead 
of it was a bullfrog of good size. The frog was clever 
enough to leap in zigzags, first to right and then to left; 
and for the first four or five manceuvers of this kind the 
snake followed each turn of the animal it was chasing ; but 
as the rapidly moving and, to me, extremely interesting 
picture arrived opposite my position I noticed that the 
racer, instead of turning to the right, glided the other way, 
and as the frog, reversing in his course, neared the ground 
he fell into the open jaws of his pursuer, who had actually 
caught him "on the fly." Sitting still unobserved, I noted 
that without constriction the snake proceeded to swallow 
his victim. The frog was at least two or three times as 
large as the head and neck of the snake, and I marveled 
at the way the mouth of the latter stretched as the morsel 
began to disappear down its throat. It was probably half 
an hour before it was well out of sight. 

I once killed a big blacksnake, and in order to discover 
the cause of a large lump or swelling in its abdomen I cut 
it open to find an undigested bird, feathers and all. It was 
a flicker, or yellowhammer, a beautiful bird of the South 
about the size of a Florida quail. The largest diameter of 
the bird was at least five times greater than the neck of 
the snake as it lay dead. 

149 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The blacksnake and the chicken-snake, constrictors of 
near kin to the racer and the coach-whip, but not nearly 
so swift, are tree-climbers. I have seen them high above 
the ground, stretched full length on top of a long limb, as 
motionless and fixed as the branch upon which they were 
lying in wait for some unwary bird to alight near enough 
to be snapped by the lightning-like stroke of the head and 
anterior portion of the body. In climbing they take hold 
by winding around the trunk of the tree. I recall a fright 
I experienced on one occasion when I was riding at a canter 
along a narrow path with a worm-fence on one side and a 
deep gulley on the other. Just as I was leaning forward 
on my horse s neck to pass under the limb of a tree which 
stretched directly across the trail, when my face was not a 
foot away, I saw stretched along the branch a huge chicken- 
snake five or six feet in length. It was too late to check 
my horse, so I ducked my head to pass under. The snake, 
more frightened than I, let loose and fell, striking across the 
horse s back just behind the saddle. As soon as he hit 
the ground he glided through the fence and was gone. I 
knew this one was not poisonous, and I was in no danger; 
but, although I have been accustomed to seeing them from 
childhood, the sight of a snake, even the picture of one, gives 
me a shudder. 

Chicken-snakes infest barns and outhouses, and live on 
tiny chickens, mice, and eggs. A large one will swallow 
a half-dozen hen s eggs without breaking the shells, which 
are later dissolved by the gastric juice. The only other 
snake I have seen in the trees was a small, slender creature 
about two feet in length and as green as the leaves. I do 
not know whether or not it is venomous, and I am of the 
opinion that, like the garter-snake, it lives largely on in- 

150 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sects. The garter-snake is very common, and is not only 
harmless, but useful in that it destroys insects. I have seen 
people pick them up by grasping them in the middle, and 
the wriggling captive would not even try to bite the hand 
that held it. Two of the largest of the harmless variety I 
ever saw were blacksnakes. They were as large around in 
the middle as my arm and fully six feet in length. My 
father and I were having a canoe hewn out of the trunk of 
a large poplar- tree in the Tennessee bottom. Within fifty 
yards this pair of serpents had their den in the roots of a great 
oak, and every afternoon near sundown they would appear 
and chase each other in a regular frolic, like two children 
playing hide-and-seek. No one had a thought of trying 
to kill them, as they were far from a habitation. 

Among the venomous serpents of northern Alabama 
are the Elaps russelli, or king -snake; the rattlesnake 
(Crotalus adamanteus, or diamond-back); the copperhead 
( Trigonocephalus contortrix, or cottonmouth) ; the mocca 
sin two varieties, the highland and the water moccasin 
(Toxicopkis)\ and the spreading- adder, of the order Viper a 
bents. The elaps is quite rare. I have seen less than half 
a dozen. They are small, about two feet long, slender, 
graceful, slow and deliberate in movement, and seemingly 
fearless. Their markings are unique, having from neck to 
tail alternating black and golden rings, while the head is 
black with a golden arch over each eye. While driving 
along a lonely mountain road on a very bright and hot 
summer day I saw one of this variety gliding down the 
rather steep bank on the upper side of the highway. I 
stopped the horse, and, seemingly unmindful of danger or 
observation, the little creature came into the road, passed 
between the front and rear wheels of one side, and went 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

between the two hind wheels, and thence into the brush 
wood on the other side. Several times, as it was directly 
beneath the buggy, it shot its forked tongue out of its 
mouth. It was a very interesting experience. 

At that time I had no idea of how very poisonous this 
seemingly innocent fellow was, but a mountaineer whom I 
knew very well told me it was a king-snake, and that he 
had seen one kill a rattlesnake several times larger than it 
self. I took this statement cum grano, as I always take fish 
or snake reports, although it may have been true. Later 
I secured one of these reptiles alive, brought it to New 
York, and presented it to Mr. Conkling, then the superin 
tendent of the Central Park Zoo. As soon as he saw it he 
pronounced it the Elaps russelli, adding that it was the 
most deadly snake on the continent. It was on exhibition 
in New York for some time. 

The most horrible snake of all is the highland moccasin, 
a short, thick, stubby-tailed, and hammer-headed monster. 
It is said to be, and I believe is, very venomous. It is slug 
gish in its wriggling way of moving, and, as it inhabits lone 
ly and unfrequented mountainsides, usually under cliffs and 
boulders, where it can readily find a fissure for refuge, it is 
rarely seen. I had an instructive experience with one of 
these, and I recall it vividly because on the same day I was 
stung in the palm of the hand by a scorpion. These latter 
live under rocks and beneath the loosened bark of fallen 
trees. While making a survey I planted the instrument 
near the trunk of a pine which had been blown down, and 
as I was leaning over to sight the flagman I displaced a 
piece of the loose bark with the flat of my right hand. 
Feeling a sharp sting, I lifted the hand and saw the scorpion, 
about two inches long, hanging by his tail, the stinger 

152 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

fastened in my palm holding it captive. Shaking the vicious 
creature loose, I sucked the poison out at once, and thought 
no more of it. Clambering over the bluff and well down 
the crest of the mountain, peering over a large boulder to 
find a place to set the transit, I saw a highland moccasin. 
It did not budge, and was probably sound asleep. While 
not over a foot and a half in length, it seemed fully three 
inches in diameter in the middle of its body. Picking up 
a large stone, I leaned over and dropped it directly on the 
snake, killing it. Cutting the body open, I made the (to 
me) surprising discovery that it was viviparous I had 
thought all snakes were oviparous like the chicken-snake, 
and racer, and coach-whip. 

The water-moccasins are very numerous, and, as they 
live in or near the creeks and ponds, in which they dive out 
of sight when approached, their extermination will be long 
deferred. This snake is colored on the back and sides a 
muddy brown, not quite a black shade, while the belly is 
a light salmon. The largest I have seen were from three to 
four feet long, but these are exceptional. If a drift of logs 
or brush is cautiously approached on a hot, clear day, from 
one to a dozen or more may be seen, seemingly asleep and 
coiled, or half coiled, evidently enjoying the warmth. Dis 
turbed, they slide below the surface of the water, where 
they seem to be able to remain indefinitely. 

The spreading-adder has a short and not very thick body, 
and is dark in color. When teased it will flatten its body 
until it looks not unlike thick webbing, and as it raises its 
head and the fore part of its body to strike it emits a warn 
ing, short hiss. Their habitat is in the uplands, and prefer 
ably among heaps of loose stones. 

I have saved the rattlesnake for the last out of respect 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to this underrated animal. They are admittedly very dan 
gerous when nearly approached, but they will not strike 
unless they are trod on or attacked, and unless asleep when 
approached they will always warn you of danger by sound 
ing the rattle with which nature has adorned their tails. 
Moreover, they are less afraid of man than any other living 
creature. On a hot August day while on a long horseback- 
ride, being saddle- weary, I alighted, threw the reins over 
the saddle, and walked ahead, my well-trained horse fol 
lowing. The road was narrow, with dense undergrowth 
on either side. Looking ahead some fifty yards, I saw a 
large rattlesnake glide slowly into the roadway. When he 
observed me he stopped as his head was over one wagon 
track and his tail over the other, and head and tail were 
raised three or four inches. As I came up within a few feet, 
instead of going on and escaping, as he could have done, he 
rattled his warning note; and I could see the tail in rapid, 
short vibration. As my horse now came up and saw and 
smelt his natural enemy, he turned to run back, and stopped 
only when I spoke. I led him off a short distance and 
fastened the bridle to a sapling. 

Meanwhile the rattler had not budged, although he had 
ample time to crawl into the underbrush and escape. As 
it was a wild and uninhabited stretch, I hoped he would 
go; but as I approached again, still stretched full length 
across the road, it rattled away and refused to move. It 
did not coil in defense until I came near with a long tree- 
branch, raised to strike. Then it gathered itself in half- 
coil; that is, doubling up the posterior two-thirds of its 
body, the part nearest the head was drawn back in an S- 
shape, and the open mouth, with the large poison -fangs 
in view, was shot toward me very rapidly four or five 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

times. I broke his back and pounded his head. He meas 
ured in length the distance between the regulation wagon- 
wheels (forty-eight inches) , and had nine rattles and a but 
ton, which I cut off and kept as a souvenir. In passing I 
may note the practice of the country fiddlers at home to drop 
one of these rattles inside their violins to increase the tone 
or resonance. I was curious to register the circumference 
of this, the largest rattler I ever killed (I never saw but one 
larger out of captivity). Having no measuring-tape with 
me, I stripped a ribbon of bark from a hickory sapling, car 
ried it around the animal s body at the largest part, and 
marked it. It measured nine inches by the foot-rule. The 
sound of the rattle is like the clatter of dry beans in a pod. 

Rattlesnakes are rarely seen in the water. Only once 
have I seen one swimming, and this was in Arkansas in 1869. 
The boat upon which I was acting as pilot was lying at a 
wood-yard on Little Red River, when swimming directly 
toward us from the opposite shore we saw a rattler about 
three feet long. The engineer and another man rowed out 
in a yawl, and the former skilfully caught the animal 
which was helpless in the water just back of the head with 
one hand and near the tail with the other, and brought the 
captive on board. It was an exhibition of nerve I had never 
before seen one I would not have repeated for the gold of 
Ophir, 

There is really very little danger of death even from 
venomous snakes, and none whatever from the constrictors 
of North America. I saw one of our negroes actually tangled 
up in the coils of a very long black racer, and I have never 
seen a human being more frightened. I was on horseback, 
and, with the negroes on foot, was trying to drive a small herd 
of cattle along a country road. As one of the cows started 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to turn into a patch of short, stubby bushes I shouted to 
one of the men to head her off, and he darted at full speed 
through the bushes, which were just about as high as his 
knees. After he had started, and before I could possibly 
give him the alarm, I saw from my elevated seat on horse 
back a tremendous long blacksnake lying at full length 
near the top of the dense bushes, evidently waiting for an 
unsuspecting bird. In another instant, moving at full 
speed, the negro s leg hit the snake about its middle and 
doubled the frightened creature around him. The darky 
screamed, kicked wildly with both legs, and fell over yell 
ing, but before we could go to his rescue the swift traveler, 
true to his name, had raced away. 

There has not been, so far as I am informed, a fatal case 
of snake-bite in Marshall County, and, considering the large 
number of these reptiles when I was living in this compara 
tively unsettled section 1845-1869 very few persons were 
bitten. A young girl of twelve was struck on the ankle by 
a water-moccasin. The leg was considerably swollen and 
painful for several days, but the constitutional symptoms 
were insignificant. 

There is no danger in approaching a snake in coil or ex 
tended, provided one keeps his distance with ordinary care. 
That part of the body which rests upon the ground as it 
strikes with the anterior portion never budges. They can 
not leap or jump, and cannot strike while crawling. The 
so-called suicide of the snake by biting itself is another 
fiction, since it is well known that the venom of a reptile 
is innocuous to itself or its kind, although it may be fatal 
to another snake of a different species. I have frequently 
seen them bite at a stick with which I held them down and 
occasionally miss the stick and bite themselves, but I believe 

156 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the act was accidental rather than intentional. Moreover, 
they do not spit their venom. I have seen it ooze out and 
adhere to a stick with which I was teasing the snake, but 
never saw it leave the mouth any other way. I can 
imagine that if one were exuding a large quantity it would 
be possible, as the animal struck out in the attempt to bite, 
to throw off a small quantity; but I have never seen this 
happen. 

I have been told by several natives that they had seen 
very young snakes run for shelter and disappear down the 
open mouth of the mother reptile, but I cannot vouch for 
this as a fact. While I have never seen a battle-royal be 
tween two snakes, I do not doubt that they kill and eat each 
other. One such combat was witnessed by my friend Mr. 
John S. Sutphen, of New York. 

"I was trout-fishing," he said, "in Pike County, Penn 
sylvania, in the spring of 1905, when by a rare chance I 
saw a fight to the death between a rattlesnake about thirty 
inches long and a blacksnake fully five feet long. I was 
following a narrow, winding trail when I heard a rustling 
in the leaves near by. Peering through the undergrowth, 
I observed in a small clear space not fifteen feet away a 
small rattler coiled, with his head up and his rattle buzzing 
vigorously. Facing him, with his head about three feet dis 
tant, was his natural enemy, a long, graceful, and beautiful 
black racer, stretched at full length. Both seemed oblivious 
to the presence of a spectator. 

"Presently the black fellow began to encircle the rattler, 
carefully keeping out of harm s way as the head above the 
coil constantly turned to face him. Soon the strategy of 
the black was apparent, for as he spun faster and faster 
around the rattler he gradually decreased the distance, and 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

soon he was so close that the rattlesnake struck and missed. 
Twice the black adroitly dodged the blows, then boldly 
drew his circle still closer and glided still faster, as if taunting 
the foe to strike again. This the rattler did, when, with a 
movement so lightning-like that my eyes could hardly fol 
low it, the black racer seized him with his jaws just back of 
the head. In a few seconds the black coiled himself around 
the rattlesnake and quickly strangled it. Then, to my 
great surprise, the black racer began to swallow his victim 
head foremost, and when I left the scene of the tragedy 
that had held me in its spell the process was well ad 
vanced." 

Before closing this sketch I wish to record an experience 
of my friend the late Dr. John S. Billings, a surgeon in the 
United States army for many years, and, at the time of 
his death, the librarian of the New York Public Library. 
It may be accepted as absolutely true, for I knew him well, 
and I am indebted to him for great help in my article on 
serpent venom in my work on surgery. In the experi 
ments on snake poisons he was conducting he had in confine 
ment a six-foot diamond-backed Florida rattler. Rattle 
snakes are difficult to retain alive, as they are fastidious and 
will starve to death unless they can have the food which 
tempts them. This one would eat only white rats, and one 
of these was dropped into the large barrel in the bottom of 
which the snake was lying. 

Next morning Dr. Billings was astonished to see the rat 
resting at ease by the body of the dead reptile. Upon 
examination it was discovered that the spinal cord, just 
where it joins the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain, 
had been gnawed into and divided by the sharp, long teeth 
of the clever and plucky old rodent. Without doubt, as he 

158 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

landed in the bottom of the barrel and realized his situa 
tion he had with the instinct of the mongoose, which de 
stroys the cobra in this same manner, seized his enemy in 
the one safe and vital spot and never let loose until his 
teeth had cut through the real center of life. 



XIII 

MY YEAR AT COLLEGE THE GUNBOAT INCIDENT 

How few of us realize the career of which we dreamed in 
boyhood! Mine was to be a soldier. It may have been 
the wild life about me, the early familiarity with horse and 
gun, or perhaps in the strain, for the ancestors of each of 
my parents had fought through the war for American inde 
pendence. The first book I read was the life of Francis 
Marion. Nothing has ever fascinated me as did the story 
of this dashing partisan. I lived over and over again with 
him each hair-breadth escape, each thrilling exploit, and 
suffered with him the pangs of hunger and the misery of 
defeat. Then followed Weems s Life of Washington, Ab 
bott s Napoleon Bonaparte, and a book of the marshals of 
the great soldier. My mind was made up. 

One day in the autumn of 1860, when I was fifteen years 
old, while attending the fair at Athens, in Limestone County, 
I saw the cadet corps of La Grange Military Academy giv 
ing an exhibition drill. It was wonderful. The beautifully 
fitting uniforms of gray and white, the tall black caps, the 
guns and bayonets glinting in the sunlight, the perfection 
of manual, the complicated manceuvers carried out with 
marvelous precision, left a picture in my mind which stands 
out now clear and distinct, despite the fifty-three years 
that time has interposed. 

As I was ready for college, and as my father approved 

1 60 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

my selection, I matriculated as a cadet on February i, 
1 86 1. This institution, famous in the old South, was situ 
ated in what was then Franklin, now Colbert County, 
Alabama, upon the summit of a spur of the Cumberland 
Mountains, which, rising about four hundred feet above the 
surrounding country, overlooks the far - stretching valley 
of the Tennessee. La Grange College, chartered by the 
legislature of Alabama, had opened its doors in 1830, and 
was conducted strictly as a literary school until 1857, when 
the military feature was introduced. Under the new regime 
it reached its highest degree of popularity and prosperity. 
With wise forethought the state provided for the free edu 
cation of two boys from each county, selected by competi 
tive examination. The only obligation incurred was that 
each cadet should teach school in his native county for as 
many years as he was at La Grange. In 1861, out of one 
hundred and seventy enrolled, forty-seven were state cadets. 
The course of study was for four years ; the curriculum was 
that of the National Academy at West Point. The teaching 
was of the highest order, the discipline very strict, but never 
unjustly severe. The students almost without exception 
were earnest, honest, and manly fellows, of fine physical 
and mental development; and but for the unhappy war, 
which involved this school in its trail of destruction, it 
would without doubt have ranked higher each year as one 
of the greatest educational institutions in the South, and of 
inestimable value in the moral and mental training of the 
people. 

Looking back upon the year I spent at La Grange, if I 
passed through any unpleasant experiences they have been 
forgotten, and there is now present in my mind nothing 
but the memory of happy associations and a sincere ap- 

161 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

preciation of the fact that the days there were of great help 
in fitting me for my subsequent career. Doubtless at the 
time I protested inwardly at the hard work which was re 
quired, some of which may then have seemed like drudgery. 
To sweep the floor, dust the room, carry water and wood, 
and to be held responsible for the order and cleanliness 
of our apartments were novel experiences. Nor was the 
scramble out of bed at the sound of reveille, the hurry to 
dress, the rush down-stairs to get in line and answer to roll- 
call before being marked late or absent, always a pleasant 
duty, especially for boys, who as a rule love to sleep late. 
Yet this was a valuable lesson, for no one could have re 
mained long at La Grange without being converted to the 
early-rising habit. Then, when the roll-call was over, there 
was still the bed to be made, blankets and mattress rolled 
and buckled with a leather strap, the iron bedstead folded 
and placed against the wall for economy of space, shoes to 
be polished, and in a few minutes more the return to the 
campus to fall in for breakfast roll-call and the march to 
the mess-hall. 

It required a large dining-hall to seat nearly two hundred 
cadets. At each table there were ten privates and two 
officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, who sat at the 
head and foot, respectively, according to rank, the cadets 
at either side; and the ranking officer was held responsible 
for the deportment of the students at his table. 

After the breakfast-hour we had recitations and study 
until twelve. Dinner from twelve until one; in the after 
noon recitations and study until five, and from five to six 
either infantry or artillery drill. At six o clock we had 
dress-parade, and when we broke ranks we repaired to our 
quarters, put away our guns and accouterments, and im- 

162 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mediately returned to the campus to fall in for supper. 
At dark the patrol was posted to stand guard until ten; at 
nine o clock the drum beat for "lights out," and the day s 
work was over. 

On Saturday mornings we had full-dress parade and in 
spection, in which the most careful scrutiny was made, not 
only of every article of clothing as to strict personal clean 
liness, but of the arms and accouterments, belt-plates, and 
gun- trimmings. In the afternoon of Saturday we usually 
played football or "foot-and-a-half," a long-distance leap 
over one another, or exercised on the ring swings or hori 
zontal bars, or by special permission took long strolls 
through the mountain forests or in the valley. On Sunday 
we attended church. There were services in the chapel 
daily. 

At the July examinations my general standing in the 
fourth, or freshman, class, the last "half-term" of which I 
had entered in February, was eighth in a class of twenty- 
eight. Then for the two weeks vacation I hurried home; 
and, as the steamboat did not leave Decatur for two days, 
we five cadets from Marshall County left our trunks to come 
by boat, continued by train to Woodville, in Jackson County, 
and walked in eight hours the twenty-six miles across the 
mountains to Guntersville. Upon my return I entered the 
third, or sophomore, class, and passed all the examinations 
before the close of the session for the winter holiday. 

Earlier in the year the war had begun, and the spirit 
of unrest was in the air. South Carolina had seceded on 
December 20, 1860, and Florida and Mississippi soon fol 
lowed. On January n, 1861, Alabama passed the ordi 
nance, and these four states, with Georgia and Louisiana, 
had on February 4th met at Montgomery to organize the 

163 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Southern Confederacy; but with all this I did not dream of 
the great catastrophe which was impending. 

I remember distinctly that one night while on sentry duty, 
marching up and down on my post in front of Barracks B, 
I noticed a peculiar mist-like star which I soon recognized 
as a comet. No one else had observed it, nor had we 
any notice of its coming. I called the attention of others 
to it, and night after night we watched its approach toward 
the earth with increasing interest, until it became the most 
remarkable heavenly body I have ever seen. In its nearest 
position it seemed to stretch more than half the entire 
distance across the heavens, the starry point being toward 
the west and the nebulous trail spread out in a great flow 
ing mist far toward the eastern horizon. The superstitious 
considered it to be the forerunner of some great disaster. 
The wise men of the country should have known then that 
the disaster had already arrived. 

By March and April, 1861, there was a call for volunteers, 
and a very considerable number of the cadets resigned and 
returned to their homes in order to enlist in the first com 
panies which marched to the front. By the time the first 
session ended with the commencement on the 4th and 5th 
of July, 1 86 1, fully one-fourth of the corps had enlisted. 
Among the first to leave were Fielding Bradford, Bob Coles, 
and Jimmy Brandon, all of whom had volunteered with 
one of the Huntsville companies which made part of the 
famous Fourth Alabama Infantry. Bradford was killed, 
and Jimmy was wounded at the Battle of Bull Run, in July, 
1 86 1. Soon after this Brandon came home on furlough 
and visited his college-mates at La Grange. His presence 
excited the envy of every lad who had not been allowed to 
go home to volunteer. To have been in a great battle, 

164 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

wounded and furloughed, made Jimmy a hero, and all of us 
would probably have given our hopes of immortality to have 
been in his place. This gallant, handsome lad joined my 
regiment in 1863, and was killed at Big Shanty in 1864. 

When, early in 1862, northern Alabama became the scene 
of active hostilities the college closed its doors and re 
mained unoccupied until April 28, 1863, when it was de 
stroyed by fire by Federal cavalry under the command of 
Colonel Florence M. Cornyn. The destruction of this in 
stitution of learning was not only not a military necessity, 
but was in disobedience of the orders of General Grenville M. 
Dodge, in command of this expedition. In his official report, 
on page 250 of Volume XXIII, Part I, Official Reports, he 
says : They were guilty of but one disobedience of orders, in 
burning some houses between Town Creek and Tuscumbia, 
on discovery of which I issued orders to shoot any man 
detected in the act." This officer, now, in 1914, a resident 
of Council Bluffs, Iowa, in a personal communication to the 
writer says, "It was a matter of great regret that my troops 
exceeded their authority and destroyed these buildings." 

A bill was introduced in Congress in 1904 by Hon. William 
Richardson to reimburse the trustees of La Grange Military 
Academy for the loss sustained by the destruction of this 
property during the Civil War. To replace at this period 
the library of four thousand volumes belonging to the in 
stitution, together with the chemical and physical appara 
tus, furniture, buildings, etc., would require at the lowest 
estimate one hundred thousand dollars. Upon the intro 
duction of this bill the matter was referred to the Court of 
Claims. Over the door of that court might well be written 
the quotation from Dante, "Who enters here leaves Hope 
behind." 

165 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

My native section of the South still feels the need of such 
a college as La Grange, and I have never given up the hope 
that some day some great-souled, far-seeing philanthropist 
would rebuild and perpetuate this institution. 

I published, in 1907, The History of La Grange Military 
Academy and the Cadet Corps. Of the one hundred and 
seventy -nine cadets, with the exception of three lads who 
to the end of the war were still too young to enter the ser 
vice, all became soldiers of the Confederacy. Of this num 
ber twenty-three were killed in battle, and twenty-six died 
in the service from wounds or diseases incident to exposure, 
a total death-rate in the war of nearly twenty-eight per cent. 
Of those who survived many suffered from wounds or ac 
quired diseases which carried them, soon after the close of 
hostilities, to untimely graves, while some who still live 
are suffering from those injuries which have handicapped 
them in their struggle for the support of themselves and 
families. True to their convictions of duty, they were 
worthy sons of the land they loved. The story of their 
war experiences would fill a volume of thrilling narrative, 
and were it possible I would honor these pages with the 
roster of their names and the record of their heroism. 1 
There were four, however, to whom I am closely bound 
by the ties of an affectionate friendship, which, commenc 
ing in youth, ripened with the years of maturity and crys 
tallized with age. They were of the flower of our country, 
typical of the spirit of the South. 

James Alston McKinstry, from Pickens County, was my 

1 In 1904, forty- three years after we had disbanded, twenty-eight survivors 
of the Corps held a reunion in the Old Brick Church at La Grange. No 
other building had been spared. The college campus was a dense tangle of 
briers and saplings. From the mound and debris where my room had been, 
a sycamore-tree fully thirty feet high was growing. 

166 



IS 



W 

II 



is 




WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

chum, and had the distinction of heading our class in mathe 
matics. He enlisted as a private in Company D, Forty- 
second Alabama Infantry, and was in the assault on Fort 
Robinet at Corinth, October 4, 1862. One hundred yards 
in front of this fort was a dense abatis, and while working 
their way through this tangle the command suffered great 
loss from the direct fire in front and from two enfilading 
batteries. The survivors rushed across the open space and 
leaped into the ditch, where they were met with a shower 
of hand-grenades, some of which they picked up and hurled 
back into the fort, where they exploded. As they clambered 
out of the ditch and up to the parapet they received a vol 
ley which killed a comrade, who in falling threw his arms 
about Jim, and he and the dead man rolled back into the 
ditch. Regaining his footing and clearing the angle of a 
bastion, just as he recognized a small group of Confederates 
within the fort he emptied his gun at a Federal soldier, the 
muzzle almost touching his breast. As this man fell their 
reserve line fired a volley, and of the fourteen assailants 
who still survived all but McKinstry were killed. He re 
ceived a Minie ball through the upper part of one arm, an 
other through the shoulder, which fortunately did not pene 
trate the 1 lung, while a third passed through the muscles 
of the thigh. Tumbling again into the ditch, he ran along 
this and hid under some debris until nightfall, when he 
made his escape. On the forced march in the retreat to 
Tupelo, for two days and nights, this lad of seventeen, with 
three painful wounds, lay on the botton of a wagon-bed jolt 
ing over rough country roads. A photograph of the dead 
bodies of these men, taken where they fell, may be 
seen in the Photographic History of the War, published in 
1911. I place the incident on record here as one of the 

167 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

thousands which occurred in a war as unnecessary as it 
was cruel. 1 

Robert Thompson Coles, descended from one of the old 
Virginia families at Huntsville, joined the Fourth Alabama 
Infantry, one of the most famous regiments in the Army of 
Northern Virginia. He became adjutant of this regiment, 
was in the first battle of Bull Run and at Appomattox, and 
except when wounded was in every battle in which this 
great army was engaged. 

Thomas Edward Stanley, of Lawrence County, Alabama, 
became lieutenant in Company B, Tenth Alabama Infantry, 
and, receiving two wounds at Chickamauga, was carried 
to his uncle s house near Leighton, Alabama. While there 
the Union army occupied the country, but with the aid of 
the faithful negroes he was concealed until he was con 
valescent. Armed with a shotgun, he surprised and cap 
tured an officer who was inspecting his outposts, appro 
priated his horse and equipment, and rejoined his command. 2 

Frederick Moseley Nelson,of Limestone County, Alabama, 
served in the Seventh Alabama Cavalry. 3 In J. P. Young s 
history mention is made of his gallant conduct. The fol 
lowing experience may serve to illustrate the strange vicissi 
tudes of a soldier s career. 

As Fred was leaving home his thoughtful father gave him 
a small Derringer pistol, which was easily carried in the 
side-pocket of his forage jacket, with the remark that he 
might need it some day when he did not have his six- 
shooter. Out of respect to his parent s admonition, Fred 

1 As modest and retiring as they were brave, Jim McKinstry and Bob Coles 
are still living (1914), loved and respected as leading citizens of Marshall 
County, Alabama. 

2 Stanley settled in Arkansas, became prominent in politics as a state 
senator, and died in 1904. 3 Nelson survives in Mississippi. 

168 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

kept the small weapon ready for use. One day while on 
picket duty he had dismounted and was sitting at the root 
of a tree, engaged in the pleasant perusal of a communica 
tion from his sweetheart. He glanced often down the road 
in the direction from which the enemy would be likely to come, 
and was satisfied that none was approaching. The crack 
ing of a dead twig immediately in the rear attracted his at 
tention, and, turning suddenly in that direction, he found 
himself covered with a six-shooter in the hands of a Federal 
who had stealthily crept up behind him. He was told to 
stand up, unbuckle his pistol-belt, let it drop to the ground, 
and walk off a few steps, which orders he obeyed. He was 
then told to mount his horse and ride alongside as a prisoner 
of war. He had not lost sight of an opportunity to use the 
Derringer, and the two had not proceeded a quarter of a 
mile before Fred, getting the weapon out unobserved, had 
it cocked, and, turning quickly, presented it within three feet 
of the body of his captor, telling him to throw up his hands. 
Fred immediately made himself possessor of the four pis 
tols, and marched the chagrined Yankee triumphantly into 
his own headquarters. 

My first and only year at college ended in December, 
1 86 1. In that period our state had seceded, the Southern 
Confederacy was organized, with the capital at Montgomery, 
war was formally declared, and the battle of Bull Run had 
been fought. Then came a lull, which every one knew was 
the hush before the storm. The war-fever was spreading 
on both sides of the line. In the South it ran high. On 
my way home every village seemed ablaze with bunting. 
On every plantation, home, and farm-house the "Bonnie 
Blue Flag" was flying. Three companies of infantry and 
one of cavalry had already gone from our county. With 
12 169 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

these were one or two boys of my age (sixteen), and I 
wanted to enlist. As I was small of stature, my parents 
argued that I should wait another year and work on the 
farm. My father, though well beyond the military age, 
enlisted and went to the front and left me as the man of 
the family. When the farming season opened in 1862, I 
plowed, planted, and cultivated without assistance ten acres 
in corn. Incidentally I learned that farming is not an easy 
way of earning a livelihood, and that there are few hotter 
places on earth than a waist-high field of corn in the Ten 
nessee River bottoms about "laying -by" time, early in 
July. I missed only one work-day, and this was on the 
8th of June. 

The fortunes of war were going against the Confederacy 
in the West. Shiloh had followed Fort Donelson, and all of 
Alabama north of the Tennessee was now occupied by the 
Union army, and their gunboats had reached Florence. 
Above this point that great obstacle to through naviga 
tion of this noble river, the " Mussel Shoals," prevented 
their going. The upper Tennessee is landlocked, and the 
Confederates had made way with all the steamboats above 
the Shoals. In this emergency the Federal commander at 
Huntsville improvised a small gunboat with steam motor- 
power, protected it with an armor of cotton bales, placed 
on board two six-pounder Parrott guns and a crew of some 
sixty men of the Tenth Ohio Infantry, and sent it on its way 
to take possession of the upper Tennessee. 

It was such a slow tub that at Guntersville we knew it 
was coming six hours before it hove in sight. A man on 
horseback who saw it start had brought the news. Our 
local humorist, the genial sheriff, said of it after the excite 
ment of its advent had subsided, that "up-stream it could 

170 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

run all day under the shade of a leaning sycamore, while 
going the other way the current went by it so fast it made 
your head swim." 

On this eventful 8th of June, while I was following a mule 
and a turning-plow up and down the long rows of growing 
corn, with thoughts about as far removed from Cincinnatus 
or Israel Putnam or glory as one pole is from the other, a 
lad from the village came to give me the exciting information 
that the gunboat was coming, and everybody who could 
shoot a gun was rallying to defend the town. As soon as 
I could unhitch my mule, we rode toward home, and when 
near enough, not wishing to alarm my mother, I slipped in 
through a back window, got my double-barreled shotgun 
and ammunition, and was just making my exit through 
the same opening when I heard a familiar voice say, 
" Hadn t you better go out through the door?" I saluted 
my commanding officer, my mother, and hurried out as 
directed. The truth is, if I hadn t come in of my own 
accord she would have sent for me and handed me the gun 
at the gate and made me go. Some twenty of us, old men 
and boys, reached the river-landing in time to see the 
United States gunboat Tennessee pass at a snail s pace, 
closely hugging the northern bank of the stream, and tak 
ing no more notice of our presence than if we hadn t been 
"bushwhackers" aching to fill anybody who had on blue 
clothes full of buckshot! 

After a hurried conference we rode as fast as our mounts 
could carry us to a point a few miles above Guntersville, 
where, at the low stage of water which then prevailed, the 
channel was near enough to the southern bank to bring the 
craft in reach of our shotguns. Arriving there, we dis 
mounted some two hundred yards back in the woods, and, 

171 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to give my mule a chance to graze, I tied one end of a 
long plow-line around his neck and the other to an ash 
sapling. Our company advanced, and we ranged ourselves 
along the bank, entirely concealed in the thick growth of 
cane. As the queer-looking boat came puffing toward us, 
the crew, seemingly without any thought of danger, were 
seated here and there on top of the bulwarks, evidently 
enjoying the scenery and sunshine. It seemed as if our 
captain pro tern would never say "Fire!" but when he did 
and we turned loose our fusillade of twenty double-barreled 
shotguns and rifles, the blue coats disappeared into the hold, 
as Artemus Ward would have said, "unanimously." 

In another minute they opened on us with their long- 
range rifles, and I heard the singing whiz of a swarm of 
Minie balls for the first time. Then the six-pounder joined 
in with shrapnel, at which by common consent we rose 
from our recumbent posture and ran for our horses, followed, 
or rather passed, by the screaming shells, which clipped an 
occasional branch from a tree- top, but flew too far above 
our heads to be very dangerous. That I did not equal the 
speed of the negro who testified in a shooting case was not 
my fault. Being under oath, he was advised by the attorney 
to be cautious and exact in his statement. When asked if 
he had heard the bullet whiz, he answered, quietly, "Yes, 
sah, I heered it twice." "You don t mean to say you 
heard the bullet twice, do you?" inquired the lawyer. "Oh 
yes, sah, I done heered it twice. Fust time I heered it 
when it whizzed by me, an den, sah, I heered it ag n when 
I whizzed by it!" 

By the time we reached our animals they were in a wild 
state of fright, and all that could break loose had stampeded. 
My mule had evidently tried to break away with the others 

172 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and had run as far as the tether would permit, and had theri 
gone into training as a circus performer by circling the sap 
ling turn after turn in a gradually decreasing arc, until, when 
I reached him, his head was lashed so close to the tree no 
one but an expert could have told where the mule ended and 
the bark began. To add to the perplexity of the situation, 
I had lost my knife; and, as I could not get at the knot in 
the rope to untie it, expecting every minute to see the 
Yankees land on our side and come swarming up the bank 
in pursuit, I spent a seeming eternity, along with some ear 
nest language and much muscular energy, in compelling 
this proverbially obstinate animal to do as some of our great 
jurists do at times reverse himself. As soon as this proc 
ess had been carried far enough to slacken the rope and 
expose the knot, I untied it, mounted, and rode off in a long 
stern chase to catch up with the company. 

A mile or so back in the depth of the forest we rallied, 
called the roll, and found all present or accounted for but 
one. As this one was the enthusiast who had summoned 
me from the plow to defend our lares et penates, and as I had 
seen him leading the retreat, having thrown his gun away and 
run out from under his hat, I assured my comrades he had 
not been killed, also that while I was unwinding my mule he 
had asked me to go back with him to help find his gun, a re 
quest which the exigencies of the moment forced me to de 
cline. None had been killed or wounded by bullets. Some 
few had passed through the sharp cane-blades with such 
rapidity or had ridden too close to a swinging limb and bore 
the marks of the campaign on their faces and heads. At 
Short Creek the company halted, dismounted, and washed 
its face preparatory to the triumphal entry into Gunters- 
ville. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The deeds of prowess which were narrated as we rode 
toward town would fill several pages. When we blazed 
away with our sudden shower of buckshot the unsuspecting 
crew, who were airing themselves and viewing the scenery 
from every point of vantage, must have thought Gabriel s 
trumpet would sound next. The sheriff said: "Boys, talk 
about action ! Them Yankees went out o sight quicker n^a 
didapper duck." It was really a rapid act, and none stood 
on the order of his going. Some jumped into the hold, some 
rolled or slid off, and some turned back somersaults; and 
it looked for a few moments as if we had killed everybody on 
board. The fact that the machinery didn t stop, together 
with the rifle volley which flashed out of the port-holes and 
the swarm of Minies which came singing through and over 
the cane, began to undeceive us, and when the cannon boomed 
we knew we hadn t disabled all. We compromised on half. 
Caesar returning from Gaul never aroused greater excitement 
at Rome (in proportion to population) than did this par 
tisan troop as it rode by twos through the main street of 
Guntersville and disbanded in front of Kinzler s grocery. 
It was a great day. I really thought so then. I have 
laughed at it a thousand times since. If I think of it on my 
dying day I shall smile, and it will be worth it. I have 
often wondered what my hero Francis Marion would have 
said of our quixotic performance. For one I am glad he can 
never know it. 

The truth remains that the boat was so much farther out 
in the stream than we had estimated that our short-range 
guns did no harm. Years after the war I corresponded 
with the surgeon who was on board. One buckshot just 
did bury itself in the shoulder-blade of a young chap who 
didn t glide out of sight as quick as he wished he had. This 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was the only casualty, and the victim never went to bed 
with it. The doctor confided that our volley was "like a 
bolt out of the blue sky, and caused a temporary panic on 
board, which, however, didn t last as long as the bush 
whackers on the bank would have preferred. The pilot 
made for the other shore at once, and with our retreat the 
"Battle of Law s Landing" passed into history. I might 
add that it had a good deal to do with the military careers 
of two of this immortal band. 

One of these, the Paul Revere who came riding at full 
speed to summon me and others to glory, who never fired 
his gun or raised himself from the prone position on the 
ground until an exploding shrapnel furnished the impetus, 
and who, hatless and gunless, led the movement to the rear, 
never again heard the music of the battle-line. He was 
seized with a muscular contraction which drew one leg into 
a knot and held it there until the war was over, whereupon 
it straightway healed, and he was restored to usefulness. 
He suffered the fate of the shirker, as the village girls not 
only refused to speak to him, but sent him knitting-needles 
and bits of unfinished sewing and all sorts of gentle hints 
as to how a young man who didn t go into the army should 
occupy his time. It was a pressure no man could resist and 
survive in the respect of his neighbors. Soon after the war 
the youth went away to lose himself in the all-absorbing 
West. 

To the other it furnished a good excuse for regular en 
listment. There was a clever native woman spy who lived 
on the north side of the river, who kept the Union command 
er well informed of all that happened in our section during 
the war; and we were notified promptly that the name of 
every guerrilla or bushwhacker who fired at the gunboat was 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

known, and that when captured we would be hanged. The 
argument that it was just a little bit better to be shot fight 
ing than to be kept in a state of " suspense" prevailed, and, 
as my father had been discharged on account of sickness and 
physical inability and was now at home, my way was open. 



XIV 

WITH MORGAN S CAVALRY THE CHRISTMAS RAID 1862-1863 

IN August of 1862 a detachment of Morgan s cavalry, 
commanded by General Basil W. Duke, passed through our 
village and left in our care Lieutenant Frank Brady, who 
had been wounded a few days before in a skirmish near 
Huntsville. Bragg s strategic move through Cumberland 
Gap and across the upper Tennessee into Kentucky had 
caused the withdrawal of the Union forces from Alabama 
and Tennessee. The battles of Richmond and Perryville 
in Kentucky were indecisive and resulted in the retirement 
of the Confederate army to the vicinity of Murfreesborough 
in middle Tennessee. When Lieutenant Brady had suffi 
ciently recovered to rejoin his command I went with him 
to "see the army." A ride of three or four days brought 
us to Alexandria, Tennessee, where Morgan s division was 
encamped. Here we learned that orders had been received 
to make a hurried dash into Kentucky, to destroy the 
Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and break up the com 
munications of the Federal army with the North. As I 
was too young for enlistment, I joined Quirk s Scouts as an 
"independent," and took my place in that company. 

The expedition, with three days cooked rations, started 
north from Alexandria on December 22, 1862. The com 
mand was divided into two brigades. The First, under 
Brigadier- General Basil W. Duke, was made up of the 

177 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Second, Third, and Eighth Kentucky Cavalry, and Palmer s 
battery of four pieces, two of which were twelve-pounder 
howitzers and two six-pounder guns. The Ninth, Tenth, 
and Eleventh Kentucky and the Fourteenth Tennessee, to 
which was attached a small company of artillery including 
two mountain howitzers and one three-inch Parrott gun, 
formed the Second Brigade, in command of Colonel W. 
C. P. Breckinridge. 

There was also a company of picked men, about fifty in 
number, known as Quirk s Scouts, made up chiefly of the 
remnants of Morgan s original squadron, which acted 
throughout the expedition as the advance-guard. 

The entire command, including the artillerists, numbered 
thirty-nine hundred, of whom four hundred were at this 
time unarmed. The command was generally well mounted 
and the animals in good condition. While the artillery was 
an impediment to a rapid dash into the enemy s country, it 
was essential to the accomplishment of the objects of the 
expedition, since by this time all of the railroad bridges, 
tunnels, and important depots of supplies along the route 
to be traversed were protected by forts and stockades, the 
reduction of which was impossible without artillery. 

"Morgan s men," mostly young fellows from eighteen 
to thirty-five years old, were a fine lot, and there were no 
better fighters in the world. They idolized their leader, 
who at the close of this, his most successful expedition, 
reached the zenith of his career. This command, as well as 
practically all of our Western mounted troops, fell short of 
their full efficiency in the absence of that strict discipline 
without which no men ever make the best of soldiers. They 
were in the main well armed. While it is true that four 
hundred of the command were without guns, these did 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

effective service as horse-holders until the rich captures 
made at Elizabethtown and Muldraugh s Hill furnished 
them with the very best of modern firearms. The entire com 
mand was practically without sabres. The majority of the 
companies, which had been in service for a year or more, 
had one or two Colt s army pistols for each man; a smaller 
portion had cavalry carbines captured from the enemy, 
while some were armed with double-barreled shotguns, a 
weapon which at that period was capable of doing excellent 
service in the close-range fighting to which cavalry was ac 
customed. The greater part of the troops, however, car 
ried long-barreled rifles, some Enfields and some of Austrian 
and Belgian make, weapons well adapted to fighting on foot, 
but clumsy to carry on horseback. As Morgan s men, and 
in fact all of the Confederate cavalry, did most of their 
fighting on foot, this long gun was an advantage rather 
than otherwise. Each man was expected to carry two horse 
shoes, a dozen nails, all the ammunition he might need, one 
blanket, and an oil-cloth or overcoat. There was nothing 
on wheels but the artillery. 

Late in the day we crossed the Cumberland River at 
Sand Shoals, and camped in the woods at dark about six 
miles north of Carthage, Tennessee. By daylight of the 
23d we were in the saddle, at eleven stopping an hour to 
feed and rest, and then on until dark toward Tompkinsville, 
Kentucky. No enemy was encountered until at dusk on 
December 24th, when the advance-guard entered the sub 
urbs of Glasgow, the county-seat of Barren County, Ken 
tucky. As they reached one corner of the public square 
several companies of the Second Michigan Cavalry, with 
no idea that Morgan s men were in that part of the world, 
rode into sight just across the square, and both -sides fired 

179 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

simultaneously and at close range. * One Federal was killed 
and two wounded, and a Confederate captain and one sol 
dier were mortally and one lieutenant slightly wounded. 
Twenty Michiganders were captured, among them the ad 
jutant of the regiment, whose saddle, a beautifully padded 
and brass-mounted McClellan tree, carried me for many a 
day thereafter. A number of the prisoners had Christmas 
turkeys strapped to their saddles but man only proposes. 
In three short winter days, over bad roads and through a 
rough and hilly country, we had made ninety miles, and the 
artillery was up. 

As we marched out of Glasgow early Christmas morning 
on the Mumfordsville turnpike Quirk s Scouts were well in 
advance, and about ten o clock we were joined by General 
Morgan, who rode with us until noon. He was in appear 
ance the ideal of the beau sabreur, with light-blue or gray 
eyes and a strikingly handsome face partly concealed by 
a brownish or sandy mustache and imperial. 

In the early afternoon, as we approached a small settle 
ment known as Bear Wallow, our vidette came tearing back 
at full speed, shouting as he drew near, "Yankees thick as 
hell up the road!" We were ordered to load and cap our 
guns, and then rode briskly forward to a rise, and there, some 
four or five hundred yards in front, in line of battle which 
extended on either side of and across the pike, were some 
two hundred mounted men in blue. 2 There was another 
company which we did not see then, but saw later, to our 
sorrow, for they were in ambush on the side of the road 
along which our Irish captain was to lead us. When we 

1 Company C, Captain Darrow in command, supported by Companies L, 
M, and H, Second Michigan Cavalry, page 148, Official Records, vol. xx. 

2 Official Records, vol. xx, part I, page 151. Companies of the Fourth and 
Fifth Indiana Cavalry under Colonel Isaac P. Grey. 

1 80 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

were about two hundred yards from the Federal line, and 
protected by a depression in the road which for the moment 
hid us from view, we dismounted and advanced on foot 
toward the enemy. As we reached the top of the rise in a 
lane which had a high worm-fence on either side, the Fed 
erals gave us a lively volley, which we returned from the 
fence-corners. With my long Austrian rifle I took a dead 
rest through a crack in the fence at an officer who was 
recklessly riding up and down in front of us, but missed him. 
While we were thus engaged with the troops in front of us 
another detachment (Company C, Fifth Indiana), which 
was in ambush in a hollow to our right, charged up unex 
pectedly to within a few yards of the road abreast of and in 
the rear of our position, and fired into us and into the horse- 
holders at practically muzzle range. 

The sudden appearance of those troops and the fusillade 
from the flank and rear as well as from the front stampeded 
the horses and horse-holders, all of whom disappeared down 
the pike, leaving Captain Quirk and his fifty men with no 
means of escape except by climbing the westerly fence and 
running for a dense thicket of black-jacks or heavy under 
growth of bushes, some two hundred yards across an open 
field. Several of our men had been wounded none serious 
ly, however but no one was killed on our side. Half a dozen 
of our company took shelter in a small farm-house which 
stood within fifty yards of where the fight began, and these 
were made prisoners. I happened to climb over the same 
panel of fence with our captain, whose face was a sight with 
blood from two bullet- wounds of the scalp. He was not in 
a happy frame of mind, for he was swearing like a trooper 
at the horse-holders for running away. The Yankees pep 
pered away at us as we scampered in quick time across the 

181 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

space which lay between us and the thicket into which we 
dived and disappeared from view. 

At this juncture the leading regiment of our main column 
which had caught our runaway horses came up, and we 
remounted and joined in the pursuit, Tom Quirk, as usual, 
out in front, where at close quarters -he killed a Federal 
trooper with his pistol. Those who escaped fled in the 
direction of Cave City. 1 

On the further march to Green River, which was crossed 
before dark, we captured a huge sutler s wagon which the 
stampeded owner had abandoned. Its contents were un 
ceremoniously appropriated, even to a box of women s 
shoes, which the men gallantly distributed to the houses 
on the line of march. That night we camped in the woods 
between Hammondsville and Upton Station, on the Louis 
ville & Nashville Railroad. All in all, it was the liveliest 
Christmas I had ever had. 

In the early morning of December 26th, while a light, 
drizzly rain was falling, we struck the railroad at Uptons, 
capturing a number of Union soldiers who were guarding 
the depot and this section of the track. Here we were 
again joined by General Morgan, and I witnessed a very 
interesting incident. Attached to the General s staff was 
a telegraph operator, a quick-witted young man about 
twenty-five years old named Ellsworth, better known by 
the nickname of "Lightning." On a former occasion hav 
ing tapped a wire and interposed his instrument which, 
being a pocket affair, did not always give the most perfect 



1 Colonel Grey, page 151, vol. xx, Official Records, reports the Confederate 
loss as "nine killed and, as near as I can ascertain, twenty-two wounded and 
five prisoners." The last item is correct, but none was killed and only two 
wounded. His own loss he reports as "one killed and two captured." 

182 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

satisfaction its wobbling and uncertain tick aroused the 
suspicion of the operator he was calling. 

"Who are you, and what s the matter with your office?" 
came over the wire, and quick as a flash Ellsworth disarmed 
suspicion by answering "O. K. Lightning," which in the 
language of telegraphy meant, "Go ahead; storm and light 
ning here interfering." This restored confidence at the 
other end, and Ellsworth got not only the information he 
and his general wanted, but also his nickname. 

At Uptons one of the men climbed a telegraph-pole, fas 
tened two strands of wire to the line on each side of the 
insulation, and to these Ellsworth attached his instrument. 
Seated on a cross-tie within a few feet of General Morgan, 
I heard him dictate messages to be sent to General Boyle 
(who, I think, was military governor of Kentucky), in Louis 
ville, and to other Federal commanders in that state, mak 
ing inquiries as to the disposition of the Union forces, and 
at the same time telling some awful stories in regard to 
the large size of his own command and of its movements. 
Among other answers received was one that a train bearing 
some artillery and ammunition had left Elizabethtown on 
its way to Mumfordsville. Morgan immediately ordered 
Quirk to take his company and be ready to obstruct the 
track as soon as the train should pass the point indicated. 
Unfortunately, the wary engineer saw us in time to reverse 
his engine and escape with the train before we could get 
behind him. The two pieces of artillery were on a freight- 
car in plain view, and the few shots we fired at the engineer 
were poor consolation for missing a valuable capture. 

Heavy cannonading was now heard in the direction of 
Bacon Creek Bridge stockade, which, after a gallant re 
sistance, was reduced, its garrison captured, and the bridge 

183 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

destroyed. We took up our march toward Nolin, the next 
station north of Uptons, where there was another bridge 
guarded by a stockade. This garrison surrendered to 
General Duke, and the bridge was also burned. We biv 
ouacked that night a few miles from Elizabethtown, which 
place, garrisoned by eight companies of the Ninety-first 
Illinois Regiment, we captured after a slight resistance on 
the next day, the number of prisoners being six hundred 
and fifty-two men and officers. 1 A number of brick ware 
houses near the railroad station had been loopholed and 
otherwise strengthened, and to make a direct assault 
upon such a stronghold would have been folly. Morgan 
made a rapid disposition of his forces, completely surround 
ing the town, brought up his artillery, and after a number of 
shells and solid shot had knocked great holes in the houses 
the garrison surrendered. That night we slept in feather 
beds, the only experience of this kind during the raid. 

While parleying for a surrender the colonel of this Union 
regiment marched his men several times over the exposed 
crest of a hill, then out of sight and around again, until I 
was convinced he had several thousand in his command. 
Morgan was too old a soldier, however, to be fooled by this 
ruse. 

On the 28th we reached the two great trestles on the 
Louisville & Nashville Railroad at Muldraugh s Hill, the 
destruction of which was the most important object of the 
expedition. They were each from sixty to seventy-five feet 
high and about seven hundred feet in length, and con 
structed entirely of wooden beams, or "bents," superim 
posed one upon another until the required height was 

1 Official Records, vol. Ixx, part I, page 156. The garrisons captured at 
Bacon Creek, Nolin, and Uptons belonged to this regiment. 

184 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

reached. They were deemed of such importance that two 
strong stockades or forts had been built, and were then 
garrisoned by the Seventy-first Indiana and Seventy- 
eighth Illinois regiments of infantry. Morgan assailed both 
strongholds at the same time, the artillery doing most of the 
execution, and in less than two hours the two garrisons of 
seven hundred men were prisoners. 1 This was the second 
time that Morgan had captured the Indiana regiment, and 
he directed Ellsworth to telegraph Governor Morton of the 
Hoosier State, thanking him for again sending the regiment 
down, and suggesting that the next time he could send the 
oil-cloths and overcoats without the men, as he was tired 
of paroling them. They were armed with new Enfield 
rifles, one of the most effective weapons of that day. 

When we reached the stockade, from which some of the 
enemy had escaped, we were ordered to scour the woods for 
fugitives. About two or three hundred yards from the fort 
I came upon a stripling, who, hearing some one approaching, 
bobbed up from behind the trunk of a fallen tree and held 
up one hand in token of surrender. As no one else was near, 
I took his gun a beautiful new Enfield rifle and accouter- 
ments. He seemed about my age, and I noticed tears 
running down over his "peach-down cheeks." His crying 
quickly aroused my sympathy, and I tried to reassure him by 
saying: "Don t be afraid; nobody s going to harm you; 
you ll be paroled right away and can go home." At this he 
sobbed out: "I ve got a good mother at home, and if I ever 
get back I ll never leave her again." By this time my own 
feelings were getting the better of me, and when he mentioned 
his mother the thought of my own so overcame me that I 
could not keep the tears out of my eyes as I said to him: 

1 Official Records, vol. Ixx, part I, page 156. 
13 185 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

"I have a good mother, too, and don t you cry any more." 
All this occurred as we were walking side by side back to 
the stockade, my war-spirit no little dampened and the 
pride of my capture about lost in the sympathy for the 
captive. 

After burning the trestles, which made the most magnifi 
cent bonfire I ever saw, the command moved to Rolling 
Fork River, the greater portion of the troops crossing that 
night and proceeding toward Bardstown. 

A detachment of five hundred men was sent under Colonel 
Cluke to destroy the railroad bridge over Rolling Fork, but 
before the stockade could be battered down a sharp rear 
guard action with a strong body of infantry, cavalry, and 
artillery, three thousand strong, under Colonel John M. 
Harlan, later General, and still later a Justice of the Su 
preme Court of the United States, compelled his withdrawal. 
When Harlan s men came up with us Quirk s company had 
been left as rear-guard, and took part in a sharp engagement 
which occurred about ten o clock on the morning of Decem 
ber 2 gth. General Basil W. Duke, having recrossed from 
the north side of the river, took command of Cluke s regi 
ment and Quirk s Scouts, which now formed the entire rear 
guard, and led an attack which was so vigorous that, al 
though he had but a handful of men, Colonel Harlan hesi 
tated to press his great advantage. 

At this crisis Duke was wounded while with our com 
pany. A fragment of a well-aimed shrapnel struck him on 
the head and stunned him. The same shell killed two of 
our horses. It made an awful noise as it exploded. Quirk 
and others of the scouts hurried to the fallen man, placed 
him astride the pommel of the saddle in which our captain 
was seated, and, with the captain s arm around the limp 

186 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

body, the faithful animal was guided into the swollen 
stream. Quirk and Duke were both small in stature, and 
the captain s horse, a powerful bay, carried his double load 
safely across. Another vicious shell burst in the water as 
we were floundering across and splattered us. General 
Duke, being unconscious, was the only man who wasn t 
scared. 

Had the Federal commander pushed his advantage in 
this crisis, we must have lost heavily. As it was, we did 
not lose a man, as our other wounded rode away on their 
horses. Colonel Harlan reports his loss as three killed and 
one wounded. He explained his cautious advance by say 
ing, "Morgan had a larger force than I." 

Safely over the river, a carriage was impressed, filled with 
soft bedding, and in this our wounded general was placed 
and carried along with the command. 1 

Our company was now ordered to ride through the com 
mand and take the lead, which we did, reaching Bardstown 
at dusk, where we found shelter in a livery stable and a 
sound sleep on a corn-pile. Before leaving, between day 
light and sunrise, December 3oth, I witnessed the looting 
of one of the largest general stores in Bardstown. The 
proprietor had refused to accept Confederate money for 
his goods, locked his store, and left town. The men who 
had crowded in through the doors they had battered down 
found great difficulty in making their way out with their 
plunder through a surging crowd that pressed to get in 
before everything was gone. I was amused at one trooper, 
who induced others to let him out by holding an ax in 
front of him, cutting edge forward, one arm clasping a 
bundle of at least a dozen pairs of shoes and other plunder, 

1 General Basil W. Duke still survives at this date, 1914. 

187 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

while on his head was a pyramid of eight or ten soft hats, 
one on top of the other, just as they had come out of the 
packing-box. Within a short half-hour nothing but the 
shelves and counters were left, for in the riot of an uncon 
trolled desire to plunder these men took piles of stuff they 
could not carry away or use. 

It was still clear, and yet colder than we had thus far 
experienced, as we marched in the direction of Springfield. 
Our spirits were high, for up to this time we had had a 
picnic, and as we passed a home of the Trappist brother 
hood some ten miles up the road Lieutenant Frank Brady 
entertained us by singing "Lorena," a war-time poem which 
had been set to music and was then very popular. He told 
us that the author of the poem was an inmate of this 
Trappist home. If this were true and the self-imprisoned 
brother heard the sweet voice of the cavalier as he sang, 
"The years creep slowly by, Lorena," what sad and tender 
memories it must have awakened! 

I recall two verses : 

The years creep slowly by, Lorena; 

The snow is on the grass again; 
The sun s low down the sky, Lorena; 

The frost is where the flowers have been. 

But the heart beats on as warmly now 
As when the summer days were nigh: 

The sun can never dip so low 
Adown affection s cloudless sky. 

I may not be doing the author strict justice in quoting 
from memory. There was one other line that told of the 
past being "in the eternal past," upon which our tenor 
dwelt feelingly as he sang it. All of which, no doubt, will 
provoke a smile from the pupils of Debussy, Wagner, et id 

188 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

omne; yet I would rather hear my debonair comrade of 
"The Scouts" sing that war-time song again as we began 
our ride of thirty-two miles through a blizzard than listen 
to the so-called music of the "immortals" at our beautiful 
Metropolitan Opera House. 

By midday the clouds had gathered and a chilling rain 
set in, which, as the thermometer fell, turned into sleet. 
Reaching Springfield in the gloom of the evening (Decem 
ber 3oth), our company was ordered to keep on to the sub 
urbs of Lebanon, some nine miles farther, and there to drive 
in the pickets and build fires for as long a line on that side 
of town as possible, in order to give the enemy the im 
pression that we were up in force and were only awaiting 
for daylight to attack. We piled fence-rails and made fires 
until late at night, while Morgan was leading his men 
south along a narrow and not much used country road, with 
Lebanon some two miles to the left. Having completed 
our work, we caught up with the command, and acted as 
rear-guard throughout the remainder of that awful night. 
What with the bitter, penetrating cold, the fatigue, the 
overwhelming desire to sleep, so difficult to overcome, and, 
under the conditions we were experiencing, so fatal if yielded 
to, the numerous halts to get the artillery out of bad places, 
the impenetrable darkness, and the inevitable confusion 
which attends the moving of troops and artillery along a 
narrow country road, we put in a night of such misery 
and anxiety and suffering that no man who experienced it 
could ever forget. 

Toward morning it became our chief duty to keep one 
another awake. All through the night the sleet pelted us 
unmercifully and covered our coats and oil-cloths with a 
sheet of ice. Time and again we dismounted and, hold- 

189 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ing on to the stirrup leather, trudged on through the slush 
and ice to keep from freezing. 

Daylight found us several miles south of Lebanon and the 
strong Federal command concentrated there to catch us, 
but we kept on without halting, for another heavy column 
was reported moving out from Mumfordsville and Glasgow 
to intercept us at Columbia or Burkesville before we could 
recross the Cumberland River. 

About midday (December 3ist) we stopped for an hour 
to feed and rest, and then rode on to Campbellville, where 
we arrived at dark, having been thirty-six hours in the sad 
dle since leaving Bardstown. Here we rested eight hours, 
and early on New- Year s day, 1863, left for Columbia, which 
we reached late in the afternoon, and then on throughout 
the whole bitter -cold night without stopping, until we 
passed through Burkesville on the morning of January 2d, 
where we recrossed the Cumberland and were safe from pur 
suit or interception. Since leaving Bardstown we had, with 
the exception of nine hours, been seventy- two hours in the 
saddle. I doubt if any troops in the entire history of the 
war ever passed through a more trying ordeal than Mor 
gan s cavalry on this expedition. Of it General Basil W. 
Duke writes: "It is common to hear men who served in 
Morgan s command through all its career of trial and hard 
ship refer to this night march around Lebanon as the most 
trying scene of their entire experience." 

It was not so much the bitter cold which bothered us 
as the slow going of the artillery. As long as we could 
stick to the turnpikes we moved swiftly. It was when 
driven to the ill-kept dirt roads that our troubles began, 
and in the pitch-darkness of a stormy winter s night, with 
the most severe blizzard raging that that section had ever 

190 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

known, they multiplied. For the entire night in the ride 
around Lebanon we made only seven miles. Climbing 
Muldraugh s Hill, we not only double-teamed the guns, 
but long lines of men on foot pushed and pulled to help the 
weary horses. Every piece was brought out safely over the 
Cumberland. We now took it leisurely to Livingston, and 
then to Liberty, Tennessee, where on January 6, 1863, we 
resumed our place on the right wing of Bragg s army. 

This was Morgan s most successful enterprise. He had 
destroyed the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Mum- 
fordsville to Shepherdsville, within eighteen miles of Louis 
ville, captured 1,877 prisoners, destroyed a vast amount of 
United State property, and had lost only 2 men killed, 
24 wounded, and 64 missing. His command returned well 
armed as a result of its captures, and better mounted than 
when it set out. The country along the line of march had 
been stripped of its horses. Every man in my company 
led out an extra mount. 

Moreover, Morgan had demonstrated again that genius 
of leadership which divined the plans and movements of the 
enemy in time to elude him. He had still further won the 
devotion of the men who followed his fortunes and who 
believed in him implicitly. I wonder now that after having 
succeeded in the object of his expedition, which culminated 
with the destruction of the Muldraugh s Hill trestles, he 
did not turn on Harlan and capture or destroy him, which 
he could easily have done. He could then at leisure have 
retraced his steps to Tennessee. 

All things considered, we had moved with great celerity. 
Despite the hindrance of artillery, the shortness of the 
winter days, and the rough roads in the hilly country before 
we reached Glasgow, the two all-night marches around 

191 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Lebanon and from Columbia to Burkesville, we had marched 
two hundred and seventy-one miles and fought ten engage 
ments. On Christmas Day we marched thirty miles, not 
withstanding an hour s delay in the fight at Bear Wallow, 
and the next day made twenty-five miles, besides capturing 
the garrison at Uptons, the stockades at Bacon Creek and 
Nolin, and destroying the two bridges there. 

In our absence the great battle of Murfreesboro had been 
fought. The Confederates had captured some thirty pieces 
of artillery and had lost four; and, although Rosecrans was 
finally victorious in that Bragg retreated a day s march to 
Tullahoma, he had hammered his opponent so hard that it 
took him from January ist to June 24th before he was 
again ready to advance. In this enforced delay Morgan s 
destruction of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was an 
important factor. 

I have made no attempt to narrate the many acts of per 
sonal bravery which took place on this exciting expedition, 
but there were two occurrences of such an extraordinary 
character that I must find place for them. The first of 
these encounters took place about ten o clock on the morn 
ing of December 3ist, as the rear-guard was crossing Salt 
River, some five or six miles south of Lebanon. Captain 
Alexander Tribble, Lieutenant George B. Eastin, and a 
private soldier had been sent on a detour to New Market, 
four or five miles from the line of march, to secure a supply 
of shoes which were reported stored at that point. As they 
were returning to overtake the command they were set 
upon and pursued by a squad of Federal cavalry. Being 
well mounted, the three kept a safe distance ahead of their 
pursuers. Glancing backward in a long, straight stretch 
of road, they observed as the chase proceeded that all but 

192 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

three of the enemy had checked up, and they determined 
at the first favorable place to ride to one side and await 
their approach and attack them. 

The place selected was the ford at Salt River. At this 
point Eastin checked his horse and turned sharply to the 
right, concealing himself under the bank. Tribble con 
tinued into the middle of the stream, which here was about 
fifty yards wide, and stopped his horse where the water 
was about two feet deep. For reasons satisfactory to him 
self the private soldier kept on, leaving the two officers to 
confront the three Federals, who were now in sight coming 
at full speed toward the river and strung out from fifty to 
one hundred yards apart. The leading Federal turned out 
to be Colonel Dennis J. Halisey, of the Sixth Kentucky 
Cavalry. As he came near Eastin the latter fired at him 
with his six-shooter, which fire Halisey returned. Both 
missed; and, as Eastin now had the drop on his adversary, 
Halisey threw up his hands in token of surrender. As 
Eastin approached him, having lowered his weapon, Hali 
sey fired, again missing, whereupon Eastin shot Halisey 
through the head, killing him instantly, his body falling 
from his horse into the river. 

While this combat was taking place the next in order 
of the Federals had closed with Captain Tribble. These 
two opened fire without effect, when Tribble spurred his 
horse alongside of his adversary, threw his arms around him, 
and dragged him with himself from the saddle into the 
river. Luckily, Tribble fell on top and strangled his enemy 
into surrender. At this moment the third Union trooper 
came on the scene, only to throw up his hands and sur 
render to the two Confederates. 

The second incident illustrates another phase of our war 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and almost justifies the term "Civil," which some writers 
apply to it. 1 Five of our men on one of the numerous side 
expeditions, or scouts, came unexpectedly face to face and 
within a few yards of about the same number of Federal 
cavalry, just as each party reached the crest of a sharp rise 
or hill in the road. The surprise was mutual, the situation 
serious. The men were experienced enough to know that 
on such equal terms neither would surrender to the other 
without a hand-to-hand fight or killing. With wonderful 
presence of mind the Union officer at the head of his squad 
said, "Don t raise your guns," and the lieutenant of the 
other side quickly responded, "Don t raise yours," and they 
rode past one another, saluting, and went their respective 
ways. It reads like a romance, but it is true. It is not a 
bit more seemingly improbable than an incident in which 
I took part in another campaign later on, and which I shall 
describe elsewhere. 

Our war was full of pathos, and the tragedy of it makes 
the chivalric and pathetic side stand out in bolder relief. 
There is a man still living (1914) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 
a man of affairs, who captured his own brother, who was 
seated by the fireside holding his mother s hand. The two 
armies were near each other, and each of the sons had ob 
tained leave for the night to pass into the intervening 
neutral zone to see his mother. The one who came last saw 
through a crack the other seated by the fire, opened the door 
quickly, gun in hand, and cried: "Throw up your hands; 
you re my prisoner!" The trio chatted till late, and then 

1 This occurrence was detailed to me by Hugh Garvin of our command. 
He was a true soldier, always where he ought to have been, and entirely re 
liable in every respect. After the war he became a physician at Cave City, 
Kentucky, and died there a few years ago, beloved and respected by all. 

194 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the prisoner went with his captor into the Union lines. It 
was largely a family affair. When I was captured I was 
guarded the first night by men from a company in the 
Tenth Illinois Infantry, of which my first cousin, Thomas 
Smith, of Morgan County, was captain. 

In February, leading my "captured" horse, I started on 
the long ride to my home. It rained almost incessantly for 
two days and nights, until every stream became a torrent, 
and some of them difficult and not altogether safe, especially 
while trying to cross with two animals. When I reached 
Paint Rock River it had overflowed its banks; and, the 
Tennessee being full, the back-water had flooded the low 
lands, until where I had to cross it was over a mile from 
shore to shore. The hospitable citizen who gave me shelter 
for the night informed me that the ferryman who lived on 
the far side had tied up his boat and quit, as the general 
overflow had put an end to all travel. 

One of the great advantages of being raised in the back 
woods is that every boy and man learns of necessity the use 
of tools and gets in the habit of overcoming difficulties. 
My good host said I could stay with him till the river fell. 
He thought in four or five days the road might be open. 
Early next morning another traveler on horseback came on 
the scene. He and I formed a partnership, borrowed an 
ax and an auger, cut three good ash logs of proper length, 
pinned them together into a fairly respectable raft, and 
with one pole and a bit of plank for a paddle we started on 
a voyage of discovery. It was half a mile to the river proper, 
and the rails of the corduroy road-bed had floated and 
made navigation difficult, but we were yet in dead-water 
and could take our time. 

When we arrived at the river s edge we found the current 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

booming swiftly toward the Tennessee, several miles farther 
on. Away on the other side, a half-mile across, we could 
see the coveted ferryboat where the retiring ferryman had 
tied it when he suspended operations. The opening of the 
roadway on that side was narrow not over twenty feet 
and if in crossing we failed to hit it exactly right we would 
have to continue our journey indefinitely down-stream and 
take our chances of finding a landing-place somewhere 
down on the Tennessee; so we poled our raft through the 
still water far enough up-stream to give us good leeway, 
paddled across the swift current, and hit the opening in 
great style. I heard of one colored brother who indis 
creetly inquired of another, "What wuz de price o dem new 
britches what you got on?" and the reply was. "How d I 
know. De shopkeeper wasn t dar." My partner and I 
never asked the price of this ferriage. We took the boat, 
pulled back for our three horses, ferried ourselves across, 
and went our way rejoicing. That night I reported as 
present and accounted for to my anxious mother and father, 
and they sat up to a late hour listening to my story of how 
I had "seen the army." 



XV 

FOURTH ALABAMA CAVALRY 

MY brief partisan - ranger service as a " bush whacker," 
and the trying and exciting experience as an "independent" 
with Morgan s cavalry, in 1862 and early in 1863, only 
whetted the desire to engage regularly in the active business 
of the war. In February I had asked Captain Tom Quirk 
at Liberty, Tennessee, where "the Scouts" were stationed 
after the Christmas raid was over, if I might not join his 
company. Evidently, Lieutenant Frank Brady, who felt 
responsible for my leaving home and going on the great ride 
through Kentucky, had talked my case over with the cap 
tain and had advised him not to let me enlist, as I was 
under age, and he thought I ought to report to my parents. 
Quirk frankly told me he would like to keep me with his 
company, but on account of my size and age he didn t 
think it would be best, and asked me to go home, talk it 
over with my parents, and, later on, if they consented and 
I still cared to come to him, he would take me. 

I was greatly disappointed at this, for I had fallen in love 
with my Kentucky comrades, especially with the Scouts, for 
they were as gallant a lot of horsemen as ever sat in the 
saddle. They had volunteered early in the war, and with 
John H. Morgan and Basil W. Duke had done some won 
derful work and won undying fame as Morgan s old squad 
ron." When I joined them at Alexandria and asked to be 

197 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

allowed to go on the raid they never bothered about asking 
me what my full name was. Captain Quirk hailed me as 
"Little Johnny," and after that I never had any other name 
while with Morgan s men. 

After the final consultation with my parents the conclu 
sion was that I had better join one of the cavalry compa 
nies from my native county already in service in a famous 
regiment, the Fourth Alabama, known also as "Russell s 
regiment." l So early in April I was regularly enrolled 
as a private in Company I, joining the command then do 
ing outpost duty near Eagleville, on the turnpike leading 
north from Shelbyville, Tennessee, to Triune and Nashville. 
Russell s Fourth Alabama was justly ranked as one of the 
best cavalry regiments in the service. In its organization 
a valuable military lesson may be learned namely, the 
sandwiching of raw and untrained soldiers between true 
and tried veterans. The negroes had a saying that "It 
takes an old dog to teach a pup how to fight." Among the 
first troops to go to the front from Alabama were four 
mounted companies, and these were fortunate enough to be 
included in a battalion of cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Nathan Bedford Forrest. Anybody who knows anything 
about the Civil War knows what that meant. He led them, 
and they followed "close up" at Sacramento and at Fort 
Henry. 

At Fort Donelson, when everybody else was whipped and 
cowed and wanted to surrender, Forrest told the command 
ing officers not to include him and his men in the cartel, as 
he had no notion of surrendering. Napoleon said that the 
supreme test of courage was at four o clock in the morning. 

1 In distinction from another regiment under General Roddy, which is 
sometimes mentioned in the reports as the Fourth Alabama Cavalry. 

198 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Near this hour on that cold, cheerless, and desolate Feb 
ruary morning the grim fighter roused his tired and sleepy 
troopers from under their snow-covered blankets, called them 
about him, and said: "Men, they are going to surrender 
this fort and this army at daybreak. I am going out. The 
way is open. Get on your horses." They rode safely 
away without seeing one solitary Federal soldier. Every 
man surrendered there, who could have walked four miles 
between four and six o clock A.M., could have come away 
and left General Grant the empty triumph of a "last year s 
bird s nest." 

These same men were with him at Shiloh, where they 
rode squarely in among Sherman s infantry, and for at 
least once during our four years war men on foot were jab 
bing bayonets at men on horseback. When their twelve 
months enlistment had expired they re-enlisted "for the 
war," and to these four old companies as a nucleus were 
added six new companies of mounted troops, all from Ala 
bama, and the new regiment was christened Russell s 
Fourth Alabama in honor of the brave, grim doctor who 
laid aside the spatula and scalpel for the sword and six- 
shooter. 

Most of these recent volunteers made excellent soldiers, 
and with the example and prestige of the "old Forresters" 
they became a splendid body of fighters. Within two 
months of their organization two of the new compa 
nies, under the leadership of the daring Captain Frank 
Gurley, rode over and captured a section of artillery at 
Lexington, Tennessee, the orderly sergeant of one company 
being blown bodily from his horse at the cannon s mouth. 
They captured in addition the redoubtable Colonel Robert 
G. Ingersoll and troops of the Eleventh Illinois, Second 

199 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

West Tennessee, and Fifth Ohio Cavalry, and were bul 
letined by General Forrest for "exceptional gallantry" on 
this and other occasions. One of the proudest moments of 
my life as a soldier was when, at Anderson s Cross Roads, 
on October 2, 1863, as a brigade which had been sent to 
the front to beat off a train-guard came back beaten and 
demoralized, General Wheeler galloped up to our com 
mander and said, "Colonel Russell, you will have to go in 
with the Fourth Alabama." Our grim old colonel came 
nearer smiling than I ever saw him as he saluted and gave 
the order, Cap your guns, men !" We made short work of it. 
The men and horses were in generally good condition 
when I joined the company, although the equipment was 
far from sufficient. An official inspection had just been 
made, and the report of March 6, 1863, shows that out of 
seven hundred men present for duty in this regiment four 
hundred were as yet without arms. 1 Nothing could better 
demonstrate the difficulties with which the South was con 
tending. The four old companies were splendidly equipped 
with guns and army pistols which they had captured. The 
others carried long muzzle - loading Austrian or Belgian 
rifles, a clumsy weapon for mounted men. Some had 
double-barreled shotguns, a very effective weapon at close 
quarters seventy-five yards or less. Army pistols were 
scarce, and no sabres were carried. I furnished myself with 
a captured Burnside carbine, for which I paid fifty dollars, 
and an army six-shooter, and as far as my mount was con 
cerned there was not in all the seven hundred a horse more 
beautiful, intelligent, or swifter of foot than my thorough 
bred Fanny. The hard campaign with Morgan had left 
her in the best of condition for service. 

1 Official Records, series I, 23, part 2, p. 663 
200 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The only tent in our regiment belonged to Colonel Russell. 
The rest of us lived out of doors, with the dome of heaven 
for our covering. When night came on we slept on the 
ground, wherever we happened to be, provided we were not 
on picket or doing guard duty. When it rained, if in bivouac 
we leaned two rails or poles against a tree or a fence-panel, 
laid an oil-cloth over these, spread another oil-cloth on 
leaves or bushes, then a saddle-blanket ; and then, with our 
saddles for pillows, two of us went to bed with an extra 
blanket for cover. When the rainfall was extraordinarily 
heavy, in cloudburst fashion, as occasionally happened, 
there was nothing to do but sit or stand up and take it good- 
humoredly when we could, or the other way when patience 
and patriotism succumbed for the time being to the suffer 
ing which cold and loss of sleep entailed. 

I recall one night, when a young deluge was let down on 
us, with several inches of water on the ground, I placed two 
flat rails across the angle of a worm-fence, and, protected 
by a waterproof blanket, slept the sleep of the weary, un 
mindful of the heavy downpour. When day broke, as far 
as one could see the top of the fence on both sides of the 
pike was occupied by troopers in every possible attitude of 
discomfort. We didn t mind so much the rains of summer 
time; but the winter rains, the sleet, the snow, and the 
biting wind made us think of home and wish "the cruel 
war was over." One great misfortune was that most of the 
men did not have oil-cloths or blankets enough to protect 
them properly, and now, as I look back on all this physical 
discomfort and misery, to which add short rations of food 
and most of the time the little we got was bad I marvel that 
our army stood up as long as it did. The truth is the men 
were in dead earnest to win out for the Southern Confederacy. 

14 201 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

We had what by courtesy was called a commissary, 
took with grateful appreciation all it offered, and made up 
the deficit by foraging. Now, foraging is a science and an 
art which can only be acquired by experience. I messed with 
the captain and the first lieutenant of my company. Our 
utensils and housekeeping outfit consisted of a small frying- 
pan, a skillet, and one canteen which held three pints. We 
fried our bacon or other meat in one and mixed the meal 
dough and cooked it into bread in the other. At meal 
time we drank in regular order from the canteen. Custom 
required that the last drinker should dry off the canteen s 
mouth before passing it. The nearest approach to a napkin 
was a handkerchief, and when this had not been recently 
laundered the palm of the hand sufficed. 

Buttermilk was the one great luxury of the mess, and as 
I was so youthful and small, and in appearance so generally 
suggestive of helplessness and hunger, the captain and the 
lieutenant detailed me with great regularity to scour the sur 
rounding territory for this essential. As a rule I rarely came 
in with an empty canteen. The Confederate cavalry sub 
sisted chiefly on corn as roasting-ears when green or half 
ripe, and parched, or as hominy, when ripe. Corn-bread 
was the great standby. Wheat flour we rarely saw, and 
we used to say the infantry got it all. Coffee and tea were 
unknown, and sugar was as scarce as flour. 

Dr. Will Fennell was the captain of Company I, and it was 
chiefly on his account that I had joined it. He had studied 
medicine, and was just commencing practice when the war 
broke out. He volunteered as assistant surgeon in a regiment 
in the Army of Northern Virginia. At the battle of Seven 
Pines, as the wounded were not coming in fast enough to suit 
him, he had borrowed a gun and gone into the fight just 

202 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in time to be severely wounded. During his convalescence 
at home he amused himself by drumming up a company of 
volunteers for the cavalry service, and, having been made 
captain, he gave up his place as surgeon. He was a fine 
type of man, sober, fearless, reliable, and withal just a little 
bit too quick-tempered. He and the second lieutenant, 
Sam Browning, would have come to blows on one occasion 
if we privates had not by expostulation and interference 
prevented it. Captain Fennell ordered Browning to per 
form some duty. The latter resented the tone and bear 
ing of his superior, saying, " Captain Fennell, you wouldn t 
dare to speak to me that way if you didn t have those bars 
on your collar." Off went the captain s coat, and as he 
was squaring for action he remarked, " Lieutenant, the bars 
are off." It was a matter of great regret to me that on 
account of ill health he was compelled to leave the service. 

Between the Federal picket-line and ours, extending the 
fifteen or twenty miles of front along which the cavalry of 
either army was strung out, was a strip of country about 
four miles in width known as the neutral zone. An impor 
tant part of the duty to which I was assigned was to make 
frequent excursions across this zone to obtain all possible 
information from the citizens living near the Union lines, 
especially from those who had access to their encampments. 
Practically all residents of this section of middle Tennessee 
were intensely Southern in sympathy. 

About half a mile north of Little Harpeth River, where 
the pike to Triune crosses, east of the road some four hun 
dred yards stood a substantial brick farm-house. A car 
riageway led from the gate on the pike straight to the front 
yard through a beautiful field then green with clover. 
From a rise of ground in the turnpike, two hundred yards 

203 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

farther north of this gate, could be seen the Federal videttes 
as they sat on their horses. I visited at this house a num 
ber of times and made the acquaintance of the family. They 
were in good circumstances. The Federals being so near, 
naturally they also found their way there frequently. It 
was only half a mile from their outpost, and fully three miles 
to ours. The male members of the household were away 
in our army. The mother and the two young girls, about 
fourteen and sixteen years old, were all of the family I can 
recall. 1 The oldest girl told me that Colonel Brownlow, of 
the First Tennessee Union Cavalry, or some of his officers 
rode out nearly every afternoon. They were polite enough 
"to keep on the good side of the Yankees," and equally 
loyal to me; for she gave me all the Northern newspapers 
she could obtain from them, and any other information. 
I usually started on these excursions before daylight, and 
on Fanny it did not take long to go three or four miles on 
a good Tennessee pike. The Louisville Journal I remember 
as one of the important papers we were glad to get from 
that side of the line. 

Realizing that this could not go on indefinitely without 
discovery, I took every precaution to prevent surprise. 
On the morning of my last visit I had with me two very 
reliable men, and when we reached the big gate I left it 
open and told them to ride to the rise in the road in sight 
of the pickets, and if the Yankees charged them to yell a 
warning to me, save themselves by a run for camp, and I 
would escape by a back way across the fields. The one 
embarrassing feature of a run down the pike was the river, 

1 The younger of these daughters was still living in this house in 1907, 
wife of a Mr. Wommack, who, I think, is a preacher. He wrote me that the 
elder one, my little friend, had died many years ago. 

204 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

half a mile away, which, while not wide, was deep enough 
to stop the full speed of a horse or cause him to fall if not 
checked up. With a good start, however, this could be 
crossed before the pursuers were close enough to shoot 
with accuracy, and it would impede them as well. 

When about two-thirds of the way from the gate to the 
house, I was startled to see my little friend standing in 
the hall and well back from the door, where she could not 
be seen from the outside, waving her hand, and evidently 
signaling me to turn back, as there was danger. I wheeled 
at once and rode at full speed to rejoin my two comrades. 
As I neared them they threw up their guns and shouted 
to me: "Here they come!" I exclaimed quickly, "Don t 
shoot!" and in another instant I was on the rise where they 
were stationed and could see coming toward us, but as yet 
about four hundred yards away, a squadron of from fifteen 
to twenty Union troopers. Naturally, our first thought was 
to run full tilt for camp, but the river just in our rear made 
that a dangerous experiment, to be avoided if possible; 
and so we concluded to try to "bluff them off," and the 
three of us lined up across the pike, lowered our guns, and sat 
stock-still. They came on in a walk until they had reached 
a slight elevation about three hundred yards from us, where 
they halted in a line that stretched the full width of the 
roadway. 

I saw one of them raise his field-glasses, and while he still 
held them to his eyes every second trooper turned back and 
disappeared behind the hill. They evidently suspected us 
of trying to lead them into an ambuscade ; so we waved our 
hats and, shouting, "Come on, boys!" turned and rode leis 
urely away, keeping our eyes on them until we were out 
of sight below the crest of the hill. As yet they had not 

205 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

budged, but as soon as we could no longer be seen we put 
the spurs to our horses and went at full speed toward the 
river, across which we floundered without accident and 
made our way safely to our lines. Had they rushed us 
from the start our situation would have been precarious 
in the extreme. I need scarcely add that this was my last 
visit to this house. 

Scouting and picket duty, foraging for one s self and 
horse, and attending drills on alternate days made a busy 
life of it. Our rule was four consecutive hours on post, and 
at night it was at times almost impossible to stay awake, 
especially toward morning, when stationed at some lonesome 
spot where not a sound could be heard except the hoot or 
screech of the owls, the cry of a whippoorwill, or the chirp 
of the grasshoppers or katydids. It was against orders to 
dismount, but I remember on one occasion the only way I 
could keep from going to sleep was to mount and dismount 
for minutes at a time, and to repeat this performance until 
fully aroused. 

Just at daylight on May 5, 1863, the outpost picket fired 
his gun, and, closely pursued by six Federal cavalrymen, 
came at full speed to the reserve. Lieutenant John Gibson, 
officer of the guard, followed by a man named Julian, 
mounted at once and raced in the direction of the enemy, 
who now faced about and started as fast as their horses 
could carry them back toward Triune. A dozen of us threw 
our saddles on and joined in the chase. One of the Yankee 
horses went down, and a comrade checked his horse, took 
the unseated man up behind him, and tried to escape. The 
double weight told on the animal, and, seeing they were 
being overhauled, the two dismounted, knelt in the road, 
and fired their carbines at Gibson, now two hundred yards 

206 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in advance of Julian, who was about the same distance 
ahead of the others of the reserve. One of the balls struck 
the big sorrel just above the eye and crashed into his brain, 
killing him instantly. As he was going at a full run, some 
idea of the jolt the plucky lieutenant received when he 
struck the hard road-bed may be imagined. Stunned as he 
was, he staggered to his feet, revolver in hand, and advanced 
on the two desperate Federals, who, seeing Julian approach 
ing and the guard right up, surrendered to Gibson. The 
other four made good their escape. 

Had these men been caught two weeks later they would 
in all likelihood have fared badly, for an important incident 
occurred at this time which embittered the Fourth Alabama 
against the First Tennessee (Union) . A corn-detail sent into 
the neutral zone was set upon by a scouting party of the 
enemy and fled after two of the detail had been wounded. 
The citizens who owned the corn testified that Brownlow s 
troopers had ruthlessly put both the wounded men to death 
as they were lying helpless on the ground. The evidence 
was so convincing that reprisals were determined upon. I 
happened to be one of the detachment sent out on this 
expedition, and we had gone ahead of the corn-detail to guard 
it from attack. The Federals had evidently come out during 
the night, and were lying in wait for the corn-carriers, and 
in this way they were not discovered by us. As soon as the 
firing began we raced in that direction and drove the as 
sailants away. In their precipitate retreat one was thrown 
from his horse and escaped into the dense cedar brakes or 
thickets which are numerous in this section and can only 
be traversed by a man on foot. As Fanny was the fastest 
animal in our scouting party, I happened to get ahead and 
capture the horse and outfit. Within a week two of this 

207 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

command were caught and shot. The men comprising this 
regiment were almost wholly from the mountain country 
of east Tennessee, where the people were about equally 
divided in their political affiliations. They were a hardy 
lot, and neither they nor the men from the mountain region 
just over the line in northern Alabama took the trouble to 
refer their grievances to the proper authorities for settle 
ment, as the following dispatch may testify: 

HEADQUARTERS FIRST TENNESSEE CAVALRY, 
SPARTA, TENN., December ist, 1863. 

Drove the enemy eight miles, killing nine and wounding between fifteen 
and twenty. I would take no prisoners. 

JAMES P. BROWNLOW, 
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding .* 

By a singular coincidence a man who at this time com 
manded a company in the First Tennessee Cavalry (Union) 
became one of my most devoted personal friends. Long 
after the war he came as a patient and remained in my 
private hospital for several weeks. I knew nothing of his 
war record until he was just far enough under the influence 
of the anesthetic, as I was proceeding to operate on him, 
to lose control of his tongue. He then said, "Dr. Wyeth, 
this isn t the first time you and I have seen each other, * 
and to quiet him I said: "That s all right, Captain. Just 
keep quiet and go to sleep." But the spell was on him, the 
control was gone, and the memory cells of those awful ex 
periences came into action as he continued: "Yes; I know 
it s all right, and I trust you with my life; but there was a 

1 Official Records of the Union and Confederate A rmies, series" I, vol. xxxi, 
part i, p. 591. 

Colonel Brownlow was a son of the "Parson" Brownlow who was Governor 
of Tennessee at one time, and in reconstruction days was one of the most 
implacaole enemies the South ever had. 

208 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

time, when you were m Russell s regiment and I was in 
Brownlow s, when we wouldn t have been talking to each 
other this way." At this I held up the ether for a minute 
in order to assure him as emphatically as I was able that 
old scores were forgotten and forgiven and that his vote 
of confidence had touched me deeply. 1 

1 Captain E. O. Tate was then a post-office inspector. He died at Morris- 
town, Tennessee, about 1900. To the day of his death, long after this in 
cident, he never missed an opportunity to demonstrate his gratitude and 
friendship. 



XVI 

COVERING THE RETREAT FROM TULLAHOMA THE 27TH OF 

JUNE, 1863 

FROM about June 20, 1863, the increased activity of the 
Union cavalry gave every indication of the long-looked-for 
general advance of Rosecrans s army. There was hardly a 
day that we were not in collision with their videttes, and on 
June 2/th we retired to Shelby ville, where we arrived about 
two o clock in the afternoon, just in time to take part in 
the opening of one of the liveliest experiences which fell to 
my lot. On the way back my horse cast a front shoe; and 
as the farrier and forge had gone ahead, the shoe could not 
be replaced at once. The hard macadamized road caused 
a split in Fanny s hoof, which soon became so tender that 
she hobbled in on three legs. For the last mile I led her on 
foot. When I reached the battle-line which was forming, 
on account of my lame horse I was ordered back to the 
wagon- train, which was still in sight. Here I found a man 
belonging to my company who had a fairly good horse. He 
readily consented to take charge of Fanny with the wagons, 
so I transferred my saddle to my new mount and hurried 
back to the company just in time to go out on the skirmish- 
line. 

Some of our cavalry which had been handled roughly at 
Hoover s Gap were coming in at a lively pace ; and although 
the sun was now shining, it had rained hard for an hour or 

210 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

two in the forenoon, and these flying troopers, all bespattered 
with mud, presented a rather demoralized appearance which 
afforded us no little merriment at their expense. The pur 
suers checked up when they came in sight of our line of 
battle and formed theirs in full view, a half-mile in our front. 
I had scarcely reached my place with the skirmishers when 
their long line began to advance. We were some two hun 
dred yards in front of our main line, and the videttes de 
ployed at intervals of about one hundred yards. When the 
Federal skirmisher, who was coming directly toward me, 
was about eighty yards off I thought it was about time to 
try to stop him, and, taking as steady an aim as was possible 
from the back of a restless horse, I fired. Instead of re 
turning the shot from his saddle he dismounted, and, hold 
ing on to the bridle, rested the barrel of his gun against a 
tree. 

We were in an open wooded bit of ground, and, fortunately 
for me, there were other trees than the one he was using. 
Some twenty feet to my right was an oak of good size, and 
when I realized I had missed him and he was taking such 
deliberate aim at me I put the spurs to my horse and tried 
to get my body behind it. As the horse jumped the Yankee s 
gun went off, and when I was within two or three feet of the 
tree I saw the bark fly as the bullet struck the trunk and 
glanced off. Either it or a good-sized piece of bark struck 
me on the left side of the abdomen, and for the moment I 
was sure it had gone through me, for my left leg became 
immediately numb. My gun being empty, I had let it drop 
to the sling over my shoulder to which it was attached for 
safety and glanced quickly at the place where I had been 
struck. As there was no bleeding, I was reassured at once 
that the ball had not penetrated. 

211 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

All this happened within a few seconds, and by this time 
my antagonist, doubtless thinking he had disabled me, had 
remounted and was coming right at me. As he came on at 
full speed I arose on tiptoe in the stirrups and shot at him 
four times with my army pistol; but my horse was rearing 
and behaving so badly that I failed to stop him. Inci 
dentally he was popping away at me with his pistol at the 
same time. As I fired the fourth shot he was so close I 
could have thrown the pistol and hit him with it. At the 
flash of this shot he reeled in his saddle, fell or leaned over 
on the other side from me, pulled the bridle on that side, 
turned, and, to my great relief, urged his horse at full speed 
toward his comrades, who were advancing in line of battle 
and were now not over two hundred yards away. I fol 
lowed him some fifty yards as he still clung to the saddle, 
gave him a parting shot, and then turned back to where I 
belonged. 

This horseback duel had taken place in plain view of the 
regiment and excited no little interest, for as it ended a 
wild cheer went up from our line of battle, and I only then 
realized how foolish I had been. This conviction was em 
phasized by the remark of a comrade who had gone out with 
Forrest early in the war and knew what soldiering really 
was. Fearing I was in danger, he had started to my assist 
ance, and as I rode up to him on my way back he said, 
"John, you are the damnedest fool I ever saw." 1 

I had scarcely taken my place with my company when 
the enemy s bugles sounded the charge, and their whole line 
came on at a gallop. We gave them a volley; but I doubt 
if this would have stopped them if General Wheeler had not 

1 Dr. C. A. (Meek) Robinson, of Huntsville, one of the bravest and best sol 
diers in our command, is still living in Huntsville (1914). 

212 




JOHN A. WYKTII, CO. I, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY 

From a photograph taken in 1861 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

posted a battery, which at this juncture opened on them. 
As they broke under this unexpected development for the 
guns had been masked we charged and drove them in 
considerable disorder on their reserves, which were con 
stantly coming on the field. At this advance I recall hearing 
a ball strike the chest of one of our men which sounded 
as if some one had slapped him with the palm of the hand. 
It went through one lung and passed out below the shoulder- 
blade. 1 

For the entire afternoon this kind of fighting was going 
on, with charge and countercharge, with no material ad 
vantage to either side, until late in the day near sundown. 
I did not know it then, but General Wheeler told me years 
after the war that when the fight began the road was 
jammed with loaded wagons filing slowly toward and over 
the narrow bridge across Duck River, two miles in our rear, 
and that his fighting was to hold the enemy off and save as 
much of the train as possible. 

Had the Federal commander been less cautious he could 
have run over us, battery and all, in the first hour of the 
fight, as he did later when the sun was setting, and taken us 
with the train, which was now safe. As the bridge was clear, 
General Wheeler withdrew the artillery and all the troops 
except our regiment, which he left in line across the pike 
with orders to stand our ground as long as possible. As 
the battery disappeared the Union commander ordered a 
general advance, and as we sat on our horses, ranged along 
the crest of a gentle rise, I witnessed one of the most mag 
nificent cavalry charges made during the war. For a mile 
at least the open country in our front was in plain view, and 

1 This man and another young soldier (Polk Wright) from Huntsville, who 
was shot here through one lung, also recovered. 

213 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

it was blue with thousands of Federal soldiers, for Stanley s 
corps was coming on the field, ten thousand in all, as the 
official reports show. Had we been wise our small band 
would have scattered at once into the woods to the east and 
saved itself, instead of waiting to be ridden over. But we 
had our orders to wait until they were within easy range, 
fire, and then "sauve qui pent." The Seventh Pennsylva 
nia came on in front, in columns of fours, in gallant style, 
and just behind galloped the Fourth United States regulars. 
As they came within four hundred yards of us they spread 
right and left into line, opening like a fan. It was a glorious 
sight, and the thunder of their horses hoofs was the only 
sound. Not a word of command, not a huzza from them, 
or a yell of defiance from us do I recall. The truth is, there 
was no defiance in us, only the courage born of despair, for 
we knew we were doomed. I lived an age in those few 
minutes, and every incident of the wonderful picture flashes 
on the screen of memory so vividly, so distinctly, that I can 
almost believe I am again a lad just turned eighteen and 
witnessing that scene anew. And clearer than all else 
there stands in relief the form and face of one of the bravest 
men that lived, who in this crisis gave me the assurance of 
a friendship which I have ever valued as one of the priceless 
treasures of my life. 

I had known John Gibson only a few months; he was an 
officer in another company than mine, and yet we were al 
ready like brothers. There is not only "a divinity that 
shapes our ends"; there is a divine, a mysterious influence 
which shapes our friendships, and that influence had brought 
us together. He was our colonel s most trusted scout, 
venturesome without being foolhardy, cool and self-pos 
sessed in the moment of peril, and so tenacious of purpose 

214 




LIEUT. JOHN A. GIBSON, CO. C, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY 

From a photograph taken ten years after the Civil War closed 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

that when sent out for information he never came in empty- 
handed. I had been close to him already on two exciting 
occasions, the one when Brownlow s men killed his horse 
near Rover, the other when our two wounded men were 
murdered near Eagleville, for he was in charge of the scout 
that day. 

In the emergency that was at hand now, while the double 
blue line, with their drawn sabres gleaming high above 
their heads and bearing down on us at a gallop, was still 
two or three hundred yards away, Gibson galloped to my 
side and said, "Johnny, when we break I ll be with you," 
and, pointing back in the direction we were to retreat, he 
said, "Bear off to the left yonder," and then he went to 
his place. Gibson s quick eye had seen what would prob 
ably have escaped me, as I was comparatively new in the 
business of war. Our position was very nearly opposite 
the extreme left of the advancing line, and a sharp run in 
the direction he had indicated gave us a chance to get out 
of the heavier rush of the charge, and possibly to dodge it 
altogether. 

With our guns at cock, and sighting along the barrel, 
waiting for the word, they were now so near that we could 
distinctly see their features; then some one shouted "Fire!" 
and as our volley blazed in their faces we wheeled our 
horses and started on the race for life. By the time we 
turned about not more than fifty yards separated pursuers 
and pursued. Obeying my friend s injunction, I bore off 
to the left at the best speed my horse could go, and within 
the first hundred yards of our flight Gibson, on his big, blue 
roan, six-shooter in hand, was at my side. Very near us so 
near, in fact, that they called to us to stop and surrender- 
were a dozen or more Federal troopers, who had in all prob- 

215 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ability noticed that we were trying to run around the end 
of their line, while looming up before us was a rail-fence 
which seemed very high. As it was evident that I could 
never clear it, I said: "Lieutenant, I ll never get over on 
this horse. Go on and save yourself." His quick reply 
was: "I ll knock the top rails off, and you follow." And 
as he spoke his splendid horse went over like a bird, never 
touching a rail. I was now not more than three lengths 
behind him as he pulled up, turned in his saddle and shot 
at the man who was nearest to me with his sabre raised for 
the finishing-stroke. To avoid this danger I dodged to 
take the next panel, which my horse struck at full speed, 
and he, his rider, and a dozen or more fence-rails went down 
in a heap together. My last recollection of Gibson was 
when his pistol flashed. He saw the disaster that had over 
taken me, and he told me afterward he was sure I had been 
killed. He so reported, and my parents had the great dis 
tress of finding me named among those who were dead. 
I have no clear remembrance of what took place after I 
struck the ground. When I "came to" my horse was a few 
yards away nibbling at some grass, and not another living 
thing was in sight. Far off, a mile or more in the direction 
of Shelbyville, guns were popping and men were shouting 
and yelling; and the sun had gone down. I got on my feet, 
caught my horse, and led him into a near-by clump of cedars 
to be sure of a hiding-place. My gun and pistol were 
empty. I at once reloaded them. It soon grew dark 
enough to venture out, and, still bearing off to the east, I 
crossed a road and came upon a farm-house, the occupants 
of which gave me directions to find my way to the river. 
The bridge at Shelbyville was now in the hands of the 
enemy. The next one was eight or ten miles to the east, 

216 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and my only hope was to hurry on and reach it before they 
could. Following a southeasterly course, guided by the 
stars, across fields and through long stretches of woodland, 
I came about midnight into a well-used road near a house. 
There was no light within, but as I rode up to the front gate 
I recognized the outline of a horse hitched to the fence. 

I was quite certain it did not belong to a Federal soldier, 
for the reason that one lone trooper would not venture this 
far afield and be away from his horse. In feeling over the 
saddle for it was so dark I could not see clearly I struck 
a wooden canteen. Then I knew the owner was a Con 
federate, and I hallooed. A man came to the door, and 
when he heard my story he said there was another soldier 
in the house on his way to the bridge, which was two miles 
off; so we rode on together. 

When within some two hundred yards of the bridge we 
were startled by a loud shout which formed itself into 
"Halt! Who comes there?" and I answered, " Friend." The 
sentinel replied, "What command?" Fearing he might be 
a Federal picket, I hedged by shouting, "Who are you?" At 
this there came the most pleasing blasphemy that has ever 
grated on my Presbyterian ears, "Eighth Texas, by God!" 
Then I answered, "Fourth Alabama." "How many?" 
"Two." "One of you come up on foot." One of us went 
up on foot, and we were safe at last. A half-mile on the 
south side of Duck River two worn-out Confederates on 
two worn-out horses rode into a clump of trees, dismounted, 
unsaddled, tethered, and when they opened their eyes the 
sun had been up an hour or more. The 2yth of June, 1863, 
was for one of the two a day never to be forgotten. Neither 
of us had eaten anything since noon of the day before, and 
our forage-sacks were empty. The army had passed along 
15 217 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

this road on its retreat, and the locusts never stripped 
Egypt any cleaner than the hungry Confederates did the 
ground they passed over. Our horses could get an oc 
casional tuft of grass or a bunch of leaves, but their riders 
could not graze or browse. 

We followed a road leading south to Tullahoma. The 
wagon-trains had evidently gone by this route, and how they 
ever got through was a wonder. The June rains had been 
pouring down for the last week and were to keep on pouring 
for another. Once or twice every day or night the heavens 
opened and soaked the earth and us ; then the hot sun would 
do its best to dry us by a process akin to steaming; then 
another shower, and so on. For thirteen days in this re 
treat we were wet at least once every day. 1 The rawhide 
upon our saddle-trees softened, slipped, rotted, and stank 
to such an extent that it was our practice whenever a hah 
was made to strip our l^or^ss-^iurn- Qur -sadd&s^tmder side 
up, and dry them and our blankets. When we reached Elk 
River, some days later (July 2 d), and took advantage of the 
first [opportunity for a wash (no real soldier ever bathed), 
in trying to get my cotton shirt off it came hopelessly to 
pieces. How aptly the song in "The Pirates of Penzance" 
applies to the experiences of war: 

Taking one consideration with another, 
A (soldier s) life is not a happy one. 

As we were riding along we noticed lying in the muddy 
road a knuckle of ham-bone several inches in length. That 
portion sticking out of the mud had been picked so clean 
it seemed hardly worth while to investigate the hidden 
portion, and we passed on. The sight of something which 

1 To any who may think this an exaggeration or a lapse of memory I refer 
to the Official Records of this campaign for daily weather reports. 

218 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

might be eaten, however, started our salivary and gastric 
machinery into action, so we stopped our horses, and one 
said he thought he would go back and see if anything had 
been left on the under side. I was that one; and when I 
scraped the mud off as cautiously as I could and showed it 
to my comrade, even the periosteum had disappeared. As 
a last resort we tightened our cartridge-box belts and rode 
on. 

The Federal cavalry reached the outposts in front of Tul- 
lahoma almost as soon as we did, for I scarcely had time 
to assure my comrades that I wasn t dead when we had a 
collision with them. There we lost the gallant Stearns of 
the Fourth Tennessee, one of the best colonels of cavalry 
the Civil War developed. As every one in the company 
thought I had been killed, my reappearance afforded an op 
portunity for congratulations in which I heartily joined. I 
looked up Gibson at once, and his outburst was: "Lord 
God Almighty Johnny!" It was irreverent, but not 
meant to be so, and I give the words just as the brave 
lieutenant spoke them. My mother and my father had 
started for the front when they read the news of the bad 
luck which had befallen, but went back when I reappeared. 

There is not in all the history of our great war a more 
heroic record than that of General Joseph Wheeler, and with 
the means at hand he never fought a better fight, or achieved 
a greater success, or showed more generalship or more des 
perate personal bravery than here at Shelbyville. 

The Official Records show that in addition to an infantry 
force of about ten thousand men, which came up late in the 
afternoon of the 2yth of June, the following Union regiments 
were on the ground and actively engaged (see pp. 547, 548, 
and 556, vol. xxiii, part i): 

219 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

First Brigade of T urchin s Division 

(Colonel Robert H. G. Minty.) 
Third Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Klein. 
Fifth Iowa, Lieutenant-Colonel Matthewson T. Patrick. 
Fourth Michigan, Major Frank W. Mix. 
Seventh Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel William B. Sipes. 
Fifth Tennessee, Colonel William B. Stokes. 
Fourth United States, Captain James B. Mclntyre. 
First Ohio Artillery, Battery D (one section), Lieutenant Nathaniel M. 
Newell. 

First Brigade of Mitchell s Division 
(Colonel Archibald P. Campbell.) 
Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Wickliffe Cooper. 
Sixth Kentucky, Colonel Louis D. Watkins. 
Seventh Kentucky, Colonel John K. Faulkner. 
Second Michigan, Major John C. Godley. 
First Tennessee, Lieutenant-Colonel James P. Brownlow. 

Colonel E. M. McCook s brigade was in reserve and on 
the field. It was made up of: 

Second Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert R. Stewart. 

Fourth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Platter. 

Fifth Kentucky, Lieutenant-Colonel William T. Hoblitzell. 

Second Tennessee, Colonel Daniel M. Ray. 

First Wisconsin, Colonel Oscar H. LaGrange. 

First Ohio Artillery, Battery D (one section), Captain Andrew J. Konkle. 

With their superior numbers and equipment the Federals 
could have run over us at any time after three o clock, 
captured us and the enormous wagon-train floundering slow 
ly along in the muddy roads between Shelbyville and Tulla- 
homa. It was nearly sundown when the last wagon was 
over the river. Wheeler at no time on that day had more 
than three thousand effective men under his command, and 
his principal losses were caused by his recrossing to the 
north side after he and his men were safely over, as he was 

220 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

informed that Forrest had come up and was being sur 
rounded. In an article entitled "General Wheeler s Leap," 
published in Harper s Weekly for June 18, 1898, the follow 
ing description is given: 

General Wheeler, who had safely crossed the river, was 
in the act of firing the bridge when a member of General 
Forrest s staff reported to him that Forrest, with two 
brigades, was within two miles of Shelbyville and advancing 
rapidly to cross. Realizing the danger which threatened 
Forrest, Wheeler, notwithstanding the Federals were in 
strong force in the suburbs of Shelbyville and advancing 
into town, taking with him two pieces of artillery and five 
hundred men of Martin s division, with this officer, hastily 
recrossed the north side in order to hold the bridge and save 
Forrest from disaster. 

"The guns were hastily thrown into position, but the 
charges had scarcely been rammed home when the Union 
troops came in full sweep down the main street. When 
within a few paces of the muzzle of the guns they were dis 
charged, inflicting, however, insignificant loss. With their 
small force of five hundred men Generals Wheeler and Mar 
tin stood up as best they could under the pressure of this 
charge. They held their ground manfully as the cavalry 
rode through and over them, sabring the cannoneers from 
the guns, of which they took possession, and then passed 
on and secured the bridge, leaving the two Confederate 
generals and their troops well in the rear. The bridge had 
become blocked by one of the caissons, which had been 
overturned, and now, thinking they had them in a trap, 
the Union forces formed a line of battle parallel with the 
bank of Duck River and across the entrance to the bridge. 

"The idea of surrendering himself and his command had 

221 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

not entered the mind of General Wheeler. As Poniatowski 
had done at the Elster, he now shouted to his men that they 
must cut their way through and attempt to escape by 
swimming the river. With General Martin by his side, 
sabres in hand, they led the charge, which, made in such 
desperate mood, parted the Federals in their front as they 
rode through. Without a moment s hesitation, and with 
out considering the distance from the top of the river-bank, 
which was here precipitous, to the water-level, these gallant 
soldiers followed their invincible leader and plunged at full 
speed sheer fifteen feet down into the sweeping current. 

"They struck the water with such velocity that horses 
and riders disappeared, some of them to rise no more. 
The Union troopers rushed to the water s edge and fired 
at the men and animals struggling in the river, killing or 
wounding and drowning a number. Holding to his horse s 
mane, General Wheeler took the precaution to shield him 
self as much as possible behind the body of the animal, 
and, although fired at repeatedly, he escaped injury and 
safely reached the opposite shore. Some forty or fifty were 
said to have perished in this desperate attempt. Fighting 
Joe Wheeler never did a more heroic and generous deed 
than when he risked all to save Forrest from disaster. 
Many years after the war the hero of this story gave me 
the facts as above stated." 



XVII 

TULLAHOMA TO ALEXANDRIA ELK RIVER 

THERE was to be no great battle at Tullahoma, where 
behind formidable intrenchments Bragg s army had for 
months been sheltered, and upon which Rosecrans was now 
advancing. When we arrived the wagon-trains had had 
a four days start along the awful roads to Chattanooga. 
The artillery went next, then the long lines of infantry 
floundered through the mud, and last of all we brought up 
the rear. Nothing so depresses an army as a retreat; no 
duty is so harrowing and demoralizing as that of fighting 
rear-guard actions day after day. South of Tullahoma, with 
the regular instalment of rain, we stood off the aggressive 
Union cavalry until we cleared the half -barren post-oak and 
black-jack plateau, from the summit of which we descended 
to cross Elk River on a planked-over railroad-bridge, and 
at dark on July ist found ourselves posted to oppose the 
enemy at the crossing of this river known as Morris s Ford. 

On our side of the river at this crossing there was an open 
hillside which sloped gradually upward from the river-bank 
for about four hundred yards. It was an old, turned-out 
field, barren of trees or bushes and fully exposed to the fire 
of artillery and small arms from the opposite shore, which 
commanded the slope for this distance. Straight up this 
hillside the road ascended from the ford. The only pro 
tection east of the roadway on the south side was a narrow 

223 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

fringe of bushes and small trees which grew immediately 
upon the edge of the bank, just back of which was a worm- 
fence half fallen to pieces from age and neglect. West of 
the road, as it led up from the crossing, was a fairly dense 
thicket of scrub timber about half an acre in extent. Through 
this undergrowth there ran obliquely from the hillside east 
ward to the river a sinuous wash-out some four or five feet 
in depth which afforded admirable protection to a limited 
number of sharp-shooters. 

From this gully the entrance to the ford from the opposite 
side was in plain view, and not over eighty yards distant. 
Upon the opposite or northern shore of Elk River, which 
was here not more than two hundred feet wide, there was 
a low bottom heavily timbered and with a dense under 
growth of small bushes which extended back some two hun 
dred yards from the stream. A fringe of tall, rank weeds 
lined the river-bank. The roadway coming from the north 
and leading into the stream was an ordinary Southern 
country highway, and so narrow that not more than four 
men could ride abreast. Moreover, as a result of the heavy 
rains, 1 the river was so full that in midstream it was swim 
ming for the horses for probably half of its width. 

On the morning of July 2, 1863, we were up early and 
were congratulating ourselves on having a short rest. It 
was clear, and as soon as the sun rose we turned our sad 
dles bottom side up to dry, and while some of the men 
were busy getting breakfast a number of us went down to 

1 Official Records, series I, vol. xxiii, part I, p. 620. 

(a) June 26th: "Rained nearly all day." Major-General David S. Stanley. 

(6) June 28th: "At daylight the train and troops were all in motion, but 
owing to the continued rains the roads were in a terrible condition." 

(c) June 29th: "The men remained in line all day and all night. Raining 
all day and night." Lieutenant W. B. Richmond, aide-de-camp to Lieutenant- 
General Polk, 

224 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the river to indulge in the luxury of a swim. As we were 
finishing our simple breakfast of corn-bread and bacon the 
videttes left half a mile from the ford on the north side of 
the stream fired at a squadron of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, 
which chased them into the river. As soon as the guns 
were heard we were ordered to rush to the ford and hold 
the enemy back. Some of us (sixteen in all) were fortunate 
enough to reach the small thicket near the crossing, where 
we ensconced ourselves in the gully described before. Others 
lay down behind the worm-fence, with nothing but that and 
the light fringe of bushes for protection. We had barely 
reached our places when the Federals opened on us with a 
heavy fire of small arms and two pieces of artillery. 1 This 
fire raked the bivouac on the open hillside behind us, stam 
peded the horses, and drove the entire command except 
ing the small number who had already succeeded in shelter 
ing themselves close along the bank back over the crest 
of the hill fully a half-mile away. As we had no artillery, 
our position was not to be envied. To try to escape ex 
posed us at close range to the fire from small arms, and to 
grape and canister for fully four hundred yards of open 
hillside. Realizing that we were in for it, we prepared for 
rapid loading by laying our cartridges and caps in rows on 
the ground and concentrated our fire on the narrow road 
way which led into the stream from the other side. 

After having driven everybody else away, the enemy gave 
their undivided attention to us, and for nearly three hours 2 
there was the liveliest firing I ever heard. They were so 
near we could distinctly hear every command given in an 
ordinary tone of voice. Those of our men who were lying 

1 Stokes s battery. 

a Lieutenant-Colonel O. P. Robbie says, "Nearly three hours." Official 
Records, vol. xxiii, part I, p. 575. 

225 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

behind the old fence suffered severely, and a number were 
killed or wounded (we could hear their groans), and long 
before the fight was over no resistance was offered anywhere 
except by our small squad of sixteen men. Captain Stokes 
of the Federal battery reported that he "advanced his 
section within thirty yards of the crossing" 1 and opened 
on us "with canister." Finally they tried volley-firing, 
concentrating all their small arms and both cannon loaded 
with grape or canister on our thicket, an area not larger 
than half an acre. Our fire must have been effective, for 
we kept their two guns and them back in the undergrowth, 
where they could not aim with accuracy. Our heads alone 
were exposed, and after the first volley we ducked into the 
gully to avoid the others, for we distinctly heard the guns 
being loaded and knew about when they were going to pull 
the lanyards. The missiles crashed in showers through the 
bushes or plowed up the dirt over us, but we were unhurt. 
They seemed coming thick enough to mow the saplings down, 
and but for the gully we would all have been killed. 

The thick hedge or fringe of high weeds along the north 
ern bank, where the soil was rich, which was not present on 
our side where the river cut into the hill, gave us a great ad 
vantage. At one time we observed a movement of the top 
of these weeds, which indicated that some one was crawling 
down to near the water s edge; and Frank Cotton, Jasper 
Matheny, and I trained our guns on that point. As soon 
as the blue uniform was seen we fired together, and nothing 
more came from that quarter. 

While this fight was in progress there occurred an in 
cident that may well challenge credulity. For pickets of 
the two armies posted on opposite sides of narrow streams 

1 Official Records, vol. xxiii, part i, p. 579. 
226 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to converse and at times to barter during the suspension 
of active hostilities was not uncommon, but to call a truce 
while the desperate defense of an important crossing was 
going on was certainly a novel procedure, yet this occurred 
here. I credit the Union officer responsible for it with 
motives of generous admiration for a handful of men who 
were putting up a desperate and determined fight. In a 
lull longer than usual which followed one of their volleys 
a voice from their side said, "Hello, boys! Let s hold up 
awhile and talk it over." We could scarcely believe our 
senses, and Frank Cotton replied, "What do you want?" 
The Federal answered, "To stop firing," and we said, "All 
right." 

It is difficult to estimate time accurately under circum 
stances of great excitement. I am positive that several 
minutes elapsed, during which time we and they talked as 
if in ordinary conversation. I recall clearly that one of 
our squad asked in a joking way if tobacco was not scarce 
on their side, and got the retort, * Not any scarcer than coffee 
is over there." 

The truce ended abruptly when the Union officer said, 
"Look out; we will have to open fire again," and we soon 
understood the reason. Being informed of our situation, 
General Wheeler had hurried back two Parrott guns, which 
at this moment were unlimbering on the crest of the ridge 
behind us where we could not see them, but in plain view 
of the Federals. The roar of these guns, the whizzing of 
the shells as they passed not far above our heads, and their 
explosion in the timber across the river was the most wel 
come sound I ever heard, for the Yankees scampered away 
as fast as our men had earlier in the day. Then when all 
was clear we ventured out and rejoined our company, to 

227 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

be publicly commended by our good colonel for what we 
really couldn t help doing. 

Wishing to make this extraordinary experience a matter 
of record, several years after the war I secured the follow 
ing statement in writing from Mr. Jasper N. Matheny, a 
worthy farmer who in 1913 was still living in Marshall 
County, Alabama, and who was one of this detachment. 
I wrote him as follows: Kindly let me know if you were 
with this detachment on that day (July 2, 1863), and, if so, 
whether or not you recall the fact that in a temporary lull 
in the firing, by mutual consent, the firing on both sides 
ceased for several minutes, during which time we talked to 
each other in practically an ordinary tone of voice." In 
reply he says: 

I distinctly recall the fact concerning which you write. During the 
truce we exposed ourselves to view by standing up in the gully in which 
we had been hidden, and no one shot at us, nor did we again fire. I am 
under the impression that at least five or ten minutes elapsed before the 
conversation was interrupted by a Federal, presumably an officer, who 
gave us warning that the firing would be resumed. We again concealed 
ourselves, but were almost immediately rescued from our precarious posi 
tion by a Confederate battery, which from the hill in our rear opened upon 
the Federals across the stream and drove them precipitately from our 
front. (Signed) J. N. MATHENY. 

In looking over the Official Records I find a further corrobo- 
ration in the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver P. Robie, 
of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, who commanded the advance, 
dated "July 8, 1863, near Winchester" (Official Records, 
vol. xxiii, part i, p. 575) : "On the morning of the 2d [July] 
we came upon a small squad of rebels, to whom we gave chase 
as far as the river, when, finding the river too deep to ford 
quickly, and the enemy in considerable force on the oppo 
site side, in obedience to orders I retired a short distance 

228 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and dismounted my men and advanced into the thicket 
skirting the bank on the right of the road, where we remained 
within speaking distance of the enemy for nearly three hours, 
during which time the firing was very brisk. 1 At n A.M. 
the enemy opened fire upon us with shell and canister, and, 
fearing a stampede of my horses, I returned and mounted 
my men and retired about a fourth of a mile and formed a 
line." 

Colonel Eli Long, commanding a Union brigade at this 
date, a gallant officer who never failed to distinguish him 
self, was in command in this fight. Six days thereafter, 
on July 8, 1863, he officially reported as follows: "July 2d. 
Returned to Hillsborough, thence taking the Winchester 
road. When within a mile of Morris s Ford on Elk River 
my advance discovered a squad of rebel cavalry and gave 
chase, the remainder of their regiment (Fourth Ohio Volun 
teer Cavalry) moving up briskly. Pursued them to the 
river, and drove them into the stream, when sharp mus 
ketry-firing was opened on the advance from the woods on 
the opposite shore, and replied to by my men, who found 
the water too deep to ford readily. The enemy proved to 
be in considerable force, and additional companies were 
moved up to support the advance. One officer (Captain 
Adae) and one man of the Fourth Ohio were here wounded ; 
and, the firing becoming more heavy, I dismounted the re 
maining company of the Fourth and sent them forward 
as skirmishers on the front and left. I then dismounted a 
part of the Third Ohio and deployed them in the woods on 
our right. The numbers of the enemy were augmented by 
reinforcements from their rear, and they occupied a quite 
strong position, so that it was found difficult to dislodge 
1 Italics not in the original. 
229 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

them until two pieces of Captain Stokes s battery were 
brought forward by order of General Turchin and opened 
upon them. This silenced their fire for a while, but mean 
time they were reinforced by a brigade of infantry and two 
pieces of artillery, the latter of which opened upon us a 
fierce fire with six and twelve pounder shells and canister. 
My main command (twelve companies altogether) was now 
forced back from the woods. Sharp firing was now kept up 
on both sides for some time, the rebel infantry retiring tow 
ard Decherd, with the two pieces of artillery. . . . My entire 
loss during the day was one officer and ten men wounded. 
Two of the latter were mortally wounded, and died during 
the afternoon." 1 

General Long was in error in regard to the presence of 
any infantry on our side. After their artillery opened and 
drove the fragments of our brigade (parts of the Fifty-first 
and Fourth Alabama regiments) there was not a Confeder 
ate soldier in firing distance except our squad of sixteen men. 
Protected as we were, and commanding at close range the 
narrow roadway which led into the river, our position was 
impregnable. 

We had scarcely reached our horses when Lieutenant Gib 
son was ordered to take a scouting party of eight men to 
investigate a report that the enemy were crossing at an 
obscure ford about a mile and a half below or west of our 
position, and I went along. After going about a mile we 
left the high ground and were soon in the thickly wooded 
land of the river-bottom following a narrow, winding, and 
little-used road which had been made through a dense 
thicket of small saplings into which one could not see fifty 
feet on either side. Gibson rode ahead, and we followed in 

1 Official Records, vol. xxiii, part I, p. 558. 
230 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

close double file. George Morris and Will Fackler were in 
front, and I was just behind Morris, when suddenly we were 
fired on from ambush. One bullet struck Morris at the 
outer edge of his left eye, cutting a trench along the side 
of his temple. The direction of the shots was from in front, 
but no one saw the flash or smoke. Gibson ordered us back 
one hundred yards, where a turn in the roadway took us 
out of range. We could now distinctly hear the shouting 
and tumult of the Federals, who were swimming their horses 
across the river. 

Gibson ordered me and two others to dismount and ad 
vance cautiously through the thicket in order to find out 
something of their strength. I had not gone a hundred yards 
through the dense undergrowth when a gun was fired and a 
bullet came through the saplings alarmingly near. I fell 
flat on the ground for safety and peered through the bushes 
in the direction from which it came, but saw no one. I then 
crawled forward some thirty or forty yards farther, when a 
second shot fang out, and the missile came my way. I 
could still see no one, and was in about as unhappy a frame 
of mind as was possible, when Gibson called us back; and 
we ran to our horses, mounted, and hurried back to report 
that the enemy was over and advancing in force. As we 
reached the upland a vidette was posted with orders to fire 
as soon as the Yankee cavalry came in sight. Within five 
minutes of the time we reached the command our picket 
came dashing in with a large body of Federals at his heels. 

A mile or more back from the river we formed in line of 
battle and skirmished heavily and continuously, gradually 
retiring until nearly dark. By this time General Wheeler 
had assembled a division of cavalry and lined them in a 
field in which the wheat had just been cut and shocked. 

231 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The enemy s cavalry were now in full view, and it seemed 
as if we were to have a regular cavalry battle in this great 
open space. We advanced in echelon, firing by regiments 
as we came into line. It was a very beautiful sight; but 
the two lines of battle were not sufficiently near each other 
to do effective work. I afterward learned that we were 
manceuvering to lead them into a trap, but the Federal com 
mander (Long) was too smart to be caught, and withdrew 
his forces for the night. 

We left the Federals going into camp, and with a light 
line of pickets to watch them through the night our main 
column trudged on in the retreat southward until twelve 
o clock, when we rested until daylight, only to resume the 
weary, disheartening march up the Cumberland Mountains, 
across this broad plateau, in rainy weather and along muddy 
roads, until we reached Bridgeport, Alabama, late one night. 
Here the Memphis & Charleston Railroad bridge over the 
Tennessee had been floored for the passage of troops. There 
was no side protection, but the floor was sufficiently wide 
for ordinary safety if one would keep between the rails. 
To prevent accident we were ordered to dismount and lead 
our horses single file ; but I was so worn out I rode my horse 
all the way over. The rear-guard burned the bridge. 

Little of interest occurred for the next few days; and, 
worn out with the constant marching and fighting, loss of 
sleep, and daily rains which kept us wet and chilled, we 
proceeded at leisure down Big Will s Valley to a recruiting- 
camp near Alexandria, Alabama. 

I recall but one moment of merriment in all this trying 
experience, and this was due to a wholly unexpected reply 
our orderly sergeant received to an impertinent question 
he was wont to put to any lone and unprotected straggler. 

232 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Sam Russell, whose experience of several years as conductor 
of a freight-train on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad 
had afforded a fairly good training for the hardships of a 
campaign, was not only a good soldier, but a great wag and 
"bluffer." On this particular occasion we were sitting by 
the roadside upon the top rails of a worm-fence, giving our 
horses and ourselves a rest, while another cavalry command 
was passing. Trailing behind the last regiment came the 
inevitable stragglers, and at the very last there jogged by 
on a raw-boned, flea-bitten gray nag one of the most for 
lorn-looking specimens of a soldier I had ever seen. The 
roads were so sloppy and the horse so bespattered with 
mud that the natural color was only recognizable on a 
limited area behind the saddle. 

The cavalryman had covered himself as well as he could 
with a homespun, copperas-dyed blanket which was water- 
soaked. The blanket reached to within about a foot of 
his shoe-tops, and from his ankles up the skin was bare, 
for his trousers had crawled upward to parts unknown. 
He wore a Confederate wool hat, which may originally have 
been gray, but sun and rain and time had changed it to a 
dirty ash color. The stiffening had long been washed out, 
and the brim flopped up and down with the movements of 
the horse. He looked neither to the right nor to the left as 
he passed and paid no attention to the remarks about him 
self or his horse until Sergeant Russell s voice rang out in 
an extra loud and insulting tone: "Hello, Mister! Are you 
a married man or a dog?" 

The pitcher had gone to the well one time too often; for 

this cavalier, the moment he heard the insulting query, 

reined his horse and, carrying his right hand back in the 

direction of the six-shooter which he was keeping dry under 

I 6 233 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

his blanket, faced the sergeant and said in a voice which 
could be heard beyond our company limit : " I m a dog, G 

d you! What are you?" And Sam, abashed, red in 

the face, and crestfallen, stood convicted; for we all knew 
he, too, was a bachelor. The roar of laughter which swept 
along the line was like a ray of sunshine on a cold, gray 
winter s day. We cheered the stranger, gave him a vote of 
thanks, and proffered an escort, which he gracefully declined. 
Henceforth this question was erased from the sergeant s cat 
echism. 

From Trenton I made a two days ride over the moun 
tains to my home to get the horse I had brought out of 
Kentucky in 1862, rested there three days, and then said 
good-by to my parents for two years and to the dear old 
home and faithful "black mammy" for ever. The Federals 
burned our village in 1864 and took mammy and her chil 
dren to Nashville, where they all died in an epidemic of 
smallpox. The policy of devastation was carried out over 
practically all of northern Alabama; Bridgeport, Steven 
son, Bellefont, Scottsboro, Larkinsville, Woodville, Camden, 
Vienna, and a number of other prosperous villages were 
burned, and there are no official reports of these transac 
tions. 

At Alexandria we were comfortably stationed for the rest 
of July and until the last week in August. There was plenty 
of growing corn in this section, ripe enough to make good 
roasting-ears for the troopers and to be fed green to the 
horses. We bivouacked in a piece of wooded land which 
had been part of one of Jackson s old battle-grounds in the 
Creek War. There were still traces of the trenches and 
breastworks which had sheltered him when driven by these 
warlike Indians, who later took refuge and fortified them- 

234 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

selves in the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa near by, 
where they were exterminated. 

We had little to do but feed and curry our horses, do 
camp duty, and drill two hours a day. One of those drill- 
days, at least, I remember was excessively hot, and few 
places can get hotter than an open field from which the 
grain has been cut, with a midday sun overhead in mid- 
August and in middle Alabama! The full regiment was in 
line, and we had been doing all sorts of stunts advancing 
and firing by companies, in echelon, skirmish drill, flanking 
drill, etc. until men and horses were superheated, restless, 
and half mad at any and every thing, and thinking that 
nothing on earth was worth while at that particular moment 
but a drink of cool water and the shade of a tree. Dividing 
two of these hot stubble-fields was the wreckage of a half- 
rotted, tumble-down, old worm-fence, not over six rails high 
at any place, and these so rickety that if our horses hoofs 
struck them they would break and fly in pieces. 

Colonel Russell ordered a charge, with this fence as the 
imaginary line of the enemy. As he rode along our front, 
with his long auburn beard and his gray uniform frock-coat 
buttoned up to the chin and this was one of several of his 
eccentricities, for it never grew hot enough to make him 
unbutton his coat we privates thought he was the hottest- 
looking thing we had ever seen on horseback. The enemy 
was three hundred yards in front; the bugle sounded "trot," 
then "gallop," then "charge." Yelling like Comanches, we 
rode over the fence, briers and all, acquiring so much mo 
mentum that no private could stop his horse until he reached 
that tree in camp to which his mount was habitually tethered. 

The officers came in later, at a walk. There was some 
small talk about having us lined up in front of the colonel s 

235 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

tent, but we all held out that our horses were crazy for 
water and had run away, and couldn t be stopped until they 
reached camp. The brave old colonel (who quit medicine 
and surgery to command a cavalry brigade) forgave us. 

The unconquerable spirit in that man never gave up. 
When Forrest surrendered at Gainesville he rode away to 
the West, crossed over into Mexico, and settled at Cordova, 
where he resumed the practice of medicine, accumulated a 
large fortune, and died only a few years ago. He sent me, 
only a little while before he died, the picture reproduced 
in my Life of Forrest, and with it a characteristic letter 
wondering how I could "live in a land governed by Yankees !" 
In this letter he said: "The Confederate army was not 
whipped; it simply wore itself out whipping the Yankees." 



XVIII 

CHICKAMAUGA, WHERE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE SOUTHERN 
CONFEDERACY WAS WON AND LOST THE REAL CRISIS OF 
THE CIVIL WAR 

LATE in August we saddled up for the march to Chatta 
nooga. Two nights before we were to start my horse, 
tethered with a rope, got it tangled under one of his pasterns 
and was thrown lame. For three days of the march I 
walked and led my mount: they were long and tiresome 
days. Fortunately, the command moved leisurely, to save 
the horses about twenty miles a day. By starting off at 
three or four in the morning I would be passed by the column 
about noon, and would catch up when they bivouacked 
for the night, usually long after dark. On the third day I 
made a temporary exchange with a trooper who was con 
tent to keep my disabled mount with the wagons, and se 
cured in this way a first-class horse which I rode all through 
the Chickamauga campaign. 

It was on this march that an attempt was made to col 
lect all the carbines and most modern and effective guns in 
the regiment and give them to the two flanking companies. 
I had bought my Burnside carbine with fifty dollars given 
my by my married sister, and I resented the order to turn 
it in for a long and heavy Austrian rifle. It so happened 
that a dear friend was ordnance officer, and when the in 
spection was made he allowed me to retain my carbine. 

237 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

We reached Lafayette, Georgia, September ist, and were 
assigned to active duty at once, to watch the gaps in Look 
out Mountain, through which we were daily expecting the 
advancing columns of Rosecrans s army to descend into 
Georgia. Two of his three corps were already south of the 
Tennessee and were climbing the mountains. The other 
was in sight of Chattanooga. 

My first duty was with four other men to picket a defile 
through which one of the roads across Lookout Mountain 
led into the Chickamauga Valley. Our orders were to re 
main there until driven in by the enemy. As we started 
out with two days rations, and as it was six days before 
the enemy appeared, we were soon left to our own resources 
for subsistence. The Confederate cavalry was used to that. 
Near our post there were two small farm-houses about half 
a mile apart. In one, a double cabin of hewn logs, there 
lived three ladies a widowed mother, a married and an un 
married daughter. The husband of the daughter was away 
in our army, and these women unaided had cultivated a 
small field of several acres in corn. As it was all they had 
to live on, we took what we needed from another farm owned 
by an able-bodied man who had managed to stay at home. 
Within two weeks the battle of Chickamauga had been 
fought, in part over this very ground, and the next day I 
rode by this spot. Where the field of corn which we would 
not touch had stood there was not a stalk left, not even a 
fence-rail. The trodden ground was checkered with the 
charred embers of camp-fires where the tents of the Federal 
infantry had stood in rows, and nothing but the chimneys 
remained to tell where stood the log house which had shel 
tered those three lone women. 

By September i2th a corps of Union infantry under Gen- 

238 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

eral McCook and a strong body of cavalry under Gen 
eral Stanley came over Lookout Mountain to Alpine, 
Georgia, and drove our pickets back. Then two other di 
visions of infantry advanced through the gaps in Pigeon 
Mountain, and we took part in an effort to capture these 
commands, which at that moment were widely separated; 
but owing to the lack of co-operation on the part of the Con 
federate generals the movement failed, and the Federals 
were at last permitted to concentrate their forces on the 
field of Chickamauga. 

In this movement to capture McCook s corps it was my 
good fortune to pass safely through a very unusual experi 
ence. Starting in the afternoon from Lafayette, our di 
vision marched all night in the direction of Alpine. Toward 
morning a staff-officer stationed on the side of the road as 
we filed by repeated to each company the order to cease talk 
ing and to make as little noise as possible. At four we were 
halted, and word came from the front down the line, re 
peated from regiment to regiment, that "a volunteer was 
wanted at the head of the column who would go where he 
was ordered." My curiosity was aroused, and I said to 
Lieutenant Jack Weatherly, my messmate, that I would 
go with him and see what was wanted. It was very dark, 
and there was no little difficulty in riding through the com 
mand, which packed the narrow country road. The gen 
eral in command asked me if I was "willing to go inside the 
enemy s lines," and I replied, "If it was necessary I would 
try to do what was required, provided I could wear my 
uniform, but that I wouldn t go as a spy." To this he said: 
"All right. I want you to carry a message to some troops 
that have passed around their flank, and are now coming 
up in their rear. It is important that they be headed off 

239 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and ordered to return by the route they traveled. To reach 
them in time you will have to pass through the Federal 
lines." 

He gave me some general directions as to about where I 
ought to find this detachment at daylight, and turned me 
over to a guide, a farmer who lived near by, who agreed to 
accompany me to where the road turned off that I must 
follow. As the mission promised to be more than ordinarily 
risky, I stripped my horse and self of everything not abso 
lutely necessary, and with the exception of a small New 
Testament which my mother had handed me as I left home 
for the war, with the injunction that I should read at least 
one chapter every day, and my trusted army six-shooter, 
I turned over all my personal belongings to Jack. The in 
congruity of associating a Testament and a six-shooter did 
not occur to my mind then as it has since. While this was 
going on some one fastened on an extra surcingle to make 
my saddle more secure. 

As our good colonel, whose interest in this enterprise was 
evidently aroused, rode along with Jack, the guide, and my 
self for a short distance, he said: "If you get through all 
right, I ll see that you get as long a furlough as you want"; 
and then he and Lieutenant Weatherly said "Good luck!" 
and turned back. About a quarter of a mile farther on the 
farmer and I came to where the roads forked. I followed 
my guide a few yards along the one to the right, which I was 
to take. He told me it was about half a mile down that road 
to where the Federal pickets were stationed. He had seen 
them there between sundown and dark. After getting from 
him what information I could as to the character of the 
road ahead of me, I went on alone. It was now between 
four and five o clock and very dark. 

240 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Having become accustomed to the darkness, I could make 
out the opening of the roadway a few yards ahead chiefly 
because it was accentuated by the blackness of the forest 
on either side. This was in my favor, as was the fact that 
the road was sandy and soft and my horse s hoof -beats at a 
fast walk were scarcely audible. The only sound that I 
did hear and it is indelibly registered in the memory cells 
occupied by this experience was the weird note of one of 
the small screech-owls which are common in this section, 
the cry of which no one is apt to forget who hears it for the 
first time. I had heard them hundreds of times, but never 
under just such surroundings. 

It goes without saying that I appreciated the dangers 
which this mission involved, but the most astonishing fea 
ture of the psychology of this moment was that I found my 
self in a condition of mind in which the value of life became 
a secondary consideration. It had never come to me be 
fore ; it never has since. In that brief period the stars were 
not far away, for I had eliminated self. The one absorbing 
thought which took possession of me was that my mother 
would be proud of me for trying to do my duty. I did not 
intend to be stopped, and with a swift, game, and powerful 
horse the chances were in my favor. Riding into their lines 
would disarm suspicion, and if I could get by the outpost 
without alarm the rest would be easy. I had made up my 
mind that I would ride by or over anything or anybody 
who got in the way, and when hailed would say, as I gal 
loped by, that I was a courier with important despatches. 

When I had gone about the distance which should bring 
me near the pickets, as indicated by the guide, I took my 
pistol from the holster, cocked it, and with the finger inside 
the guard held it ready for instant use. Catching a short 

241 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

hold on the bridle, I leaned well down on my horse s neck 
and urged him into a slow canter. He had not gone more 
than two hundred yards at this gait when he suddenly raised 
his head and seemed about to shy, and then not twenty 
feet ahead I recognized the dark figures of two men as they 
vanished from the open roadway into the dark bushes to my 
left. They must have spoken or challenged, and I doubt 
less replied ; but the moment I saw them I gave my horse 
the spurs, and he bounded over or by them, and on the 
wings of the wind in another instant he and his rider were 
lost from their view. It is more than probable that my 
lucky escape was due to lack of vigilance on the part cf the 
pickets. My horse made little or no sound in the deep, 
soft sand. Once past them, if they fired they endangered 
their own men. 

Another interesting feature of the psychology of this in 
cident is that, while every detail up to this moment is dis 
tinctly and indelibly registered, I have never been clear as 
to what occurred for the next few minutes. The next thing 
I remember is that as the day dawned I was racing along, 
and saw from the top of a hill off in the valley below, prob 
ably a mile away, what looked like a heavy fog. As it had 
not rained for several weeks and the roads were very dusty, 
I realized that it was not fog, but a cloud of dust made by 
moving troops. 1 Coming in plain sight, I was overjoyed 
to find that they were our troops, and to the officer in com 
mand I delivered my message. 

1 A drought prevailed for nearly two months at this time in 1863. While 
we were on picket, early in September, the Federal corps crossing Lookout 
Mountain raised such clouds of dust that fifteen miles away their line of 
march could be made out. So thick was the dust on the battle-field at Chicka- 
mauga that at times it enveloped and hid the troops like a fog, and the forest 
trees far removed from the roads were white with the dust that settled on the 
leaves. See the official reports immediately after the battle. 

242 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When I got back to the regiment our colonel was as good 
as his word, and told me I was free to go home; but we knew 
a great battle was impending, and I stayed to see it. 

I must relate a very extraordinary experience which has 
an association with this night ride. In November, 1912, 
forty-nine years after it was made, I happened to be in 
Chattanooga, and, wandering along one of the hill streets 
at an hour so early that very few people were stirring, I saw 
following me at a short distance another early riser. Feeling 
in a conversational mood, I slackened my pace, and as he 
came up I remarked, Fine town, * to which he courteous 
ly responded with real Chattanooga pride, "Yes, indeed!" 
"Native?" I asked. "No sir; born in Madison County, 
Alabama." Then I continued: "We came near being 
twins. I m from Marshall." He inquired my name, and 
I replied: "You don t know of me, but you must know of 
my father, Judge Louis Wyeth." As yet we had scarcely 
looked at each other; but when he heard my father s name 
he turned quickly toward me and stopped so suddenly that 
I did the same. In a voice that betrayed evident feeling 
he said: "Then you are Dr. Wyeth from New York; John 
A. Wyeth, Company I, Fourth Alabama Cavalry. My 
God! I haven t seen you since that night in 1863 when 
you volunteered to go into the Yankee lines for General 
Wheeler" and he continued with some details which for 
the time being had escaped my memory. My accidental 
acquaintance turned out to be Mr. G. G. Lilly, of Chatta 
nooga, a well-known citizen and a gallant soldier of our 
regiment to the end of the war. I did not suppose until 
then that there was living a human being who knew any 
thing personally about this incident. 

The hot weather, the scarcity of water, and the dusty 

243 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

roads were very trying to the columns of infantry that were 
being rapidly concentrated near Lafayette, Georgia. In one 
of the divisions that passed my post I noticed the men were 
barefoot, their shoes swung across the barrels of their guns. 
The road here was sandy and soft, and they were saving 
their footgear for rougher going. They would march fifteen 
minutes or so and rest five, lying flat on the ground. In one 
of the Texas regiments I recognized a young lad, part 
Cherokee," with whom I had gone to school in Alabama. 

For ten days before the battle we were almost constantly 
in touch with the enemy s cavalry, and on September iyth 
we had a lively skirmish in McLenmore s Cove near Cat- 
lett s Gap, which for a while seemed to be the precursor of a 
general engagement, but none in our company were hurt. 
Part of this action took place in a stretch of open farm-land 
with half a dozen houses in sight. Both sides were using 
artillery, and, naturally, the shells produced great consterna 
tion among the home people. One of the houses centrally 
located had a cellar for refuge, and toward it every man, 
woman, and child in the neighborhood was running to dis 
appear within like bees darting into a hive at the sudden 
approach of a shower. 

On the late afternoon of September i8th, when the great 
battle of Chickamauga opened, we were posted on the ex 
treme left of the Confederate line, about two miles from 
Crawfish Spring, in contact with Mitchell s and Crook s di 
visions of the Union cavalry. On the igth the far-away 
thunder of artillery told the story of the hard fighting 
that was going on where the infantry were at work. We 
spent the day skirmishing and sharp-shooting with their 
cavalry advance, chiefly in observation. For protection we 
made defenses of rails and logs, and, until the ruse was dis- 

244 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

covered, amused ourselves by placing a hat on a ramrod and 
slowly elevating it, as if some one were peering over the 
rails to shoot. Meanwhile our best long-range rifle-shots, 
with their guns thrust through cracks and well protected, 
trained their sights on the trees and stumps from behind 
which the Federals were firing. No sooner would the hat 
rise high enough to be seen than their blue arms and shoul 
ders would be exposed to our fire. Just in front of our posi 
tion was a small field of corn, and, as we needed some for 
our horses and ourselves for parched corn was our chief 
provender at this time when there was a lull in the firing 
several of us crawled on our hands and knees, trailing our 
forage-sacks, and reached the corn rows without being seen. 
The watchful enemy, observing the tops of the stalks in 
commotion, turned loose on us so effectively that the corn 
detail suspended operations until night-time. 

Early on Sunday, September 2oth, some of the Federal 
long-range guns began to land bullets in our bivouac, and 
one or two horses were hit. The firing came from a log 
cabin about four hundred yards across a field which was 
now grown up with a rich crop of high ragweed. Some ten of 
us volunteered to drive them out or capture them, and I 
was placed in command of the detachment. In order to 
get into the field of weeds through which it was necessary 
to crawl to keep out of sight, we made a slight detour and 
came up behind a dense copse of bushes, where we loosened 
a lower rail and crawled through the fence without being 
seen. As it was not safe to try to rush the cabin from the 
front, we made our way cautiously to the back of the barns 
or stables of a farm-house two or three hundred yards from 
the nest of the sharp-shooters in the log cabin. It was still 
very early, for as I came to the open back door of the farm- 

245 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

house I saw a lady and two children at the breakfast-table. 
When she saw me she started up and, recognizing my gray 
jacket, in evident alarm exclaimed, "The Yankee pickets 
are in the road by our front gate." To my inquiry of how 
many there were and how long they had been there she 
said a company of cavalry came the day before and left 
some of their men on picket. I crept along the wall of the 
house, peeped cautiously around the corner, but saw no 
one, and told her she must have been mistaken. She as 
sured me she had seen them since daylight. I then sig 
naled the others to come up, and as we reached the road we 
found plenty of fresh tracks made since the dew had fallen. 
There was no mistaking these footprints, for they were made 
by the square-toed regulation shoe of the United States army. 
We now quickly formed in a line about ten feet apart 
and ran through the woods toward the cabin, taking it on 
the flank and rear. Not a word was spoken as we rushed 
ahead with our guns cocked and ready. I expected every 
moment to see gun-smoke jet out of the cracks in the cabin ; 
but when we reached it it was empty. A fresh fire was 
burning, and we found some blankets, cooking-utensils 
among these a coffee-pot, for which we had little use and 
a small sack of salt and other plunder, which the Federals 
had hurriedly abandoned. General Martin, who was watch 
ing us through his field-glasses, met us half-way across the 
field as we were returning, and upon my report ordered the 
ever-reliable Lieutenant John Gibson to ride out with some 
twenty men and see what was up. He came back within 
an hour with information which caused General Wheeler 
to move his whole command some two miles or more in 
great haste to Glass s Mill on the Chickamauga, about a 
mile from Crawfish Spring. 

246 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

We had hardly reached this spot when we struck a big 
body of their cavalry, and a lively fight was precipitated. 
One of our batteries went immediately into action just in 
front of our position, and we were posted to guard it. The 
Federal guns about five hundred yards away soon got the 
range and threw a lot of shrapnel, which kept us on the 
anxious seat for fully an hour, for they frequently burst up 
in front of us, and the fragments came whirring down our 
way. One piece about two inches long struck the ground 
right by my horse, and I dismounted and picked it up and 
sent it home to my mother as a souvenir. Had we been 
fifty yards farther back we would have been fully protected 
behind the crest of the ridge on which we were formed. 
After what seemed an interminable time we were ordered 
back this far, and a detail was made to parch corn. Here 
two flour-biscuits and a small piece of bacon were issued 
to each man. For the three days of this battle no other 
ration than this was given to our command we were sub 
sisting on parched corn. After about two hours of fighting 
the Eighth Texas got on the flank of the Federals and gave 
them a wild chase in the direction of Lee & Gordon s Mill, 
in which we all joined. 

In this engagement a lot of prisoners were captured, and 
several of our dead and wounded were brought in on the 
horses, as we carried no stretchers and an ambulance was 
unknown. I saw one body held across the lap and legs of 
one of the Texas troopers, the limp arms and legs dangling 
nearly to the ground. I was told it was his brother, who had 
been instantly killed. That and another scene I witnessed 
at Glass s Mill still remain vividly in mind. A captured 
Union cavalry officer who had been shot through the bones 
of one foot came in limping along with the other dismounted 

247 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

captives. I was standing close by when a ranger who 
had been one of the captors said to him, "I want your 
boots." The officer had on a magnificent pair of Welling 
tons, and, as it was useless to say no, he sat down and held 
up the sound foot while the Texan pulled that boot off and 
tried it on. As it was a fit, he motioned for the other. When 
the wounded man asked him if he wouldn t split it so it 
could be pulled off without hurting, the ranger simply 
pulled if off vi et armis, remarking, "You reckon I m going 
to spoil that boot?" It was a pretty rough experience, and 
my sympathies were with the unfortunate prisoner. Earlier 
in the war this incident would not have been possible, but 
men had become callous and indifferent, and then the 
necessities of the Southern troops, half starved and poorly 
clad as they were, justified to some extent the wholesale 
appropriation of all the belongings of their prisoners. 

The dead on the field were practically all stripped before 
burial, leaving only a single undergarment on. Right after 
the Chickamauga battle I was detailed to gather up guns 
and other wreckage on the field, and the dead Federals were 
scattered everywhere, in some places very thick. I counted 
seven who had fallen in one pile, and I recall but one that 
had not been stripped of all outer clothing; yet not one of 
all these dead men but had some covering left for the sake 
of modesty. 

This cavalry fight at Glass s Mill and near Crawfish Spring 
ended about the time that Longstreet broke through the 
Union left wing and sent Crittenden s and McCook s corps 
flying toward Thomas and Chattanooga, and it may be 
that knowledge of this disaster had reached the Federal 
cavalry in our front and hastened their departure. Cer 
tain it is that, try as hard as we could, we never caught up 

248 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

with them any more that day. Had General Wheeler been 
promptly informed of the Confederate success, we could 
have been immeasurably more useful by going from Glass s 
Mill straight to Crawfish Spring, and on by the direct road 
into the immediate rear of the flying Union infantry, for 
they were disorganized, and we could have added to the 
rout and captured thousands whom our infantry could not 
overhaul. Instead of doing this we moved along the easterly 
bank of the Chickamauga, and, although we ran our horses 
all the way, we lost valuable time before we dismounted to 
advance on foot at Lee & Gordon s Mill. 

When the order was given to "dismount to fight" we were 
called off in "eights" instead of "fours," as usual, and when 
we were told that no more men could be spared to hold the 
horses we were convinced that a desperate situation was 
at hand. It so happened that number eight fell to me, and 
I made Nat Scott a boy younger than I whom my parents 
had lately sent from home to bring me some much-needed 
articles of clothing take my place as horse-holder. Nat 
asked for a gun and a place with us in the battle, but I in 
sisted that he take my place with the horses. 

As we fell in line for the advance, and were loading and 
capping our guns, a member of my company, pale and 
trembling, left the line and walked up to the captain. I 
heard him say, "Captain, I can t go in." Captain James 
L. Smith, who had succeeded Dr. Fennell in command of 
Company I, replied, more in pity than contempt, "My God, 
then go back to the horses!" I have often thought that it 
took more courage to confess cowardice than it did to go 
into battle. I had seen shirking in many forms, but this 
was the first and only instance I ever saw or heard of in 
which a soldier in the presence of his comrades handed his 
17 249 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

gun to his captain and owned up that he couldn t face the 
music. There was a man in my company, sober, kindly 
disposed, and well behaved, who in one way and another 
dodged out of every fight the company was in and was 
captured late in 1863, only because his horse didn t start 
soon enough and couldn t run fast enough to get him on 
this final occasion out of the danger-zone in time. This was 
the man I found with the wagon-train in the rear of the 
line at Shelbyville who jumped at the chance to exchange 
his sound horse for my crippled mount. I never learned 
by what route or under what pretext he found his way to 
the rear. If he didn t "live to fight another day," he lived, 
and is still, at a very advanced age, a successful farmer in 
my native state. 

I have narrated elsewhere the incident of the lad who 
remained flattened out as close to the ground as his anatomy 
could be applied while all the others were standing or kneel 
ing and shooting at the enemy, and who, when the retreat 
began, found his feet so quickly that he forgot his gun, and, 
like Ben Adhem s name, led all the rest. This was his first 
and only appearance on the field of Mars. It became the 
practice to station reliable men, usually sergeants or cor 
porals, in the rear of the advancing or forming line to prevent 
shirking. At times some man would take advantage of a 
tree or stump, and, being out of sight for a moment, would 
fall down and remain there unobserved, or "break like a 
steer" to use a homely phrase and run for dear life, as 
did a bully of our county at Shiloh. This man, I was told 
by a comrade who didn t run, died from the effect of this 
stampede ; in fact, dropped dead, presumably of heart dis 
ease, while running. 

Forrest had a standing order to shoot any man who ran, 

250 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and himself set the example on more than one occasion. 
The late Colonel Alfred H. Belo, who commanded a North 
Carolina regiment in Lee s army, and who ultimately died 
from the effect of various wounds received in the service, 
told me that at Gettysburg, just as they were about to open 
fire, a soldier was seen to take advantage of a stump for a 
few minutes, seeing which an officer shouted to his sergeant, 
"Stay by that man and bring him on." One of the most 
rampant fire-eaters of the exciting period just before the 
war became an ultra-conservative when hostilities were de 
clared, and finally was conscripted. He reached at dark 
the regiment to which he had been assigned. At daylight 
next morning the Federal cavalry stampeded this regiment. 
The raw recruit led the charge to the rear, and, having a good 
start, never stopped until he reached home, where he re 
mained unmolested until the war was ended. 

As we began the advance our regiment was the extreme 
left of our line, and when we struck the Chickamauga we 
waded the stream just below the Lee & Gordon mill- 
dam. Hoping to get over dry, a number of us started to 
run across the dam; but an officer shouted: "Get off! 
They re going to rake you with grapeshot," and we leaped 
into the water like so many bullfrogs. Where I waded it 
was not quite waist-deep. We learned in a few minutes 
that we could have gone over on the dam dry-shod and in 
perfect safety. Down near the water s edge we reformed 
our line, and as we climbed the bank to the crest of the ridge 
in our front every one was alert and at great tension, for 
we had no thought but that the ridge above was lined with 
Federals who would give us a volley at any moment. I 
know that never in my life have I been so apprehensive of 
danger as on this occasion, and I never saw such determina- 

251 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

tion in our men as was in evidence here. I do not believe 
they could have been stopped by any ordinary force or 
resistance. I was profoundly impressed with this idea by 
a remark made by the man next to me as we clambered up 
the hill. He said, "Johnnie, we ve got to whip em right 
now!" When we reached the crest and peered over I could 
hardly believe my eyes. There was not a Yankee in sight. 

Pushing on, our company came to a small patch of an 
acre or two of sorghum sugar-cane, and as we passed through 
we cut the stalks in short sections and filled our haversacks 
and pockets, eating it as we advanced. There were every 
where the evidences of a hurried retreat. The ground was 
strewn with abandoned property. Suddenly coming upon 
an ambulance in which some musicians had piled their in 
struments as they joined in the flight, I saw the mouth of 
a big brass horn sticking out over the tail-board, and my 
first impression was that we had run into a masked battery. 
We kept on in vain pursuit for several hours, and then the 
horse-holders came up, and we mounted and rode to Craw 
fish Spring, where the enemy had established their head 
quarters at first. Here we captured their camp and hos 
pitals, and a lot of prisoners, mostly wounded. It was now 
dark, and I fed my horse, crammed my haversack with 
Yankee hardtack (a great and rare luxury for us), filled a 
fine tin canteen just acquired with water from that glorious 
spring one of the most beautiful in the world and ate 
real crackers and drank water until I fell asleep. 

When I awoke the sun was shining in my face. My 
trousers the only pair I had soaked in wading the creek, 
had held the dust we raised as we marched over that much- 
trodden field. They were now dry and as stiff as if they 
had been starched, and very uncomfortable. I was about to 

252 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

wash them and their owner in the spring branch when a 
courier came with the news that a lot of wagons and some 
Union troops had been cut off the evening before and had 
taken refuge in Chattanooga Valley. Thither we rode as 
fast as our horses could carry us. It was not much of a 
fight, for we outnumbered them and rode over them just 
as they had done with us at Shelbyville. In the pursuit 
one of their wounded fell from his horse right underfoot, 
and two of our men and the surgeon of our regiment stopped 
and dragged the poor fellow to the side of the road; for the 
dust was so thick that it was at times with difficulty that we 
could see the road-bed, and he would probably have been 
trodden to death. Dr. Steger told me afterward that this 
plucky and unfortunate soldier, whose wound was evidently 
mortal, refused to be treated, and swore at him, saying, "No 
damned rebel doctor shall touch me." We captured here, 
according to the official records, ninety wagons full of 
plunder, some four hundred prisoners, and scattered the 
remainder among the bluffs of Lookout Mountain. 

General Wheeler reported eighteen stand of colors taken 
by us in all our fighting in this great battle, which began 
on September i8th and ended with this engagement on 
Monday the 2ist. Under date of October 30, 1863, he 
reports : The results of the operations of the cavalry under 
my command during the battle of Chickamauga were, first, 
guarding the left flank of the army for twenty days preced 
ing the battle of Chickamauga, during which time it con 
tinually observed and skirmished with the enemy, repelling 
and developing all his diversions. During the battle we 
fought the enemy vigorously and successfully, killing and 
wounding large numbers, and capturing two thousand pris 
oners, one hundred wagons and teams, a large amount of 

253 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

other property, and eighteen stand of colors, all of which 
were turned over to the proper authorities." 1 

We were now ordered to return to the battle-field to pick 
up arms and other abandoned property, as well as stragglers. 
During the night most of the Confederate dead had been 
gathered in long trenches and buried; but the Union dead 
were still lying where they fell. For its effect on the sur 
vivors it was the policy of the victor to hide his own losses 
and let those of the other side be seen. On our part of 
the field, cannon, guns, swords, sabres, drums, brass horns, 
wagons, caissons, hats, cartridge and cap boxes, coats, can 
teens, and all the impedimenta of a great and well-equip 
ped army were scattered through the woods. Beneath 
brush-piles or fallen tree-tops or from behind logs we were 
never surprised to find one or more frightened and dejected 
soldiers in blue, who would emerge with a hand raised in 
token of surrender. At the " Little School House" (now a 
well-marked historical spot, where so many regimental 
monuments are clustered) I counted sixteen dead Federals 
in an area so small that half of this number were touching 
one another, and as I entered the door a voice from one 
corner said, You won t shoot a wounded man, will you?" 
Rarely have I been more shocked, and I exclaimed in reply: 
"My God! You can t think that of us!" 

Both of his legs were broken, and he had dragged himself 

or had been carried in there for shelter from the bullets. 

We sent at once for our surgeon to take charge of him and 

went on with our work. In a dense thicket near here I 

came upon a soldier in blue sitting upright against the trunk 

of a tree, one hand on his gun, which rested across his thighs, 

the other tightly grasping the brim of his hat, which was 

1 Official Records, vol. xxx, part 2, p. 522. 

254 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

drawn well down on one side of his face, as if shielding his 
eyes from the sun. I had no idea that a dead man would 
be sitting upright, but such was the case. He was stiff and 
stark. From under the knee of one leg a pool of clotted 
blood told the story. A minie ball had cut his popliteal 
artery or vein, and I reasoned that as he grew faint he sought 
the tree, leaned back against it, held on faithfully to his gun 
with one hand, with the other pulled the brim of his hat 
down to shade his eyes, then fainted from loss of blood and 
died. 

The arena swims around him; he is gone 

and when, years after this awful day, I saw in Rome that 
marvelous work of art, "The Dying Gladiator," this scene 
came back to me. He was the only dead Union soldier I 
saw on that field of slaughter whose outer clothes had not 
been removed; and yet not one but had a single garment 
left on to cover his nakedness. The Confederate army was 
compelled to take the clothes of the dead to cover the 
living, for it was in sore straits. 

In places where the woods had caught on fire or where 
men had been killed (or possibly only wounded) near a 
house which had been burned, their charred bodies told the 
awful story. As much of the legs and thighs as were not 
burned off were drawn tightly against the abdomen, as were 
the stumps of the blackened arms against the chest. The 
one object in all this nightmare of horror which touched 
me most deeply of all was the calm and beautiful expression 
on the smooth and beardless face of a slender lad who had 
been shot through the brain. Happily for him, he must have 
died instantly. Some comrade had stopped long enough 
to straighten him out and fold his hands across his breast. 

255 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Here he was to be laid in a trench with other dead com 
rades, two or three deep, with just enough earth over them 
to keep off the hogs and buzzards. I could not help think 
ing that he, too, must have a mother who, like my own, was 
praying that her boy might come back to her; and this one 
could never come. I have asked myself the question a 
thousand times as I look back on my own life, Why cannot 
men with hearts in them and with heads on them settle 
their foolish differences in some other way than by shooting 
holes through one another? 

Farther on I came to one of the field hospitals where the 
surgeons were busy with the wounded, stretched out on 
their blankets under the trees. One poor fellow was walk 
ing up and down holding the freshly amputated stump of 
his forearm with the remaining hand. His jaws were firmly 
set, and his face wore the hard, fixed expression of pain, 
yet he made no complaint. In fact, I do not think I heard 
a groan or a cry in all that experience. Some fragments of 
arms and legs lying around completed the gruesome picture. 

The battle of Chickamauga marked what history must 
record as the "High Tide of the Southern Confederacy," 
and ended one of the great campaigns of the Civil War, 
a campaign than which none ever offered so many brilliant 
opportunities to win undying glory as were given to the 
Confederate commander. He failed in every particular. 
The courage, the heroism, the self-sacrifice of the soldiers 
who made up his great army were in vain* Fully informed 
of every movement of his over-confident opponent, and with 
time to make his preparations either for battle or retreat, 
he hesitated with a vacillation which lost to him the con 
fidence of his subordinates and finally the respect of his 
adversary, for in the latter days of the campaign General 

256 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Rosecrans threw caution to the winds, scattered his advanc 
ing columns in difficult mountain-passes far removed from 
one another, and invited a destruction which a competent 
antagonist would readily have accomplished. With Duck 
River in front and strongly fortified at Tullahoma, the un 
checked strategy of Rosecrans forced him out with no fight 
ing except by our cavalry. Then came the actions at Elk 
River and Cumberland Mountain, both strong defensive 
positions, and finally at the great Tennessee River, fifth in 
size in the United States, at which not a gun was fired. It 
is not surprising the Union general thought the Army of 
Tennessee was a disorganized and dispirited mob, that it 
was scampering away among the hills of northern Georgia. 

On the contrary, Bragg, behind the great bulwark of Look 
out Mountain, had halted at last and concentrated his vet 
erans into an army as efficient as any the world ever saw. 
They proved it on one of the bloodiest fields in history. 
Rosecrans s pursuing army was recklessly divided into three 
great corps, descending to the valley through mountain 
defiles so widely separated that each column could have 
been destroyed without hope of aid from the other. On 
September loth Crittenden s corps was in Chattanooga, 
McCook s at Summerville, Georgia, forty miles to the south ; 
and Thomas in McLamore s Cove, half-way between the 
two, and practically Bragg s whole army was in front of 
Thomas. The Confederate commander allowed them all 
to escape and to concentrate, and then assaulted them on 
ground of their own selection. Moreover, in the hour of 
victory he failed to take advantage of the one great and 
glorious opportunity to establish the Southern Confederacy. 
In the four years of our war there may have been other 
occasions where independence was possible, but surely none 

257 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

like this. From 4 to 7 P.M. on Sunday, the 2oth of Sep 
tember, 1863, General Braxton Bragg had the entire Union 
army in his grasp and its destruction assured. No one who 
was on that field and witnessed the utter demoralization of 
at least one-half of the Federal line of battle and the isolation 
of the other half, and who is capable of an unprejudiced 
analysis of the records, can doubt this assertion. 

There was present on that field a wise man, a close and 
critical observer. He had been especially selected by Presi 
dent Lincoln and Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, be 
cause he was wise and critical. He was their agent at the 
front, a kind of "inspector" of the Union generals. Withal 
he was a bitter partisan and about as prejudiced against the 
South and its cause as it was possible for a human being to 
become, yet this is what Charles A. Dana, Assistant Sec 
retary of War, wrote : 

"I had not slept much for two nights, and dismounted 
about noon and lay down and went to sleep. I was 
awakened by the most infernal noise I ever heard. Never, 
in any battle I had witnessed, was there such a discharge 
of cannon and musketry. The first thing I saw was 
General Rosecrans crossing himself; he was a very de 
vout Catholic. Hello! I said to myself, if the general 
is crossing himself we are in a desperate situation. I 
was on my horse in a moment. I had no sooner looked 
around toward the part where all this din came from than 
I saw our lines break and melt away like leaves before the 
wind. Then the headquarters around me disappeared. The 
graybacks came through with a rush, and soon the musket- 
balls and cannon-shot began to reach the place where we 
stood. The whole right of the army had apparently been 
routed. We drew back for greater safety into the woods, 

358 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and then I came upon Captain Horace Porter and Captain 
Drouillard, aide-de-camp to General Rosecrans, halting fugi 
tives. They would halt a few, get them in some sort of 
order, and then there would come a few rounds of cannon- 
shot and the men would break and run. 

I attempted to make my way in the woods to Sheridan s 
division, but when I reached the place where it had been 
I found it had been swept from the field. Then I made my 
way over Missionary Ridge and rode to Chattanooga, twelve 
or fifteen miles away. The whole road was filled with fly 
ing soldiers ; here and there were pieces of artillery, caissons, 
and baggage- wagons. Everything was in the greatest dis 
order. When I reached Chattanooga, a little before four 
o clock, I found Rosecrans there. In the helter-skelter to 
the rear he had escaped by the Rossville road. He was ex 
pecting every moment that the enemy would arrive before 
the town, and was doing all he could to prepare to resist 
their entrance. Soon after I arrived the two corps com 
manders, McCook and Crittenden, both came to Chatta 
nooga. Having been swept bodily off the battle-field, and 
having made my way into Chattanooga through a panic- 
stricken rabble, I telegraphed Mr. Stanton, Chickamauga 
is as fatal a name in our history as Bull Run." 

If this is not a pen picture and a true picture of a battle 
field panic, one has never been made. That it was not con 
fined to McCook s and Crittenden s corps alone there is 
overwhelming evidence. Despite the claims so often made to 
the contrary, it is now known that Thomas, after holding on 
so tenaciously, at last gave way in such confusion that any 
kind of organized pursuit would have overwhelmed and cap 
tured him and the remnant of his command. 

There was never written a more exhaustive, unprejudiced, 

259 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

or a fairer book than Colonel Archibald Gracie s The Truth 
about Chickamauga. Trained as a soldier, he spent several 
years in the study of this battle, months at a time on the 
field walking over the ground, measuring the distances, and 
analyzing the various movements, and determining the dif 
ferent positions of the troops. It has been criticized as too 
favorable to the Federal side, but in my opinion unfairly 
so. I have gone over his book carefully and spent hours 
in consultation with him over a subject of great personal 
interest to us both, and I am convinced that, no matter 
whom it may hurt or what illusions of this great battle it 
may dispel, those looking for cold facts will find them here. 1 
It is to be greatly deplored that this gentleman died un 
timely from the frightful exposure he suffered when the 
Titanic went down. Gracie says, "One Confederate di 
vision which had successfully stormed the precipitous heights 
and driven the Federals from their final position picked up 
four thousand five hundred guns thrown away by the flee 
ing enemy." Fifteen thousand stand of arms in all were 
gathered up, to say nothing of eight thousand prisoners and 
thirty-six pieces of artillery. 

General John Beatty, a gallant Union brigade commander, 
writes in his memoirs of the withdrawal of this part of the 
army under Thomas after it reached Rossville: 

"At this hour of the night (eleven to twelve o clock) 
the army is simply a mob. There appears to be neither 
organization nor discipline. The various commands are 
mixed up in what appears to be inextricable confusion. 
Were a division of the enemy to pounce down upon us be 
tween this and morning, I fear the Army of the Cumberland 
would be blotted out." 

1 The Truth about Chickamauga. By Colonel Archibald Gracie. 

260 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

General John G. Spears, commanding a brigade in 
Granger s corps, was posted by order of General Rosecrans 
to halt all fugitive officers and soldiers coming from the 
battle-field into Chattanooga. He says in his report: "The 
whole night was spent in executing said orders, and by next 
morning I had halted and encamped of the different corps 
and divisions between eight thousand and twelve thousand 
men and officers." 

The facts now known to all are these : Just before noon 
on Sunday, September 2oth, Longstreet had broken through 
the Federal right wing. The Union line was composed of 
McCook s corps on the right, Crittenden s corps in the 
center, Thomas s on the left and nearest to their base at Chat 
tanooga. Rosecrans, commander -in-chief, and corps com 
manders McCook and Crittenden, fled with their panic-strick 
en men as fast as their horses would carry them to get behind 
the breastworks at Chattanooga, some twelve miles to the rear. 

Thomas 1 alone was holding fast. Driven back with the 

1 So much has been said and written about the attitude toward the South 
of this man, who, in my opinion, saved the cause of the Union in this great 
crisis, that the following letter in the possession of Professor W. S. Drewry, of 
Richmond, Virginia, which I have his permission to use, may not be without 
interest. Professor Drewry is the author of the Southampton Insurrection, 
a most carefully prepared and thrilling narrative of those horrible murders, and 
it is a startling coincidence, as stated in this book in the chapter on " Slavery," 
that Nat Turner and his gang of murderers came within a few moments of kill 
ing George H. Thomas and his mother, who, trying to escape in a one-horse 
buggy, were being overhauled by the mounted negroes, and only saved their 
lives by leaping from the vehicle and concealing themselves in the dense 
thickets. Well may the believers say, "God moves in a mysterious way, His 
wonders to perform." The letter before me is signed by (Miss) Fannie C. 
Thomas, sister of the general, and is dated Newsom P. O. f Southampton, Va., 
November 2, 1900: "With regard to the visit of General Thomas, I have to 
say he arrived at the home [the Thomas homestead in Southampton, Va.] the 
fifteenth of December, 1860, and remained until the eighth of January, 1861, 
I believe. While here he said he should side with the South, and my sister 
says tell you the last word he said to her at parting was he should be back 
in March. He had much of his army baggage sent here and left it, wishing 

261 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

rest by the desperate onslaught of the Confederates, this 
lion at bay gathered about him the remnant of his corps 
and as many of the fugitives as had rallied to the roar oi 
his guns, and behind hurriedly constructed barricades oi 
brush and rails and logs and earth stretched along the 
crests of Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill for a time 
checked the Confederate advance. All else was in rout and 
wild disorder, and could offer no resistance to organized and 
determined pursuit. The road to Chattanooga was wide 
open to the victorious legions, and the woods were no more 
impenetrable than were the forests on the great battle 
ground, through which and over which for three days they 
had tramped and fought. There were five thousand sol 
diers, as brave as ever followed the Bonnie Blue Flag, whc 
had just come fresh on the field and in sight and who had 
not yet fired a gun. And Forrest was there on the far Con 
federate right with his unbeaten troopers straining at the 
leash and eager to "run them into the river." This man 
who in his crude, unlettered, and immortal style had said, 
"The time to whip the enemy is when they re running," was 
on hand to lead the way; to ignore Thomas and his des 
perate fighters; to let them have and hold Horseshoe and 
Snodgrass ridges ten miles in the rear of Chattanooga, with 
this fortress and McCook s and Crittenden s fugitives in 
possession of the Confederates! 

Thomas was short of ammunition, and his men, brave 
fighters as they were, were worn down with fatigue, for they 
had fought two days, spent nearly all of one night in a long 



it to be stored in the house, implying he would return for it, and it would 
be ready for his use; he also brought his servants and left them in my sister s 
care until such time as he and his wife might require the services of the cook, 
whom Mrs. Thomas wished to retain. The above are facts." 

262 




BATTLE-FLAG OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY 

Blue cross containing thirteen stars; red field, white border. Burnside breech- 
loading cavalry carbine and Colt s army six-shooter of models used by the author 
in the service. Post-oak relic containing two cannon-balls and two grape-shot 
lodged during the battle of Chickamauga, 1863. Thirty years later this souvenir 
was secured and presented to the author by his friend Dr. Cooper Holtzclaw. of 
Chattanooga, Tennessee. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

march, changing position from the Union right to the ex 
treme left, and the second night in felling trees and building 
breastworks and barricades. Thus completely cut off from 
Chattanooga, there was no possible alternative but surrender. 
Forrest and his mounted men were at hand in sight of the 
town; the five thousand fresh infantry and the rest of the 
victorious army, certainly no more fatigued than the re 
treating fugitives of McCook and Crittenden, could have 
followed on their heels and gone with them into Chatta 
nooga; and as if to emphasize the opportunity, when the 
sun went down behind Lookout Mountain the moon made 
night almost as clear as day! With the capture of the 
armies of the Cumberland and the Tennessee, Burnside 
at Knoxville was cut off from help and possible escape, 
even as later he was pent up in that city. Armed re 
sistance to the Confederate Army of the West would 
no longer have existed; Tennessee and Kentucky were 
ours again, and the way wide open to the Ohio and be 
yond! 

The greatest soldier of the war had foreseen this pos 
sibility. General Longstreet narrates that when he was 
bidding good-by to General Lee upon starting to reinforce 
Bragg prior to this battle, Lee enjoined him, when he should 
win the expected victory, to push on to the Ohio at once, 
as this would relieve him of the great pressure in his 
front. The official returns, as carefully prepared by Long- 
street, show that the contending armies were practically 
equal in numbers in this bloody battle, the Confederates 
having in the fight of September 2oth 59,242, and the Fed 
erals 60,867. He says: "Official reports show that on both 
sides the casualties in killed, wounded, and missing embraced 
the enormous proportion of practically thirty-three per cent. 

263 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of the troops actually engaged." As the Confederates lost 
no prisoners, all of their losses were killed or wounded. Of 
his own command he lost in two hours nearly forty-four per 
cent., while on the Union side a score of regiments lost forty- 
nine per cent. The Tenth Tennessee suffered a loss of 
sixty-eight per cent. 

Strange as it may seem, there have been found writers 
who claim Chickamauga as a Union victory, since, although 
the Confederates held the field, the result of the fighting 
assured the holding of Chattanooga by the Federals! The 
Confederates evacuated Chattanooga on September gth, and 
Crittenden occupied this stronghold on the loth. As the 
Union army, badly beaten at Chickamauga, was able to 
hold it after that defeat, it goes without saying that they 
could have held it equally well without fighting this battle. 



XIX 

SEQUATCHIE VALLEY CAPTURE OF THE GREAT WAGON- 
TRAIN A PRISONER OF WAR 

MY furlough was indefinitely postponed. The Federals 
had escaped into Chattanooga and were penned in behind 
fortifications they had made impregnable. Their only 
source of supply was by wagon through Sequatchie Valley 
and over Walden s Ridge. Every cavalryman whose horse 
had stood the strain of the last three weeks was called to 
volunteer for a movement to the enemy s rear to break up 
his communications and starve him to surrender. We 
started September 27th, and in order to save the animals for 
the hard work which was to come we moved by easy marches 
to Cottonport on the upper Tennessee, where the river was 
shallow enough to ford. The country through which we 
passed had been stripped of almost everything which man 
or horse could eat. 

I often wonder now how our poor animals lived through 
the privation and punishment of this expedition. We scat 
tered in small companies and turned off on side-roads and 
byways looking for forage and food. The old men and 
women and children, all that were left at home, had been 
preyed upon by friend and foe alike until they had learned 
to hide away the little that was left. My company came 
on to a dilapidated lone cabin, in the garden of which were 
half a dozen rows of cabbage-stalks from which the heads 

18 265 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

had long been cut. We broke ranks and made a rush for 
them, pulled the stalks up, root and all, and devoured them. 
In another patch we found some small pumpkins which had 
been overlooked or considered not worth gathering, but 
everything was grist to a hungry Confederate, and we 
roasted and ate them with parched corn, and that was all 
we had for several days, until we struck the great wagon- 
train on October 2d. 

In one of our side-excursions in search of anything we 
might devour we had an experience which illustrated the 
truth of the proverb that he "who laughs last, laughs best." 
A member of my company had failed to take proper care 
of his horse, and the animal s back became so sore the sad 
dle could no longer be endured. We were now among the 
"loyal East-Tennesseeans " (Tories, we called them then), 
and as we came unexpectedly (to him) upon a native pacing 
along the lonely highway on a good-looking bay mare, Jim 
Jester proposed a swap. The old man demurred, but the 
exigencies of war, emphasized by a drawn six-shooter, pre 
vailed ; and Jim, with an expression of triumph over a Tory 
and pride in a fine mount, paced up and down through the 
company, showing off her fine points, and boasting as if 
the rest of us were on foot. 

Two days later, after we had toiled up the steep, long 
ascent of Walden s Ridge and stopped on the summit for 
a breathing-spell, Jim s purchase suddenly began to shiver 
and groan and, before her rider could dismount, was seized 
with a violent convulsion, evidently epileptic in character. 
Staggering this way and that, buck-jumping and snorting, 
spraddling all four legs to keep from sinking to the ground, 
with her frightened and crestfallen owner yelling "Whoa!" 
and trying to find a chance to jump off without disaster, 

266 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the distressed animal and its demoralized rider made one 
of the most comical scenes I ever witnessed. Jim s embar 
rassment was not lessened by the jeering remarks of his 
comrades, such as, "Jump off and grab a root!" "Light and 
come in!" "Hit her on the hairy side!" etc. The poor crea 
ture at last went down, and Jim rolled off unscathed. We 
carried his outfit while he tramped on foot into Sequatchie 
Valley, where early the next morning we captured the great 
wagon-train and mounted our pedestrian on a mule branded 
on the left hip "U. S." The old Tory had laughed last, for, 
barring the sore back, he had much the best of the bargain. 
We reached the Tennessee at Cottonport at dark. Early 
next morning volunteers with long-range rifles were called 
for to cover the crossing. By the time it was light enough 
to see, quite a number of us were peeping from behind trees 
along the bank at our friends on the other side, the Fourth 
Ohio Cavalry, whom we had last greeted at Morris s Ford 
on Elk River. We both remembered that occasion. They 
weren t expecting us this time, for they rode boldly down to 
water their horses and themselves, but scampered to cover 
when our rifles cracked and the bullets came whizzing near 
by. I got in three fairly good shots, with the sight raised 
to four hundred yards, and then they came back at us as 
was their habit. Then our side brought up two Parrot t 
guns, and when the shells began to explode in the fringe of 
timber on the other bank the "Buckeyes" retired, but not 
all of them. I stood directly behind one of our guns as 
the artillerists were firing, as I had done once before on the 
field of Chickamauga, and could distinctly see the shrapnel 
as they sped on their way. I was never able to see one 
coming toward me, even when the shells came at or over 
us, although I have heard my comrades say they saw them. 

267 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

As soon as everybody thought the Yankees had left the 
other side, Colonel Russell and a crowd of officers and some 
of the men gathered on the bank in an open space, and I 
came up behind them. The firing had ceased for some 
minutes, and the troops who were to cross first were 
mounting, when all unexpectedly some impertinent Ohioan, 
who had lingered after his companions had departed, 
concluded he would take a parting shot at the bunch. 
His carbine rang out startlingly loud, the bullet splattered 
in the water about seventy-five yards short, ricocheted, 
and whizzed over our heads. I don t know whether the 
colonel ducked or not probably not but despite the 
fact that I was protected by a position behind the others 
I instinctively dodged, and the movement seemed fairly 
general. 

The funny feature of the situation was that everybody 
present wanted to get away, but no one was brave enough 
to run first. We knew that the man who was bold enough 
to stay and shoot once would shoot again as soon as he 
could load his gun. Moreover, he had the range by raising 
his sight, for he could see where the first bullet had fallen 
short. We all glanced toward the colonel, hoping he might 
lead the way or tell us we might just as well walk back a 
few yards and sit down behind a tree, or run, but he did 
neither. A keen-eyed artillerist, who had a shell already 
rammed home, came to the rescue, for he had seen the 
small flash of blue smoke on the other bank, marked the 
tree by the side of which it had puffed up, and came so near 
it after pulling the lanyard that we didn t have to move. 
The great dramatist was not far from right when he said, 
"What fools these mortals be!" 

That which we call courage is largely a cross between per- 

268 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sonal vanity and family pride. The soldier who, advancing 
in line of battle, stepped aside to let a frightened rabbit get 
through to the rear came very near the truth when he 
shouted out: "Go it, Molly Cotton-Tail, and go it fast! 
I d be with you if it wasn t for my family!" The only man 
I ever saw who had courage enough to come out in the open 
and acknowledge he was a coward was the one at Chicka- 
mauga, and that man after the war had pluck enough to 
meet in a personal encounter another of about his size. 
This ludicrous scene took place in the road that runs for 
several miles along the edge of the alluvial bank of the Ten 
nessee west of Guntersville. The river was at a low stage, 
and the steep bank of sand and mud sloped rather pre 
cipitously to the water s edge, forty or fifty feet below. The 
only witness was my intimate friend, the sheriff, who de 
scribed the duel to me. He and one of the men on horse 
back met the other, and the discussion of a small debt 
owed by one led to an angry dispute, and finally to a chal 
lenge to "light and fight." 

Both combatants were more than ordinarily portly and 
short in stature and, as it turned out, in wind. As neither 
party was armed, it promised to be more amusing to my 
friend than dangerous to either contestant; so he held the 
horses and acted as umpire. He said that the two heavy 
weights exhibited extraordinary agility in dismounting. 
With clenched fists and arms flexed in the attitude of de 
fense, they advanced cautiously toward each other, "steppin* 
high," as Jim expressed it in the homely phrase of Honey 
comb Cove, "as a Shanghai rooster walking over frozen 
ground. Without violating the proprieties which were rec 
ognized as pertaining to an encounter between gentlemen, 
they sparred for a few rounds, landing of necessity on the 

269 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

most projecting portion of the abdominal wall somewhat 
below the belt. 

At the close of the third round, as the respiratory move 
ments had assumed a rapidity which made it difficult for 
the umpire to count them, they clenched for a fall, and while 
swinging to and fro in the effort to down each other they 
approached so near the edge of the sand-bank that it caved 
in. Locked in a frenzied grip, first one on top and [then 
the other, after some dozen or more revolutions they rolled 
into the river and disappeared for a brief period from view. 
When they rose to the surface they were no longer locked 
in each other s arms. As each, half strangled and trying to 
breathe, was blowing the water ("snortin , " as Jim called it) 
out of his mouth and nose, there was at least three feet of 
troubled river between them. With barely strength enough 
left to reach the bank, and unable to stand, they sat there 
in the mud, their lower extremities still submerged, and, 
though glaring at each other, pacified by baptism and pump 
ing for breath. The umpire, holding his side as he described 
the affair to me, closed the account by saying, "John, I 
thought in my soul I d die a-laughin before I could call it 
a draw." 

We forded the river on September 3oth and moved out to 
the foot of Walden s Ridge, which we climbed during a heavy 
downpour of rain, the first we had experienced since leav 
ing Alexandria on August 27th. The trail over this great 
mountain could not have been traveled by troops before, 
for we came upon a small apple-orchard, the trees of which 
were heavily laden with a small but very welcome fruit. 
Taking small note of the shower that was coming down at 
the time, we rode under the trees and from the saddle filled 
our forage-sacks. 

270 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

We marched until midnight, bivouacked on the westerly 
crest of the ridge until daylight, and reached Anderson s 
Cross Roads in Sequatchie Valley early in the morning of 
October 2d. Our advance, composed of a portion of two 
regiments, encountered the leading wagons of a supply- 
train guarded by a detachment of Union infantry, which 
they attacked; but they were driven back in no little con 
fusion. We were in line, in reserve, and the beaten troopers 
passed through to our rear. One young lad was being sup 
ported by a comrade on either side. He had been shot 
through the lung, and was bleeding profusely from the mouth. 
He was taken to Camp Morton a prisoner, and made a 
complete recovery. 

It was here that General Wheeler paid us the compliment 
of sending us in. Colonel Russell threw two companies on 
the right flank of their line, which was lying down behind 
a fence. Seeing they were flanked, they began to give way, 
and at this we charged at full speed, rode over and captured 
the entire guard. I do not think they fired more than one 
volley. Some of the Federals ran into a field of sorghum- 
cane which had been blown down and hid themselves be 
neath the tangle. When our horses struck the tangle with 
their fore legs the crackling sounded not unlike a bunch of 
firecrackers popping away, and every few steps there would 
rise a frightened man in blue, holding up both hands. One 
very badly scared fellow who had been not long out of his 
native Deutschland shouted: "MeinGott! Don t choodt!" 

We didn t shoot for the very good reason that from noon 
to near sundown we didn t see any but frightened teamsters, 
and not over many of these; for when they heard the guns 
banging and heard our yells as we came on galloping they 
abandoned their teams and took to the woods and moun- 

271 



WITH SABRE AND SCALP,EL 

tains. Riding up to a single-room log cabin which ap 
peared to be empty, and shouting, "Come out!" we called 
forth two fine -Booking young chaps bearing Springfield 
rifles and full equipment. They seemed content, but some 
what agitated. I made a hurried exchange of pocket-knives 
with one of these prisoners. He was the owner of a United 
States army knife, a clever invention which had one good- 
sized blade, with a spoon and a fork attached. We traded 
even. My "frog-sticker" was of Confederate make, and 
as the youth went back under guard I rode on, not entirely 
satisfying my conscience that I had not been guilty of a 
mean act. It was the first and only time I ever robbed a 
prisoner and I wish now I hadn t done it. The exigencies 
of war, and the knowledge that he would be paroled at once 
and returned to his Northern home where knives were plenti 
ful helped in a measure to direct my moral vision once mere 
toward the Westminster Confession. 

For fully ten miles on and on we went, overhauling more 
wagons, mules, and plunder than I ever dreamed of seeing 
in one day. At times for a quarter or maybe half a mile 
the road would be clear. Then we would come upon a 
bunch of from ten to fifteen, or maybe fifty or more wagons, 
jammed and tangled up in inextricable confusion. In the 
scramble to get away one vehicle would be upset or lose a 
wheel and block the road. First on one side and then on 
the other a four or six mule team would wedge itself, and 
back of this others in wild flight would pile on one another 
and fall over. 

We had gone at as full speed as our horses could be urged 
for at least eight miles, and had passed hundreds of wagons. 
Only the men with the best mounts had held out; the rest 
were strung out in the ruck, setting fire to the wagons, the 

272 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

smoke of which was already filling the valley as far back as 
we could see. Suddenly, while going at a full run, my horse 
went down in a limp heap; and it took all I could do to 
disengage my right leg, as the animal sprawled and rolled 
on that side. There was no bleeding; and, while I had heard 
the bullets singing among us as we rode at the train-guard, 
it did not occur to me that my horse had been struck. I 
think it was a rupture of the heart or the bursting of a large 
blood-vessel which proved so suddenly fatal. In my di 
lemma nothing was left but to transfer my outfit to one of 
the captured mules; so, selecting a large, fine-looking ani 
mal, I was soon up and going still farther down the Sequat- 
chie Valley road toward Bridgeport. The sun was about 
two hours high when we reached the end of this great train, 
probably the largest taken during the Civil War. 

Not more than twenty men had come this far, and we 
had turned back, firing the last wagons as we went. Near 
sundown we came upon the rear of a line of cavalry formed 
across the valley and they had on blue uniforms! We 
didn t know what to make of this unexpected visitation, 
and at first thought it must be our own men; but when 
through their field-glasses they recognized us we were quick 
ly undeceived; for they sent a squadron after us at full 
speed. Leaving the road, we galloped across a field, the 
outer fence of which lay along the foot of Walden s Ridge, 
up the steep sides of which we clambered beyond pursuit. 
When I exchanged my dead horse for a mule I had no idea 
that I would so soon try him out on a mountain-climbing 
test; but now he easily outstripped the horses in the party. 
Two of these, after we had reached a very great height, 
stumbled, fell over backward, and, rolling and bounding like 
loosened boulders down the precipitate mountainside, were 

273 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

dashed to death hundreds of feet below. It was a harrow 
ing and unusual exhibition of " grand and lofty tumbling." 

From our high elevation we could now distinctly see the 
Union cavalry and other troops coming up the valley to 
reinforce them. As far as the eye could reach the smoke 
was rising from the burning train, and frequently loud ex 
plosions told that the fire had reached cases of ammuni 
tion. The sun was going down, and we, though distressed 
beyond measure at our predicament, felt we had done a 
great day s work. 

We were in the immediate rear of the Union army in 
Chattanooga, and cut off from our command by a superior 
force of cavalry which was pursuing our own men. Noth 
ing was left us now but to abandon our animals, break up 
into squads of two or three, and try to slip through Rose- 
crans s lines and recross the Tennessee. We knew that the 
chances of success were slim. My fine saddle and bridle, 
captured from the adjutant of the Second Michigan Cavalry 
in Kentucky on Christmas Eve, 1862, was deposited in a 
hollow tree, together with two extra horseshoes and all my 
outfit except an oil-cloth. The last glimpse I had of my 
newly acquired mule he was nibbling at the sparse, tough 
blades of grass which the western slope of Walden s Ridge 
afforded. 

In our party were two sturdy young fellows, members of 
my company, both older than I by one or two years. They 
stood well in every way, and I cast my lot with them. In 
the run I had the misfortune to lose my carbine, but still 
retained my army pistol and its cartridges. One of my 
comrades still had his gun, the other had also lost his in 
the wild scramble through the thick underbrush. Our 
camping outfit was my oil-cloth and a blanket each for the 

274 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

other two. Having been driven from the train so pre 
cipitately, we had failed to secure any food-supplies from 
the rich capture, nor had we filled with water the one canteen 
in our kit. We were hungry, of course, and thirsty beyond 
expression; but darkness had come on, we could not see to 
walk, so we huddled together to keep warm, and spent a 
very cold and unhappy night. Our craving for water was 
intensified in the numerous intervals of waking by hearing 
the water pouring over a mill-dam in the valley, and with 
the first streak of dawn we lost no time in finding it. No 
shipwrecked mariner could have appreciated a drink more 
than we did this refreshing supply from the race. 

Seeing a well-worn path, I followed it in search of a house 
and something to eat, requesting my comrades to follow. I 
soon came to a log cabin with an open door, and as I reached 
the gate I could see opposite this another door which opened 
on a back porch. There was no platform or piazza in front, 
both doors were wide open, yet no one seemed to be stirring. 
As I opened the gate its wooden hinges creaked, and almost 
instantly a woman appeared in the door. Recognizing my 
gray jacket, she said, quickly: "You re a rebel, and you d 
better go away. There s a Union soldier on the back porch !" 
As she began this greeting I knew I was not a welcome guest, 
and before she finished I had my pistol out and ready, and 
none too soon, for as I reached the front door, which she 
cleared when she saw what might happen, a man in Federal 
uniform stepped into the rear doorway just opposite and 
started toward the chimney, where, leaning against the jamb, 
I saw his gun. He was wise enough to see the odds were in 
my favor, and when I told him to stop he did so, raising his 
right hand in token of surrender. I took possession of his 
Springfield rifle, a beautiful weapon, one of the best all* 

275 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

round army guns of our war. He was one of the infantry 
guarding the train when we attacked it the day before, had 
escaped into the woods, and at dark was lucky enough to 
seek shelter under a roof that welcomed a blue uniform. 

My two comrades came up at this juncture, and to the 
one who had lost his gun in the stampede up the mountain 
I turned over the new equipment. The woman with none 
too good a grace gave us one small pone of corn-bread, which 
she said was all she had to spare. I thanked her, and, tell 
ing my Yankee friend that he was free to go where he pleased 
and that the Federals were now in possession of the valley 
road, we went back to the mill-race, made a fair divide, and 
enjoyed our breakfast of corn-bread and branch water, filled 
our one canteen, and then proceeded on the tramp in the 
direction of the Tennessee River, Now and then we got 
glimpses of the valley road along which the Union cavalry 
was marching in its pursuit of Wheeler s riders, and to keep 
clear we took our course about half-way up the steep side 
of the mountain. Being horsemen, we were unaccustomed 
to walking, and the rough going over boulders, logs, loose 
stones, and brush told on us heavily. By noon the canteen 
was emptied, and the sun, which was now over on our slope 
of the ridge, was as much too hot for comfort as the night 
had been too cold. Seeing below us a corn-patch, we ven 
tured down, found a spring, and after laying in an essential 
supply of water we pulled several ears of corn and started 
back up the slope. As we were clambering over the fence 
the people who lived in the cabin near the spring spied us 
and yelled something which we did not stop to analyze. 
Our sentiments came very near expression in the remark 
of the colored woman who went with her "old man" to see 
the great curiosity of a later period, the "X-ray." When 

276 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

she looked through the fluorescope and saw through his 
coat and shirt not only the bones in her husband s chest, 
but objects beyond, she laid the instrument aside and sought 
the door, saying: "Efram, I m gwine home; tain t no 
place for a lady!" 

One bit of luck in our chapter of misfortunes was the 
possession of a box of matches. Early in the captured train 
we came across a lot of lucifer matches, the first, I think, 
I had ever seen. We made effective use of them in setting 
fire to the wagons as we rode along. Every teamster car 
ried at the tail-board or hind gate of his wagon a feed- 
trough, and among other provender some fodder or hay, 
and all we had to do was to strike one of these red-headed 
matches and as it flared up stick it in among this com 
bustible material, and the job was done. When we were 
driven off I happened to have in my pocket the remnants of 
one of these boxes, and now it came in well, for we made a 
fire and parched our corn and had luncheon. Moreover, 
we rested, pulled off our boots or shoes to cool our feet, which 
were beginning to blister, then trudged on wearily and pain 
fully a few miles farther until dark. Then, wishing we were 
at the Tennessee or anywhere else than where we were 
excepting Hades, we fell asleep from exhaustion. When we 
awoke it was October 4th, a date I wish I could forget. 

As we ate what was left of our parched corn and emptied 
the canteen, a council of war was held. We were a unit on 
one point: we couldn t continue along the rough slope of 
the mountain; and I saw with more regret than surprise 
that my two companions had about lost heart. They 
voted to go down to the valley road and surrender as the 
easiest way out of our seemingly hopeless dilemma. Their 
argument was not without force, for prisoners of war were 

277 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

being exchanged then, and, without all this suffering from 
fatigue and hunger and the danger of missing our way 
through the Federal lines, in the immediate rear of which 
we were, we might, by surrendering, be exchanged and so be 
safely back with the regiment in a few weeks. I prevailed 
on them to try the top of the ridge, which was one of the 
highest of the ranges in that part of Tennessee, with a rock 
escarpment along its western slope from one to two hundred 
feet high. It was a hard pull to the base of this magnificent 
cliff, which we found so precipitous that no one could scale 
it without a ladder. We staggered along over the stony 
debris which had been eroded by the wear and tear of frosts 
and time, until in sheer despair and weakness my com 
panions threw their guns and accouterments away, saying 
they were too weak to carry them any longer. Farther on 
we came to a deep fissure in the escarpment, and up this 
we clambered, helping one another in the hardest places, 
and at last found ourselves on the plateau, where we were 
glad to sit down on the trunk of a fallen tree and rest. 

The prospect was far from reassuring. For forty-eight 
hours we had eaten nothing but a small bit of corn-bread 
and some parched corn, and not much of that. We were 
too much exhausted to retrace our steps to the valley; to 
follow the ridge to where the river cuts through it in sight 
of Chattanooga was impossible, for there was neither water 
nor food on the route ; and as we estimated the distance we 
were still some thirty miles from the Tennessee. As far 
as we could see there was not a sign of human habitation, 
nothing but an unbroken vista of sparsely timbered, half- 
barren mountain plateau. While we were getting what 
comfort we might out of these somber reflections we saw, 
as if he had come up out of the earth, coming so directly 

278 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

toward us that he must of necessity pass very near, a man 
on foot a Federal soldier, for he had on a full blue uniform. 
He had not seen us, so we simply slid backward off the log 
and peered over at the passing stranger. As he came nearer 
I saw he was unarmed, and it would have been a simple 
matter to have taken him in with my six-shooter. We were, 
however, as desirous of not being seen as he could be; and 
he went on his way in blissful ignorance of the fact that six 
Confederate eyes were taking his measure only a few yards 
away. He was evidently a deserter from Rosecrans s 
army trying to make his way back to his home through the 
woods across these desolate mountains. Poor fellow, he 
was in more danger than we, for if caught he would be shot 
in short order, and the chances were heavily against him, 
for he had many weary miles to tramp before he could cross 
the Ohio. Even then he would not be safe. Our own situa 
tion did not admit of argument, and as our only hope of 
getting out at all lay in the direction of food and water, 
we struck out in desperation straight across the plateau. 

Between three and four in the afternoon we spied a break 
in the timber ahead, which as we came nearer proved to 
be a small clearing around which was the wreckage of a 
half -rotten rail-fence. The inclosure, which contained sev 
eral good-sized apple-trees, was uncultivated. When we 
reached the trees we discovered plenty of leaves but not 
one solitary apple, and in the sandy ground beneath we 
read the reason. There were footprints without number, 
and fresh, and square-toed shoes had made them, and we knew 
these shoes were worn by Union soldiers. We listened 
eagerly and could hear nothing, but, as children playing 
"hide and seek" might say, we were "getting warm." A 
ravine at the corner of the inclosure indicated the presence 

279 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of the spring, which must be somewhere near; for no one 
could ever have lived there without this source of a supply 
of water. 

We found it, refreshed ourselves, and started up the nar 
row path which we supposed would take us to the home of 
the people who used this spring. This trail led up a sharp 
rise, and just as I reached the top I almost collided with 
two Federal soldiers, who, climbing up the other side, 
reached the crest as I did. I ducked down instantly, and, 
getting my pistol out as I turned, ran back and passed my 
comrades, saying, "Run boys! Here are the Yankees!" 
One of these answered, "It s no use; we might as well 
surrender now"; and, as the two men in blue were right on 
them, they gave up. At this I turned about and noticed 
that the man in front was an officer and had, so far as I 
could see, no other weapon than his sword. The equip 
ment of his companion, who was directly behind him in the 
path, I could not make out. 

Taking a dead aim at the officer, who, pluckily advancing, 
was not ten steps from the muzzle of my pistol, I was just 
in the act of firing when Frank Erwin jumped between him 
and me and, running toward me with both hands raised, 
cried, appealingly : For God s sake, John, don t shoot him ! 
If you do, we ll all be murdered." With this I threw my six- 
shooter on the ground and was a prisoner. The humiliation 
and wretchedness of this moment I shall not attempt to 
describe; but I render my captor the compliment due a 
brave soldier. 

We were practically in the bivouac of a company of cav 
alry. We were placed under guard in a wagon, and carried 
by sundown back into Sequatchie Valley, and turned over 
to the Tenth Illinois Infantry. Three fine young fellows 

280 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

were detailed to take charge of us, and for safe-keeping the 
adjutant of this regiment (I think he was called Captain 
Lusk) directed that we be guarded inside of an old unused 
stable. The stench was so disagreeable that I said to the 
officer, "The smell in here is so bad, couldn t you let us 
sleep out in the lot?" and his quick retort was, "Young 
man, Jesus Christ was born in a stable, and you might 
afford to spend a night in one." 

When dark came the corporal of the guard said, "Boys, 
if you ll give us your word of honor you won t try to es 
cape you may come out here and lay around the fire with 
us," and we did. These were fine fellows, and I found out 
that my first cousin, Thomas Smith, of Jacksonville, Illinois, 
was captain of this company. He was, however, absent 
on account of an illness from which he died. Richmond 
Walcott was the lieutenant in command, and was very 
courteous to me. We had not as yet tasted food, and when 
I remarked to young McEvers that we hadn t had anything 
for a long time he said they were on half -rations by rea 
son of our destruction of their train, but that he would see 
what could be done. He disappeared for a while, and came 
back with two big army crackers (hardtack) for each of us 
and a jar of strained honey. In 1868, while visiting my 
relatives there, I called on this young man at his home 
in Jacksonville to pay my respects. On October 5th we 
started by wagon for Stevenson, Alabama, where we spent 
several days in a stockade. Our route lay through miles of 
burned wagons and fully a thousand dead mules, for when 
General Wheeler saw he could not escape with these animals 
he ordered them killed. As our wagon was passing near 
where I had captured the Union soldier I happened to see 
him sitting by the roadside. The recognition was mutual, 

19 281 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and he greeted me cordially with, Hello, Johnny ! They ve 
got you this time," and I told him it looked that way. 
The term Johnny, an abbreviation of "Johnny Reb," was 
often used by Union soldiers in greeting a Confederate. 

From Stevenson we were carried by train to Nashville, 
and there confined in the state penitentiary for two days. 
I slept in a cold, damp cell along with deserters, "bounty- 
jumpers," and a crowd of criminals, many of whom had a 
ball and chain dangling at their ankles. In this prison I con 
tracted a cold, which developed into a severe pneumonia, 
the initial chill of which came on three days later, when I 
arrived in Camp Morton. The troops which chased us 
into the mountains on October 2d belonged to a brigade of 
cavalry under Colonel E. M. McCook, 1 who was just too 
late to save the great train he was sent to protect. They 
had come up from Bridgeport by a road parallel with the 
one down which we were advancing in the destruction of 
their wagons. When they heard the wagons loaded with 
ammunition exploding they came through a gap in the 
intervening ridge and formed their line of battle facing up 
the valley, cutting our detachment hopelessly off from our 
main column. 

Russell s Fourth Alabama regiment, unaided, captured 
this immense train. General Wheeler reported: "The 
number of wagons was variously estimated from eight 
hundred to fifteen hundred. The quartermaster in charge 
of the train stated that there were eight hundred six-mule 
wagons besides a great number of sutler s wagons. The 
train was guarded by a brigade of cavalry in front and a 
brigade of cavalry in the rear, and on the flank where we 
attacked were stationed two regiments of infantry." Gen- 

1 Official Records, vol. xxx, part I, p. 675. 
282 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

eral Rosecrans, commander-in-chief of the Union army, in 
a despatch to Major-General Burnside, dated October 5, 
1863, referring to this train, says: "Your failure to close 
your troops down to our left has cost five hundred wagons 
loaded with essentials, and Heaven only knows where the 
mischief will end." From my own observation, I am of 
the opinion that five hundred would not be very far from 
correct. We missed one bunch of about thirty wagons 
which had turned off in a narrow and not much used road 
way, and were already partly toward the summit of Walden s 
Ridge. One of these was reported to have been the pay 
master s wagon, loaded with greenbacks enough to pay off 
the army in Chattanooga. As to the truth of this I cannot 
testify. We lost two men killed in my company and eight 
or ten captured. 

With the exception of our detachment of about twenty 
men (and not more than this number rode on until the last 
wagon was taken), which was hopelessly cut off from escape 
by the interposition of McCook s brigade, our losses would 
have been insignificant had it not been for the unfortunate 
discovery of a sutler s wagon loaded to the guards with 
brandied peaches. The driver and owner had fled at our 
approach, and, having sought safety by climbing up the 
steep side of Walden s Ridge, along the foot of which the 
road lay, was in all likelihood a helpless and hopeless wit 
ness of the plundering of his merchandise. The rich har 
vest this sutler had expected to reap when he arrived in 
the beleaguered fortress of Chattanooga was not to be gar 
nered. Man only proposes; the disposition is elsewhere. 

The brandy must have been very strong or our men un 
usually susceptible to intoxication, for quite a number be 
came so drunk from eating these peaches that they fell 

283 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

from their horses and were madel prisoners while asleep 
on the roadside. One officer on General Wheeler s staff 
suffered an impairment of co-ordination to such an extent 
that in a sabre duel with a Federal trooper the Union 
sabreur dealt him a right cut which not only unhorsed him, 
but cut his upper lip clear across just beneath the nose, 
leaving it and the attached mustache to droop an inch 
below the normal position. He joined our squad of pris 
oners at Stevenson, and was about the most dilapidated 
member of the group. 

Of my personal experiences on this exciting day, ^beyond 
the loss of my horse a brief interview with our general 
was the most interesting. We had whipped everything in 
sight, captured the train -guard or scattered it into the 
woods, and I had kept on overtaking wagon after wagon 
for fully eight miles without stopping for a minute to hunt 
for something to eat. At last, seeing a big box of cheese 
and some crackers in one of the wagons, I dismounted, 
threw the bridle over a standard, clambered in, cut off a 
large chunk of the cheese, filled my pockets with crackers, 
and was just in the act of remounting my captured mule 
when General Wheeler galloped up, sword in hand, and said 
to me, "Get in your saddle and go on after the enemy." 
As he and I were the only Confederates in sight just_then, 
I said, "All right, General. Have some cheese," and the 
private and the major-general rode on side by side down 
the Sequatchie Valley road "after the enemy" and munching 
cheese and crackers. 

Fully thirty years after the war I gave a dinner in New 
York to a number of friends in honor of my old commander, 
and in introducing him I told this story as above given, 
seemingly to his enjoyment at the remembrance of it. My 

284 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

military career practically ended on October 4, 1863. Had I 
thought for an instant that there would be no further ex 
change of prisoners, or that for sixteen weary months there 
was in store for me the anguish of enforced idleness and the 
suffering from cold, hunger, and vermin, to say nothing of 
the cruel indifference of our keepers, I would not have sur 
rendered as long as I could have stood on my feet. It was 
a lucky thing for the officer to whom I yielded, for I could 
and would have killed him, notwithstanding the interven 
tion of my comrades. It is all now of the long ago, and "all s 
well that ends well"; but it was a sad awakening from my 
soldier dream of glory. 



XX 

PRISON LIFE IN CAMP MORTON HOMEWARD BOUND JOHN 

JONES 

IT was about the middle of October, 1863, and late at 
night when we arrived in the prison inclosure at Camp 
Morton, in the suburbs of Indianapolis. No provision had 
been made for "fresh fish" the term of welcome applied 
to every new batch of prisoners and we slept, or tried to 
sleep, through the cold night in the open air upon the ground. 
This was a fitting introduction to the indifference and bru 
tality of the authorities who had succeeded the noble, gen 
erous, and beloved Colonel Owen as commander of this 
prison, to whose memory we ex- Confederates in later years 
in grateful recognition placed a memorial bust in the capitol 
at Indianapolis. Toward morning I was seized with a chill 
which lasted for several hours and ushered in a severe attack 
of pneumonia, from the effects of which I did not recover 
for many years. 

As soon as it was day a fellow-prisoner, the Rev. J. G. 
Wilson, formerly President of the Huntsville (Alabama) 
Female College, requested an officer in charge to send me 
to a hospital, or at least put me under shelter. He was told 
there was no room, but was promised that the first vacancy 
would be held for me. This occurred, as the hospital stew 
ard afterward informed me, at 2 P.M., and an hour later 
I was in the dead man s bed. 

286 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

I found myself in kind hands and under the skilful care 
of Dr. Charles J. Kipp, whom in later years I was to know 
intimately. Little did he or I think as I lay there day after 
day, a lad of eighteen years, hovering between life and death, 
that in 1902 I should, as President of the American Medical 
Association, entertain him, a delegate from the state of New 
Jersey, as the honored guest of myself and my family. In 
1911 this noble man died; and, as it was impossible for me 
to attend the funeral, I sent a floral tribute and a note say 
ing, "From an old Confederate soldier who owes a lasting 
debt of gratitude to this great and good surgeon of the 
Union army." I was told the minister read this for his 
text, and from it preached the funeral sermon. 

During my prison life, broken in health by exposure and 
lack of sufficient food, I spent several months in the hos 
pitals at Camp Morton, and I bear witness to the conscien 
tious attention and kindly treatment accorded to myself 
and comrades by the physicians, nurses, and hospital au 
thorities. 

It is none the less true that in 1863, and to the middle of 
1864, the facilities for treating the sick were wholly inade 
quate, and many deaths were doubtless due to this failure 
to provide the necessary quarters. Later wooden pavilions 
with plastered walls and ceilings were erected, and by the 
fall of 1864 these were increased to a capacity equal to all 
ordinary requirements. 

The hospital in which I found myself was composed of 
two square army tents merged into one pavilion, on either 
side of which cots were placed I think sixteen beds in all. 
The heat furnished was from a single stove which was 
situated near the center of the aisle. The floor was of 
plank, elevated slightly above the ground. 

287 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Since I had no clothes except the light suit I wore when 
captured, and was without an overcoat or a blanket, my good 
friend Dr. Wilson notified my relatives living at Jackson 
ville, Illinois, of my serious illness and great needs. A sister 
of my mother came at once to the prison and provided me 
with everything I needed, gave me twenty dollars in green 
backs, and left an order at headquarters for all I might re 
quire. In about three weeks I was declared convalescent 
and sent back to the cold, cheerless barracks in which no 
method of heating had been installed. Within a fortnight 
I was taken ill with measles and sent to the hospital for con 
tagious diseases, where I remained for many weeks. 

Camp Morton, a military prison, was in 1863 a plot of 
ground formerly used as a fair-ground, in shape a parallelo 
gram, containing then about twenty acres of land and in 
closed by a plank wall some twenty feet high. In 1864 the 
prison wall was moved out on one side, taking in some ten 
acres more. It was bisected by a little rivulet which the 
prisoners christened "the Potomac." The barracks were 
situated on either side of this branch. They had been 
erected as cattle-sheds and stables for fair-ground purposes, 
were about twenty feet wide, ten feet to the eaves, fifteen 
to the middle of the roof, and about eighty feet long. The 
sides were of weather-boards ten to twelve inches wide, set 
on end, and leaving numerous cracks through which the 
rain and snow beat in upon us. I have often seen our top 
blankets white with snow when we were hustled out for 
morning roll-call. 

The roof was of shingles and water-tight. Along the 
comb an open space about a foot wide extended the entire 
length of the shed. The earth served as a floor, which in 
wet weather became a quagmire near the two end doors. 

288 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Along each side of this shelter, extending seven feet toward 
the center, were constructed four tiers of bunks, the lowest 
about one foot from the ground, the second three feet above 
this, the third three feet above the second, while the fourth 
was on a level with the eaves. Upon these long shelves, 
not partitioned off, the prisoners slept or lay down, heads 
to the wall and feet toward the center of the passageway. 
About two feet of space was allotted to each man, making 
about three hundred and twenty men housed in each shed. 
As we had little or no straw for bedding, and as each man 
was allowed only one blanket, there was scant comfort to 
be had in our bunks until our miseries were forgotten in 
sleep. The scarcity of blankets forced us to huddle together 
in cold weather three in a group or more, with one blanket 
between us and the planks, and the other two for covering. 
The custom was to take turns in occupying the warm 
middle place. 

The only attempt at heating these sheds was by means 
of four stoves placed at equal distances along the passage 
way, and these were not installed until late in the winter 
of 1863. Even then only the stronger men who could push 
or fight their way to the fire and had muscle enough to 
maintain their place enjoyed the luxury of artificial warmth. 
Up to Christmas of 1864 I do not believe I had felt the heat 
from a stove, as I was unable to hold my own in the miser 
able crowd which hovered about the fire until the guards 
drove them to their bunks at dark. Among men the great 
number of whom had never been in a cold climate the suf 
fering was intense, when with such surroundings the mer 
cury was near zero. The records show that it was twenty 
degrees below zero at Indianapolis on New Year s day, 
1864, and that it remained below for thirty-six hours. One 

289 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

man sleeping near my bunk was frozen to death, and many 
perished from disease brought on by exposure, added to 
their condition of emaciation from lack of food. 

During the very coldest spells the prisoners were in the 
habit of sleeping in larger squads or groups, since the cold 
could be better combated by combining blankets and body 
heat. The top blanket would be moistened to make it 
more impermeable and prevent the radiation of body 
warmth. Lots were drawn for places, and woe to the un 
fortunate end men. The squad of from five to seven slept 
"spoon fashion." No one was allowed to rest on his back, 
since this took up too much room from the middle of the 
blankets. The narrower the bulk to be covered the thicker 
the covering. At intervals all through these intensely cold 
nights above the shivering groans of the unhappy prisoners 
could be heard the orders of the end men, "Now, boys, 
spoon!" and they would all flop over on the other side, to 
the gratification of one end man and the disgust of the 
other, whose back by the change was once more exposed 
to the cold. No one can imagine how long those days and 
nights of winter seemed unless he has gone through such 
an experience. 

Relatives living in the North and my good friends the 
Breckinridges in Kentucky supplied me generously with 
books, and many an hour of those days of desolation was 
utilized in reading, and especially in studying French. 
Some one sent a Fasquelle s French grammar, and I almost 
"learned it by heart." There were among the prisoners 
a goodly number of Louisiana Creoles, whose mother tongue 
was French, and from some of these I took lessons in con 
versation. 

During my term of imprisonment I had a good oppor- 

290 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

tunity to make a careful study of the Bible, which I read 
through three times while there.* I remember some thought 
ful friend sent me a book, which no doubt she supposed 
would fit into the loneliness of a prisoner in his cell. It was 
entitled Salad for the Solitary. She would have smiled to 
see the hopeless efforts I was making to be "solitary" in 
our over-packed cattle-shed. 

When the bugle sounded, between daylight and sunrise, 
we gladly tumbled out for roll-call, for we were tired of the 
hard planks. Our toilet, which in winter consisted of put 
ting on our hats, was soon over, and we were in line to an 
swer to our names. In the Medical and Surgical History 
of the Rebellion, issued from the office of the Surgeon-General 
of the United States Army (Medical Volume, Part III), is 
the report of an official inspection of these quarters in Camp 
Morton, made in July, 1864. They are described as "nine 
dilapidated barracks." "There were also two hundred and 
ten tents in use. The quarters were much crowded. This 
condition continued until September, 1864." 

At no period was the ration issued sufficient to satisfy 
hunger. During the first few months of my prison life I 
was allowed to purchase certain articles from the prison 
sutler. Tickets which were worthless elsewhere were is 
sued by this man to the prisoners in return for greenbacks 
placed to their credit at headquarters. Although the prices 
paid were extortionately high, we never ceased to regret 
the order which closed this source of supply. I was reduced 
to such straits that at one time I gladly paid fifteen cents 
for a single ear of corn, and I know from personal observa 
tion that many of my comrades suffered acutely from star 
vation. Day after day it was easy to notice the progress 
of emaciation, until the men became so weak that when 

291 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

attacked with an illness which a well-nourished man would 
readily have resisted they succumbed. One feature of this 
miserable process of starvation by degrees, sadder by far 
than death itself, was the moral degradation to which many 
of the prisoners sank. Men who had borne reputations for 
honesty and soldierly conduct not only practised stealing 
from their comrades, but fed like hogs upon the refuse ma 
terial thrown into the swill-tubs from the hospital kitchen. 
I was one of a committee whose duty it was to forcibly 
prevent these men from making brutes of themselves and 
bringing shame unjustly upon their comrades by such un 
manly practices. 

In the Century Magazine for September, 1891, Dr. Charles 
J. Kipp, who was surgeon in charge, says: "I know that the 
refuse material of the swill-barrels of the hospital was often 
carried away by the prisoners. I reported this fact to the 
officers, and was assured by them that the men who did 
this had either sold their rations or lost them through 
gambling." 

The sad truth is that the poor fellows were hungry, and 
did not have the moral courage to abstain from eating 
this kitchen refuse. In punishment, upon one occasion, we 
dipped a chronic offender head foremost as far as his shoul 
ders in the swill and exacted from him a promise that he 
would never repeat the offense. All the rats which could 
be trapped were eaten, and to my knowledge one fat dog 
was captured by my messmates, cooked, and eaten. I was 
invited to partake; and, although the scent of the cooking 
meat was tempting, I could not so far overcome my re 
pugnance to this animal as an article of diet as to taste it. 
The only way to obtain a bit of extra bread was by barter 
with tobacco. 

292 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

In the last months of my prison life tobacco became the 
medium of exchange. Those of us who had money at 
headquarters received sutler s tickets in exchange, and with 
these we bought small plugs of black tobacco, which we 
traded for bits of bread and other food with those who 
would part with a small part of their ration for a chew of 
tobacco or a smoke. The unit of currency was a "chaw" 
of tobacco, cut about one inch square and a quarter of an 
inch thick. A loaf of bread, about three and a half inches 
wide and deep by seven inches long, was known as a "duf 
fer," and a cracker as "hardtack." The oil and marrow of 
beef bones, which were carefully split into fine particles and 
boiled, formed a prison luxury called "bone butter." The 
entire ration for one day was not enough for a single meal. 
As soon as bread was issued the more improvident de 
voured their loaves without waiting for anything else. 
When the wagon was late a crowd would gather as near the 
gate as they dared to approach and shout Bread ! Bread !" 
in a distressing chorus. The small piece of meat would be 
eaten at once, and after this, with the exception of a pint 
of soup issued to each man at sundown, nothing was received 
until the next day. The more sensible men restrained their 
appetites until the entire ration was received, and then di 
vided it in two portions, for a morning and an afternoon 
meal. There were seven men in my mess, and the piece of 
meat for this squad was divided into as many portions, so 
equally distributed that each member expressed himself as 
entirely satisfied before lots were drawn. To avoid any 
suspicion of partiality one member turned his back, and as 
the chief touched one portion and cried, "Who gets this?" 
the arbiter would call the name of the person to whom it 
was to be allotted. There was no appeal from this decision. 

293 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When vegetables were issued with the meat there was no 
soup at sundown. 

For the first three months of my imprisonment I was al 
most all of the time in the hospital, ill with pneumonia and 
measles and the prostration which followed. Early in 1864 
the "retaliatory order" from the office of the Secretary of 
War at Washington was carried into effect ; and our ration, 
already insufficient, was still further reduced. Although I 
could command all the money I wanted, I could not use it 
to purchase food from the outside. Moreover, we had no 
way of letting those ready and willing to send us food know 
of our want. Every line written was scanned, and any 
suggestion of lack of food or maltreatment caused the de 
struction of the letter. For a short time I was detailed as 
"camp messenger" at the prison headquarters, and while 
there I witnessed the method of "going through the mail" 
by the inspectors, who did not hesitate to appropriate their 
contents in the shape of prison-made trinkets inclosed to 
friends. A ring which I had bought from a prisoner and 
sent as a souvenir to my uncle, an officer in the Union ser 
vice, was never received by him. 

Naturally, men in such wretched surroundings were on 
the alert to escape, and some took desperate, often fatal, 
chances to regain their liberty. The wall of twenty feet, 
smooth on the inside, was so high, the sentinels so close to 
gether, and the approach so well lighted that an attempt 
to scale the parapet was virtually inviting death. The 
sentinels were on a walk-way so well concealed that only 
their heads and shoulders could be seen. At night strong 
reflectors were so placed that while the prison yard was as 
light as day the sentinels were invisible, and all beyond seemed 
doubly dark. A ditch sixteen feet wide and ten feet deep 

294 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

had been dug just inside the wall. In one dash for the 
fence two prisoners were killed and several captured. The 
survivors were disciplined by being tied with their backs 
to trees all through the remainder of the night. I saw them 
released the next morning in a most pitiable condition of 
exhaustion. On another occasion between thirty and forty 
prisoners made a rush for the fence at dark. Ladders 
hastily constructed by splicing bits of plank taken from 
the berths were used to scale the fence. Armed with stones, 
pieces of wood, and bottles filled with water, they over 
turned an outhouse into the ditch, crossed on this, placed 
their ladders against the wall, and attacked the guards, 
all of whom ran away. No one was killed, and the entire 
body of men succeeded in getting over the fence, although 
several were recaptured the next day. 

A number of tunnels were projected, but only one was 
successful, and four or five men escaped. The night fol 
lowing, a prisoner, foolishly hoping the outlet had not been 
discovered, essayed the same route, and as he stuck his head 
out the heartless guard standing at the hole, without giving 
the unfortunate man a chance to surrender, placed a gun 
against his head and blew his brains out. 

I was interested in two tunnels, one of which had to be 
abandoned on account of filling with water soon after it 
was started. In the other a shaft eight feet deep was sunk 
in the corner of a tent, and from the bottom of this in the 
direction of the fence, some sixty yards away, the tunnel 
was projected. One man would work in the tunnel, cut 
ting the loose earth or sand and gravel with a case-knife, 
and putting it into a sack, which was drawn back into the 
tent, and the contents concealed under a blanket until sun 
down. At dusk, after tucking the last few inches of the 

295 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

legs of our trousers into the tops of our socks, we would fill 
up from above with as much loose dirt as we could carry 
without attracting too much notice, and then stroll uncon 
cernedly in the direction of "the Potomac." Reaching the 
middle of one of the various planks or small bridges across 
this stream, the trousers leg on one side and then on the 
other would be pulled out of the sock and the gravel and 
sand allowed to drop into the water, where it disappeared. 
When very near completion this tunnel also was discovered, 
to our great disappointment. 

Of the cruel indignities to which the prisoners were sub 
jected I witnessed only a small proportion. I saw Corporal 
Augustus Baker, a man whose heartless conduct toward us 
entitles him to painful notoriety, shoot a prisoner for leav 
ing the ranks after roll-call was ended but before "Break 
ranks" was commanded. The man was too eager to warm 
himself at a fire only a few feet distant from the line. It 
was a bitter cold morning ; the poor fellow had no overcoat 
or blanket with which to cover himself, and he ventured to 
the fire. Baker drew his pistol, saying with an oath, "I ll 
show you how to leave ranks before you are dismissed!" 
and deliberately shot him down. The wound was not fatal, 
but the intent was murderous. The commanding officer tes 
tified after the war that he had never known of this shooting. 

On April 1 6, 1864, one guard, at a single shot, the minie 
ball passing through the bodies of both, killed James Beattie 
and Michael Healy, who were walking in front of him on 
garbage detail outside the prison quarters. I was with 
one of these men as he was dying, and heard him solemnly 
assert in the presence of death that they had made no at 
tempt to escape, had disobeyed no order, and that he and 
his comrade had been deliberately murdered. 

296 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

On various occasions I saw prisoners beaten with sticks 
for no other provocation than that they would not move 
quickly to get out of the way or cease talking when the 
patrol was passing. At one time I saw an officer with a 
stick of firewood knock two men down, leaving them un 
conscious. To discourage all efforts at escape an order was 
enforced that a prisoner when obliged to go to the sink at 
night should not wear a coat. Two men from my barracks 
one intensely cold night infringed upon this rule, were de 
tected, and compelled to mark time in the deep snow for 
so long that one of them was frost-bitten and parts of both 
feet were lost from gangrene. He died from exhaustion on 
the train on which we were being carried to Baltimore in 
February, 1865. 

Another constant source of unhappiness and discomfort 
was from vermin. Try as one would, it seemed impossible 
to avoid them. Finally the nuisance became so unbeara 
ble that the Vigilance Committee in our barracks forced a 
general inspection and cleaning-up. Men were compelled 
to strip, their hair was closely cropped, and their apparel 
dipped in a caldron of scalding water. It is not pleasant 
to think, much less to write, of such disgusting conditions, 
but I feel that the repulsive side of war should be given 
along with the heroic, which is always emphasized. I saw 
in one of these crusades a forlorn wretch standing as naked 
as when he made his advent into the world trying to thaw 
out his wardrobe, which had frozen stiff as it came out of 
the boiling water. We were not long in discovering that the 
law of gravitation applied to vermin as well as to other pon 
derable matter, and that the berths of the top row were 
less infested; so those of our committee and the cleaner set 
quietly organized a syndicate and bought out the top bunks. 

20 2Q7 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Our efforts at exclusiveness naturally excited comment, 
and not infrequently we were referred to as the " top-bunk 
aristocracy." United States Senator Pasco, now living at 
Monticello, Florida, was among our select group of top- 
bunkers. 

To half a dozen prisoners who could command the means 
the privilege was accorded in 1864 of having constructed at 
their private expense a small one-room shanty and of living 
in it. I was invited to join the group, and I would have 
gladly done so had it not involved the desertion of my two 
comrades who in cold weather were largely dependent on 
my extra blankets. My uncle, Mr. David A. Smith, of 
Jacksonville, Illinois, who as a young man had practised 
law in the same circuit with Mr. Lincoln and was intimately 
acquainted with him, secured from the President a parole 
and desired me to come and live with him and continue my 
studies at the University of Illinois. As the acceptance of 
this parole until the war was over would carry the implica 
tion of desertion in case an exchange of prisoners took place, 
I felt bound to decline the generous offer. My uncle then 
endeavored to have the parole modified so that I might 
remain until exchanged, but Mr. Stanton would not consent 
to this. It was a great temptation, but the last words my 
mother and father had said to me were, "Don t forget that, 
although you are only a boy and all we have, we would 
rather have you come home in a coffin than dishonored." 

History records few instances of the considerate treat 
ment of prisoners of war. In the late conflict with Russia 
the conduct of Japan stands out as an exception. In our 
war both sides were grievously at fault. We of the South 
ern side cannot wholly excuse Andersonville, albeit we have 
much in extenuation. I saw this prison-pen two months 

298 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

before the surrender, and no good reason could be advanced 
for not providing better shelter for the inmates. The ma 
terial was at hand in the great pine forests in sight, and 
the prisoners should have been made to protect themselves. 
The failure to do this was due to that indifference which 
characterized the management of nearly all the prison-pens 
on both sides. The fault was naturally with the one man 
who was actually in charge. 

When in 1891 my article in the Century Magazine ex 
cited so much discussion, the commandant of this prison 
who was in charge during my imprisonment testified that he 
had never heard of Corporal Baker shooting a prisoner, I 
stood within a few yards of Baker and witnessed the whole 
cruel proceeding. There were other witnesses. Yet the 
man who should have been held responsible and whose duty 
it was to protect prisoners never knew of it until he read 
my article twenty-seven years after it occurred. 

The " retaliation act" of the United States government, 
reducing in 1864 the ration of the prisoner of war, was 
one of the most cruel acts of this unhappy period. This 
authorized starvation caused the death of thousands by 
lowering their resistance to the diseases incident to ex 
posure. The Confederates did not have the proper food 
in quality or quantity to give to their prisoners. The rec 
ords show that the prisoners at Andersonville were getting 
the ration issued to the Confederate soldier in the field. In 
the winter of 1864-65 the Confederate commissary-general 
reported that "the Army of Northern Virginia was living 
literally from hand to mouth. * Beef sold at six dollars a 
pound, and flour at one thousand dollars a barrel. At 
one time, pleading with his government for food, Lee 
said that for three days his men had been in line of 

299 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

battle and had not tasted meat. These are truths of 
record. 

At the North there was no such excuse. Their granaries 
were full, and the world was open to them. The Union 
prisoners at Andersonville were in general unaccustomed to 
coarse corn meal, and this, with the conditions due to a hot 
climate and the malarial mosquito and other insects which 
spread disease, will account for the difference in the ratio 
of mortality. The official records of the United States 
government show that of every thousand Federal prisoners 
held in captivity by the Confederacy one hundred and fifty- 
three died. At Camp Morton the records show that one 
hundred and forty-six of every thousand died. At Ander 
sonville three hundred and thirty-three of every thousand 
Union prisoners perished. At Elmira, New York, two hun 
dred and forty-five of every thousand Confederates died 
(War Department Records). 

The Confederates had no quinine to check the ravages 
of malaria. They appealed directly to Washington for a 
supply for use at Andersonville, and offered to have it con 
veyed by the agents of the United States government under 
proper escort and distributed by them to the prisoners. 
The United States government refused to accede to this 
humane request. Later the Confederates offered to turn 
over these prisoners without exchange if the Washington 
authorities would send a fleet of vessels to some convenient 
point on the coast to receive them. Several months elapsed 
before these ships were sent, and in the period of delay sev 
eral thousand more deaths occurred. Well may the New 
England historian Rhodes conclude, "We of the North can 
not afford to throw stones at our brethren of the South on 
the question of the treatment of prisoners." 

300 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

In the final analysis it is evident that the real cause of 
all the suffering and death which the retention of soldiers 
in prison-camps entailed during the Civil War is traceable 
to the war policy of the United States government, which 
in 1863 refused all further exchange of prisoners. This 
was a part of General Grant s policy of attrition. When 
forced to declare the real reason of it he said: "It is hard 
on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them ; 
but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our 
battles. If we commence a system of exchange we will 
have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If 
we hold those caught they amount to no more than dead 
men." 

In the last week of February, 1865, I was included in a 
list of five hundred convalescents too feeble to fight to be 
sent to Richmond for exchange. While in active service 
in the field I had never missed a single day from duty. The 
pneumonia contracted in the cold, damp cell in the Nash 
ville penitentiary was followed by measles, and then by a 
dysentery which left me in a very low condition. The good 
doctor took pity on me and kept me on light hospital duty, 
and not only had me placed on the list for exchange, but, 
to my great gratification, included the name of an able- 
bodied friend who had shown me great kindness during 
my long illness and who was detailed as an orderly to look 
after the wants of the invalid prisoners in transit. 

There have been few happier moments in my life than 
when we marched out of the prison-yard, the outside of 
which I had not seen for sixteen months. At the station 
in Indianapolis we were placed in (freight) box-cars, the 
floors of which were covered with straw, and started for 
Baltimore. The weather was cold, the rivers we crossed 

301 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

were frozen over, and the country covered with snow. The 
only fire on our train was in the locomotive, but the deep 
bed of straw kept us fairly warm. Two armed guards sat 
one at each of the side-doors, which were kept partly open 
for ventilation. Through these limited apertures, as we 
passed the various stations, I noticed with no little aston 
ishment the crowd of able-bodied men in citizen r dress. It 
was plain that the North had enough at home for another 
army when it might be needed. About midnight, as we 
were nearing Cumberland, Maryland, rounding a short 
curve, our engine collided with that of another train. I 
was sound asleep and did not hear the crash, but felt my 
self sliding along the floor with a pile of men in the loose 
straw in which we were lying side by side as thick as we 
could be placed. No one in our car was seriously hurt. 
After daylight one dead man was removed. He was the 
frost-bitten prisoner already mentioned, and I think his 
death was due to exhaustion as much as to accident. We 
were on the edge of a high bank or bluff, and just below on 
one side was the Potomac River solidly frozen over. 

From the station in Baltimore we were marched to the 
wharf and placed in the hold of a large transport. As we 
came to one of the crossings where a number of persons were 
halted to let us file by I noticed standing at the curb, 
within a few feet of where I was walking in the street, a 
woman whose dress of mourning struck me as being in har 
mony with the sad yet beautiful expression of her face. It 
was the first womanly face I had seen in many and many 
a day, and as I passed gazing into her eyes, in a voice so 
full of tenderness and sympathy that it brought the tears 
to my own she said, "God bless you, my child. * With a 
mother s intuition she had read my thoughts, and as I 

302 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

trudged on with that throng of prisoners, thinking of my 
own mother, whom I hoped soon to see, I could not rid 
myself of the sad thought that I had passed in the shadow 
of a mother s grief for her boy who would not come again. 
Were I an artist, how I would love to paint that portrait! 

And what strange things come about! Forty-five years 
later the University of Maryland did me the very great 
honor of conferring on me the degree of LL.D., and I went 
to Baltimore to attend the graduating exercises. My train 
was twenty minutes late, and when I met the provost at 
the Opera House he greeted me with : Dr. Wyeth, we were 
afraid something had happened. The audience is waiting a 
little impatiently for your address." As this was the first 
intimation I had received that I was expected to say a word, 
the shock I experienced may be imagined. When we came 
on the stage, and I faced that array of thousands for the 
vast amphitheater, aisles, and foyer were packed with loyal 
Marylanders I was racking my brain for something that 
might appeal to their sympathy. In that critical moment 
there flashed into my mind the memory of the voice and the 
sad face that greeted me long ago, and when the great wel 
come those dear people gave me was hushed I tried to tell 
them how much I appreciated it, and then with all the pathos 
with which I was able to invest it I told the simple story 
that was enacted in that far-away February morning in 1865. 
It touched every heart, and I knew I was at home. 

At Fortress Monroe, in sight of the spars of the Cumber 
land, which still projected above the water where the Mem- 
mac had sent her hull to the bottom, we were transferred 
to a side-wheeler and landed at Aikens Landing on the 
James River, some twelve or fifteen miles by land from 
Richmond. When we came in sight of our fortifications 

303 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and were turned over to the Confederate agent, those who 
had life enough to run broke for the works, but were stopped 
and led single file along a zigzag path to avoid the line of 
torpedoes. Several miles from the city we received a gen 
erous ration of corn-pone. At dark, worn out by the long 
walk of ten hours, we straggled into the capital of the Con 
federacy. The signs of dissolution were in the air. My 
companion and I wandered into a hospital and were allowed 
to spread our blankets on the floor between two of a long 
row of cots in one of the wards. At daylight we took up 
our beds and walked. In a small shop I saw a single cold 
baked sweet-potato, and, as two years had elapsed since I 
had tasted so great a luxury, I gave five dollars for it, and 
the same for half a pound of butter. There was no use for 
anything smaller than five dollars; and, as my jacket was 
padded with Confederate money I had bought with chaws 
of tobacco in prison, I had only to make a hole in the lining 
to draw on the bank. 

In the shadow of the Washington statue in the Capitol 
grounds, my friend and I ate a rare breakfast of corn-bread 
and sweet-potato and butter. Our paroles carried with them 
a sick-leave of thirty days, and at dark on March i, 1865, we 
climbed to the top of a dilapidated box-car, which, like four 
others, inside and out was packed and jammed with invalid, 
semi-invalid, and wounded soldiers sighing for their homes. 
As long as we could sit on the runway plank in the middle 
of the car-roof we felt fairly safe; but, as the two brakemen 
were giving a continuous performance of running back and 
forth to put on or loosen the brakes, we spent most of the 
night holding on to this plank to keep from spilling off as 
we rocked and bumped along at a six-miles-an-hour rate. 
It took us eighteen hours to reach Danville, a run of about 

304 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

one hundred and ten miles. During most of the night a 
cold, drizzly rainfall made it unnecessary to be on the look 
out for the shower of sparks which the wheezing, dilapidated 
old wood-burning locomotive was ejecting and which fell on 
us as scorching cinders. 

At Danville we sat down to a table and ate a real dinner 
for the first time in nearly two years. The bill was thirty 
dollars for two; but, as we had hot corn-bread and sorghum 
molasses for dessert, we were content. 

Our next transfer point was Salisbury, North Carolina, 
and here I made a lucky strike. Among the books I had 
read and laughed over in our home library was one entitled 
Major Jones s Courtship. It so happened that the author 
of this book was commissary and general factotum of trans 
portation here, and when I told him how much his work 
was prized at home, and in a general and quite fair way for 
an acquaintance just forming showed familiarity with it by 
appropriate quotations, my friend and I were forwarded 
without unnecessary delay, plus two days rations. 

The railroad gave out near the South Carolina line and 
nearly everything else except the kindness of heart and the 
courage of the women and the few cripples and old men 
who lived in the swath of desolation cut by General Sher 
man, who said war was hell and realized his definition. My 
friend and I trudged along on foot day after day, making 
anywhere from ten to twenty miles a day, eating what those 
noble people gave us, and sleeping on their porches or in 
the empty corn-cribs or stables. We were too fresh from 
Camp Morton to venture into the beds of civilization. The 
chief article of diet all along this route was "lye-hominy," 
and with it we fared very well. The weather was getting 
warmer, and after a number of days we reached Washing- 

305 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ton, in Wilkes County, and again found railroad transporta 
tion. 

The latest news I had from my parents was that our home 
had been burned, and that they and my two sisters had 
found refuge in Lee County, Georgia, near Wooten Station, 
on the Macon & Southwestern Railroad. At Macon we 
slept, or tried to sleep, on shuck pallets arranged in the base 
ment of the town-hall for transient Confederate soldiers. 
There were more reasons than one for sitting up swarms 
of them and one excellent reason for sitting still, since the 
place was so dark that he who ventured forth never knew 
over whom he would fall at the next step. Somewhere in 
the long period of darkness there occurred a ludicrous in 
cident which caused a great deal of merriment to forty-eight 
of the fifty unfortunate mortals who were wishing it were 
day. One veteran, who had scratched himself into a frenzy, 
couldn t hold in any longer, and, being convinced at two 
o clock in the morning that the President of the Southern 
Confederacy was responsible for all our woes, growled out 

savagely, "G - d Jeff Davis, anyhow!" While I did 

not approve of the language or condone the sentiment, far 
from getting angry over the explosion of disloyalty, I thought 
it something to laugh at. There was present, however, 
down toward the far end of the room, a man who took a dif 
ferent view, for he shouted, "I can whip any d traitor 
who curses President Davis!" Although neither could see 
the other, each started in the general direction of his un 
known antagonist, and, of course, fell over the man and the 
pallet next to him. In the general confusion which ensued 
forty-eight of us, who were grateful for anything that prom 
ised merriment, voted the fight a draw and laughed the 
other two into good-humor. At the peep of day my bunk- 

306 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mate and I sought the station and boarded the first train 
for Wooten Station, where we arrived in the afternoon. 

We drove the three miles to the plantation, and surprised 
my mother and the home folks, who had not heard from me 
for a long time. It was to me the one never-to-be-forgotten 
home-coming. 

Without consultation with the new arrivals a wash-tub 
of hot water, soap, towels, and two complete changes of 
clothing were provided in one of the outhouses from which 
we emerged wearing misfit suits belonging to my father and 
my sister s husband. While this remote corner of Georgia 
had been drawn on heavily for supplies, it was so far removed 
from the scene of hostilities that there remained a plentiful 
supply of all the necessaries of life, and these my companion 
and I enjoyed to the fullest. 

By the time my furlough expired the war was practically 
over, although we had not yet heard of Lee s surrender nor 
of Lincoln s assassination. Deeming it my duty to report 
to my regiment, supposed to be in front of Wilson in middle 
Alabama, I started thither, reaching Macon, Georgia, on 
the 2oth, just as Wilson s riders came into the outskirts of 
the city. Seeing a company of Georgia State troops in 
line near the railroad-station, I joined them. We were told 
to march into the breastworks. We had not proceeded far 
when we were halted by an officer, who said he had orders 
from General Howell Cobb to surrender Macon and its 
garrison to the Federal commander. I remarked to the 
militia officer in charge of the company to which I had 
attached myself that I did not consider that General Cobb 
had any authority over me, as I belonged to General For 
rest s corps, adding that I had just come out of a Northern 
prison and would rather die than go back, and intended to 

307 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

try to escape. He was a plucky young man, and he said 
at once, "If it s as bad as that I ll go with you." The 
Union cavalry by this time were galloping toward us, and 
stray shots were heard as he and I ran across the street in 
front of the Brown House, then the leading hotel in Ma- 
con, and dodged into the Southwestern Railroad station. 
Through this we hastened at our best speed and ran out 
along the track across the open stretch to the palmetto 
thickets in the Ocmulgee bottoms. We were not the only 
fugitives, and as we sped across the open space for four or 
five hundred yards there was a scattering fusillade. I did 
not hear any bullets whizzing our way, and doubt very 
much whether any of the shots were aimed at us. 

It was now getting quite dark, and we continued along 
the edge of the brake, bearing south. About ten o clock 
we approached a camp-fire, and, crawling toward it, came 
near enough to recognize Federals around it. Passing 
around them, we came to the track of the Southwestern 
Railroad and continued down that to a point twelve miles 
beyond Macon, where we slept the rest of the night. At 
daylight we continued to follow the track, and about noon 
my comrade and I saw a man walking toward us. As he 
came near I noticed he was young, not more than twenty- 
five, and dressed in citizen s clothes. His face, neck, and 
hands were tanned very brown, and when I greeted him and 
he replied I detected at once his Northern accent and sus 
pected he was an escaping prisoner from Anderson ville, 
which camp was located on this road a few miles farther 
south. I warned him he was our prisoner, and he broke 
down, crying, "For God s sake, don t take me back to that 
place!" The young officer and I were deeply touched by 
his plea, and we felt that we would not be doing an act of 

308 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

disloyalty by paroling this young fellow and letting him 
go on to his comrades in Macon, which place we told him 
he could reach by dark if he kept up a stiff pace. We took 
him to a house, wrote out a parole, which he swore to and 
signed, and we copied. I gave him twenty dollars in Con 
federate money and a small piece of corn-bread. I wrote 
out and gave him the name and address of a relation in 
Illinois, to whom I requested him to write when he arrived 
at his home in Connecticut. He was the most grateful 
human being, I think, I ever saw. At Fort Valley we 
caught a train which had ventured that far toward Macon, 
and our walking ended. I reached the plantation next 
day. The war was over, and my career as a solider had 
ended. 

JOHN JONES 

An experience of my prison life proved to me the truth 
of the maxim that "misery makes strange bedfellows." 
The misery of Camp Morton brought me in contact with a 
man for whom I formed a deep and lasting friendship, and 
yet one whose identity was never revealed. I have no doubt 
that my small stature, boyish appearance, and generally 
pitiable condition appealed to his sympathy. I had been 
seriously ill with pneumonia, complicated with an attack 
of measles, and was just convalescent enough to be dis 
charged from the hospital and sent back to one of the cold, 
uncomfortable, and desolate cattle-sheds in which we were 
partially sheltered, and which only by military courtesy were 
called barracks. I was the "small boy" of the prison yard, 
as I had been of the regiment, and I remember how long it 
seemed to me before I "grew up." On one occasion a good- 
hearted lady in a surprised way asked me if I was a soldier, 

39 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and when I told her I was she said, "Well, you ought to be 
at home with your mother." 

I was alone, walking up and down the inclosure not only 
for exercise but to keep warm, when a fellow-prisoner whom 
I had never before observed fell in by my side, and, with 
the very truthful remark, "You look hungry," handed me 
two warm biscuits which he took out of his coat pocket. As 
I hadn t seen a biscuit in a very long while, my expression 
must have told him that I was not only gratified but sur 
prised; and when I asked him where he got them he said, 
"I m head cook in the hospital kitchen." My new ac 
quaintance was fully ten years my senior, of ordinary height, 
well built, and of erect, military carriage. Despite our mis 
erable and unclean surroundings he was noticeably neat 
in appearance. Handsome of face, he possessed that to 
me always attractive and comparatively rare combination 
dark-blue eyes and a fair complexion with very black hair, 
eyebrows, and mustache. There was that indefinable some 
thing about his expression which told one that despite the 
quiet dignity which was in evidence as he spoke it would 
be best not to tread on his toes unless by accident. He told 
me his name was John Jones and that his home was in 
northern Arkansas. He was too resourceful to spend a 
cold and hungry winter in an overcrowded prison-shed and 
had found a soft berth in the hospital kitchen, which he re 
tained as long as he stayed in Camp Morton. 

Had I been a younger brother he could not have shown a 
greater solicitude or have watched over me with more ten 
der care. In the hours which did not demand his presence 
at his duties we would walk together, or when I was laid 
up, which was much of the time, he would sit with me and 
wait on me, seemingly without a thought for himself. When, 

310 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in February, 1865, five hundred " hopeless invalids" were 
called off for parole to be sent South, and I was of the num 
ber, he and I asked that he be included as a hospital nurse 
to wait on the more helpless invalids; and we came away 
together. From Richmond he accompanied me to the ref 
ugee home of my parents in southwest Georgia. Much 
of this wearisome journey was made on foot, and the spring 
rains made the walking bad and the streams deep, and 
through these my devoted comrade waded with me astride 
his back, as if I were a child to be kept from a wetting. The 
joy of our arrival in the home of cleanliness and :peace 
and pier cy is mentioned elsewhere. After resting and recu 
perating some two or three weeks, he told me he intended 
to make his way across the Mississippi to visit his home, 
from which he had not heard for several years. 

As we were parting he said: "When the time comes, if 
I reach home safely, I will write you my real name and tell 
you why I have been under an assumed name for the last 
three years. I can tell you this much, that you may know 
there was nothing of dishonor in what I did. Soon after 
the Union army occupied our section of northern Arkansas 
one of their officers was guilty of a gross insult to one of my 
sisters, and I shot him dead. I was outlawed, of course, and 
escaped to the South and volunteered under the name by 
which you knew me in prison." 

From some point in Mississippi he wrote that he was 
having great difficulty in getting across the river, which had 
overflowed the lowlands and was twelve miles wide. He 
declared that he would try to make his way across, and that 
he was just starting to make the attempt alone in a small 
canoe. That was the last from my faithful comrade and 
friend. To pick one s way through a maze of tree-tops and 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

driftwood, through ten miles of dead water without a channel 
or landmark to steer by, was a hopeless task; and I have 
never doubted, since after the reconstruction period he 
failed to write or visit me, that he perished in the daring 
venture. 



XXI 

AFTER THE WAR 

WHEN the prison tunnel in which I was interested was 
near completion, on the day before the attempt to escape 
was to be made I removed the heel of one boot, and with 
my knife made a cavity in the thick leather large enough 
to hold a ten and a five dollar greenback bill, which my 
aunt who came to visit me while I was in the hospital with 
pneumonia had given me. The bills were folded or crumpled 
into the smallest possible bulk, which for better protection 
was enveloped in a bit of letter-paper, and the heel nailed 
again in place. When the attempt failed I had no need of 
the money, and I allowed it to remain undisturbed until 
I reached home some four months later. When the war 
ended a month thereafter this was the sum total of current 
funds in our immediate family. 

All the railroads in the South which could be operated 
were taken over and run by the United States government, 
which gave our family transportation to Decatur, Alabama, 
by train and thence up the Tennessee by steamboat to 
where Guntersville had been. With the exception of half 
a dozen dwellings, which were spared because they sheltered 
the sick or wounded too feeble to be removed, the village 
had disappeared. Nothing but tumble-down walls and a 
mass of brick debris was left of our home. The nearest 
shelter which could be obtained was in a log house on Sand 

21 313 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Mountain, five miles from town, and in this my parents 
found a temporary abode. We were not wholly unprepared 
for the scene of desolation about us. As we came west on 
the train nothing but lonesome-looking chimneys remained 
of the villages and farm-houses. They were suggestive of 
tombstones in a graveyard. Bridgeport, Stevenson, Belle- 
fonte, Scotsboro, Larkinsville, Woodville, Paint Rock in 
fact, every town in northern Alabama to and including De- 
catur (except Huntsville, which, being used as headquarters, 
had been spared) had been wiped out by the war policy of 
starvation by fire. Farm-houses, gins, fences, and cattle 
were gone. From a hilltop in the farming district a few 
miles from New Market I counted the chimneys of the 
houses of six different plantations which had been de 
stroyed. About the fireplaces of some of these, small huts 
of poles had been erected for temporary shelter. 

Northern Alabama had paid dearly for the devotion of 
her people to the cause of the South. Nowhere in the Con 
federacy had such ruin been wrought, save in the path of 
desolation along which the march to the sea was made, or 
perhaps in the valley of Virginia, in obedience to the order 
to leave it so desolate that "a crow flying over would have 
to carry its rations." Our county of Marshall had suffered 
in a double sense, being overrun for the last year and a half 
of the war by bands of marauders who robbed the defense 
less people of the little the two armies had left. The story 
of their forays would make a bloody record. The narration 
of one tragedy which was enacted on a small island in the 
Tennessee River may give an idea of the awful conditions 
which prevailed. Buck Island was then almost wholly cov 
ered with dense cane. Hither five men, non-combatants, 
had fled for a hiding-place, and had taken with them the 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

few cattle which had escaped impressment. In the depths 
of the cane-brake they had constructed a pole cabin for 
shelter. A Confederate soldier named C. L. Hardcastle, 1 
wounded and on furlough, a relation or friend and neighbor, 
slipping in to visit his family, came to stay all night with 
the refugees. Toward morning they were aroused from 
sleep to find their cabin surrounded and themselves in the 
hands of the notorious Ben Harris and his band, who had 
learned of their retreat and had come for their cattle. 
Being a far-sighted man and well known to the Rodens 
and their guest, Harris gave them five minutes for prayer, 
after which he made them stand in a row along the river- 
bank, and, to make sure of a clean job, with his six-shooter 
he put a bullet through the hearts of five of the six and 
thought he had done the same with the sixth man. This 
man was Hardcastle, who told me that as Harris came down 
the line, placing the muzzle close to the left side of the chest 
of each victim as he fired, he made up his mind to drop 
quickly a little before he was shot, which he did, and the 
ball missed a vital spot. Feigning death, he was dragged 
with the other five bodies and thrown into the river, the 
current of which washed them down-stream as they were 
sinking. Holding his breath, he floated under some drift 
wood lodged against a fallen tree and concealed himself 
behind a log. The bullet had struck a rib and taken a 
superficial course. When the murderers walked off to 
round up the cattle he crawled out and into the cane, and 
in this way made this marvelous escape from death. I 
knew the men who were killed. 

The war experiences of the home people were, however, 

1 This man, a respected citizen, still survives (1914), at Margerum, in Jack 
son County, Alabama. The details of this gruesome tragedy I had from him, 

315 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

not wholly tragic. There were occasional glimpses of the 
serio-comic in which the comical features predominated. 
Our natures are such that we love to turn away from sad 
things and forget them by laughing when we may. One of 
these experiences was Uncle Dan s retreat from Gunters- 
ville when the Union batteries first shelled this unfortunate 
village. Another, as the sheriff related it, was his narrow 
escape from the Fourth Ohio Cavalry when in 1862 it 
dashed into the town early one morning, to the surprise of 
everybody; but I have yet to tell how two young lads 
belonging to the same company surprised and captured 
themselves in the streets of their native village in 1864. 

The two actors were playmates of mine who were old 
enough to see service as "Home Guards" the last year or 
two of the war. They told it on themselves to me, and it 
was witnessed by several residents. During all of 1864 and 
the spring of 1865 Marshall County was the scene of active 
hostilities, not only between scouting parties of regular 
soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies, but between 
bands of Tory marauders, who paraded in Federal uniforms, 
and small squads of Confederate Home Guards under par 
tisan leaders. Some few of the Tories had been Union men 
all along, but were wise enough to keep discreetly quiet 
until the Federals occupied the country. Most of them 
were poor whites who had dodged conscription by hiding 
out in the mountains near their cabins when the Confederates 
were in control, and came into view as soon as the Federals 
appeared. Some few were deserters from our army, but all 
were united now in their love of country by the cohesive 
strength of a desire to plunder the helpless. As these men 
of the two sides had known one another before the war, it 
may be imagined that what is described as "feeling" ran 

316 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

about as "high " between them as it could run. Toward the 
last it was considered a waste of time to surrender, even if 
cornered without hope of escape. The recognized practice 
was to sell out as dearly as possible and keep shooting 
as long as a trigger could be pulled. 

Ben Harris had led off in a practice of extermination 
which put Cromwell to the blush. The conqueror of Ire 
land knocked only every tenth prisoner on the head, but 
Captain Ben overlooked none, and just to be sure that no 
detail was omitted he was his own executioner. I have told 
of the six he stood up in a row and shot on Buck Island, and 
there were others. When the Home Guards caught up with 
the Tories, their former neighbors, and any survived the 
immediate collision by throwing up their hands, they were 
carried by what was known as "the Short Road to Gads- 
den." One hour was considered time enough for the guards 
to make the seventy-two-mile trip to this particular Gads- 
den and return. 

On the day in question Bent Adams, from a command 
ing eminence, scanned the valley and saw hanging on the 
clothes-line in his mother s yard something white, which 
signal meant "the town is clear." Had it been red or blue, 
Bent would have rested content upon the distant heights. 
As it was, he rode into the village, and, sitting on his horse 
(for in those perilous days nobody dismounted in town), 
was conversing with his mother at the gate. Tom Ander 
son, a member of Bent s squad, had from another hill also 
read the signals, and he cautiously rode into the suburbs. 
Having been successful as scouts, these two enterprising 
youths had acquired and, as it was a frosty morning, were 
wearing each a warm, very blue Yankee overcoat. As 
Tom s horse turned the corner of Main Street, some three 

317 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

hundred yards off, and he saw a lone Yankee or Tory he 
wasn t sure which in the road ahead of him his first im 
pulse was to turn and run; but Bent was too quick for him 
and ran first. Neither of these two men was a coward, but 
the circumstances fully justified what Sheriff James Swiverly 
called "quick action" and the practice of that discretion 
which ancient Falstaff declared to be "the better part of 
valor." Bent didn t know how many more Yankees were 
coming round the corner following their leader, and felt sure 
it was better to gain the other side of the Long Bridge, a mile 
away, and find out there than to take the foolish risk of 
allowing a whole squad to get right on him at full speed be 
fore he started. Therefore he wheeled and ran as fast as 
his steed could go. 

Seeing only one Yankee or Tory, and that one running 
away, Tom changed his mind and tactics simultaneously, 
and, whipping out his six-shooter, he stuck the spurs to his 
charger and began pursuit. For half a mile down Main 
Street the two horsemen sped, the women and children lean 
ing out of the windows, not certain whether it was a fight 
or a horse-race. Tom s mount was so much superior to 
Bent s that by the time the latter was checking up to make 
a safe turn around the corner at Corn well s store to get into 
the straight reach of roadway leading to the bridge the pur 
suer was near enough to begin to empty his army pistol 
at the fugitive, who, to avoid being hit, was now lying as 
flat on his horse s neck as his anatomy could be applied. 
Having made the turn with safety, Bent ventured to glance 
back, and, seeing only a single pursuer who had already 
expended four of his six shots without effect while his own 
battery was as yet intact, took his pistol out of the holster 
and eased up on his speed, determined to settle accounts at 

318 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

close quarters. A few moments later, pulling the reins 
and wheeling suddenly about, he was in the act of firing 
into Tom s chest at close range when Thomas, recognizing 
his chum, yelled out as loud and distinctly as he could 
shape the sentence, "Don t shoot, Bent; it s me!" and 
Bent, not yet lowering his weapon, replied: "Tom, you d 
fool! I ve a great notion to blow your brains out, anyhow." 

A distressing feature of the situation in our section was 
that the returning soldiers reached home too late to plant 
a crop; and, as the fields were uncultivated in 1864, the 
country was destitute of the simplest necessities of life. 
My father had built a small room or shed, taking advantage 
of the fireplace and chimney of his former office, and began 
to re-establish his law practice, coming to town three days 
of each week. As the courts had not been reopened, he had 
little or no law business, but he had many calls for help 
to which he was sorrowfully unable to respond. In the 
adjoining counties of Blount and De Kalb the same dis 
tressing conditions prevailed, and finally he was told that 
one or two persons had died of starvation. Within six hours 
he was on the way north to procure supplies. At Nash 
ville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and elsewhere he told of the dis 
tress and suffering of our section, and the generous people of 
those cities came nobly to the rescue. Train-loads of com 
missary supplies and clothing were forwarded by the Louis 
ville & Nashville Railroad without charge for transporta 
tion. He established relief stations in each of the three 
counties of Marshall, Blount, and De Kalb, and there was 
no more starvation. The crops of 1866 came to the rescue, 
and the days of hunger and extreme poverty in the Valley 
of the Tennessee were of the past. 

Meanwhile, I had found employment as superintendent 

319 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of a large cotton plantation in Franklin County, where at a 
salary of fifty dollars a month I remained for eighteen 
months, living happily as a member of a refined family and 
the trusted agent of a generous and appreciative employer. 
I had hoped the active, out-of-door life of a planter might 
enable me to rally from the effects of the long illness in 
prison; but a cough, which followed the complication of 
pneumonia with measles, still held on. Reluctantly I re 
signed my position and sought a healthier environment in 
my father s new home on the dry, elevated plateau of Sand 
Mountain, a spur of the Appalachian Range. With a splen 
did saddle-horse and a waterproof outfit that defied the 
most inclement weather I lived out of doors for a year in 
the rare atmosphere of this salubrious region, buying and 
selling cattle and produce. In 1867 I began the study of 
medicine, matriculating in the Medical Department of the 
University of Louisville for the session ending March, 1868, 
and for the same period the following session, graduating 
in 1869. 

In the four years which had elapsed since the soldiers of 
the Confederacy had returned to their homes, laboring for 
the support of their families and the rehabilitation of their 
country, there was being attempted by the leaders of the 
radical wing of the Republican party then in power the 
perpetration of the most monstrous political crime in the 
records of history. The infamy which is associated with 
the partition of Poland sinks into insignificance when com 
pared to that which justly attaches to the effort to hold 
in subjection to an alien negro race, but a few months before 
in bondage, the white people of the South, the former 
owners of these freedmen. 

Keeping alive the bitterness which a long and bloody 

320 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

civil war had engendered, under the adroit leadership of 
Thaddeus Stevens, Ben Wade, and James G. Elaine, this im 
mortal triumvirate of "Wavers of the Bloody Shirt " so played 
upon the fears and prejudices of the electorate of the North 
as to maintain themselves in power for years and to secure in 
the national Congress legislation favorable to their schemes. 

To the freed slaves the franchise was given without re 
strictions. The only qualification was color and a certifi 
cate of slavery. The best white people of the South were 
not allowed to vote. My father was disfranchised, while Pey 
ton, one of our former slaves, who still lived with us, perform 
ing the same service he had done before he was freed, an 
nounced himself as a candidate for the legislature ! A com 
pany of negro troops garrisoned my native town where my 
parents and sisters were living, and another was stationed in 
Tuscumbia, the county-seat of Franklin, where I was working. 

Backed by these soldiers for the Southern states were 
partitioned off in military districts elections were held, 
and the state and county governments were handed over 
to a horde of adventurers, the "carpet-baggers," who, 
hailing from all quarters of the earth where many of them 
had neither local habitation nor name, swarmed into the 
country; to the "scalawags," the unrecognized and unprin 
cipled "down and out" white natives; and last, but not 
least, to the negroes, their easily handled tools, stunned al 
most to irresponsibility by the suddenness of their advance 
ment and pitifully drunk with power. Small wonder that 
for a while this combination ran riot with the South. The 
situation was fitly described by the negro who said, "De 
bottom rail s on top now." l 

1 It is gratifying to record that among the number who had seen actual 
service in the Union army, and who in the spirit of adventure came into the 

321 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

At first the ex- Confederates were submissive and silent. 
They looked on at the strange happenings with sadness and 
amazement, and later with indignation, as they realized 
that the safety of their wives and children was endangered. 
The awakening came when the carpet-baggers and scala 
wags undertook to effect the military organization of the 
freedmen in the various counties and states. It was then 
that there sprang into existence, almost in a single night, 
throughout the southern country that weird invisible army 
whose weapon was Terror. The Ku-Klux Klan in its origin 
was composed of the best citizens of the South, principally 
young men, many of whom had grown up while the war 
was going on, but led by the veteran soldiers of the Con 
federacy. 

The history of my own county will suffice to illustrate the 
method of the Klan. The negroes were meeting at night in 
the suburbs of Guntersville, where they were harangued 
and drilled by a carpet-bagger who had had himself elected 
to some profitable office. Within a fortnight an ex-lieu 
tenant of my company and an ex-captain of the Army of 
Northern Virginia, without reproach both as soldiers and 
citizens, disguised with masks and gowns, late at night, at 
the muzzle of a pistol arrested this man, conducted him 
into the woods a mile from the village, stripped him to the 
waist, and thrashed him with hickory switches until he 

South at this period, seeking political preferment, were a few who soon real 
ized the injustice and impracticability of "Reconstruction" as formulated by 
the heartless conspiracy at Washington. Abandoning the politics which fa 
vored negro supremacy, they identified themselves with the material develop 
ment of the South. Captain Elliott, who came to my native village in com 
mand of the negro garrison, made his home there and died after many years, 
loved and respected by all. Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. Warmoth, of General 
McClernand s staff, who became Governor of Louisiana, is now one of the 
largest planters in that state and closely identified with its development, 

322 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

begged for mercy. They then told him that if he was in 
the county at sunset of the next day he would never get 
beyond its limits alive. They didn t have to kill him, but 
they would have done it had he not left, never to be heard 
of again. The leading negroes were called to the doors of 
their cabins at dead of night by mounted and masked 
men who in sepulchral tones told them that the ghosts of 
the dead from the battle-fields were wandering back to warn 
them to beware of strangers and stay at home on election 
days. In extreme cases, in which danger of recognition 
involved arrest and punishment (for Congress was quick 
to enact rigid laws against the Klan), notice was sent to the 
Klan of an adjoining county, and these rode over at night 
to carry out the wishes of their brothers, who could estab 
lish thus readily the essential alibi. Terrifying the negro 
until he withdrew from politics was not the work of a month 
or of a year, but it went on with grim determination and 
ultimate success. With the progress of the movement the 
white interlopers read the writing on the wall, fled the 
country, and the native whites of the South came again into 
their own. 

This organization originated in 1866 in or near Pulaski, 
in Giles County, Tennessee. Thence it spread, swift as a 
prairie-fire, over the entire South. The head man, whose 
power was absolute and whose orders had to be obeyed 
without regard to consequences, was known as the Grand 
Wizard of the Invisible Empire. Immediately under him 
were his ten Genii. There was a Grand Dragon of the 
Realm and his eight Hydras, and other mysterious sub 
divisions of authority. They had printed and scattered 
over the country at night placards setting forth the object 
of the Klan: "To protect the weak, the innocent, and the 

3 2 3 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the 
lawless, the violent, and the brutal; to aid the oppressed, 
to relieve suffering, and especially to help the widows and 
orphans of Confederate soldiers." 

A writer in the American Encyclopedia said: "Its decrees 
were far more potent and its power more dreaded than that 
of the visible commonwealth, which it either dominated or 
terrorized." It is estimated that its membership numbered 
at one period half a million. By 1869 its mission of scaring 
the negro away from the influence of and political associa 
tion with the adventurers and carpet-baggers was accom 
plished, and it was then disbanded and dispersed as quietly 
and as mysteriously as it had come. 

Nothing could better illustrate the malice and brutality 
which had free license in this unhappy period than the 
riveting of irons upon the ankles of Jefferson Davis, ex- 
President of the Confederate States. A man of noble 
character, his whole life as soldier and statesmen above re 
proach, of delicate physique and in ill health, securely 
locked in a double casemate in Fortress Monroe, and so 
strongly guarded that escape (had he contemplated it) was 
hopeless, was thrown to the floor and held forcibly by sol 
diers under the orders of Charles A. Dana and Nelson A. 
Miles, while iron anklets chained together were riveted by 
blacksmiths on his legs. Read Mr. Dana s description of 
the prison written to Secretary Stanton: 

The arrangements for the security of the prisoners seem to me as 
complete as could be desired. Each one occupies the inner room of a 
casemate; the window is heavily barred. A sentry stands within before 
each of the doors leading into the outer room. Two other sentries stand 
outside of these doors. An officer is also constantly on duty in the outer 
room, whose duty is to see the prisoners every fifteen minutes. The 
outer door of all is locked on the outside, and the key is kept exclusively 

324 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

by the general officer of the guard. Two sentries are also stationed with 
out that door, and a strong line of sentries cuts off all access to the vicinity 
of the casemates. Another line is stationed on the parapet overhead, 
and a third line is posted across the moat on the counterscarps opposite 
the place of confinement. The casemates on each side and between those 
occupied by the prisoners (Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay) are used 
as guard-rooms, and soldiers are always there. A lamp is constantly 
kept burning in each of the rooms. . . . Before leaving Fortress Monroe 
on May 226. 1 made out for General Miles the order. ..." Brevet Major- 
General Miles is hereby authorized and directed to place manacles and 
fetters upon the hands and feet of Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay, 
Jr., whenever he may think it advisable in order to render their imprison 
ment more secure. By order of the Secretary of War. 

C. A. DANA, 
Assistant Secretary of War." 

This order was General Miles s authority for placing fetters on Davis 
a day or two later, when he found it necessary to change the inner doors 
of the casemate, which were light wooden ones without locks. While 
these doors were being changed for grated ones anklets were placed on 
Davis. They did not prevent his walking, but did prevent any attempt 
to jump past the guard, and they also prevented him from running. As 
soon as the doors were changed (it required three days, I think) the 
anklets were removed. 

This equivocation does little credit to the head or heart 
of the scholarly Assistant Secretary of War. His descrip 
tion above given shows that changing a wooden door for 
a grated door was no excuse for this brutal act. There were 
still two grated doors heavily barred between the prisoner 
and the prison -yard; then three lines of sentinels, and, 
above all, the inside of a great fortress surrounded by a 
wide, deep moat, and soldiers and guards everywhere. 

Nor were the irons removed because the new grated doors 
were in place. They were removed on the protest of Dr. 
Craven, the United States Army Surgeon called to attend 
the sick prisoner. "You believe it, then, a medical neces 
sity?" asked General Miles. "I do, most earnestly," re 
plied the doctor; and the manacles were then removed. 

325 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

No less a personage than the Secretary of the Treasury, 
Hugh McCulloch, visited Mr. Davis at Fortress Monroe, 
and he publicly stated in his Men and Measures of Half a 
Century that he had for a time been barbarously treated. 
Despite the high position of the one and the record of gal 
lantry as a soldier of the other Charles A. Dana and Nelson 
A. Miles cannot escape the judgment of posterity that at 
least on this occasion they shrank from the dimensions of 
human beings. 



XXII 

A MEDICAL STUDENT IN 1867 THREE YEARS IN ARKANSAS 
STEAMBOATING AND CONTRACTING 

THE medical department of the university I attended 
was in 1867 one of the oldest and deservedly best known 
of the medical colleges in the United States. The course of 
study and the standard of requirements then prevailing at 
this school may be taken as typical of medical education 
in the United States at that period. There was no prelimi 
nary or entrance examination. Any white male who could 
read and write and who had mastered the rudiments of 
English was eligible. Neither Latin nor Greek was essen 
tial. 

The requirements for graduation were a satisfactory ex 
amination at the end of two college terms of seven months 
each. The division of subjects was: anatomy, physiology, 
surgery, medicine, obstetrics, chemistry, and materia med- 
ica. Anatomy was thoroughly taught, and the didactic 
course was supplemented by dissecting-room work of a high 
class. While material was not over-abundant, there not 
then being the same liberal construction of the law relating 
to the disposition of the unclaimed dead which now prevails, 
the activity of our dissecting-room janitor kept us in a 
sufficient quantity of cadavers. How he got them we did 
not know, and it probably was just as well that no inquiry 
was instituted. His name was Peter. Students inclined 

327 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to disrespect spoke of him as "old Pete," but those who 
had been brought up under the influence of the Westminster 
Confession baptized him "St. Peter," the rock upon which 
our anatomical church was founded, and to whom it was said 
the keys of Cave Hill Cemetery had been given. In physi 
ology there were no laboratory exercises ; no practical demon 
strations of the living structures and of the functions of the 
normal organs. 

The teaching of surgery and medicine was almost wholly 
didactic. When an operative clinic was given the students 
witnessed it at such distance from the subject and with so 
many interruptions of vision that it was impossible to fol 
low closely the details of technique, without which the lesson 
of a demonstration is valueless. Not once in my two college 
years did I enter the ward of a hospital or receive instruc 
tion by the bedside of a patient. 

This is not in the least a reflection upon our teachers, but 
upon the system then in vogue. The greatest names in 
medicine in our country had been or then were associated 
with this institution. In the lectures on medicine we were 
told that the cause of malarial and yellow fever was a miasm 
emanating from decaying vegetable matter subjected to a 
temperature of from eighty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit 
for about thirty days, and that those who slept upon the 
ground floors of buildings suffered most, while those who 
occupied the second, third, and higher floors escaped the 
baneful effects in the direct ratio of their elevation. The 
same comparison was used in the discourse upon yellow 
fever, citing the fact that in the Louisville epidemic few, if 
any, persons sleeping upon the upper floors of houses were 
affected. Knowing as we do now that the mosquito is not 
prone to fly high, that he infests the lower floors of houses, 

328 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

seldom reaching the third or fourth floor, we can under 
stand readily the error in etiology on the part of our pro 
fessor of medicine. The teaching of obstetrics was entirely 
didactic. In my two terms of study I examined only one 
gynecological case, while in chemistry and materia medica 
the instruction was in the lecture-room to the whole class 
instead of with working sections in the laboratory, and 
there was no course of study in microscopy or urinary 
analysis. 

I was graduated in the spring of 1869. I had been look 
ing forward to the day when I should receive my diploma 
and start out on my career as a practising physician and 
surgeon; but I can never forget the sinking feeling that 
came over me when I unfolded this sacred document in the 
privacy of my own room and realized how little I knew and 
how incompetent I was to undertake the care of those in 
the distress of sickness or accident. However, like Macbeth, 
who was so far advanced in blood that it was as easy to 
go ahead as to recede, I felt I might just as well do as my 
predecessors had done and let the world take its chances. 

The possessor of a pair of doctor s saddle-bags, which 
held two rows of medicine-bottles, diminutive apothecary 
scales for weighing dosage, two forceps for extracting teeth, 
and a small minor surgical operating set of instruments, and 
last, but not least, a tin sign, I rented an office in my home 
town of Guntersville, Alabama, and after dark one night in 
March, 1869, I tacked my sign to "the outer wall." 1 It 
was the irony of fate that my first call was obstetrical. If 
there was anything in the world I didn t want it was this 
kind of a case; but I didn t have the courage to back out. 

1 The rest of this quotation from " Macbeth " could not apply to my 
practice. "The cry is still, They come!" 

22 329 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

I thanked God it was a normal labor, for I had nothing to 
do but tie and cut the umbilical cord and tell the mother it 
was a boy. A strapping young farmer with lobar pneu 
monia came next, and he survived. For my first surgical 
operation I rode twenty-three miles and back the same day. 
My preceptor, an ex-army surgeon, gave the chloroform, 
and looked on as I dissected out some sort of tumor from 
the shoulder-blade of an elderly lady, whose resistance en 
abled us to register it as successful. 

As we were starting home the appreciative and grateful 
husband told us he didn t have any money, but, pointing 
to his apple orchard, then in bloom, said he had a "still," 
and would send us a barrel of apple-brandy in the fall. He 
kept his word, and I realized twenty dollars for my share. 

Then came my Waterloo in a case of diabetes mellitus 
which progressed rapidly to a fatal termination. I cannot 
describe my feelings nor measure the depth of my depres 
sion and despair as I watched this patient die. I was over 
whelmed with the conviction that I was unfit to take the 
grave responsibility of the life and health and happiness of 
those who might be willing to place themselves under my 
care. I needed a clinical and laboratory training under 
teachers of experience, and I determined to give up my 
practice until I could secure this training. That night, two 
months after I had tacked it up, I took my sign down and 
put it in my trunk, where it reposed for several years. 

Three of these years were spent in Arkansas, whither I 
had gone to earn the money needed to go to New York or 
Europe for postgraduate study. Having learned that a 
railroad contractor with whom I was acquainted was look 
ing for a superintendent of one of his enterprises in Arkansas, 
I applied for the position, and was employed at a salary of 

330 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

seventy-five dollars a month, with the understanding that 
either of us could cancel the engagement at the expira 
tion of three months. My destination was the head of 
navigation on Little Red River, a tributary of White River. 
At Memphis I boarded a palatial side-wheel steamboat en 
gaged in this trade. The cuisine was excellent, the rooms 
and beds were clean and comfortable. There could not 
have been a more delightful mode of travel than by the 
steamboats which plied the Mississippi and its tributaries 
at that period. 

When we turned from the Mississippi into the mouth of 
White River there was no sign of land. What the river- 
men call the "June rise " was on. A winding sheet of water, 
margined by the tree-tops of the impenetrable forests on 
either side, was the channel, and up this for nearly fifty 
miles we steamed before the first land was seen. Above 
this point the water was "in banks," and the crookedness of 
this stream was noticeable. In one of these countless bends 
or loops the cutting of a canal seventy-five feet long would 
shorten navigation by five miles. 

In carrying on our contract we had in use a stanch stern- 
wheel steamboat and a number of barges for towing stone 
from the quarries to De Vall s Bluff, where the railroad 
bridge was being built. On these frequent trips I spent 
practically all of my time in the pilot-house, learning to 
steer the boat and making sketches of the river in its 
various windings, studying the location of snags, " sawyers," 
and other hindrances to navigation, as well as noting the 
course of the currents in different parts of the stream. In 
three months I had learned how to handle the boat, even 
with the heavy tow descending the White River, which, 
by reason of its narrow and tortuous course, required more 

33* 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

than ordinary care in handling a boat with heavy barges 
lashed to its side and in front, around these short bends, 
many of which were complicated with the presence of snags 
or trunks of trees which had fallen in from the banks and 
were partly submerged. Later on my acquaintance with 
the river and practical knowledge in handling a steamboat 
was of considerable value, as I became the master of this 
boat and barges and stood my watch regularly .as a pilot, 
saving a monthly expenditure of one hundred and fifty 
dollars, the salary then in vogue. 

We discovered and opened a magnificent sandstone 
quarry on Upper White, in Independence County, about 
fifteen miles above Jacksonport by land and twice this dis 
tance by the winding river. This stone formation lies in 
strata varying from one foot to three feet in thickness, and 
so true (or level) that not infrequently the block could be 
squared to one of its undressed and untouched surfaces. 
Much of it had, running in a general direction with the 
seams, beautiful wavy tracings of red and yellow and blue, 
which produced a striking effect on the finished product. 
One block I quarried and transported the one hundred and 
twenty miles by barge to Augusta, which was used in my 
jail contract for the lintel over the main doorway of en 
trance, was eighteen inches wide, two feet high, and ten 
feet in length. As it was for a jail door, I was in doubt for 
a while whether to inscribe on it the line from Dante, "Who 
enters here leaves hope behind," or the name of the builder 
and date. But vanitas vanitatum! when I left Arkansas 
those who went to jail and could read saw over that door 
in bold letters, "Wyeth 1872." 

This busy life was enjoyable, and I found no little in 
terest in the association with my employees, who were of 

332 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

several nationalities and at least two colors. For six days 
of each week I had breakfast by lamplight in order to have 
every one up and ready for work by the time it was light 
enough to see. We took an hour from twelve to one for 
dinner and resting, and then kept going until dark. I 
worked (manual labor) by the side of my men, and learned 
not only to quarry and cut stone, but took a turn nearly 
every day at the forge, and became sufficiently expert in 
tempering the steel "chisels and points." Barney, my good- 
natured Irish blacksmith, used to give me the directions, 
"From a cherry-red to a sky-blue, and then chill it," which, 
being interpreted means that the cutting-edge of the steel 
implement after it is properly shaped on the anvil should be 
heated, not to a white-heat, but to a bright red, like a half- 
ripe cherry, then held just touching the cooling water until 
it assumes a sky-blue shade; and at that moment immersed 
so it would hold that color. These hardy, fine fellows never 
gave -me any trouble or concern, excepting when on rare 
occasions "inspiring bold John Barleycorn" did for them 
what it did for Tarn o Shanter. I showed them every kind 
ly consideration, whether sick or well, but very occasion 
ally when alcoholism got the best of any I was compelled 
to be firm, or maybe severe. 

One Sunday a wildly drunken stone-cutter tried to stab 
a fellow- workman, who ran to me for help. His pursuer 
would not listen to reason, but turned on me. As he raised 
his hand to stab me I was fortunate enough to knock him 
senseless with a piece of flooring-plank which lay convenient 
to hand. 

As good-luck would have it, we were isolated from drink, 
for it was fifteen miles to Jacksonport, the nearest saloon 
town, and during our busiest period in this quarry the river 

333 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

was so low that the steamboats were not running. Usually 
I walked to town on Saturday afternoon, much of the dis 
tance along a trail through dense cane-brake, returning with 
the weekly mail for all hands and reaching camp by dinner 
time of Sunday. The " Trail of the Lonesome Pine" was 
populous in comparison with this path that I tracked so 
often on foot, with a wall of cane on either side so thick 
one could not see a dozen yards to right or left. There was 
just one lone settler s cabin on the fifteen-mile trip. 

On one of these Saturday-afternoon trips to the post- 
office at Jacksonport I concluded to go by the river route, 
the distance being fully twice as great on account of the 
crooked stream. As the water was too low for the steam 
boats, I started alone about noon in a small skiff, and paddled 
steadily, hoping to reach town by supper-time. Night came 
on, however, when I was some ten miles from my destination, 
and, seeing a light on the shore, I landed, to find myself in 
the camp of some loggers, and a very tough-looking lot of 
fellows they were. Had I suspected who they were before 
I reached the shore I would have kept well out in the 
stream and gone on supperless without attracting their 
attention, for the men who engaged in lumbering in those 
lonely outfits in the vast cypress-brakes of the White River 
country right after the war belonged very frequently to 
that reckless and roving class who had civil or military 
histories that were better unwritten. 

Nothing was left, however, but to bluff it through; so 
I tied my boat and walked up to the crowd near the fire, 
where they were just commencing supper, greeted all hands 
in hail-fellow-well-met fashion, and made myself at home. 

They gave me generously of the good, substantial food they 
had coffee and corn-bread and fish fried in bacon grease 

334 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

for, as at my camp twenty miles farther up the stream, this 
beautiful Upper White River provided their main article 
of diet. When I got ready to leave, the head man, who 
would not accept the proffer of payment, told me that if I 
cared to stay all night they could furnish me with a blanket. 
I thanked him, said "Good-by," got in my boat, and soon 
drifted out of sight into the black night and the silence. 
With the exception of the occasional splash of some fish 
leaping out of the water either in play or more probably 
in the panic of trying to keep from being eaten by some 
larger fellow, or the lonely screech of an owl, the deep, im 
pressive stillness of the river and the wilderness was un 
broken. As this section of Upper White was in my run as 
pilot of the Converse, when the water was "in stage," 1 not 
withstanding the darkness, I knew it like a book. I had 
made drawings of every bend and bar and snag, marked 
each place of danger, even for night work, by the breaks 
or inequalities of the timber-lines on either bank; for even 
in the darkest nights the tree-top lines stand out a black, 
well-defined silhouette against the lighter background of 
the sky. I felt very much at home, for this river was to 
me as a friend, and the solitude was not unwelcome. That 
exquisite line of Byron came to my mind then, as many a 
time before and since 

Nor deem it solitude to be alone. 

I knew there were seven miles of slow water with a current 
of about two miles an hour to the head of Music Shoals, 
three miles above Jacksonport, and that when I reached the 
chutes I would have all the excitement and exhilaration 
any one could wish for in guiding my small craft over those 

1 Deep enough to carry the boat over the shoals, 
335 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

bars and swirls and falls; so I laid my oar across the skiff, 
nestled down comfortably, and floated on dreamily with the 
tide. Had I been sleepy I would not have yielded to the 
desire, for I knew full well if I should happen to be asleep 
when my skiff shot into the rapids I would get a ducking 
or a drowning, either of which would be objectionable. I 
could keep awake, but was unable to throw my memory 
cells out of commission, and, naturally, my thoughts were of 
the river upon which I was being borne and of this particu 
lar "reach." l And then there flashed into my mind a 
ghastly picture registered about a year previous, when, 
bowling along up-stream on my swift steamboat the Con 
verse, as we swept round this bend I saw from the pilot 
house, perched on some object floating on the surface, one 
of those huge, red-beaked, bare-necked, and repulsive buz 
zards so common in this part of the South. It was evident 
ly carrion upon which he was feasting, and he was so hungry 
and intent on gorging himself that he only flapped his great 
wings and flew away when the prow of our boat was nearly 
on him. To my horror, as I leaned over the side of the pilot 
house above the hurricane-deck to see what kind of dead 
material it was, I recognized the swollen body of a man. 

Just as this lugubrious picture was floating as floated 
the dead man through my mind, I became conscious that 
another craft was in the river; for coming behind me I 
distinctly heard the rhythmical stroke of a paddle, such as 
is used to propel the light shells or dugouts from which 
the expert lumbermen in the overflow fell with axes the 
giant cypress-trees, taking advantage of the high water to 

1 Rivermen use many strange expressions. A straight piece of river is 
called a "stretch." A "reach" may be slightly curved. A "bend" is a bit 
of river sweeping more or less abruptly around a "point" or tongue of land, 
etc., etc. 

336 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

get above the trumpet-like and faulty expansion of these 
queer trees, which extends from ten to fifteen feet above the 
ground. 1 I suppose the thought of the dead man had set 
me to speculating on the possibility of danger, and now I 
began to wonder what any one else but myself could be 
doing on this lonely stretch of river at this hour of the night. 
Then, as I recognized a double stroke with paddles and ap 
preciated the fact that whatever it was it was coming rapidly, 
I thought at once of the hard faces I had seen around the 
loggers camp-fire, and that possibly a brace of them had 
judged that a man who sported a gold watch and chain was 
really worth while. In any event, I made up my mind 
that I didn t want company for any part of the remainder 
of my journey that night, so I picked up my oar and quietly 
guided my boat close in to shore, where, under the black 
shadow of a dense willow-tree which leaned over the river, 
I was safely out of the possibility of being seen. Without 
a sound save the almost noiseless stroke of the paddles as 
they glided swiftly by, the invisible craft went on. I gave 
them half an hour of leeway, and then drifted on with the 
current. It was midnight when my skiff shot into the first 
or upper rapid of Music Shoals, through which, at from six 
to eight miles an hour and with equal rapidity through the 
other two, my light craft glided into the still waters at the 
Jacksonport wharf. 

In these years immediately following the Civil War not 
only was the river full of delicious fish bass, buffalo-perch, 
blue catfish, and other eatable varieties but the woods 

1 These shells, usually made from the ash-tree, vary in length from twelve 
to twenty feet. The smaller craft can bear only one man, and he must sit 
or kneel, or, if very expert, stand in the center. Some of these lumbermen are 
so skilful that they stand erect in their canoes, which are not anchored or 
tied, and fell these giant trees. 

337 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

abounded in all sorts of wild birds and animals, which had 
increased greatly during the four years they were free from 
being hunted while the men were off in the army. I have 
never heard a weirder sound than the howl of a pack of 
wolves presumably hungry when they would venture at 
night near our camp. Deer were so plentiful that any ex 
cursion into the brush of the uplands or second bottoms 
would start up a herd of from six to a dozen. I killed with 
my Colt army pistol on one occasion a fine buck as he ran 
right through our camp. They seemed to avoid the low 
lands or cane-brakes, and for good reason: the cane grew 
so thick they could not jump or run through it. 

It is difficult to imagine anything more suggestive of 
helplessness and loneliness than one of these vast and seem 
ingly endless stretches of cane, with now and then an open 
slash full of tall and stately cypress-trees, with their thou 
sands of knees," or dwarfed, stump-like roots, sticking up 
in the air from two to four feet high. These cypress- 
knees were to me always suggestive of the tombstones in 
a neglected graveyard. 

Near the mouth of Little Red River an accident to the 
machinery compelled me to tie the Converse to the bank for 
an hour or two, until the engineer could repair the break. 
For at least ten miles on either side stretched the practical 
ly impenetrable wilderness of cane. Just where we hap 
pened to land a small ravine, the outlet to a cypress-swamp, 
opened into White River. As it was the dry season, this 
ravine offered an open trail to the interior; so, taking my 
ever-ready six-shooter, I started out alone on a tour of ex 
ploration. After going about a mile, with the cane growing 
so dense to the very edge of the ravine on either side that 
a man could not get through it at any point without worm- 

338 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ing his way flat on the ground, it opened abruptly into a vast 
and comparatively open forest of giant cypress- trees. Many 
of these were over a hundred feet high, with not a limb to 
mar the beauty and symmetry of their trunks until near the 
very top, where the branches spread out not unlike an open 
parasol. A number of eagles nests were built in their tops, 
and the shrill screams of these birds and the occasional 
flute-like notes of a heron perched on one of the "knees" 
were the only sounds. Coming to a low place where the 
ground was not yet thoroughly dried, I was attracted by a 
print which had the toe-marks of a human foot. As the 
heel was missing, I realized at once that it was the new- 
made track of a big black bear and then it suddenly oc 
curred to me that the engineer had had time to repair his 
machinery and I had better hurry back to the boat. Not 
far from this neighborhood I passed in the river an old native 
hunter who had in his dugout three bears he had killed 
that morning. 

This overflow cane-brake land was considered worthless 
when I lived in Arkansas (1869-1872), and on one occasion 
at a public sale for taxes at Augusta I bought on a venture 
some eight thousand acres in one body, the price ranging 
from twelve to fifteen cents an acre. The land was the 
property of ex-President Jefferson Davis and a Mr. Coxe, 
who, I believe, was his brother-in-law. The law specified 
that if not redeemed within two years the sheriff could 
make a perfect title to the buyer for taxes. Three days 
before the expiration of the time the owners redeemed their 
lands by paying double the amount I had paid for the 
property. I was told in 1908, while on a brief visit to 
Arkansas, that these lands had been sold in recent years at 
twenty-five dollars an acre. When cane can be used for 

339 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

making paper or for any commercial purpose the overflow 
lands of the South will be of great value. 

From my perch up in the pilot-house of my steamboat 
I have witnessed more than once the thrilling panorama 
of a burning cane-brake. After a prolonged drought, when 
the leaves wither and are as dry as paper, cane will burn 
almost as fiercely as the grass on the Western prairies, 
though not nearly so rapidly. The roar of the blaze and 
the million explosions of the joints is the best imitation of 
the rifle-fire in a great battle I have ever heard. It is simply 
deafening. This variety of cane has from six to twenty 
cavities or joints, each of which is a short, closed cylinder 
containing a certain quantity of moisture. As this becomes 
heated it expands and " blows up the boiler," as Jack, my 
old, faithful engineer, expressed it. 

After a year and a half as superintendent I became asso 
ciated with my employer in a contract to erect some pub 
lic buildings for Woodruff County, which undertaking was 
carried out successfully and to the entire satisfaction of all 
concerned. The county authorities and the citizens were 
so desirous of having these buildings completed at the 
earliest possible date that they offered a bonus of one 
thousand dollars if they were turned over for use three 
months ahead of the date specified in the contract. A pro 
longed low stage of water in Upper White River prevented 
our bringing out the last barge-load of stone essential to 
the completion of the work. After a long and anxious wait 
a telegram informed me that a four-foot rise was on its way 
down from the Ozark Mountains, and I repaired to Jack- 
sonport, an important shipping - point thirty miles below 
the location of our quarry, and there arranged with a New 
Orleans steamboat to bring out my cargo. It was ten 

340 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

o clock of a bitter cold, sleety night in February when I 
started on horseback overland to reach the quarry by day 
light in order to have the barge loaded and ready by noon, 
when the Seminole was due on the return trip, and this was 
my last and only chance. 

I have good reason to remember that ride. Next to the 
ride around Lebanon with Morgan on the Christmas raid 
in the blizzard which overwhelmed us in 1862, this was the 
coldest ride I have had and the longest night I ever experi 
enced. It was very dark, alternately sleeting and snowing. 
I had to ferry over Black River where it empties into White. 
The ferryman lived on the far side; and, although in addi 
tion to hallooing with all my lung-power I fired my pistol 
several times at his cabin, I had no response, and I was 
compelled to go six miles farther up this stream to where I 
knew the man who kept the ferry lived on my side. At 
daylight I was at my destination, and was ready when the 
friendly steamboat took me in tow. By the first of May, 
1872, my contract was finished, and I received the extra one 
thousand dollars, which, with other earnings, enabled me to 
resume my medical studies in New York City. 

I had lost three years out of my professional career, 
which was a great loss, but I had gained in business experi 
ence and profited by the larger view of life which my neces 
sities had forced upon me. I shall never cease to be appre 
ciative of the kindly consideration with which I was treated 
by the generous people of Arkansas of every political shade 
and in every condition of society. The wealthy citizens of 
Augusta proffered and gave me financial aid in the prose 
cution of my work, and, although during my sojourn the 
bitter and relentless political war between the carpet 
baggers and the native whites was going on, the partisans 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of both sides, realizing that mine was in the nature of a 
public position, vied with one another in helping me. It may 
be that my training as a pilot had suggested that the best 
water was near the middle of the river, and then I have 
never forgotten that trite quotation from the ALneid, * media 
tutissimus ibis." In any event, I sailed safely between 
Scylla and Charybdis and furled my canvas in the harbor 
of the metropolis, my future home. This is all so far back 
in the past it would seem that it ought to be forgotten or 
lost in the rush and confusion and worry of this modern life 
that knows not peace; but the fascination of the river holds 
me to this day, and I live it over in my dreams, awake as 
well as asleep. 

On my way to the East I traveled three days by steam 
boat from Little Rock on the Arkansas River up this at 
that time shallow and difficult stream to Fort Smith, on 
the border of the Indian Territory. Wishing to get a glimpse 
of this region, I took the Overland stage to Muscogee, to 
which station the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad had 
just been completed. The huge Concord stage drawn by 
four horses left Fort Smith about eight o clock in the morn 
ing with eleven passengers inside. I was up in the front 
with the driver. We were soon reeling off mile after mile 
through the prairies of the Indian Nation, which at that 
season of the year were richly carpeted with the flowers 
and grass of the early summer. We changed horses every 
twelve or fifteen miles, taking our meals at eating-stations 
kept by "civilized" Indians, and about dark of the first 
day crossed a wide stream where it emptied into the Ar 
kansas. The darkness of the night made no difference to 
our Jehu, for he and the horses seemed to know every foot 
of the way, 

342 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

About two o clock in the morning we heard the rumble of 
distant thunder, and in the course of half an hour or so we 
drove into a terrific wind and rain storm accompanied by 
thunder and lightning in regular wild Western fashion. The 
horses could not face it, and bolted from the trail, turning 
so suddenly that only the skill of the driver prevented the 
coach from being upset. The vivid lightning and the crash 
ing thunder added to their fright, and, in the language of 
Little Breeches, they ran "hell-to-split" over the prairie. 
The driver and I tugged at the reins with all our might, and 
he put his weight on the brake; but for a while nothing 
could hold them down. It was an exciting moment for one 
passenger. I learned afterward that those inside had no 
idea of what was going on with us and the team, as the cur 
tains were fastened down and most of the insiders were 
asleep. The Jehu shouted to me that the situation was dan 
gerous, as we had left the trail, and that at any minute the 
horses might plunge into a sluice or gully and wreck the 
stage. He begged me to clamber down to the double tree 
and loosen the traces of the wheel-horses. I did not look 
favorably upon such an undertaking, but nothing else 
seemed to be left to save us from disaster; so I took the 
chances and finally unhitched the traces. The two lead- 
horses were not powerful enough to run with the whole 
load, and the driver soon pulled them to a stop. We then 
rested quietly until the storm blew over, and the stars came 
out as if nothing had happened. 

I recall vividly the myriads of fireflies which the rainfall 
seemed to have moistened into life. The prairies sparkled 
with their tiny flashlights until the flowers and blades of 
grass were clearly outlined, while above through the rarefied 
atmosphere in the aftermath of the storm the stars seemed 

343 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to be only just beyond our reach. This brilliant picture 
of heaven and earth lasted until the dawn put out all these 
lesser lights, and soon the whistle of the locomotive at the 
terminus told us we were near Muscogee. 

We found it a city of tents. There was only one frame 
house, the hotel, a one-story shanty built of undressed 
boards and primitive in every particular. In June, 1909, 
thirty-seven years later, I revisited this spot and found a 
rich and prosperous city of about forty thousand inhabitants. 

And now, in closing this chapter of my life in hospitable 
Arkansas, I venture to tell my catfish story. From the 
time of Jonah to the present date men who narrate their 
fishing experiences have run the risk of being elected to 
the Ananias Society. I have incurred danger too often in 
my checkered career and escaped too luckily to be deterred 
now from relating the following incident, which is told 
exactly as it occurred. As incredible as it may seem, I 
landed three catfish at one time with a single hook and line. 
While engaged in building the county jail at Augusta, and 
in towing the barges laden with the huge blocks of sand 
stone from the quarry on Upper White River to De Vall s 
Bluff, I relied largely for the meat diet of my employees on 
the excellent fish which were then abundant. It was our 
custom to stretch a stout trot -line across this stream, tying 
to this short lines, each with a suitable hook attached, about 
three feet apart. The hooks were baited properly at sun 
down, and early in the morning the line was "run" and the 
fish were taken off by a man in a skiff. On one of these 
hooks of rather large size I placed as a tempting bait a 
small catfish about five inches long. That he might be 
swallowed easily, the stiff side-fins were chopped off and the 
hook was carried through the tail. 

344 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

In running the line next morning, a number of fish of 
ordinary size were taken off, and as the big hook was ap 
proached I knew by the way the line was being whipped 
about that a fish of unusual size had been caught. When 
I came near enough I saw a tremendous catfish fastened to 
this particular short line. Projecting from its mouth there 
was at least six inches of the tail of another fish of the 
same species. When I realized that the small fish with 
which I had baited this hook was not altogether more than 
five inches long, my surprise may be imagined. Meanwhile, 
I slid the fingers of one hand beneath the gills of the large 
fish and hauled it into the boat. I then noticed, projecting 
through the abdominal wall of this fish, the point of the 
strong lateral fin of the one whose tail was sticking out of 
the monster s mouth. 

The mystery was then solved. There were three fish in 
this peculiar combination. The little fellow with the hook 
had been swallowed by the second fish, which was fully 
fourteen inches in length. The third had swallowed the 
second, head foremost, for about three-fourths of its length. 
It is a peculiarity of the anterior lateral fins of this species 
of fish that they can be folded back flat against the body, 
but when brought forward they are so hinged that they 
stop abruptly at a right angle to the axis of the body. 

No doubt when the huge fish discovered it could not swim 
away with its victim, an effort was made to disgorge, but 
in doing this the powerful sharp lateral fins expanded and 
hopelessly impaled him. To satisfy my curiosity I opened 
the stomach of the second fish, and there, with the hook, I 
found the macerated remains of the bait. Captain Joe 
Glover was in the boat with me when the catch was made. 
Some twenty-five years later this good friend, whom I had 

*3 345 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

not seen since our Arkansas days, was master of a steam 
boat in the Tennessee River trade. When we met we natu 
rally began to talk over old times in the West, and he asked 
me if I had ever ventured to relate our fish story. I replied 
that I had told it only to some intimate friends who would 
take my word that it was true. He then said: You were 
wise to exercise discretion, for I lost my reputation for 
veracity by telling of that experience exactly as it occurred 
to a lot of drummers who were traveling with me. It was a 
cold night, and we were sitting around the stove in the for 
ward cabin. When I finished they all got up and went out 
to get some fresh air; and there, after a consultation, they 
baptized me as Catfish Glover, the brother of Jonah and 
friend of Ananias !" 



XXIII 

AT BELLEVUE MEDICAL COLLEGE WORK IN THE DISSECTING- 
ROOM ASSISTANT DEMONSTRATOR AND PROSECTOR TO 
THE CHAIR OF ANATOMY BEGINNING OF THE PRIZE ES 
SAYS IN SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY THE STUDY 
OF GREEK, GERMAN, AND FRENCH 1872 TO 1878 

WHEN I arrived in New York City in October, 1872, I 
made a careful survey of the three medical schools viz., 
the College of Physicians and Surgeons, at Twenty-third 
Street and Fourth Avenue; University Medical College, at 
Twenty-sixth Street and East River; and Bellevue Hospital 
Medical College, within the inclosure of the great hospital, 
the name of which it bore. To my great surprise and dis 
appointment, there were no special courses for graduates; 
and, as clinical experience and practical anatomy were the 
chief attractions for me, I selected Bellevue College as offer 
ing the best advantages, and matriculated there in Novem 
ber, 1872. Attending the lectures in only three branches- 
surgery, medicine, and obstetrics I graduated, taking the 
ad eundem degree in March, 1873. The rest of my time 
was devoted to the clinics in surgery in the hospital and 
chiefly to dissecting. In order to become adept with either 
hand I worked unremittingly with my left hand until I 
became ambidextrous, and in all my active career this has 
been of inestimable value. 

Not only every surgeon, but every human being should 
be made ambidextrous. It is of vital importance to re- 

347 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

member this in the training of infants and children. The 
use of the preferred member (usually the right) should be 
discouraged and the opposite hand and arm encouraged 
until both are fully useful. By no other method can the 
human brain be brought to its full efficiency. 

While at Louisville I had devoted most of my time to the 
study of practical anatomy, and now at Bellevue, with an 
inexhaustible supply of material, I saw the opportunity for 
which I had longed. The demonstrator of anatomy was 
Edward G. Janeway, and I missed no chance to be of ser 
vice to him, as he had no regular assistant. The students, 
when he was over-busy or absent, soon got into the habit 
of coming to me for demonstrations, especially of the more 
complicated regions and organs. As the brain was consid 
ered the most difficult of all, I devoted a great deal of care 
ful study to it. Among those who had gathered around the 
table at which I was seated on the occasion of one of these 
demonstrations I happened to notice a middle-aged gentle 
man of distinguished appearance who seemed to be more 
than ordinarily interested. As we were leaving the college 
he joined me, and together we walked up Twenty-seventh 
Street to near Lexington Avenue. He wanted to know 
where I came from and what plans I had for the future ; and 
I told him I had come to New York to stay, and my main 
object at that time was to earn a living. He stopped in 
front of a very handsome brick house, and in a way which 
bespoke his sincerity as well as his kindness of heart said: 
"This is my home. My wife and I live here. We will be 
glad to have you live with us. You can pay for your board 
by tutoring me as your private medical student." I could 
not accept his generous offer; but he was for three years my 
private pupil until he took the degree of M.D. at Bellevue, 

348 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

He was already a graduate in arts, divinity, and law. A 
minister in the Presbyterian Church, he had been Presi 
dent of the University at Fulton, Missouri. When the war 
broke out, because of his strong Southern sympathy, he was 
arrested and given the alternative of a residence on parole 
within the limits of New York City or banishment to 
Europe or a prison. He chose the former. 

With no pulpit and no source of revenue, his great mind 
found its activity in invention, and the well-known instru 
ment to register in type by telegraphy the quotations of 
stocks and bonds "the ticker," now in universal use was 
the result; and from this he received an ample fortune. 
In later years he accepted the presidency of the University 
of Missouri, and in the course of time retired, and is now 
(1914), at a very advanced age, still in the full possession 
of his faculties, residing in Washington City. I was proud 
to be associated with this great and good man as his teacher 
in medicine, and grateful for the affectionate friendship he 
proved for me when I was a stranger in a strange land. 
When my Prize Essays on the Arteries was published, in 
1879, the volume was dedicated to "Samuel Spahr Laws, 
A.M., D.D., LL.D., M.D." 

During the winter of 1872 and 73 I made a dissection of 
a child of ten years, a dried preparation, arranged in the 
standing posture, with the muscles, arteries, veins, and 
nerves stained in appropriate colors. It fell under the eye 
of the professor of anatomy, Alpheus B. Crosby, a genial, 
gifted gentleman and the most popular lecturer at Bellevue. 
It led to an acquaintance and a warm friendship, which 
continued to the day of his untimely death in 1878. In 
1874, a vacancy occurring, he appointed me as prosector 
to the chair of anatomy. A year previous, within a month 

349 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of my graduation at Bellevue, Dr. E. G. Janeway had offered 
me and I had accepted the position of assistant demon 
strator of anatomy, and he and I made all the demonstra 
tions and did all the practical teachings of the dissecting- 
room for one session. A year later Dr. Joseph D. Bryant 
was made an assistant demonstrator, and, Dr. Janeway 
retiring from the active work, we ran the dissecting-room 
and organized what was known as the " faculty quiz," al 
though the faculty had nothing to do with it. Dr. Bryant 
and I divided subjects equally and covered the entire range 
of medicine and surgery. It was considered, and was, at 
least numerically, the most successful quiz ever known up to 
that period in New York. We had in one session ninety- 
six pupils, and we were both fully appreciative of the hand 
some and much needed revenue which our college association 
yielded. 

I began the study of pathology in 1875, under Dr. Jane- 
way, in his laboratory and as his assistant at autopsies in 
the morgue. I believe this was the first laboratory estab 
lished in New York. It occupied a part of the old Wood 
Museum over the morgue. With such a fascinating sub 
ject, and the new world which the microscope revealed, it 
was a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with this 
enthusiastic teacher. No one could be with him as in 
timately as I was and not catch the contagion. In our set 
every one was working under pressure. There were no 
loafers or shirkers. The fault, if it were one, was over 
work. By way of illustration, I recall one very busy day 
in July or August when a great many bodies were being 
brought in dead from sunstroke. We had made six exam 
inations of the brain in these cases and sawing off the 
top of the skull in order to examine and remove this organ 

-350 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

with the least possible injury is no light task, especially in 
sunstroke weather. It was nearly dark, and I was tired, 
and Dr. Janeway should have been, when the grim old 
keeper of the morgue approached us and said, "Nother sun 
stroke." I couldn t give in first, and he wouldn t, for he 
said quietly, after I had read in his expression that there was 
no escape, "Wyeth, we might as well take a look at it," 
and I proceeded to saw off the top of another cranium. 

The New York Pathological Society was the first scien 
tific organization I joined in New York City, and for many 
years I rarely missed a meeting in that dingy basement of 
the old College of Physicians and Surgeons at Twenty- 
third Street and Fourth Avenue. It was a great privilege 
to be brought in contact with the members of this society, 
for they taught me more than I could have learned else 
where. It was here that I first became acquainted with the 
great and good Dr. Abraham Jacobi, and laid the foundation 
of a lasting and affectionate friendship. 

As I had quit college at the end of my freshman year, and 
had never studied Greek, feeling now the need of at least 
a rudimentary knowledge of this language, I secured as 
instructor Mr. Virginius Dabney, a graduate of the Uni 
versity of Virginia, and will always be grateful to him for 
the patience he showed a not too apt pupil. I had studied 
French, and could read it satisfactorily. In the effort to 
learn to speak it, or at least to understand it when spoken, 
I took table board with a Parisian family resident in New 
York and remained with them for four years. Meal-time 
was the only opportunity for this, as all my other hours were 
occupied. Later with a tutor I undertook the study of 
German, and devoted as much time as I could afford to the 
grammar and in translations, and with a German family 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

repeated my French boarding-house experience of four 
years. This training was of inestimable value to me when 
in 1 88 1 I was appointed visiting surgeon to Mt. Sinai Hos 
pital, where very many patients could speak no other 
language than German. For a number of years I sub 
scribed for and read consistently the Gazette des Hopitaux 
and Centralblatt Jur Chirurgie, and bought the leading books 
on surgery and pathology in the French and German lan 
guages. To have access to all the dissecting material I 
could use was of incalculable value, and I not only utilized 
it for teaching purposes, but for scientific investigations. 

In one of his always instructive clinics in the great amphi 
theater in Bellevue Hospital Professor Stephen Smith called 
attention to the fact that in Syme s amputation at the 
ankle, as practised, there frequently occurred a sloughing 
of the posterior flap. In order to discover the cause of this 
I made a series of dissections (eighty-seven in all) of the 
ankle-joint and its blood-supply, which were embodied in 
an "Essay upon the Surgical Anatomy of the Tibio-tarsal 
Region, with special regard to Amputations at the Ankle- 
joint." This essay received in 1876 the annual prize of one 
hundred dollars offered by Professor James R. Wood to the 
Alumni Association of the Bellevue Hospital Medical Col 
lege for "the best essay on any subject connected with 
surgical pathology or operative surgery." In this same 
period I began my work upon the carotid arteries which 
led to an important contribution to practical surgery viz., 
the ligation of the external carotid artery. 

In a lecture upon the surgery of the neck Professor 
Frank Hamilton, one of the greatest surgeons of his day, 
author of a work on fractures and dislocations, which was 
the leading book on this subject during his lifetime, said 

352 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

that the branches of this artery were so irregular in origin 
and arrangement, and often so close together, that a ligature 
should never be applied to it, and he added that it seemed 
to be an exception to the general law of development of the 
arterial system in man. His teaching, which was strictly 
in accordance with the accepted methods of that time, was 
that the common carotid should be tied for all lesions in 
the distribution of the external branch. I heard this with 
great surprise, for if I had one absolutely fixed conviction 
it was that there could be no exceptions to the great law of 
development which, to my mind, was part of the harmony 
of the universe. There might be here and there abnor 
malities due to accident or to faulty arrangements and mal 
nutrition of the blastodermic cells; but these were of the 
individual, and not general. I went away from the lecture 
saying, "It can t be so, and I must prove it." This was in 
1875, and between this date and 1878 I made one hundred 
and twenty-one dissections of the human neck with especial 
regard to the origin of the branches given off from this 
vessel. Careful measurements with pointers and rule were 
made of the distance of every branch from the bifurcation 
of the common trunk and from one another. The demon 
stration was complete, that these vessels obeyed a law as 
fixed as that of the other arteries, and that the external 
branch could and should be tied, and that the common trunk 
should never be ligated on account of a lesion in the distribution 
of the external carotid. Going further into the literature of 
the surgery of the neck and tabulating all reported cases up 
to that date, I showed that in the entire history the external 
carotid had been tied only sixty-nine times, and the death- 
rate in these cases was only four and one-half per cent., 
while in seven hundred and eighty-nine cases in which the 

353 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

common trunk had been ligated the death-rate was forty- 
one per cent. 

While at this work in this same region I extended my in 
vestigations to the subclavian and innominate arteries, and 
embodied the entire work in one essay which was offered 
in competition for one of the two prizes to be given by the 
American Medical Association at the meeting at Buffalo 
in 1878. The report of the committee was as follows: 

Your committee to determine the merits of the prize essays would re 
spectfully report: That they have had three separate papers submitted 
to their inspection. Two of these papers present subjects of very great 
interest and show original research, but are too imperfect in the estima 
tion of the committee to command a prize. The remaining paper, in 
the judgment of your committee, is fully up to the requirements. In 
deed, the paper is so elaborate as to fill a large space in the volumes of 
the Transactions of the Association. The paper should be considered as 
two, and not as one. The analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine cases 
of operation on the carotid artery, and the careful and minute measure 
ments of the artery and its branches in one hundred and twenty-one sub 
jects, showing the range of variation and the percentage of the same, 
followed by inferences, bold and original, naturally constitute a paper 
complete in itself. Another one on the same plan, with reference to the 
innominate and subclavian, being an analysis of three hundred cases, 
and the observation of fifty-two subjects, is presented to us in such a 
manner that we may consider the whole as one prize, or they may com 
pete for both. 

Your committee believe that both prizes should be awarded to the two 
essays by one person. The motto is, " Tempora mutantur, et nos mulamur 
in illis." 

R. M. MOORE, Chairman, 
THOS. LOTHROP, 
H. R. HOPKINS, 
W. W. MINER. 
BUFFALO, NEW YORK, June 6, 1878. 

These essays were printed by the association and widely 
distributed, and the demonstration accepted by surgical 
writers and operators throughout the world. To the date 

354 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of publication of these essays there was not a work in sur 
gery in the English, French, or German languages which 
did not condemn the operation I now insisted upon. Within 
five years from that date the operation was so generally 
accepted that no other was advised. The death-rate now 
is practically nil. 

About the time the award was to be made I sailed for 
Europe, and had no word of the success or failure of my 
work until two or three weeks later, when, while in a public 
reading-room in London, I happened to see a paragraph in the 
New York Times stating that both prizes had been awarded 
to me. This was my first great triumph, for I knew I had 
overthrown an old procedure based on a false hypothesis, 
and had established a new and safer method. It has al 
ready saved many lives, and it will continue to do so as 
long as time endures. The old operation cut off the direct 
blood-supply and nutrition to one-half of the brain, inter 
fering with its function until a collateral circulation could 
be established; the new one left the nutrition of this vital 
organ unimpaired. Although the text-books on surgery gave 
credit to the author for several years after the essays were 
published by the American Medical Association, strange as 
it may appear, my name is no longer associated with this 
operation. 

Dr. Henry B. Sands, Professor of Surgery in the College 
of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, then by 
common consent our leading surgeon, to whom personally 
I was unknown, with a generous appreciation which touched 
me deeply, called at my office and spoke in terms of highest 
commendation of this work. Every year as long as he lived 
he devoted one or two lectures to this subject, and later 
did me the very great honor to nominate me for the position 

355 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of visiting surgeon to Bellevue Hospital. I was greatly im 
pressed by this offer; and when he said that as professor 
of surgery he had the privilege of a nomination to Bellevue 
Hospital in the service allotted to his college, I replied that 
I would be very grateful for the appointment, but as there 
were a number of ambitious and competent young surgeons 
already connected with the college who wanted this posi 
tion, and as I was an outsider, I thought it doubtful if the 
faculty would elect me. To this he answered in his quick, 
direct way: " That s their business. It s my duty to nomi 
nate the best man I know for the place, and if they don t 
choose to elect him it will not be my fault." I was defeated ; 
but the nomination, coming from such a man and in the way 
it did, was a great compliment. 

Several months after the essays were made public, I re 
member on one rainy night Dr. Herman Knapp, who had 
been professor of ophthalmology I think at Heidelberg 
and was now recognized as the head of this specialty in 
America, called at my office, 44 West 27th Street, and as 
he walked in pulled from beneath his raincoat a volume, 
and, opening it, said, "I thought you would be pleased to 
see how your work is being received in Germany," adding, 
when I remonstrated with him for coming out in such a 
storm, that the book had just come, and he wanted me to 
see it. It was, if I remember correctly, Sat tier and Graefe s 
Handbuch or Archiv fur Ophthalmologie. I could never be 
unmindful of such thoughtfulness and kindness from this 
great and good man. 

Professor Lewis A. Sayre was in 1872, and for many years 
thereafter, the leading orthopedic surgeon of America. I 
have always credited him with being the founder of this 
specialty. Mentally and physically he was a man of large 

356 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

proportions and of convincing personality. In his lectures, 
believing what he taught to be true, he threw into his subject 
an earnestness and an enthusiasm which either carried con 
viction or made you go away feeling profoundly sorry that 
it didn t. The perspiration would stand in beads upon his 
fine, broad forehead, and in those moments devoted to 
denunciation of any who dared to oppose his theories his 
eyes would light up with the piercing keenness of an eagle s, 
and, moving to and fro with surprising agility in one so 
portly, he would pound with his powerful arm and fist the 
table or railing, or patient, or anything that came in the 
way. No student who loved a rare treat ever willingly 
missed a lecture by this able, genial, warm-hearted, and 
eccentric surgeon. I made his acquaintance soon after I 
came to New York, and he was more than kind to me. Later 
he placed his two eldest sons as private pupils with me, 
and went so far as to offer in return for my work as his 
assistant a room and office in his beautiful Fifth Avenue 
residence. His contributions to surgery are valuable and 
lasting, and make him a benefactor of mankind. His en 
thusiasm and devotion to science knew no bounds, which 
may possibly be inferred from a personal experience which 
I narrate, not without some misgiving as to its propriety. 

A celebrated negro minstrel, whose tall stature, slender 
proportions, and unusually lengthy extremities were clever 
ly exaggerated by a wonderful make-up, and who had long 
entertained theater-goers by his grotesque performances, 
died suddenly. He was a great favorite of mine, and I had 
observed a very remarkable and unnatural mobility of the 
right arm, which he could twist and bend in so many usual 
ly impossible directions that it occurred to me he must have 
another ball-and-socket joint in this member elsewhere than 

357 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

at the shoulder. Very early one morning Dr. Sayre called 
at my office, and in his usual earnest way said: "Wyeth, 
- died last night. Fifteen years ago he consulted 
me in regard to his arm, and I found an ununited fracture 
of the humerus communicating with the elbow, and such 
free and abnormal motion in all directions that I asked, 
and he promised me, that when he died I should have the 
bones at the elbow. I want you to help me get them." 

It was agreed that I should be introduced as an embalmer; 
and, securing the outfit for injecting the arteries with pre 
servative fluids at the college, we arrived at the dead man s 
home. With a face expressive of the most profound sym 
pathy and a voice trembling with emotion, he spoke to the 
family of his departed friend and patient, telling them that 
the last time he had treated him he called him by his 
familiar name he had exacted a promise that should he 
die first the doctor would see that he was not buried with 
out being embalmed. He had called now to fulfil that 
promise, and had brought to do the work the most experi 
enced embalmer in New York, and I was introduced. In 
this case the artery selected was the right brachial near the 
elbow, and when the operation was completed the lower 
four inches of the humerus and as much of the ulna and 
radius below the joint were reposing in the embalmer s 
inside pocket, and three small sticks of kindling pine repre 
sented the absent bones. Natura vacuum abhor ret. There 
had been a transverse fracture of the humerus just above 
the elbow, and the lower fragment had broken in two in 
the middle. The interesting feature was that a new joint 
had formed, practically a ball and socket, with a new cap- 
sular ligament and new cartilage on the broken ends of the 
bones! 

358 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The night following this interesting experience I had a 
dream which developed into one of the most realistic and 
frightful nightmares I have ever experienced. I had only 
a few evenings before witnessed a performance by this 
actor, and on that occasion he wore shoes several inches 
longer than his foot. As he walked or danced the unfilled 
tips were made to flap loudly on the floor. His white cotton 
jacket was too short by a foot, and the baggy trousers 
stopped just below the knee, bringing into view his long, 
thin shanks covered with black stockings. He wore a wig 
so arranged that when, depicting fright, he touched a spring 
his hair would stand on end, stiff and erect as broom-straws, 
and upon the center of the top of his head reposed a di 
minutive Dunlap silk hat which would have adorned and 
not been too large for an organ-grinder s monkey. 

I dreamed that some one was coming up the stairway 
toward the room in which I was sleeping. The steps were 
slow and deliberate, and intended to be noiseless, but I 
recognized as each foot touched the riser a peculiar flap of 
the shoe, and then I was seized with the frightful conviction 
that the dead man was coming for me. I tried to get up 
and go to the door, to be sure it was locked, but could not 
move. I heard the key turn, and saw distinctly the slowly 
widening crack of the opening door, through which appeared 
the blackened face and hair on end and tiny stove-pipe hat, 
and as I groaned for help he lifted one foot with the long 
shoe just as I had seen him do at the theater when he 
would place this member on Dan Bryant s shoulder, draw 
him toward himself, and say triumphantly, "I got you now!" 
As he said this to me the door flew open, and he jumped on 
my chest and danced a double back step which ended by 
his swinging the sole of that long shoe slowly and deliber- 

359 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ately over my mouth and nose, until, to save myself from 
suffocation, I made one final, desperate effort to wake up, 
and found myself rolling to the floor. 

Dreaming is to me a strange and inexplicable mental 
process. Some of these images or impressions, which our 
will does not conjure up and cannot control, and which ap 
pear to be absolutely foreign to our waking brain-action, 
we fail to register and they are forgotten, while others, as 
the one just detailed, remain indelibly printed in our memory 
cells and come back over and over again in our waking hours. 
It is the same with the dream or delirium in disease. When 
at eighteen I was very ill in prison with pneumonia I was 
told during convalescence that I had been out of my head, 
which I knew already, for when I became conscious I re 
membered vividly, as I still do, this wild, disordered dream: 
I was on a train, the day was hot, the water gave out, and 
after what seemed an interminable run we stopped by the 
side of a high bluff from the side of which, at a point in 
accessible except by crawling along a gradually narrowing 
ledge, so high that it was sure death to fall, a stream of cool, 
crystal water was trickling. The ledge gave out before I 
could reach the spring, and I was moaning over the disap 
pointment and evidently asking for water, when some one 
put a tin-cupful in my hand and held my head up while I 
emptied it. Reason came back with this, and that dream 
of delirium was indelibly registered. It is as clear in my 
memory cells at this time (forty-nine years later) as it was 
then. 

While on the subject of dreams I must commit myself 
to another conviction namely, that in our waking hours 
our brains register impressions of which at the time we fail 
to be conscious, and which become recognizable images or 

360 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

pictures either while asleep or upon wakening after (prob 
ably a restful and refreshing) slumber. I know this has been 
my experience, and it has led me to accept the theory of 
the subconscious mind. I first noticed this mental process 
when as a youth I undertook to train my mind to be quick 
in memorizing. My first long task was the third canto of 
"Childe Harold." The Spenserian measure, the evenly 
sustained beauty and rhythm, and the deep feeling which 
pervades this (to me) most attractive poem in our language, 
naturally led to its preference. I committed to memory 
this canto of about nine hundred lines, and recited it pub 
licly on one or two occasions. While engaged in this task 
I noticed that not infrequently when in the late afternoon 
or evening I would read over some unlearned stanzas, which 
I could not remember, I would awaken the next morning 
and could recite them word for word. Incidentally, in ex 
perimenting I found that from 10 to 12 A.M., just about the 
time that the breakfast digestion process was finished, was 
the period when I could memorize with greatest facility. 

Another interesting personal experience comes to my 
mind. In 1902 a boy was brought to me from Cuba with 
a condition of the forearm which gave me a great deal of 
trouble to understand. This case is given with others in 
another book as an original contribution to surgery. For 
four or five days I thought over the history of his injury and 
the resulting inability to rotate the radius around the ulna 
in other words, to turn his hand over. About three in 
the morning I awoke with a perfectly clear conception of 
the cause of the inability; and I removed it by operation 
that morning. I was so afraid I would forget it if I fell 
asleep again that I made a note of it at once. 

The study of anatomy, both human and comparative, 
24 361 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

had for me a great fascination, so much so that at one time 
I believe I would have devoted my life to it had I had an 
independent income. And yet I recall with what horror 
I first smelt and saw the inside of a dissecting-room. This 
soon gave way ; for I saw how wonderful was the structure 
of the human body, and how essential to a satisfactory and 
successful understanding and treatment of disease and in 
jury was a practical knowledge of each organ, or part, in 
relation to the whole. But for the situation of Bellevue 
as a workshop, and the associations which gave me free 
access to the morgue and one of the largest dissecting-rooms 
in New York, I could never have secured the material to 
use in successfully carrying out my investigations. As it 
was, I had at one period, and for quite a while, to resort to 
the "underground" method of investigation. 

Connected with the old morgue there was a large, square 
room used for storing great stocks of the plain-plank coffins 
in which the unclaimed dead were carried away to the pot 
ter s field. From the center of the ceiling hung an unused 
gas-chandelier. There were two windows, and the single 
door which opened into the morgue. I arranged with the 
keeper to cover the windows with thick cloth and stack the 
coffins in such a way that a good-sized room was secured, 
to which entrance could be had without being suspected, 
and in which I could work night and day without being in 
terrupted. With the help of my good friend the keeper 
I used this cave with great satisfaction for two years, until 
I had completed my work, and no one ever knew it beyond 
the two most interested. These dissections were usually 
made after ten o clock, when my official duties were over 
and the college had closed for the night. 

Not infrequently I became so interested in the subject 

362 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

under investigation that I forgot about time or became so 
tired or sleepy I simply had to quit. I rarely went to bed 
before twelve or one o clock, and sometimes later. On one 
occasion I fell asleep and received such a shock when I 
awoke that I never forgot it. Late one stormy night the 
keeper had gone home and I was the only living thing left 
except the rats, which were often too companionable, with 
coffins all about and anywhere from twenty-five to fifty 
cadavers in reach. I was dissecting the right axilla or arm 
pit, the arm stretched out at a right angle to the body, 
and a block beneath the shoulder-blades, which let the sub 
ject s head drop backward. My arm was resting on the 
dead man s chest, and as I fell asleep the weight of my head 
and upper portion of the body rested on my arm and upon 
the ribs of the cadaver. These being elastic, and the lungs 
the same, gradually and noiselessly the residual air was 
pressed out of the lungs. When I awoke, startled at the 
idea of falling asleep under such conditions, as I raised my 
head I suddenly took the pressure from his chest. The 
elastic ribs came back at once to their former position, and 
in doing this created a vacuum in the lungs, into which 
the air rushed through the subject s larynx, producing a 
wheezing or gurgling sound, just as one does who inspires 
violently when half strangled after drinking and getting 
a few drops of water in the windpipe. 

In the condition of mind which prevailed at that instant 
I thought the man was not dead! The lugubrious part of 
this experience did not end here. In my hurry I put on my 
overcoat, for a winter snow-storm was raging, and without 
going into the large room to light the gas-jet over the door 
of exit I turned out my chandelier and found myself with 
out matches and in thick darkness. Nothing was left but 

363 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

to grope my way through coffins and cadavers and along 
the wall until I found the door-knob and went out into the 
storm. It was a weird experience. 

In these years of strenuous labor I made one grave mis 
take, and I bring it out here in the hope that it may serve 
as a warning to other struggling and ambitious beginners. 
I worked too much and took little or no recreation, and did 
not pay the strict attention to sleep and diet which is essen 
tial. I doubt if I averaged six hours in bed out of every 
twenty-four for the first six years of my residence in New 
York. My one dissipation was the theater on Saturday 
night, when the college was closed. If there was an 
hour free from some duty I walked for exercise in the 
beautiful Central Park. It never occurred to me to waste 
time at cards or billiards or other games of amusement, 
and I had never contracted the use of tobacco or alco 
hol. 

In fact, I do not think a physician should ever smoke or 
drink. In 1876 I broke down with a serious illness, which 
was diagnosed as perityphlitis, but which I now know was 
appendicitis. Dr. Reginald Fitz had not opened the eyes 
of the profession to this disease with his classical paper, nor 
had Dr. Simon Baruch, a leader in medicine, yet laid man 
kind under never-ending obligation by his recognition of 
and insistence upon the necessity of immediate operation. 
The only operation in my case was the insertion of an ex 
ploring needle through the abdominal wall deeply into the 
indurated mass, a procedure more dangerous than operation, 
and by no means painless. No suppuration was discovered, 
and at the end of two weeks the abscess discharged into the 
caecum. Here followed a slow convalescence, a phlebitis 
with permanent occlusion of the left popliteal vein, which 

364 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

accident I have since observed on this, the opposite side to 
the appendix, in a number of instances. I was incapacitated 
for nearly twelve months by reason of this illness, and in 
1877 resigned my connection with Bellevue Hospital Medi 
cal College. 



XXIV 

LONDON PARIS BERLIN VIENNA DR. J. MARION SIMS 
MT. SINAI HOSPITAL TEXT-BOOK ON SURGERY PRESI 
DENT NEW YORK PATHOLOGICAL SOCIETY BLOODLESS 
AMPUTATION OF THE SHOULDER AND HIP JOINTS VICE- 
PRESIDENT AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION LIFE OF 
FORREST 

I VISITED Europe early in 1878 in order to study the 
methods of teaching in the great medical centers there. I 
had been dreaming of inaugurating a new system of medical 
education in America, and had my plans made out. They 
will be given in that part of this volume relating to the 
founding of the Polyclinic. The year before going abroad 
I had made the acquaintance of Dr. J. Marion Sims. He 
had laid the foundation of his great reputation in Mont 
gomery, Alabama, where he had known my father, who 
as a young man was then a member of the state legislature. 
When I arrived in Paris he was residing there, and I called 
to pay my respects and was cordially received. The next 
morning he came to my hotel to show me the Medical 
Record, which he had just received and which contained 
my "Prize Essays. * Had I been his own son he could not 
have been more appreciative and encouraging in what he 
said to me then; and from that day to the day this great 
pioneer in surgery died I was bound to him by the ties of 
an affectionate friendship. He gave me a most delightful 
dinner, at which I met for the first time his youngest daugh- 

366 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ter, named Florence Nightingale, for the noble woman whose 
life of unselfish devotion to humanity naturally won for her 
the admiration and respect of Marion Sims. 

There happened to be present at this dinner a member 
of the suite or staff of the then Prince of Wales, Edward. 
He was a renegade Irishman, and, as usual with the Irish 
who go eastward from Erin, he was more English than the 
natives of Albion. He entertained us with what his Prince 
did on Mondays and Tuesdays and other days, and how 
he did it, seemingly oblivious of the fact that all the rest 
of us were Americans who cared no more for his princes and 
dukes and lords and ladies than we did for the king of the 
Cannibal Islands in fact, not so much. 

My Americanism may be prejudiced and narrow, but the 
idea of preferment by inheritance and not by personal merit 
and achievement has the same effect on me as a red rag is 
said to have upon a certain male quadruped. Moreover, 
at school and later I had learned something about the way 
the British had treated our people during the Revolutionary 
War and in 1812: how they had incited the Indians and 
Tories to massacre and pillage; how at Fort Mims, near 
my own home, some three hundred helpless women and 
children had been butchered without mercy as late as 1813, 
while we were at war in protest against England s outrageous 
and unlawful impressment of our people in her service ; how, 
encouraging the traffic in slaves, her rulers had permitted, 
against the protest of the colonists, the importation of 
African slaves and the establishment of slavery in America; 
how they had shocked mankind by blowing the bodies of 
their condemned subjects in India from the mouths of 
cannon; and how, for commercial reasons, they had forced 
the opium trade upon protesting, helpless China. All this 

367 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and a lot more, when the rhapsodist of Albion stopped 
long enough to catch his breath, I recited, not giving him 
a chance to get a word in edgewise until I had run the 
gamut of my indictment of the "mother country." Then 
some one asked some one else if they had "ever seen a 
rabbit," which was a signal to change the conversation, 
and peace was declared. 

When I made my dinner-call upon the hostess and her 
husband, I said: "Dr. Sims, I fear I presumed too far on 
the hospitality of your home in what I said to your Irish- 
English guest; but I lost control and boiled over." He 
put a hand on either shoulder as we were standing, his hand 
some face expressing not only forgiveness but approbation 
as he replied: "Wyeth, I never enjoyed a raking over the 
coals more than the one you gave that conceited fellow. 
Had it not been at my own table I would have done it 
myself." 

When two years later in New York Dr. Sims passed 
through the terrible ordeal of a double pleuro-pneumonia, 
I stayed for fifteen nights by his bedside or lay upon a sofa 
in easy call of the suffering patient. As is common with 
doctors, he was a bad patient. I had been directed by 
Doctors Loomis and Janeway that no morphine should be 
administered if it could possibly be avoided. On one or 
two occasions, when he was suffering intensely, a small 
quantity had been given with gratifying effect to the patient. 
He insisted at one time that I should give him a hypodermic. 
I remonstrated mildly, telling him his condition was such 
that it was very dangerous to take it, and that I had positive 
instructions not to give him any that night. He raised such 
a clamor that at last I said: "Well, if you will have it, you 
must; but you must relieve me of all responsibility." He 

368 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

answered: "All right; I ll do it." Having anticipated 
such a demand, I had already loaded a syringe with pure 
water, and took the bottle of Magendie s solution, and 
went through the form of filling it with the proper quan 
tity. 

I stuck the needle into the patient s arm, injected the con 
tents of the syringe, put everything away, went back to 
my sofa, lay down, and pretended to be asleep. He was 
quiet for five or ten minutes, then became somewhat rest 
less; and soon after I heard him call, and walked around 
to the side of his bed. "How much Magendie did you give 
me?" he whispered. "Six minims," I replied. Without 
taking his eyes from mine he pointed his finger at me and 
said, quickly, "Wyeth, that s a lie, and you know it!" I 
am sure it was one of those white lies which will never be 
recorded against me, and I have every reason to know, after 
his convalescence and recovery, he had entirely forgiven 
me. 

Marion Sims died on November 13, 1883. Early in 1882 
he had returned to Paris and revisited New York in August, 
1883. In the interval between August and the day of his 
death in November I saw him frequently. A day or two 
before he died he came into the parlor of his residence, 
complaining that his heart beat very fast whenever he went 
up-stairs. I remarked that he was unnecessarily appre 
hensive, since Loomis and all the diagnosticians had ex 
cluded any organic heart lesion. He replied: "It doesn t 
matter what they say; this heart trouble will kill me yet." 
He had intended to return to Europe on November 8th, 
and had purchased tickets for himself and family on a 
steamer sailing that day. He was, however, prevailed on 
to remain over to do an important operation, which he did 

369 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

on November i2th. He returned home about eleven on 
that night and went to his bed. It was his custom to keep 
pieces of white cardboard by his bedside and a lead-pencil 
convenient, so that at any time in the night when a thought 
occurred to him that he wished to record he could do so 
without making a light. He was thus engaged when, in 
an instant, without an expression of pain, his heart ceased 
to beat. Truly nature crowned his career with the greatest 
of all possible blessings a painless death. 

In that most fascinating book, The Story of My Life, Dr. 
Sims says that thirteen was always a lucky number with 
him. He was born in 1813; on the i3th of the month 
he graduated from college; he left his South Carolina 
home to practise in Alabama on the i3th ; arrived in 
New York City on the i3th; and it was on November 
13, 1883, at fifteen minutes past three o clock that he 
died. 

It is safe to say that Marion Sims attained the highest po 
sition ever achieved in the history of our profession. His 
reputation as a surgeon was so world-wide that in any 
capital, in any country within the domain of civilization, 
he could command at any time a lucrative, practice. In 
New York, London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, 
Madrid, Lisbon, and St. Petersburg he found himself every 
where sought after, not only by the patients he could 
benefit, but by the leading members of his own profes 
sion, who were anxious to pay tribute to his wonderful 
genius. 

From the brilliant triumph of that memorable clinic at 
La Charite in 1862, Dr. Sims went forth to the professional 
conquest of Europe. The journals of the day heralded his 
advent, and the gates of the capitals of kingdoms were 

37 





STATUE OF DR. J. MARION SIMS, BRYANT PARK, NEW YORK 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

thrown open to his coming. From place to piace he jour 
neyed, healing the afflicted and teaching others to heal. 
Kings of the realm of science vied with one another to do 
him honor, kings and rulers of nations were proud to 
confer upon him the highest decorations in their power. 
Upon the base of the pedestal which his statue in Bry 
ant Park overlooks, the physicians of our time and of all 
time may read with encouragement the epitome of his 
life. 

Justly held as the father of gynecology, his genius knew 
none of the limitations of specialization, and in my opinion 
his most notable contribution to science is his paper on 
"The Careful Aseptic Invasion of the Peritoneal Cavity, 
Not Only for the Arrest of Hemorrhage, the Suture of In 
testinal Wounds, and the Cleansing of the Peritoneal Cavity, 
but for all Intra-peritoneal Conditions," read before the 
New York Academy of Medicine, October 6, 1881. It 
marked the dawn of an era, and was the real starting-point 
in the new surgery of the abdominal cavity. 

While in Paris in 1878 I submitted my scheme of a com 
bined three years pregraduate and two years postgraduate 
medical school to Dr. Sims, and it met with his full approval. 
He said if he were younger he would join with me in the 
effort to establish it. 

There was unveiled in Bryant Park, New York City, in 
1894, a statue in bronze of this immortal man. It stands 
erect and proud, a life-like image of the great teacher, the 
spontaneous gift from his brothers in the profession through 
out the civilized world, and from many of the unfortunate 
beings his genius and skill had benefited. In brief yet com 
prehensive phraseology the inscription tells the story of his 
career : 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 
J. MARION SIMS, M.D., LL.D. 

BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA, 1813 
DIED IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1883 

SURGEON AND PHILANTHROPIST 

FOUNDER OF THE WOMAN S HOSPITAL OF THE 
STATE OF NEW YORK 



HIS BRILLIANT ACHIEVEMENTS CARRIED THE 

FAME OF AMERICAN SURGERY THROUGHOUT 

THE CIVILIZED WORLD 

IN RECOGNITION OF HIS SERVICES IN THE 
CAUSE OF SCIENCE AND MANKIND HE RECEIVED 
THE HIGHEST HONORS IN THE GIFT OF HIS 
COUNTRYMEN AND DECORATIONS FROM THE 
GOVERNMENTS OF FRANCE, PORTUGAL, SPAIN, 
BELGIUM, AND ITALY 

On the reverse: 

PRESENTED 

TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK 

BY 

HIS PROFESSIONAL FRIENDS, LOVING PATIENTS, 
AND MANY ADMIRERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

Marion Sims possessed a striking personality. Notwith 
standing his long and bitter struggle with poverty and for 
professional recognition, and in his early days for health 
and life itself, time had dealt gently with his form and face, 
whereon nature had set in unmistakable lines the stamp of 

372 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

greatness. Although he had rounded well the years al 
lotted by the Psalmist, his step was still quick and firm, 
his carriage erect, dignified, and graceful. The frosts of age 
had not tinged the rich abundance of his dark-brown hair, 
which fell straight back from off the massive forehead, for 
the ever-active brain and the deep-seated, searching eyes of 
brown asked always for the light. The brows were arched 
and unusually heavy and prominent; the nose beautifully 
proportioned and of Grecian type; the mouth well shaped, 
lips usually compressed, which, with the prominent chin, 
bespoke courage and firmness of purpose. His face was 
oval, clean-shaven, and smooth, and the usual expression 
was of almost womanly sweetness; yet it was quick to vary 
in harmony with whatever emotion was predominant. 
Away from preoccupation and in the home life, his ex 
pression and actions were almost boyish. He never seemed 
to have forgotten that he was once a boy, and he would 
throw himself into a household frolic with all the abandon 
of his early days. He was courageous to a degree; and, al 
though he rarely lost control of his temper, yet he was at 
times imperious and aggressive. When occasion demanded 
he was a good fighter, and fought his enemies with right 
good will; but he was quick to forgive. As was said of 
him by a gifted orator, he possessed qualities ideal in the 
make-up of a truly great surgeon "the brain of an Apollo, 
the heart of a lion, the eye of an eagle, and the hand of a 
woman." 

If generosity be a fault, it was his besetting sin, and that 
was all the sin of which I deemed him capable. 

Toward the higher and purer civilization the progress of 
man is slow. As yet the shadows of barbarism linger about 
him. His heroes are the destroyers, the Caesars and Na- 

373 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

poleons, who covered the earth with ruin and buried be 
neath it countless lives sacrificed upon the altar of personal 
ambition. But the time must come when those whose 
genius and works give life and health and happiness to the 
world will be first in the heart of man. In this purer tem 
ple of fame, along with such names as Jenner, Ephraim 
McDowell, Morton, Lister, Pasteur, Walter Reed, Koch, 
Gorgas, Lazear, and Ricketts, generations yet unborn shall 
read the name of Marion Sims. 

I had received in 1877 an appointment as visiting sur 
geon to St. Elizabeth s Hospital, a small institution well 
managed by a society of Sisters of Charity, and in 1882 I 
was made visiting surgeon to Mt. Sinai Hospital, then on 
Lexington Avenue between Sixty-sixth and Sixty-seventh 
streets, one of the largest, best -managed, and most useful 
of the many great philanthropies of New York City. The 
directors were all Hebrews, and, although liberal and non- 
sectarian as to those admitted, naturally the great major 
ity of the patients were Jews, and many of these were 
the poorest of poor immigrants newly arrived from Russia, 
Poland, and Germany. 

My colleague at the Polyclinic, Dr. A. G. Gerster a 
brilliant, ambitious, and exceedingly competent lecturer 
and surgeon and I divided the surgical service at Mt. 
Sinai, and by our united efforts added very much to the 
attractiveness of the clinics. During our first term a salary 
was paid to the house surgeon, as it was difficult to induce 
the better class of young men to serve in this capacity for 
the full term. We took our Polyclinic students there in 
great numbers, built up a large clientele, and the next year 
there were a half-dozen eager applicants for every vacancy 
on the interne staff. The number of visitors became so 

374 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

large that the directors gave us a new and extra large 
operating-room and met all our demands with their wonted 
liberality. 

Fully one-half of these patients spoke the German lan 
guage, and I found the four years I had devoted to this great 
language with a tutor and boarding with a family of edu 
cated Germans had not been spent in vain. A large pro 
portion of the Jews from Poland and Russia spoke a mixed 
German, something of which I "picked up." In a suit for 
damages for injury in an elevator accident I was sub 
poenaed, as I had treated the plaintiff in the hospital. The 
jury could not understand his very broken English. His 
German proved just as unsatisfactory; for there were two 
intelligent native Germans on the jury who told the judge 
they could not understand him. I asked permission to 
speak to him, asked him to describe the accident in the 
mixed Mt. Sinai patois, which he did. The judge then had 
me sworn in as interpreter, and I translated his testimony 
to the jury in English and German, much to the joy of the 
plaintiff, for he received a verdict. I had great sympathy 
with these unfortunate people, for they were submissive, 
patient, and very grateful, and, as far as I could judge, 
law-abiding. 

In all my sixteen years service in this hospital I recall 
but one outlaw, and my experience with him was interest 
ing enough to justify narration. He came into the service 
with a fistulous opening in the abdominal wall, which he 
stated had been caused by falling against a sharp spike. 
During his convalescence the patient next to him happened 
to be reading the Police Gazette, in which there was a picture 
of a burglar who had escaped from a prison hospital, where 
he was being treated for a bullet-shot wound received while 

375 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

robbing a silk-store. Beneath the photograph was printed, 
"Sheeny Mike, the Great Silk Burglar." The patient look 
ed over at his nearest neighbor, handed him the Gazette, and 
said, "This fellow looks like you." The answer was, "Yes, 
there is some resemblance," and he quietly returned the 
paper. In a few minutes he sauntered to the bath-room in 
the rear of the ward, from which a back stairway led to 
the street, and that was the last the hospital knew of 
"Sheeny Mike." Meanwhile the newspapers mentioned 
the fact that he had escaped, and stated that a reward of 
five thousand dollars was offered for his apprehension. 

A month or two later I happened one afternoon to be in 
a cross-town car going from the Desbrosses Street Ferry to 
the Bowery, when Mike, well-dressed, as is usual with 
gentlemen of leisure, boarded the car, recognized and took 
his seat by me, and we conversed during a ride of several 
blocks about his health and the operation at the hospital 
and the weather, but never a word about the Boston silk 
business or the five thousand dollars reward. Had he run 
away when he saw me I possibly might have followed him 
and caused his arrest ; but when he trusted me so implicitly 
I could not be unmindful of his confidence. He was ar 
rested later in Jacksonville, Florida, where, according to 
the newspapers, he was running an extensive merchandise 
business, and, I think, died in the penitentiary. 

I had some interesting experiences with several patients 
who were beyond the law, and recall two who were arrested 
for complicity in the great Northampton bank robbery. 
One of these was found guilty, and made a daring escape 
from prison. 

With the success of the Polyclinic, and the intimate per 
sonal acquaintance it brought with practising physicians from 

376 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

all parts of the country, together with the practical experience 
gained from the extensive surgical service at Mt. Sinai and 
elsewhere, my private practice grew more and more re 
munerative. I now gave up all medical cases and confined 
my work entirely to the practice and teaching of surgery. 
In 1884 an agent of the publishing firm of D. Appleton & Co. 
called upon me with a proposition to write a text-book on 
surgery for that firm; but we failed to agree on terms. I 
was very desirous of writing such a book, for much of the 
work I had already done was directly in that line. I insisted 
on a new style of illustration in colors which was more than 
ordinarily expensive, and told the Appletons it was not 
worth while to bring out a new book unless it could be made 
more attractive than any other book on surgery. 

The cost was thought to be too great, and for the time 
being the matter rested there as far as they were concerned ; 
but I went on with the surgery without saying a word to 
any one, for I felt that I would find a publisher. The next 
fall the Appleton agent came back and said, Well, what 
about the surgery?" I replied, " Nothing, unless your firm 
will give me carte blanche on illustrations," and, to my delight, 
he said: "All right; I am authorized to close the contract 
now. Can you do it in a year?" I said, "In less time, if 
you are in a hurry." We signed the contract, and then I 
told him the book was written, and I could give him the 
manuscript as fast as he wanted it. As I had anticipated, 
the beautiful illustrations in three colors, which had never 
before been used in a text-book on this subject, proved very 
attractive. I was to be at no expense and to receive ten 
per cent, of the gross sales, which for the various editions 
amounted to between two and three hundred thousand 
dollars. 

25 377 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The actual cash profits of authorship, especially in scien 
tific books, are rarely large; but the enhancement of pro 
fessional reputation is always a valuable asset, more gratify 
ing than the mere accumulation of money; and a success 
ful book always brings this reward. The large sale of this 
volume, together with the prize essays, widely distributed 
through the American Medical Association, widened the 
circle of personal as well as professional acquaintanceship 
and added to my practice. I had been, however, in 1885, 
and again in 1886, elected to the presidency of the New York 
Pathological Society, and it was about this period that the 
professorship of surgery in the great medical college at New 
Orleans, which Dr. T. G. Richardson had so long and suc 
cessfully held, was offered to me. It was a great temptation 
to go "back home," but my heart was in the work of build 
ing up the Polyclinic as a great postgraduate medical school. 

I wish I could impress upon every young member of our 
profession the importance of pathology, for it is the founda 
tion of a successful career and practice. A true conception 
of this subject combines the laboratory with the post 
mortem-room. As I look back now I realize that prac 
tically every active member of this society at the time of 
which I write was then or became later famous in medicine. 
There was E. G. Janeway (I nicknamed him "ejus generis ), 
the indefatigable worker, close observer, conscientiously study 
ing his cases, and, when death occurred, reaping the full 
benefit of his successes or failures in diagnosis and treat 
ment by a minute examination of the organs involved. 
He became one of the greatest diagnosticians in medicine 
the profession has ever known. To every beginner in medi 
cine asking, "How may I succeed?" I would say, "Study 
the career of Edward G. Janeway and try to follow it." 

378 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

That I should admire and respect him was inevitable from 
our close association; and for the watchful, brotherly care 
he gave me through the long and weary months of a pain 
ful and desperate illness I owe the grateful tribute of friend 
ship. Abraham Jacobi, the Nestor of American Medicine, 
as I write this page, full of years and of honors well deserved, 
then as now and for ever famous, was always in attendance. 
And there, too, was his gifted wife, Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, 
whose knowledge of pathology was so thorough, whose range 
of the literature was so wide, and whose criticism was so 
keen, fearless, and just that in our discussions we felt it 
prudent to shun the field of speculation and to walk strictly 
in the path of demonstrated facts. Of this group also was 
my fellow-student at college and soon thereafter my teach 
er in advanced pathology, William H. Welch, whose tran 
scendent genius for research has made him facile princeps 
among American pathologists. When my increasing labors 
pressed me so for time that I could no longer work in his 
laboratory, I equipped my own in my office, and two eve 
nings of each week this enthusiastic and generous friend came 
to help me in the efforts to keep in touch with the latest 
developments in the science in which he was master. Louis 
Elsberg and John H. Ripley, both justly renowned, were 
among this group, as was L. Emmet Holt, the eminent 
pediatrist of the present date. 

Soon after my return from Europe in 1878 the frightful 
epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Memphis, causing 
panic and flight for all who could escape, and anxiety, suf 
fering, or death for those who could not run away, or who, 
like the doctors of that city, remained at their posts. Think 
ing it our duty to offer our services to our own afflicted 
people, my old Confederate comrade, Dr. William M. Polk, 

379 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and I telegraphed to Dr. John H. Erskine that we would go 
to Memphis if he thought we could be made useful. To our 
great relief, Dr. Erskine, who had been a medical director 
in the Army of Tennessee, replied: " Don t come. You 
would be down with fever in two weeks, and would add to 
our anxieties." He died of the fever in this epidemic. 



XXV 

THE TENNESSEE & COOSA HOW I FINANCED A RAILROAD 
AND SAVED A FORTUNE FOR A FRIEND REVISIT MY ALMA 
MATER WRITE THE LIFE OF FORREST 

THERE is an old adage that a man who is "Jack of all 
trades is good at none." I had been brought up with the 
idea that a boy and man should learn something of any and 
every trade, if it were practicable, and by the time I went 
to college I was fairly expert with the tools and implements, 
and at home with the handy experiences which were part 
of the life of a pioneer agricultural community. When in 
1874 I tacked my sign to the door of 226 Fifth Avenue as 
a surgeon of the metropolis, in the center of rich and fash 
ionable New York City (for the old Fifth Avenue Hotel, at 
Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth streets and Broadway, and 
the famous Hotel Brunswick, at Twenty-sixth Street and 
Fifth Avenue, were just across the street from my office), 
I had hoped and believed that henceforth until I could sit 
down quietly as an old man and write my "Occupations of 
a Retired Life" my lines were cast for naught but surgery. 
I had been Jack of many trades, and now I was trying to 
be good at least at one. I had been farmer and woodsman, 
soldier for three years, superintendent of a large cotton 
plantation, cattle-buyer, medical student for two years, and 
pilot for the same length of time on a steamboat in the 
White River country of Arkansas, contracted for and built 

381 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

public buildings for Woodruff County in that state, specu 
lated in lands, ran a telegraph office as operator, etc., and 
now it came about that I had to interrupt the even tenor 
of my professional career to finance and build a railroad. 
Like much more of what has been written in these pages, 
it reads like romance, yet I have learned that truth is 
stranger than fiction, and this is the plain story of the 
Tennessee & Coosa Railroad. 

My father had founded Guntersville, the county-seat of 
Marshall County, Alabama, in 1848. He had dreamed of 
building up there, at the south bend of the Tennessee, a 
great commercial community. As part of his plan while a 
member of the state legislature he had secured the charter 
of a railroad to connect the navigable waters of the Tennessee 
and Coosa rivers, and ultimately to make it a link in a great 
through railroad transit line. It may not be out of place to 
tell here how very near he came to the realization of his 
dream. When in later years the great through system from 
Memphis, via Atlanta, to the Atlantic Ocean at Charleston 
and Savannah was being projected my father brought his 
influence to bear to have that railroad run from Deca- 
tur to Guntersville, and thence direct to Atlanta, cutting 
Chattanooga entirely out. The conflict of interests between 
the two routes became so sharp that at last the governors 
of the five states through which the road was surveyed 
Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Caro 
lina appointed each three commissioners to determine the 
route. When the fifteen commissioners met they elected 
as chairman Mr. Sam Tate, of Memphis. Seven voted for 
the Guntersville and seven for the Chattanooga route, and 
Sam Tate s single vote decided in favor of Chattanooga and 
made it the great railroad center of the middle South. Had 

382 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

he voted the other way our family would have been one of 
the wealthiest in our state. 

Notwithstanding this set-back, work on the Tennessee & 
Coosa Railroad, thirty-six miles in length, from Gunters- 
ville to Gadsden, had been pushed, and when it was stopped 
in 1 86 1 on account of the Civil War it was well on to com 
pletion. The chief contractor and builder of this road was 
Mr. Hugh Carlisle, a British subject residing in Alabama, 
to whom my eldest sister had been married in 1861. In 
settlement with the company this gentleman had received 
as part payment a block of stock, which with other purchases 
gave him control and ultimately entire ownership of this 
franchise and property. This stock represented not only 
the very considerable amount of money involved in construc 
tion, but a claim to a large and valuable grant of public 
lands contiguous to the road-bed, which were, however, 
subject to litigation for forfeiture. In the effort to complete 
the work he had begun the owner became financially em 
barrassed. The four years war and the ten years of plunder 
by the reconstruction carpet-bag government after peace 
was declared had paralyzed all public enterprises, and in 
this period so much of the Work had been destroyed by the 
elements that it was almost like building the road anew. 
Before he was half-way through, his means had been ex 
hausted, and in a time of money stringency and panic he 
was unable to borrow the amount needed to save him from 
utter financial ruin. In his extremity he and my sister 
turned to me as their last hope. With their distressing 
letter came a copy of the sheriff s printed notice of Sale 
under judgment, and I had to act quickly, for I could not 
sit still and see those so near and dear to me lose all they 
possessed without an effort to save them. 

383 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Unfortunately, I did not have the money required, and 
I knew only one human being to whom I could turn for 
help. I went at once to the late David J. Garth, one of the 
noblest of men, who, successful in affairs, had then retired 
from business. I had had the great good fortune to be em 
ployed as his family physician soon after I came to New 
York, and we had already formed a strong and lasting friend 
ship. I laid the case before him, and asked him to lend me 
the money needed. It was to me then a very large sum. 
When he asked me what collateral I had to offer, I told him 
none but his faith in my integrity and ability. To this 
astonishing proposition he smilingly replied, "I reckon you ll 
have to have it." That afternoon, with a package of bonds 
under his arm, he and I presented ourselves to Mr. Case, 
cashier of the Second National Bank, then located at 
Twenty-third Street and Fifth Avenue, and I took the train 
that night for Alabama with a certified check to my order. 

For the first and, I may add, for the last time in my 
life, with but one exception, I was now in debt, and the situa 
tion was not agreeable. My father had impressed me early 
with the importance of owing no man. On one occasion, 
having effected an arrangement with the keeper of a candy- 
shop, whereby when temporarily short of cash I could 
satisfy a craving for sweets and pay the bill at my con 
venience, I offered father a share. As he placed it in his 
mouth he asked me how much I had paid for it, and when 
I replied I had bought it on credit he spat it out, handed 
me back the remainder, and, after reproving me quite 
severely for such reprehensible conduct he gave me the 
amount to cancel my indebtedness; and from that day to 
this, with the exception of borrowing this money to save a 
friend, I have owed no man. 

384 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When I arrived at Attalla, and went carefully into the 
matter of the impending sale, I became convinced that cer 
tain very radical changes were essential, and, determining 
upon these, I made it a sine qua non that all the stock and 
complete control of the entire property should be legally 
turned over to me by transfer on the company s books. 
This being done, I satisfied the judgment and became the 
owner of a railroad. I had heard the story of the man 
who took an elephant as security for a loan, and who ever 
after had a great deal more of elephant than he wanted. 
During many a wakeful hour for the next twelvemonth I 
gave that man my sympathy. I went at once to my dear 
father, who was still president of this road, and said : * This 
failure of the old company as at present organized has 
naturally caused a want of confidence in its ability to finance 
and build the railroad. A change is necessary. I want 
you to resign and let me elect a new board, to include some 
New York capitalists and men of influence in the place 
where we will have to go for money." 

He agreed with me heartily, called a meeting, resigned, 
and the new board went into office at once. One year and 
two months thereafter, in an office in Wall Street, after 
paying off every indebtedness and returning to my good 
friend the loan at the Second National Bank, I turned over 
all the remainder to Mr. Carlisle. In the final settlement 
with the purchaser, Major John W. Thomas, President of 
the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Co., I se 
cured the transfer of the land claim to the former owner, 
my sister s husband, the legality of whose title was ulti 
mately confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United 
States. The property (not including the railroad and its 
franchise) which was thus saved is now valued at, and is 

335 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

well worth, a million dollars. The happiness it gave me to 
carry this transaction to a satisfactory issue more than com 
pensated for the worry and anxiety and loss of time from 
my professional work which it involved, for all of which I 
received no direct compensation. 

It is said that revenge is sweet and that time will bring 
the opportunity to all who wait. Many years after this 
incident was closed my dear old friend Mr. Garth became 
in his turn temporarily embarrassed in a large real-estate 
deal in Westchester County. He naturally came to borrow 
from me, and this time I smiled and said, "I reckon you ll 
have to have it." He lived to be very nearly ninety years 
old, and at his death, in 1912, left an ample fortune. As a 
token of his love for me he added a codicil to his will in 
favor of the Polyclinic Hospital. 

In 1890 I attended the International Surgical Congress 
in Berlin, and incidentally revisited Carlsbad, the most 
attractive watering-place and "cure" I have ever seen. 
I recall little of the congress as far as its scientific work 
was concerned, but can never forget an incident in the 
vast dining-hall, where between five hundred and a thou 
sand surgeons were feasting. Professors W. W. Keen, 
John B. Roberts, Robert F. Weir, and I were seated together 
at one of the large tables, our neighbors being seemingly 
from all the other nations of the civilized world. As the 
bands played the various national airs the representatives 
of the country in evidence would, as soon as the music 
ceased, show their patriotic approval by hand-clapping or 
bravos or a series of huzzas, none of which seemed to me 
sufficiently enthusiastic or demonstrative. Keen was nat 
urally anxious with the rest of our four to get ahead of our 

386 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

foreign brethren, and we agreed that when the "Star- 
spangled Banner" was rendered, as the last strain floated 
away in the air we would stand in our chairs and give them 
the rebel yell. Keen and Weir had both served in the 
Union army during the War, and heard that indescribable 
wild Comanche chorus which was the vocal part of the 
Southern onslaught, and which, like 

The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn s hills 
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes, 

fitted in effectively with the rolling kettle-drum sound of 
thousands of rifles at work, and with the accompaniment of 
the short, explosive booms of artillery. Roberts, who would 
have heard it in war-times had he been old enough, said he 
would follow. When the moment came the inspiring music 
had caught the audience and they were ripe for our demon 
stration, for when we stood up so conspicuously in our 
chairs, wildly waving our napkins and yelling that awful 
yell, our neighbors climbed into theirs, took up the chorus, 
and the whole throng went mad about it and wouldn t stop 
until the "Star-spangled Banner" and the rebel yell had 
received three encores. I felt as if the Southern Con 
federacy had again saved the Union. 

In 1890 I made public my operations for the "Bloodless 
Amputation at the Hip- joint," which created quite a stir 
in the surgical world. Nine years before the author of the 
principal text-book in use in American colleges said that 
amputation at the hip was "properly regarded as the great 
est operation in surgery." The death-rate in the Civil War 
was ninety-three per cent., and in civil practice after the 
War from forty to fifty of every hundred died. The method 
introduced by me, and generally accepted by surgeons the 

387 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

world over, has reduced the mortality to between six and 
eight per cent. I received a number of invitations to de 
monstrate the operation publicly, and this was done in the 
amphitheater of the Jefferson Medical College at Phila 
delphia in 1891, by Professor W. W. Keen and myself, be 
fore the largest gathering I had ever seen at a surgical clinic. 
In reporting this case this eminent surgeon said, "It was 
reserved for an American surgeon to devise what is un 
doubtedly the best method, and, in fact, that which I think 
we can now call the only method of hemostasis in amputa 
tion at the hip-joint." 

In the Annals of Surgery for September, 1895, Dr. John 
F. Erdmann reports eighteen hip-joint amputations done 
in seven of the leading hospitals in New York City within 
ten years. Seven of these were done by my method, and 
all recovered, while the death-rate in the remaining cases 
by the other method was over seventy-two per cent. My 
"Bloodless Amputation at the Shoulder- joint " had been 
made public in 1889. In that year a colored woman came 
to my clinic, her trouble being a malignant growth (sarcoma) 
of the shoulder, requiring amputation at this joint. The 
tumor was situated so near the joint that I was afraid she 
would bleed to death or run great risk if I followed any of 
the older methods of amputation. It then occurred to me 
that I could use the cumulative pressure of a section of 
elastic rubber tubing over the shoulder-blade and collar 
bone, and occlude all the vessels going to and from the arm. 
As the shoulder- joint would represent the end of a truncated 
cone, when the bone was removed and the arm amputated, 
the tube, if not held in place, would roll off in the direction 
of least resistance. I then thought of transfixion with the 
two mattress-needles to hold it in place. The arm was 

388 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

emptied of blood by the Esmarch bandage, and, with the 
above method carried out, the operation was practically 
bloodless, and the patient recovered. While doing this the 
idea of disarticulation at the hip came into my mind, and 
in a few months an Episcopal minister from Alabama came 
to me with a sarcoma of the thigh, requiring amputation at 
the hip, and the method worked perfectly. 

This discovery spread my reputation more than anything 
else I had done, and yet in my opinion the good it has ac 
complished and will accomplish in the years to come does 
not compare with the ligation of the external carotid artery, 
an operation which my prize essays established in 1878. 
I felt much gratification in the fact that these innovations 
were made from the Poly clinic. The operation was made 
public at the meeting of the American Medical Association 
in Nashville in 1890, and in October of that year I made the 
demonstration in the amphitheater in which I heard my 
first lecture as a medical student. I went thither to deliver 
by invitation an address on medical education before the 
Mississippi Valley Medical Association, which met that 
year in Louisville. I had not visited my alma mater since 
my graduation, twenty-one years before, and the reception 
given me in this hospitable city was more than I had hoped 
for. I met on the occasion of this visit the renowned Colonel 
Henry Watterson, editor of the Courier Journal, one of the 
most entertaining and delightful gentlemen it has ever been 
my good fortune to know. My old teacher, Professor David 
Yandell, held a reception at his beautiful residence. The 
crowd soon filled the house and overflowed into a large 
marquee in the grounds. I had not seen the host since I 
was graduated in 1869, and several fellow-alumni suggested 
that we play a trick on the dear old surgeon, who, we might 

389 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

have known, "was not born in the night-time." I took my 
place in the line filing up to shake hands, and if necessary 
be introduced, the others in the conspiracy standing near 
enough to hear our conversation. I did not give him my 
name as I took his hand, and he said, You have the ad 
vantage of me," to which I replied, "Professor, I am Jim 
Smith, one of your old pupils from Breathitt County" (said 
to be the county in Kentucky where every one makes and 
executes his own law). But we were hoist on our own 
petard, for in an instant his handsome face lit up as he put 
his arms around me and said, loud enough to shock every 
body about us: "No, you re not. By God, you re John!" 

Among the classmates who laughed loudest at the failure 
of our ruse was Dr. Sam Manly, and I recalled to those pres 
ent an incident which occurred in 1869, in which he had 
deservedly met discomfiture. We were calling on the pro 
fessors to pay our respects before leaving for our homes. 
The teacher in physiology, one of the most scholarly and 
dignified members of the faculty, was so very deaf he could 
not hear without using a trumpet and this he did not 
adjust for the ordinary exchange of civilities, such as saying 
"good-by." As we stood around the sideboard (for this 
was in Kentucky), glass in hand to drink his health, Sam, 
intending to excite our mirth and embarrass us at the ex 
pense of the dear old deaf professor, and without any thought 
of disrespect, said, "Here s at you, you bald-headed old 
vacuum!" Before we could even smile at his impertinence, 
the polite host replied, bowing and touching Sam s glass 
with his, "The same to you, sir, the same to you!" 

The Century Magazine published in 1891 the narrative of 
my life as a prisoner of war, and it stirred up a hornet s nest 
among the bloody-shirt politicians, who had no idea of ad- 

390 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mitting that there was a moral to the legend of the shield 
which had two sides. The article was written as an his 
torical contribution in the spirit of reconciliation, and it 
contained nothing that I did not know to be true and sus 
ceptible of proof. At one time feeling ran so high on this 
account that I had to forego an address upon a scientific 
topic I had agreed to make at the invitation of the Indiana 
State Medical Association at Indianapolis. Happily, the 
facts as set forth were established and accepted; and at a 
subsequent meeting of this association I was their guest and 
was presented by its members with a beautiful and valued 
memorial. 

There was published in Harper s Magazine, in 1892, my 
article on the "Struggle for Oregon," written chiefly from 
the diary of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, a cousin of my father s. 
In 1831-36 this brave and enterprising man, foreseeing the 
future of the Oregon country, the ownership of which was 
then in dispute, fitted out at his own expense an expedition 
which he led across the continent, having sent a ship-load of 
supplies around "the Horn." This ship was wrecked; a 
number of the men with him were killed by Indians; others 
died or deserted; and he reached his destination the sole 
survivor. He made the return trip with two Indian guides, 
wintered in the Big Horn Mountains, and in the spring, in 
a boat made of buffalo-hides, moving only by night through 
the vast territory of the Blackfeet and Sioux Indians, reached 
civilization. Nothing daunted, he organized a second ex 
pedition, which he established where now stands the great 
city of Portland. He died too early to see the realization 
of his great dream, but his was the soul of the pioneer; he 
was of my father s family and kind, and I felt I owed it to 
him to have history record that he was of that brave and 

391 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

enterprising few who opened the doors of the great North 
west to his countrymen. 

At the Milwaukee meeting of the American Medical Asso 
ciation in 1893 I was elected first vice-president. At one 
of the sessions, after the reading of a paper on appendicitis 
by the distinguished Professor Nicholas Senn, as I was not 
on the printed programme for the discussion, the chairman 
did not call upon me, much to my satisfaction, as I had 
arrived late and had not heard the entire paper. There 
were many of my former pupils and other friends present, 
and these began to call for me by name. As I did not re 
spond, a strapping big fellow from Chicago, justly eminent 
in the domain of urology but less so elsewhere, arose and 
held forth on appendicitis. It so happened that I had taken 
a seat by a lady member, and when my Chicago substitute 
finished and sat down she remarked to me "If that s the 
best Dr. Wyeth can do, he d better have kept still." I re 
plied, "I think so, too." However, I was not allowed to 
"sit still," and when I sat down after saying that I had un 
fortunately not heard the paper and did not feel competent 
to discuss it, my new-found friend and I became better 
acquainted. 

I began in 1895 my Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan 
Bedford Forrest. From the beginning of the war he had 
been my hero, just as Marion was of the Revolution. I read 
with avidity of his great exploits, his hand-to-hand combats 
at Monterey, his refusal to surrender, and the escape of his 
entire command at Fort Donelson, when all could have 
marched away had they been as determined and fearless 
as he; of Shiloh, where he rode in among Sherman s in 
fantry, who jabbed bayonets at him and his bold troopers 
and shot him through and through as he sabered them right 

392 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and left; of his capture of everybody and everything at 
Murf reesboro ; the swarth of destruction he cut in Grant s 
rear in west Tennessee during Christmas of 1862-63; an d 
the pursuit and capture of Straight s raiders, probably the 
most wonderful feat of the Civil War. 

When I enlisted in his old regiment the men who had 
served with him never ceased to sing his praise, and I watched 
closely his marvelous career until the war was over. When 
I learned of his great poverty in early life; of his many 
struggles to support his widowed mother and a large family 
of children, of which he was the eldest; that he was wholly 
uneducated; that he had enlisted in the war as a private 
with a musket on his shoulder and had come out of it as 
lieutenant-general, the second highest rank in the Confeder 
ate army, I made a vow that, should he not be placed right 
in history by the time I was fifty years old, I would under 
take to do it. It was now 1895, Forrest was dead, and had 
not had justice done him, and I kept my promise. I bought 
an extensive library of war literature, including every vol 
ume of the official records of both the Union and Confeder 
ate armies, and these I gleaned as I could find leisure from 
a very busy life. 

I hit upon a plan of gathering information which worked 
out very satisfactorily. Along the left edge of a sheet of 
paper about twenty inches square was printed in a two-inch 
column a condensed sketch of Forrest and his operations. 
A full set of these was mailed to every officer and private 
who had been with him, whose name and address I could 
obtain, and to Union officers as well. I requested all to fill 
in the blank spaces with such facts as they were personally 
cognizant of. These were filed away, and carefully scruti 
nized and tested by comparison with and reference to the 
26 393 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

official reports of both sides, made at the time and forwarded 
to their respective departments. The volume was brought 
out in 1899, and rounded up a very busy period for the 
author. It so happened that a new edition of my Surgery 
was called for by the Appletons, while the Harpers were 
hurrying the Forrest into print. Meanwhile, I was run 
ning my private hospital and practice and attending to 
the exacting duties of senior professor of surgery and man 
ager of the Polyclinic. Like Sancho Panza, who blessed the 
man who invented sleep, I blessed the discoverer of the 
stenographer. For a while I kept three of these indispen 
sable agents at work, one with the Surgery, another on the 
Forrest, and a third for miscellaneous correspondence; and, 
fortunately, I brought both books out on time. 



XXVI 

THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION THE MEDICAL SOCIETY 
OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK THE NEW YORK STATE 
MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 

CERTAIN influential members of the Medical Society of 
the State of New York, a society whose charter dated back 
almost to colonial days, taking exception in 1880 to the code 
of ethics of the American Medical Association an organiza 
tion of which each state society was a component brought 
about the secession of the state from the national body. 
Thereupon other members, equally influential but somewhat 
less numerous, believing that the best interests of the pro 
fession and the public would be served by keeping in affilia 
tion with and helping to build up a stronger organization 
throughout the United States, withdrew from the society 
and formed themselves into the New York State Medical 
Association. 

The two hostile camps created an unfortunate situation. 
The regular medical profession, in its warfare against quack 
ery and ignorance and malpractice, needed to be a solid body 
with a united front. For twenty years in the Empire State 
it was as a divided house, and, although it did not fall, it 
was leaning over so far that the enemies of progress in medi 
cal affairs smiled in their sleeves at the tottering structure. 
The only redeeming feature of this deplorable situation was 
that the doctors at variance were acting from conviction 

395 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and had no axes to grind. It was the old, old story of the 
shield with its two sides, and the difficulty was to induce 
the tilting knights of the spatula and scalpel to study care 
fully the other side. There was not a time in all this un 
happy controversy over questions of ethics when a com 
promise could not have been effected. The code of ethics 
was a sort of medical family Bible, setting forth some very 
strict roles of conduct, all of which even those who stood 
out for them didn t always follow. There was a middle and 
a safe way, and it fell to my lot to be of service in finding 
the path which led to a united profession. 

I was intensely loyal to the American Medical Association. 
From the beginning of my medical career I realized that 
it was only by building up a national association, which 
would not only be strong numerically, but by attracting 
to its membership the men of attainment and influence, 
would be strong politically, that the much-needed reforms 
could be effected. I had joined the state association at the 
start, attended the meetings, tafeEti part in the scientific 
sessions, but had never held any office or talnan any part 
in its management. To my surprise, while this body was 
holding its meeting in New York City in the fall of 1900, 
Dr. E. Til Knit Harris, prominent in its affairs, JWi on me 
with a proffer for the nomination for the presidency. I saw 
at once the opportunity to attempt to reunite the profession 
in the state, and I told Harris that I would accept the office 

. ..-^ure-i bv ihrs-e iiif.urr.ii. il in :he or .can: 2.2.: ion 

that they would help to bring about a compromise with the 
society, which might result in a reunion with the members 
of both bodies in the national association. They held a 
meeting, gave me this assurance, and I was elected presi 
dent. 

396 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Relying upon the integrity, loyalty, and the extraordinary 
ability of Dr. Harris, I met him several times, and we 
finally formulated a plan which we proceeded to carry out. 
Our first move was the inauguration of an active campaign 
for increasing the membership of the association, and in 
doing this we organized new bodies in counties where none 
had existed. Meetings were held all over the state, attrac 
tive papers were read by our most eminent men, and a 
great many new members were obtained. In two counties 
we won over to the association the regular society organiza 
tions. When the movement was at its height I called on 
the leaders of the society and found them ready to listen 
to our overtures. While this was pending the profession 
throughout the United States, having learned of what was 
being attempted in the Empire State, showed their approval 
by electing me President of the American Medical Associa 
tion at the St. Paul meeting in June, 1901, and at the request 
of the New York delegation the next annual meeting of the 
national organization was held at Saratoga in 1902. To 
this meeting all the members of the society were invited, 
and the work of fraternization went bravely on. Among the 
prominent physicians of the state who lent invaluable aid 
at this juncture was my friend and former partner in the 
college quiz, Professor Joseph D. Bryant. In order finally 
to complete the fusion certain legal steps became neces 
sary. Dr. Bryant, already prominent in public as well as 
professional affairs, took charge, and with his usual tact and 
skill carried the reunion to a successful conclusion. 

The American Medical Association has become the largest 
and most powerful medical organization in the world. It 
represents more than one hundred thousand practitioners 
in the United States, has not only a working organization 

397 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in every state and territory, but in every congressional dis 
trict and in nearly every county. It publishes a weekly 
journal, which has a wide circulation, and in addition pos 
sesses large means in property and money. Its labors have 
resulted in the elevation of the standard of requirements, 
not only for entering a medical college, but for graduation 
and practice, and it has done much to uncommercialize 
medical education by compelling every college to come into 
the control of a recognized university. Coupled with the 
honors received from my fellow-members of the profession 
came, in 1902, an honorary degree of LL.D from the uni 
versity of my native state, and a vote of appreciation joint 
ly to Dr. J. Marion Sims and myself by its legislature. 



XXVII 

ITALY AND THE GREAT ST. BERNARD THE BONAPARTE TRAIL 

MARENGO 

To Naples in 1904 by way of the Azores and Gibraltar 
was one of the most restful and enjoyable sea trips I have 
made. On the fourteenth day out we landed in this dirtiest 
and most interesting of European cities. Vesuvius, the 
most accessible of active volcanoes, is an awe-inspiring 
demonstration of the tremendous heat-energy which like 
the rolled steel of a boiler the earth s crust is holding in. 
Now and then in some thin, weaker spot the shell gives way, 
and the lava and other products of combustion boil up from 
the depths. Where once was a level plain a huge truncated 
cone now lifts its summit four thousand feet above the sea. 
No one who stands upon the edge of that frightful hole in 
the ground can ever forget it. It is so large in circumference 
that a forty-acre field could be dropped flat into it, and so 
deep that the eye cannot measure down to the red-hot lake 
of lava which is boiling and hissing and smoking, and through 
which at frequent intervals explosions occur which shake 
the mountain to its base and shoot far above the crater vast 
quantities of pumice-stone and ashes. It was one of these 
outbreaks in A.D. 79 that buried Herculaneum, five or six 
miles from the crater, far beneath the outpouring lava, and 
smothered Pompeii, still farther away, for ages under a 
shower of ashes from thirty to forty feet deep. 

399 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

A few years after my visit the streets and housetops ot 
Naples, ten miles distant, were so covered with ashes that 
the roofs had to be swept from time to time to keep the 
accumulating weight from crushing them in. These titanic 
eruptions or explosions have been due, as I believe, to the 
sudden influx of vast quantities of water through fissures 
communicating with the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. 

In going toward the crater on the cog-wheel railway I 
made at least one very interesting observation. Near the 
top, running here and there in the ashes and cinders or 
dust, I noticed a number of small lizards not unlike those 
so common in northern Alabama. As their habitat was 
fully three-quarters of a mile above the limit of vegetation, 
I was wondering how they subsisted. When we left the 
car and began the climb to the crater on foot or by the 
chair-bearers I noticed lying in the warm ashes a number 
of insects, lady-bugs, potato-bugs, and one or two larger 
insects very much like our June-bugs of the South. Some 
were dead, others still living; and one of these we caught 
and kept alive for several days and brought home. These 
accounted for the presence of the little salamanders who 
found here their prey, not only easily caught, but more or 
less cooked. 

When the volcano fires one of its big charges the immense 
volume of hot gases, etc., shooting upward a mile or more 
in height creates a powerful suction into which the air around 
the side and base of the mountain is drawn. These various 
insects disporting themselves on the wing among the rich 
vegetation on the lower mountainside are caught in the 
suction of this maelstrom, and when partially asphyxiated, 
or killed by the gas or heat, they fold their small wings and 
drop in the ashes, where their coming is awaited by the lizards. 

400 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

In the museum at Pompeii the most interesting exhibit 
contained a number of crude surgical instruments, one of 
which was of a shape to suggest the famous Sims speculum. 
Others were so suggestive of torture that I was thankful 
that I practised surgery in the age of anesthesias. 

In Naples I made note of two things which are not men 
tioned in my books of travel. One was the absence of bits 
in the horses mouths. Attached to a strong headstall was 
a heavy band of leather which went around the nose and 
lower jaw just above the corners of the mouth. Fastened 
to this, and projecting about six inches on either side, was 
an iron spike with a ring at the tip, and the bridle-rein or 
driving-line was attached to this. It answered every pur 
pose, and is a humane substitute for the cruel metal bit 
which we in America employ without mercy. The other 
was a clever demonstration of the value of the conservation 
of energy. On a two- wheeled cart, drawn by a diminutive 
donkey, led by a diminutive youth, was arranged a stall, 
and snugly fitted into this stood a huge, fine cow being hauled 
on the rounds to her patrons. The water in the milk bought 
by a Neapolitan housewife is there only per mas naturales, 
for she stands by and watches the youth as he transfers his 
energies from the donkey s head to the cow s tail, and 
squats squarely behind to milk between the legs. This is 
the millionaire s milk- wagon. The goats furnish the others. 
Passing along one of the alleys, I followed one of these 
milk-dealers playing away on his woodland reed and driving 
a small flock of goats. When we overtook the procession 
it had halted, and the goatherd and a woman were in a 
violent altercation over half a glass of milk, she swearing 
she would never pay for the inch of foam on top, and he 
calling the Virgin Mary to witness that that foam was milk ! 

401 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

It was not until I had traveled for a month or two in 
Italy that I understood why so many of her brown-tanned 
sons were willing to exile themselves from such a beautiful 
country. They were looking for work, for Italy is the land 
of holidays. The judgment of the Americans in our party 
was that in Naples none but foreigners went to bed at night. 
The natives slept all day and twanged stringed instruments 
and sang melodious nocturnes and other arias until dawn. 
In their charming language that verse in the twentieth 
chapter of Exodus which reads, "Six days shalt thou labor 
and do all thy work," has found no place. 

From the early days of youth, when I read and read again 
in my favorite Childe Harold: 

Oh, Rome! my country, city of the soul; 
The orphans of the heart must turn to Thee, 
Lone Mother of dead Empires! 

I longed to see the Rome of Byron. When I came away 
the city of the soul was a phantom city, a mirage, a night 
mare. I saw and still see that marvelous sculpture, "The 
Gladiator," the eternal protest of the human heart against 
the thousands "butchered to make a Roman holiday." I 
saw the wild beasts crouching and springing on their help 
less victims in the arena, while the vast crowd of civilized 
savages looked down from the amphitheater of the Coli 
seum, untouched by pity at the awful scene ; I saw trailing 
in chains in the dust of Cassar s triumphal chariot the brave, 
the noble, the vanquished but still unconquered Vincenge- 
torix, and then great Caesar himself stabbed in the back by 
his trusted friends ! This was Rome s boasted civilization - 
the quintessence of cruelty, the refinement of barbarism. 
Her history is written in blood. 

From Pisa, Rapallo, Milano, Venice, and the lakes we 

402 




A CHAMOIS ON GUARD 

A snap-shot taken by the author, from the Bonaparte Trail, over the Great 
St. Bernard Pass 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

wandered to Novara, a quaint and most attractive old city, 
so far out of the beaten path of travel that few Americans 
discover it. I would not have known of it but for my 
study of Bonaparte s campaign, for this was one of his 
towns, and I had come to lead an expedition of my own 
over the Alps by the Great St. Bernard Pass, the route the 
First Consul followed when he came down in the rear of the 
Austrians and fought the battle of Marengo. 

There was train-passage to Ivrea, at the mouth of the 
Valley of Aosta, and up this valley to the village with the 
same name. At Aosta the two routes from the Rhone Valley, 
one by the Little, the other by the Great St. Bernard Pass, 
unite. Over the former Hannibal came with his train of 
elephants in October, two thousand years before Bonaparte 
marched down the other in May, 1800. Half-way up the 
Alps we drove by wagon to the hamlet of San Remy, where 
the road then ended, and there we bivouacked for the night. 
The next day, with six mules and a guide to lead each animal 
along the trail, our party reached the Hospice just at dark. 1 

On the way up, rounding one of the many short turns 
in the wide path upon the precipitous point of a crag, stand 
ing out in sharp outline against the sky, as fixed and as 
motionless as if cast in bronze, was a mountain-goat or 
chamois, evidently on sentry duty. Scattered among the 
boulders in the distance, his mates were browsing on the 
scant Alpine vegetation. We snapped him with our kodak 
before he leaped down and disappeared. 

1 The Swiss government many years ago completed an excellent wagon - 
road from the Rhone Valley to the Hospice. The Italian government has 
gradually extended the wagon-road from Aosta northward, the terminal now 
being at St. Remy. At immense expense this government was building a 
magnificent wagon-road from St. Remy to the Hospice, which was to be open 
for conveyances in 1905. Both governments have planted in several places 
great mines of dynamite to make this route impassable if need be. 

403 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

As we approached the highest point of the Great St. 
Bernard we came upon a second custom-house, which be 
longs to the Swiss government. The sun was just setting 
when we rounded a bend in the trail and came suddenly 
upon the lake, which belongs to the monastery, and across 
this beautiful body of clear water appeared the great white 
Hospice, from which a pack of huge St. Bernard dogs came 
bounding over the rocks, barking as deeply and fiercely 
as if they intended to devour us rather than offer us the 
welcome and rescue which legends say they are accustomed 
to make. The myth of the St. Bernard dog with the little 
cask of wine tied about his neck fades away like many others 
of its kind when one gets close to the facts. In stormy weather 
now the pious pilgrim on his or her way to the holy city can 
find shelter in one of the numerous telephone booths along 
the route, and do without the dogs by ringing up "Central." 

Though the Hospice of the Brothers of St. Bernard is for 
many days and all of the nights of the year a cold and cheer 
less place, the welcome of these devout priests is none the 
less warm. They greet you when you come, give you with 
out charge shelter and food, and take no note of your going. 
In the chapel of the monastery there is an iron chest, or 
alms-box, of generous size, in which those who accept their 
hospitality may of their own accord and unseen drop their 
contributions to the support of this noble charity; and while 
many of the poor who make this pilgrimage on foot accept 
food and shelter as a charity, I cannot but believe that 
practically all who pass this way and have means give 
enough to make up for the shortcomings of the less fortu 
nate. In any event, from this or other sources the Hospice 
and the brothers are supported, and they prosper and have 
prospered for hundreds of years. 

404 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Sunk in the wall of this chapel is a tablet (basso-relievo) 
which represents the death-scene of Desaix, the real hero 
of Marengo, who upon that memorable day saved Bona 
parte from seemingly irretrievable disaster and, falling in 
the moment of victory with a bullet in his heart, made the 
Empire possible to Napoleon. 

As one enters the Hospice one reads, in a most conspicu 
ous place, in bold, gilt letters on a slab of black marble, this 
apotheosis : "Napoleoni Primo Francorum Imperatori Semper 
Augusto Republics Voles canes Restauratori Semper Optimo 
Egyptico Bis Italico Semper Invicto. In Monte Jovis et Sem- 
pronii Semper Memoranda Republica Volesics Grata n De- 
cembris MDCCCIV." 1 

In a spacious room near by one of the priests showed us 
the library and museum, in which among other subjects of 
interest are numerous relics of the Temple of Jupiter, built 
upon this spot by Julius and Augustus Cassar, destined to 
stand as a pagan shelter for wayfarers for a thousand years, 
and then to be razed and replaced by a Christian Hospice, 
in which pilgrims to Rome and other wanderers might rest, 
and from this room I learned the history of Bernard de 
Menthon, later St. Bernard. Born in 923 A.D., son of a 
peer of France, educated for a worldly and ambitious career, 
he was, by his parents, contracted in marriage to a beauti 
ful, wealthy, and accomplished daughter of a noble family. 
Having determined to devote his life to the church, he fled 
across the Alps in order to escape this marriage and hid 
himself in Aosta. Here, in the ministration of his priest- 

*I venture this clumsy translation: "The grateful Republic of Valais to 
Napoleon the First, Ever Majestic Emperor of the French, Ever Most Ex 
cellent Rebuilder of the Republic of Valais, Ever Unvanquished Conqueror 
of Egypt and Twice of Italy, Ever to be borne in mind on the Mountain of 
Jupiter and of Sempronius. December n, 1804." 

405 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

hood, he became acquainted with the depredations of the 
robber bands that infested the mountain -passes, exacting 
tribute from rich pilgrims and practising cruel and often 
fatal torture upon those too poor to secure their ransom. 
Against these the brave and pious Bernard led a successful 
crusade, destroying the Temple of Jupiter, erecting in its 
stead the Hospice, which to this day bears his name. After 
his death at Novara, in 1007, in his eighty-fourth year, he 
was buried there, then canonized; and in 1123 his body was 
exhumed and his bones and teeth divided among various 
churches as venerable relics. 

All this and much more, not omitting a recital of the 
miracles done either by the living or in the name of the 
dead and sainted Bernard of plague of grasshoppers stayed ; 
of floods made to recede; of storms abated, epidemics ar 
rested; of the judgment of fire visited upon the wicked; of 
devils cast out; of the deaf made to hear, the dumb to 
speak, the lame made to walk; of one much younger and 
yet as sonless as Sarah, for whom hope deferred had made 
the heart sick, and for whom the holy man interceded, not 
altogether in vain, although he was not spared to witness the 
fruition of his work, for this Isaac came not into the world 
until after the holy man had left it; and of other miracles, 
forty-six in all, equally wonderful until the hour was late, 
and the good brothers, seeing we were tired and sleepy pil 
grims, showed us their best rooms, which they assured us 
the Prince of Wales had once occupied, and in their clean 
and cold oh, so cold ! beds we slept the sleep of the just, 
undisturbed by dreams of miracles or of princes and kings, 
of marching hosts, of cannon dragged in hollowed trees, 
or of the barking of the St. Bernard dogs, until at six o clock 
our courier banged upon the door to announce that break- 

406 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

fast was ready, the carriage waiting to convey us to Martigny 
in the Rhone Valley, and that it would take us seven hours 
to catch the east-bound train for Zermatt. 

This excursion along the Bonaparte trail, and a study 
of the grand Italian campaign which practically ended at 
Marengo, dispelled more than one boyhood illusion. Read 
ing Abbott s Napoleon, one is led to believe this crossing of 
the Alps with an army was one of the most difficult and 
dangerous feats in human history, scarcely possible to any 
except a Hannibal and a Bonaparte! The truth is, there 
was not a single natural obstacle which was not easily and 
safely overcome, and there was no excuse for losing a man 
or a wheel if ordinary care was exercised. 

From Martigny, on the banks of the Rhone in Switzer 
land (which Napoleon used as his base of supplies) , to I vrea, 
in the valley of Piedmont, is approximately ninety miles. 1 
To the Hospice on the summit of the Great St. Bernard 
notch is thirty miles, and for the greater part of the way 
there was then a good wagon-road. For about six miles 
on either side of the notch, or pass, there was a trail from 
four to six feet in width, in many places too narrow for the 
passage of wagons, but under ordinary precautions at the 
season when these troops marched over, late in May, 1800, 
perfectly safe for the transportation of men and materials 
of war. The ascent from Martigny along the valley of the 
Dranse to Orsieres is not more than one hundred feet to the 
mile. Thence to Liddes, five miles farther up, the grade is 
nearly three hundred feet to the mile, while from this point 
to the summit of the Great St. Bernard it is a little over 
three hundred and forty feet to the mile. As far as the 

1 Martigny is 1,560 feet above the level of the sea, and at its highest point 
the Great St. Bernard pass is 8,108 feet. 

407 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ascent was concerned this section gave the French army 
the greatest difficulty. With all of this, however, Napoleon 
had practically nothing to do, since Lannes, leading the ad 
vance column, had passed over and into Italy before Na 
poleon joined the army, and everything was in readiness 
for the rapid passage of the main column. It was Gassendi, 
inspector of ordnance, who conceived the idea of placing 
the cannon on sleds and hollo wed-out logs, which the men 
and animals dragged along the narrower parts of the trail. 
The most precipitous part of the old Napoleon trail is that 
which is still used and leads from the Hospice to San Remy, 
about five miles away, the descent being about six hundred 
feet to the mile. From San Remy to Aosta, thirteen miles, 
it becomes more gradual and is not more than two hundred 
and fifty feet to the mile, and in 1800 it was wide enough 
for the transportation of wagons and artillery. 

As an example of the exaggerated accounts of this passage 
the following is quoted: "During the summer this passage 
is not much less difficult and dangerous. At about two hun 
dred paces below the convent is situated a lake, the depth 
of which is not known, and which is scarcely ever thawed. 
The snow collects there in heaps, and covers in such a man 
ner the frozen surface of these passages that travelers often 
slide under it without being able to avoid it. This hap 
pened to the Consul more than once while he was coming 
to join us." The author describes in one place how ad 
mirably Napoleon performed the remarkable feat of sliding 
two hundred feet down the side of the mountain on the seat 
of his trousers. Further he says: "The cold upon this 
mountain is excessive, even in the middle of summer. No 
herb or green leaf to offer a pleasing verdure. In summer 
as well as in winter many people perish among these almost 

408 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

inaccessible rocks. At the time we crossed them the chapel 
was filled with dead bodies which the dogs had discovered 
under the snow"! 

When I was there the lake was not only free from ice, 
but it was as clear and transparent as any lake in the 
tropics. While the sun was shining the weather was so 
excessively warm that walking up the mountain brought 
up memories of Broadway in June. The monks in the 
monastery keep a large herd of cows, which in this season 
are driven to graze on the slopes within sight. The sound 
of the bells of these cows could be heard all through the 
night from the Hospice. 

Bourrienne, secretary to Bonaparte, says: "I never left 
him for a moment during the ascent. We encountered no 
personal danger and escaped with no other inconvenience 
than excessive fatigue. The rapid descent greatly amused 
us." 

Two thousand years earlier, Hannibal, with an army 
greater than Napoleon s, with much cavalry and a trans 
portation train of elephants, in October (a season of the year 
so cold that he was snowed in and could not move for three 
days) made the passage of the Little St. Bernard, the route 
over which joins the Bonaparte trail in the valley of Aosta. 
It is known that the armies of Rome often traversed this 
route centuries before the rule of Constantine, who as early 
as 339 A.D. expended much time and treasure in improving 
it as a thoroughfare. One hundred years later Attila led 
his horde of Magyars over this pass when he descended to 
the gates of Rome. In 773 Bernard, uncle of Charlemagne, 
marched his troops over into Italy, and in 1515 Francis I. 
passed this way with his army. Even in the Italian cam 
paigns of 1798 and 1799 the French and Austrian armies 

27 409 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

used this trail, and it is an illustration of the methods em 
ployed by Bonaparte to exaggerate the importance of his 
own achievements, that at the same time he was following 
Lannes over the Great St. Bernard Pass four of his lieu 
tenants were performing feats of the same character equal 
to if not more difficult than his. Turreau, with five thou 
sand men, passed over the Alps by the Mont Cenis route, 
standing off and eluding a guard of an equal number of 
Austrians who attempted to check him at the head of the 
valley of the Dora Riparia; Chabran, following the route 
of Hannibal, crossed the Little St. Bernard with five thou 
sand men, and made good his junction with Napoleon at 
Aosta before the latter at Fort Bard met the only opposition 
to his advance; Moncey, with fifteen thousand men, passed 
over the St. Gotthard, while a fourth column under Bet hen- 
court forced its way over the Simplon, beating off at Bellin- 
zona ten thousand Austrians sent to check his descent into 
Piedmont. 

The column under the First Consul, forty-five thousand 
strong, was held at bay for four days by five hundred Aus 
trians who defended Fort Bard, a delay which subsequent 
events proved unnecessary, and might have proved disas 
trous had an able and energetic general been in command 
of the Austrian army, for Melas was fully cognizant of the 
movements of the French troops across the Alps. Unable 
to dislodge the Austrians, the entire French army passed 
unmolested over a side-path across Mont Albaredo, a spur 
of the Italian Alps which juts out and almost closes the 
valley of the Dora Baltea at Fort Bard, while the artillery 
and wagon-train passed at night along the highway imme 
diately below the fort, which is perched high up on the 
precipice. Notwithstanding the much-vaunted precaution 

410 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of wrapping straw around the wagon- wheels, the Austrians 
had full knowledge of this movement in the darkness, but 
from their elevated position could not bring their guns to 
bear upon the train. The fort did not surrender until June 
ist, after the entire French army had passed beyond and 
had captured Ivrea at the mouth of the Piedmont Valley. 

Napoleon Bonaparte was not only a great soldier, but a 
great politician, and above all an actor. His often expressed 
conviction was that to hold and move the masses one must 
appeal to the imagination. With wonderful tact he had 
emerged unscathed from the dangers of the French Revo 
lution to find himself in 1800 in the center of the world s 
stage, playing with consummate skill the leading role in a 
great and tragic epoch. No one better than he and perhaps 
his gifted brother Lucien realized that he was now at the 
crisis of his career, and not the least important part of the 
programme of empire was the concealment of his mistakes 
and failures and the exaggeration of his successful achieve 
ments. The press agent at Paris was almost as important 
as the soldier in the field, and Lucien proved himself an 
adept. The echoes of the marvelous campaign of 1796-97 
were never for a moment permitted to die out. The ex 
pedition to Egypt appealed to the imagination. Its whole 
conception was a mistake; its execution, as far as Napoleon 
was concerned, nothing but a series of blunders, and yet so 
carefully concealed or skilfully glossed over that the general- 
in-chief, who, without order from his government and with 
entire disregard of every honorable sentiment or soldierly 
regard for his comrades, had deserted and slipped away 
from them at night, was hailed as the hero of the hour at 
Paris and welcomed as a conqueror. In the light of the 
facts, which now are open to all, it almost challenges belief. 

411 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The only brilliant incident of this Egyptian campaign was 
Kleber s victory at Heliopolis, after Bonaparte s defeat at 
Acre and the disastrous retreat across the desert. With 
thirteen thousand men, the remnant of the troops left in 
Egypt, he defeated Youssef Pasha with a greatly superior 
force and practically destroyed his army. And surely his 
lucky star was over him at Marengo. If any general ever 
deserved defeat Napoleon Bonaparte deserved it at Maren 
go; and, what is more, he got it. That victory was won by 
Desaix and Kellermann, in spite of the blunders of their 
commander, who permitted himself to be surprised, all of 
his artillery but six pieces captured, and his army beaten 
and driven in panic from the field. 

On the 8th of June, six days before the battle, the French 
cavalry captured an Austrian courier with despatches which 
told of Massena s surrender at Genoa, and put Bonaparte 
in full possession of his enemy s plans. He knew that Ott, 
who had been conducting the siege of Genoa, had, soon after 
Massena s surrender, started June 6th to join Melas and 
Zach at Alesandria. Notwithstanding this information, 
instead of concentrating his army, he had left twenty-three 
thousand of his best troops so far away that they were prac 
tically unavailable in case of disaster. Even on the i3th of 
June, the day before he was attacked by Melas at Marengo, 
he had only the division of Victor on the field. Lannes was 
three miles away with his corps, while Desaix was at Novi, 
in the direction of Genoa. 

C. Petit, who was present, and who cannot be considered 
in any other light than an ardent worshiper at the shrine 
of Napoleon, says: "In short, at four o clock in the after 
noon, I have no hesitation in saying that in the line of five 
miles or more there did not stand six thousand infantry to 

412 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

their colors, and only six pieces of cannon could be made 
use of." At this time Napoleon was only saved from de 
struction by the timely arrival of the devoted Desaix, who, 
after a wonderfully rapid and fatiguing march with his 
corps, came on the field, and with the aid of the younger 
Kellermann, who still held his cavalry in hand, catching 
the Austrians in an unguarded moment when they deemed 
their victory so complete that nothing was left but to gather 
up the flying Frenchmen as they could overtake them, broke 
through the Austrian line by a desperate assault, over 
whelmed one wing of their army, capturing a large number 
of prisoners, and causing a panic in the remainder which 
left Napoleon master of the field in one of the most surprising 
victories of his strange career. The Empire was possible 
after Marengo. 

Desaix, falling with a bullet through his heart in the mo 
ment of victory, was the last of the brilliant trio to whom, 
after Bonaparte, France might have looked for military 
leadership. Marceau had fallen at Coblenz, and Hoche had 
perished from disease. 



XXVIII 

MIND-READING OR THOUGHT-TRANSFERENCE THE VALUE 
OF SUGGESTION CHRISTIAN SCIENCE THE MIRACLES AT 
LOURDES-A MORMON EPISODE AND OTHER EXPERIENCES 

THE training of the physician teaches him to observe 
quickly and to "read between the lines. * Consciously or 
unconsciously, a great many patients try to deceive them 
selves, and would deceive the doctor were he not capable 
of looking beyond the subjective symptoms. A single ob 
jective symptom, something seen or felt, is often of more 
value in arriving at a diagnosis than a whole history of the 
aches and pains and sensations submitted by the sufferers. 
Dr. S. Wier Mitchell once told me of an experience which 
illustrates this point. Spending a vacation on the Riviera, 
he was seated in a small park apart from the crowd; he 
had been pointed out, and was approached by a well-dressed 
stranger. The man wore a light overcoat which was un 
buttoned, and as he came near the doctor observed in an 
inside pocket a cigar-case, from which projected the ends 
of a dozen cigars of a brand he smoked himself and knew 
to be very strong. The man said: "Dr. Mitchell, I have 
come all the way from America to consult you. I am a 
sick man, and Here the doctor interrupted him, say 
ing, "Sit down, sit down, I believe you," and, feeling his 
pulse at the wrist for a few seconds, he continued : "Yes, you 
are a sick man; you are killing yourself with tobacco. How 

414 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

many cigars do you smoke in a day?" and to his confession 
that he smoked Henry Clays or some other strong cigar al 
most incessantly he added : Give up tobacco, and you will 
be a well man." The patient was profoundly impressed 
with the doctor s quick reading of his pulse, believed in 
him, and was cured. 

One of my own experiences is somewhat akin to this. 
Spending the summer near New York, I made it the rule 
to be in my office in the city at a certain hour on two days 
of each week. As I was nearing my door I noticed a man 
a few feet ahead of me who turned to ring my bell. He 
had on a long frock-coat which fitted well and wore a soft 
felt hat. At first glance I took him to be from the South; 
but as he was pulling at the bell-knob, he having not yet 
seen me, I noticed on the rim of one ear a well-marked 
epithelioma, a form of cancer which occurs only after frost 
bite. I then placed him from the Northwest, for his coat 
and hat were not of the East. As I came up the stoop just 
behind him I said, "You want to see Dr. Wyeth?" He 
turned quickly and said, "Yes." I continued in an off 
hand manner as I was getting my key into the lock and 
not looking toward him. "About that cancer?" He said, 
"Yes." "From the Northwest?" "Yes." "Nebraska or 
Iowa?" "Why? Iowa!" "What regiment did you serve 
in during the war?" (He had a small Grand Army button 
on the lapel of his coat collar.) "I was major of the Thir 
teenth Iowa." I said: "Well, you re an old Yank, and I m 
an old Reb, and it s time for luncheon. There s nobody 
here but you and me and the cook. We ll have some tea 
and bread and butter, and talk over war-times." By this 
time we were standing within the hallway, and he said: 
"All right; but before we go any further I d like to know 

415 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

how much you will charge me for the operation?" I told 
him; and then he exclaimed: "Well, my goodness! What 
kind of a man are you, anyway? You never saw me be 
fore in your life ; you knew I was looking for you ; knew what 
was the matter with me ; knew what state I was from ; knew 
I was in the Union army; and d me if you haven t named 
exactly the amount I made up my mind to pay for the 
operation." 

The only real guess I had to make was the last one, and 
I named the sum usually charged for a minor surgical opera 
tion, which, in all likelihood, the doctor who sent him to me 
told him I would charge. Fifteen years later I had my last 
letter from him, asking for a certificate of my findings in his 
case, as he wanted to take out life insurance. There was 
nothing of "thought-transference" or telepathy or "mind- 
reading" in all this; yet there is such a thing as the con 
veyance to and registration upon one mind of an impression 
or thought emanating from another mind. I have demon 
strated this by experiments so carefully guarded that there 
is no doubt of the correctness of the fact. I explain it satis 
factorily to myself in this way: The nerve trunks and their 
terminal branches (end-organs) in the superficial skin are 
capable of conducting the electric waves or current from the 
surface to the brain, and vice versa, and, when a circuit of 
several persons is made by holding hands, the current can 
be made to pass on and on from one through the other until 
it comes back again to the battery cells from which it was 
sent, thus completing the circuit. The same nerves con 
duct the sensations of touch, heat, cold, pain, etc., from the 
surface to the brain, where these senses are registered and 
appreciated. They also convey impulses from the brain 
(the battery) to the muscles. 

416 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Certain brains are capable of great powers of concentra 
tion that is, the individual possessing this quality of brain 
can eliminate all thought of other things and think fixedly 
and clearly of just one thing. Certain other brains, and these 
are very rarely met with, are capable of eliminating at least 
from their conscious mind for the time being every process 
of thought or cerebration, leaving the mind so blank and 
receptive that it may be compared to the sensitive photo 
graphic plate upon which an impression may be readily 
and quickly imprinted. 

I had read of this, but was desirous of testing it thorough 
ly before accepting it. One Sunday evening a party of 
friends were gathered at my house, and at my suggestion 
the following experiment was made : Six of us joined hands, 
forming a circle around a small table, one of the six being 
blindfolded. A card was laid on the table, and upon this 
object the other five of the circuit fixed their undivided 
attention. I was first blindfolded, but registered no im 
pression, and two others were tried with negative results. 
The fourth person was a girl about sixteen years old, a grand 
daughter of Dr. J. Marion Sims, very intelligent and culti 
vated, mentally and physically sound, and, while not lack 
ing in the tenderness of femininity, rather leaning toward 
athletics and the outdoor life. Some one placed the seven 
of hearts in the center of the table, and as soon as our eyes 
and thought were fixed intently on it, in a quick and startled 
tone she exclaimed: "Oh! I see the seven of dia no; it s 
hearts!" 

I was about as much startled as she seemed to be, and 
tried other cards and then other objects, all of which she 
described. I had used only a single large silk handkerchief, 
and, although it completely obscured vision for me, I deter- 

417 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mined to make assurance sure by wadding one large ker 
chief for each eye and binding these down with a third 
broad napkin, and this method I tested on myself. Vision 
was impossible ; and later, to satisfy the skeptical, I adopted 
other means of eliminating all possibilities of self-deception 
or collusion. I carried on these demonstrations or tests 
for some two years, and convinced every one who wit 
nessed them, as I did myself, that thought-transference or 
the photographing of a visual impression from one brain 
upon the sensitive plate or subconscious mind (as I inter 
preted it) of another was a fact. One of my most satis 
factory experiments was with the "sensitive" and myself. 
She, blindfolded and standing behind me, would touch my 
forehead very lightly with the tips of the fingers of both 
hands and describe accurately any object upon which I 
could fix my attention. I would quietly take my watch 
from the pocket, hold it so that my body intervened and 
look steadily at the hour and the minute hands, and she 
would tell me their relative positions correctly. 

I also observed that I could tell just when she would 
appreciate the object I had in mind. From the watch I 
would turn to a series of photographs, and she would indi 
cate the one at which I was looking. On one occasion she 
succeeded in recording the object in mind with her fingers 
upon the forehead of a third person who in turn had her 
fingers on my forehead. I might select a single word from 
the page of a magazine, fix my mind on it, and she would 
read it aloud. The experiments have been entirely discon 
tinued now for several years, and I do not know whether 
or not this peculiar condition of mind persists. Many of 
the so-called telepathic or spiritualistic phenomena may 
in this way be accounted for, just as I shall explain 

418 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in the article on Right- Handedness why it is the mind 
occasionally registers a double impression of a single visual 
image. When this occurs the two halves of the brain are 
not working in unison; one half (usually the left), a little 
more alert, catches the impression a fraction of time ahead 
of the other hence the confused image. What we call 
training the mind is nothing more than drilling the two 
halves of our brain to work thoroughly well together, not 
unlike the two horses of a well-trained team. And yet I 
have had otherwise sensible people tell me they were con 
vinced that they had lived before because at times things 
happened which they had already seen! 

There is another queer phase of mind which probably 
every practitioner of experience has observed. I can illus 
trate it by the following case. A lady, the mother of several 
children, was brought to me on account of a lameness. Six 
years before she had been thrown from a carriage in a run 
away accident, her knee severely and painfully sprained 
and she mentally impressed or shocked with the sup 
posed gravity of the injury. After a few weeks in bed she 
went about on crutches, and for six years would not move 
from her chair without them. She had consulted doctors 
at home and abroad, and resented the suggestion that she 
could walk if she would. The joint was entirely normal, 
the muscles of the extremity slightly atrophied from want 
of exercise, but still able to support their part of the body 
and to be used. She was high-strung and hysterically in 
clined. I told her husband that she could get along with 
out the crutches, but that we had to deal with a mental 
condition which would require special treatment, and he 
agreed to stand by me in anything I might undertake. 
After two days devoted to a most tedious and painstaking 

419 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

examination, with measurements all noted carefully, the 
lesion was at last discovered, to her immense relief ; and with 
a dramatic climax, in which only the end could justify the 
means, I induced an acute hysterical cataclysm with par 
tial collapse, in which the cure was dexterously effected; 
and I, the fraud triumphant, said in a commanding tone 
to her husband: "Now, break her crutches! She will 
never need them again!" And the leading-man played his 
role. She was overjoyed at my discovery and the miraculous 
cure, was on her feet at once, and in six days walked un 
aided to my office, over a mile distant. 

The miracles at Lourdes, and those effected by the sight 
of or touching sacred relics, and the cures by Christian 
Science, are of the same order. Some mental shock or 
excitation seems necessary to the dislodgment of a morbid 
impression and the re-establishment of the normal process 
of cerebration. The condition termed hypnotic is one of 
suspended consciousness, and under certain conditions can 
be used to advantage. In the presence of my class at 
the Polyclinic I removed a tumor two inches in diameter 
from the shoulder-blade of a physician with no anesthetic, 
general or local, and with no appreciation of pain. I told 
him very convincingly that I would not hurt him in the 
least, that I would deaden all sensation with cocaine. I 
injected three or four drops of a weak solution in a line 
about an inch long, and in cutting in the line my knife 
slipped and went fully a half inch away from the injected 
area. As he did not wince, I slapped him on the back, 
saying, "You feel no pain," and went ahead with an ex 
tensive dissection two inches in depth, making a wound 
at least six inches in circumference. The patient, evi 
dently hypnotized by suggestion, assured me that at 

420 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

no time was he conscious that I was cutting into his 
back. 

A New York wag said it was not until he had watched 
New York society promenading past the "Flatiron Build 
ing" on a gusty day that he had learned how "fearfully 
and wonderfully women were made." He had evidently 
read Richardson s Beyond the Mississippi, and presumed 
I hadn t. That this description applies to certain mental 
attributes as well as to anatomical make-up the following 
incident may attest: 

Thirty years ago I received a letter from a doctor in 
Texas informing me that a man and his wife, owning a 
ranch in that state on which they had been living for several 
years, were coming to consult me in regard to the man s 
illness. I found he had an incurable disease of the liver. 
On one occasion when his wife, my assistant, and I were 
treating him the door of his room was suddenly opened by 
some one who did not knock, and a woman, neatly dressed, 
her face expressing great determination and excitement, 
started to walk in. Before she had made more than a 
single step, the wife, who evidently recognized her, sprang 
forward to meet her, caught her by the arm, and pushed her 
toward the door. As she did this I heard her say, in a sup 
pressed tone, "Not now!" Of course my curiosity was 
aroused by this strange procedure; but, as it was none of 
my affair, I should never have referred to it had it ended 
there. I had, however, scarcely seated myself in my office 
after returning from this visit when some one was an 
nounced, and in walked the lady whose face I had a glimpse 
of a few minutes before. 

She told me this story, and it was true: "The man you 
are treating is my husband, whom I have for six years 

421 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

mourned as dead. His name is , and when he dis 
appeared, as we had reason to believe by suicide or foul 

play, he was manager of the (mentioning the name of 

one of the leading metropolitan dailies). This morning I 
came to the city to do some shopping, and while at lunch 
eon in a restaurant I was astonished to see enter and seat 
themselves my husband and this woman, whom I have 
known for years, and who also had been reported as having 
killed herself. They did not recognize me, and when they 
went out I followed them to their rooms, and when you 
came away I followed you here. 

"Six years ago the business of my husband s paper called 
him to St. Louis, where he was registered at the Planters 
Hotel. A day or two later his hat and coat were picked 
up at the wharf there, his effects were left at the hotel, and 
the newspapers published his disappearance and suicide 
in the Mississippi. From that day until to-day I believed 
him dead. The woman with him is the wife of another 
man. She and her husband lived in our village, and, while 
my husband and I were acquainted with them, I had not 
the slightest suspicion of an improper relation. I knew 
that she had no children, and that she and her husband 
did not get on any too well together. Soon after my hus 
band was reported dead this woman s shawl and hat were 
picked up on a pier on the East River, and her husband 
received a despairing note, informing him of her resolution 
to end her life." 

I told the woman her husband could only live a few weeks, 
and she then went to see him, and a reconciliation took 
place, not only between the man and his wife, but between 
the two women. He lived about the number of weeks I 
had guessed, and these two women took turns day and 

422 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

night nursing and watching over him with affectionate 
devotion. When he was dying, and I left the room feeling 
very much like "a looker-on in Vienna," each was holding 
a hand and both were crying. In apotheosis, in my mind s 
eye, I saw looking down (or up) on this pathetic scene the 
smiling visages of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. And 
while borrowing from the storehouse of Avon, why not 
write here those original words of the immortal Dogberry: 
"God help us! it is a world to see!" 

In the list of tragedies another comes into mind, and it 
is one I love to remember. A woman of about thirty, 
modestly and fashionably dressed in black, whose handsome 
face and bearing bespoke good breeding and proper bringing 
up, without any sort of introduction, asked me to place her 
in a training-school for nurses. From the appearance of 
her hands, which were small and white, I inferred that she 
had not been accustomed to work, and several costly rings 
suggested that it was not absolutely necessary. Her accent 
was of the South ; and, while she was evidently desirous of 
not revealing her identity, the fact that she had come to me 
for aid or advice convinced me that she had lived among 
my friends. I realized that she was in dead earnest, and 
there was that indescribable something about her which 
told me she was a good woman. I explained to her the hard 
life she was planning and urged her not to go into it un 
less she was ready to give up everything else and devote 
her entire time to it. She had considered all this and was 
ready. 

A fortnight later I called by the hospital and saw her in 
the uniform of a probationer, freshening up a bath-room 
in which she had just finished bathing a patient. She 
seemed happy, and the superintendent said she was an in- 

423 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

defatigable worker and gave promise of making an excellent 
nurse. Meanwhile, she had told me her story. It was 
tragic and pathetic, in that she was the innocent victim of 
the devotion of another man than her husband, and the 
circumstances were such that she was seemingly guilty and 
had been so judged in her native village. I knew her hus 
band and her people, and the man who had paid for his in 
fatuation with his life had been one of my most brilliant 
pupils. He was the leading physician of his section, and 
had married the most intimate friend of my fledgeling nurse. 
His wife died after a long illness, through which her friend 
nursed her day in and out. The village gossips thought she 
was too much at the doctor s home, and that the doctor 
was more attentive and demonstrative of his appreciation 
of another man s wife than Mrs. Grundy s code of ethics 
prescribed. 

Her brother came under the spell of this gossip. A week 
or two after the funeral the doctor, who had driven in his 
buggy to her husband s home, asked her to go with him to 
the cemetery to place some flowers on the new grave. As 
he drove back to her gate, without a word of warning this 
brother shot the doctor dead so instantly that he spoke 
not a word. The sister, horrified at the deed, denounced 
her brother as a cowardly murderer. The law of gossip 
cleared the murderer and divorced the wife and mother; 
for the dead man s will was read in court, and he had left 
his money to his wife s friend! That settled every doubt. 
She had lost reputation, husband, children, friends. No 
body stood by her and believed in her excepting her mother 
and the writer of these memoirs, and he told her that if 
she was true to her high purpose of showing by a life of de 
votion to duty that she was worthy of the husband s love 

424 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

which she had lost he would come back to her and bring 
her babies with him. 

She made a great nurse, and when a town in New York 
was panic-stricken by an epidemic of typhoid, she went 
there like a " Sister Seraphine," and labored for months 
and won a host of friends. The news of all this found its 
way back to the village in Texas; and presently she came into 
my office radiant over a letter from her mother, saying her 
husband had consented to let her see her children again. 
While she was on this visit to her own, one of those ill 
winds which blows good to some came on in the shape 
of another epidemic of typhoid, and she took charge. She 
wrote me: 

"I am working night and day, and my own people are 
believing in me again. Those who would not speak to me 
when I came back are taking me to their homes." Within 
a year my wife and I were invited to her wedding to her 
husband, and the two children were bridesmaids; and some 
years later we were invited to the wedding of one of the 
daughters by the happy parents and asked to bring our 
children and stay a month ! 

I could tire my readers with these queer recitals, but will 
add here only the following two: Three lads grew to man 
hood in a small Mississippi town; were schoolmates, play 
mates, and friends. One of these came to man s estate 
with good habits, steady purpose, and the promise of a use 
ful career. The other two drifted as idlers into dissipation 
and went rapidly on the downward way. 

As Joseph Cook was closing his store late one night his 

two acquaintances with drawn pistols robbed him and his 

safe, pocketed all the cash, and then they told him they 

were going to leave the country for good, and he must go 

28 425 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

with them a few miles on the way to insure their getting a 
good start. A mile or two from the village, arriving at a 
point where the road led by a slash or shallow swamp, they 
conducted him through this some two hundred yards from 
the roadway, where the water was from three to four inches 
in depth, and where the swamp-grass was tall enough to 
hide a dead man, and there they put five thirty-eight-caliber 
bullets into his body. The next to the last shot broke his 
lower jaw, and as he spun half around from the force of the 
impact a fifth bullet went in at his backbone, cut the spinal 
cord in two, and he dropped limp into the water. Fortu 
nately (or unfortunately), he fell on his back, his head rest 
ing on a tuft of grass, which kept the water from strangling 
him to suffocation. They stood over him for a few minutes, 
placed a hand on his chest to be sure of their work (while 
he with wonderful resolution held his breath), and then 
these conscienceless villains went to their homes and went 
to bed! 

Only two of the wounds had done serious injury. The 
one through the spine had produced complete paralysis be 
low the middle of the back, but people can live a long time 
with paralysis. The wound of the jaw was bleeding pro 
fusely. It was August and warm, and Cook was in his shirt 
sleeves when shot. Convinced that he would not live till 
daylight, he took of the blood in his mouth and with his 
finger-tip wrote on his shirt-front, Jim Smith shot me" 
When the news of the robbery and disappearance spread 
through the village scouting parties followed the roads and 
scoured the woods in all directions, and about nine o clock 
of the next day some one from the roadway heard groans 
off in the slash, and took Cook out, still alive. A few 
months later his brother, Dr. Cook, of Hattiesburg, Mis- 

426 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sissippi, came with him to my hospital. The bullet lodged 
in the mouth was removed, and, cutting away the bones, 
I extracted some bits of lead from the spinal cord ; but this 
had been completely divided, and his cure was impossible. 
He died thirteen months after he was shot. The murderers 
were immediately arrested, and, unfortunately, were not 
lynched. The law of Mississippi did not recognize as a 
murder a death unless it took place within twelve months of 
the date of the act which caused it. The maximum penalty 
was twenty years in the penitentiary, and this worthy pair 
escaped within two years and were never recaptured. But, 

What exile from himself can flee 

To zones though more and more remote? 

Still, still pursues where er I be 

The blight of life, the demon, Thought! 

The following extraordinary coincidence relates to the 
case of the late Captain John M. Sloane, of Pontotoc, Mis 
sissippi. In 1890 I received a letter from Captain Sloane. 
At the battle of Chickamauga, in September, 1863, a piece 
of shell or canister had torn away his chin and a good part 
of the lower jaw, laying open the larynx, or windpipe, and 
the oesophagus, or gullet, and from that day he had lived 
on liquid or semi-liquid nourishment, carried into the 
stomach through a tube introduced into the fistulous open 
ing of the gullet. From his description and a photograph 
I was convinced nothing could be done which would justify 
the expense of a trip to New York. As a matter of curiosity, 
I wrote to a doctor friend for information. Captain Sloane s 
record as a soldier and citizen was excellent, but by reason 
of his mutilation he had had a hard time to make a living. 
His wife had died; he was trying to support himself and an 
invalid daughter by clerking in a grocery store, but was 

427 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

really in distress. The doctor stated in answer to a further 
inquiry that he believed the old soldier and the daughter 
could make a living if they had a modest capital to estab 
lish a small grocery business. I wrote to the mayor of 
Pontotoc that if the citizens there would raise a certain 
sum I would raise as much from friends in New York, and 
this was done, and the captain and his daughter were very 
happy in their new venture. 

In 1896 there was to be a dedication of the Chickamauga 
National Park, and all the surviving veterans of both armies 
who took part in that battle were invited to a fraternal 
reunion. General Wheeler had requested me to go there 
and locate the marker for the shaft it was proposed to erect 
to show where our command had operated, and I wrote to 
the captain at Pontotoc, who agreed to meet me in Chat 
tanooga at a time and place named. In the enormous 
crowd and great confusion which prevailed, I failed to find 
the old soldier, and with a doctor friend I drove in his buggy 
to the battle-field, some ten miles away. At noon we 
reached Crawfish Spring for luncheon. The doctor s wife 
had prepared a generous basket, and as we were arranging 
its contents in a shady nook close by the spring I observed 
two men in Federal uniform who were seated near by. In 
the spirit of the occasion I went up to them and said: 
"Boys, you look hungry. Won t you come over here and 
share our luncheon with us?" Seeing we had an abundance 
for all and meant what we said, they accepted. 

One of these men was a Mr. S. S. Rich, then of Moberly, 
Missouri ; the other was from Indiana, but his name escapes 
me. Rich was originally from Kentucky, and had served 
in a famous Union brigade from that state. Naturally, as 
we sat there our thoughts and conversation turned back to 

428 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the thrilling scenes we had witnessed on those three great 
days in September, 1863, during which this bloody battle 
had lasted. I had fallen asleep the Sunday night after the 
battle closed right by this spring within a few feet of where 
we now were, and was only awakened by the hot sun shining 
in my face. I told them the story of the dead man I found 
sitting up against a tree in a dense thicket not far away 
and of my speaking to him, thinking he was only wounded 
and alive. Then Mr. Rich remarked: "I saw the most 
remarkable wound in this fight that I ever came across. 
In one of our charges, passing over the line the Confederates 
had occupied, I trod over a man whose jaw and throat were 
torn away, and the blood and froth were flowing from the 
opening. He seemed to be choking to death in his own 
blood, and I stopped, caught him by the arm, and dragged 
him a few yards and left him so that his head and neck 
hung down over the root of a tree, and went on." I asked 
him if he knew what troops composed this part of the Con 
federate line, and he said: "Yes; we captured some of 
Lowery s Mississippi regiment right there." 

I had in my pocket a photograph of Captain Sloane and 
his graphic description of where, when, and how he was 
wounded, and in it he had stated that some one had dragged 
and placed him so the blood would not strangle him as he 
lay helpless. As he belonged to Lowery s regiment and 
received this very unusual wound at that time and place, 
I knew I was talking to the Union soldier who, even in the 
hurry and excitement of one of the bloodiest battles in his 
tory, had been humane and thoughtful enough to do a kind 
ly act to a helpless enemy. I pulled out the picture, showed 
it to him, and asked him to read the letter. When he fin 
ished it he said: "My God! That s the man." The In- 

429 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

diana man remarked: "Why, that must be the man I saw 
in the train coming down here. He was showing us how 
he took a drink by placing a tube in the open place in his 
throat and pouring the water into a funnel." 

The brave old captain died a few years later. He and I 
had never met. I had met the man, however, to whom he 
really owed the prolongation of his life. 

After all, the world is not so large, as these various experi 
ences in my own life attest; and since it deals with that 
sentiment of brotherhood which should prevail in our rela 
tions one with another in my profession, I shall add this 
minor incident. 

As I was returning from one of my visits to my old home 
in Alabama there boarded the train at Knoxville a dis 
tinguished-looking gentleman who was given the section 
adjoining mine. Seeing him reading a book on appendicitis 
by Dr. George Fowler, of Brooklyn, I concluded he must be 
a surgeon, and in the spirit of fellowship which permits 
familiarity among doctors I said, "You are a doctor?" He 
looked up rather rebukingly and replied: "You are mis 
taken; I am not." I continued, "Then you have appendi 
citis." In some surprise he said: "Well, yes; I have." 
My next remark was: "You are on the right track to get 
cured. The author of that book is one of the best surgeons 
in the world, and you can do no better than to go to him." 
To this he said: "Thank you. That may be true, but I m 
going to another surgeon in New York City, a Dr. John A. 
Wyeth." At this I took a card from my case and handed 
it to him, and he exclaimed, "This seems like Providence!" 
It turned out lucky in more ways than one. Several weeks 
after this Dr. Fowler came to dine with us, and in the course 
of conversation he remarked : Mrs. Wyeth, I have a good 

430 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

story to tell you on the doctor. My cousin, who was com 
ing North on the Southern Railway, happened to be seated 
near him in the Pullman car at Knoxville when, hearing my 
name, he pricked up his ears and overheard a passenger 
who, he found out, was Dr. Wyeth, trying to persuade an 
other passenger who had appendicitis to come to me for 
operation. My cousin said, Cousin George, isn t it rather 
unusual for such a thing as that to happen in your pro 
fession? and I replied: It isn t any too common; but it 
can happen. " I thought again of what a little world it is. 
It had not occurred to me that my friend would ever know 
of this accidental meeting nearly a thousand miles from 
New York. 



XXIX 

RIGHT-HANDEDNESS, OR DEXTRAL PREFERENCE IN MAN- 
ALSO SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE VALUE OF ENFORCED 
AMBIDEXTERITY 

IN our village school in Alabama the boys and girls were 
together. Before the village grew to be a town when it 
was still "the Settlement," and there were not more than 
a couple of dozen children big enough to go to school we 
all sat together on the benches in the one-room log cabin 
with its huge fireplace, its single door, and one slit of a win 
dow, made by sawing out six feet of two logs. Each day 
we took our places in the order in which we arrived. When 
civilization began to overtake us our parents built a new 
school-house out of planks. It was the first frame house 
I had ever seen, and it was so large and fine-looking we chil 
dren used to gaze at it in wonder. There was room enough 
inside to put four of the old log cabins under the new roof; 
so we moved into it, tore the old thing down, and cut it 
up for firewood. How natural it is to cut an old thing down 
and use it for firewood! The new house had done away 
with the fireplace, for cast-iron stoves were coming into 
fashion. 

The teacher no longer blew a horn or shouted to call us 
in, but tapped a great big bell. One night two "big boys" 
real smart boys played a trick on him. They climbed 
to the belfry and greased the bell with tallow, and, as it 

432 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

wouldn t ring the next morning, everybody was late at 
school. I have often thought of how startled the good 
teacher must have felt when he pulled the rope that time, 
and instead of the usual reverberating clang there came to 
his ears from on high the dead, cracked-pot sound of a 
tallowed bell! When the scholars found out what had 
happened we all laughed; but it was a short laugh. When 
the bell wouldn t ring nothing else was left but to look up 
the old horn and blow the assembly. The Day of Judg 
ment will not be more solemn than this day was for the 
boys, who were lined up presently to be catechized. Of 
course, the girls were not under suspicion. They took 
their seats on their side of the school-room and looked on 
with especial sympathy, each for the boy she liked best 

The teacher, whose expression suggested the dark cloud 
which rolls up as the advance-guard of a cyclone, took 
down from over the blackboard a well-seasoned six-foot 
hickory withe and remarked: "Boys, I have no means of 
knowing who greased the bell. Some one or more of you 
are guilty, and unless the culprit owns up I m bound to 
get him, for I m going to thrash all of you." Just as we 
were wishing we had put on two pairs of trousers and pad 
ded our backs, two heroes stepped out of line and said 
they did it and they were very sorry, and they looked it. 
Then the good teacher replaced the hickory and told them 
if they would scrape the tallow off and chop wood and 
build the fires for two weeks he would let them off. The 
bell rang out the next morning as if nothing had happened, 
and for a fortnight at least the school-house was warm. 

Civilization also took our benches, upon which we had 
sat and squirmed and slid so long that they were as smooth 
and as sleek as ice, and so comfortable, and gave us single 

433 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

seats and desks, the boys ranged in long rows on one side 
and the girls on the other. It seemed a long way across to 
where our sweethearts sat, but somehow or other we man 
aged to elude the watchful eye of the teacher there was 
never more than one and established a wireless system 
of communication which antedated Marconi. 

But the time for real enjoyment was the half-hour al 
lowed for recess or play in the middle of the morning 
session. The school-house was built on the backbone of 
a high ridge which overlooked the village. At recess one 
side of the ridge was the girl s playground; the other was 
for the boys. We were not allowed on their side, and of 
course they could not overstep the bounds of modesty and 
cross over to us. I wonder if our teacher forgot that there 
was a summit to that ridge, a place where the two sides 
came together, a media tutissimus ibis, as Virgil puts it? 
If he did, we didn t. The law of natural selection was more 
inexorable than the law of gravitation; for all of us boys 
and girls alike gravitated uphill and found a common 
playground and worlds of that glorious fun and frolic which 
are the essence of existence in that period of adolescence 
when Nature is asking the question, "What next?" On 
top of this ridge, one day when I was twelve years old, I 
came face to face with the question of ambidexterity. 

I had a sweetheart, and her name was "Mugg." Can 
you imagine in all the category of names one more sugges 
tive of ugliness I am almost tempted to say of "Muggli- 
ness ?" But Mugg was only her nickname. It was short 
for Margaret, and she was the prettiest girl in school to 
me. On this eventful day, as soon as we had rushed out 
of our prison-house and disappeared from the teacher s 
vision in the thick foliage of our respective hillsides, we 

434 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

scrambled to our common playground in the summit woods. 
Our play on this occasion was bending the tough young 
hickory saplings down to near the ground and seating our 
sweethearts and ourselves on them as "ridey-horses." 
Mugg was so much prettier than any other boy s sweet 
heart that I determined she should have the biggest and the 
highest "ridey-horse" of all. I had not then learned of the 
huge Trojan horse which brought disaster to Ilium. 

There stood in our grove a slender, graceful, tight-bark 
hickory sapling, toughest of all tough timber, bending but 
never breaking, towering fully thirty feet to its topmost 
bifurcation. There was no other like it, as there was no 
other girl like Mugg. I made up my mind I would bend it 
to the ground and she should have it; and to the top I 
climbed, twisted the terminal twigs around my hands and 
wrists, and swung boldly out into space toward the ground. 
I had struck the wrong hickory. Alas! had this been the 
only time! Instead of swooping to the earth in a long, 
graceful curve, amid the plaudits of an admiring throng, 
with an occasional glance at Mugg and her approving smile, 
as I had anticipated, I bent that obstinate sapling not more 
than three feet from the top in fish-hook shape, and there 
I dangled, helpless and hopeless, almost as much so as if I 
had had a noose about my neck and was hanging from a 
gibbet. As the sense of failure and chagrin flashed over 
me then I would gladly have exchanged for the exitus 
lethalis of the hangman. But this was not to be. I could 
not clamber back, and the arc of the circle described by the 
bending tree-top had a diameter beyond the swing of my 
wildly gyrating feet. 

I suggested with earnestness and feeling that half a 
dozen boys climb up and add sufficient weight to bring 

435 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

us all down in safety together; but the responses were 
negative. One of my rivals thought I looked so much 
better where I was than on the ground that I had better 
stay up there. Another informed me and the remark 
was entirely original, and from the giggle which floated up 
to my height must have been considered witty at their 
level that if I would only let go the ground would catch 
me. It did. On the way down, slashing through the 
limbs, I struck one which, as in some of those confusing 
problems in fractions, changed the numerator into the de 
nominator and landed me head foremost, with the right 
hand thrust out to catch the brunt of the fall and here is 
where dextral preference comes in. 

Had I been ambidextrous which is a paradox, for I 
could scarcely have two right hands I would have extended 
both anterior extremities, and, dividing their combined re 
sistance to body weight and momentum, would have es 
caped a Colles s fracture of the radius at the right wrist. 
Our home doctor called it a sprain, and there was no re 
position, or "setting." The subsequent pain and incon 
venience were so severe and prolonged that I acquired the 
habit of using the left hand and arm, and in the course of 
years I became fairly ambidextrous. Appreciating the value 
of ambidexterity in surgery, for several years while studying 
and teaching anatomy, I worked almost wholly with the 
left hand, until, in performing an operation, whichever 
member was more convenient or useful I used without 
thought as to whether it was right or left. 

Man is the only one-sided animal. A careful study of 
apes has convinced me that they have no manual prefer 
ence. I could narrate many interesting experiences with 
those near-human creatures which at least amused and in- 

436 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

structed me, and might you, but time and space forbid all 
but one. This is it : 

To the Sixty-fourth Street Zoo, when my good friend, Mr. 
Conkling, was curator, there was presented a very vicious, 
imperious, and combative black monkey from (I think) 
Brazil. His much-used tail was very long, fully as long as 
his body; and I never saw any of the tribe which did so 
much business with that part of its anatomy as this lively 
fellow. He was turned loose in the big cage, in which there 
was already a general assortment of different kinds of 
monkeys. Having never seen anything just like the new 
comer, the original tenants with agile unanimity sprang, 
jumped, or clambered to the loftiest, most remote and in 
accessible portions of the cage, glanced downward, and 
chattered away as if they, too, were on the tower of Babel. 
The Brazilian, from his resting-place on the floor, was not 
long in completing an inventory of stock before he began 
to have fun. He chased, chewed, and spanked everything 
in that cage until it looked as if he would die laughing, 
while the others, tired out and scared half to death, were 
clinging to the bars at the roof and panting like lizards in 
August. His final stunt was to carry the smaller ones to 
the greatest height and drop them to the floor; and then 
the keeper intervened and placed the black Amazonian all 
by himself in another cage immediately adjoining. 

It took the others several days to recover from the panic, 
and for a week or two whenever he approached the parti 
tion bars his neighbors found much to interest them at the 
other end of their abode. 

Time is said to bring its revenges, and Talleyrand (or some 
one probably not so smart) is said to have said that "All 
things are possible to those who wait" and this without 

437 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

reference to tips. At all events, in an unfortunate moment 
the long black tail found itself projected between the bars 
and a good long way within the general monkey cage next 
door, while he who owned it slept. Now, monkeys have a 
language. There is no doubt about this in my mind, for 
I have observed them closely and with great interest. One 
major monkey who had suffered much, both in body and 
spirit, at the hands and teeth of this interloper, stealthily 
approached the sleeping Saul, grabbed the nethermost tip 
of the infringing tail between his teeth, reinforced his grip 
with the clutch of both hands, and pulled away vigorously 
until the butt -end of his enemy was firmly jammed against 
the partition bars. Verb sap! The other monkeys fell 
on him in showers, and as many as could took hold, and the 
denizen of the upper Amazon was theirs, or at least a good 
long part of him. When his cries brought help, all the hairs 
of his caudal extremity were off, and a half-dozen of his 
distant cousins were chewing on all that was left down to 
the bones. With his raw tail looking like an Essex Street 
show-window sausage to which the mice had found access, 
he was the most forlorn and dejected creature I have ever 
seen. 

I have never seen in any animal, even those which move 
about wholly or in part on their posterior or inferior extremi 
ties, as the kangaroo or the various members of the bird or 
fowl kingdom, any demonstration of preference for one side 
more than the other. 

The genus homo is strongly one-sided and right-sided. 
There are several hundred of these to one left-handed. 
What is the reason? Is it custom, with the added influence 
of heredity, or is there an anatomical cause? Let us begin 
at the beginning and try to interpret the meaning or the 

438 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

intent of the great Law. In the earliest recognizable for 
mative period of the human embryo, the cells are arranged 
in rows and layers on each side of, and equal in number and 
size, and parallel with a central perpendicular line the line 
of fusion or union, where the two halves, the right and the 
left merge into the one body. The cells which form the 
two halves or hemispheres of the brain are balanced on the 
two sides, and traveling downward we find the two eyes, 
the two fused halves of the nose, the cheeks, ears, two halves 
of the tongue, the jaws, the thyroid bodies of the neck, the 
bones, arms and legs, lungs, kidneys, and all the organs in 
pairs, each balancing the other. 

May we not venture from this to opine that the purpose 
of creation was the perfect balance of power and of function 
between the two halves which were to fuse into a unit 
being ? 

Studying still more closely the process of growth in the 
earlier stages, we find further justification of this conclusion 
in the development of the heart and the circulatory system. 
Now, if the two halves of the body are to be equally efficient 
they must of necessity be equally well nourished, and the 
blood is the great conveyer and distributer of nutrition. In 
the embryo the heart itself, made up of two halves, hangs 
like a plummet in the middle line, and springing from its 
base are a right and a left aortic arch, the two curving down 
ward in beautiful symmetry to unite below in one common 
conduit or aorta. Could this anatomical arrangement per 
sist, is it not fair to presume that each half of the brain 
and each upper extremity would receive an equal share of 
nutrition, or a proportion so nearly equal that one side 
would not declare itself superior to or independent of the 
other? We know, however, that it does not persist. Within 

439 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the first few months of intra-uterine development the heart 
is gradually and permanently changed from a perpendicular 
to an oblique position, and from its normal central place well 
over into the left side of the chest. As this is occurring, 
one of the two original aortic arches is thrown out of use 
and ultimately withers up into a useless cord. The aortic 
arch which persists is twisted semispirally on itself, with 
such disarrangement of the heart and the great vessels 
passing upward to the brain and the upper extremities that 
the right arm gets more blood than the left, while the left 
half of the brain that half from which emanate the motor 
impulses to the right side of the body receives a larger 
supply of nutrition than its fellow. What has caused this 
disarrangement? 

Dividing the chest from the abdomen is a transverse, and 
in the embryo a rectangular, partition known as the dia 
phragm. In contact with the under, or abdominal, surface 
of this partition is the spleen on the left, and its opposing 
or balancing organ, the liver, on the other side. In the 
process of evolution under, in all probability, changed con 
ditions of ingestion demanding increase of function, the liver 
has become enormously enlarged, until, instead of being 
equal in size and weight with the spleen, it is from five to 
seven times as large and heavy. In finding room for itself 
it has encroached upon the right side of the chest, and has 
not only taken up the room for, but has robbed this lung 
of one lobe. Not satisfied with this act of vandalism, it 
has shoved the heart far over to the left side and thrown 
the circulatory apparatus for the upper part of the body 
out of plumb. No doubt the wag who said the intruder 
should be divided into three parts because he was "all gall" 
had a prevision of my theory of the hepatic cause of dextral 

440 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

preference in man. When I was making a study of this 
subject, in 1878 and 1879, I weighed the two halves of a 
number of brains and found that in a very large proportion 
of cases the left half was heavier than the right. 

The very much more extensive investigations of the 
Marylebone Hospital in England confirm this fact. Bichat 
long ago concluded that the specific gravity of the gray 
matter the thought and motion originating element of the 
brain of the left half was greater than that of the right. 
That the two halves are different is evident in comparison 
with the brain of animals. In examining the brain of the 
monkey I was struck with the perfect symmetry of the 
various right and left convolutions, a condition which is 
not present in the brain of man. The result of all this is 
that the two halves of our brains are not always working 
actively in harmony to produce the full complement of 
brain efficiency. In right-handed persons the left half is 
in general more alert and active. In moments of more or 
less complete or partial mental inertia, as not infrequently 
occurs when the blood is flooding the digestive apparatus 
soon after eating, certain visual impressions will be caught 
by the more alert half the left before the right half gets 
the registration. The complete mental impression can 
occur only then; and while only an infinitesimal fraction of 
time may have transpired between the partial and com 
plete registration, there is a confused or double image. 
This has led persons who are over -spiritually inclined or 
superstitious to the supposition that they had witnessed 
the same scene or occurrence under exactly the same con 
ditions at some other time, perhaps in some other existence. 
Had both halves of the brain been acting together this 
could not have occurred. 

29 44I 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The two halves of the brain may be compared to the two 
horses of a team. If they are well matched and trained, 
they move off and pull together smoothly and satisfactorily. 
If one horse is drowsy or a laggard, the other gets away 
first, and his fellow follows in a clumsy and jerky effort to 
catch up and pull his share of the load. What we know as 
training the mind is intended to develop these two halves 
of our brains into a well-trained and alert working team. 
When in the course of my investigations this simple, and 
to me satisfactory, explanation of a phenomenon that I had 
often experienced came to me, I was overjoyed and was 
under the impression that I had made a great discovery. 
I made it known to the two leading professors of physiology 
in New York, and they accepted it and congratulated me. 
Later, to my great disappointment, I learned that an Eng 
lish investigator had advanced the identical theory. Sic 
transit gloria mundi. 

That we often fail to use both sides of our brain is proved 
beyond doubt by a number of cases of aphasia, or the loss 
of the power of framing thoughts into words, in which 
cases on post-mortem examination the disease has been 
actually located in the speech center on the left side. Al 
though the same convolution and an identical gray matter 
was intact on the right side, the patient could never learn 
to use that center. 

In my opinion ambidexterity should be made an impor 
tant feature of the training of a child. It should be begun 
at birth and followed up persistently. Children of strong 
hereditary tendency to use the right hand to the neglect 
of the left should be made left-handed by compelling them 
to do with that hand all or most of the things a single hand 
is usually required to do. It is very advisable that they 

442 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

practise writing with both hands, and speak and pronounce 
the words as formed. They will then of necessity be exer 
cising and developing for use the speech and word center 
of the side from which the motor and thought impulses are 
originating. It is remarkable how thoroughly one may 
overcome habits of heredity and become expert by the per 
sistent use of a once discarded or slightly used member. 
A friend who by inheritance and practice was intensely 
right-handed had in his twentieth year his right arm shot 
away at Chancellorsville. He learned to write as legibly and 
rapidly with his left hand as he had written with the pre 
ferred member, and became one of the most famous shot 
gun experts in the South, loading and firing his gun without 
assistance. 

This experience, and my own and many others , proves 
that notwithstanding the displacement of the heart the loss 
of the balance of power between the two sides is not so 
great that it cannot be overcome by persistent effort. I 
had very little trouble in making my youngest boy decidedly 
left-handed. There was the usual insistence and preference 
for the dextral member, and heredity asserted itself, for as 
far back as we could trace his ancestry on both sides there 
was not an exception to dextral preference. 

It would be interesting to carry this theory into practice 
through several generations in order to observe how much 
greater brain efficiency might be developed. I prophesy 
that while the Wyethian brain of the future may not set 
the Thames on fire, it will easily surpass the Wyethian 
brain which is behind this feeble effort. 



XXX 

OCCUPATIONS OF A RETIRED LIFE BUILDING THE NEW POLY- 
CLINIC HOSPITAL PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK ACAD 
EMY OF MEDICINE AND OF THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN 
SOCIETY CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF 
THE UNION LEAGUE CLUB, ETC. 

A MAN S life may be likened to a ball of snow, which as 
a boy he starts from the hilltop. With each turn it grows 
larger and carries more weight; but the farther it goes the 
swifter it speeds, until control is lost, and nothing can stop 
it until it reaches the bottom. When a young man I read 
a novel entitled The Occupations of a Retired Life. It was 
the story of a man who had made a success of his career in 
the metropolis, and at sixty turned his back on the dis 
tractions of the city and the anxiety of affairs and found 

repose 

Far from the madding crowd s ignoble strife. 

I had fully determined that when I reached that age I 
should give up my own and other people s anxieties and 
sorrows, as far as was humanly possible, and find rest and 
diversion in travel and in carrying out certain literary 
schemes of which I had long been dreaming. In one of 
Uncle Remus s stories, the little listener, brimming over 
with sympathy at the disaster which befell Bre r Possum, 
who suffered for the sins of Bre r Rabbit, asks why it is that 
the innocent should bear the burden of the guilty, and the 

444 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

old philosopher replies: "Lor , chile; de rain falls on de 
jess and de unjess dess de same, and tribberlation s waitin 
right round de corner for de best of us!" 

Just as the time came for me to quit work I looked round 
the corner and came face to face with the new Polyclinic. 
I have told of the failure of my effort in 1878 and 79 to 
establish in New York City an ideal Medical College with 
rigid requirements for admission, a three-year pregraduate 
and a two-year postgraduate course of study, and how in 
1 88 1 the postgraduate feature of this plan resolved itself 
into the Polyclinic, and how from year to year this pros 
pered. It had now outgrown the facilities which had been 
originally provided, and its trustees and medical staff real 
ized the demand and necessity for new and larger build 
ings, a greater diversity in clinical material, and a more 
complete laboratory equipment. 

It was at this juncture that an officer of New York City 
connected with its charities informed me that an ambulance 
and emergency service was badly needed for the West Side, 
and asked me to take the matter of building a new hospital 
there and of undertaking that service to our trustees for 
consideration. With a unanimity which presaged success 
the trustees and medical staff voted in favor of the under 
taking. For more than twenty-five years the physicians 
connected with this institution had labored zealously for 
its development without remuneration, and had not only 
donated all its earnings to the improvement of its facilities 
for teaching, but from time to time had subscribed gener 
ously for this purpose from their private means. The idea 
of combining with our work as teachers this great hu 
manitarian project aroused the enthusiasm of this devoted 
body of professional men and fired them and the trustees 

445 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

with unremitting zeal for its accomplishment. It so hap 
pened that I had won the esteem and friendship, and finally 
the sympathy, of a man whose genius for affairs was only 
second to his broad humanity and nobility of character. 
Several years before he had at my request become a mem 
ber of the board of trustees, and as a trained business man 
had carefully informed himself not only of the philanthropic 
character of our work and the altruism of the medical staff, 
but what was of very great value at this juncture he 
found out that he was connected with a charity that was 
being conducted under business methods and was capable 
under judicious management of being self-supporting. 

On the morning after one of our meetings he called at my 
office and handed me a check for a large sum payable to 
myself. It was enough to buy a great plot for a great 
hospital. He expressed surprise when I told him I could 
not accept it. I said: "Mr. Clyde, I appreciate what this 
generous gift means. It is your vote of appreciation of the 
humanitarian side of our work, and of confidence in me and 
in my ability to perpetuate the ideals associated in your 
mind with the Poly clinic. I am not as positive as I would 
like to be that I can do this, and I ask you to hold this check 
until I can see my way more clearly." 

I called a meeting of our medical board, told them of the 
possibilities of a realization of the new hospital and school 
building, and asked them to consent to a plan of reorganiza 
tion which eliminated every suggestion of private interest 
and made of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and 
Hospital a public institution in its broadest sense, its scien 
tific and medical affairs entirely under the control of its 
professional staff, its property and business management 
under the control of a board of trustees composed of busi- 

446 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

ness men responsible under the laws of the State of New 
York. Encouraged by the vote adopting the recommenda 
tion, I secured an option upon an ideal site in West Fiftieth 
Street, and two months later I submitted the perfected re 
organization to my good friend. He does not know to this 
day what I read in the expression of his noble face as I 
went over the details of what our medical board had done. 
When I finished he said, This is a great work," and as he 
spoke I knew my dream had come true. Instead of buying 
high-priced and noisy corner property, I bought twice as 
much in area for the same money in the middle of the block, 
and determined to build high for light, air, and freedom 
from noise and dust. All of this was an innovation in hos 
pital construction, but it has proved a great attraction and 
a benefit. 

The plans were drawn by the architect to meet the wants 
which our combined experience of thirty years in the old 
building suggested as desirable. Mr. William P. Clyde s 
indispensable aid did not stop with his generous contribu 
tion of money, but at our earnest solicitation he burdened 
himself with the presidency of the trustees and became one 
of a building committee of three. Until the new enterprise 
was successfully launched he filled these offices in such a 
manner, and with such dignity and keen observance of the 
business proprieties, as to win from all the lasting esteem 
and gratitude which followed him to his retirement. 

While the preliminaries above narrated were going on 
there came to the Polyclinic another stroke of great good 
fortune, and to me the further evidences of the thoughtful- 
ness and alertness of my friends. We needed still more 
money. When was there a time when a hospital did not 
need this great essential to philanthropy? Will there ever 

447 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

be a time when those who have it will have the good sense 
to bestow it where it will bring the greatest return of good? 
My telephone-bell rang one night at a late and unusual 
hour. I recognized the voice of a dear friend and colleague, 
Dr. D. Bryson Delavan. He said: "One of my former 
pupils has just left my office. He came to tell me that a 
relative, a lady of means, had expressed a willingness and 
desire to give a handsome sum of money to some deserving 
philanthropy. I have asked him to get in touch with you." 
By a strange coincidence a letter from Dr. J. W. Brannan, 
President of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals, brought me the 
same information in the morning s mail. I lost no time 
in getting in touch with the young practitioner, and went 
at once to Mr. Clyde, and he and I called upon the lady 
in question. 

Mr. Clyde had been her father s friend, and she wor 
shiped the memory of her father, himself a leader among 
New York s great and philanthropic business men. In 
this interview I met one of the most remarkable women it 
has been my great good fortune to know, that rare kind of 
woman whose hand and heart work together in perfect 
unison. She listened to the history of the Poly clinic, made 
her own analysis, and most generously joined with Mr. 
Clyde in the noble purpose. With two such able and ap 
preciative friends and champions as Mrs. Helen Hartley 
Jenkins and Mr. William P. Clyde the completion of the 
new building was made certain, and the perpetuation of a 
great educational and humanitarian enterprise assured. 
Many others contributed to this consummation, and deserve 
and have grateful appreciation ; but as long as the scientific 
and practical training of physicians in this great school may 
add to the blessings of mankind, and as long as the thou- 

448 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sands upon thousands who find there the means of relief, 
these two unselfish beings must be recorded as first among 
those who made it possible. 

Self-reliance begets optimism, and this develops that qual 
ity of hope which is said to spring " eternal in the human 
breast." I have always had an abiding faith in the ultimate 
triumph of a good cause. The only real setback to this 
conviction was the failure to establish the Southern Con 
federacy. For some no doubt excellent and satisfactory rea 
son Providence ruled otherwise; but, being the son of a 
lawyer, in my heart of hearts I filed an exception. Now, the 
Polyclinic Hospital with its ambulance service differs from 
the Southern Confederacy in one important particular 
viz., it is established. The great hospital was built by op 
timism, and so was the emergency service. We accepted 
the great responsibility for the City of New York and 
agreed to open it at a certain date in the near future and 
this when we had not a single ambulance nor a hundred dollars 
toward the price of the three we required, and these must be 
automobiles, too! But my Presbyterian upbringing taught 
me that Faith might move a mountain, especially when 
giant powder was mixed with it. My dear father would 
have advised prayer without ceasing. My Spartan mother 
would have added, "Some prayer, but don t forget the 
powder." 

Very soon after accepting the service, as I was coming out 
of the Union League Club building in the late afternoon 
I overheard a friend, whom I had known quite intimately 
for many years, scolding the door-man for permitting his 
automobile to be sent away without first notifying him. 
As chairman of the executive committee of the club, 
desirous of keeping the peace and of shielding as well as I 

449 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

might a faithful servant, I made light of the oversight, and, 
going up to my really good-natured and generous friend, 
I said: "Don t worry over it, Costello. You can go home 
in my machine." He was placated enough to smile at this, 
and said: "I didn t know you had an automobile." I told 
him I had never been able to afford that luxury, when he 
said: "Well, you deserve to have one, and you ought to 
have it." My reply was, "I don t care so much about one 
for myself as for my hospital" ; and then he said so quickly 
that it nearly took my breath, "Do you really need an am 
bulance?" Laying my hand over the region of the left 
fifth rib, I replied in an affectation of emotion which 
he saw through: "Go slowly, my old friend. I have 
heart disease." He handed me a big check the next 
afternoon, and I had one ambulance. I needed two 
more. 

A week later my old war-time comrade and loyal friend, 
Dr. William M. Polk (son of that General Leonidas Polk 
who gave his life to the South at Kenesaw Mountain), 
telephoned me that a patient of his wished to give a Packard 
automobile ambulance to some hospital, and he had recom 
mended the Poly clinic. This machine came in good time, 
and with it a third, the gift of Mr. Joseph Milbank, another 
of the many wealthy and thoughtfully generous citizens of 
this great city, which with all of its rush and strain for 
achievement and (as many assert) for money, is ever ready 
with open hand and heart to help any cause known and 
shown to be worthy. Three hundred and sixty thousand 
people live within our ambulance district, and on one "field 
day" in 1913 we treated in the hospital forty-five accident 
cases. 

As a kind of postscript to the Polyclinic Hospital con- 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

struction I must add an experience which goes to confirm 
the judgment of Robert Burns that 

The best-laid schemes o mice and men 
Gang aft a-gley. 

If I have a soft spot in my heart for any particular race, 
it is for the negro. "Mack," the runaway slave my father 
bought, was my first friend. He cared for me as a child 
as tenderly as he afterward did for his own; and his wife, 
"Mammy Tildie," was next to our mother for my sisters 
and myself. No one who has not lived in this affectionate 
relationship to the best of that race can appreciate the feel 
ing which prevailed. When I was planning this great hospital 
I determined to have two small, neat wards set apart for 
colored men and women, where they could be exclusive 
and away from the possibility of wounded sensibilities by 
reason of color and race prejudice. The very first patient 
admitted to the new hospital was a negro lad, who came 
accompanied by his father, who took the boy back home, 
refusing to let him go into a colored ward. I wrote the 
father, saying how sorry I was; that I was from the South 
and was naturally desirous of helping any member of his 
race. He wrote in reply that he might have known I was 
a Southerner, for nobody else but a man from that country 
would come up North building "Jim Crow" wards in a 
hospital ! 

In 1906 I was elected, without opposition, President of 
the New York Academy of Medicine, to serve for two years, 
and re-elected in 1908, four years in all. In the sixty-five 
years of the Academy s history only five of its presidents 
had served for more than one term, and to the date of my 
second term sixteen years had elapsed since this extraor- 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

dinary honor had been conferred. The presidency of the 
New York Academy of Medicine is, in my opinion, an of 
fice second to none in importance in medical affairs in 
the United States. While the great national organization, 
the American Medical Association, covers a wider field 
and deals in large measure with the most important scien 
tific and technical problems in medicine and in working 
with equal zeal for the advancement of the profession and 
for the cause of humanity, it also deals largely with public 
affairs, and with what we must of necessity term "medical 
politics," and in this respect occupies a field entirely apart 
from the Academy which stands solely for medicine in its 
scientific aspect. 

From the day of its foundation the Academy has advanced 
steadily in its one fixed purpose to become a center for 
scientific medicine, from whose rostrum the great discoveries 
which medical research is constantly making and the results 
of world-wide experience in the prevention and treatment 
of disease and injury may be first announced to its fellows 
and the profession, and through these to the world at large. 
It is, therefore, essential that the presiding officer should 
keep closely in touch with all that is progressive in our 
science and art and strive to give it expression through the 
Academy. 

The selection of men eminent in science not only in our 
own country, but from all over the civilized world, and the 
assignment of subjects for consideration in the various sub 
divisions of medicine is no light task, and it is wholly left 
to the presiding officer. In addition to the strictly medical 
programme for the profession the Academy has instituted a 
regular series of free public lectures, largely attended by the 
laity. In 1908 the limit of membership was reached, and 

452 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

there were so many applicants that the constitution was 
amended in order to extend the list, and it became neces 
sary to enlarge the lecture-room and library facilities. A 
series of general meetings was held, speeches were made, 
great enthusiasm prevailed, and two hundred and twenty 
thousand dollars, the amount needed to purchase all the 
additional property required, was raised, bringing the actual 
value of the Academy s holdings to approximately three- 
quarters of a million dollars, and assuring the early comple 
tion of the new Academy. During my term of office the 
number of bound volumes in the library was 84,820, and 
there were 46,000 unbound publications. The weekly and 
monthly periodicals, printed in every civilized language, 
numbered 1520. 

While serving my first term of two years in the presidency 
of the Academy I was also elected President of the New 
York Southern Society, a very popular and influential social 
organization, made up of men who, coming from the South 
ern states, have made New York City their home. Life in 
a great city, where the struggle for existence and advance 
ment is so exacting of the hours of daylight, has necessitated 
the formation of this and kindred societies, as the New 
England, made up of Yankees or their descendants; the 
St. Andrew s, composed exclusively of Scotchmen; the Vir 
ginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and many other such 
organizations, which hold meetings at frequent intervals 
and spend the evenings in delightful, friendly intercourse. 
It is like going home again to attend these dinners and re 
ceptions, to meet old comrades in arms, or college-mates, 
or their children, and hear the latest news, or talk over old 
times. As the presiding officer of each of these societies 
is usually invited formally as the guest of honor of all the 

453 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

others, any one who can live through these gastronomic and 
speechmaking tests sees a very interesting side of metropol 
itan life. I stood two years of it and enjoyed it, and give 
full credit for the physical ability to stand it to the reserve 
digestive energy stored up in my three years experience 
in the Confederate army, during which period there was 
such complete gastro-intestinal repose. No one could pass 
through this particular experience and not be impressed with 
the fact of how little of the real progressive New York, the 
New York that is "doing things," was born within its limits. 
I recall one notable occasion when President Taft, who 
had just been elected, was the guest of the North Carolina 
Society. The president of this society was Walter H. Page, 
our present ambassador to England. As president of the 
Southern Society, to which the old North State Society be 
longed, I had the other place of honor, and sat during the 
dinner and evening next to Mr. Taft. As the presiding 
officer of the meeting was busy with his duties for most of 
the evening, it gave me an excellent opportunity to size 
up the President-elect of the United States, and I was very 
favorably impressed with Mr. Taft. A number of persons 
came to shake hands or speak to him in the course of the 
evening, and one was an old college chum. Leaning over 
me, he whispered loud enough for me to hear distinctly: 
"Bill! I guess this is the last time I can call you Bill " 
this was before the inauguration "but it has to go now 
before you get into the White House." Before he could get 
the balance of what he had in mind framed into words 
the genial guest, holding on to his friend s hand, said: 
"Tom, the White House won t make any difference to you; 
and when you come there, if you dare to call me anything 
else than Bill/ I ll throw you through a window." 

454 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

It is safe to say that no president ever tried harder to do 
his duty without regard to his personal interest than did 
Mr. Taft. It is just as safe to assert that none ever failed 
so signally to satisfy anybody. In the olden days down 
South, when any one was eminently successful and " swept 
the deck" in gambling on a horse-race or a chicken -fight, 
or on Colonel W. R. W. Cobb being elected to Congress, 
Uncle Dan, the negro oracle and commentator of our 
county, was wont to say, "He hit em a-comin and a-gwine." 
The converse was true of President Taft, who missed every 
thing both ways and ended his political career in a mud- 
slinging contest with an opponent who not only owned a mill, 
but was ambidextrous besides. How much more dignified 
it would have been to take bravely the stab of Brutus under 
the dome of the Senate! It was the late Benjamin F. 
Butler, of Massachusetts and New Orleans famous and 
infamous on one side and the other of Mason and Dixon s 
line, who, after having retired from one such contest so 
bespattered that his nearest relative could not have recog 
nized him, said, "Never again will I throw mud with a man 
who owns a mill!" 

The only innovation I effected in the Southern Society 
was the foundation of a charity fund which under subse 
quent able administrations has grown to a very considerable 
sum. It was while active in the interests of this delightful 
organization that I made the acquaintance of a man from 
Virginia, then President of Princeton University, who im 
pressed me profoundly with the belief in his great ability 
and prospective prominence. I was so taken with this 
idea that I called on a very intimate friend, the late William 
M. Laffan, Esq., whose ownership of the New York Sun, 
coupled with his wonderful ability as a writer and his in- 

455 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

flexibility of purpose when he made up his mind that some 
thing should be done, gave him, in my opinion, a very great 
influence in public affairs. I asked him to dine with me 
and Woodrow Wilson, and said to him, "I want you to 
meet a man who is big enough to be the Democratic nominee 
for President." This was in 1907. With this in mind, and 
being nothing if not practical, Laffan suggested that I invite 
Mr. Thomas F. Ryan, another member of the Southern 
Society, whose successful ventures in the world of finance 
had brought him into great national prominence and made 
him a power in dictating the policy of the Democratic party. 
Mr. Wilson stayed at our home for the night, and it was to 
me a notable occasion, as I sat until one o clock a close 
listener to the conversation of these three men, each facile 
princeps in his sphere. At a late hour Elihu Root, then 
Secretary of State, joined the party, and of course added 
to its brilliancy. As far as Woodrow Wilson in his relation 
to national affairs was concerned, "the pear was not yet 
ripe." He did not put it this way exactly, but his keen 
discernment told him the hour had not yet struck, for I 
heard him say to William M. Laffan that he was then so 
deeply interested in the affairs of Princeton University that 
any suggestion of his entering the field of politics was for 
the moment distasteful. His time was to come in 1912, 
and I had the honor to be chairman of the medical depart 
ment of the campaign which resulted in his election. 

My membership in the Union League Club came about 
in rather a queer way. Immediately after the war and 
during the bitter years of the reconstruction period the 
politics of this strong organization seemed to me to be so 
radical and so unjust in sustaining the attitude of the 
"bloody-shirt-waving" wing of the Republican party toward 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the South that I could but feel a natural resentment. li 
the course of time the best men of this party saw the in 
justice of the reconstruction measures and repudiated them, 
and, with the long years of peace and reconciliation, prac 
tically all feelings of bitterness had disappeared. It so 
happened that I had a great many intimate personal friends 
in this club; and J. Henry Harper, Esq., of the well-known 
publishing firm of Harper & Brothers, asked me to let him 
nominate me for membership. This was done. As the time 
for voting on my candidacy came near it occurred to me 
that an ex-Confederate soldier, whose natural leaning and 
training had been about as far away from what the Union 
League Club represented as it could be, could never pos 
sibly be elected unless it were under a misapprehension. 
To make this impossible I wrote to Mr. Frank Montague, 
chairman of the committee on nominations, and to the 
president, Mr. Cornelius N. Bliss, to the effect that I had 
been reared in the South, and had served to the close of 
the war in the Confederate army, had never voted any 
thing but a Democratic ballot until Mr. Bryan s heresies 
compelled me to vote for McKinley; that I had more 
friends in the Union League Club than any other in New 
York City; that it was the only club I wanted to be a 
member of, but however much I desired this I could not 
afford to come in under a misapprehension or with a 
political collar on. When my friends got news of this letter, 
most of them thought it best to withdraw my name, but 
Harry Harper said he would take the chance if I would ; and, 
as I had a leaning toward taking chances, we stood pat. 
A friend who was present at the meeting of the committee 
told me that the chairman read the letter aloud, and re 
marked with a good deal of feeling that the Union League 
30 457 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Club needed in its membership a Confederate soldier who 
could write such a letter, which sentiments the president 
indorsed, and I was unanimously elected. This ended the 
Civil War for the Union League and the new member. 

The most gratifying feature of this incident is that the 
members of this club seem to have conspired to show me 
every possible consideration, official and otherwise. As a 
token of their confidence I was placed upon the executive 
committee and chairman of this board in the management 
of the affairs of one of the strongest social and political or 
ganizations in America, of which nearly every President of 
the United States, from Lincoln down, has been a member. 
It goes without saying that I felt highly honored and fully 
appreciative of this great distinction. When the people of 
the South and the North get together and know one another 
they will forget that there was ever a Mason and Dixon s 
line. 

When the Club gave Mr. Taft a brilliant reception in 
1911, I was made chairman of the committee of arrange 
ments, and my first assistant was General McCook, one of 
the famous "fighting McCook" family of Ohio, at whom 
I had had the pleasure of shooting more than once, and by 
whom I had more than once been chased. On this occasion 
the General saluted me as his superior in rank and asked, 
"What are the orders from the old Rebel?" I said: Tall 
in behind me, Yank and it s not the first time, either; 
for it was a McCook that captured me." So, hand in hand, 
we ancient foemen walked up to pay our respects to the 
President of our United States. 



PART II 



FOUNDING THE POLYCLINIC 

THE founding of the New York Polyclinic Medical School 
and Hospital in 1881, which marked the introduction of 
systematic postgraduate medical instruction in America, 
was, if not the chief, at least an important factor in the 
great movement which, starting at that period, has revolu 
tionized and carried to a degree approaching perfection 
the teaching and practice of medicine and surgery in the 
United States. The idea of establishing a postgraduate 
course of study came into my mind as a result of my own 
necessities. I was graduated in March, 1869, from the 
Medical Department of the University of Louisville, after 
attending two sessions of lectures of not quite seven months 
each. 

Recognized as one of the oldest and best-known of the 
medical colleges in the United States, the course of study 
and the standard of requirements then prevailing in that 
institution may be taken as typical of American methods 
at that period. There was no entrance examination. Any 
white male who had mastered the rudiments of English 
was eligible. Neither Latin nor Greek was essential. The 
division of subjects was: anatomy, physiology, surgery, 
medicine, obstetrics, chemistry, and materia medica. Anat 
omy was thoroughly taught in the lectures, supplemented 
by dissecting-room work of a high class. In physiology 

461 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

there were no laboratory exercises, no practical demonstra 
tions of the living structures nor of the functions of the 
normal organs. The teaching of surgery, medicine, and 
obstetrics was almost wholly didactic. When an operative 
clinic was given it was witnessed at such a distance from 
the subject, with so much interruption of vision, that it 
was impossible to follow closely the details of technique, 
without which the lesson of a demonstration is valueless. 

Not once in my two years of study did I enter the wards 
of a hospital or receive instruction by the bedside of a pa 
tient. I witnessed one gynecological clinic and examined 
one obstetric patient. I did not witness or assist at a single 
case of delivery. Beyond the chemical analysis of urine 
for albumen and sugar and the litmus testing reaction I 
had no laboratory drilling, nor did I look through a micro 
scope. In proof of my earnestness of purpose and close 
application, I may add that during the two years of study 
at this school I never attended a theater or place of idling 
or amusement, and when not in the lecture-room I was 
reading or dissecting. 

It was my good fortune to be graduated cum laude in 
March, 1869, and I began practice in my home village of 
Guntersville, Alabama, in April of that year. The experi 
ment lasted through six weeks of the most trying and 
humiliating period of my life. In that time I performed one 
surgical operation, under the guidance of my good preceptor, 
Dr. James M. Jackson, an ex-army surgeon, treated a 
case of lobar pneumonia, attended one delivery, and finally 
a fatal case of diabetes mellitus. Upon the death of this pa 
tient I realized that I needed a thorough clinical and labora 
tory training, and could not conscientiously practise without 
it. The story of how the means to this end were secured 

462 




POLYCLINIC MEDICAL SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL 
341-351 WEST FIFTIETH STREET, NEW YORK 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

is told elsewhere. I came to New York City in 1872. To my 
surprise and disappointment, there was here no opportunity 
for the special instruction or training of a graduate, except 
by attending the lectures in common with undergraduates. 
As this was the best I could do, I took this course at Belle vue 
Hospital Medical College, and was graduated ad eundem 
in March, 1873. In April of that year I was appointed 
assistant demonstrator of anatomy in this college, where 
in this capacity and as prosector to the chair of anatomy 
and assistant to the professor of pathology I worked until 
1877. 

I had never lost sight of the conviction brought home 
to me by my unfortunate experience, that the most perfect 
theoretical education could not properly prepare one for 
the practice of medicine and surgery unless supplemented 
by a thorough practical training, under expert guidance, 
at the bedside and in the operating-room and laboratory; 
and in 1877 I undertook to organize a school in which such 
training could be secured. 

The scheme then formulated required for admission a 
college degree, or an equivalent classical education, to be 
determined by a preliminary examination, and a five-year 
term of study, of which three years were to be in the under 
graduate and two in the postgraduate or clinical depart 
ment. I submitted this plan to a number of distinguished 
medical men among whom were Doctors J. Marion Sims, 
Willard Parker, Frank H. Hamilton, and A. Jacobi. All 
of them gave it their hearty approval. On account of the 
long term of study and rigid requirements for admission 
it was realized that in competition with the short-term 
colleges such an institution could not be supported by stu 
dent fees; and these eminent men, each of whom had 

463 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

treated me with marked personal consideration, insisted 
that an endowment sufficient to furnish an income which 
would assure the payment of current expenses was a sine 
qua non. For three years I tried without success to raise 
the amount deemed necessary, and finally in the early win 
ter of 1 88 1 I abandoned the undergraduate feature of the 
plan, and took up actively the organization of the Poly clinic 
as a postgraduate school. Meanwhile I had visited Europe 
and had studied the methods in vogue in London, Paris, 
Berlin, and Vienna. 

The organization was begun in 1881, and the school was 
opened in East Thirty-fourth Street in 1882, with the fol 
lowing faculty and assignment of subjects: 

Department of Dermatology Dr. A. R. Robinson, Dr. E. B. Bronson. 
Department of Gynecology Dr. W. Gill Wylie, Dr. Paul F. Munde. 
Department of Diseases of Children Dr. John H. Ripley, assisted by Dr. 

L. Emmet Holt, who succeeded him. 

Department of Laryngology Dr. Richard Brandeis, Dr. Louis Elsberg. 
Department of Ophthalmology Dr. David Webster, Dr. Emil Gruening. 
Department of Medicine Dr. James R. Learning, Dr. E. Darwin Hudson. 
Department of Neurology Dr. Landon Carter Gray, assisted by Dr. 

M. Allen Starr. 

Department of Surgery Dr. J. A. Wyeth, Dr. A. G. Gerster. 
Department of Orthopedic Surgery Dr. V. P. Gibney. 

At the suggestion of Dr. Richard Brandeis, the foreign 
appellation of "Poliklinik" was changed to "Poly clinic," 
from TroXvS (many), and K\ive (beds). From the day 
our doors were opened the success of postgraduate instruc 
tion was assured, and it has become a permanent feature 
of medical education. As before stated, it is based upon 
the recognized fact that no amount of theoretical teaching 
in an undergraduate college can turn out a thoroughly 
equipped practitioner. 

464 




YETH 



AUTHOR:- : TEACH E R 
OGNITIGN- OF 



OUNDER AND 
MN- CHIEF 
: THIS iNSTiTimON 
THIS TESTIMONIAL 

DEDICATED BY THE 
YGLINIC MEDICAL STAF 
MCMXIV 



BUST PORTRAIT OF DR. JOHN A. WYETH, UNVEILED AT THE 
POLYCLINIC HOSPITAL, MAY I, 1914 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

While a hospital interneship is an ideal method of post 
graduate training, not more than ten to twenty per cent. 
of graduates can under present conditions be provided 
with such interneships. The remaining large majority must 
depend for their training upon a course of practical study 
under competent specialists in the various departments of 
medicine and surgery in a school which is part of a general 
hospital and dispensary, and provided with all the laboratory 
facilities for analytic work. The Polyclinic Hospital, with 
a capacity of three hundred beds, a walking clinic of between 
fifty thousand and one hundred thousand cases per year, 
has in addition an ambulance and emergency service cover 
ing a district in New York City which includes a population 
of three hundred and sixty thousand. The acute medical 
and surgical cases which are gathered up by this vast service 
are among the most interesting and useful features of its 
course of instruction. 

The entire course of study is divided into the following 
departments: Clinical medicine and physical diagnosis, 
diseases of the digestive system, diseases of children, diseases 
of the throat and nose and of the eye, diseases of the nervous 
system, general and orthopedic and neurological surgery, 
diseases of the rectum, genito-urinary surgery, diseases of 
the skin, diseases of women, obstetrics, radiology, electro 
therapy, clinical microscopy, urinary analysis, practical his 
tology, and pathology and bacteriology. 

In the department of internal medicine there is a special 
laboratory for instruction in the examination of stomach 
contents, alimentary discharges, and the various secretions 
and excretions. There is a special laboratory in the depart 
ment of dermatology and in general medicine, while the 
main laboratory of biology is thoroughly equipped for a 

465 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

practical training of the practitioner in the use of the 
microscope and in chemical analysis and the study of the 
various reactions. 

The necessity of dividing the classes into small sections 
is recognized as the essential feature of thorough post 
graduate training, so that those interested in any particular 
case may come in actual contact with the patiente. To 
this end seven operating and three different medical clinical 
rooms are often utilized at the same hour. Realizing the 
greater value of prolonged and continuous attendance, a 
special course is arranged in which the practitioner resides 
within the hospital and serves on the assistant interne 
staff. To the date of this writing, in 1914, approximately 
twenty-five thousand graduates of medicine and surgery 
have attended the clinics and courses of study in this 
institution. 



II 

LIGATION OF THE EXTERNAL CAROTID ARTERY 

MY Essays on the Surgical Anatomy and Surgery of the 
Common External and Internal Carotid Arteries, made public 
in 1878, established as an accepted operative procedure the 
ligation of the external carotid artery. Until that date every 
text-book on surgery in the English, French, or German 
language advised the application of the ligature to the com 
mon trunk, and not to the external carotid, in all lesions within 
the distribution of the external carotid artery. Within two 
years after the publication of these essays by the Ameri 
can Medical Association, the text-books and teachers of 
surgery had condemned the old operation and advised the 
new procedure. 1 My attention was attracted to this sub 
ject by a statement made by my teacher in surgery, Pro 
fessor Frank H. Hamilton, while I was a student in Belle vue 
Medical College. In advising the application of the ligature 
to the primitive carotid he gave as the reason that the ex 
ternal carotid artery differed from all the other arteries of 
body in the wide variations in origin and irregularity of the 
arrangement and distribution of its branches. 

Believing, as I did, that there could be no exception to 
the law of development, I undertook a careful study of this 
important vessel, in the course of which I made one hundred 

1 Prominent among the great surgeons of his day, and among the first to 
appreciate the value of this operation, was the late Henry B. Sands, Professor 
of Surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. 

467 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

and twenty-one dissections of the surgical triangles of the 
neck, measuring accurately with rule and pointers the 
points of origin on the six regular branches viz., the superior 
thyroid, lingual, and facial anteriorly, and the ascending 
pharyngeal, occipital, and auricular posteriorly, from the 
center of bifurcation of the common trunk and from one an 
other. I proved that this vessel followed the general law of 
development ; that the range of origin of each branch was so 
limited and the variations from the normal so slight as to 
offer no difficulty or danger to the application of a ligature 
at any point in the course of this artery. 

Extending my investigations into the surgical history of 
these vessels, I found that in the entire records of surgery, 
searched with great care, the external carotid artery alone 
had been tied for lesions within its distribution only sixty- 
seven times, with a mortality ratio of four and a half per cent. 
At the same time I tabulated seven hundred and eighty-nine 
cases of ligature of the common trunk, of which two hundred 
and fifty-one were for lesions in the distribution of the ex 
ternal carotid artery, and in every one of which this latter 
vessel might have been tied. One hundred and eight, or 
forty- three per cent., died. 

Extending these researches to the arch of the aorta, and 
the other great vessels springing from it, and desiring to 
test crucially the value of the conclusions arrived at, I 
entered into competition for the annual prize of the Ameri 
can Medical Association in 1878, and submitted my work 
as a single essay. 

As far as the carotid arteries are concerned, this was the 
conclusion reached at that period: 

The rate of mortality after the ligature of the common 
carotid artery was forty-one per cent. 

468 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

After ligature of the external carotid the death-rate was 
four and a half per cent. 

There was but one conclusion : The common carotid should 
never be tied for a lesion of the external carotid or its branches 
when there is room enough between the lesions and the bifurca 
tion of the primitive carotid to permit the ligature of the external 
carotid. 

I was led to this conclusion not only by the comparison 
of the analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of 
ligature of the common trunk, with the instances in which 
the external carotid had been tied, but also from the analysis 
of one hundred and twenty-one dissections of these vessels, 
made to determine the relations of these arteries and their 
branches to one another. I said at that time : " It would be 
a waste of time to cite the eminent authorities in surgery 
who advise the ligature of the common trunk instead of the 
external. The teaching and practice is almost universal. 
It is as wrong as it is general, as false as it is dangerous. It 
is forty-one per centum of deaths in the one to four and a 
half per centum in the other." 

The report of the committee on the prize essays was as 
follows : 

Your committee to determine the merits of prize essays would re 
spectfully report: That they have had three separate papers submitted 
to their inspection. Two of these papers present subjects of very great 
interest, and show original research, but are too imperfect, in the esti 
mation of the committee, to command a prize. The remaining paper, in 
the judgment of your committee, is fully up to the requirements. Indeed, 
the paper is so elaborate as to fill a large space in the volume of the 
Transactions of the Association. The paper should be considered as 
two, and not as one. The analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine 
cases of operation on the carotid artery, and the careful and minute meas 
urements of the artery and its branches in one hundred and twenty-one 
subjects, showing the range of variation and the percentage of the same, 

469 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

followed by inferences, bold and original, naturally constitutes a paper 
complete in itself. Another one on the same plan, with reference to the 
innominate and subclavian arteries, being an analysis of three hundred 
cases and the observation of fifty-two subjects, is presented to us in such 
a manner that we may consider the whole as one prize, or they may com 
pete for both. 

Your committee believes that both prizes should be awarded to the 
two essays by one person. The motto is, " Tempora mutantur, et nos muta- 
mur in illis" 

E. M. MOORE, Chairman, 
THOS. LOTHROP, 
H. R. HOPKINS, 
W. W. MINER. 
BUFFALO, NEW YORK, June 6, 1878. 

The publication and wide distribution of these investiga 
tions by the National Association added materially to the 
immediate general acceptance of the operation of ligation 
of the external carotid artery which now prevails. As an 
indication of the change of view which was brought about, 
the following is quoted from the American edition of Sir 
Thomas Bryant s Manual for ike Practice of Surgery, from 
the chapter devoted to this subject: 

"In this connection the views of Dr. John A. Wyeth, of New York, 
deserve great attention; for, in his prize essays, presented to the Ameri 
can Medical Association in 1878, he has investigated the subject of liga 
tion of the primitive carotid artery and its branches with such painstaking 
accuracy that his paper will deservedly become classical. He has col 
lected and analyzed seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of ligation of 
the common carotid artery, ninety-one instances of ligation of the ex 
ternal and eighteen of ligation of the internal carotid. In addition he has 
given accurate measurements of the arteries in one hundred and twenty- 
one subjects, showing the range of variation and the position of branches. 
His inferences from this astonishing amount of research are at variance 
in some respects with the surgical teaching and practice of the day; but 
it would seem that the profession must be in the wrong rather than he 
who has considered the subject in such a thorough and scientific manner." 

In the practice of to-day, under modern aseptic condi- 

470 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

tions, the death-rate after deligation of the external carotid 
artery is practically nil. I have tied it more than two hun 
dred times without secondary hemorrhage or a fatality. In 
three instances the catgut ligature was applied in the crotch 
of bifurcation and included in its grasp the superior thyroid 
at its origin. 1 

1 The following literature was recognized in the Original Essays: "Contri 
butions to Practical Surgery," by Dr. George W. N orris, of Philadelphia; an 
admirable article by Dr. Charles Pilz, "Zur Ligatur der Arteria Carotis Com- 
munis"; "Ligature of the Common Carotid," by Professor James R. Wood; 
"Des Effets Produits sur 1 Encephale," etc., by Dr/J. Ehrmann; a "Prize 
Thesis on Ligature of the External Carotid Artery," by Dr. Landon R. Long- 
worth; "Zur Ligatur der Arteria Carotis Externa," by Dr. Madelung; "Medi 
cal and Surgical History of the War," by Dr. George A. Otis, U.S.A. ; " Ligature 
of the Subclavian Artery," by Professor Willard Parker; "tJber Unterbin- 
dungen und Aneurysm der Arteria Subclavia," by Wilhelm Koch; and a mag 
nificent paper on "Subclavian Aneurism," by the lamented Alfred Poland. 



Ill 



BLOODLESS AMPUTATION AT THE HIP-JOINT AND AT THE 

SHOULDER 

THE method of controlling hemorrhage in so formidable 
an operation as removal of the lower extremity by amputa 
tion and disarticulation at the coxo-femoral joint was de 
vised by me, and first performed successfully upon a living 
subject at the New York Poly clinic Medical School and 
Hospital in 1889. This case was reported in the New York 
Medical Record, and the procedure was the subject of a 
paper read at the meeting of the American Medical Associa 
tion at Nashville, 1890. 

The History of Surgery contains a long list of ingenious 
methods in the effort to reduce the mortality of this opera 
tion, which for gunshot wounds in the American Civil War 
reached the high mortality ratio of ninety-three per cent., of 
which Professor John Ashurst in his great work on surgery 
wrote as late as 1881: " The removal of the lower limb at 
the coxo-femoral articulation may be properly regarded as 
the gravest operation that the surgeon is ever called upon 
to perform, and it is only within a comparatively recent 
period that it has been accepted as a justifiable procedure. 
The most pressing risk is that of hemorrhage." 

Dr. Walter Brashear, of Bardstown, Kentucky, in a case 
of compound fracture of the femur near the hip, in August, 
1806, applied a constricting tourniquet to the limb just be- 

472 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

low the hip, amputated the soft parts six inches beyond, 
tying all the vessels while the tourniquet was in place, then 
dividing the bone at this level, and after all hemorrhage 
was controlled by the ligature he successfully enucleated 
the broken particles of the shaft, together with the head 
of the femur. The method of this pioneer attracted no 
attention, and was not cited in the text-books on surgery. 

The first real advance came with the introduction of 
Esmarch s elastic bandage. In the Lancet, 1883 (Volume I, 
page 897), Jourdan- Lloyd described the following method: 
"A strip of black India-rubber bandage about two yards 
long is doubled and passed between the thighs, its center 
lying between the tuber ischii of the side to be operated on 
and the anus. The ends are drawn tight, one in front and 
one behind, to a point above the center of the iliac crest." 
By this method there was secured a fair degree of com 
pression upon the external iliac artery. 

Trendelenburg endeavored to improve on this method 
by adding transfixion with a single strong mattress-needle 
which was passed in front of the neck of the femur and 
beneath the great vessels. A rubber cord in figure-of-eight 
fashion was carried over the ends in front, compressing only 
the anterior and most vascular portion of the flap. Four- 
neaux advised a figure-of-eight rubber spica, using the Es- 
march bandage in practically the same manner as in the 
Jourdan- Lloyd method. 

Richard Volkmann endeavored to control hemorrhage by 
elastic circular constriction without needles. His three cases 
were reported in the Deutsche Klinik of 1868, but in each 
case a preliminary ligature of the femoral was done. That his 
method was not accepted is evident in the fact that neither 
in Billroth and Luecke s Deutsche Chirurgie, in the Hand- 
31 473 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

buck der Chirurgie by Von Pitha, the works of Linhart, 
nor in the Centralblatt fur Chirurgie or Klinische Vortrage, 
of which Volkmann himself was an editor, is there any men 
tion or description of this procedure. I had never read or 
heard of Volkmann s discarded operation until several years 
after my method had been made public and had been im 
mediately and generally accepted by the profession. 

Operation: The patient, properly prepared, is placed with 
the sacrum resting upon the corner of the operating-table 
corresponding to the member to be removed. The sound 
limb and arms are wrapped with cotton batting and other 
parts of the body well protected from unnecessary loss of 
heat. The extremity to be amputated should be emptied 
of blood by elevation of the foot, aided by the Trendelen- 
burg posture, and, when the conditions justify, the use of 
the Esmarch bandage. This may be applied commencing 
at the toes, and while forcing the blood into the trunk it 
should never come nearer than within twelve inches of the 
distal margin of the neoplasm or seat of disease. In cases 
of infection, where varicosities with possible thrombosis are 
present, and after injuries with extensive destruction, ele 
vation and gravitation must be relied upon to carry the 
blood from the part to be removed into the body. While 
the member is elevated and the partial Trendelenburg posi 
tion is still maintained, and before the Esmarch bandage is 
removed, when this has been employed, the rubber-tubing 
constrictor is applied. The object of this is the complete 
closure of every vessel above the level of the hip-joint, permitting 
the disarticulation to be completed and the vessels tied without 
hemorrhage and before the tourniquet is removed. 

To prevent the possibility of the tourniquet slipping, I 
employ two strong needles or skewers of steel about three- 

474 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sixteenths of an inch in diameter and eight inches long. 
One is introduced one-quarter of an inch below the anterior 
superior spine of the ilium, and slightly to the inner or cen 
tral side of this prominence, and is made to traverse super 
ficially for about three inches the muscles and deep fascia 
on the outer side of the hip, emerging on a level with the 
point of entrance. The point of the second needle is thrust 
through the skin and tendon of origin of the adductor 
longus muscle half an inch below the crotch, the point 
emerging an inch below the tuber ischii. The points should 
be at once shielded with cork. No vessels or nerves are 
near or are endangered by these skewers. A mat or com 
press of sterile gauze about two inches thick and four inches 
square is laid over the femoro-iliac artery and vein near 
where they cross the brim of the pelvis, and over this a 
piece of strong rubber tubing, half an inch in diameter when 
unstretched and long enough when in position to go five 
or six times around the thigh, is now wound very tightly 
around and above the fixation needles and secured. If the 
Esmarch bandage has been employed, it is now removed. 
In the formation of the flaps the surgeon must be guided 
by the condition of the parts within the field of operation, 
and will modify the following method, which, when possible, 
I prefer: About six inches below the tourniquet a circular 
incision is made down to the muscles, and this is joined by 
a longitudinal incision commencing at the tourniquet and 
passing over the trochanter major. A cuff that includes 
everything down to the muscles is dissected off to near the 
level of the trochanter minor. At about this level the re 
maining soft parts, together with the vessels, are divided 
squarely down to the bone by a circular cut. At this stage 
of the operation the central ends of the divided femoral 

475 



WITH SABRE AND SCATPEL 

vessels are in plain view and should be tied with good-sized 
catgut. This done, the disarticulation is rapidly completed 
with knife or scissors, by lifting the muscular insertions from 
the trochanters and digital fossa, keeping very close to the 
bone and holding the soft parts away with retractors. 

The capsular ligament is now exposed and divided, and 
by forcible elevation, adduction, and rotation of the fe 
mur it is widely opened, the ligamentum teres ruptured, 
and the caput femoris dislocated. If properly conducted 
up to this point, not a drop of blood has escaped, except 
that which was in the limb below the constrictor when 
this was applied. The remaining vessels which require the 
ligature should now be sought for and secured. These are, 
first, the saphena vein, which, on account of its proximity 
to the main trunk, should be tied ; the sciatic artery, which 
will be found near the stump of the sciatic nerve ; the obtu 
rator, which is situated between the stump of the adductor 
brevis and magnus, usually about half-way from the center of 
the shaft of the femur to the inner side of the thigh, the ves 
sel being on a level with the anterior surface of the femur; the 
descending branches of the external circumflex, two or three 
in number, usually found about an inch and a half outward 
and downward from the main femoral vessels beneath the 
rectus and in the substance of the crurseus and vastus ex- 
ternus. The descending branches of the internal circum 
flex are insignificant, and are usually found on the level of 
the femoral vessels in the substance of the adductor longus, 
and between it and the adductor brevis and pectinaeus. 

In tying the larger femoral vessels I make it a rule to dis 
sect both the superficial and deep femoral stumps back from 
one-half to three-quarters of an inch, so that I can apply 
the ligature behind any of their branches which may have 

476 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

been divided close to their points of origin, and I do not 
hesitate to include the large veins in the same ligature in 
order to save time. With the vessels I have mentioned 
quickly secured, there is really no necessity for even tem 
porarily loosening the tourniquet. If the operator is not 
sure that he has found and securely placed the ligatures 
upon these larger vessels, it is a simple matter to loosen 
slowly the grasp of the tourniquet until the pulsation of the 
larger trunks is perceptible. 

In order to hasten the operation and stop the oozing I 
introduce a snug packing of sterile ribbon-gauze into the 
cavity of the acetabulum and the space between the muscles 
from which the bone has been removed, leaving one end of 
the gauze to pass between the flaps for the purpose of re 
moval. With a long, half -carved Hagedorn-Fowler needle, 
armed with good-sized catgut, deep mattress sutures are 
passed through the stumps of the divided muscles in such 
a way that large masses of muscle are brought tightly to 
gether when these sutures are tied, including two to four 
inches in the grasp of each suture. The needle is not passed 
in the proximity of the large vessels or the sciatic nerve, 
but in all other directions the muscles are rapidly quilted 
together. This effectually and rapidly controls all oozing. 
The pins are now removed. Nothing remains but to close 
the flaps with silkworm gut sutures and apply a dressing 
of sterile gauze held snugly in place by a figure-of-eight 
bandage around the stump and the pelvis. 

The death-rate after amputation at the hip-joint by this 
method of hemostasis and asepsis is reduced now to about 
six per cent, in disease and twelve per cent, in traumatic 
cases. 

In the Annals of Surgery, September, 1895, Dr. John F. 

477 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Erdmann reports that from January, 1884, to January, 
1895 (the aseptic period), there were eighteen hip -joint 
amputations done in Bellevue, Roosevelt, St. Luke s, Mt. 
Sinai, Chambers Street, German, and Presbyterian hospi 
tals in New York City, with eight deaths, a mortality of 
44.4 per cent. Of the eighteen patients seven were operated 
on by my method as above given, and all recovered, leaving 
eight fatal cases in eleven amputations by other methods, 
a death-rate of 72.7 per cent. I do not claim that such a 
death-rate as this would follow other methods of opera 
tion; but I do insist that my method of hemostasis is so 
simple and generally applicable that it removes from the 
procedure all possible danger of operative hemorrhage. 

It was a matter of gratification to the author that by the 
leading surgeons of his time this method of hemostasis was 
generally accepted and practised. Of it Professor W. W. 
Keen in a report dated January, 1892, says: 

"It was reserved for an American surgeon to devise what 
is undoubtedly the best method, and, in fact, what I think 
we can now call the only method of hemostasis in amputa 
tion at the hip-joint." Dr. Charles McBurney, surgeon - 
in-chief of the Roosevelt Hospital, remarks, "No other 
appliance that has been suggested for the purpose could 
in any way compare in utility with that of Dr. Wyeth." 
Dr. J. S. Horsely, professor of surgery in the Medical 
College of Virginia, Richmond: "No more blood was lost 
than in an amputation through the thigh. It remained 
for Dr. Wyeth to so perfect this method as to make ampu 
tation practically a bloodless operation." Dr. Wm. F. 
Fluhrer, of New York, says, "As little blood was lost as in 
an ordinary amputation at the middle of the thigh." 

Being called upon early in 1889 to remove the upper 

478 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

extremity for a large sarcoma, which involved the head 
of the humerus and a portion of the scapula and which 
required removal of the soft parts as well as the acromion 
process of the scapula, I devised and practised successfully 
the following operation: 

The arm was emptied of blood in the same manner as 
outlined for the lower extremity. With the large skewer 
the skin, together with the substance of the pectoralis 
major muscle for about three inches, was transfixed about 
the same distance from the shoulder- joint. The second 
needle was passed through the tissues of the dorsum 
scapulas at the same level and for the same distance. The 
rubber tube was now wound five or six times around the 
shoulder above these needles, making strong traction. The 
incision for the flap was made to conform to the conditions 
which were present. The ideal amputation here is a circular 
incision through the skin down to the deep fascia about 
four inches below the shoulder- joint. This should be dis 
sected upward for one inch in the entire circumference of 
the arm, at which point the muscles, nerves, vessels, and 
all the soft tissues are divided down to the bones. A longi 
tudinal incision is then made from the acromion directly 
downward, joining with the circular incision and dividing 
everything to the periosteum. From the bone the soft 
tissues are now lifted by dissection, the capsule divided, 
disarticulation performed, and the blood-vessels are tied. 
The tourniquet may at this stage be slightly loosened in 
order to be sure that no bleeding points are overlooked. 
The wound is then closed with silkworm gut sutures, leaving 
a good-sized ten-day catgut drain leading out from the most 
dependent angle into the dressing, which is held in place by 
a figure-of-eight bandage around the stump, neck, and chest, 



IV 

THE TREATMENT OF VASCULAR TUMORS (ANGIOMATA) BY THE 
INJECTION INTO THEIR SUBSTANCE OF WATER AT A HIGH 
TEMPERATURE 

IN dealing in 1901 with a large congenital, vascular 
neoplasm ("venous angioma," or "cavernous naevus") of 
the right lower jaw, chin, and neck of a woman twenty 
years old, the removal of which by dissection had been 
twice attempted and abandoned (once by myself) on account 
of bleeding, I conceived the idea of coagulating the blood 
and lymph in the vessels involved by injecting into the 
general substance of the tumor water at a temperature 
sufficiently high to produce coagulation of these liquids, 
and yet not hot enough to destroy the normal fascia and 
integument. I reasoned that aseptic coagulation would 
do away with the excessive vascularity of the mass, and 
that the coagulated material would ultimately disappear by 
granular metamorphosis. The result was the fulfilment of 
every expectation. 

Under ether narcosis, on July 14, 1901, for the first time 
the following operation was successfully performed in the 
amphitheater of the New York Polyclinic Medical School 
and Hospital : 

The patient s face and body were thoroughly protected 
with a thick matting of sterile gauze, through which a hole 
was cut just large enough to permit the surface of the tumor 
to be seen. An all-metal-steel syringe, especially devised 

480 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

by me, and manufactured by the Kny-Scheerer Company, 
was filled with boiling water. Protecting my fingers with 
two pairs of gloves, the water was kept at the boiling- 
temperature up to the moment of injection by holding 
underneath the barrel of the syringe a large alcohol-lamp 
(when the larger syringes are used the Bunsen burner is 
preferable). A gauze mat was then held in front of the 
needle-point to prevent the escaping steam from scalding 
the exposed skin, and as it reached the surface of the tumor, 
the needle was projected through this and carried deeply 
into the substance of the mass. This precaution is very 
necessary. 

Carrying the needle to the deepest portion of the tumor, 
before beginning the injection, an assistant was directed to 
make digital compression over the external and internal 
jugular veins on that side to prevent the possibility of 
embolism. The hot water was now forced in, injecting 
about twenty minims at one point, withdrawing the syringe 
about one-half of an inch, and repeating this performance 
by reinserting the needle along parallel lines until the tumor 
was solidified. It should afford to the touch the elastic 
resistance of a hard-boiled egg from which the shell has 
been removed. 

In five minutes the compression over the jugulars was 
removed. Although the sense of heat was about as much 
as the hand could comfortably endure, the skin over the 
tumor did not slough, and the solidified mass underwent 
absorption. There was no pain after the patient became 
conscious and no elevation of body temperature. Two 
subsequent minor operations with local cocaine anesthesia 
were done in this case to coagulate small areas which had 
escaped the first injection. 

481 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

I have now employed this method in a very considerable 
number of cases of venous angioma, and have succeeded 
in curing or arresting the growth of the neoplasm in every 
case, and, with the exception of an occasional slough on 
account of too great heat, without accident. 

In cases of arterial angioma (cirsoid aneurism) this 
method may be safely employed without the possibility of 
embolism. I have used it with gratifying results in two 
instances, and other surgeons have been equally successful. 
On account of the newness of the procedure I include here 
the report of a single case: 

Miss S. C., age twenty-seven, came under observation 
in January, 1902, on account of a large, pulsating tumor 
covering one-half of the left side of the scalp, and measuring 
five by six inches, with an elevation above the level of the 
normal scalp varying from one-half an inch to an inch. 
On the surface there were several large cicatrices which had 
resulted from attempts to strangulate it by ligature. Lead 
ing into this tumor were five arteries which could be dis 
tinctly seen pulsating with an increasing twisting move 
ment as they approached a junction with the cork-screw- 
like vessels which composed the mass. Two of these came 
from the left temporal, one from the right temporal, and 
one from each occipital artery. It had grown rapidly 
within the last year. The operation above described was 
repeated in this instance with complete success. A unique 
feature of interest was an extensive edema which spread 
over the entire head and face, closing the eyes and extend 
ing half-way down the neck. Eleven years have passed, 
and this patient has remained entirely cured. 

In capillary angioma, or birthmark, usually seen in infants 
and young children, I have used this method in a large num- 

482 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

her of cases, but not with the success which has attended the 
treatment of the venous or arterial neoplasms. 

The abnormal epidermal covering of this type of nasvus is 
non-resistant and sloughs as a result of the heat required 
to coagulate the liquids present. Great care is necessary 
to prevent scalding the contiguous normal skin. It is my 
rule to inject these small areas carefully with only a few 
minims, in this way to arrest the spread of the growth and 
then remove the resulting scar by excision and suture. 
When this method was made public before the surgical 
section of the American Medical Association in 1903 it 
was stated in the discussion which ensued that the princi 
ple of decreasing vascularity by coagulation of the contents 
of the vessels might be applied in the treatment of tumors 
of the thyroid. While I have had no personal experience 
in treating this form of neoplasm by this method, a number 
of successful cases have been reported by Dr. Miles F. 
Porter, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

The following case describes a procedure I devised to pre 
vent the possibilities of cerebral embolism by temporarily 
reversing the direction of the blood-current in the internal 
carotid artery: 

The patient, a mechanic of nineteen years, who, with the 
exception of the lesion here described, was in perfect physi 
cal condition, came under observation in the Poly clinic 
Hospital in 1907. Situated on the side of the neck in the 
line of the internal and external jugular veins, below the 
angle of the left jaw, was a vascular neoplasm which meas 
ured about three inches in two directions, and projected 
well beyond the level of the inferior maxilla, the tumor 
having a thickness of between two and three inches. It was 
of bluish color and without pulsation. By steady compres- 

483 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sion it could be practically emptied of blood and reduced 
almost to the natural level of the neck. When the pressure 
was released it filled rapidly and resumed its former size. 

On account of the intimate relation of this tumor to the 
common internal and external carotid arteries, the exter 
nal and internal jugular veins, and the pneumogastric, sym 
pathetic, facial, and spinal accessory nerves, I hesitated to 
employ the hot- water method for fear of causing an em 
bolism in the jugular vein or the internal carotid artery 
or of injuring one or more of the nerves. An attempt to 
extirpate the mass was accompanied by such profuse 
hemorrhage that it was abandoned, and later I successfully 
carried out the following procedure: 

To prevent the possibility of pulmonic embolism the in 
ternal jugular was exposed near the clavicle and temporarily 
occluded by passing around it a large-sized catgut ligature, 
which was twisted and held firmly by an artery clamp. A 
similar ligature was then thrown around the common carotid 
artery at the same level, and this vessel was in like manner 
temporarily occluded. The object of this last ligature was 
to reverse the current of blood in the internal carotid of this 
side, for as soon as the normal flow from the heart to 
the brain was stopped by this ligature the current was 
of necessity supplied from the opposite internal carotid 
through the direct and free arterial anastomosis (the circle 
of Willis) between these two vessels. Under such condi 
tions any embolism caused by the water would be swept 
downward and into the distribution of the external carotid, 
without danger to the integrity of the brain. 

The boiling water was then injected, and the mass became 
solid. I waited fifteen minutes to satisfy myself of the 
absence of coagulum in the internal jugular, which could 

484 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

readily have been recognized by the sense of touch. I then 
removed this ligature and that around the common carotid. 
There was no paralysis and no change in the pupils during 
or after the operation. The patient made an uninterrupted 
recovery, has been kept under observation, and now, after 
more than five years, is entirely well. There is no suggestion 
of a tumor or swelling in the neck, the two sides being sym 
metrical and normal. 



V 

DEMONSTRATION BY EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES ON ANIMALS 
AND BY OPERATIONS ON HUMAN BEINGS OF THE PROCESS 
OF PERMANENT ARTERIAL OCCLUSION AFTER OBLIGATION 

I PRESENTED to the New York Pathological Society, on 
April 26, 1882, a series of specimens which showed the re 
sults obtained by the use of broad animal ligatures applied to 
arteries in continuity. One of these specimens was the com 
mon carotid artery of a woman, which I tied in September, 
1 88 1, using the sciatic nerve of a calf which had been made 
asceptic by treatment in carbolic-acid solution. This tape- 
like ligature was not quite one-fourth of an inch in width. 
The artery was tied just tightly enough to arrest entirely 
the circulation without doing violence to the inner elastic 
layer. The patient died seven months after the operation 
from an intercurrent disease. The artery was completely 
occluded in the area compressed by the ligature, and its 
continuity was unbroken. There was a slight depression, 
one-fourth of an inch in width, which marked the exact 
location of the ligature, every other trace of which had 
disappeared. 

I presented at the same meeting the carotid and sub- 
clavian arteries of another patient, which I had tied with 
a broad ligature made of ox aorta after the method of Mr. 
Richard Barwell, of London. This operation had been done 
for the cure of aneurism of the ascending segment of the 
aorta, which operation had proved successful, The patient 

486 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

died one year later from entero-colitis. The occlusion of 
the arteries was complete, and the conditions the same as 
in the case first reported. 

I also presented the carotid artery of a large dog tied 
experimentally with the nerve ligature, similar to that used 
in the case of the woman above reported. The animal was 
killed five weeks later, and, as shown, the artery was com 
pletely occluded and the continuity of the inner layer seem 
ingly unbroken. 

In another specimen the carotid artery of a horse was 
shown. In the application of this ligature, the lumen of 
the vessel was intentionally not entirely occluded, permitting 
a portion of the blood current to pass through. Mounted 
sections of these arteries showed active proliferation in all 
the normal cells of the arterial wall, most marked in the 
connective tissue group. THEY DEMONSTRATED THAT ARTE 
RIAL OCCLUSION WAS THE DIRECT RESULT OF CELL PROLIFERA 
TION AND THE RESULTING FIBRILLATION AND CONTRACTION 
OF THE NEW CELLS OF THE INFLAMMATORY PROCESS CAUSED 
BY THE TRAUMATISM OR IRRITATION OF THE CONSTRICTING 
BAND OR LIGATURE. 1 

Scarpa had advanced the idea many years before that it 
was not necessary to constrict an artery with a ligature 
forcibly enough to break even the inner elastic layer. 
Jameson, of Baltimore, with this same idea in mind, had 
later recommended broad animal ligatures made of deer- 
tendon, but the fact that the clot was an accident of rather than 
a factor in arterial occlusion after the ligature, and that closure 
was due to cell proliferation, was now for the first time demon 
strated. 

1 Published in the transactions of the New York Pathological Society, 
1882; Medical Record, July 22, 1882; and in Wyeth s Text-book on Surgery, 
1887, p. 171. 

487 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

When I found in the work of Ballance and Edmonds on 
Ligation in Continuity no mention of these researches, I 
addressed to them a letter calling their attention to it, 
and received the following reply: 

LONDON, ENGLAND, September 24, 1894. 

DEAR SIR, We are much obliged for your kind letter with respect to 
our book. Its main conclusion is identical with that at which you had 
arrived long before. We congratulate you on the result of your ligations. 
Yours very truly, 

CHARLES A. BALLANCE, 

WALTER EDMONDS. 



VI 

CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY OF THE EFFECT OF STREPTO 
COCCUS AND PYOGENIC INFECTION UPON SARCOMA 

JOSEPH PHILLIPS, twenty-eight years old, of Gainesville, 
Texas, came under my observation in 1884, with the follow 
ing history: 

A year previous he had received a blow on the abdomen 
over the right iliac region, which was followed by induration 
and the development of a neoplasm. At the time of the 
examination the tumor was four by six inches in surface 
measurement and about three and one - half inches in 
thickness. On account of the involvement of the abdominal 
wall it w r as found impossible to remove it. A section ex 
tending almost entirely through the mass was excised, 
and examined by Dr. William H. Welch and two other 
competent pathologists. The diagnosis of each was spindle- 
cell sarcoma. Having noticed in a current medical periodical 
the report of a case of sarcoma said to have been cured by 
the direct injection into its substance of Fowler s solution 
of arsenic, I advised this treatment, and began with injec 
tions in two or more portions of the mass of from one to 
three minims of the solution, gradually increasing the 
quantity to as much as ten minims. These were repeated 
daily for four or five days, then every other day for about 
ten days. They became so painful that at the patient s 
request the treatment was discontinued. 
32 489 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The gradually increasing pain was occasioned no doubt 
by a pyogenic infection which had supervened in and near 
several of the punctures. This spread over the entire 
tumor, which became red and swollen, and pitted on press 
ure. The skin did not have the glazed or " stove-polish " 
appearance of erysipelas, but rather the look of a severe 
dermatitis. The infection proved to be in part pyogenic, 
and several incisions were necessary to permit the free 
discharge of pus. The patient suffered very considerably 
from the high temperatures due to aseptic absorption, but 
after a period of about two weeks the swelling began to 
diminish in size, and with this there was a general improve 
ment in his condition. Four months later his physician, 
Dr. A. H. Conson, of Gainesville, informed me that the 
tumor had entirely disappeared. The patient regained his 
former condition of health and survived, without recurrence, 
eighteen years, and until a few days before his death from 
acute pneumonia was hale and hearty, his weight at that 
time being one hundred and seventy pounds. 

So far as I am able to learn this was the first known case 
of a cure of sarcoma by an infective process other than 
erysipelas, and this experience has since been confirmed in 
a number of instances, one of the most remarkable and 
instructive of which is the following: 

A man from Augusta, Georgia, aged thirty-five, con 
sulted me in 1893 in regard to a large intra - abdominal 
tumor occupying the right hypochondriac region. He was 
anemic, greatly emaciated, and had the marked cachexia 
of a malignant growth. On account of ascites he had been 
tapped on three occasions, and I removed at one operation 
five gallons of fluid from the peritoneal cavity. With the 
collapse of the abdominal wall there was felt a hard, round, 

490 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

slightly movable tumor, four or five inches in diameter, 
which was exposed by a longitudinal incision of about six 
inches. To the touch the tumor was firm, slightly elastic, 
and occupied the space between the stomach and the liver, 
having developed from the gastro-hepatic omentum. It 
was of a reddish-brown color, and covered in front with a 
network of large vessels. 

On account of its vascularity and the feeble condition of 
the patient I did not venture to remove a section for 
microscopic examination, but from its location and micro 
scopic appearance I have no doubt that it was a sarcoma. 
The edges of the abdominal incision were retracted so as 
to permit about one-third of the anterior surface of the 
mass to be delivered into the wound, while sterile gauze was 
inserted around the edges to secure adhesions and to pre 
vent any general peritoneal infection from the exposed mass, 
which was now covered with loose gauze. Three days later 
this packing was removed, and the wound and the exposed 
surface of the tumor were permitted to become infected. 
Suppuration was soon established, the dressings were 
changed daily, and within two weeks time there was a 
noticeable diminution in the size of the mass and an im 
provement in the patient s general condition. This wound 
was kept open and allowed to suppurate for about two 
months, at the end of which time, as well as I could estimate, 
the neoplasm had diminished about one-half its original 
size. 

After the wound healed the shrinkage continued, and 
six months after the operation it had disappeared. The 
patient s general health became better from day to day. 
Five years later I operated on him for hemorrhoids. A few 
years after his recovery he married, and is the father of a 

49i 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

number of children, and to-day, after a lapse of more than 
twenty years, is in the enjoyment of excellent health. The 
ascites was evidently caused by direct pressure of the heavy 
tumor upon the portal vein. Its delivery into the wound 
and subsequent adhesions to the anterior abdominal wound 
lifted it and held it, leaving the vein free. 

There was admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in 1882, in 
the service of my colleague, Dr. A. G. Gerster, a young 
woman suffering with sarcoma of the leg, for which an 
amputation was made just below the knee. A recurrence 
took place, followed by a hip-joint disarticulation. The 
disease again appeared in the stump, developing rapidly 
into an extensive, cauliflower-like mass which became acci 
dentally infected with erysipelas. This infection ran the 
usual course of erysipelas, during the progress of which the 
tumor began to diminish in size and eventually entirely dis 
appeared. In 1907, more than twenty-five years after this 
experience, when this patient was last heard from, she was 
entirely well, and still actively engaged in her work as a 
school-teacher. 

The experiments of Fehleisen and others by direct in 
fection with the streptococcus erysipelatis have confirmed 
the result in the case above narrated; but as far as I am 
able to inform myself the two cases here reported are the 
first on record in which a cure of sarcoma was effected by 
pyogenic infection, the one accidental, the other intentional. 

In a paper on the Frequency of Recurrence of Sarcoma, 
with Special Reference to Amputation at the Hip- joint on 
Account of this Neoplasm," read before the Philadelphia 
Academy of Surgery in April, 1901, I submitted an analysis 
of the results in one hundred and ninety-one amputations 
at this joint, by my bloodless method," on account of 

492 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

sarcoma chiefly affecting the femur, but in a few instances in 
volving the other connective tissues of the thigh and the hip. 
I was profoundly impressed with the frequency of recurrence 
in remote organs. In the fifty-three recurring cases in which 
the histories were accepted as reliable the seat of metastasis 
was in the lung alone in twenty-three, lung and bronchi 
one, lung and pleura one, lung and abdomen one, pleura 
two, abdominal viscera three, liver one, abdomen and 
chest one, in the stump ten, stump and mesenteric glands 
one, stump and general metastasis one, stump and iliac- 
fossa one, lymphatic glands of groin one, sacro-iliac syn- 
chondrosis one, location not given four, and in one instance 
apoplexy was given as the cause of death. 

My conclusions were: first, that the cells or germs, prior 
to amputation, had been carried from the original focus 
of the disease, lodged in these various remote organs, and 
there awaited conditions favorable to their further pro 
liferation; second, that after amputation (or extirpation of 
sarcoma) the patient should be subjected to the immunizing 
influence of a streptococcus and pyogenic infection. This 
I practise in all instances, and in a fair proportion with 
gratifying results. I rely so confidently upon the bene 
ficial effects of this treatment that instead of amputating 
high up at the hip-joint, as I did formerly, I now divide the 
bone in the non-involved portion within six inches of the 
location of the tumor. 

The operation is done with the usual aseptic precautions, 
and the flaps sutured, leaving about one inch of an angle 
open, through which a twist of gauze half an inch thick is 
inserted, one end deep in the wound, the other protruding. 
At the end of the second week the gauze twist is replaced by 
another, which has been soaked in fresh culture of pyogenic 

493 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

streptococcus. The patient s temperature is kept at from 
1 00 to 103 Fahrenheit for three weeks by reinfection when 
necessary. Then a rest for ten days, and a final reinfection 
practised for two more weeks, when the sinus is allowed 
to close. 

After removal of a sarcoma of the soft tissues the same 
method is followed. 

While in the present state of our knowledge a large pro 
portion of cases of sarcoma will end fatally, without regard 
to the treatment instituted, every case, after removal of 
the original focus when possible (or without this in non- 
operative cases), should be treated with the alternative of 
mixed infection with the pyogenic streptococcus cultures. 
That in a certain proportion of cases this injection destroys 
the cells or germs already deposited remote from the parent 
neoplasm and effects a permanent cure I have no doubt. 
A very considerable list of such cures in my own experience 
has emphasized this conviction. 



VII 

THE SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY OF THE TIBIO-TARSAL 
ARTICULATION, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO A MODIFI 
CATION OF SYME S AMPUTATION 1 

PROFESSOR STEPHEN SMITH in his clinical lectures at Belle- 
vue and in his Operative Surgery in 1874 stated that on ac 
count of sloughing of the inner-posterior flap after Syme s 
method of disarticulation at the ankle-joint as then performed, 
the necessity for reamputation was three per cent, greater 
than after any other amputation. In the effort to discover 
the cause of this sloughing I made eighty-seven dissections 
of the region involved, with special regard to the distribu 
tion of the blood-supply to the heel. It was demonstrated 
that the line of incision well back over the point of the heel 
as commonly advised and practised in this amputation 
divided the vessels so far back that the ligature occluded 
the recurrent branches which were essential to the nourish 
ment of the flap. The modification advised was to carry 
the incision across the sole well forward, making a longer 
posterior and a shorter anterior flap. 

The modified procedure is as follows: 

With the foot held at an angle of ninety degrees to the 

1 This essay was awarded the annual prize of one hundred dollars, offered 
by Professor James R. Wood, to the Alumni Association of the Bellevue Hos 
pital Medical College for "The best essay on any subject connected with 
surgical pathology or operative surgery," February, 1876. The committee 
were Professors W. H. Van Buren, Austin Flint, Sr., and Alpheus B. Crosby. 

495 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

axis of the leg, place the thumb at the tip of one malleolus, 
and the index at the other, and from the center of the 
malleolus internus carry an incision directly across the sole 
of the foot to a point one-fourth of an inch anterior to the 
tip of the malleolus externus. This incision should divide 
all the tissues to the bones, and its perpendicular portion 
should descend in a direction slightly anterior to the axis 
of the tibia. The ends of this cut are united by a second, 
which arches sharply upward about on the line of section of 
the bones, and should also divide tendons and all intervening 
structures, opening into the joint. The foot should now 
be firmly grasped and extended, so as to make tense the 
anterior ligament of the ankle, which is easily divided. 
Carrying the knife to either side of the articular surfaces 
of the astragalus, the lateral ligaments are cut, and the 
joint thus widely exposed. An assistant now holds and 
depresses the foot, while the operator carefully dissects 
the tissues closely from the astragalus and calcaneum. 
Care should be taken not to bruise the flap by too great 
traction. In dissecting along the inner surface of the ankle 
the knife should be kept close to the bones, so that when 
the lesser process of the calcaneum is reached it will slide 
behind and under this process, passing between it and the 
flexor tendon and the vessels. If this precaution is not 
taken the arteries may be wounded and the nutrition of the 
flap seriously impaired. 

As the dissection proceeds the foot is further depressed, 
and the tendo Achillis separated from its insertion into the 
tuberosity of the calcaneum, in doing which care must 
be taken not to buttonhole the flap. The posterior portion 
of the os calcis may now be brought through the joint and 
the dissection continued in this direction . or finished by 

496 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

working back along the under surface of this bone. After 
the foot is removed the flaps are lifted from the tibia and 
fibula until a section of these bones can be made just on 
the level of the anterior margin of the tibia. It is not 
necessary to remove the articular surface. The flaps should 
now be trimmed and fitted, and the vessels tied. As the 
sutures are applied it will be noticed that there is a redun 
dancy of tissue in the long flap, leaving a cup-shaped cavity; 
but this can be thoroughly drained from the angles of the 
wound, and disappears when the stump is healed. 



VIII 



TRANSPLANTING SKIN FROM THE ABDOMEN OR OTHER PARTS 
OF THE BODY TO THE HAND OR FOREARM TRANSFERRING 
THE GRAFT BY THIS MEANS TO THE FACE, NECK, OR ELSE 
WHERE 

IN the case of a boy who had suffered a very severe burn 
on the wrist I devised an operation for the transplantation 
of skin (en masse), from the abdomen or other available 
parts of the body, which has given great satisfaction. As 
far as I have been able to inform myself it was a novel pro 
cedure. For a width of from two to three inches, and for 
the entire circumference of the wrist, the integument had 
been completely destroyed by the ignition of a celluloid cuff. 
The tendons were in general adherent to the dense cicatricial 
belt. This was entirely dissected away, freeing the flexor 
and extensor tendons and the nerves. 

To fill in this extensive deficiency a cuff of^skin was taken 
from the abdomen. The forearm, flexed at ninety degrees, 
was laid across the belly in a position to insure the minimum 
of discomfort; and just beneath the location of the dis 
section at the wrist parallel perpendicular incisions as wide 
apart as the area to be covered by the graft were made 
through the skin and subcutaneous fat. Leaving both ends 
attached, this long band, or ribbon, of skin was dissected 
up, removing all the subcutaneous fat for the central two 
inches. Careful measurements were made to insure the 
proper width and length of tHe cuff. 

498 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

The wound from which the flap was raised was closed at 
once by silk-worm gut sutures. When a wide area is un 
covered it may be necessary to dissect subcutaneously on 
either side in order to approximate the edges without too 
great tension. The hand, resting upon a pad of dry sterile 
gauze, was then carried beneath the flap, the raw edges of 
which were carefully stitched to the edges of the skin upon 
the dorsum radii. A plaster-of -Paris dressing was applied 
to within two inches of the flap to immobolize the arm and 
forearm, and an aseptic dressing and adhesive plasters were 
utilized to hold the hand and wrist in proper position. The 
operator should be sure that there is no tension on the flap 
at any point. 

It is a wise precaution to have the hand held firmly by 
an assistant until the patient is entirely conscious, and to 
apply a light dressing, which permits of frequent inspections. 
On the tenth day this patient was again anesthetized, the 
flap divided near each attachment, and the stitches were 
inserted to complete the cuff. It was necessary to scrape 
off the excessive granulations on the wrist dissection and 
some of the subcutaneous fat on the flap, since the borrowed 
skin is apt to be too thick. The stubs were turned back 
and sutured in the angles of the wound on the abdomen 
from which they had been lifted. It requires about ten 
days to secure a safe union with the formation of new vessels 
between the flap and the tissues of the wrist sufficient to 
insure vitality. 

In one of the most difficult and interesting plastic opera 
tions I have ever performed this method of procedure met 
every requirement. All the integument of the back of the 
hand and each finger, including the five nails, had been 
scraped or torn off in the mangle of a laundry, leaving 

499 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

nothing but the bones and some frazzles of tendons. The 
skin on the palmar aspect of the hand and fingers was nor 
mal, but the four fingers were welded into one mass of ad 
hesions with no interdigital spaces. All cicatricial tissue 
was removed by a tedious dissection, the fingers split apart, 
and the two central extensor tendons not destroyed were 
split, and the borrowed halves stitched to the terminal 
phalanx of the index and little finger, which had been en 
tirely denuded. A great square sheet of skin large enough 
to roof over the entire dorsum of the hand and fingers was 
now lifted from the belly after the manner just described. 
This was so large that the underlying edges could be only 
partially approximated. The fingers were now stretched as 
wide apart as possible, and the blanket flap was closely 
sutured along the edge of the skin incision across the back 
of the hand or wrist. Stitches were inserted near the tips 
and on the two sides of each finger, to anchor them and the 
flap in place. 

On the tenth day the flap was cut loose, and the freshly 
divided edges were carefully stitched to the freshened edges 
of the incision along the outer, or radial, side of the thumb 
and the ulnar margin of the little finger. As much of the 
wound on the abdomen as possible was now closed by turn 
ing back the stubs of the flap. Ten days later the flap half 
way between the thumb and the index finger and the little 
and ring fingers was split, and the edges stitched into proper 
place, and after the lapse of another ten days the two re 
maining fingers were treated in the same way. The result 
was remarkably satisfactory. The entire transplanted flap 
survived, each finger was perfectly covered, and a useful 
hand was secured. 

By this method a piece of skin of suitable dimensions may 

500 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

be temporarily grafted upon the back of the hand or wrist until 
its vitality in the new position is assured, then freed from the 
abdomen, thigh, or back, and carried to the face, neck, or 
wherever necessity may require. After being held in this 
position until the graft has taken, the remnant may be re 
stored to its original location. 



IX 

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE MOUTH, NASO 
PHARYNX, AND ANTRUM MAXILLARIS 

IN the operation for the correction of complete harelip 
with cleft of the alveolus and hard palate, the flattening of 
the alsenasi cannot be properly corrected without the for 
mation of a normal maxillary or alveolar arch upon which 
the wings of the nostrils must be supported. In the ma 
jority of cases this wide gap in the alveolus in front can be 
filled by forcible fracture of the projecting intermaxillary 
bone, which is then carried into line with the normal alve 
olar arch and there sutured until osseous union is secured. 

In certain, fortunately rare and neglected, cases in which 
the intermaxillary bone is undeveloped the following pro 
cedure, which I have practised satisfactorily in two in 
stances, may be carried out : The inner surface of the inter 
maxillary bone and the opposing surface of the receding 
alveolus of the other side are freshened by slicing off the 
mucous covering. Between two of the teeth on the short 
side a chisel is introduced and the bone freely divided up 
ward. A wire or heavy silk cord is inserted in this fissure, 
and by strong traction the anterior portion of the superior 
maxilla is fractured and carried forward, where it is wired 
in contact with the opposite freshened surface. 

Removal of the Lower Jaw from Within the Mouth. In 
the case of S. J., thirty-eight years of age, at the Mt. Sinai 

502 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Hospital, on January 6, 1890, I removed one-half of the 
lower jaw, disarticulating at the temporo-maxillary joint 
by the following method: 

The orbicularis oris was widely dilated by four strong 
silk threads inserted equidistant and used as retractors. 
The bone was divided with the Gigli saw at the symphisis 
menti. As the disease was a simple necrosis, the periosteum 
was carefully raised, the insertion of the temporal muscle 
divided with the scissors, and the bone disarticulated by 
twisting, which ruptured the capsular ligament and pre 
vented hemorrhage from the inferior dental artery. The 
wound was packed at once with sterile gauze, which was 
removed two days after the operation and not renewed. 
As soon as the operation was completed the teeth of the 
remaining half of the lower jaw were wired to those of the 
upper maxilla, preventing inward displacement, until the 
patient three weeks later was ready to be fitted with an 
artificial apparatus. This apparatus, made by a dentist, 
enabled the patient to keep the remaining teeth in line 
and to use them satisfactorily for purposes of mastication. 
A very satisfactory new bone filled the periostea! shell and 
prevented serious permanent deformity. 

This operation was original, but, as I discovered later, 
not novel. In looking over the papers of the late Dr. J. 
Marion Sims in the preparation of an address upon his 
life-work, I found that before chloroform or ether had been 
discovered he had performed this same operation, his case 
having been published in the American Journal of the Medi 
cal Sciences for October, 1847. He had displayed the won 
derful genius which characterized this great man by pre 
liminary division of the inferior dental nerve, as it entered 
the canal in the lower jaw, "in order to render the operation 

503 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

painless. There are several considerations to recommend 
this operation in preference to the usual one with its ex 
tensive incisions, (i) There is no external mutilation. 
(2) As the third branch of the fifth pair of nerves was di 
vided at the outset of the operation, its subsequent stages 
were comparatively free from pain. (3) As no important 
blood-vessels are cut, no ligatures are required. (4) There 
is no trouble with the after-treatment. (5) It is just as 
easy of performance as the old operation." 

A New Procedure for the Removal of Otherwise Inopera 
ble Tumors from the Posterior Pharynx. The following 
operation was performed on December 12, 1894, in the 
case of a man twenty years of age who was in extremis 
from a large neoplasm of the naso-pharynx and antrum 
maxillare, which caused frequent hemorrhages which had 
left him practically exsanguinated. The operation was 
witnessed by a number of distinguished surgeons and 
laryngologists, among them the late Drs. Henry D. Noyes, 
R. P. Lincoln, and Drs. J. B. Emerson, Robert C. Myles, 
and R. H. M. Dawbarn. 

As a precautionary measure a vein was opened in the 
arm in order to be ready for saline injection, which was later 
done by Dr. Dawbarn. An incision was made, beginning 
along the temporal ridge, two inches back of the outer 
angle of the orbit, following the temporal ridge to the edge 
of the orbital cavity, along the frontal process of the malar 
bone, curving parallel with and one -eighth of an inch 
from the orbital margin, until the point of the knife reached 
the infra-orbital foramen; then downward to the level of 
the ala nasi and outward through the cheek until the point 
of the knife neared the opening of Steno s duct. 

Hemorrhage was carefully stopped throughout the entire 

504 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

incision by pressure and by ligating with catgut the larger 
vessels which were divided. The soft parts were in no way 
dissected up from the bone, except when it became necessary 
to enter the orbital cavity in its outer half, where the tissues 
were carefully dissected away from the bone and the eye 
displaced toward the median line, until the anterior com 
missure of the spheno-maxillary fissure came into view. 
I then passed into this a keyhole saw with the teeth turned 
upward, and rapidly sawed through the junction of the 
malar with the frontal bone. 

The saw was then turned over, with the teeth directed 
downward; and, beginning at the same point, the floor 
of the orbital cavity was sawed through until the antrum 
of Highmore was bisected as far down as the level of the 
root of the teeth of that side. A hook was then placed in 
the outer angle of the orbit, and a quick, sharp jerk frac 
tured the zygomatic process of the temporal bone, dis 
placing the side of the face, completely exposing the antrum 
of Highmore, the zygomatic fossa, and the pterygo- and 
spheno-maxillary fissures. The hemorrhage was profuse, 
but was controlled by rapidly packing sponges into the 
wound and making firm compression. The pulse jumped 
from eighty to one hundred and forty, and the patient 
seemed about to expire in collapse. At this juncture one 
pint of saline solution, already prepared, and kept so hot 
that the hand could scarcely be borne in it with comfort 
(110 to 120 F.), was allowed to run into the vein. 

The heart rallied at once, and the pulse came down to 
eighty-five beats to the minute. The tumor was again 
exposed, and with a periosteal elevator lifted out of the 
antrum of Highmore, its attachments to the pterygoid 
process of the sphenoid bone being separated by removing 

33 505 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the periosteum. By opening the patient s mouth and thus 
depressing the coronoid process of the inferior maxilla, the 
pterygomaxillary fissure and the zygomatic fossa were well 
exposed. The whole antrum was packed with a long wick 
of iodoform gauze, which was allowed to project at the 
anterior inferior angle of the wound. The bone, which had 
been temporarily displaced with the soft parts adherent, 
was then brought back into position and held there by 
stitching the soft parts along the line of incision. A bandage 
and compress were applied in order to maintain approxima 
tion. No sutures were inserted in the bones. The patient 
made an uninterrupted recovery. Nineteen years after 
the operation he is entirely well. The bones are united 
in their normal position; he has perfect use and function 
of the eyeball, and, although the filaments of the facial 
nerve were divided, he still has very fair motion of the 
orbicularis palpebrarum muscle. Disfigurement from the 
scar is insignificant. 

Besides the novelty of this procedure there are three 
points of interest. First, the character of the anesthetic, 
morphine being almost entirely relied upon. The amount 
of chloroform taken was only two drachms in an hour and 
forty minutes of narcosis. I have done a number of major 
operations about the respiratory tract with this combina 
tion of morphine and chloroform or morphine and ether, 
and in one instance of removal of the larynx I used nothing 
but morphine and obtained complete narcosis and anes 
thesia, the operation lasting an hour and thirty-two minutes. 
The patient remained perfectly quiescent during the opera 
tion, suffering no shock and with no memory of pain. 

The second important point is the value of transfusion 
with a salt solution to prevent collapse and shock under 

506 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

great and sudden loss of blood. During this operation five 
pints in all were allowed to run into the veins, and the 
blood became so thin that practically salt water ran out of 
the vessels in the line of the incision, showing the red cor 
puscles were almost exhausted ; and yet we were able to make 
the patient s pulse drop from 130 and 140 to 80 or 90 beats 
per minute, full and strong, showing that the heart had 
plenty of volume to act upon and so did well. 

Finally, in the persistence of motion in the orbicular 
muscle of the lids after division of the branches of the 
seventh nerve. 

For the following study of the nervous distribution of the 
orbicularis palpebrarum I am indebted to Professor J. A. 
Bodine, of the New York Poly clinic: 

"The orbicular portion of the muscle is supplied solely 
by the facial nerve. This portion, however, is not necessary 
to the act of closing the eye. In fact, the palpebral por 
tion is quite distinct from the orbicular, and its action is 
habitually involuntary. It receives nerve impulses from 
the sympathetic plexus around the cavernous sinus. In 
addition to the nerve fibers from the seventh, the upper lid 
may and does get motor impulse thus: the ophthalmic, or 
first, division of the fifth receives fibers from the fourth and 
third, and frequently from the sixth, prior to its division 
into nasal, frontal, and lachrymal. Some or all of these 
motor fibers may go with the lachrymal branch of the 
ophthalmic. After the lachrymal supplies the tear-gland 
it sends fibers to the upper lid. (Gray, page 760.) 

"The lachrymal not infrequently arises by two filaments, 
one from the ophthalmic and one from the sixth nerve; 
thus the upper lid would get motor impulse from the 
abducens (sixth). 

507 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

"Again, if the ophthalmic has received motor fibers from 
the fourth, third, and sixth, as already stated, the supra- 
orbital branch of the frontal nerve, which goes partly to 
the upper lid, would carry motor influence, and from this 
same (frontal) nerve the lower lid could be supplied through 
the infratrochlear. 

"Of course the act of lifting the lid depends upon the 
levator palpebrae supplied by the third nerve." 

Fortunately, so formidable an operation as the one just 
detailed will rarely be called for. The vast majority of 
neoplasms of the naso- pharynx can be successfully and 
satisfactorily reached through an incision directly into the 
ant rum of Highmore. 



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE BONES TRANS 
PLANTATION OF THE PROXIMAL END OF THE ULNA TO THE 
DISTAL END OF THE RADIUS IN AN UNUNITED COLLES 
FRACTURE 

W. M. Y., .at the age of nine, suffered a compound right 
Colics fracture, which, becoming infected, resulted in non 
union, destruction of the epiphysis, and arrest of growth, 
with extensive atrophy of the proximal end of the radius. 

Six years later the right hand was deflected sharply tow 
ard the radial side, and, having no bony support, hung loose 
like a flail, and was practically useless. The ulna, contin 
uing to grow, was slightly curved in the direction of the 
radius. 

Operation. The end of the posterior surface of the distal 
fragment of the broken radius was freshened by section with 
a chisel, and the ulna divided with the Gigli saw on the 
same level. The tissues were separated from the bones 
anteriorly and posteriorly, and the cut surface of the longer 
(posterior) portion of the ulna was carried over and wired 
to the anterior fragment of the radius. The anterior ex 
tremity of the ulna was then dropped back, or overlapped 
one inch to compensate for the accidental shortening of the 
radius. The contiguous surfaces of the periosteum were lift 
ed, and the bone chipped with the chisel in order to ex 
cite osteogenesis, and a silver wire-collar was thrown around 

509 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

the opposing sections to hold them firmly in contact. This 
manipulation carried the hand in a straight position, and 
at the same time brought the spindle-shaped atrophied 
posterior fragment of the radius in contact with the an 
terior fragment from which it had long been separated. 

Subsequent History. Two years after the operation the 
radiograph showed perfect fusion between the two frag 
ments of the ulna, and between the bone and the anterior 
fragment of the broken radius. It also shows the very 
remarkably improved condition of the proximal portion of 
the radius. This is no longer spindle-shaped, but, having 
reunited itself to the anterior fragment proper, it has very 
appreciably thickened as a result of its increased function. 

The hand has been restored to usefulness, and the arm 
has become strong, so that the lad can use it for practically 
any purpose. While supination and pronation have been 
lost, rotary movements at the shoulder and elbow have 
been acquired and have greatly lessened the inconvenience 
of the loss of rotation in the forearm. 

A letter received five years after the operation says, "The 
developments in the arm have been most remarkable and 
surprising." 

Green-stick Fracture of the Radius in the Posterior Third- 
Extreme Supination of the Posterior and Pronation of the 
Anterior Fragments Union in this Position with Complete 
Loss of Pronation and Supination. M. C., a Cuban lad, in 
a fall from a horizontal bar, had injured his forearm. There 
had been no treatment. The pain suffered at the time 
gradually disappeared, but when after three or four weeks 
he tried to use the arm it was discovered that the power 
of pronation and supination had been lost. 

An X-ray picture showed that there had been a fracture 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

in the posterior third of the radius. As the two bones of 
the forearm were not in contact at any point, and as there 
was no muscular paralysis, interosseous union and injury 
to the nerves were eliminated. A careful study of this case 
convinced me that there had been a green-stick fracture 
without displacement of the fragments. The pronator 
radii teres, no longer opposed by the supinator brevis, had 
rotated the anterior fragment into complete pronation and 
fixed it there, while the supinator brevis, acting on the 
upper end, had rotated that fragment in an opposite direc 
tion and held it fixed until bony union at the point of frac 
ture had taken place. 

Under ether the bone was divided at the point of frac 
ture, the ends seized with lion-jaw forceps, and by forcible 
inward rotation for the upper and outward for the lower 
end the contracted muscles were divulsed. The ends were 
held in this corrected position, splints applied, and normal 
reunion secured with restoration of supination and pronation 
as complete as before the injury. 

Novel Procedure for Restoring the Anterior Extremity of 
the Radius. T. A., a male about twenty-one years of age, 
in excellent general health, was operated on, November 15, 
1890. A 38-caliber-pistol ball entered through the articular 
surface of the wrist, traversed and destroyed three inches 
of the carpal end of the radius. Some of the fragments were 
carried away and lost, while others were embedded in the 
contiguous muscles and under the skin. These were care 
fully removed, placed in a solution of warm mercuric 
chloride (i to 3,000) and kept at about 100 Fahrenheit. A 
hole was drilled through the proximal end of the radius and 
the scaphoid and through each of the dozen fragments of 
the shattered bone, and these were threaded like beads on 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

a silver wire secured first to the scaphoid and then to the 
radius above. All of these fragments survived and fused, 
and by their presence stimulated osteogenesis, and formed 
a new and useful radius. 

Fracture of the Hip in Childbirth. January 26, 1887, I 
was called to see an infant just born. The accoucher in 
making traction by means of the fingers inserted into the 
flexures at the groin, in a case of breech presentation, in 
order to make a rapid delivery, had caused a fracture of the 
left femur immediately below the lesser trochanter. The 
fracture was very evident, for when extension was made on 
the leg the upper fragment projected forward, the end being 
felt just beneath the skin. The position of this fragment 
was evidently due to the still contracted condition of the 
psoas and iliacus muscles, since the thigh had as yet not been 
extended. The only position of the thigh which brought 
the fragments in line and in apposition was by flexing it 
firmly against the abdomen just as it had been in utero. 

In this position, with the leg at an angle of ninety degrees 
to the thigh, firm rolls of cotton batting were applied along 
the abdomen and on either side of the thigh. While ex 
tension was made, the lower portion of the chest, the entire 
abdomen, and the thigh were included in a plaster-of-Paris 
cuirass. The bandages did not encircle the thigh, but in 
cluded it in the cast which surrounded the body. Plaster 
bandages were applied to the leg from the ankle to the knee. 
To secure complete immobility, these were incorporated into 
the general cuirass. The right leg was left free, and the 
plaster cut away so as to permit of the necessary attentions 
to the infant. Firm extension from the flexed knee in an 
upward direction was made until the plaster hardened. 

At the end of three weeks the dressing was removed, and 

512 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

union without deformity or shortening had resulted. This 
patient is now a well-developed woman twenty-six years 
old, and there is no difference in the length or functions of 
the two extremities. 

To the date of this experience I had not heard or read 
of this complication. Dr. Edgar Wilkinson, of Hamilton, 
Bermuda, writes me that he has met with a similar case 
and carried out with perfect success the exact treatment 
as given in my book on surgery. 



XI 

HIP-JOINT DISEASE TREATED BY COMBINATION OF HUTCHIN- 
SON S HIGH SHOE AND CRUTCHES AND SAYRE s LONG 
EXTENSION SPLINT 

IN October, 1879, I treated my first case of hip- joint 
disease by adding to the excellent and well-known hip- joint 
apparatus of Professor Lewis A. Sayre the elevation of the 
shoe of the well foot and the use of crutches. This method 
swings the lame leg in the air free from any possible friction 
of the joint in the act of walking, and at the same time it is 
protected by the Sayre splint. I have used it in a number 
of cases with great satisfaction. In one of my later cases 
a boy of nine years recovered so thoroughly all the functions 
of the joint that he ran second in a five-mile Marathon race, 
defeating some twenty competitors. In all these cases of 
the tuberculous dyscrasia, tuberculin injections as now given 
at the Poly clinic should be employed. 

TREATMENT OF CARIES OF THE LUMBAR SPINE BY CON 
TINUOUS EXTENSION 1 

Without suspension, as advised when the Sayre solid 
plaster-of-Paris jacket is applied, the patient stands erect. 
Over the tightly fitting knit undershirt, two jackets or zones 
of plaster of Paris are applied, the lower edge of the upper 
being just above, while the upper edge of the lower is just 

1 Read before the New York County Medical Society, January 27, 1879. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

below the point of disease. The one catches over and rests 
on the hips, while the other meets the upward expansion 
of the chest and scapulae. As the plaster bandages are 
setting, three zinc plates about two by four inches (per 
forated with numerous holes to make them fasten readily) 
are placed in each section of the jacket. To the center of 
each plate is securely riveted a flattened staple of iron. 
One of these is fastened over the spinal column above and 
below, one under each arm, and one directly underneath 
these over the hips. These plates are securely held in posi 
tion by several turns of plaster bandage, passing alternately 
above and below the staples, which are left exposed. As 
soon as the jackets are firmly set the extension bars are 
applied. 

These bars consist of a shoulder at each end, and a solid 
section cut with cogs and grooves, which telescopes into 
a hollow section, with a key for lengthening or shortening, 
and a spring-catch to hold it fixed at any point. This is 
the exact mechanism used in Dr. Sayre s knee-joint splint. 
The shoulders are caught in the staples riveted to the im 
movable plates, and the requisite extension is secured by 
means of the key. In this way it can be graduated exactly, 
the weight of the upper half of the body being transferred 
from the diseased spinal column to the supporting bars 
anchored in the upper and lower segments of the jacket. 

FEMORAL HERNIA. A NEW AND SUCCESSFUL METHOD OF 
OBLITERATING THE FEMORAL CANAL 

I have employed for many years the method of MacEwen 
of folding into a mass a portion of the sac of an inguinal 
hernia, and of holding it between the inner surface of the 
abdominal wall and the outer surface of the peritoneum 

5*5 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

lining that wall. This procedure entirely obliterates the 
hernial sac at its neck. As soon as I became acquainted 
with this procedure I began to use it in all my operations 
on the sac of a femoral hernia, until in 1903 I devised the 
following modification which I have used in every subse 
quent operation for femoral hernia; in each instance with 
out recurrence, so far as I am able to inform myself. 

Instead of folding the sac over upon itself and holding 
it fixed between the layer of the peritoneum, which lines the 
abdominal wall in front and the muscle, I turn it completely 
outside in by the following method: After the hernial sac 
has been properly exposed, opened, and the reduction 
effected, it is cut off about one-half to three-fourths of an 
inch distal to the outer margin of the femoral canal, and 
the stump and neck of the sac is carefully separated by dry 
dissection from the femoral and iliac veins, and the other 
contiguous structures. A number two chromicized ten-day 
catgut suture twelve inches long is carried through one side 
of the sac near the edge and the suture tied. The nearly 
straight Hagedorn needle, four or five inches long and very 
slightly curved at the point, remains threaded with this 
catgut loop, while a second needle is attached to the free 
end and is used to fasten the suture in the ring of the sac 
exactly opposite the one first inserted. 

The index finger of the most convenient hand is now 
carried into the sac, through the canal into the peritoneal 
cavity, and a careful examination made by the touch to 
assure the operator that there are no adhesions near the 
internal orifice of the sac. The finger is then withdrawn, 
and the tip of the long needle, held firmly in the holder 
which clasps it near the eye, is buried or well depressed into 
the skin of the palmar surface of the end of the finger, which, 

516 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

serving as a guide, is then again carried into the sac and 
through the canal, the needle remaining steadily fixed until 
its point is placed safely against the inner surface of the 
abdominal peritoneum, where it is made to transfix this 
and the muscular wall, and is brought through the integu 
ment at a point an inch or more beyond the upper level of 
the internal femoral ring or mouth of the canal. Traction 
on the double catgut loop now turns the sac completely 
outside in, entirely obliterating it. It is held safely in posi 
tion by tying the two ends of the divided loop over a pencil 
of gauze. I have found no difficulty in avoiding the sper 
matic cord or the inferior epigastric vessels. 

A class-room illustration of this technique is readily 
made by seizing and holding the edge of the coat-sleeve of 
one arm with the hand of that side, and then removing the 
coat, thus turning the sleeve completely inside out. 

The Author s Bandage Covering the Heel and Foot with a 
Single Roller. This method of bandaging the entire foot 
with a single roller was devised in 1875. Begin by placing 
bits of absorbent cotton between the toes. Take a roller 
from two to two and a half inches wide, and about two 
yards long. Lay the end of the bandage parallel with 
the axis of the leg, half-way between the two malleoli in 
front, and carry the roller by the inner side to the heel, so 
that the middle of the bandage will be over the center of 
the heel s convexity, and on to the starting-point. Next, 
make another turn around the ankle, carrying the posterior 
edge of the bandage over the center of the turn that has just 
preceded it, and make one or two other turns in front of 
this until the heel is completely covered. 

The bandage is then carried around the heel in the same 
direction, so that its anterior border rests on the middle 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of the first turn, and the roller is carried from the fibular 
side of the heel across the dorsum of the foot to the tibial 
side of the great toe. It then travels under the bases of 
the toes to the little toe, making a couple of complete turns 
around the foot at this point, and when the roller has again 
reached the fibular side of the little toe it is made to cross 
the dorsum of the foot obliquely to the tibial side of the heel, 
keeping the lower edge of the bandage about a quarter of 
an inch above the bottom of the heel. Repeat this figure- 
of-eight turn until the entire foot is thoroughly concealed. 
It is best to cut with the scissors each turn of the roller 
about half through just when it crosses the front of the ankle, 
so that the accumulation of the bandage at this point may not 
interfere with the movements of the ankle-joint. The cross 
ings of the figure-of-eight bandage on the dorsum of the foot 
should be kept a little to the fibular side of the median line. 
A Simple Device for the Prevention of Snoring. Snoring 
is the noise caused in the act of breathing by the vibration 
or fluttering of the pendulous soft-palate or curtain which 
hangs down from the posterior margin of the roof of the 
mouth. It is possible for the air, which is being carried 
into the lungs in breathing, to pass not only through the 
nostrils the natural and proper way but through the 
mouth at the same time. If one will keep the lips closely 
compressed, and allow the air to pass in through the nostrils, 
it is practically impossible to snore. The same is true in a 
lesser degree if the nostrils are closed, and breathing is only 
through the mouth. The curtain will scarcely vibrate or 
flutter in a single current or stream of air; but when the 
mouth is open the two currents are rushing in, and the 
hanging curtain, caught between them, is thrown into au 
dible vibration and this is snoring. 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

It follows that any device which prevents the lower jaw 
during the relaxation of sleep from dropping down and thus 
opening the mouth will shut out the one unnatural current 
of air and prevent snoring. 

I devised an apparatus which consists of a simple cap 
fitting the head snugly; a cap of soft material fitting the 
chin; and a piece of elastic webbing tacked to the chin- 
piece and to the head-cap near the ears. The webbing can 
be made more or less tense as may be required to effect the 
closure of the mouth. It is so simple that any one can 
make it, and should recommend itself to those individuals 
who, in the toils of this unfortunate habit, are a nuisance to 
everybody except themselves. 



XII 

VERSES 
TO MY MOTHER 

Deal gently with her, Time! these many years 

Of life have brought more smiles with them than tears. 

Lay not thy hand too harshly on her now, 

But trace decline so slowly on her brow 

That (like a sunset of the northern clime, 

Where twilight lingers in the summer-time, 

And fades at last into the silent night, 

Ere one may note the passing of the light) 

So may she pass since tis the common lot 

As one who, resting, sleeps, and knows it not. 

From the Century Magazine, January, 1902. 

MY SWEETHEART S FACE 

My kingdom is my sweetheart s face, 
And these the boundaries I trace: 
Northward her forehead fair; 
Beyond a wilderness of auburn hair; 
A rosy cheek to east and west; 

Her little mouth, 

The sunny south, 
It is the south that I love best. 
520 







MY SWEETHEART S FACE 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Go search the gardens of Vendee 
Which poets long have sung 
Go cull the flowers that blush the hills 
Of Picardie among. 

Land of romance! 

Fair land of France! 
With all your glorious flowers, 

Lilies of old 

And cloth of gold, 
We needs must lend you ours! 

Right well, I guess, 

For loveliness, 

For beauty in repose, 
There is no lily in all France 

Can match our Southern rose. 



1882. 



THE LETTER L 

A CHARADE 

I am not in the earth so fair, 
Nor in the deep, deep sea; 

Nor deem me with the powers of air- 
They hold no place for me. 

And yet tis strange if o er the sea 
You tread a foreign strand 

You ll find, however quick you be, 
I am the first to land. 

I never yet was known in sin 
But put an end to evil; 

522 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Still for all this there had not been 
Without me hell nor devil. 



Now, if you fain would know my name, 

Come read it on my vault; 
Nor think, though I m so much to blame, 

I e er was twice in fault. 



1876. 



TO A COQUETTE 

Lines written at the request of a friend, to a lady who had coquetted with 
him and had returned his letters, sending him his dismissal in verse. 

Fair maid, thou art not fair, which paradox 
Is truth although a seeming contradiction. 
And since the truth, alas! thy sex most shocks, 
I may accuse thee by rehearsing fiction. 
The story s old. Tis of a jar or box 
Which, under threat of lasting malediction 
To all mankind, the gods had closed the lid. 
All caskets else it was allowed to ope, 
But, being woman, that which was forbid 
Was just exactly what Pandora did. 
The story s told. The keyless lock was raped 
And all of evil that therein was hid, 
Sorrow and Woe, Death and Despair escaped. 
Frightened, she slammed the lid and shut in Hope. 
But thou, more cruel, fair and yet not fair, 
Let Hope escape and left for me Despair. 

5 2 3 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 
DU BIST WIE EINE BLUME 

Du bist wie eine Blume 

So hold und schon und rein; 

Ich schau dich an und Wehmuth 
Schleicht mir in s Herz hinein. 

Mir ist, als ob ich die Hande 
Auf s Haupt dir legen sollt , 

Betend, dass Gott dich erhalte 
So rein und schon und hold. 



THOU ART AS A FLOWER 
(TRANSLATION FROM HEINE) 

As gentle, pure, and fair 

As some sweet flower Thou art! 
I look at Thee and sadness 

Comes stealing through my heart. 

And on Thy head I lay 

My hands with this one prayer, 
That God may ever keep Thee 

So gentle, pure, and fair. 

DAS HERZ 

Zwei Kammern hat das Herz, 

Drin wohnen 
Die Freude und der Schmerz. 

524 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Wacht Freude in der einen, 

So schlummert 
Der Schmerz still in der seinen. 

O Freude, habe Acht! 

Sprich leise 
Dass nicht der Schmerz erwacht! 



THE HEART 

(TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF NEUMANN) 

Two chambers has the heart, 

And Sorrow 
And Joy dwell there apart. 

In this, when Joy awakes; 

In that one, 
Sorrow its slumber takes. 

O Joy, thy vigil keep! 

Speak gently 
That Sorrow still may sleep. 

TO L. E. 

The rose is dead in June! 

Untimely death 
Came ere the summer s noon 

Or autumn s breath 

Had withered one fair, spotless leaf of those 
Sweet charms which made her beauteous as a rose. 

525 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Where was that pity, God, 

Which watcheth all? 
The lilies of the field, 
The sparrow s fall? 

Was she not more than these? Or was it best 
Heaven should reclaim the loved and loveliest? 

Cypress and yew and Peace! 

Winds of the south, 
Upon your scented wings 
Bring to her without cease, 
From leafy mouth 
Of all sweet blooming things, 
From lands of endless spring, 
Oh! balmy south wind, bring 
Fragrance without surcease, 
So may she sweetly sleep that death will seem 
A dream of life, which is itself a dream. 
Memphis Appeal, 1882. 

MY NORTHERN STAR 

DEDICATED TO FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE SIMS 

Star of the North! Thou ever-constant star, 
Where er I wander o er the land or sea, 

Thou art my beacon shining from afar, 
Unto the haven of rest thou guidest me. 

All else is changing in the realm of space; 

Suns, planets, systems, countless in array, 
March ever on by thy abiding place; 

God holds thee in His hand to show the way. 
526 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Upon the void where chaos dwelt with night, 
His spirit moved, and lo! Creation s morn! 

Let there be light! He said, and there was light, 
And thou the first of all the stars was born! 

First to be kindled with celestial fire 

Ere the blue dome with angels voices rang, 

Thou wast the leader of the heavenly choir, 

When first the morning stars together sang. 
1912. 



HOCH DER KAISER! 

I am the Right-Divine, 
Heaven and Earth are mine; 
If you question my right 
You must stand up and fight. 
Behold! My Battle-line! 

Come to the War-Lord s feast, 
Men of the West and East; 
Hear me pray to my God 
As I fatten the sod 
With bones of man and beast. 

Mine is the War-Machine. 
The earth that once was green, 
I make red with the blood 
That I shed in a flood 
In the name of the Nazarene! 
September i, 1914. 

527 



GENEALOGY 

John Allan Wyeth, fourth and youngest child and only surviv 
ing son of Louis Weiss Wyeth and Euphemia Allan, was born at 
Missionary Station, Marshall County, Alabama, May 26, 1845. 

Descended from Welsh, Scotch, English, and German ancestors 
who settled in America, a grandfather of each of his parents fought 
in the Revolutionary War. for the Independence of the Colonies. 

PATERNAL ANCESTOR 

Nicholas Wyeth (or Wythe, as the name appears in some of the 
earlier records) and a brother came from England to America in 
1630; the former settling at New Town (Newton), near Boston, 
Massachusetts, the latter joining the colonists of Virginia. 1 

Nicholas Wyeth was born in England in 1595, and died at 
Cambridge July 19, 1680. He came to Massachusetts with one 
of the Winthrop colonies in 1630, and after five years at New 
ton moved to Cambridge. According to Paige s History of Cam 
bridge, "about 1640 he became the owner of a landed estate at 
Cambridge, which for more than two centuries remained in pos 
session of his descendants in the male line." Wyeth Street, near 
Harvard College, is named in his honor. On his tombstone is 
engraved: "Nicholas Wyeth 1595-1680. Settled Newton 1630." 

1 The Virginia branch of this family became extinct at the death of George 
Wythe, LL.D., who, an only child, born in 1726, died childless in 1806 and 
was buried in St. John s churchyard in Richmond, Virginia. 

He was the first chancellor of Virginia, the friend and counselor of Wash 
ington, member of the House of Burgesses, a signer of the Declaration of In 
dependence, and Professor of Law in William and Mary College. John Mar 
shall, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Henry Clay were law pupils in 
his office, the latter in his earlier youth serving as his private secretary. He 
emancipated his slaves and made liberal provision for their subsistence. 

Thomas Jefferson wrote of him as, "The honor of his own and the model 
of aU future times." 

528 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

John, fourth child of Nicholas, was born at Cambridge, July 
J 5 !655, and died December 13, 1706. 

Ebenezer, sixth child of John, was baptized July 24, 1698, and 
died April 3, 1754. 

Ebenezer II., eldest of six children of Ebenezer I., was born in 
Cambridge April 8, 1727, and died there August 4, 1799. This 
man, great-grandfather of our subject, was a farmer, and from 
1781 to 1790 served as "Selectman" (one of the governors) of 
Cambridge Township. He, two of his sons, and two nephews 
were of the seventy-five men of Captain Samuel Thatcher s com 
pany who attacked the British at or near Concord Bridge on their 
retreat from Lexington. It was of this fight that Emerson wrote 
the immortal lines : 

Here once the embattled farmers stood 
And fired the shot heard round the world. 

Paige s history says, "In commemoration of their patriotism 
I insert a muster-roll of this company which marched on the alarm, 
April 19, 1775." Thatcher s company became a part of the regi 
ment of Colonel Thomas Gardner, who was mortally wounded 
in the battle of Bunker Hill, and died July 3, 1775. Washington 
issued a special order for his funeral services, paying a high tribute 
to his gallant conduct. 

John Wyeth (grandfather), the tenth child and sixth son of 
Ebenezer II., was born at Cambridge March 31, 1770, and died 
at Philadelphia January 23, 1858. Educated at Cambridge, he 
became a printer and publisher of books. Settling in Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania, he founded the Oracle of Dauphin, the first news 
paper published in that city, which later became the capital of 
the state. He was appointed postmaster by President Washing 
ton; was prominent in educational matters; served as president 
of the Harrisburg Academy; and built "Wyeth Hall," the first 
place of public amusement in this city. He amassed a consider 
able fortune, was a Unitarian in religion, and left a reputation for 
courage and integrity worthy of emulation. He married, June 6, 
1793, Louisa Weiss, of Philadelphia, who was born there April 29, 
1775, and died in Harrisburg June i, 1822. Her father, Wilhelm 
Ludwig Weiss, born in Berlin, Prussia, December 27, 1717, grad 
uated at Lindheim and settled in Philadelphia, where he studied 

529 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

law and became Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter 
Sessions of Philadelphia County, and Justice of the Orphans Court. 
He married Johanna Pfliiger, and died in Philadelphia October 
22, 1796. 

Louis Weiss Wyeth, the sixth child and next to the youngest of 
five brothers (father of our subject), was born at Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania, June 20, 1812, and died in Marshall County, Ala 
bama, July 7, 1889. He received a classical education at the 
Harrisburg Academy, studied law, was admitted to practice in 
1833, and in 1836 settled in Alabama, where he was made County 
Judge of Marshall County in 1837, and later became the leading 
practitioner of that county. In 1847, while in the legislature, he 
secured the charter and became president of the Tennessee & 
Coosa Railroad, now part of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. 
Louis Railway System. In 1848 he founded Guntersville, the 
present county-seat, and built at his private expense a brick 
court-house and jail which he presented to Marshall County. 

He opposed secession in 1861, but when the convention voted 
to join the Southern Confederacy he gave himself to the cause. 
Although beyond the legal military age, he volunteered and served 
at the front until discharged on account of a serious illness which 
left him unfit for duty. In 1864 he again volunteered in the state 
troops in the effort to repel Sherman s invasion of Georgia. In 
1874 he was elected Judge of the Fifth Judicial District of Ala 
bama and served eight years, declining re-election. A year later 
he was offered the Chief Justiceship of the Supreme Court of Ala 
bama, which he declined. From early youth to the day of his 
death he was a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church. 
One who knew him well wrote: "His was the purest life, the most 
beautiful and faultless character I have ever known. Tender, 
brave, and true, he lived without reproach and died without 
fear." 

Large was his bounty and his soul sincere. 

Louis Wyeth married at Huntsville on April 9, 1839, Euphemia 
Allan. 

MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Euphemia Allan, daughter of John Allan and Nancy Hodge, 
was born at Gallatin, Tennessee, June 17, 1817, educated at the 

530 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Huntsville Seminary, and died at Guntersville, Alabama, Decem 
ber 27, 1896. Her paternal grandfather was David Allan, of 
Ayrshire, Scotland, who married Mary Knight, member of a 
family of wealth and influence in Dorsetshire, England. Here 
on April 21, 1788, John Allan was born. When he was sixteen 
years old his parents settled near Athens, Georgia. From the 
University of Georgia, at Athens, he was graduated in the class of 
1807, and then studied theology, adding to the classical course of 
the university the French language and Hebrew translation. A 
man of great learning and piety, he became a Presbyterian minis 
ter, married Nancy Hodge July 20, 1809, was called to the Presby 
terian Church in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1820, the pastor of which 
he remained until his death, November 14, 1843. 

Nancy Hodge, his wife, was born at Guilford Court House, North 
Carolina, April 14, 1785. Her father, Joseph Hodge, born in 
England, 1755, emigrated to North Carolina, served under Gen 
eral Greene in the Revolutionary War, and was severely wounded 
in the battle of Guilford Court House, March 15, 1781. As a 
reward for his services he received a valuable grant of lands in 
Sumner County, Tennessee, where he died February 28, 1822. 

John Allan Wyeth was educated at the common school at Gun 
tersville until January, 1861, when he became a cadet at La 
Grange Military Academy (La Grange College), in Franklin (now 
Colbert) County, Alabama. Here he remained for one year, 
when on account of the Civil War this college was closed. 

Of the teachers in the common school, Mr. W. D. Lovett, of 
Zanesville, Ohio, left the deepest impression upon his pupils and 
the community. With a thorough collegiate training and a sym 
pathetic nature, he had the gift not only of imparting knowledge, 
but of stimulating his boys to extraordinary endeavor. 

At La Grange Military Academy, where the strictest military 
discipline prevailed, with the same curriculum as that of the United 
States Military Academy at West Point, the professors were men 
of high attainment and conscientious in the discharge of their 
duties. The members of the faculty were James W. Robertson, 
president and professor of engineering; William H. Hunt, com 
mandant of cadets and professor of drawing; Rev. Felix Johnson, 
chaplain and professor of mental and moral science; Edward 

531 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Goodwin, of language and literature; Albert A. McGregor, of 
mathematics; Rev. G. Williams, history, natural science, and 
chemistry; and Dr. Alfred Stephenson as surgeon. 1 

Of the 179 cadets, 176 served in the Confederate army; 23 were 
killed in battle, and 26 died from diseases incident to the service 
a death-rate of 28 per cent. Of the survivors many were wounded 
one or more times or were physically impaired by sickness and 
exposure, which carried them to untimely graves or seriously 
handicapped them in the struggle for existence. 

In 1862 young Wyeth served with a company of Partisan 
Rangers and with Quirk s Scouts of Morgan s cavalry, and from 
April, 1863, to the surrender in April, 1865, was a private in 
Company I (Russell s regiment), Fourth Alabama Cavalry. He 
was present in the engagements at Law s Landing, June 7, 1862; 
Glasgow, Bear Wallow, Upton s Station, Elizabethtown, Mul- 
drough s Hill, and Rolling Fork, December 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 
29, 1862; Shelbyville, Tennessee, June 27, 1863; Morris s Ford, 
Elk River, and Winchester, July 2d; in a series of skirmishes pre 
ceding the battle of Chickamauga and in that battle, September 
1 8, 19, and 20, 1863, and September 2ist, in McLemore s Cove. 
He took part in the action at Cottonport, September 3oth, and 
in the capture of General Rosecrans s great supply-train in Sequat- 
chie Valley, October 2, 1863. Taken prisoner October 4, 1863, 
he was confined at Camp Morton, Indiana, and exchanged in 
April, 1865. In 1866 and 1867 he was engaged in farming in 
Alabama; began the study of medicine and graduated in April, 
1869. Impressed with the importance of a thorough laboratory 
and practical clinical training under the guidance of expert in 
structors as a prerequisite to practice, in order to secure the 
means to take his course of study he engaged in business for three 
years in the state of Arkansas, chiefly in transporting materials 
in connection with public works. He served as pilot and in charge 
of the steamer Converse, completing his contracts in May, 1872. 

In October, 1872, he resumed his professional studies in New 
York City, receiving the degree ad eundem in March, 1873, at 
Bellevue Hospital Medical College, in which institution in April 

1 A brief sketch of each of these gentlemen is given in the History of La 
Grange Military Academy and the Cadet Corps, by the author. 

532 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

of that year he was appointed assistant demonstrator of anatomy. 
In 1874 he was made prosector to the chair of anatomy, and in 
1875 instructor for the faculty. On account of a long and severe 
illness which incapacitated him for work for nearly two years he 
resigned from Bellevue College and visited the medical centers 
of Europe. 

In 1880 he was appointed visiting surgeon to Mount Sinai 
Hospital and consulting surgeon to St. Elizabeth Hospital. In 
1 88 1 he founded and became surgeon in chief and later president 
of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital, the first 
postgraduate medical organization in America, which has grown 
to be one of the largest and most successful teaching institutions 
in the United States. 

In 1885, and again in 1886, he was elected president of the New 
York Pathological Society; 1893, first vice-president, and, in 
1901, president of the American Medical Association, having 
been in 1900 elected president of the New York State Medical 
Association. In the same year the honorary degree of Doctor 
of Laws was conferred upon him by the University of Alabama, 
and in 1908 the same by the University of Maryland. In 1907, 
and again in 1908, he was elected president of the New York 
Southern Society, and from 1907 to 1911 president of the New 
York Academy of Medicine. In 1913 the Hospital Alliance 
of Greater New York elected him their president, as did the 
Alabama Society. 

He married, April 10, 1886, Florence Nightingale Sims, daughter 
of the great surgeon, J. Marion Sims, in whose honor a statue 
in bronze now stands in Bryant Park, New York City. Another 
has been erected by the legislature of his native state in the 
capitol grounds at Columbia, South Carolina. 

By this union there are three children. Florence Sims Wyeth 
graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, 1909; 
Marion Sims Wyeth, Princeton, 1910; and John Allan Wyeth, 
Jr., Princeton class of 1915. 

He is the author of a Handbook of Medical and Surgical Refer 
ence (1875); an essay on "Dextral Preference (or Right-Handed- 
ness) in Man" (1875); a " Monograph on Minor Surgery (1876)." 
In 1876 he received the award of the Bellevue Hospital Medical 

533 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

College Alumni Association prize for "the best essay on any sub 
ject connected with surgery or surgical pathology," his subject 
being "Amputation at the Ankle-joint." In 1878 he received the 
first prize of the American Medical Association for an essay on 
"The Surgical Anatomy and Surgery of the Carotid Arteries," 
and received the second prize of the same association (1878) for 
an essay on the "Surgical Anatomy and Surgery of the Innomi 
nate and Subclavian Arteries." At this time he published an 
essay on the "Obturator Arteries and the Importance of their 
Relation to Hernia," and later a pamphlet on "Suprapubic 
Cystotomy, with a Report of Sixty Cases"; " Osteoplastic Opera 
tion for the Correction of Deformities of the Alveolar Arch 
and for Cleft Palate and Harelip"; "Removal of the Lower 
Jaw from Within the Mouth Without External Incision"; "The 
Surgical Treatment of Aneurisms of the Arch of the Aorta, In 
nominate, Subclavian, and Carotid Arteries by the Distal Liga 
ture," and "Some Original Researches on the Occlusion of Arteries 
by Cell Proliferation." In 1886 he made public the first recorded 
case of the cure of sarcoma by streptococcus infection. In 1890 
he made public his "Bloodless Method of Amputation at the 
Shoulder and Hip Joints," and in 1903 "A New Method of Treat 
ing Inoperable Vascular Tumors by the Injection into their Sub 
stance of Water at a High Temperature." 

In 1895 he delivered an oration on J. Marion Sims and his 
work before the Southern Surgical and Gynecological Association 
at Washington, and an address on medical education before 
the Mississippi Valley Medical Association, at Louisville, in 1890. 
In 1886 he published the first edition of his text-book on surgery, 
which in 1909 had passed through four separate editions. In 1901, 
at St. Paul, he delivered the "Oration on Surgery" before the 
American Medical Association, and the "President s Address" 
before the same association at Saratoga in 1902. 

Among his contributions to other than professional literature 
are: An article in the Century Magazine for April, 1891, entitled, 
"Cold Cheer in Camp Morton," a narrative of prison life from 
October, 1863, to February, 1865; an historical sketch in Harper s 
Magazine, November, 1892, entitled, "Nathaniel J. Wyeth and 
the Struggle for Oregon"; in Harper s Weekly, 1898, "General 

534 



WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL 

Wheeler s Leap," a sketch of the battle of Shelby ville, June 27, 
1863 ; a series of articles on " General N. B. Forrest at Fort Donel- 
son"; "The Capture of Colonel A. D. Straight and his Entire 
Command"; " The Storming of Fort Pillow"; "Forrest at Brice s 
Cross-roads" all in Harper s Magazine, 1889. In Volume IV. 
of the History of the Civil War, published in 1912, is given by him 
the narration of an expedition through the Union lines at Chicka- 
mauga, a sketch of General John H. Morgan s "Christmas Raid," 
and General Wheeler s capture of General Rosecrans s wagon- 
train in Sequatchie Valley, October 2, 1863. 

In 1899 his Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest was published 
by Harper & Brothers, a second edition being issued in 1908. In 
1907 he published his History of La Grange Military Academy and 
the Cadet Corps, and in 1914 the book entitled With Sabre and 
Scalpel (Harper & Brothers). 



THE END 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 



AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO SO CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO $I.OO ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 



JUN 14 1944 


% *. -^^- U^ L 


r\ t~ n A 1 - 


, *" 


DEC 4 - 


1 <n^*rt fy 






lyi.94 




.r 


68 QAU 


SJAN ^LS ,\ 


AY k 




MARl4fiffi -^ 




3 A"?- 




/ 


\j 






^i^aioj 


- 5* 




^oMay 


; ! 7J995 


5TCT? L ".? 
















4Jan 63SSy 






LD21-10m-5, 43 (6061s) 



5 



1306 



GENERAL LIBRARY - U.C. BERKELEY 




BDOD7bD21S 



395349 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY